Thursday, June 30, 2016

State #29 Flying Pig Half Marathon, Cincinnati, OH, May 1, 2016: Part 1

The Flying Pig Marathon/Half Marathon was nearly two months ago, and I’m finally able to get my blog post written for it. I left work on Friday, April 29th and drove straight to the airport for my flight. Luckily, it was a direct flight straight in to the Cincinnati airport, which, interestingly, is actually in Kentucky. My cousin Andrew flew from Boston at approximately the same time, so we met up in the airport and enjoyed a drink at the Wolfgang Puck airport bar. It was so good to see him, as it had been quite some time since we’d had the chance to catch up with one another. 
We grabbed our rental car and headed in to the city. Andrew is an excellent navigator whenever we are out on our adventures. I so appreciate not having to watch the GPS and the road in unfamiliar locations. We arrived at our hotel pretty easily, checked in and headed out for dinner at the Yarde House Brew Tavern. I’ve been to the Yarde House in the Boston area (Dedham, I think it was) and it is a fun place to try new beers and grab a good plate of food. We had a super time enjoying the food and beer and company. We didn’t make it a super late night though, as we needed to stay rested for the race.
Fountain Square area in Cincinnati downtown area.
Morning brought rain. We could see 5K/10K runners finishing their races coming in wet. Rain was forecast for our race the next morning, too, but we were hoping it might all dump out on Saturday leaving Sunday clear for us. After a quick bit of breakfast at the hotel Starbucks, we headed across the street to the expo center where we picked up our numbers. 
Race t-shirt and bib number.
The Flying Pig Marathon and Half are very well embraced by the city of Cincinnati. There were pigs all over the city in support of the race, and numerous local establishments were sponsors of the race. The expo was loaded with booths showcasing all kinds of health/running/racing related things. And other things, too. We walked around for a while, collecting trinkets and foodstuffs before picking up our numbers. 
Parade of pigs and other scenes from the race expo.

Much to our delight, in addition to our numbers and race t-shirts, the race volunteers also gave us duffel bags and Flying Pig posters! Hot dog! Runners like freebies, you know. We stopped back at the hotel to drop off our haul and then headed out in to the rain (with hotel umbrellas, thankfully) to walk to the Cincinnati Art Museum. Along the way, we stopped at an Italian restaurant in Fountain Square to set up our dinner reservation for that evening.
It was the perfect day for the art museum, but not really perfect for the walk there. Even though the distance was less than two miles from our hotel, it wasn’t an easy, direct route. We had to traverse around and under some highway bridges and up and down some pretty big hills. We saw what we thought was the top of the museum sticking up behind the channel 9 television station building, atop another large hill. A stone staircase behind channel 9 seemed to be a good bet to getting to the top of the hill, so we went for it. The climb wasn’t easy, but the museum was at the top. Success!

We decided to start our visit with lunch, and delightfully our table looked out in to the museum hallway where an oversized Miro, gleeful and smiling, made for the perfect companion while we enjoyed our meal.

We walked around much of the museum, enjoying some contemporary art as well as some more traditional works by Picasso, Degas, and others. I was pleasantly surprised to see one of Horace Pippin’s original paintings, entitled Christmas Morning, Breakfast. I read a picture book biography about him (A Splash of Red) earlier in the school year to my 3rd grade class, so it was really cool to see his work in person. I snapped a picture of it (legally) to show my students. 

After lunch, we walked around the museum for the afternoon soaking up all the beauty surrounding us. We decided a cab back to the hotel would be best so we could keep our legs from becoming completely worn out. 
Once we got back to our hotel, we relaxed a bit and then I ventured out to try to find some fresh blueberries for my breakfast the next day. I found a local farmers market type shop about 10 blocks from where we were. I knew I had just about enough time to get there and back before our dinner reservation, so I set out. The first few blocks were fine, then the neighborhood started looking worse. Many of the low brownstone style apartment buildings were in disrepair or boarded up. The folks hanging around the street corners seemed a little sketchy…I almost turned around, but kept on, thinking that it wasn’t much farther. Before long, I came to a large park (Washington Park) where a concert was taking place. To my relief, there was a fairly strong police presence there, and people were having fun, enjoying the music. The band playing ended their set with Purple Rain, which to everyone’s delight, sounded just perfect. At that moment, I was glad to be exactly where I was. All of us, no matter who we were or where we came from, felt a moment of love for Prince. It was marvelous. 
I finally got to the market, but to my great disappointment, they didn’t have any blueberries. What a bummer! I walked all the way back to my hotel empty-handed. I returned to our room with just enough time to grab Andrew and head out for our dinner reservation. 
When we arrived at the restaurant, we were pleasantly surprised by the hostess to have a table rather than seats at the bar. It was a busy night for the restaurant, so we didn’t think we’d have a real table. The restaurant was Via Vite, an Italian place, of course, and our food was outstanding! I had my usual pasta, this time with meat sauce. Andrew and I enjoyed our meals and chatted a bit with the couple sitting next to us. They were thrilled with the idea that we, as cousins, meet up and run races together. We had fun talking with them and then headed back to prep for the morning and get our rest for the night. 

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