Sunday, October 23, 2011

Cincinnati Half Marathon (Race Recap)

Cincinnati, OH
Saturday, October 22
Half Marathon #46
State #38
Weather - Foggy, Chilly

When we originally booked the St. Louis race, we hadn’t planned on doing a double weekend. Then a race appeared in Ohio, the Cincinnati Half Marathon. Looking at a map, it seems like Cincinnati is “right by” St. Louis. Well. It’s not.

Anyway, our flight out of Denver was supposed to leave at 10:40 am. Mechanical problems on the plane caused a switch to a different plane and delayed our departure by about 40 minutes. Only mildly important because we had to get to the expo for RnR St. Louis (thanks to their crappy Saturday expo hours and refusal to release packets to anyone else) and THEN drive to Cincinnati.

Fairly uneventful flight to St. Louis. L and I weren’t sitting next to each other, so I got my homework done. When we landed, quick trip to Sbux for a pumpkin misto, then off to rent our car. Which, we didn’t realize was off site. Annoying. Finally get the car, then head to the expo. Another awesome thing about big city races is that they host expos in gigantic convention centers in downtown so you have to pay (a ton) to park. $8 later, we park across the street from the expo, intending to run in and run out. Which is next to impossible for RnR because they are so big. Got J a shot glass from the race, then we quickly checked out runningskirts and some other vendors. We almost got an awesome running top, but their signage was confusing and I was horrified when I got to the register and they wanted me to spend $35 on a tank top. I don’t give a crap if it’s made of bamboo, I’m not spending that.

Angrily head out of the expo and get on the road. 

MLK Bridge
Only to find out the drive is somewhat further than we thought… By the time we left it was after 4:00. L was resting, and I was screaming. Literally. Driven through the Midwest lately? ALL CONSTRUCTION. ALL OF IT. I swear it’s a good thing I’m not a violent person, I about blacked out from road rage. We stopped in some teeny town in Indiana (funny, I completely missed even being in Illinois) and had dinner. Yep, at Applebee’s. And yes, it was delicious.

Back on the road, and L realizes that all of a sudden we are in eastern time. So to top it all off, we have lost an hour, so it is even later. Still driving in construction. Still annoyed. Still screaming (but quietly, since L is resting). Arrive (finally) at the hotel, and pretty much go right to bed, since it’s already almost midnight.

I somehow managed to sleep FANTASTICALLY. Woke up at 5:50 feeling refreshed (VERY rare on a race day), and we got dressed and headed out. And it was COLD. Like really cold. Glad I had brought a throw away sweatshirt. Only took about 10 minutes to get to the parking lot by the start. We were really close, maybe only 2 minute walk to where we picked up our packets. Then we just sat in the car with the heater cranked. Couple trips to the bathroom, but honestly we stayed in the car as long as possible. Almost shouldn’t have trashed the sweatshirt since we were so close to the start but I didn’t think about it until it was too late. Literally only about 3 minutes after we joined the field, we were off. I accidentally started my watch a bit early since there was no banner or anything to indicate the start. We did cross a timing mat and we were off.
At the start line - Look how well we coordinated our outfits with the race bibs
L and me
Immediately I was concerned about my calves. After last weekend, I really hoped I wouldn’t have the tightness again, I wanted to have a good race. I had worn my arm sleeves and L gave me a pair of gloves, which I was glad for. Again, it was COLD. The first part of a course was a 5 mile loop through an industrial district and part of downtown. 

Not sure which stadium this was.
We ran by a stadium and the baseball hall of fame, but honestly I really don’t remember too much of the course. The first aid station was about 2.5 miles in, and I was really happy because my calves were not tight yet, but we were already running a faster pace than usual and I wanted a quick walk break. The next few miles were uneventful, although much L’s annoyance, I did stop to pick up a quarter.

This is where I picked up the quarter! lol
Pretty much the only hill on the course. I *think* mile 4.
Next aid station was at mile 5, right by where we parked the car. 

Loved this sign!
The next 8 miles were an out and back. The course was advertised as flat and fast, and it really was… the temperature never really went up and it was SUPER foggy. Nice because I didn’t overheat, but I ended up keeping my sleeves on all race (which I’ve only done one other time, in Alaska), and wore gloves most of the race. The first elite runner heading back passed us when we were at about mile 6… speedy. 

What the first mile or so of the out and back looked like. Somewhere around mile 6.5? (Or 11.5 on the way back)
Course goes through a sort of residential area with some smaller businesses. Aid station at mile 7 with Gatorade (finally!) and then at mile 9 we turn around but run about ¾ of a mile by a river before meeting back up with the street just before mile 10.

Girl with the white shirt/pink shorts - Shirt says "duck, duck, moose" - I spent about a mile wondering what the front looked like.
On our way out, it seemed like we would be running uphill on the way back, but it didn’t feel (or look) that way when we were running it. I was still feeling really good, but was working harder (and running faster) than I have in a long time. Aid station at mile 11, and we thought that was the last one on the course. Course turns off around mile 12, and we ran on this cobblestone sidewalk through a “garden for Africa” and are pleasantly surprised with another water station. YAY!!!

I have been watching my Garmin for the last few miles and it is really looking like we are going to have a great time. I am getting tired, but running with L really helps me push myself a bit more. We see the finishing area and I give it all we have. I click my watch, and YES, for the first time since MARCH, I finally have another sub 2:10 race. I was starting to think I’d never be able to run that fast again.

Cross the line and get… a CHM towel. Best idea ever!! Get a bottle of water and our medal, grab a few snacks, and head back to the car. A man thanks us for setting a pace. I tell him he lucked out that I was having a good day.

Overall, the course was just “ok” visually, but flat and fast, and wow, these guys are organized! Tech tee in men’s and women’s cuts, reusable bag for a race bag, plastic cup, commemorative towel, a rad medal AND good course support? Top it off with a reasonable entry fee? I recommend this one. 5 stars.

Bib #1203
Official Time - 2:09:26
Official Pace - 9:53
Overall Place - 655/1130
Gender Place - 298/647
Division Place - 59/107
Garmin Time - 2:09:36
Garmin Distance - 13.23 miles
Garmin Pace - 9:48
Mile 1 - 9:22
Mile 2 - 9:25
Mile 3 - 10:13
Mile 4 - 10:34
Mile 5 - 10:11
Mile 6 - 9:41
Mile 7 - 9:38
Mile 8 - 9:59
Mile 9 - 9:31
Mile 10 - 10:00
Mile 11 - 9:41
Mile 12 - 9:44
Mile 13 - 9:31
Mile 13.1 - 9:06

Head back to the hotel, shower and pack, check out only a few minutes late. Then comes the inevitable task of trying to find souvenirs. Quick stop at Dunkin Donuts for a pumpkin latte, and then about a billion stops at drug stores and gas stations trying to find shot glasses and key chains. No luck. Frustrated we stop and get lunch at White Castle (Yes it was good, No I didn’t get sick), and they have… souvenirs. J gets a pint glass instead of a shot glass, and R gets a candle instead of a key chain. Win.

Dreading the stupid long drive through all the construction back to St. Louis. Which, in case you forgot is NO WHERE NEAR CINCINNATI. Luckily L was on deck to drive, so it was a lot less annoying. I spent the time on my phone researching the last few races we will need to sign up for to round out all the states. Yes, we are THAT close. Trying to get on a highway, miss the exit because it isn’t properly labeled for construction. Spend about 20 minutes driving around trying to find an exit that can actually get us back to where we need to go. CURSE INDIANA. CURSE IT ALL. But, we got an awesome tour of the deserted parking lots by Indianapolis International Airport.

Stop at some random store in the middle of nowhere advertising Nike. Get a tech tee that we plan on racing in. Yes, you heard me. Tee. Not tank. Should be awesome.

Tried to find an Applebee’s on the way in that was off the highway. Wish there was an easier way to tell Jill (my Garmin) that I want one ON MY ROUTE… Finally find one, again in the middle of nowhere. Had dessert this time too.

Trying to get to our hotel in St. Louis… we see a construction sign about some bridge being closed and that an alternate route should be taken. I comment that they should tell you an alternate route to take, because most people aren’t going to know where to go. Turns out that Jill was routing us on that closed bridge. After 20ish minutes of driving around, getting totally lost, pissed off, and annoyed, we finally find access to the MLK bridge, and get across the river. Finally find our hotel, only to discover we have to park in an $18 a day parking lot… across the street. Tick. Can’t find the underground tunnel to the hotel. Registration hard to find, and then we get our room… ground level, right by the pool with a toilet that won’t stop running. Boy. CANNOT WAIT TO LEAVE THIS CITY.

Lights out early.  Too annoyed to even be awake.


  1. Nice sub 2:10. Sorry about all the headaches. We drove from Detroit to Ohio this summer, full of construction. I hear ya.

  2. Nice time! I always thought St. Louis was a nice town...

  3. Oh wait - that was Cincinnati. Ok whatever, I don't know anything about that place. Just drove through it once :) Glad it was a good race!

  4. Great sub 2:10. I don't know how you run after all those kinds of headaches!! Impressive!

  5. Congrats on your sub 2:10! That is great.

  6. glad you had another sub 2:10!! hope the the next day is better…sorry that the traveling sucked!

  7. First - I have driven through St. Louis twice. Both times I was flipping out about all the crazy construction and not knowing where to go with my huge moving truck. I totally feel your pain!!!

    Those fries actually look good. Wow!

    Congrats on your fantastic race!! I expected more hills for Cincinnati - glad you didn't have many!

    What states are left?

  8. CONGRATS on a sub 2:10!!! It seems RLRF is bringing your speed back :)


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