Friday, December 27, 2013

Going for #400...

Russia High School varsity boys basketball coach Paul Bremigan has accumulated 399 wins so far over 30 seasons with the Raiders. Below is a tally of his wins and the following is a link of career wins by OHSAA coaches before the start of the 2013-14 season - Click Here

Monday, November 25, 2013

Watching an All-American...

Katie Borchers battled course conditions and the best runners 
in the country at the NCAA National Championship

"Muddy. Wet. Cold. Awesome." That was the text message I sent to my friend, Ken, on Saturday from the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships in Terre Haute, Indiana. Those were the course conditions of the day and they shouldn't have bothered anyone that was a die hard cross country fan. They certainly didn't bother anyone that was there to watch 2011 Russia High School graduate and Ohio State junior Katie Borchers.

I'd never been to the NCAA Cross Country Championships before. Come to think of it, I'd never been to any national championship before. The Lavern Gibson Course just east of Terre Haute is referred to as Cross Country Town, USA and now I understand why. It's quite simply everything a cross country course should be, beautifully designed and spectator friendly in so many ways. A $5.00 entry fee per person for a national championship event wasn't bad either. The 38 degree temperature made it cold, constant wind made it even colder, and standing water hidden beneath the grass everywhere made my 13-year old daughter, Anna, tell me she couldn't feel her toes. However, we quickly learned to appreciate our extra layers of clothing after seeing many of the collegiate runners dressed in not much more than swimsuits. The men's race kicked things off at noon and a freshman from Oregon thrilled the fans with a come from behind victory, but the real reason Anna and I came was the women's race at 1:15pm.

The Ohio State University had just one runner in Tette Haute representing the Buckeyes from their men and women's teams. Katie Borchers wore the scarlet and grey for a student body of over 50,000 back in Columbus. The previous week the OSU men and women's teams competed in the Great Lakes Regional Championships in Madison, Wisconsin and both teams missed out on qualifying for nationals. Katie, however, ran a great race and earned one of four individual qualifying spots. I thought to myself before Saturday's race, even if she finishes dead last it's quite an accomplishment for a girl from small town Russia. Fortunately, Katie doesn't think the same way I do.  

My daughter and I ran from place to place on the course after the starting gun fired. "There's Katie!" and "what place is she in?" where about all Anna and I said to one another as we jumped over water and tip-toed through mud. My texting friend, Ken, was back home watching the race being broadcast on the internet. "Katie in 43" he texted after the halfway point. I learned from Katie's mom earlier in the day that the top forty finishers earned All-American honors. Not only was Katie running well, she was competing for All-American! Anna and I ran to the finish to watch the women come in. Somewhere between 20 and 30 I lost count. Here came another runner, and another, and another. Eventually there was Katie looking strong and passing one runner shortly before the finish line. Great finish regardless of whatever place she was in I told Anna. Then I received another text message from Ken..."40. Awesome". She did it! All-American!

Before Saturday's race the best finish ever for an Ohio State woman at the NCAA Championship was 73rd. Katie put her name in the record book and made a whole bunch of people back in Columbus and Russia awfully proud. She also set the bar really high for the next Lady Buckeye runner who comes along. On second thought, Katie's just a junior. Sounds like we'll be heading back to Terre Haute in 2014. Next time I'll pack warmer shoes for Anna.

Anna and I got this picture with The Ohio State University's
first ever women's cross country All-American

Monday, November 4, 2013

One year later and even greater...

The crowd roared as the individual state champions of the past two 
seasons came by the grandstands in an early battle on Saturday

It was exactly one year ago that I last spoke with members of the Liberty Center cross country team. I blogged about the Tigers here after they had just won their second consecutive Ohio High School D-III state championship. This past weekend at the 2013 state meet in Hebron the results were once again the same as Liberty Center had just captured another state title. For an added bonus, their #1 runner, junior Brittany Atkinson, returned to the top of the podium as the individual champion, a title she also won her freshman year.

I was anxious to talk to the team on Saturday because I knew their story. Six years ago the school almost didn't have cross country. The team consisted of just one girl that year. The next season current head coach Tim Atkinson took over and the sport is now flourishing. I chatted with two Liberty Center fans outside of National Trail Raceway on Saturday and asked how their program could go from rags to riches in such a short period of time? One gentleman said matter-of-factly, "It's because of Coach Atkinson. Don't let him fool you." He went on to explain that it's a common sight in Liberty Center to see the girls team out running at 6:00am on Friday mornings when most kids aren't even up for school yet. Cross country fever in the small town has even trickled down to 60 elementary kids who gather behind the school and run just for fun. Much like the fan said too, Coach Atkinson might fool you. When I met up with the coach after Saturday's race he deflected all the praise to his girls. I asked if he had anticipated his daughter Brittany's win that day, especially since she had finished 3rd at the regional meet the week before behind Coldwater's top two runners. The coach looked me right in the eye and said seriously, "Craig, she's such a gamer." I took that to mean Brittany runs her best when it matters most. She was certainly a gamer on Saturday. I also asked Coach what his thoughts were on the last race for his only senior, Paige Chamberlain, his second best runner that day and for most of the season. He beamed and described how much she's meant to their program. Coach Atkinson doesn't come across as the drill sergeant type you might expect from a three-time state champion, but perhaps that's what makes him so successful.

I was also glad to get a few words with Paige, the Tiger's lone senior, and I asked about the magic carpet ride she's been on for the last three years. Her smile explained most of what I wanted to know and although she'll miss her team and one of her best friends in Brittany, she couldn't think of a better way to end it. Finally, I caught up with Brittany, who has certainly secured her place in OHSAA state championship history as one of the best ever. With three team titles, two individual titles, and one individual runner-up, it's hard to find many others who have done as much. Did I mention she's still a junior? I asked Brittany about the individual battle early in the race with last year's state champ, Sarah Kanney of Coldwater. Brittany first acknowledged how good Sarah and her team were, then explained her strategy, talking about how she wanted get out faster than she did at the regional meet and how she threw a surge in at the mile mark to increase her lead even more. I also brought up the interesting fact that in the previous two seasons Coldwater had always beaten Liberty Center at the regional meet only to have Liberty Center beat Coldwater the following week at state. This year however, Liberty Center finally beat Coldwater at the regional and I wanted to know if that gave the Tigers confidence heading into state? Brittany said, if anything, it probably put a little more pressure on her team to win again. A quick check of history shows that Liberty Center does just fine being the underdog. In each of the past three seasons they've yet to be ranked #1 in the final state cross country coaches poll. Apparently the only coaches that matter to the Liberty Center runners are their own. Coach Atkinson will probably be just fine too if the Tiger's aren't ranked #1 again next year. He just needs a daughter who's a gamer!

Brittany was on top of the podium again while Paige sat below
enjoying the All-Ohio recognition and one last state championship

Monday, October 21, 2013

It's kind of a big deal...

The slogan of this year's Columbus Marathon & Half Marathon, was "It's Kind Of A Big Deal!". I couldn't agree more. Certainly the accomplishments of all the runners on Sunday was a big deal, but more notable for me was huge success this event has been. I first ran the Columbus Marathon in 2006 and followed it up with marathons in Akron, Chicago and New York. In 2010 I decided to run Columbus a final time and hang up my marathon shoes. This past spring, however, I got the itch again and knew there was only one race I wanted to do. The memories of racing 26.2 miles through the streets of Columbus in the fall is about as neat as it gets for an Ohio runner.

Fortunately, three of my running buddies; Amber, Kristin and Tommy, decided to join me, which made this year's Columbus experience my most memorable of the three. Although we trained together almost every Saturday this summer, oddly enough, because of the over 15,000 other runners crammed into the start corrals on Sunday morning at 7:30am, none of us ran together. It wasn't until the race was over that we were reunited and able to celebrate.

After running together on Saturday mornings for the entire summer,
my running buddies and I were all on our own for our final 26.2

Columbus certainly does it right. The morning began with music from The Danger Brothers blasting at the start line and fireworks streamed from the top of a building to signal the start of each wave of runners. The course routed us through a number of beautiful neighborhoods, my favorites being Bexley, German Village and Victorian Village. I was also thrilled by a short trip through the south endzone of Ohio Stadium and I couldn't help but raise my arms and act like I just scored a touchdown in front of those 106,000 empty seats. I even got a few claps from a some race spectators who realized what I was thinking. There were musical groups, solo singers and high school bands sprinkled around the course and the fans, oh the fans... they were everywhere. I've often wondered what makes race fans cheer for complete strangers and Columbus is no exception. Maybe they just like a good party, whatever their reason, the thousands upon thousands of fans that lined the streets seemed to be having as much fun as the participants. The biggest mob of fans was at the finish in front of Nationwide Arena, where the noise is like adrenaline shooting through your veins. Any pain you were feeling the last six miles completely disappeared when you heard those folks yelling. It's a big ending for a bid day.

I'm glad I decided to run Columbus a final time and I'm hanging up marathon shoes, again. If my running buddies try to talk me into another one I'll simply tell them no thanks. Unless it's Columbus, then maybe I'll think about  it. After all, it's kind of a big deal!

It's kind of a big medal!  Measuring 4 inches square
and heavy, this years medal was the biggest I've ever seen

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A historic day for all of Ohio...

Any long-time Fish Report reader realizes there has always been one constant on the website and that is sports. Although I almost always focus on high school sports, I'm also a fan of professional and college athletics as well. Whenever possible, I try to watch my two favorite football teams, the Cleveland Browns and the Ohio State Buckeyes. If I do miss a game it's usually because something more important came up. For example, the biggest game I ever missed happened 18 years ago on September 30th, 1995...

You see, when you're planning a wedding, there's a lot of things to think about. Calling the priest. Reserving the hall. Booking the band. Agreeing on a honeymoon destination. One of the last things I thought about in 1994 when deciding my wedding date was the Ohio State football schedule. Even if the Buckeyes were playing Notre Dame for the first time in 60 years! I don't remember exactly who broke the news to me, but I remember my Ohio State friends reminding me about it more than enough times leading up to the big day.

September 30th, 1995 turned out to be a special day for me and it was a special day for the Bucks. That Notre Dame game broke an Ohio Stadium attendance record at the time and former St. Henry star Bobby Hoying had a huge day for OSU throwing four touchdown passes. Our wedding party managed to catch a few minutes of the game after mass and the gang had fun later that evening dressing up my bride and I in football gear.

Every anniversary several people will wish me happy anniversary and then ask what year I got married. I almost always reply "September 30th, 1995. The same day Ohio State played Notre Dame for the first time in 60 years." In hindsight, it's a day most people in Ohio will never forget!

I don't remember why I'm wearing the Notre Dame hat,
but I do remember the Buckeyes beat the Irish 45-26

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Golfing & gigs with Minster's Xavier Francis...

Xavier was a 1st-team All-MAC golfer 
last year for the Minster Wildcats

Fish Report recently caught up with Minster junior Xavier Francis! Xavier's been one of the top golfers this season for the Wildcats who head into the big Versailles Invitational this Saturday at Stillwater Valley Golf Club. It's going to be a busy Saturday for Xavier because later that evening his band will be playing at the Russia Homecoming Festival. We asked Xavier a few questions about golfing & gigs and check out what he had to say...

F.R. Thanks for chatting with us Xavier! It sounds like Minster is having another fine year on the golf course. How would you grade the Wildcats right now? 
X.F. I think we have an amazing golf team this year! Not just because we have some low scorers, but because it's an absolutely amazing group of guys. Not only are they all my teammates, but they are also my really good friends. I think it really makes us play better when everyone is having a good time, pushing each other to get better, and even trying to beat each other. I couldn't be happier with our team this year.

F.R. We've seen your name in the paper as medalist a couple of times. Which matches have you won so far and what part of your game are you working on the most right now?
X.F. To be honest, I haven't been playing very well at all this year. My team has still done very well even without me playing well in the first couple invites. The last couple matches I think I have pulled it around though and got it more figured out. I shot a 74 at the Auglaize County Invite to take medalist. I shot 35 in our match against Fort Recovery and 36 in our match against Delphos St. Johns. We've won all of our matches so far. The part of my game that I have been working on most this year is definitely my mental game. I've been trying to improve my focus and decision making on the course. One of my favorite quotes is: "Golf is 90% mental. The other 10% is mental." ~ Jim Flick

F.R. Is there any particular pro golfer you look up to or maybe try to pattern yourself after on the course?
X.F. Jack Nicklaus has always been a role model to me. I might be a little young for his time, but from the books I've read about him and his mind set, I would really like to be more like him. I hate reading with all my heart, but if its golf know. One of Nicklaus's quotes that really sticks out to me the most is: "I am my own opponent." He has taught me to play against myself and to try to become the best I can possibly be, instead of just becoming better than everyone around.

F.R. Alright, lets change subjects. You're also playing in a band called "The Experience". Who are the guys you play with and how did this all come about?
X.F. Well, I became friends with Freddie Purdy when I moved to Minster, who was in a band called "Crackerjax". I was always really jealous of what he got to do. One random day in the beginning of the summer, Freddie called me up and said, "So you want to play some guitar?". We got a new drummer and renamed the band to "The Experience" and the rest is history. Band members include: Freddie Purdy from Minster, Jarod Schmitmeyer from Minster, Cameron Bergman from New Bremen, Kevin Bruns from Marion Local, and me.

F.R. This Saturday you have a gig at the Russia Homecoming Festival. What kind of performance can we expect to see?
X.F.  "The Experience" has played about five gigs this year. Our cover band is going to try to appeal more towards a younger audience. Maybe try to get a little dancing going! But we have a pretty wide variety of music. We play anything from country to rock to even some pop. I think it will be a little bit of everything, and hopefully something for everyone. I can't really say how good we are, so why don't you just come to the festival and find out yourself!

F.R. Last question Xavier and we've decided to grant you one wish. Do you wish to someday be a golfer on the PGA Tour or a rock-n-roll star?
X.F. Well, I mean, either one wouldn't be too bad! I think there is no better career than doing what you love and making a living off of it. I would do anything to be able to golf and make money doing it. Any career that involves golfing sounds good to me! But a rock-n-roll star works too. 

Great stuff Xavier. Good luck this golf season and we'll be listening for you this Saturday in Russia! 

Xavier (left) and "The Experience" will be rocking 
the Russia Homecoming Festival on Saturday night

Friday, August 23, 2013

What I'm watching at Saturday's Bob Schul Invitational...

1964 Olympic gold medalist Bob Schul has been a 
regular attendee at the Invitational that bears his name

Even though the local cross country runners have already began running at many schools, this Saturday is when it officially feels like cross country season for me. That's because this Saturday is the 42nd annual Bob Schul Invitational in West Milton, the first really big cross country meet in the area. It's also a prestigious event considering Bob Schul himself will be there, the only American to ever win an Olympic gold medal in the 5000 meters. As he always does, Bob will be signing t-shirts, ribbons or whatever you would like him to sign. Over the years I've talked to a few older folks about that 1964 Olympics and they all say Bob Schul was the big news story back then. Of course, the main reason I'm heading to West Milton on Saturday is not to see Bob, rather all the current running talent from around home.  Here's a preview of the individuals I'm personally interested in watching.

The Bob Schul Invitational is so big they actually run two high school girls races and two high school boys races, one race they call Division I-II and the other race Division III. For the schedule of races this Saturday, click here. I'm most interested in the D-III races and I'll begin with the boys. Let me start by saying I'm not sure it can get any better than last year...ever. Two of Ohio's best seniors put on a show, Sam Prakel of Versailles and Clayton Murphy of Tri-Village. Sam pulled away for the victory in a time of 15:40 while Clayton ran a 15:54. Those times for August are just flat out ridiculously good and I'm not expecting anything sub-16:00 this Saturday. However, my favorite this year has to be Lehman Catholic senior Joe Fuller. Joe just won the Shelby County Preview this past Tuesday for an unprecedented third straight year and his time was 16:45. I've talked to Joe a couple times over the summer and he seems to be focused on making his mark this season. I predict Joe's biggest challenge will come from Minster senior Dominic Slonkosky. Dominic also already has a race under his belt this month, the OHSAA Early Season Invitational at the state meet course back on August 17th. He picked up a win in the "A" race that day with a time of 16:39. Shelby County challengers I'm also watching include juniors Austin Jones from Botkins and Jordan Gariety from Russia. Those two battled neck-and-neck to the finish line on Tuesday for 3rd and 4th place at the Shelby County Preview, and will desperately be trying to stay in the lead pack in West Milton.

Can Jones & Fuller share a rivalry like Prakel & Murphy?
West Milton will be their second matchup in five days
(I was informed Botkins was running D I-II after this blog)

Like the boys race, the D-III girls race also lost their top two finishers to graduation. Last year's winner Lauren Francis from Russia is now running at Xavier and 2nd place finisher Meghan Vogel from West Liberty-Salem is now running at Penn State. Those stars were just two of only four runners to break the 20:00 minute mark that day. The other two were Russia's Emily Borchers who's a junior this year and Lauren Heaton who's a sophomore. I'm expecting big things from both those girls this Saturday, as each ran well at the Shelby County Preview on Tuesday for 2nd and 3rd place. Emily's time was 20:19 and Lauren's was 20:48 on a very warm evening. The West Milton course has over half the race on wooded trails, which claims to be 10-15 degrees cooler than outside the woods. As a result, I'm predicting both girls will break into the 19:00's again.  Also like the boys race, there should be another Slonkosky challenging for the win. Minster sophomore Julia Slonkosky, Dominic's sister, seems to be running well after a 4th place finish in the OHSAA Early Season Invitational with a time of 20:44.  I predict she'll be in the 19:00's also and right there with the lead pack. Another top runner I'm watching includes West Liberty-Salem senior Alyssa Strickland. Alyssa has run most of her career in shadows of three teammates who graduated this past spring, but she's expected to lead a group of really young runners on her team this year. She's accepted that role according to talks I've had with her coach and Alyssa will be a bright spot for the Big Orange this season. One last local talent I'm curious about is Covington sophomore Carly Shell. Carly ran well in cross country last year and had an outstanding track season in the spring. This Saturday will be the first meet of the season for Covington, so I'll be interested to see how Carly comes out.

As fast as Russia's Emily Borchers is, her Lady Raider 
teammate Lauren Heaton is never far behind

One final note. The best runner in West Milton on Saturday and maybe in all of Ohio this year should be competing in the Division I-II girls race, which takes place between the Division III boys and girls races. Mary Kate Vaughn, a sophomore for Oakwood, is the defending D-II state champ and has a personal record of 17:22 in the 5K. Her ability to dominate races last year as a freshman was amazing to watch. I'm not 100% positive she's running on Saturday, but Oakwood is scheduled to be there, so enjoy the show if she does line up.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Talking Russia volleyball with Maggie Kearns...

Russia finished 2012 with a record of 22-4 including 
a championship at the Minster Invitational

Fish Report recently caught up with Russia senior volleyball player Maggie Kearns!  Maggie is a 5'-11" right side hitter for the Raiders who open their season this Saturday hosting the Covington Buccaneers.  We asked Maggie a few questions about volleyball and this is what she had to say:

F.R. Thanks for chatting with us Maggie! You're back for your senior season and coming off a very impressive junior year where your team finished with a 22-4 record. How have the Raiders changed this year compared to last?
M.K. We’ve changed quite a lot since last season. We lost seven seniors last year, but have five returning varsity players. Obviously, losing seven seniors means we had spots to fill at the beginning of the season. During the off-season and over the summer a lot of girls have stepped up and we are looking forward to a successful season this fall!

 What are your team expectations or any goals you have heading into this season?
M.K. One team goal we always have is to win the league. Being in the Shelby County League always makes this goal difficult to accomplish, there is always great competition! Another goal we have is to make it beyond District Tournament this year. The last few years we’ve made it to District Finals but haven’t been able to advance, we are hoping to break that streak this year!

F.R. Has your role on the team changed at all now that you're a senior?
M.K. Yes, definitely. There is a lot more responsibility as a senior.  You have to keep a positive attitude and play your hardest because everyone is looking at you as a leader on and off the court.

F.R. Did you work on your game at all over the summer to get ready for this season?
M.K. Yes, we all did! We traveled to a few different tournaments around the area, had a team camp, and open gyms every week. 

F.R. Looking at your schedule, are there any big games you're especially looking forward to?
  Definitely Fort Loramie, Jackson Center, and Anna. Those are always huge match-ups for us! Everyone plays their best and each point is a fight when a league title is on the line.

F.R. Your cousin, Samantha Daniel, plays college volleyball for the Wright State Raiders. Does she ever offer any advice to you on being a better player?
M.K. Sam always stresses the importance of your mental game and being confident in your abilities. She says that imagining yourself having a successful game or executing a play perfectly before a game really makes a difference in how you play. Also, she advises to have fun and leave all you’ve got out on the court!

F.R. Final question Maggie, have you made any college plans yet?
Nothing official, I’m considering The Ohio State University but I haven’t made any final decisions yet.

Thanks Maggie!  Good luck Saturday, this season, and Go Raiders!

The Raiders have some key players returning in 2013 
with Claire Sherman, Maggie Kearns, Taylor Daniel,
Camille Puthoff, and Kylie Wilson

Thursday, July 4, 2013

A special Independence Day ...

The Independence Day holiday weekend is a significant date on the calendar for a lot of people in the area. It means Liberty Days is being celebrated over in Ft. Loramie, it means folks in Russia are finalizing details for their annual Raider Classic baseball tournament, it means local country music fans are packing up gear for Country Concert, and it's the unofficial middle of summer vacation for all the kiddos heading back to school in the fall.

No doubt most of us will be celebrating this weekend in some kind of way. I'll actually be flying to South Carolina on July 4th to join my family already vacationing in Myrtle Beach. All this leisure activity is thanks to the brave men and women in our U.S. military. Their service and sacrifice means we get to enjoy the holiday doing what we want. Without them I don't imagine we would be having picnics, playing baseball, going to concerts, and laying on the beach. At least I don't see those kinds of pictures in countries that aren't free. It's easy to forget and often times I do.

Fortunately, my 8-year son Ross didn't forget a couple weeks ago. He asked if he could write a letter to his buddy in the Marines, Bryce Dues, who just graduated from Russia High School this past May. Ross and Bryce became friends during high school basketball season when Bryce played for Russia and Ross was the water boy. Although Bryce just left for the Marines a short time ago, it has to be a stressful time for any new recruit, and Ross wanted to let Bryce know he's thinking about him back home.

Ross is a fan of #23 both on and off the basketball court

Ross left for his Myrtle Beach vacation this past Sunday and the next day a reply letter came in the mail from his buddy. I didn't tell Ross about it yet, I sure won't open it, and I'll be bringing it to him in Myrtle Beach on July 4th. I'm positive he'll be surprised. Not many people get gifts on Independence Day, but a letter from a U.S. Marine on the 4th of July is about as special as it gets. Thanks Ross for reminding me how lucky we are to enjoy this holiday and thanks to all the service men and women who keep giving it to us.

Even in the day of emails and texting, nothing beats a letter

Monday, June 3, 2013

Giving all they got...

The Russia girls were all smiles and all exhausted after winning a regional title

There's a saying in sports I've heard before that usually comes up around tournament time that goes "All It Takes Is All You Got".  That slogan came to mind this past Saturday at the D-III Regional Track & Field Meet in Piqua when the Russia Lady Raiders brought home the first girls regional championship in any sport in school history.  You see, when you have a track team the size that Russia does, it really does take all you got to pull off something this big.

That's why Russia sophomore Leah Francis couldn't celebrate long after qualifying for state in the 100 hurdles and had to quickly get ready to score points in the 4x200 relay.  That's why Russia freshman Lauren Heaton, who just ran anchor on that 4x200 relay team, had problems a short time later picking herself up off the track when she won the 400 dash.  That's why senior Taylor Magoto's season best in the pole vault couldn't have came at a better time.  That's why sophomore Emily Borchers school record time in the 1600 was so huge (breaking her sister Katie's record).  And that's why senior Lauren Francis looked exhausted after qualifying for state in the 3200.  Every point from every girl was hard-earned and in the end only four points separated Russia and Minster.  By the way, that's the same Minster program that has won 12 state championships in girls track & field.

Russia's Lauren Heaton won the 400 and left it all on the track

Don't get me wrong, the Russia victory didn't shock the world.  As a matter of fact, one coach I talked to said she knew the Raiders had a good shot to win.  Even last year Russia finished a very respectable 3rd at the regional behind Versailles and Minster.  But to explain what the Lady Raiders were up against coming into this weekend I'll use some baseball terminology, the girls needed to play error-free and hit a few out of the park.  They did exactly that.  Congrats to Coach Phelan, her staff, and her athletes on making history.  The girls were outstanding representing their school, they brought home some new hardware to Russia, and all it took was all they had!

The Lady Raiders gave Russia a reason to be proud

Monday, May 6, 2013

Reflections on the Flying Pig...

Tim and I finally ran "The Pig"

After eight half marathons and five full marathons, Cincinnati's Flying Pig seemed like the only course around I had yet to attempt.  Each spring I run a half marathon with my running buddies and Cincinnati was always one of the races we said we would do if "nothing else came up."  In the past I've traveled with a sometimes large group of running friends to races in Indy, Louisville, Columbus, Nashville, and Carmel, Indiana to name a few.  Often times the race was more of an excuse to enjoy a long weekend in the city.  As the years have passed my running buddies have come and gone, the long weekends of enjoying the city have turned into short overnight stays, and this year "nothing else came up."  It was time to run the Flying Pig and I had one buddy left that was willing to join me.

Tim Kearns and I have run enough of these half marathons to know what it takes.  We know we're never going to win one and we know the minimum amount of training required to complete one.  During our training   we ran a few Saturday morning long runs with some locals, which prevented us from getting too lazy.  Special thanks to Amber Cordonnier, Matt & Julie Magoto, Tyler Phlipot, and Tommy Francis who were also training for The Pig and kept Tim and I honest.  Believe it or not, I've always enjoyed the camaraderie of training with friends as much as the actual event we are training for.  Those people I mentioned are also all faster than Tim and I, so it was nice to be pushed a little as well.

Amber pushed me on a few Saturday morning training runs

The Flying Pig weekend finally arrived this past weekend.  During those early running years we might have taken a half day off work on Friday and got an early start driving to the city.  This year we waited until the high school track meet was over Saturday afternoon and left after that.  Instead of staying at the Embassy Suites, this year we stayed at the Travel Lodge.  And instead of reservations at a fancy Italian restaurant, we were treated to hamburgers on the grill at my brother-in-law's house in Newport, Kentucky (which were better than any restaurant in Cincinnati!).

The race morning atmosphere was great, the weather was ideal, the crowd support was awesome, the hills between miles six and nine were killer, and the finish was rewarding.  Overall, it was motivating to be out there with so many different kinds of runners and in retrospect, perhaps we should have ran The Pig years ago.  I'm always inspired after running a half or full marathon and maybe that's why I do it.  Maybe that's why I'll run another one again next year.  Maybe that's why I'll run the Flying Pig again someday... if nothing else comes up.  

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