Thursday, February 6, 2014

Midwest Race Trip!

When I started my looooooooong project to run a half marathon in all 50 states, one of the "double weekends" I identified pretty early on was the Indy Mini-Marathon on the first Saturday in May, and the Flying Pig Half Marathon on the first Sunday in May. Two major races, on consecutive days, under 150 miles apart. Heaven!

But for various reasons, the timing just didn't work out. Either we had too much else going on, or I was traveling for work, or it just didn't make sense. 

But the news that in 2015 the Tinker Bell Half Marathon was moving to Mother's Day weekend in May spurred me to just bite the bullet and sign up for the Indy Mini and the Flying Pig in 2014. 

The "Indy Mini" is held in , you guessed it, Indianapolis, and since 2004 has featured a full lap of the "Brickyard", aka the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. (In the early days of the race, the course finished at the finish line on the racetrack, but didn't include a full lap.) The Mini attracts some 35,000 runners each year, making it the US's largest half marathon. Some years the race sells out very quickly, so I didn't want to wait too long to get signed up. I have heard that one's bib number doesn't correspond to the corral, but to the order in which you signed up… but that doesn't make much sense, so I probably just made that up. (But for what it's worth, my bib number is 25,021…)

I'm most excited about the lap around the speedway… though I've also heard it's the toughest part of the course. I mean, a 2.5-mile oval is BIG… the back straightaway must be nearly a mile long… so I bet it feels hot and tedious. But, still, it will give me a chance to say hi to my dad (okay, his ashes), AND a chance to "kiss the bricks". No matter how well things are going, I'm going to make a point of pulling over, stopping, and kissing those darn bricks. It's what dad would have wanted, right?

Then the next day I'm going to run in Cincinnati. Flying Pig is another huge event that sells out every year. This event contains a marathon, a half marathon, a 10K, a 5K, kids races, a couple of relay options, and even a "pump and run" option where runners also lift weights. I have to admit, the thought of doing "pump and run" did cross my mind… until I remembered how weak and feeble I am. I know I have the (upper) body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach and quads of a king, and of a king of England too…..

I read a bit about the course, but to be honest the big draws for me here are, well, a Flying Pig race medal, a new state (this will be #24!), and did I mention a Flying Pig medal???

Oh, you may be asking yourself, why a flying pig? (Other than that it's adorable???)

According to the Flying Pig website,
In the 1800s, when riverboats plied the Ohio River, Cincinnati was a center of Western commerce. Since agriculture was a prime source of revenue in this area, boats filled with livestock and produce would dock in Cincinnati to sell their wares. Hogs were a major source of income for farmers here, as well, so pigs that were brought in by boat, or herded into town from area farms, were marched through the streets of Cincinnati to the processing plants. So many, in fact, that Cincinnati came to be known as "Porkopolis." 
Fast forward to 1988, when Cincinnati celebrated its Bicentennial. To mark the occasion, the city decided to renovate its riverfront area to include a "Bicentennial Commons" park. Noted designer Andrew Leicester, was commissioned to design the commons, which was to reflect the city's past. When he submitted his plans, one signature feature caught everyone's attention: The entrance to Bicentennial Commons would be four smokestacks, for the city's riverboat heritage, with four flying pigs on top, reflecting, according to Leicester, the spirits of the pigs who gave their lives so that the city could grow. 
After much outcry in City Council, who donned pig noses to debate whether the swine symbols would make the city the laughing stock of the country, the project was approved and the pigs became the signature sculpture of the new Cincinnati Riverfront. 

I've still got a lot of logistics to work out, but I love that sort of thing. One very nice thing -- I had sorta worried about the race fees, though I knew that I could give myself more leeway because these races are in new states, they're both "big deal" events, and I've wanted to run them a long time. But even with the online registration fees, each race came to right around $85. Which, okay, isn't cheap -- but it's on par with a lot of much smaller, less interesting local events… and less than half the price of a runDisney event. Okay, sure, I won't get to see Cinderella on the route, but I will pick up TWO NEW STATES!!!!

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