Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Marathon weekend in review

[Blogged from a very long and boring highway in Kentucky]  

So, choosing an incredibly hilly course for my first marathon was probably not the smartest decision, but as far as fun racing experiences, Cincinnati wins hands down. 

The weekend wasn’t without its kinks – that’s for sure – but there is absolutely nothing better than experiencing a city through a huge race. At least, to me. But relaxation and low key is not something I do well.

 I was a bit stressed on Thursday when we hit the road for Cincinnati. Every spring I inevitably get a sinus infection and I could feel it’s tell-tale signs coming on starting Wednesday. 

The “hotel” we crashed at Thursday night in West Virginia didn’t help with the distinct smell of cigarettes. If I hadn’t been so tired, I would have left. But, I’ve never been high maintenance when it comes to sleeping locale, so we crashed and I dragged everyone up at 3 am to hit the road again (yes, it was that bad). So, that whole getting sufficient sleep was already out the window. 

We arrived in Cincinnati before the expo opened so we hit the aquarium.   

   Penguins and otters. Two of my favorite things in the world. 

Lunch was awesome – a grilled cheese Italian from Tom + Chee. I used to put salt and vinegar chips on my sandwiches all the time so this sandwich reminded me of childhood. 

We hit up the expo as it opened. This was by far the biggest expo I’ve ever been to. There was everything running you could think of. Surprisingly I escaped without spending a million dollars. That’s pretty good for me. 

   I was feeling a bit depressed as I quickly saw first hand how hilly Cincinnati really is in person. I mean, I was supposed to climb this “hill”. What?  

It looks much worse in person. Trust me.

After having a mild break down in my car thinking I had lost my room key (only to realize later Chris had inadvertently taken both with him up to the room), I cheered myself up with some Graeters ice cream. Black rasberry and chocolate chip. The best ice cream I’ve ever had. 

We headed out of the city to meet a friend and her family for dinner at the Cabana. Outside seating overlooking the river, beer and apps were exactly what I need to relax and get my mind off of 26.2.

 As usual, I rose earlier than the guys on Saturday and threw on my Newtons and headed out for a 20 minute shake out run. I talked to a couple of older ladies doing their own pre-marathon shakeout run and they offered me some advice: enjoy it, it’s the funnest run out there. Specifically, “how can you not love a race with pig pens and hog washes?!” I love that even when you’re 60+ years old, you can love every minute of a marathon. It makes me less scared of aging. 

Then I ran over and watched the start of the 10k. It occurred to me that I had never spectated a race before. I’m always running. Not cool. And the 10k didn’t have much fanfare. So I made sure to chear as loud as I could.

 Saturday I broke as many pre-marathon rules as possible. Not intentionally – I just don’t do sitting still very well. 

We walked to the Over the Rhine district and walked around Findlays market. So much good stuff! I grabbed a vegetarian crepe (melted goat cheese is my happy place) and an Americano for breakfast, then topped it off with gelato because every healthy choice should be chased by and equally unhealthy one.

   Then we headed up to the Carew Tower observation deck to get a good view of all those darn hills I would be running.

   We walked back to the hotel and relaxed for a little while before heading back out to walk the John A. Roebling suspension bridge into Kentucky, then coming back to the Ohio side and walking the river front. 

 We sat down for dinner before 5 pm because there are two categories of early eaters: senior citizens and marathoners. This pork belly and Brussels sprouts was amazing! I had some pesto pasta as the “smart” pre-marathon choice. Then we devoured the tiramisu, dark chocolate creme brûlée and this caramel number with bourbon maple syrup. Not exactly the best pre-marathon choice but life is too short to skip a good dessert. 

   Then I went back to the hotel and panicked, realizing I had walked a total of 8.5 miles. Not. Smart. So I tortured myself with an ice bath, foam rolling, stretching, and ice packs on the ankles to insure my legs wouldn’t be sore Sunday. I was in bed by 8.

I’ll post a full race recap later, but let’s suffice to say I only got about 4 full hours of sleep. I was up before 3 am drinking my coffee and choking down my bagel, and heading to the starting line by 5:20 am.

After the race we chilled at the post race party for a couple hours (mainly because I couldn’t bring myself to walk the mile back to the hotel). And I had my eye on my free post-race beer and a hot dog with skyline chili. That stuff was amazing. The perfect combination of sweet and spicy. I don’t usually do hot dogs. And now I’m not sure I’ll be able to without skyline. 

   I finally was able to waddle back to the hotel (think Aflec duck) after a free 15 minute massage from Massage Envy. 

After a quick nap and shower, I forced myself back out of the room to waddle down to Fountain Square to check out a Cinco de Mayo party where we learned to Salsa and do the Meringue. 

We grabbed a pre-dinner app and beers at Rock Bottom restaurant and brewery. 

 Then we walked back to the river. I’m not sure how I managed another 3 miles of walking, but it wasn’t horrible. Just slow and ugly. It was the standing after sitting that was the worst!

   Dinner at Nada was awesome. Sangria, shrimp tacos and a chocolate torte with rum gelato and caramel sauce. Perfect ending to a fun trip. 

I was in bed by 8 and slept about 10 hours – first full nights sleep in weeks. Cincinnati, you’ll forever hold a special place in my heart! Stay awesome!

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