April and I got up at the ass crack of dawn on Saturday Morning to drive up to Cincinnati. We wanted to get registered for the race as early as possible. We left Nashville just as the rain that would cause the Nashville Flood started coming down. Little did we know that the town we grew up in would experience a natural disaster while we were gone.
Cincinnati's Expo is amazing. It's amazing if you love TONS of booths, TONS of people and TONS of weaving into dead-end walls because of the maze-like design. It didn't help that the 5k planned for race weekend had just ended when we rolled up. Anyway, after weaving around, stressing out, and picking up a free 8 pack of Charmin toilet paper and Crest toothpaste (Proctor and Gamble was the lead sponsor of the race), we finally found the end of the expo which is where the official race swag was.
This race had awesome swag: a tech tee (women's sized!), a nice gym bag, and a poster of the official annual artwork for the race (which is actually pretty cool! I'm going to frame it eventually and put it in my office!).
After the expo we found a mexican restaurant downtown and had lunch (a surprisingly NON-greasy mexican restaurant, actually) and then headed out to the suburbs to shop at H&M (obviously).
We eventually checked into our hotel where we flipped on the television and decided to try to take a little nap. It was at this point that we had the first inkling that something might be going wrong back home. On the news we saw something mentioned about Memphis getting lots of rain. April called her husband and he completely blew it off... "It's not even raining," he told us. We shrugged it off and attempted to take a little nap.
We headed out for dinner and found an AMAZING pizza place: Deweys Pizza . When we got done with dinner I noticed I had missed a call from a friend, so I called them back, thinking that they were going to be wishing me luck for the race! As soon as he answered he said... "how's everything in Nashville??" and I was like... huh?? I'm running a marathon tomorrow and you're asking me about Nashville? He proceeds to tell me that he's been seeing on tv (in NYC) that Nashville is being flooded. I laughed it off. Haha, Nashville?? Flooded?? No way dude, that would never happen. That only happens in other places... that doesn't happen in Nashville. Nashville's too hilly and we're used to the rain.
The next morning April and I got up and headed to the race. There's nothing worse than getting to a race in the rain, except getting to a race in the rain when it's still dark outside. The race start set-up was pretty decent, it was at the stadium and they had some of the indoor stadium bathroom's open, so we were able to stay dry as long as possible.
Once it was time for the race to start (even amidst thunder and lightning), in the dark and the rain the corral system screwed us all. First of all, you had no idea where the start was, cause of the crowds and the winding around the stadium of the corral. Second of all, everyone's friends and families that came out for the start all had umbrellas and were standing all along the sides of the corrals. It was just annoying. I realize it was because of the rain, no one wanted to stand outside longer than they had to, but when we finally got into a corral I realized we were starting right next to a 5:30 pacer. Ummmm... not good.
The first 3 miles were AWFUL. I bet we passed 100 walkers. It was shoulder-to-shoulder people. Our first mile was around 11:00. And that was the FASTEST we could have possibly ran. Finally around mile 4 I told April that I was going to try to get away from the crowds and in the hopes of PRing at the race, I knew I didn't need to be stuck running 10:45 miles at mile 3.
The next 7 miles weren't much better. Sooooo many people. I mean, I was able to speed up, but I'm just not good running in crowds. It stresses me out. It was somewhere around this time where we started climbing what was supposed to be (at least, I thought so) the one real hill of the course. Even though my legs felt dead from the beginning, I was still thinking that maybe I could push it after the hill was over.
Once we finally split off from the Half Marathoners, I finally relaxed and realized that this was not going to be a PR day. The course was hilly, my legs were dead and I had too much time to make up from the first half's crowded miles. So, I settled in and decided to enjoy the race from there on out.
And you know what... the course is all hilly. It rained the whole race, I had to make 2 porta potty stops... but despite all that, this was one of my favorite races. The race course was awesome. I loved running through the various neighborhoods (the course reminded me a lot of the St. Louis Marathon, but an overall prettier course). And the fans. HANDS DOWN, the best crowd support I've experienced in a race. And... it was RAINING!!!! There were tons of people out, they were all vocal and cheering. It was amazing. Cincinnati should be proud... the people were amazing!
Overall, aside from the dead legs, I had a great race. I felt pretty good for the most part.
Originally, I wanted to PR, but I realized pretty soon that that wasn't going to happen. So... my next goal became to finish under 4:30, which didn't happen either... BUT I did finish under 4:35, so... I'll take that :)
My official finish time was 4:33:40.
April had a great race, too and ended up PRing!!!!!! I was pysched for her and psyched that we got to run another marathon together!