Tuesday, September 29

Team FCF at the Great Race

For the second time in as many weeks, FCF deployed assets to the City of Pittsburgh for sports and other shenanigans. This time, it was Nick and I in the Steel City, classing the place up a bit after the G20 to run the Great Race, take in the Buckeye and Brown games, and make sure people understand the difference between yellow and gold.

First up was the Buckeyes' uneventful 30-0 rout of the hapless Illinois Illinish Illini, which I'm sure Figgs will enjoy writing up later this week. We watched at Silky's in Squirrel Hill, where most of the TV's (and the audio) were tuned to the Pitt game. It was a bit disconcerting for the broadcast and fan reaction not to line up with OSU, but we made do, as Pitt managed to squander a late two-touchdown advantage.

We'd intended to go take in a Pirate game (last night's announced attendance: a comically incorrect 35,000), but heavy rain all day scrapped that plan (the mighty Buccos would later blow a lead and lose to the Dodgers) so we watched Penn State's incredible meltdown against Iowa, which featured a blocked punt returned for a TD, an INT, a fumble, another INT, and Joe Paterno dropping his applesauce in the span of about four minutes.

Sunday was the big raceday. Before it started, we both remarked how much easier it is to prepare for a running race versus a triathlon. No bike, no helmet, no numbers to festoon on all your gear, no swim cap, no transition area. Bring a pair of shorts and show up at the start line.

Both of us destroyed the race, needless to say. Not to belittle Nick's work (he did beat me, after all), but his was particularly satisfying for me, as this marked my 7th Great Race, so I had my knee recovery and extensive past history working against me, but I posted a 42:46 for my career-best 10K in Pittsburgh or anywhere else. I bettered my previous Great Race record by nearly two minutes and my best 10K time by over a minute. Fucking crushed it. Now my career-best 10K time features a faster pace than my best 5K time, which is absurd.

The beginning of the Great Race is a little crowded, in the same way Times Square at New Year's Eve is. For some odd reason, 7000 runners don't fit comfortably onto a two-lane city street. So the first mile involves a lot of passing, running on sidewalks, and, if you're Nick, running into girls and breaking their Walkmen.

I was able to stay with Nick through about two miles, but he pulled away and fought to an impressive 41:55 even despite a sidesplitter. Been there, done that, but the time it happened to me, there was a beer stop four miles in to mitigate things. But, hey, that was seven years ago. I'm so old. But I'm not slowing down, damnit, even four months after knee surgery. Anyway, out of 6949 runners, I placed 409th and Nick 336th. The weather was nice temperature-wise, but a light rain at the start got pretty serious by the end. Nevertheless, the racers powered through.

Both participants were representing: Nick with Chief Wahoo and me with my Cleveland Triathlon Club t-shirt. We saw a fellow with a Carson Palmer jersey running and both gave him some respect. I also made sure a vocal roadside Steeler contingent saw the "Cleveland" emblazoned across my chest. Later, it was Browns gear, for a visit with the Pittsburgh Browns Backers. The less said about that game, the better, agreed? Nice to see the PBB crew, especially the Dawgfather, sparse though the crowd was.

The day didn't end on such bad notes though. The Tribe smacked the Orioles 9-0 to complete a three-game sweep and escape the AL cellar. Take that, Baltimore! Then I got home in time to see the Bengals' most excellent comeback win over the Steelers. Take that, Pittsburgh! I'll jump off the Bengal bandwagon after tonight, of course, but that was probably the most fun I'll have watching an orange-clad NFL team from Ohio play this season.

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