This is a report on the seven races I participated in this past year. I also decided to rank them in order of how much I enjoyed each one.
7. Fighting Hunger 5k http://www.m25m.org/Page.aspx?x=36cf77b8-586e-4537-b8a8-d5e10bcdf770
The race was organized by Matthew 25 ministries here in Cincinnati, Ohio. It's a fairly popular race, with several thousand participants. It runs through the business district of the Blue Ash area, which isn't much to look at. However, they have the biggest post race buffet I've ever seen. So much food. A bit ironic since the race is about fighting hunger for the needy. I did set a PR with an official time of 21:22.
6. Capital City Half Marathon http://www.capitalcityhalfmarathon.com/
This race takes place in Columbus, Ohio. It is a larger half marathon on a fairly flat course. This was my first race coming off of IT band issues and I finished with my slowed half marathon result to date (1hr 50min). The course mostly goes around downtown and there is a good amount of crowd support. The shirt and medal were pretty nice.
5. Go OTR 5k https://www.facebook.com/GoOTR5K
I loved this community based 5k. It takes place in the Over the Rhine neighborhood of Cincinnati. Lauren ran it with me and won her age group. Only age group winners receive medals and hers is one of the coolest I've seen. It was made by the historic Rookwood Pottery Company. Not a cheap item. There is also a great arts and crafts fair in Washington Park after the race worth sticking around for.
4. Air Force Marathon http://www.usafmarathon.com/
This is was my second go with the Air Force Marathon. I shaved 15 minutes from last years time and finished at 3hrs 50min. However, that was still off my goal time. It rained up until the moment the race gun sounded off (no lie) and it was cool dry weather the rest of the way. The last 5 miles really tore me up with some of the hills. Running with all the vets and current service men & women is really an honor and that is why I return to this race. Plus, the finishers' medals are always really cool. They feature a different war plane every year.
3. Cincinnati Half Marathon http://www.cincyhalfmarathon.com/
I really liked the course for this race. Not to be confused with the Cincinnati Flying Pig Half Marathon, the course is really fast and many PR on it. I got my best recorded half marathon result finishing in 1hr 41min. The race is fairly low key, not a ton of hoopla, just the way I like it. I held back for the first 4 miles knowing I'd have to run uphill into downtown. After that, I sped up at the five mile mark and kept a good pace up to the 10 mile mark. At that point, it started to rain and I turned up the speed a little bit and finished strong. This race is a good one for runners doing their first half marathon.
2. Ragnar Relay Florida Keys http://ragnarrelay.com/race/floridakeys
This race is really 1b on my list. It's definitely #1 on the fun scale. The correct way to run Ragnar is to not try to win or PR. It's really just a party for runners. Our team, "Dead by Dawn", was beyond awesome and there are far too many funny stories to mention in this post. This was my first time in Florida and I couldn't have experienced it in any better way. Our team captains did a superb job of organizing our mad adventure.
1. Monumental Indianapolis Marathon http://www.monumentalmarathon.com/
A young marathon, it runs like it's been doing it for 20 years. This was my first time actually visiting Indianapolis and not just the airport. The mostly flat course attempts to highlight all the major areas of the city. The day was cool, clear, and fall colors were in full bloom. I rejected the idea of running with a pace group this time and simply ran "my own race". This was better, because I like to run by effort and not by someone else's tempo. There were plenty of hydration stations and others with fruit and/or gel. The volunteers were very helpful, including the Butler University student that let me use her shoulder so I could balance myself while I stretched out a cramp. The swag was top notch along with the beanie they handed out at the finish line with the finishers' medals. I came away very impressed with the organization of the race and the city itself. To top it off, I PR'd finishing at 3hrs 41min, beating my goal time by 4min.
I am grateful that my family indulges me in my adventures. The road trips we take are always memorable. I look forward to when my girls get old enough to start doing some of these with me. Next year, my tentative race plans include the Flying Pig 10k, Go OTR 5k, Air Force Marathon, Cincinnati Half Marathon, and the JFK 50 in Boonsboro, MD. Feel free to join me!