It was a full weekend of racing for our family. We flew overnight from Seattle to Indianapolis on Thursday night. Friday afternoon we went to a race expo and prepped for the rest of the weekend. Saturday morning we were up early (VERY early for us west coasters!) so that I could run the Indianapolis 500 Festival Mini Marathon. Pretty much as soon as that ended, we hit the road to Cincinnati to get ready for Casey’s race.
We spent Saturday afternoon at the Flying Pig expo, and then fueling and getting ready for race #2. Casey and I have each run the Flying Pig Marathon three times (in 2008, 2009, and 2010), but this was my first time ever watching it! My family and best friend have always cheered when we were running, so I took their advice on the best spectating spots.
We started in Hyde Park – where I grew up, and where my mom still lives today. Cullen was excited to cheer on his dad!
He was not quite as excited about the band that set up right next to us…
We set up camp right around the 11.5 mile marker, and right as we got there the runners started to come through. I don’t know if I get more nervous running races or watching races, but my adrenaline was out of control. Just as it had been the day before for my race, it was already HOT out, and I was worried about Casey running in the heat.
His original goal was to run somewhere between 3:15 and 3:20 (his PR is 3:11), and I was thrilled when I saw him headed toward us right behind the 3:15 pace group.
He looked very sweaty and hot, but he also looked strong, so I was surprised when he ran straight toward me and said, “I’m done.” He said he was really struggling in the heat, and he wasn’t going to finish. He had made up his mind, and he was okay with it.
He’s my husband, and obviously I know him well. I know that even though he claimed to be okay with quitting, he was going to struggle with that decision once he cooled down. I gave him some space and some water, and let him rest for a few minutes while we continued to cheer for the runners.
I had a few other friends running, so I kept my eye out for them as the runners continued to pass. The next thing I knew, Casey was back next to me pinning his bib number back on. He said he couldn’t bear to stand there and watch other people finish the race. He lost about 25 minute of running time, but by then his finish time had become irrelevant. It was about finishing what he started.
He headed back out onto the course right after the 3:40 pace group, and we all packed up and headed to the next cheering spot. At this point I was really nervous about him. The heat continued to rise, and I knew that he was headed to a portion of the course with little shade and several hills. He would have to make it from mile 11 to mile 18 before he would get the chance to stop again. We watched the runners come through in Mariemont.
Knowing Casey, I knew that if he could make it to mile 18 there was very little chance he would quit at that point. I took Cullen out of the stroller and got him ready to give his dad and extra boot of motivation.
We waited and waited with no text message updates – I was worried that I had no update from the half-marathon point. But then right around the 3:45 pacers, I saw his familiar stride.
I held Cullen up as high as I could, and Casey smiled and ran right toward him.
He still seemed tired and very hot, but in much better spirits this time. He gave Cullen a big sweaty kiss. His legs were cramping badly, and he told us it was going to take a long time to finish. I assured him we had nowhere else to be.
And with his family cheering loud and proud, he headed back out to finish what he started. We headed to mile 21, and cheered for him once again. Despite how I know he felt, he looked strong.
Since I knew he was going to be slowing down and we had plenty of time to get to the finish, we decided to hang out a little longer at mile 21, in order to cheer for a few other friends we had running the race. I jumped and screamed for Meghann when I saw her zoom by right on pace!
And not far behind – her sister, Kelly! They traveled all the way from Florida to run, so they didn’t have any family in town cheering or supporting them. Hopefully my family helped fill that role – we all yelled and screamed as loud as we could!
We finally made our way down to the finish line to try to find Casey. After wandering aimlessly for what felt like forever, we finally found him relaxing in the grass after a long, hard run. It was his worst marathon ever (okay other than the one he ran with me) – a finish time of 4:02.
More than anything, I was most proud of him for finding a way to just be okay with finishing a bad race. He tends to put a lot of pressure on himself, and I know he was really disappointed in his run. But he found a way to be happy that he finished, and to see it as a training run to get ready for his next marathon in June.
I think we learned a lot this weekend about what we need to do to be successful with running going forward. The heat really hurt us both, as we’re used to the cool climate of the Pacific Northwest. We also went into our races sleep deprived from a red-eye flight, and with even less sleep from changing time zones. While my training was subpar, Casey actually trained really well for this race, so there were definitely some outside factors working against him. Going forward, we’ll plan better for races we want to take seriously!
We both feel really motivated now with a few (bad) races under our belt. Sometimes it takes a bit of a reality check and a long afternoon on the pavement to really light the fire to get going again. We’re excited to train hard and support each other as we get ready for Rock N Roll Seattle at the end of June.
Another year, another Flying Pig. While I’ve pretty much decided to count marathons out until I’m done having kids, I’d be lying if I told you it was an easy race to watch (and not run). We’ll see what the next year brings, but I’d love to be lining up at the starting line in 2013. Until then, we both have some work to do.