The (Unexpected) Road to the Flying Pig Expo

Seeing as I’d been up since 5AM on Friday (to attend Caitlin’s Royal Wedding Party, of course!) I made sure to get to bed early Friday night. I’ve always heard that it’s the “night before the night before the race” that really counts. I told Ryan that the only thing I truly *had* to do on Saturday (besides working on my biostats final) was go to the Flying Pig Expo held in downtown Cincinnati to pick up my racebib and timing chip. The rest of the day could be spent doing (and eating!) whatever we wanted. Sounds like a good plan, right?


Well, Saturday morning rolled around and I ended up sleeping in until 10:30, and my oh my, it felt heavenly. No guilt here. It was wonderful and so worth it. Ryan and I decided it’d be better to hit up the Expo sooner rather than later. That way, we wouldn’t feel rushed and I’d be able to get home and have plenty of time to chip away at the biostatistics final for the rest of the afternoon. (This final was a beast, by the way. It was made up of 5 questions but each of those 5 questions had smaller “bullet point” questions, starting with the letter “a” and ending with the letter “m.” Talk about a lot of math. Seriously daunting, in my opinion).

The plan was to be gone for… ohhh, 3.5 hours, max (40 minute drive to downtown, time @ the expo, 40 minute drive back). Plus, we knew we had to get back to the Happster — it was her vacation, too! But alas, I of all people should know by now that it’s not always the best idea to rely on a plan too much…

After grabbing some grub and getting ready, Ryan and I were out the door and in the car by 11:30! I thought to myself, “Yessss! We are on our way… this marathon business is really happening!”  But about 3o seconds after pulling out of the driveway, I noticed something “off.”


*clickity clack, clickity clack*…

I asked Ryan… “Do you hear that click-clacking noise?!” He responded “Yeah, what is that?” Being the oh-so-savvy-car-girl that I am, I didn’t have a clue.  Ryan asked if the steering wheel felt funny. I told him,“Nope, it feels like normal… no pulling whatsoever.” Ryan then concluded that it must’ve not been a flat, because if it was, I’d be feeling a pull in the wheel.

Regardless, we pulled over to the side of the road anyway. We got out of the car, walked to the front… and took a peak.

I’ll give you one guess as to what we found…

A flat tire.




Well well well

“Hrmph. I wonder how that happened,” I thought to myself. Then I told Ryan how lucky we were that we didn’t have a blowout on our EIGHT hour drive the day before. He agreed, and then proceeded to go all manly on me and headed to the back of the car to get the spare so he could change the flat.


Man on a mission

I’ve actually had experience with a flat before (got a flat in Australia while driving the Great Ocean Road with a few buddies… we accidently hit a wombat. Yep, completely serious) so I knew between the two of us, this would be easy-peasy.

Well, it should have been.

Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately?) I’ve never had the need to use the jack on my little Volv-dawg, so the jack was completely unoiled. Whoops? Guess I need to add that on my list of things to check before a roadtrip…


One jack, extra-dry… coming right up!

(Sidenote, I kept calling the jack… a jackhammer. I seriously crack myself up sometimes. Pretty sure Ryan just thinks I’m stupid.)

Anywho, it’s a good thing my mom insists on having me on her AAA membership. It’s kind of funny, in the years I’ve been driving, I’ve only had to use it with Ryan (one time he locked his keys in his car, and the other time, his car completely died – he ended up buying a new car the very next day!).

Sooo yes, we ended up having to call AAA, (silly jackhammer). They said the wait was going to be about 45 minutes. Not too shabby, if you ask me! I decided to do some stretching while we waited to maximize my time.


Oh hello, Casper legs (funny thing is…I actually have a *monstrous* shorts-tan going on here… you just can’t see it!).


Oh hamstrings, you are always so tight…


Stretchy stretch

Too bad I didn’t have my stick on me. I seriously take that baby everywhere, even to work!

I also occupied myself by looking at bugs…


Dear Mr. Caterpillar, if Happy had been with us, she would've *eaten you up*


dun dun dunnnn! AAA man to the rescue!

The AAA man actually showed up within 20 minutes! He was super friendly and ready to get us back on the road!

After telling him about our lame-o jack (not to be confused with jack-o-lantern, or jackhammer), he offered to take a look at it and lube it up Smile


Lubed up and good as new 🙂

Now I am officially prepared in the case I ever get a flat tire again. Oh, and if you were wondering about the tire… the AAA guy said that we most likely hit a big pothole on the road when we were in/near Cincinnati. He pointed out two slashes in my tire, and said it definitely  was not “just a slow leak.” Good to know, because before we even left Charlotte, we checked the air in my tires (like we always do) and they were good to go! So this flat came outta nowhere for us.


I present to you... The Culprit: two tire “slashes”

We are so lucky we didn’t have a blowout on the highway… ugh! That would’ve been terrifying. We are also very lucky that the flat did not occur the morning of the race…I probably would’ve missed the start!

Anyway, about 10 minutes later, the spare was on and we were off to the tire store for a new tire! (We actually swung by home first so I could grab my biostats stuff, because you all know by now that I like to maximize my time as best I can).


Done and done

At least… that’s what we thought.

When we got to the tire store, they said they didn’t have the correct tire in stock (I swear, Volvo’s are one of  *the* most expensive cars to upkeep – they require everything “specially ordered” –funnels for oil changes, headlight light bulbs, tires…you name it, it’s ridiculous!).

So off to the second tire-store we went, some 30 minutes down the highway. Luckily they had plenty of tires in stock, and we were seen right away.

Men at work…


Work, son

Me at work…


Oh hey look, a desk!


We’ll just call this my *other* office…


Alright, how much longer?


I’m getting tired of studying…


So over this. I just want to go to the Expoooo

Finally, an hour and a half and three brand-spankin’ new wheels later… we were off to the Expo!


Good as new

For real, this time Smile


Home of the Flying Pig Expo 🙂


Expo Entrance

This Expo was by far the biggest one I have ever been to (but that’s not saying much since I’ve only done Charlotte races!). However, other hardcore runners I came across who’ve run Chicago and NYC had the same sentiments, and said that this Expo ranked way up there!

Pretty neat, huh?

Our first stop was to pick up my race-packet – inside was my race-bib and timing chip!


What a cute little piggy bag…

We then weaved our way through the huge Flying Pig Merchandise section. I picked up a Flying Pig Poncho (because the forecast for the race was practically 100% rain and thunderstorms) and oohed and ahhed over the other cute things they had to offer….like this bebe pig!


oink oink

Y’all, this Expo was seriously unreal. The volunteers manning the booths were so encouraging and friendly, and the atmosphere was just filled with excitement and positive energy, (despite the rainy forecast!).

I’d say there was easily over 100 booths to visit, and Ryan and I pretty much walked by every one of them.  I was even able to get a massage (without waiting!) and ohhh man did that feel good. Apparently the guy noticed that I have “loose” hips, though. Because I was not too familiar with what “loose hips” exactly meant…I asked him to explain further. He then went on to say they were “messy.”

Um, what?

That’s not exactly something you want to hear the day before running a marathon. He went on to say that “maybe a better term would be… flexible.”  Right. I asked him if I should do anything about my “messy” hips, and he said that because I am “symmetrically loose” (aka, on both sides of the hip) and I’d been running just dandy for years, that I shouldn’t be too worried. Still, it threw me for a loop.

Anwho, we continued on our way, taking in all of the décor and fun costumes people were wearing.

I got super excited when I came across the Girls on the Run booth, I’ve been meaning to get involved with them for ages now! Now that some time has been freed up (aka, training is over!) I’ll be able to do so Smile


Then I came across the Disney Marathon booth. I *so* loved seeing all of the 2011 medals! One day I will run this race, and maaaaybe even conquer the Goofy Challenge (run both the marathon and half marathon in one weekend).


Beautiful Medals…

The expo had tons of people walking around in festive pig-gear.


My new Halloween costume

It was hilarious, and I just had to snap a picture of this guy…



As we made our way down the aisles, I came across a booth for Charlotte’s very own ThunderRoad marathon! I LOVE this race and have run the half marathon twice, now.


Representin' Charlotte!

It’s funny, as we continued on our way… my worlds began to collide even more.  I also stumbled across a booth for the Cincinnati’s YMCA! So of course, I had to grab a picture with them…


Love the Y!

aaaand, to top things off… I randomly came across this Carolina tee-shirt in one of the tee-shirt bins! How appropriate, seeing as I was just accepted to their MPH program 3 weeks ago Smile


2009 NCAA National Champions!

The swag for this race was top-notch. Seriously. Not only did I get a really nice tech-tee…


"High-tail it!"

But they also gave each runner an embroidered backpack AND  an official 2011 Flying Pig Marathon poster!


swag = awesomesauce

They had a really neat display of the posters from all of the past years, I really enjoyed looking at them all.



They also had a timeline display of the happenings at each mile…


I left the Expo one happy and *super* excited girl!!! Seriously, I was beaming…



We headed home to get ready for a night full of relaxation and food. But because we were both so hungry, we decided it’d be smart to stop for dinner instead of cooking something at home. I don’t think I would’ve had the patience to whip something up in the kitchen! We decided that a pitstop at Subway would make a suitable dinner.

Ryan’s about to beat me up he’s so hungry…


And I’m about to break my way through the glass.


Gimme food.

By this time it was about 6:30 PM (um yeah, way past the 3.5 hours we had originally planned to be gone…), so we got our food to go. We knew we had to get home to poor little Happy, since she’d been home far too long by herself!

This footlong sub tasted sooooo good. Happy wanted in on it, but I wouldn’t let her.


Back off, Happs

After dinner I took a better look at all of the swag I got at the Expo…


LOOOOVE this bag!

I gathered up all of the necessary electronics to charge, because…you know…it’s always a good idea to drape yourself with as many electronic devices as possible when running a marathon in the rain (garmin, ipod, phone, camera [for Ryan]).


Plug it in, plug it in

I got in touch with one of my family’s friends, Kathy. (She is the mother of the boy I dated in high school for 2.5 years and who was tragically killed in car accident my junior year of high school). I’ve been close with Kathy and her family since junior high school, and have kept in touch with them over the years. Ryan has met them multiple times, so I know he feels comfortable with them, too. When Kathy learned I was running the Flying Pig race a few months ago, she and her daughter Sarah were all about being there to cheer me on, especially since my own family couldn’t be there. It meant the world to me that they were willing to wake up early and stand on the race course (especially in such poor weather!). So when I touched base with Kathy on Saturday night, I was more than tickled when she offered to ride along with me and Ryan downtown to the start of the race,  and later beebop around town with Ryan while I ran. She is such a blessing, and knowing that she was going to be there in the beginning of the race for me really helped put my nerves at ease. She truly is like family to me. I’m sure Ryan felt better about having her with us, too, because he is not from Cincinnati and prrrrobably would have gotten lost! Anyway, more on that in tomorrow’s post.

I finally tried to settle down for the night (re: I worked on biostats — that’ll always do the trick…) and had a nice little hour-long stretching session (remember my Marathon Mantra?) with Ryan as he did his workout routine. I also worked my magic at eating what was probably half of a loaf of Great Harvest Bread (yes, I totally brought an entire loaf with us from Charlotte, I seriously love this bread, YUM!), and drinking loads and loads of water!


Less than 12 hours to go before the 6:30AM start-time!

I got all of my race-gear together, and was in bed by 1030PM, lights out by 11PM. My alarm was set for 3:30AM so I could get up and have ample time to stretch, so I knew I had to fall asleep early if I had any hope of getting a good night’s sleep. Let’s just say, I had good intentions Smile with tongue out

Check back tomorrow for a recap of the actual marathon!!!

Have you ever had a flat-tire? Were you in a rush to get somewhere? Have you ever been to an awesome Race Expo? What was your favorite aspect of it? What’s your favorite dish for carbo-loading? Are you able to sleep well the night before a race?

P.S. If you haven’t had you daily dose of reading from this post, and are interested in why in the world someone would name a marathon the “Flying Pig Marathon”… check out this story! It explains it all better than I ever could.  🙂



Filed under Cincinnati, family, Flying Pig Marathon, fueling, goals, graduate school, half marathon, marathon, my story, New Year's resolutions, races, recap, roadtrip, running, Ryan, school, the boy, training, Travel, YMCA

22 responses to “The (Unexpected) Road to the Flying Pig Expo

  1. Oh wow- I’m so glad you guys avoided a blow out. That’s SO scary. AAA is SO wonderful to have:) The expo looks great, and i’m excited to read about the actual recap!

  2. Carly D. @ CarlyBananas

    Oh my gosh! I’m so happy you made it through that crazy day and to the expo safely. I would have been freaking out but you seem like you didn’t let it get in the way of your good weekend. I can’t wait to read the race part of your recap! 🙂

    • Oh I freaked out some, but I quickly realized that i had no control over the situation so I might as well just take everything in stride… plus, i was able to get some stretching and studying in!

  3. AAA has been my savior a handful of times! I can see why you really wanted to do the Flying Pig race – the theme is really too cute.

  4. I fully understand now why this recap has three installments! I can’t wait to see the last one! It’s been a fun journey so far (minus the studying and flat tire, lol)!

  5. I love that you were stretching on the side of the road!!! You inspire me to stretch more! LOL! I can’t believe they give every runner a backpack! That’s awesome!
    I can’t wait to read the recap!!!

  6. I’ve had a blowout (on I-485 at 70 mph, no less) and it is NO fun! Trust me. Glad you guys avoided that on a road trip. 🙂


  7. Rhonda

    Oh Allison…. what a story! I am so glad you and Ryan discovered the tire problem before something awful happened….. whew! What a day! Love all the pics that you take to illustrate your blogs!

  8. haha I hope the AAA guy loved you taking pictures! I’ve never had a flat tire; I think I would panic

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