The last time I ran the Hudy 14K, I was coming off pregnancy #1. I remembered a few things about that race two years ago: 1) I had a great race and 2) I loved the challenging course with beautiful architecture.
This race comes at a perfect time before big fall races, and the distance just so happens to be one of my favorites. Why are there not more 8-10 mile races? WHY GOD WHY?
Coming off pregnancy #2, I was really looking forward to tackling this race again. The race organizers had revamped the course, with a new start and finish area, so I knew I was in for a unique experience.
Enter the 2013 Hudy 14K.
We’d had a rough night with the kiddos on Thursday, so Friday before the race, I was exhausted. I stumbled into bed around 9:30 pm and mumbled to my husband to set the alarm before I knocked out.
Of course, that didn’t happen. So when the baby started babbling in the morning, I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes, checked my watch and MOTHERFATHER IT WAS 6:47 AM! That meant I had 12 minutes before I needed to leave for the race.
Thankfully, I had–as I always do–set out my clothes, socks and shoes the night before, so all I had to do was throw on my duds, run a comb through my hair, brush my teeth, grab some ShotBloks and bounce out the door. I’m pretty sure I still had pillow lines on my face when we pulled into the parking lot.
Because this race lands on Oktoberfest every year AND it’s put on by the brewery, lots of people wear costumes. In fact, there’s a division of the race that allows you to compete as a “6-pack” which means you’re running with 5 buddies, wearing costumes, all tethered together. Anyway, to celebrate the spirit of the race, I also took part in the festivities. My running buddy, Sara, crafted together a dirndl out of some fabric scraps and a dry-fit tshirt. We paired this with running skirts and compression socks, and VOILA! Beer wenches.
It had rained all night long before the race, and I feared we were in for a soggy run, but the heavy rain tapered off into a light mist just before the starting gun went off.
The Hudy 14K doesn’t have any start corrals, so it’s a free-for-all in the early race miles. Add the costume contest and people running tethered together, and well, you’ve got some interesting people dodging to deal with.
Despite that, I ran the first few miles right at the pace I wanted, and when I got to mile 3, it was time for a ShotBlok. I fumbled around with my skirt pocket and dug out the baggie I had haphazardly thrown in on my way out the door. The ShotBlok was strawberry flavored, which signaled a few things to me. First, this had no caffeine in it. Second, this must be leftover from pregnancy, when I wasn’t indulging in caffeine. And third, this was leftover from pregnancy… which was OVER A YEAR AGO. Uh, needless to say, the thing was as hard as a rock. Blergh.
The stale ShotBlok was stuck in my teeth for a good mile after that, and my skirt was wet and rubbing my leg weird, and I was starting to get discouraged.
Then, we hit mile five and the GIANT HILL. It’s so steep that your shoes come off your heels as your plow up this monster. I was almost to the top when I threw my hands up and started walking. Almost immediately, a woman behind me said, “You can do this! Don’t give up.” She patted me on the shoulder, and we finished the hill together. Lady, whoever you are, THANK YOU. I needed that in a bad way. I checked my watch, and realized I was still on my goal pace. Whooohoo!
More hills followed, but so did the awesome architecture. We ran through parts of Cincinnati that you don’t generally even want to DRIVE through in the daylight — and that’s a tragedy because it’s just so darn pretty ’round those areas. People were out on their stoops in their pajamas cheering us on.
We turned back uphill to go back to the city for the finishing legs (DEAR GOD, HOW COULD WE STILL BE GOING UP MORE HILLS?!?), and I was really feeling the burn. My legs were cashed, my lungs were burning, but I kept going because dangnabit, I knew I could finish this race as fast as I ran it the first time.
I put my head down and plowed through the finish line. When I looked up at the time, I was elated. I finished a full four minutes faster than I had before. Four minutes! That’s huge. What’s more, I was well under my desired pace for my upcoming half marathon, which gave me a much needed shot of confidence.
The after party was entertaining, and relatively well-organized, considering the beer-thirsty crowd. I got my sweet finisher’s medal (complete with bottle opener), filled my pint glass with some suds and celebrated my victory.
Hudepohl 14K, bring it on next year! Prost! — Aidz