Ah, Cincinnati. We have such a love/hate relationship, you and I. The lovely view of the river from… well, almost anywhere tall. The never-ending heart-ache as a Reds and Bengals fan. It’s been a rocky road. But I will always stand by you, even when you rain on me.
Side-note: Another important thing to know about me, as we go into this story, is that whenever I get into something new, I research the hell out of it. After doing Cap City and deciding that I was going to start running for real (yes, as opposed to ‘for fake’), I started looking into races. Since I was new to this, I had no idea what races were put on. I knew of a 5k that the Vet School puts together every year, the Columbus Marathon, and The Flying Pig. That was kind of it. So I started looking. If you’re ever in need of finding out what kind of races are available in an area, I highly recommend google-ing “races (insert city).” This led me to a few different websites that compile race information from anywhere. This is how I found the Redlegs Run. Some combination of searches and links and there it was on the Reds website. The 10th Annual Redlegs Run. It was previously only a 5k, but for their 10th anniversary, they added a 10k. Score for me. And even better, the course winds around downtown Cincy, and you get to finish on the field of Great American Ballpark, near home plate. Where do I sign up?
So I register, and start planning the trip. The race is on a Saturday, early (my not favorite part of racing) so Hubby and I plan on heading down on Friday. We’ll come back on Saturday afternoon once the race is done. In the couple weeks leading up to it, I tried to get a couple of good runs in, but I was still struggling with being consistent and committed. Let’s be honest, the only reason I was still running at all was because I kept signing up for races, otherwise, I would have quit on myself a long time ago.
Anyway, back to the good stuff. Cincy. We had a nice hotel downtown within walking distance of the stadium, so Hubby and I went out for some dinner and nice relaxing evening.
In a monsoon.
No joke, within minutes of arriving at Fountain Square in downtown Cincy, we were forced to make a hasty decision to basically head into the closest restaurant for dinner before we got drenched. Unfortunately, due to the storm, there were not many people at the restaurant, and therefor the service was really quick. Too quick. We managed to stretch dinner out for about an hour, and hoped that it was enough time for the storm to pass over.
It wasn’t. We stood outside for a while, under the restaurants awning, desperately hoping that it would stop pouring rain. Nothing. It just kept coming. Since the race started
at an unreasonably early time rather early, I really wanted to get back to the hotel and get some sleep. It was not looking favorable for me. After about 10 minutes of waiting, we made an executive decision. If you’re not familiar with Cincinnati, many of the downtown buildings have (or at least had) a system of passages connecting to one another. I think it is called the “Skyway.” Theoretically, you can walk from one hotel to another, and even to the convention center without ever being outside. We figured if we made a break towards the closest building (which had a Macy’s on ground level, so we could still get in) we should be able to get back to our hotel and not get drenched. And it worked. Sort of. There was one stretch that was outside, but it was short. And it was super sketchy. The kind of sketchy that you see in horror movies right before the zombie serial killer jumps out and starts picking you off, one by one. Hubby was not amused when I pointed this out to him, and then proceeded to point out all the places the zombie-serial killer was likely to be hiding along our path.
Long (somewhat entertaining) story, short: We made it back to our hotel in one piece, and I finally got to bed at a somewhat reasonable hour. I went to sleep hoping against hope that by morning it would no longer be raining…..
No such luck. I wake up to the morning news already talking about how it’s rained all night, and isn’t showing any signs of stopping. Awesome. Nothing to do be done for it, so I get ready, decked out in my Reds gear (and by “gear” I mean a ball-cap and some earrings, but it’s better than nothing), eat a little something before walking down to the stadium. It’s probably worth mentioning at this point that I was also suffering from a bit of a leg injury. And by leg injury, I mean that I had lost a significant amount of skin from my left leg playing softball. Note to self- always wear sliding pad. Whoops. I had only sustained this injury 5 days previously. And it was bad. Bad enough to warrant being constantly bandaged, and needing to be changed frequently. And it still really hurt. A lot. Our adventures the previous night had not really helped. So it a little less “walking” down to the stadium rather than “trying to not hobble” down to the stadium. Details, I know.
Right away, this race wasn’t going quite how I was expecting. Packet pickup was kinda hard to find. The website had not been very specific, just by the big wheel, so we ended up walking all the way around to find that they had set themselves up inside their dock area. To get out of the rain, which was still intermittently coming down. I can understand that, but some signs would have been nice. I’m just sayin. They also made an announcement shortly before starting that the finish line would not actually be inside the stadium on the field because the warning track was totally flooded. Doh. Consolation prize: after the race you could go down into the reds dugout and hang out for a bit.
About 5 minutes before the race, the wind picked up, and the rain started coming down harder, so most of us moved under whatever cover we could find while the race volunteers frantically tried to keep the start line from blowing away. After holding off the start for a few more minutes (to let the wind regain it’s composure), we were off. In the rain. Which didn’t stop for at least 3 miles. Awesome indeed.
Most of the course was right around the stadiums along the river, which means that I got to look at a lot of parking lots. That’s ok, because I could just focus on my running. My goal was to run as much as possible, trying to make it as close to a mile at a time as I could. I gauged this on the mile markers set up along the course. At mile 1, I slowed to a walk and caught my breath for 5 minutes, then back to running. Rinse and repeat at mile 2. The one thing the rain had going for it is I stayed nice and cool, and felt really good through most of the race. Shortly before mile 3, Hubby got some actions shots from the safety of cover.
Rinse and repeat at mile 3. I was still feeling good and keeping a decent pace, even with my bum leg. My only complaint was that I had yet to see a water station. The rain was nice, but not exactly a thirst quencher I finished my breather, and ramped back up on my way to mile 4. I was chugging along, trying to keep an eye on my time, and trying to keep an eye out for mile 4. Only it didn’t come. I finally wore out and had to start taking walking breaks. So now I’m alternating walking and running a little more frequently, and thinking to myself “Where the F- is mile 4?!? Seriously?” I keep going, thinking it’s got to be close, just around the next corner, one more street. Walk, run, walk, run. One more corner, and then I’m walking for as long as I feel like it. I make it to the next water station which is at the base of the Purple People Bridge on the Cincinnati side. I ask one of the volunteers if I’d missed the 4 mile marker somewhere along the line, and got some random reply along the lines of “no, I think it’s just up ahead on the bridge.” Ok, sure. So I keep going, only walking when I absolutely have to. Only, as I get to the other side of the bridge and realize that I’m only going over a few blocks in Newport, and then crossing back over the river to finish at the stadium. And I realize that not only was there not a mile marker 4, I’m pretty sure I should have already passed mile marker 5 too. Damn it. By this time, I’ve run a bit more than I had (vaguely) planned, and my leg was starting to hurt. The bandage had started to slip, and I was getting a little rub-action on my still tender wound. And I was way ahead of pace. I had told Hubby that I expected to finish in around 1:30- 1:45. With my leg, I didn’t think it was going to be any better than that. My knees were also starting to hurt. A lot. Knowing that the end was near kept me going. I got to the other bridge going back towards the stadium, and could see the finish line by this time, and just really wanted to be done. From where I was on the bridge, it looked like you hit the bottom of it, went around the corner, and there was the finish line. Whoo-hoo! Almost there!
Just kidding- you went down, around a corner, up a slight hill to the front of the stadium (the finish was in the back of the stadium along the river), and back down under a different bridge, and then to the finish line. It made it a lot easier when I got closer to the stadium and there were lots of people, some cheering, most trying to stay under cover in case it decided to rain again. I came around the corner, and once I was in sight of the finish line, I tried to pick up my pace to finish strong. As I sprinted towards the finish line, I happened to glance over, and recognized the back of Hubby also making his way to the finish line. Apparently I made much better time than I thought. So, no finishing picture. Boo on Hubby.
The after-party was really nice. Lots of food, beverages, bananas, lots of bananas, and a trip down into the dugout. That I instantly regretted as sharp pain went streaking through, not one, but both knees. Boo for tendinitis. After finally making down, cookies in hand, I decided that we were just going to hang out for a while.
Once my knees felt up to it (and I was out of cookies and bananas), we ventured back up into the concourse that held the rest of the after-party, ate some more food, got some freebies from the race partners, and headed home.
All in all, it was a good race, the scenery wasn’t great, you see one parking lot, you’ve seen them all. The overall organization was ok, a little bit of a cluster at the beginning, but you could blame the weather for that. The after-party was one of the better ones, and I got to hang out at my favorite baseball teams diamond and support their cause. And they had a pretty cute shirt.
Not too shabby for only my second race. Maybe I have a future at this after all…