Flying Pigs in the Time of Swine Flu*, Part I

*No offense to Mr. Garcia Marquez.

First off, in reading my “remote” posts from Cincinnati just before the race I apologize for how sloppy they are. It is very difficult to write a good post on a Centro—the buttons are small and you can only see about 100 characters at a time. I think I’m going to give up posting from my phone, at least until I get a better phone.

Second, I’m breaking this race report into sections for logistical reasons: it would take me a whole other week to write one long all inclusive post. So I’ll start at the beginning, continue through the middle, and then finish at the end.

Calling all swine

At 4:30 the alarm goes off. I was surprised that I slept until the alarm—that never happens. I guess the half dose of NyQuil worked (on top of needing the sleep aid I was still recovering from a cold). I popped out of bed without hesitation, and went straight to the bathroom.

After that business was done I started to eat. And here was a major problem.

While at Walgreen’s the night before (pre-Nitmos encounter) I had the full intention to buy supplies to make my standard pre-race meal: peanut butter sandwiches. But I looked at the jar of peanut butter and the loaf of bread and knew that I would only use a tiny bit of each and have to throw them away before boarding the airplane to go home (I’d tried before, they do confiscate peanut butter). Feeling all conservationist I thought of what else I could buy at 9PM on a Saturday night in downtown Cincinnati that would be less wasteful. (How I now curse that damned Green-mindedness!)

We wandered around the store a bit before finding the energy bars and I decided to grab a few peanut butter flavored Power Bars. They say they stock you up on energy and that they are designed to be eaten before physical activity—I can trust packaging, right? Sheesh, I work in advertising, I should know better.

Back to race morning. I started gobbling up the Power Bars and washing them down with water while writing my race morning mini-post. They tasted fine and went down without a problem. I proceeded to start getting dressed.

But in the middle of changing clothes I heard a gurgling from the bathroom. I figured there was air in the pipes or something and that it would be over in a second or too—but it kept on. So I went to the bathroom to see what was going on, and the toilet was bubbling up foam like an out of control washing machine! The gurgling was not only coming from the toilet, but occasionally from the sink and tub as well. Oh God, I thought, a pipe has burst and they have to evacuate the building!

After a couple of minutes of this, when the foam started to bubble over the toilet seat, I called the front desk. The gurgling was so loud that the person on the person could hear it (she called it “grunting,” which I found funny on the morning of The Pig) and sent up a maintenance guy. Of course, by the time the guy got there the gurgling had stopped, but I made sure not to get rid of any of the foam so I could prove to him that I wasn’t crank calling at 5AM in the morning.

I woke up Wifey, let her know that the bathroom retaliated a bit this morning, but that everything was clear. She groggily acknowledged that the thought she heard some voices and then she stumbled over to the bathroom.

As I resumed changing into racing clothes/gear I released something: I still hadn’t gone, um, number two. This could be a huge problem because—well, I don’t think I need to explain, you all have been there. I quickly realized that it was food related. The Power Bars didn’t trigger my metabolic system in same way peanut butter sandwiches typically would—at best the bars worked on a delayed schedule. So I didn’t get the urge to go until right before leaving the hotel room, but it was a poor showing, I knew I would start the race with a stomach full of pasta and two Power Bars.

At 5:30 on the dot we left the room and headed over to the starting line at Paul Brown Stadium (home of the Bengals). When the elevator doors opened on the ground floor of the hotel there were runners everywhere. It was the most people I had seen in the hotel all weekend. When we got to the street there were streams of people coming from every direction going toward the stadium, like the Pied Piper was playing his flute, luring us to the riverside stadium.

Approaching the stadium the crowds grew thick—people jogging to the starting line, people with mylar blankets, some with trash bags, many people in pink winged costumes. I dashed into the stadium bathrooms for a last second pee break. I eyed the line for the stalls and thought it wasn’t worth potentially missing the start of the race. Although in retrospect there was plenty of time to do my business before crossing the starting line.

I gave Wifey a big kiss and a huge hug—she was so proud of me. She snapped a picture of my goofy pre-race grin:

I scampered down the stairs from the stadium concourse to the street level. I landed in a pit of pure runner mayhem: volunteers (“grunts”) shouting they had water, others shouting they had Gatorade, the music blasting in every direction, people starting to strip off their plastic layers. The port-o-potties were lined up against the starting blocks so the mob for the toilets and the mob to start the race were indistinguishable. There was no corral system in place, so people were bobbing through the starting crowds to get a decent place.

I settled on a spot under the traffic light at the intersection of Central Ave and Mehring Way, less than a block away from the starting line. I knew there was at least another block’s worth of people behind me on either street—I figured this would be a good place for me, since I assumed anyone lined up this close to the starting line would be close to a 4:00 Marathon. However, I realized that I was looking at the backside of the 5:00 Marathon pacing sign—which I found really, really strange. Why would a 5:00 Marathon pacer be in the first block of a four block staging area?

I was confused, but there was no time to ponder or move closer to the starting line because a resounding BOOM that shook the ground signaled the start of the race.


Jess said...

Good title; I'm sure Marquez won't mind the nod.

A gurgling hotel toilet is never something you have to deal with, especially on the morning of a marathon, but at least it didn't interrupt your routine too much.

Can't wait to hear the rest of the tale!

Irish Cream said...

Why do I feel like the toilet was just taunting you? Ha! I can't wait to read what's next!

Nitmos said...

I lined up near the 4:30 pacer which seemed to slow at the time but turned out to be just about right. you must have blown past us early.

I also down a PowerBar before the race (along with the PopTarts0 but didn't seem to inspire any, ahem, movement.

Adam said...

I too had ahem 'movement' issues.... Today I am actually still paying for not clearing the system prior to the run! (see also part 2 of my RR which is scheduled for tomorrow).