When I knew I would be in Cincinnati for Thanksgiving, I immediately started texting my siblings to find out who else would be in town so I could start peer pressuring at least one of them to run the Thanksgiving Day 10k with me. The last Thanksgiving I spent in Cincinnati, I was able to talk my entire family into doing the 10k with me so I was hopeful I would find a taker. Fortunately for me, my youngest brother, Mike, would be in town and was easily convinced into running with me.
We woke up early-ish on Thanksgiving morning (and looked really tired); fortunately, the race doesn’t start until 9 a.m. and with the holiday, we expected zero traffic getting into downtown for the race at Paul Brown Stadium. We stayed at my mom’s house which is about 15 miles north of the city and it took us 20ish minutes from leaving the house to parking. Thanks to the holiday, there was ample street, surface lot and parking garage parking available.
I love this Thanksgiving Day Race for the same reasons most people love a Turkey Trot/Thanksgiving Day race – working out before a day of eating and sitting, it’s a fun way to get active with people you love, tradition. I also love the Thanksgiving Day Race for it’s sheer size. This year was record-breaking attendance with 16,000 runners coming out to run!
16,000! Good job, Greater Cincinnati!
Sure, it makes it hard to actually race with 16,000 people but knowing 15,998 other people also wanted to run 6 miles on Thanksgiving was awesome. And the sight of turning the corner to run up the hill at Vine street and Liberty street and seeing the street sidewalk-to-sidewalk with people is a spectacular image my brother and I soon won’t forget.
The race started right at 9 a.m. and we started in the 9min/mile pace group. Mike had previously told me, ‘Lynne, I’m not going to run as fast as you. I’d be surprised if I run under a 9 min/mile pace!’ So we opted to line up in the 9 minute pace group. We’d planned to start together and my goal was for us to stick together – if that meant we ran slower than I would if I was running solo, so be it. It was more important to me to spend time with my brother than it was to push myself and race.
Well….it turns out, my self-proclaimed non-running brother is much faster than he expected! After we weaved in and out of walkers and slower runners in the first 1.5 miles, the course opened up a bit and we could hit our stride.
Feeling pretty good, I looked down at my Garmin to check our pace. 8:21! WUT?! I mentioned it to Mike to was a few paces ahead of me – I struggled to keep up with his long-legged stride and chased him much of the race – and he grunted in acknowledgement. We continued on.
The course was really interesting this year; we started at Paul Brown Stadium and began by running through a booming new district in Cincinnati, OTR. The course then ran back towards the river, crossed a bridge into Kentucky, ventured through Newport and Covington (bar/business districts) before crossing a final bridge back into Ohio and ending with a downhill, straight shot finish back at Paul Brown.
Downtown Cincinnati has undergone a transformation in recent years and the race course navigated through the gentrified OTR district. I was most excited for this part of the race as I’ve heard about the interesting bars, restaurants and shops that have gone in but haven’t been in Cincinnati recently to check them out for myself. Running down Vine Street, the main drag in OTR, was neat to be able to at least see the new development. And the Newport/Covington section is always a fun trip down memory lane as we University of Cincinnati kids spent a lot of time at bars in these neighborhoods.
Mike and I continued running under 9 minute miles for the next couple of miles and at mile 4, Mike’s IT Band started seizing up and he was in the pain cave. But did he slow down? Nope. Onward!
At Mile 5.5, the course took us up and over the final bridge to cross back into Cincinnati and shoot us into the finish…I always remember how much I hate this bridge every year as we climb up what feels like a never-ending hill. But in looking at our splits, I’m really impressed that we didn’t slow too-too much! It felt like we were crawling but we maintained our pace.
My brother, Mike, is in red, I’m in the pink tights behind him. Coincidentally, the face in between Mike and I, behind me, is a good friend from college! Just after this photo, we realized we were running next to each other and chatted before sprinting into the finish.
Our official time was 57:13, a 9:14 pace. Not too shabby for a not super dedicated training cycle!
We didn’t stick around for finish line food/party because we both were too pooped to walk around the block and wait in a line. We parked ~6 blocks from the start (up a hill! Poor planning on our part) so opted to head back to the car and clean up/relax before Thanksgiving dinner festivities began.
Per usual, this race was extremely well organized, had good crowd support, fun finish line party and interesting course. As many times as I spend Thanksgiving in Cincinnati, I will continue to run this race.