Last week, I wrote the Last Word column that appears on the last page of each issue of CiN Weekly. The archived version online will disappear soon, so here's what I wrote:

You never think it'll happen to someone you know

A few weeks ago, on the same day that Cincinnati and the nation mourned Matt Maupin, I attended a memorial service for another young person whose life was cut short all too soon.

Meredith, one of my sister's best friends from high school, died on April 22. She was 25 years old. She left behind a husband, a family and dozens of best friends.

I asked my sister to share her memories of her friend for this column. Here's what she had to say

"Meredith was a people magnet. Everyone wanted to be her friend! Freshman year of high school we played volleyball together and she said to me one day after practice, 'I think we should be friends.' ... She and her dad took out her new group of friends from freshman year on their boat to water ski. I remember how patient and helpful Meredith was letting us all learn how to water ski. She let us all take multiple turns and let us try until we got it. Each time I'd fall in the water, she'd tell me how close I was, and how I'd get it the next time.

"That is what I remember about Meredith. Letting everyone feel so special - as though you were her best friend. She wanted everyone to feel welcome, and wanted everyone to be a part of everything that made her so happy. She glowed, and she embraced everyone as though they were a part of her family."

Meredith died of colon cancer. For years, she went to the doctors with digestive complaints, but no one thought to order a colonoscopy because people as young as her just don't get colon cancer. Except when they do. By the time it was discovered, the cancer had spread to other organs.

After her diagnosis, Meredith lived just under two years. During this time, she decided to establish a foundation to promote early detection of colon cancer, and now her family is continuing this work with the Meredith's Miracle Colon Cancer Foundation. Its mission includes making young people, their families and medical professionals aware of symptoms that could serve as a first warning, as well as taking steps to have insurance companies pay for colonoscopies earlier in life.

A colonoscopy is the only method of cancer detection that can also serve to stop the cancer in its tracks. The camera is equipped with a wire loop that cuts out suspicious polyps, with the aid of an electric charge, before they can turn into the awful things that eat people alive. This is why insurers generally allow older people to have the procedure for free.

If you've been going to doctors with the same digestive symptoms over and over again, ask them if they wouldn't consider recommending a colonoscopy. You never know what they might be overlooking.

Kelly Hudson, a copy editor for CiN Weekly, hopes you'll visit www.caringbridge.org/visit/meredith to learn more about Meredith's story and the Meredith's Miracle Colon Cancer Foundation.


PAC Punk'd!

This ad totally faked out, like, six of us when it came on after the Office finale last week.


Flying Pig, final

So, the halfers just broke off from the marathon course and were headed back downtown.

Here there were far fewer spectators, and no bands at all. Too bad! About the only sound was that of runners thanking the police officers who were keeping the roads clear for us.

But then again, who needs cheering when it's downhill all the way back to the city?

I never thought I'd wish for level ground instead of a downhill slope to run on, but my knees were killing me by the end of the hill on Gilbert.

About this time, I struck up a conversation with a girl who I'd been matching pace with for like a half mile. Jess, who had come down from Bowling Green for the race, became my new running buddy, and we ran the rest of the way together. I forgot to get a picture of her, but she's in some of my finish-line photos.

I should've taken this photo at mile 10, because at that point, any further would be the longest distance I'd ever run. But I forgot and had to settle for this "officially farther than I'd ever gone before" shot.

So we turned onto Reading, and who was waiting there for me but my mom! I introduced her to my new friend Jess, and she ran alongside us for a couple of blocks. She cried a little. (I teased her for this, but the truth is, I choked up myself a little bit later, after the race.) Soon, she broke off from us to go meet up with my dad.

So when we made the turn onto Eggleston, there they were, yelling like crazy and taking pictures like I was Britney Spears or something. Then, after we had passed them by, I heard, "KELLY! I don't know how to save these photos!" A few seconds later, they both zipped past me on the sidewalk, sprinting like crazy to get ahead of me so they could take more pictures. (They saved them this time.)

The finish line? Crazy. There were so many people there! I wonder if it was as loud as I remember; in my head the cheers were deafening.

I didn't expect to see anyone I knew except possibly Mr. W, so when I heard a girl's voice screaming for me, I was confused. I was almost past the guy and girl cheering when my running-addled brain finally IDed them as my co-worker Amber and her boyfriend Mike. Amber was there to cheer on our Pig bloggers, whom she coordinated, but such is the excitement of the Flying Pig that she is now talking about running the half next year. If you go to watch the Flying Pig, be aware that this is a very real danger.

(A side note: Mr. W was in fact at the finish line, but I didn't see him. When I told him that, he said, "Really? You looked right at me and waved." We eventually figured out that he must have been right behind Amber and Mike. Wish I had a Penseive so I could go back and see him there.)

I can't really describe how I felt as I finished - it all sounds so cliched. I was soaring, I guess? Afterward came medals and the mylar blanket (which I was surprised to find I needed) and a big lane of booths giving out bananas and Sun Chips and things. At the end of this lane, Mr. W met up with me.

That's when I choked up a bit.

Josh and Chele had great times and waited forever for my slow butt. (My official time was 2:51:20, which was under my goal of three hours! Yay!) After I finally joined them, we all went to Daybreak and got eggs, and then I spent six hours playing video games.

The end! Other pics I took from the race are here.

Flying Pig, part two

When last we left our fearless runners, the race had just begun.

After the stuff from the starting line, this is the only picture I have from the first three miles of the race. That's because I spent that time doing two things: A) rewording the chorus to "Good Morning Baltimore" from Hairspray so it was about the Flying Pig, and B) trying to keep up with Chele. I stuck with her for two miles, but by the middle of Covington, she was out of my sight.

"Good morning Flying Pig!
We run slow, but we don't give a fig.

Ev'ry day's a half marathon;

Run 13 miles and your energy's gone ..."

Oh, hey. We're headed back to Ohio on the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge.

Sandy's shirt reads, "If you can read this you've just been passed by a member of the AARP. Just finish!" Sandy was doing a run-walk program, so she passed me like six times - she'd run and pass me; she'd walk and I'd pass her, and so on. Just before she left me behind, I got this picture.

I really liked the light downtown.

And it was very cool to see so many people out cheering on the runners. People say the Pig is really great for that compared to other marathons. I wouldn't know. Perhaps I'll never know. Perhaps the Pig will be the only marathon I ever run. I'm OK with that.

As the course left downtown on Gilbert, the first half marathon runners were starting to trickle into the final approach on Eggleston below. This guy wasn't the winner, but he had to have been in the top 20.

Here's something nonrunners might not know about the sport. As you run, you naturally bounce up and down, and the effect is that any, um, stuff that is traveling through your insides will shift and settle and generally move towards the point of its planned exit. This is a very delicate way of saying that those Porta-Potties are an utter necessity.

I first began to feel the need for them on the bridge back to Ohio, but seeing the long lines for them caused me to tough it out until mile 6, at the beginning of Eden Park. That's where I took this lovely picture.

I skipped over all the hilly bad parts of Eden Park to bring you ... the Delta Kings Chorus! I heard another runner saying how cool they were - until she could see them, she thought the music was coming from a CD.

On the other side of the Delta Kings was an amazing view of the river! Let's take a closer look:

Man, you've really gotta love this town sometimes.

All the people in this photo (except for the volunteer on the left) are running the full marathon. That's because this is the point where we separated: half marathoners turn left and go back downtown; full marathoners turn right and continue with the next THREE QUARTERS of their race. (Sometimes I think maybe I could actually run a full marathon. Then I consider that fact - that when I had less than 5 miles to go, they had 18. Yeah, that's insane.)

Coming soon: the thrilling conclusion!


Flying Pig, part one

(Man, I've been busy - does anyone even care about the Flying Pig anymore? I'd better just post what I have so far and make this a two- or three-part series.)

My alarm went off at 3:40 a.m. on Sunday morning. Josh and Chele were coming to pick me up at 5, and I wanted to make sure I had enough time to eat my turkey bacon and bran flakes (breakfast of champions!), get dressed and possibly do a yoga routine before they came.

I didn't get around to the yoga. I never stretch enough before a run - it's a problem.

So they picked me up and we headed downtown, which was of course teeming with runners. 16,000 people participated in Sunday's races. Somehow, we still managed to find a parking space. (After a few blocks of traffic and one false start involving a closed parking garage, we said "aw, screw it" and headed to Fountain Square.)

(Sung to the tune of "Strangers in the Night") "Runners in the daaark, wearing reflectors - filling up Paul Broooown, waiting for restrooms ..." I don't know what the situation was outside at the Porta-Potties, but inside the stadium, the line for "real" bathrooms was so long that we didn't get out until five minutes before the starting time. Well, the originally planned start time. You might have heard of that fire that delayed the start time and changed the course of the marathon. So, there was plenty of time to take pictures before the starting gun.

Why yes, it was crowded!

So now we're moving, and you can see the pile of discarded outerwear in the median. You can also see the starting line! It took us 10 minutes to get there. Once we did, Josh took off, but Chele and I couldn't fight through the crowds, so we walked for a hundred yards or so until people had sorted themselves out: runners on the left, walkers on the right. Then, we were off!

To be continued ...


After I got home from the marathon ...

... I looked at PostSecret. I was still thinking about my achievement, so one of the week's cards really jumped out at me:


I'm up early

To make sure I can go to bed early enough to get a decent amount of sleep before my ride to the Flying Pig arrives at 5 a.m., I got up at 6 this morning.

My brain is still a little bit confused about why it's being asked to type proper English instead of make me a Viking. For example, I went through about about 12 drafts of the previous sentence.

OK. Laundry now. Surely my poor addled brain can handle that.


Carb-loader's pasta

For all you marathon trainers out there, here's a hearty recipe that's just chock-full of carbs. Pasta? Check. Bread crumbs? Check. Beans? Check.

And still, it manages to be low-fat. Go, Mark Bittman!

I'm eating it right now. I made mine with kielbasa, because it's like 8,000 times cheaper than chorizo, and I sprinkled a little Asiago on the top. If you don't feel like rehydrating, then cooking dried chickpeas (which I had on hand anyway), I think two cans and their liquid would work well, although I'd add a little water to thin out the liquid.