I knew it would be a fabulous event - they've been advertising like crazy and the organizers also run the Flying Pig every spring so they knew what they were doing. The field was small but didn't feel like it even when the half marathon separated from the 4 miler runners. I never had a time where I didn't have people around me, not including Leah :)
They sent out the final race details last week and I found out that there would be some pretty sweet mile sponsors and treats out on the course - so much so that I didn't even pack fuel for this race so that meant no fanny pack! I would be free of carrying anything because Leah and I were riding together which was a nice change. In fact, I lost my armband for my phone so I didn't even have music which is strange for me. Our goal was to get me to run the whole thing and for her not to die since it had been about 10 years since she's ran (did I mention it was a whole marathon that she ran? She totally had this, I knew it before we started!) and she teaches Zumba more days a week than some people work so she's in great shape.
Packet pickup was Friday at the Horseshoe Casino which was also where the race started and finished the next day. The casino is new and I hadn't been yet, so I drug Kyle along to check it out. There were tons of vendors, packet pickup was smooth thanks to the volunteers, and the expo (yes, there was a real expo for this race and I was thoroughly impressed) was stocked full of goodies and girly products thanks to P&G. I picked up my new favorite shirt that says "I ran this Beeatch!" which has been the best race slogan to date. Love it!
Saturday morning I met Leah in the parking lot of our gym and we cruised downtown to the casino. We didn't hit any traffic and got a decent parking spot in the garage, headed inside, and waited in the warm building with real bathrooms to be used, a major highlight of the race! We headed outside around 7:45 to get to the start line.
There was music and everyone was dancing, including an older gentleman on the roof of the casino parking garage that was getting everyone's attention as he jammed out to Pharrel's "Happy". He made my day! We heard some announcements from a local weather lady and then comments from the race director, Iris Simpson-Bush. She seems fabulous and I kind of want to be as awesome as her! A female barbershop quartet sang the national anthem and we were off! There were a few men running and they had to start 15 minutes later - loved it! (Although they still passed us, I didn't mind)
The rooftop dancer!
The first two and a half miles were all uphill. Seriously. I was thinking this was a good idea to get them out of the way, and it probably was, but the extra effort came back to bite me in the butt at the end of the race and I didn't get the quicker start like I'm used to. We averaged about 12:40 minutes/mile those first few miles and then when we hit the glorious downhills that followed we shaved a minute off the pace. Starting at mile 4 they had all kinds of goodies - Twizzlers, Starburst jelly beans, Honey Stinger gel AND jell-o shots, the Queen's Royal Tea (iced tea in a race!), a Chippendale's mile (men in t-shirts that looked like Chippendale bodies, it was a trick!), and lots of great themed water stops. I was very impressed by the creativity and also in the city of Cincinnati for coming out for a smaller race that is new - there was a decent amount of crowd support that I wasn't expecting and needed.. so thank you, all of you, for coming out Saturday morning!
It was our original goal, like I mentioned, to run the entire thing. It's been my goal for this year to be able to run the whole race and PR, but it hasn't happened yet, and it didn't happen Saturday either. I was giving it my all and after the opening hilly miles and another big hill in mile 6 I was totally exhausted. I was ready to slow down by mile 8 truthfully, but knowing Leah had the car keys and we both had stuff to do later in the day I knew I had to keep going. I thought at mile 10 I was going to have to start run/walking but Leah was so supportive and was the one cheering me on - yes, in my 10th half marathon and in her 1st official half (she has run a full marathon but never a half!) without any training, she was the one who was encouraging me. She was literally running circles around me, and never stopped. It was amazing! She kept telling me it's all about the Zumba and it works! So keep that in mind, all you non-runners, that you can do it too if you wanted! We saw her kids right before the dreaded hill at mile 6 and they were so cute, as usual.
I made it until mile 11 before I had to slow down, and I finished the last two miles in a walk/run. Leah kept saying "just think about how you can write in your blog about the race how you didn't walk! Just keep going!" but my shuffle was so slow I was better off walking really and as right as she was, my legs just didn't have it in me to pick them up and go any faster.
We finished the course in 2:53 for 13.55 miles, and I stopped my Garmin at 13.1 in 2:50, pretty much my average for the last few races. We headed through the finish line running like Phoebe does on the show Friends and I loved every minute of it. We got our medals from some handsome Army dudes, picked up water, chocolate milk, a banana, got a race picture taken together, and headed to the after party to collect our flip flops, free Skyline coney dog, and mimosa! The mimosa line was really long and I wasn't feeling great so we skipped it and headed to the car. The medals are awesome and they open up and have a mirror inside - a perfect addition to this fabulous ladies race.