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Race Recap: Orlando Half Marathon 2012

7 Dec

After running last year’s Orlando Half Marathon with a good friend and seeing what a great race it would be to get a PR, I was determined to try and do so this year. But then life happened and I ended up having to train for a half marathon in one month. My goal quickly morphed from ‘get a PR’ to ‘just finish and around 2:30 would be nice.’ Last Saturday morning, I set out to do just that.

My morning started off with a mad dash to the red pagoda by Lake Eola. What did I tell you? I’m either a hot mess on race mornings, or calm and zen. On this morning I started off calm and became a hot mess when I realized I was leaving my house late. I had zero cash on me, so I knew I was going to have to find a free parking spot on the street.

Luckily, I found a spot where me and D used to park for Magic games. As I pulled up to one of the last available spots on the street a fellow runner directed me to park as close to his car as possible, leaving space for one more car behind me. Ah… runners… always helping each other out.

When I stepped out of my car, he asked me if I was ready. This man was a complete stranger and I’ve never talked to him in my life before. But I knew exactly what this fellow runner was asking: Was I ready to do a warm-up run to the start line? I nodded and took off behind him. I had a red pagoda to reach soon or feared losing my ladies that were patiently waiting for me.

I arrived at the pagoda to find my friends smirking.

Oh! Look who’s here!

I never imagined you would be late.

Hemarie? No, she’s never late.

Clearly, their sarcasm reinstated my reputation for running on Puerto Rican time. 🙂

As we walked to the start of the race, my friends asked me if I was cold because  I was wearing my favorite Lululemon No Limits Tank. It was around 60 degrees. I laughed and pointed out that I was hot already… I had just run. I heat up pretty easily and rarely ever wear long sleeves to a race. The closest I came was at the Disney Marathon when I had to wear arm warmers at the start (and later removed).

Here was the view as we made our way to the start:

Walking to the start.

Walking to the start.

We had a few minutes before the race started so I snapped this photo of the ladies:

The ladies: Beth, Emily, me and Kim

The ladies: Beth, Emily, me and Kim

Emily (second from left in photo) just ran the Space Coast Marathon Thanksgiving weekend. To her, this was just a shakeout run. 🙂

Beth and I both knew we weren’t going to PR, but wanted to push our pace with this race. When I heard Em mention our fast past in the first mile, I figured the inevitable would happen… we were going to split up. Shortly after, I was thrilled to see Beth keep her pace with me when the others dropped back.

It was a gorgeous morning to take a 13.1 mile run:


We started running at an 11:27/mile pace, and slowly settled into an 11:00/mile pace. We ran 5 and 1’s (run 5 minutes, walk one minute, repeat) and felt great. We settled into our conversations about life and the miles seemed to pass us by.

The Orlando Half Marathon course tends to change almost every year, and I noticed that this year’s course was very different from last year’s. I couldn’t help but think that some of these roads weren’t exactly the nicest roads to showcase Orlando for any out-of-town runners.

When we hit mile 8 of our run, I saw that we were running in pace to come close to my PR of 2:27. We did a mini celebration, knowing we were only 5 miles short of finishing.


Along the way we saw familiar faces both on the course and off. I made sure to smack our former running group member, Sammie, in the tush every time we snuck up on her. I made sure to duck afterwards in case she turned around swinging. 🙂

Somewhere in the middle of mile 10 I started to feel drained of energy and stopped talking. Beth must’ve felt similar because she stopped talking as well and suddenly we were running in silence. Our pace started to creep up between 11:30 and 11:47 in our intervals and I forced myself to eat my vanilla stinger waffle. It almost made me gag. It’s funny how being tired can turn the tastiest of treats to a turd.

Speaking of which, these port-o-potties made me laugh:


Think D and I can get some of these for our wedding? 😉

Around mile 12, I started to feel a pull in my left IT band. Since I didn’t run longer than 9 miles in my one month training program, I forgot that this happens. Damn you IT band! I started to focus on picking up my feet.

As we hit the final mile, we started to pick up our pace again and dropped back down to an average of 11:00/mile. I broke our silence:

Me: Only one more mile to go. We can do this, right?

Beth: Yes! We can do this.

Yes, there was doubt in there. And while Beth replied optimistically, she later admitted that she too was dying inside.

The end of the course had us rounding the corner of Lake Eola and finishing with a straight shot. I told Beth I wanted to take a quick 30-second unsanctioned walk break to the corner so we could run out the rest of the race. I got no objection from her.

As we rounded the corner and picked up to a run again, we saw the finish line in sight. I waited patiently for that point where I knew I could sprint out the rest of the race without dying and tried to focus on my breathing. It is often at this point of the race that I start to pray that I don’t pass out right there in front of the finish line. Because that would be really embarrassing. I certainly don’t want a YouTube video of me going viral.

I also must’ve been super delirious, because this picture at the end captures me smiling:


I was happy to catch a glimpse of my love just before I crossed the finish line. It helped me get those last couple of steps in.

And just like that (or two hours and thirty-six minutes later) I finished my fifth half marathon. It wasn’t my best time, but it wasn’t my worst either. I’ll take it!

Race stats:

  • Distance: 13.1 miles
  • Time: 2:36
  • Avg Pace: 11:47/mi


  • Local half marathon
  • Get to sleep in my own bed the night before
  • Easy for your friends and family to come cheer you on
  • Easy, flat course
  • Nice, long-sleeved tech shirts
  • Track Shack always puts on a good race


  • With all the road closures, your spectators have to get around by foot or bicycle
  • There are stretches of shared roads with vehicles
  • The middle of the course is not the most scenic of routes

After the race I headed to get my post-race refreshments:

Not pictures: chocolate milk

Not pictures: chocolate milk

And as always, it was nice having my number one supporter waiting for me at the end. I can’t wait for this man to become my husband:

The future Mr. and Mrs.

The future Mr. and Mrs.

I will definitely run this local half again in the future!

Did you run this year’s Orlando Half? How was it?

Ready to Run

30 Nov

Race mornings you’ll either find me tearing the house apart looking for some Shot Blocks or sitting calmly eating a bagel and waiting for my time to head out the door. I can never predict if I’ll be a frantic mess or a zen being ready to run, so I try to prepare myself as best I can ahead of time.

First, I like to start with a little list making:

Yes, I remind myself to check the weather.

Yes, I remind myself to check the weather.

There have been a couple of times that I’ve ran out of the house dressed for the wrong race. If my house is hot, I’ve assumed it’s hot out. If there’s a sprinkler on, I think it’s raining. So now I check the weather the night before and set out appropriate attire. By the way, tomorrow is going to be perrrrrfect at 7 AM.


I picked up my bib earlier today at Track Shack. I managed to sign up early enough to get my name of my bib. And check out that nice low, even number. This must mean good things lie ahead, right?


I picked up my favorite local pre-race dinner on my way home from work: the baked chicken entree from Black Bean Deli. It comes with yellow rice, black beans and a small salad. It’s a giant serving so I’ll only eat 1/2 of it. When I posted my dinner choice on Facebook and friend joked that they certainly wouldn’t want to run behind me. Silly boy, doesn’t he know I’m Puerto Rican? Beans are like water to me. Seriously though, if anything were to happen to me while running this half, I want to know that I left this great world with rice and beans in me. 🙂

Afterwards I stopped and picked up one bagel from the Publix bakery for my breakfast in the AM. Yes, ONE bagel. We don’t buy bread for the house any more because we don’t eat it much, so if I bought an entire pack of bagels it would go to waste. I know this because I’ve wasted many a pack of bagels.

Next I came home and tossed my running clothes in the washer and started to plug in all of my electronic devices. My iPod Shuffle is charging and my Garmin is plugged in as I type. My running belt, sunnies, sunblock and earbuds are laying out so I don’t forget them.

And while I waited for D to get home so we could have dinner, I ate a fortune cookie from last night’s Chinese dinner.


This is so perfect in so many ways.

Tomorrow morning I’m going to cross that start line and do just that: what I can, with what I have, where I am.

Good luck tomorrow to all my fellow runners of the Orlando Half Marathon!

Race Recap: 2012 Seniors First Turkey Trot 5k

26 Nov

Running the Seniors First Turkey Trot 5k hosted by the Track Shack is easily one of my favorite Thanksgiving Day traditions, followed closely by eating pumpkin pie. This year was my sixth consecutive year running the 5k. (You can read about last year’s race here.)

After a couple of years of running solo or just with one other person, this year was back to having a full blown group of the people I love with me. D, my number one support system, was unable to run again so he and the pugs came to cheer us on, along with my sister’s boyfriend, who was fully equipped with a sign.

My loves up front: D and the pugs

My sister’s boyfriend, Adam, came equipped with signage

Before the race I had trouble finding my little sister, who had walked to the start with some of her friends. However, I saw the boys during the first mile of the race and asked if she had passed. They told me she was a few minutes ahead of me. I took off running after her.

You see, this was my little sister’s first 5k. I’ve been asking her to run one with me for the last couple of years and this year she finally agreed. I think it helped that some of her friends were going to run too. I had dreams of running this first 5k together, but when I couldn’t find her at our arranged meeting spot that morning I knew the only way I would run with her was if I found her on the course. I had no idea that my sister was going to kill the 5k and run it in 29 minutes. I never caught up to her. I was very excited to find her at the end of the race and hear she did so well. My newest running goal will be to be able to keep up with her during the 5k we plan to run the weekend before I get married. 🙂

My lil Sis Melissa (aka “Badass”)

As for my own race time, I was actually pretty impressed with myself. It’s been a rough summer and fall for running this year, so I was surprised to see that I ran the 5k (or 3.15 miles to be exact… I blame that on the weaving in and out of crowds) in 31:44 with an average pace of 10:03/mile. My personal best was about a minute less several years ago when I was chasing after my BFF Rox. That was before she realized how fast she really is and ran slow enough for me to kill myself to keep up.

Here are some pics from the race:

Gotta love the turkey hats!

Utensils (this one’s for Jill from

First mile

The pugs at the finish line

Fierce ladies

Besties: Rox (left) and my lil Sis (right)

After the race, we walked to a nearby corner store and got some bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches on a bagel and coffee. Mmm… they tasted almost like the sandwiches I used to buy at the bodegas in NYC.

When we walked up to the corner store, there was a girl sitting down with her bib on. D’s dad talked to her and it turns out she broke her foot trying to avoid a walker. Oof… how sad! Even though this is a very walker friendly race, I wish race directors would put a little bit more emphasis on walkers starting in the back and walking on the right side of the course to let runners pass. A lot of walkers probably have no idea, and I think the reminder could be helpful. I’ve also seen runners run right into walkers, so we all need to be mindful of each other.


  • Walker friendly race – You can bring the whole family!
  • Great scenic course around downtown Orlando and Lake Eola
  • Great way to start your Thanksgiving Day holiday


  • Walker friendly race – A lot of weaving around walkers
  • Crowded – not the sort of race you try to PR at
  • Untimed race

Did you start your Thanksgiving Day with a local race or exercise with friends and family?

Fall 2012 Races

28 Aug

Since I’m just getting back into being a fully functioning, two-legged runner, I’m weary of committing myself to too many races this fall. I might sprinkle some more 5ks into the mix for fun, but here are my planned runs for the fall:

Miracle Miles 15k – September 22, 2012

I ran this race last year just after returning from a two-week stay in NYC. It was a brutally hot race (especially after running in cool NYC) and I made the mistake of not carrying a water bottle. I remember being so parched in between the water stations that I considered veering off course to get some water at my house. This year I’ll make sure to carry water and hydrate the days leading up to the race.

NOTE AFTER POST: I did not end up running the Miracle Miles 15k. For details read here.

Turkey Trot 5k – November 22, 2012

The Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot in 2007 was my first 5k ever. Donnie had convinced me that it would be a great way to start the holiday weekend. His pops and him had been running the race for several years as part of their holiday tradition. I finally agreed and am so glad I did… it really is a wonderful start to a day filled with food, friends and family! This year will be my fifth year running it in a row, and I hope to make pumpkin pancakes afterwards, like I did last year. I’m trying to convince my mom and my Sis to join in the fun. Wish me luck!

Orlando Half Marathon – December 1, 2012 

Last year I ran this race with a friend and had an absolute blast. I’m going to push myself a little harder this year, but look forward to running around the city without the road traffic. 🙂

I’m hoping for a healthy, happy racing season and will definitely continue to do yoga along with my training to help avoid injury.

What races do you have planned for the fall?

Race Signs

10 May

One of my favorite parts of running any race are the signs along the way. I don’t know what it is, but as a runner, words written on a piece of poster board can be so helpful when you need it the most. They either make you laugh or shout absurdity’s to its holder, or if you’re just plain delirious and tired you might cry. For just a moment in time, they distract you from the task at hand (running many miles) and focus your attention elsewhere.

A few years ago, the OUC Half Marathon course took runners right by the end of our street. My friend was running it, so we made sure to make a poster. I like to do one side of the poster name specific for friends, and the other side just plan ridiculous for the rest of the runners.

It was a cold morning, and my friend Tim (a.k.a. “Coach”), my boyfriend Donnie and I wore many layers and drank coffee to stay warm as we waiting for our friend SB to run by. I also made this poster, which generated a lot of feedback:

Donnie (holding the sign), Tim and the pugs

The reaction from the freezing, scantily-clad runners was hilarious and this is one of my favorite race posters that I’ve made to date.

Imagine my excitement when Jill from branched out to a new hilarious blog: Best Race Signs. I know I would be referencing it the next time I was spectating and needed to make another sign! This post is for her. 🙂

There were tons and tons of great signs at the Flying Pig Marathon. I got pictures of my favorites when possible.

(I almost hurt myself getting this first one)

I think this one was my favorite.

I’m always a sucker for a little potty humor.

Around mile 15 or so…

A special shout out to the sign that read “I’ll be your support” and had a drawing of a bra and a jockstrap on it. I was too busy distracted by beer to get a photo.

Which race signs have been your favorite?

Race Recap: 2012 Flying Pig Marathon – Part 2

8 May

(Continued from Part 1)

Our pig pen finally started to move towards the start line and soon after we were of running the 2012 Flying Pig Marathon.

I have to say, what a gorgeous start:

Running towards stadium

The crowds at the start were exciting, and I decided not to listen to my iPod Shuffle and instead enjoy their cheering. In fact, the ear buds for my iPod would never make their way out of my fuel belt.

I was just starting to get in a groove and wanted to enjoy whatever good time I had on my right leg before my IT band started to lock up when I heard someone behind me yell “Hey little piggy!” I turned around and saw that it was Molly. We took this blurry pic:

Early in the race with Molly

We ran together for maybe a quarter mile before she took off as we crossed the Taylor-Southgate Bridge into Kentucky. I walked up the incline (I was planning on walking all inclines during the course).

Molly had reassured me that Wendy and Emily were behind me, so I looked forward to them passing me.

Running through the Kentucky portion of the race was fun. The crowds were out and I enjoyed running through Covington, the neighborhood we were staying in.

By the way, I totally loved the iFitness iPhone belt add-on I picked up at the Expo the day before. For the Disney Marathon they had run out, and I’ve been looking to pick one up since. It made getting my phone in and out to take these photos while running super easy!

Just as I we were about to cross back the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge back into Cincinnati, I met a gentlemen who was running his very first half marathon and loving every minute of it. We were almost three miles into the race and chatted a bit before I wished him luck as we started to go over the bridge since I was walking up inclines. Chatting with fellow runners is definitely one of the pros of not listening to music. 🙂

And back to Ohio we went:

A train was on the bridge with us and honked at us runners:

I started to follow the pig:

The sun started rising and I was so thankful I bought some cheapy Ray-Ban wannabe sunglasses at Target the week before the race. I figured I could toss them if they started to bother me. We were running east and the sun was blinding:

I was feeling the heat already and was glad I remembered to apply sunscreen before we left the house.

Around mile six, I was handed this tasty treat:

These were being handed out just before a water stop, but I don’t think they were provided by the course. I didn’t care… It was the most delicious thing I had ever had. It was a hot, muggy morning, with highs expected in the mid 80’s.

Around this time I could feel my IT band already tightening up. By the time Wendy and Emily passed me without recognizing me around mile 8, I was having trouble bending my knee. I called out their names and they turned around surprised. We would run together for the next six miles or so.

Around this time you start to run an never-ending incline, which we conquered through various methods:

  • Run 5 minutes / walk 1 minute intervals
  • Run to the next lamp post / walk to the next lamp post
  • Run until one of us cried mercy and then walk (and by “one of us” I meant me)

This is when my right leg said “I’m not going to bend anymore.” Well, I showed my stubborn IT band who’s the boss: I figured out that if I swung my leg around when I ran (think pirate on a wooden leg) that it wouldn’t hurt. Sure, I looked like a special case but at least I was covering the distance.

Up, up we went with Emily looking for the nuns she had heard about, Wendy running through every sprinkler possible, and me just hobbling along. It was hilarious because Emily and Wendy were usually a few steps in front of me and the crowd would just do the usual clap and yell for them. But when they noticed me, they would yell words of encouragement and clap harder. I know what they were thinking: “Oh boy, this poor girl has to run quite a few more miles on that wooden leg of hers.”

Here are me and Wendy cheesin’ our way up to the top of that nasty mile 8 hill:

This was one of our views:

How gorgeous is that??

And we found a local to snap a photo:

Around mile nine is the half marathon turn-off. The girls asked what I was going to do. I finally told them I was going to do the full marathon, but only under the condition that they would leave me. I knew there would be a point I could no longer run, and didn’t want to hold them back.

As my pain increased, we stopped at an aid station to see if they had Biofreeze or aspirin. No such luck, all they had was Vaseline. What kind of aid station is that?

However, if you’re running a marathon and say the word “pain medicine” loud enough several times, you’re bound to have a kind runner overhear you and offer up some of their own. I was this fortunate when we met the loveliest lady. I declared my love for her as she gave me two Advil, but sadly I cannot remember her name, other than it started with the letter ‘R.’ But I will remember her fondly.

We made it to the half marathon mark and did mini-celebrations. I tried not to dwell on the fact that I could be finished for too long. Thankfully around mile 14 we came across what felt like a street party and were offered some beer. Since I’d already disobeyed common sense rules like “don’t take drugs from a stranger” I thought… “why not.”

That beer was hands down the coldest drink I had during the entire race course. I relished it. So did Emily and Wendy.

God is good and so is beer. (Not pictured: Emily… she thought if she wasn’t photographed then it didn’t happen. Until I blog about it, of course.)

That orange headband around my left arm is what I used to cool myself off. At every water stop I would dump water on it, then wipe myself down with the headband. It’s easier than carrying a rag and definitely helped to keep my temperature down.

Wendy and Emily kept asking me if this was still the best day ever and I kept answering with a “yup.” No one ever said the best day ever was going to be easy.

Shortly after that picture was taken I finally decided I could no longer hobble run, chasing after the ladies. After the next running interval started, I continued to walk. I think they knew it was time and off they went. I would be on my own for the next 12 miles… or so I thought.

I was about to put my earbuds in, but was distracted by this guy:

Apparently he had juggled his way through the 10k the previous day and was now on day two of run juggling. I was mesmerized. I even started to run again so I could stay near him longer.

Around the mile 16 turnaround point I did three things:

  • Allowed myself to entertain the thought that I might not finish this race
  • Scored some ice from a family (I may or may not have told the little boy that handed me the ice that I love him. Yeah… totally inappropriate… ha ha ha ha… )
  • Waited until I got out of said family’s view before I dropped that ice down my sports bra for instant cooling and much happiness

Once again I was about to put on my headphones when I heard someone asking me if I was okay. “Oh yeah, just can’t bend my leg. No bid deal, just running a marathon,” I responded. It’s the same response I had given at least ten people already. However, this runner had some items of much value: IcyHot (yes, he was carrying an entire tube in his pocket) and Advil.

He offered me the Advil and IcyHot and I didn’t even hesitate in answering with a big ol’ “YES!” Since I had already taken drugs and alcohol from other perfect strangers, I thought why stop there? When he handed me the Advil, he pointed out that it said ‘Advil’ on it, so I didn’t think he was trying to drug me. I reassured him that even if he was slipping me some Ecstasy, I think I’d be okay with it. Yup, that’s how much pain I was in… I was willing to finish out the rest of the marathon in a drug-induced trance-like state. Lucky for me, it really was just Advil.

The runner ended up being a local named Will and he was running to help raise money for LAM research. His friend suffers from LAM (short for “lymphangioleiomyomatosis“) and Will figured if his friend could survive with LAM, then he could endure the pain of running a marathon without training. This made him okay in my book. He even wore the cotton shirt she asked him to wear. Also, his bib read “SHOOT ME NOW.”

The final 10 miles of the marathon consist of highway hill running and running through not the nicest of neighborhoods. This reminded me of the long stretch during Disney where you run on the highway and I started to resent it.

By this point the sun was beating down on us and there was no shade. And at every water stop, the water and Gatorade got hotter and hotter, until it was undrinkable. Oh, and the water stops were running out of water. At one water stop I spit the water out because it tasted like garden hose water, probably because it was garden hose water. (I saw the volunteers refilling pitchers with a hose.)

Here’s a pic of me at mile 22. I was holding a styrofoam cup full of ice that we had scored. I may or may not have professed my love for the stranger that handed me said cup full of ice.

In the photo above, you’ll see that the road has some pretty fresh tar. I’m not sure if they patched up the road for the race, but it was so hot that the tar was sticking to my shoes. I had to make a concerted effort not to step on it.

Around mile 24 I saw a church with a sign that said “restrooms” outside and made a dash for it. Making it up the stairs to the entrance was a little tricky though, but the promise of an air-conditioned restroom helped guide me.

The final two miles of the marathon were horrible. It was all highway, and by this point the sun was torturing me. It was relentless. And the water and Gatorade got so hot at every stop that I couldn’t drink it. All I could think about was ice-cold water. And being able to sit down.

I started to wobble run when the finish line was in an attainable distance. I crossed the “finish swine” in 7:03:10, hobbling every step of the way. My average pace was 16:10/mile. My right leg was throbbing. My throat was parched. My feet were swollen. I had joined the ever-elusive 7-hour marathon club. But I didn’t give up.

Rox and Rachelle were just about some of the last few spectators remaining. Thank God for friends!

I thanked Will for the company and headed off in search of iced-cold water. I would not find ice-cold water, but I was , however, greeted with a beer by Erin. I declared my love for her too.

Me, putting the pig in a choke hold.

Making nice with the pig

Did I mention we had piggy tails? Because we totally did.

Balancing on my bad leg while holding my beloved beer, and the ice bag that Erin was able to get from a vendor. No beer was spilled in the taking of this photo.

Some final thoughts:


  • I’ve never been to Cincinnati and had a great time exploring a new city.
  • The crowds were amazing. The people were lovely.
  • It was a scenic course that took you through the city, over bridges, along the water and into the hills. Oh my!
  • The medal is great. The shirt was great. The duffle bag was great. (Yes, we got all 3!)
  • I love the pigs. Everywhere.
  • Ohio weather in May is tricky. Last year it rained. This year it was hot. I would suggest race organizers talk to race organizers from Florida for tips on how to keep runners cool: more ice, sponges, etc.
  • Hills. Train for them or they will eat you up alive.
  • Aid Stations didn’t have pain meds or Biofreeze. I thought this was a race staple! Bring your own.
  • Don’t take 7 hours to run your marathon. If you do, all of the volunteers at the end will have packed up, and you’ll get nice warm water.

Final verdict: I would like to run the Flying Pig Marathon again one day, but with two good legs. However, I would much rather just run the half marathon, and skip the awful highway portion that makes up the back half.

Thanks to everyone for your well wishes and support! A big shout out to the six wonderfully crazy ladies I travelled with and also the ones that couldn’t make the trip, but still sent their love.

Have you run the Flying Pig Marathon? Tell me about your experience or link to your own recap in the comments!

One last time… Weeweeweeeeeeee!

Race Recap: 2012 Flying Pig Marathon – Part 1

7 May

On Sunday morning shortly after I woke up at 4:15 AM, I said “this is going to be the best day ever.” I was, of course, being highly optimistic. It was the morning of the 2012 Flying Pig Marathon.

After over a month of having issues with my right IT band (I blogged about it here and here and here and here) I knew what I was potentially walking into. But because of how fabulously stubborn I am, I decided I would still participate in the Flying Pig Marathon, even if I had to walk it. Or crawl it.

Let me start at the beginning: I run with some really fun and amazing ladies. Earlier this year, a group of us decided to run the Flying Pig Marathon and Half in Cincinnati, OH. I was just coming out of my first marathon, and determined to get right back on that horse.

Amazingly enough, I don’t have a single photo of all seven of us together. But with a few pics from this weekend, I got us covered:

Left to Right: Molly, me, Rachelle, Emily and Erin


Me and Wendy

Emily, being the traveling pro that is is, found us a great brownstone rental in Covington, KY. Covington is conveniently located just across the Ohio River from downtown Cincinnati and the house was just a tiny bit over a mile away from both the expo and the start line. And it was super cute with a rooftop deck (not that I could access said rooftop deck after the marathon):

Our view of Cincinnati

Sunday morning I woke up around 4:30 AM. I ate half of a bagel with peanut butter, drank some black coffee, used the restroom and got dressed. The night before I had laid out all of my stuff:

This included:

  • Running tank
  • Sports bra
  • Running tights
  • Running shoes
  • Socks
  • Bib number (filled out with emergency info)
  • My borrowed Garmin
  • Fuel belt (equipped with $20 bill)
  • Fuel – Vanilla Stinger Waffles and Clif Shot Bloks
  • Head band turned into my wrist band
  • (not pictured) Cheap $15 sunglasses from Target

The rest of our group left the house around 5:40, while Rox and I ran fashionably late. This is not new for us. We’ve run several races together, and I’d say we’ve been running up to the start as the gun goes off for about half of those.

We left the house around 5:50 AM. We were just about to start crossing the bridge into Cincinnati when Rox looked down at my knees and asked where my IT band straps were. An expletive flew out of my mouth. I had forgotten to set those out, therefore forgetting to put them on.

We turned around to get them. Ten minutes and two IT straps later, we were crossing the bridge, where we got this lovely view of the super moon while we ate our bananas:

We followed the crowds towards the stadium and started to feel the energy created by thousands of runners ready to run their hearts out.

The corrals, or pig pens, at the start.

Especially this guy:

Praying or Tebowing?

Sure, it looks like Rox was doing the same, but she was just tying her shoes:

Here we are looking fairly relaxed for two girls that were running super late:

We stretched during the intro then Rox and I wished each other luck and split up to join our separate corrals pig pens. I tried to find the rest of the ladies, but had no such luck. I set my watch, stopped to say a prayer for strength and waited for my coral to start the race.

To be continued …