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REVIEW: Indy Mini Marathon

Disclaimer: I received an entry into the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon (and Delta Dental 500 Festival 5k) as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to find and write race reviews!


Rather than bury the lead, here it is:

GO RUN THE INDY MINI.

This entire experience was absolutely phenomenal. From the registration process all the way to the post-race party, the people involved with organizing the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon (aka the Indy Mini) know what they heck they’re doing. This shouldn’t come as a surprise though. In 2018,  the Indy Mini was voted #1 half marathon in The BibRave 100!

BibRave Pro meet-up the night before the race!

I decided to step it up for this particular race and participated in the Mega Mini Challenge – running the Delta Dental 5k and then running the OneAmerica Mini Marathon (half). My PLAN was to somewhat sandbag the 5k and go for a really amazing time in the half. That plan went out the window quite quickly as I decided “why not?!” and pushed fairly hard in the 5k. Finished in the top 50, roughly a minute and a half slower than my current 5k PR.

Start line prior to the 5k

After crossing the finish, challenge participants were to stay to the left and follow signage to return to the start area. It seemed as if the volunteers knew this, but there was a little confusion in the finish area. To stay on point, I turned my music back up, put my head down, and do what the race instructions told me. I got back to the start line pretty quick, found Bill – a fellow BibRave Pro! – and we lined up for our second race of the day

Me and Bill (& 6500 new friends) in Wave 2 before the half

I knew before I crossed the start line for the half that it was not going to be a PR. Not after the performance I just threw down in the 5k! I was fine with that. If I could come within 10-15 minutes, I’d still be happy. Honestly though, I wasn’t really focused on that. I was focused on what everyone else was focused on – getting out to the speedway and taking a lap on that iconic track! Although I was posting a pretty good pace through the first half, I slowed up once I got to turn 4 at the track and turned into a tourist for a little bit.

The second half of my half marathon was definitely slower and I could tell that the 5k was catching up to me. My legs weren’t having this run as much any longer. There was definitely some run/walk happening in those last 4-5 miles, but thankfully more running than walking!

Ultimately, I came in around 1:49 for the half marathon – only 8 minutes off of my personal record. Not too shabby at all. Rolled into the post-race party, met up with Bill again as we collected our medals for the 5k as well as for the Mega Mini Challenge.

***

All and all, this race is well worth the trip and definitely lives up to the hype that surrounds it. The history, the tradition, and a very unique 2.5 mile section. Beyond that, this event is incredibly well organized, there is pretty decent crowd support, and it is very evident that the City of Indianapolis (and even the State of Indiana) truly get behind this race.

In conclusion, you should absolutely consider running the Indy Mini in 2020. Registration is open NOW. Seriously. Go to Indianapolis next year and find out for yourself – as I did – why this race is one of the top half marathons in the country!

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(I’ll Be) Back Home Again In Indiana: Indy Mini Preview – Part 2

Disclaimer: I received an entry into the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon (and Delta Dental 500 Festival 5k) as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to find and write race reviews!

Make sure to download the Indy Mini app (iOSAndroid) to track me and my fellow BibRave Pros on race day (May 4)!


Growing up, kids and their parents share a lot of special bonds. For some, it’s special bond made from the shared love of travel. This is true of me and my mother. Our travels, and the subsequent stories, are world famous. The special location trips (like Niagara Falls, San Francisco, Mexico) and road trips across the country. Or that time we went to Europe for a few weeks – her first trip to Europe and I got to be the guide. Yeah, those were some damn good times.

For many though, it’s the special bond that is built with one (or both) parents by going to a major event – like a concert or a sporting event. As someone who grew up in southwestern Ohio, my dad and I built one such bond of our shared love of watching the Reds in Cincinnati. In 1994, our focus changed – at least in the month of May – from baseball – as dad was able to obtain tickets to the Indianapolis 500 and we found something else which became not just a shared love for US, but for anyone we had the opportunity to share it with.

Dad and me at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

From our first 500 in 1994 until our last in 2002, the Indy 500 became our annual tradition. I haven’t been back to the track in MAY since 2002. 17 years. So, when the opportunity came to opt-in to run the OneAmerica 500 Festival Indy Mini, there was no way I was going to pass that up. NONE. 

I get to run 2.5 miles of the course actually on the track at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway? 

I get to take in the view of our old seats from the freakin’ track itself? 

I get to cross (and likely, stop, kneel down, and kiss) the fabled “yard of bricks”?

Bonus: I (might) get to snag a moment with Olympic Marathon gold-medalist, Frank Shorter?

YES PLEASE. However…

Beyond all that, this race – and specifically the lap around the track – is more than a novelty to me. It brings back fantastic memories. EARLY morning wake-ups, breakfast via McDonald’s drive-thrus, parking under a PNC Bank drive-up window, and the long walk from 38th & Georgetown down to the Speedway. It reminds me of the people we used to share the seating area with – the same people around us for 8 years. While we didn’t really know each other or even connect outside of the 500, we always felt connected on that one Sunday in May.

The last 500 we attended was in 2002. That was a week before I graduated from high school and I was fortunate to share that last race with both mom and dad. I was able to have the best of both worlds – the love of traveling (definitely got that from mom) and my love of all things racing (thanks for that, dad). As a runner trying to run all of the World Marathon majors, a marathon in all 50 states, and a race in all 88 Ohio counties – I’d say the special bonds I built with my parents have carried over into my love of running for sure.

***

Tomorrow, I’ll run the Delta Dental 500 Festival 5k (7:00am) and then the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon (7:40am). Want to track me and my fellow BibRave Pros? Make sure to download the Indy Mini app (iOSAndroid).

Indianapolis was never my “home”, but this weekend it almost feels like a homecoming of sorts. All because of 250 laps, 33 drivers, 8 races, and one amazing race course.

Time to start your engines! See you in Indy!

 

Indy Mini Marathon Preview

Disclaimer: I received an entry into the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon (and Delta Dental 500 Festival 5k) as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to find and write race reviews!

Make sure to download the Indy Mini app (iOSAndroid) to track me and my fellow BibRave Pros on race day (May 4)!


25 years ago on a beautiful Memorial Day weekend, I wasn’t sleeping in or reading the funny pages on  Sunday morning. Instead, I found myself experiencing one of the greatest thrills of my life – sitting in the stands at the 1994 Indianapolis 500. To my 10-year-old self, the Indy 500 was HUGE. The race course – massive. The drivers – giants of racing. It was phenomenal. From my first 500 in 1994 until the last race I attended in 2002, Indy was my “home” for one awesome day in May. 

The view from one of my first Indy 500’s, as evidenced by the OLD pagoda!

I’ve been back to Indiana and even to Indianapolis in the years since 2002, mostly for conferences, but this trip though will be different. This weekend, I’ll be “back home again in Indiana” to take on the Delta Dental 500 Festival 5k AND the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon. I’ll get to run in a place that means a lot to me – which I’ll dig into later in the week. Like with any race though, there are always things for which I’m excited – and here are just a few!

Running the Double

Those familiar with IndyCar should also be familiar with the term “double duty”. This refers to a driver attempting to complete the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 – 1100 miles of driving – on the same day. That’s comparable to driving from Boston to St. Louis (approximately 1180 miles) with only a 2.5 hour nap after the first 500 miles. I think I’ll pass…

Apply that idea of pulling “double duty” to running? Runners eat that up. So why not run a 5k (3.1 miles) and then follow that up with a half marathon (13.1 miles) immediately after? Well, that’s what I intend to do on Saturday. I’ll start my race day at 7:00am with the Delta Dental 500 Festival 5k, which I’ll likely approach as a warm-up, and then get right back to the start line for the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon.

This will mark the first time I’ve ever run more than one race distance on the same day since I competed in track in high school. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit nervous about it, but I will get it done! Perhaps I’ll even lock down a PR in the half (sub 1:40 would be fantastic)!

Orange is the New Orange

The Indy Mini is one of the most popular races around – heck, it was voted #1 Half Marathon in The BibRave 100! Speaking of BibRave, that’s the reason I’m running this weekend. This will be the 3rd event I’ve run as a BibRave Pro and every time I have had an absolute blast. Aside from the races themselves, the best part of race weekend is getting to link up with my fellow BibRave Pros that are also on site. Whether we are running officially to help drive the orange brand or just happen to be running and wearing BibRave gear, being able to put faces to names in person is awesome. This weekend, I’ll get to run with William, who I met a few weeks back at the Blue Ridge Marathon, as well as a few others who I haven’t met IRL, but we’ve chatted back and forth in our Slack channels. My experience as a BibRave Pro – testing & reviewing gear and running & reviewing races – has been fantastic, but being able to have a core group of people to connect with and share our love of running has made it something I truly enjoy.

2.5 Miles

I’m okay with running on flat courses, hills, trails, tracks, and so on. It should be noted that aound the halfway point of the Indy Mini, the course gets PANCAKE FLAT. Why? I saved this one for last for a reason – we get to run a complete lap around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway! I’m sure you figured this out by now, but I had to put it to text.That 2.5 mile track is one of the greatest sports facilities in the world and I get to run there. Excited is a freakin’ understatement! I am going to attempt to go for a decent time, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I let up just a little to enjoy the view and the experience or running around IMS for a bit. Plus, the MEDAL has some MASSIVE references to the race – can’t wait to earn it and perhaps even the bonus medal for being one of the first 500 across the line!

Back Home Again…

Indiana was my home for a hot minute in the late 1980’s. My family moved to Ft. Wayne, not far from where I was born in western Ohio. I don’t remember much about those years, but what I do remember always made me feel like I was at home. My time in Indiana as a “resident” may have been short lived as a youngster, but I will always feel at home when I hear “Back Home Again in Indiana”. Even though that particular song isn’t necessarily part of Indy Mini weekend, it is the first thing I think of anytime I find myself back in Indianapolis.

Back home again in Indiana
And it seems that I can see
The gleaming candlelight still shining bright
Thro’ the sycamores for me
The new mown hay sends all its fragrance
From fields I used to roam
When I dream
About the moonlight on the Wabash
Then I long for my Indiana home

From the 1994 Indianapolis 500 Pre-Race Ceremonies – my first 500:

 

Will YOU be back home (again) in Indiana this weekend at the Indy Mini? If so, let me know on social and perhaps we’ll be able to link up as well! See you in Indy!


Looking for some other things to get excited about for this weekend’s Indy Mini? Check out this list of 13.1 things to look for during the Indy Mini from 9-time finisher & 3-time ambassador, Chris Day!

How to Travel: #BlueRidge Marathon Edition

Disclaimer: I received an entry into the Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to find and write race reviews!


Let me get something out from the onset. This post was supposed to go live last Thursday night and I thought for sure I had hit publish late Thursday night. I did not. Boo on me. As a result, you’re now in for a treat – my pre-race travel tips…from the future…about the past. Don’t worry, I’m confused as well. Enjoy the post!


If you’ve been following me (here, Instagram, Twitter, etc), you probably know that I’m heading to Roanoke, Virginia this weekend for the Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon. I won’t lie – I’m excited AND slightly terrified for this one, the reasons for which are best summed up in my OTHER preview post. However – and again, no big surprise – it really was only a matter of time before one of these race weekend preview posts inevitably focused on the travel aspects associated with such a trip. So, here are some of the tips, tricks, and best practices that put into action to make my race travel as easy as possible.

Plan Ahead

Once I’ve finally determined what race I’m going to do, I have to figure out two basic things: 1) how to get there, and 2) where to stay. Without these things sorted out in advance, the trip can get more hectic and more costly. For this particular trip – happening TOMORROW mind you – I sorted out both of these details more than a month or two ago.

First, how to get to Roanoke.could have opted to fly, but that would have involved leaving (and paying for) a car at the airport, being at the airport 2+ hours early on BOTH ends of the trip, checking a bag (I usually don’t, but depending on the trip it could happen), renting a car, and navigating from the airport to my accommodations. I’ll pass on all that, thank you very much! I’ve opted instead to drive the 6(ish) hours from my home just outside of Columbus, OH. It will allow me to travel on my terms and take breaks when I like, eat what I need/like, and so on. The obvious downside is being awake and driving for 6 hours, but I’ll take it. All it costs me is gas and a little money for the West Virginia turnpike – thank goodness my car gets pretty decent gas mileage!

So, how’d that whole driving thing go? It wasn’t too bad. The drive down felt like it went fairly quick. Minimal stops, no delays on the roads, decent weather. The trip BACK to Ohio, however, was the driving equivalent to watching a sloth – slow and not very exciting. LOTS of stops to stretch, hydrate, and walk. 

After making that decision, I have to figure out where to stay. The initial and probably more obvious option is a hotel relatively close to the center of the action. While this is great and probably offers more amenities, there’s also very likely a higher price tag that comes with it. For such a short trip and for as little as I’ll actually be in the space, I don’t need all that a hotel offers. For the Blue Ridge Marathon, I secured a really fantastic location via AirBnB. I’ve had really great success in the past – we used the service for our honeymoon in 2014 – so it was definitely worth a look. My rental is less than a mile (a 15 minute walk) from the start/finish line and for less than $90 for one night. This is HUGE for me because proximity to the start/finish, overall cost, and ease of access were paramount. Obviously, everyone’s preferences are going to vary and specific needs will dictate what type of accommodation work the best, so do your homework and find what works for you and your specific situation.

How was your AirBnB? It proved to be a GREAT decision. Perfect location in reference to the start/finish and super simple. There were the essentials and that was it – bathroom, shower, tv, bed. I was only there for a night, so that’s all I needed. Hands down, one of the best AirBnB’s I’ve ever booked.

Have a Plan? Good. Be Prepared to Throw It Out Because Things Happen

This piece of advice applies to many aspects of life – not just travel – but it does bear repeating. Whether you are a seasoned business traveler or a casual leisure traveler, being unfriendly or just plain rude can come back and bite you. If your flight is delayed or you get stuck in traffic, etc. – trust me, there are other people experiencing the same issue(s). Know your plan, but be ready to ditch it. Thankfully, I didn’t need to do this. I had things laid out in such a way that there were contingencies in place, but didn’t need them at all. The plan actually workout and I had an amazing weekend! Be patient even when your patience is tested to the max. Finally, be flexible. Sometimes the best experiences come when you have to call an audible. Keep these things in mind when traveling, because occasionally, you may find yourself being rewarded for it in the end!

Whether you are running the Blue Ridge Marathon, the Boston Marathon, or anywhere in between – here’s wishing you all a fantastic weekend of racing!

REVIEW: Zwift Run (and the BibRave Virtual 5k)

Disclaimer: I received a Zwift RunPod to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!


Let me start with this statement: I. HATE. TREADMILL. RUNNING. 

The treadmill has never been something I have found to be particularly enjoyable. Honestly, treadmills bore me beyond imagination. I am one of those “weirdos” who would much rather be outside in any variety of conditions (rain, snow, wind, etc) than to be confined to staring at a boring screen let alone be in a line of others doing the same thing. With that in mind, I was not convinced at all that I would get anything beneficial or enjoyable when the opportunity came to combine a treadmill with an app called Zwift.

What is Zwift / Zwift Run?

Zwift is primarily an online platform used by cyclists for indoor training. Cyclists can pair their controllable trainer as well as their bike with the Zwift app to ride on any number of courses in realtime with other cyclists from around the world. One can ride on their own in a free mode, tackle a structured workout/workout program, or even jump in on a group ride. Upon initial account setup, a cyclist gets a 7 day free trial and then must signup for a subscription, which starts at $14.99/month.

Apply that ideology to running and you have Zwift Run. All a runner needs is a treadmill, a footpod (some work better than others), and a device – such as a laptop/tablet/or phone –  to run Zwift. Alternatively, a runner could also use a Bluetooth-enabled treadmill. Ultimately, this allows runners to run more than 100k across a variety of routes, including virtual courses inspired by central London, Richmond, VA, and New York City. Similar to our cycling counterparts, runners can run in a free mode, tackle a specific workout or workout program, or join a scheduled group run – all in realtime with runners from across the world. And of course, cyclists and runners alike can pair their Zwift account with other third-party apps, such as Strava, to keep track of distance and other stats. Oh, did I mention that Zwift Run is FREE?

My Zwift Experience

Full disclosure: I do not own a treadmill. In order to participate in this experience, I had to take a step WAY outside of my comfort zone and utilize the resources of a local fitness club – I’ll cover the pros and cons of THAT side-experience in a separate post. Spoiler alert though – the reason(s) I don’t have a gym membership were kind of confirmed as a result of this experience. More on that later…

First things first, I received my Zwift RunPod with plenty of time before the BibRave Virtual 5k. It was SUPER easy to set up. After I downloaded the Zwift app and got my account set up, I opened up the box, removed the protector plastic from the battery, and popped the pod on my shoe. At that point, I was ready to get on the treadmill and get going.

Didn’t even really realize the pod was there!

 

My view during my Zwift runs – apologies for the poor quality photo!

When I made it to the gym and hopped on the treadmill for the first time, I was a little apprehensive about it. I was going to have my phone (or my tablet) on the treadmill with what looks like a video game on the screen. Thankfully, the app itself is very easy to use and makes your forget (for a little bit, at least) that you’re actually at the gym. The Zwift Companion app also makes it very easy to engage with the other runners (& cyclists) that are on at the same time!

 

Running in Watopia – Zwift’s fictional virtual world.

The BibRave Virtual 5k

On November 29, all of the BibRave Pros participating in this Zwift opt-in were invited to jump in on a scheduled group run called the BibRave 5k. Using the Zwift Companion app, we were not only able to RSVP for the run, but could also select our desired pace group. This run got so much attention via the Zwift Companion app, a runner from the United Kingdom who records his Zwift runs on his YouTube channel joined in – despite the start time being at 11:45pm in the UK!

This run was a great way to bring so many members of our BibRave community “together” without actually being in the same physical location. BibRave and Zwift teamed up at The Running Event (an annual running industry event) in Texas to get four of our Pros on the treadmills with the rest of us across the country. Personally, I was pretty much stride-for-stride with fellow BRP Matt M. (who is also a fellow Ohioan) for the majority of our run, pushing each other quite a bit throughout – even if it wasn’t exactly intentional.

BibRave Pros running with me on Nov 29 in realtime from The Running Event in Texas!

 

Running with fellow Ohioan and Bibrave Pro, Matt M., during our BibRave 5k.

 

Even in a virtual world, I still get to run in the rain!

Takeaway

With this experience in the books, I am still not a proponent of the treadmill. HOWEVER, my experience with Zwift definitely takes some of the monotony out of the equation and opened my eyes to considering actually using one, even if only a handful of times throughout the winter months.

I still don’t own a treadmill, and am not actively seeking to add one to my basement…yet…but if YOU have a treadmill or access to one, I would encourage you to snag a footpod and give Zwift a shot.


Check out some other Zwift reviews from my fellow BibRave Pros!

LoganStaciaJennLissaMattKaty – MeganVirjinia – Stephanie

Snag a RunPod for yourself and use code BibRave15 to save 15% – but hurry, this code is only good for the first 1000 RunPods!

Recap: 2018 Flying Pig Marathon

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Flying Pig Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador) and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!


Everyone has that ONE television show and/or movie that they absolutely believe their friends MUST watch right now. For example, when “The Office” was in its prime, a good chunk of my friends would ask me if I had watched the most recent episode. The answer was always no, because I hated that mentality that something was SO popular that I “had” to watch it.

I make this point because, to me, “The Office” was to television what the Flying Pig was to running. Friends and fellow runners had hyped this race so much that I wanted nothing to do with it – ever.

Obviously, that has changed. Before I recap the race, and in the spirit of full disclosure, let me bring you up to speed on how I got there…don’t worry, it’s the CliffNotes version…

***

About three weeks prior to the Flying Pig (of which I had given NO thought or attention), I noticed that a significant amount of attention was being paid to races in and around Chicago. Being from Ohio, and having some pretty decent races coming up, I was curious as to why this was the case. I reached out to the coordinators of the BibRave Pro program and they were PDQ in getting back to me. I won’t share all the details of why the Ohio races weren’t getting as much attention, but know that there are definitely opportunities for them to get love again in the future!

After a little bit of back and forth, I was extended the opportunity to jump in to help promote the Flying Pig via Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc. This quickly escalated to an invitation, if interested, to participate (read: RUN) in said event.

So here’s a race I’ve been avoiding for quite a while and now not only a chance to promote it, but a chance to RUN it.

To paraphrase one Don Vito Corleone – they (Team BibRave) made me an offer I could not refuse. With that said, I officially registered to run the Flying Pig Marathon on April 25th. For those of you playing at home, that was a week and a half before race day.

***

Now that the backstory is out of the way, let’s recap this thing.

On Saturday, May 5, I was running a 5k in my hometown, which is roughly 90 miles north of Cincinnati. The race went well and almost as soon as I had arrived and run, I was back in the car and on my way to Cincy. Thankfully, I had some friends from college who were signed up for the 4-Way Challenge with Extra Cheese who had generously offered to let me crash in their hotel room the night before the race. Upon my arrival in Cincy and getting settled in the room, we ventured to the expo so I could collect my bib and other race goodies.

The expo for the Flying Pig Marathon is incredibly well done and VERY well organized. The layout was very friendly and you knew exactly where you needed to go, thanks in large part to the volunteers and signage throughout the Duke Energy Convention Center. As one would expect, vendors galore with all their various wares and enticements. However, the most noticeable was the primary event sponsor – P&G – who had a massive setup where expo participants could snatch up some free samples of various P&G products, such as Tide, Olay, and so on. They also provided a nylon laundry bag to keep all the samples (and other expo purchases) in, which made navigating the expo very convenient.

OH YEAH – can’t forget about that sweet race SWAG! For this year, it included a technical race t-shirt, a poster commemorating the 20th anniversary of the race, and a premium travel blanket (think indoor/outdoor blanket). I was VERY impressed as all I expected was the race shirt to be honest!

The rest of the evening was relatively quiet as we all turned in fairly early. This proved to by a fantastic decision as far as being rested for race day. However, it also proved very difficult as I am usually a night owl when it comes to falling asleep.

Our hotel was maybe a half-mile from the start line so it was a very easy downhill walk to the Cincinnati riverfront and Paul Brown Stadium. Finding the gear check and my corral was, again, super easy due to TONS of signage and fantastic volunteers. As I got settled in my corral (D for those wondering), I was fortunate to connect with Juan, a fellow BibRave Pro who was in from Texas for the race. Sidenote: this was my first official race as a BibRave Pro, so it was fun getting to meet up with a fellow ambassador! Of course, as with most things, we had to take a photo (pics or it didn’t happen, right?).

Met up with fellow BibRave Pro, Juan! (@3dotjuan)

There was a very nice woman standing close to us who was kind enough to snap a photo for us. We then learned her name was Sarah and this was her VERY FIRST MARATHON! As with most marathons that I have run, the race organizers provide TWO bibs for first timers – the normal race bib to be worn on one’s front and a “it’s my first marathon” bib to wear on one’s back. Not wanting to draw that level of attention to herself, Sarah opted to forego the first-timer bib on her back. Of course, I had to snap a selfie with her because running a marathon is a huge accomplishment and she SHOULD get her moment in the sun!

She ended up finishing the marathon in 4:12 – well done, Sarah!!

Before I knew it, I was crossing the start line and on my way. The first few miles were relatively slow going – mainly because of how crowded in I felt, but this ended up playing to my favor in the later stages of the day. The first mile took me by one of my favorite locations in the world – Great American Ball Park, home of the Cincinnati Reds. GABP brings back great memories from my childhood, so this is already making this race very enjoyable. After crossing the Ohio River into Kentucky and then coming BACK across into Ohio, the remainder of the course stays in Ohio – winding its way back into downtown and then out into the easternmost points of the metro area (as most marathon courses do).

What sets the Flying Pig Marathon apart from a lot of other races, or so I’m told, are the HILLS. There is a pretty significant incline that begins at about the marker for mile 6 and then levels out just a little after mile 7.  For those wondering, this is about 250 ft of gain in the span of a mile. That may not seem like much to some, but to others this is like climbing a mountain. After this, the hills become more rollers than anything – some being worse than others. However, aside from these rollers in the second half, the course is mostly a downhill or fairly flat course from mile 12 to the end.

Throughout the course, there were plenty of sections where there were supporters and aid stations to get runners through the event. In addition to the water/Gatorade/Gu stops along the course, some of the other aid stations included the GraHAM station (graham crackers) and the SWINE & Cheese station (ham & cheese?). Before you ask – yes – there WAS a bacon station. This is the Flying Pig, after all.

As I progressed through the course, it became apparent to me exactly why this race IS as popular as it is. It’s most definitely a combination of the people involved in putting this event on (from the organizers down to the volunteers at the water stops) as well as the amenities that make the pre-race, race, and post-race absolutely enjoyable.

As I returned to the riverfront area and made my way again past Great American Ball Park, another realization came to the forefront – I was going to PR. The goal coming into this race was to FINISH and nothing more, especially having completed another marathon (and PR’d there as well) only two weeks prior! I was pleasantly surprised to see that I was still in good enough shape to not only finish the race, but to also put down another solid effort on a course that would be best described as challenging.

After crossing the FINISH SWINE (yes, that’s what the finish line is called at the Flying Pig Marathon), I met up with my friends/roommates and took in one of the best post-race celebrations/parties I’ve ever experienced. The park that they use for this post-race party is right along the river, with more than ample space for runners to walk around, stretch, grab food, grab a beer, and check out some of the local businesses who have set up shop. This is also where all runners would collect their post-race premium item – a black finisher’s jacket with a black version of the Flying Pig Marathon logo on the chest. I love the jacket…I just wish we didn’t get it on such a hot day!

Simply put, I avoided the Flying Pig for so long because of hills and the peer pressure of popularity of the event. With that said, I should have absolutely listened to that pressure, said screw the hills, and taken on this race YEARS ago. I totally understand the hype and the hills – yes, they are tough, but they could be MUCH worse. All and all, I am very glad to have accepted the gracious invitation to run the Flying Pig Marathon. A huge THANK YOU to Team BibRave for providing this opportunity and who knows…maybe I’ll get “piggy” again in the future!


In the days after the Flying Pig, I was able to jump on Athlinks.com and “claim” my race results. I say “claim” because the results from this race have not published to Athlinks as of the publishing of this post. HOWEVER, I was able to manually add my time to my account, which will become official as the race results begin to populate.

Athlinks allows me to keep all my race results in one location. Head over and check out my Athlinks stats HERE and learn more about how I claim past results as well as why I enjoy using it HERE. It’s incredibly easy to use and it’s a lot of fun to see races you might have forgotten about pop up in your results feed! So while you’re taking a look around over there, set up your own Athlinks account. That way you can start claiming your results!

Review: 2017 Akron Marathon

Originally shared over at BibRave.com, the following is my review of the 2017 Akron Marathon – with some slight alterations here and there. Enjoy!

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OVERALL: First and foremost, this race – nay, the entire Akron Marathon Race Series – is incredibly well organized. I can not express how amazing the organizers were at communicating information, updating their web presence, ensuring that the race series app was ready to go – the list goes on and on. It seemed like every little thing you could think of was thought of and planned for.

EXPO: The expo was a streamlined event for sure. Runners collected their bibs and “swag bag” in the first of two large convention halls, before moving on to take the obligatory photo with their bib & the race backdrop. After this, participants moved on to the vendor side of the expo. SO MANY VENDORS! Great showing from a TON of upcoming races, local universities, non-profit organizations, and so on. Near the end of the serpentine path that wound through the expo was where runners collected their official race gear, which included a 1/4 zip finisher pullover and lightweight running hat for the marathoners. Just being honest, I’ve worn my pullover every chance I had since race day!

BONUS: Three words: KARAFREAKIN‘ – GOUCHER. I had the opportunity to meet and chat with one of my favorite runners of all time. She’s incredibly humble and does so much for the sport. Hands down, one of the absolute highlights of the weekend!

RACE DAY: 
Parking – There’s a fair amount of parking, set up by which event you are running (full, half, or relay). My wife and I drove past the first marathon-specific garage (a block from my corral) and had no problem accessing the next one, only two blocks from the start line. Easy in, easy out.

Start Line Area – Unlike the two prior events in the race series, the Akron Marathon holds to a strict corral system. This ensures that runners start where their ability level dictates! Minus some minor bottlenecking getting INTO the corrals, moving around the start area was very easy. Lots of music and (thankfully) an abundance of porta-potties! Race started on time without incident and we headed out!

The Course – thriving with spectators at all points, offering boundless encouragement, cheers, smiles, and hi-fives! However, the course is also a challenging one, with varying elevation changes throughout – especially in the second half. There are definitely more significant hills on this course than what I am used to in the relative flatness that is the Columbus, OH metro area. This fact alone had me quite nervous about how this marathon was going to pan out! Thankfully, coming around a corner at just before mile 24, I realized that the 16-weeks of training had put me in unfamiliar territory – coming VERY close to cracking 4 hours. Ultimately, I finished in 4:06 – setting a nearly 40 minute PR. I think it’s safe to say I was ZIPPING (nod to the Univ. of Akron there) through Akron!

The Finish – First off, you finish the race on the home field of the Akron Rubber Ducks – a minor league affiliate of the Cleveland Indians – which is pretty darn awesome.

Canal Park in Akron, OH on race day

Echoing my previous statements about the crowd support – there is an AMAZING crowd to cheer you in at the end! Always makes for a great feeling. Navigate away from the finish line, snag up your medal, and head over to the post-race party – or Finisher’s Festival – which was AWESOME. Live music on stage, beer, pizza & other food all out on the outfield. Can’t ask for too much more than that. On your way OFF the field, you can snag your SERIES FINISHER medal (and medal hanger) if you’ve completed all three events (1-National Interstate 8k & 1 Mile, 2-Goodyear Half Marathon & 10K, 3-Akron Marathon, Half Marathon, & Team Relay).

Walking away from the finish with my wife, I was racking my brain to identify anything I could critique about this race – and I couldn’t! Almost two weeks removed from the race, I still can’t. If you’re looking for a well-organized, friendly, and challenging event – come check out the Akron Marathon. I truly believe that you will NOT be disappointed. Thank you, Akron Marathon, for a great event and an even better race series!