Thursday, October 27, 2011

Race Recap - Cincinnati Half Marathon

This race billed itself as being "FLAT AND FAST!" in a city of hills. Every piece of marketing material I saw talked about the amazing flatness of the course and all but guaranteed that runners would be setting PRs left and right.

Yeah... not so much. I still got my PR, but the course was much hillier than I (or anyone else in my crew) was expecting. The last 3 miles were pretty much all a gradual incline. That sucked.

It was the first super cold morning we had - 34 degrees at the start. I much prefer running in cooler weather, but the wait at the starting line was brutal. Actually, the whole lead-up to the start was chaotic - we were running a few minutes late, to begin with, and got there with not a whole lot of time to spare. I'm usually really anxious about getting there on time, so the whole rushing around to park and get to the start line was very different for me. Then there was the potty situation - the lines were out of control. There was a giant bank of porta-potties, but there was one massive line feeding them rather than small lines at each station. It was crazy. There was also a bank of actual stall restrooms in the park, so I waited in line over there. The women's line was moving at a snail's pace, while the line for the men's room was pretty much non-existent. I kept eying the men's room, contemplating rushing in and rushing out. The woman next to me must have noticed my furtive glances, because she turned to me and said "let's do it!"

The men's room, alone, was enough of an experience. I had no idea that they just have a giant trough along the wall. Crazy! I wish women could easily pee standing up - lines would be much shorter, that's for sure. We hugged the wall and shielded our eyes, lest we get a glimpse of something that couldn't be erased from our memories.

I finally got to the starting line, where I met up with my Running Buddy and my sister Katie and her friend Mack, who had come to town from NYC. It was my sister's first Half, and she was super nervous because she had been having trouble with her knees. There was much hugging and encouragement and "you got this!" all around. Then the crowd started moving forward, and we were off!

The route was a short out and back, followed by a few zigs and zags through the city, capped with a longer out and back down Riverside Drive.

The nice thing about out and backs is that it gives you the chance to see all of your running peeps and shout encouragements and share high fives. I screamed my head off for Little Sister when I passed her on the way back toward the city. The water stations were at odd intervals, especially the last one, which was right at the entrance to Friendship Park, just before Mile 13. I thought that was a weird place to have a water table, at that point I couldn't even contemplate stopping.

My goal was to run the Half in 1:55. I just barely made it under that time, crossing the finish line in 1:54:18.

I look thrilled, no?

I look like an ogre in every race picture, ever.

I met up with Katie's speedy friend Mack, who had already crossed the finish line. We collected our medals and stocked up on water, powerade, and candy before heading back out onto the course. Our runs weren't over, yet - we had to go back out and get Katie. I had passed her on Riverside at about Mile 10, which was her Mile 7, so we knew that she couldn't be too far behind. It was really bizarre to be running back into the fray, but kind of fun, too, as we passed by runners who were starting to fade. We gave out a lot of high fives and candy and cheered them all on as we went.

We caught up with Katie around mile 11.5 and fed her fruit snacks and powerade. She looked great, even though she said she felt pretty awful. And thus began my favorite part of the whole race - running the last 1.6 miles in with my sister. We made the best of it - picking out people that she could pass, counting how many runners were behind her (she was convinced that she'd be the last one to cross the finish line) and planning out how much vodka we'd be drinking at our Dance Central celebration party.

Crossing the Finish Line was even better the second time :)

I'm so proud of my sister for finishing the race. We Mulligan girls have a serious stubborn streak, though I prefer to spin it as dedication and perseverance!

After the race, we met up with my Running Buddy and our friend Rich and his crew. We claimed our free beers and spent some time rehashing the not-so-flat race.

And that's really the best part about my new hobby - the community. Fast or slow, young or old, newbie or seasoned veteran, everyone is there to cheer each other on.

Can't wait to start training for the spring season!

The final stats:
Overall: 320 of 1131 (311 chip time)
Females: 105/644 (101 chip time)
Division: 21/107 (20 chip time)

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