Thursday, February 17, 2011

4 x 15 (ish)

Julie:This is the map of our run. To drive it would take awhile, what with the various crossings, lights, neighborhoods, and eventual final stretch on Eastern. To run it—two hours and fifty minutes.

We started grumbling about rain, too much to do at home, and the inevitability of having to keep moving for 170 minutes. It's daunting. But at least the weather cooperated. We had forty extra degrees to work with compared with last week's 14 miles in 10ยบ weather. This time, we started in upper forties and ended in the low fifties. Ideal. The sun waited to warm us until our cool down, which we appreciated.

It didn't take me long to get in the right mental space. For some reason, starting at Sawyer Point and then running along the river front past US Bank Arena, Great American Ball Park and Paul Brown Stadium put me in this incredible mood. We rounded the first big turn watching a train above us sit stationary on the trestles and I thought of the state inspector, like I always do when I see trains.

We entered a shady area where the sidewalks had cracks and Elizabeth had to wave us off of broken concrete, scattered rocks and elevated manhole covers. We trudged by a prison, inmates indoors. When we made the turn to 7th, we discovered that we had to make an adjustment in our map to avoid being crushed by cars ramping to the freeway. Once safely across 7th, we jogged through downtown and a couple of homeless people cheered us on after asking for spare change. One woman yelled, "You're doin' great, ladies!"

Time flew by (for me). When we got to Reading Rd, I realized I hadn't even thought once about running. We waved to the castle HQ for WCPO and then began the first ascent of the long run. Patrice had warned us about it and we were prepared for it to be a doozy. It wasn't. In fact, the ascent to Eden park, past Mirror Lake and Krohn's Conservatory, felt like a comfortable steady incline with enough relief here and there that none of us were breathing hard at the top.

We stopped in Eden Park for a quick triumphant photo:

I snapped the following as we got back under way (I take my role as team photographer seriously!). Patrice is running, I promise. In fact, her sly low-kick style enables her to out pace the rest of us every single time! A common comment throughout our runs is, "Patrice, slow down!" We take turns attempting to rein her in.

After we left Eden Park, with Elizabeth suggesting we return some day for a picnic, we headed to our mid-point destination. We did so by running to Madison where that gorgeous church is on the corner. To get there, we had to decide whether or not to obey traffic lights (an ongoing question throughout the run—to jay-run or catch our breath during a stop light!) and how to dodge construction workers, wet cement and varieties of yellow tape and orange cones. Pam, the ever-law-abiding, and I used all legal crossings. Patrice, the renegade speedster, and Elizabeth did not.

With all this distraction, I continued not to even remember that I was running. Exhilaration!

We turned down Madison and made our way to The Running Spot where the workers let us drink water and use their bathrooms. One worker told us we were ahead of schedule—that the Running Spot runners were running 13 this weekend. In the way of marathoners, we were gratified to be ahead! Might be our only claim to competitive edge for the duration.

Once watered, we all took a squeeze of lemon chiffon Gu (not the nicest flavor). On we ran, through Obryonville and into Hyde Park. We remarked on changed stores and old shopping habits. Words were starting to come out wrong. I made some comment about texting everyone on my camera and it took a moment to even figure out why that sounded wrong.

Suddenly, we were confronted with an enormous hill! Steep! Straight up! Accusations of "Liar" flew as we berated Patrice for not knowing every inch of the run she mapped. (It's a habit of lazy runners to blame the kind-hearted diligent soul who prepares the run and frankly in this case, Patrice could simply outrun us and leave us destitute to our mapless condition, if we were too bull headed. Instead, we huffed and puffed up the hill, silenced by the steepness and need for oxygen.)

At the top of the hill, we were then treated to (I use that term loosely) a steep, impossible-for-the-knees, descent. Elizabeth told us she would google us some message and we realized she wanted to email us. But we couldn't remember the word and the whole mess of language that included random uses of phone, camera, texting, email and google made us laugh so hard, I did pee a little. You really do lose your words when running.

The last stretch past "The Precinct" restaurant and up to Eastern Ave. continued our return to Ohio River level. Unfortunately there was nothing to look at for the next 3.8 miles. Did I say nothing? Well there were broken bottles, random chunks of cement, rocks, asphalt and the uneven surfaces of sidewalks. Eyes glued to the ground, in any case. Pam got short of breath and we took a couple of brief breaks with 10-20 yards of walking here and there to regroup. We agreed that water and snacks of some kind are imperative next time. A little rain sprinkle revived us. We noticed that purple is a popular house color along the river. Garish purple. That helped.

Finally, we re-entered Sawyer Point (the park) and were heartened to see runners in SHORTS! Men pointed out how little farther we had to return to get to our cars. By the time we got to the Boathouse, we ran just a little longer and then collapsed into these poses:

We did get lost looking for our cars and wondered if our legs would take us any farther, when just like that, we saw the lot. We had overshot it, but were so grateful to see wheels. Turns out with the extra walking, we did pass our 15 mile mark and we are proud!

The Wednesday run was the most glorious run of my life! The sights, the friends, the weather, the sense of well-being that rushes in at the end...!

I love Cincinnati. It's such a cool city to see at ground level. I wish more people knew how wonderful it is. I heard on TV the other night that Cincinnati is looking to brand itself as a Mecca of the Arts for mid size cities. One thing that struck me on our run is just how beautiful the old architecture is, and how nice it is to have Mt. Adams to house the art museum and playhouse, botanical gardens and Eden Park. There's a lot here. I love that the Flying Pig can show it off!

So, 15 down! On to 16 next week.

Patrice: Thanks, Julie, for summing it up so well. I had a great time, and really enjoyed this run. The first 8 miles just flew by. The last 8...well, maybe not so much. Really, just the last 4 were hard. Eastern Avenue is not my friend and never will be. It seemed to take forever, and I felt sure I had read the map wrong and that it was more than 4 miles. Alas, it was only 3.8.

We got 15 in, and probably went about a tenth more because of a detour we had to take at 7th street. The extra tenth might have done us all in. Poor Pam was lightheaded and seeing stars because we did not take things like hydrating very seriously. I blame the coach! We only had one water stop -- at mile 8 -- and that wasn't near enough. Already have plans for more water, gatorade & gu spread out throughout our next run...16 miles on my mom's birthday! (Happy Birthday Mom - Love you! ♥)

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