Welcome to the inaugural post of a new series by Ellie and me. We're calling it 50x4, which is short for Fifty Bagels, Fifty Dates, Fifty Races, Fifty States! That's right, folks. Ellie and I are going to attempt to race in all fifty states (and D.C. and maybe some other places)! 

Ohio: Cleveland's A Christmas Story 10K, December 2, 2018. 

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The Bagel: Cleveland Bagel Co.

A line probably means we're in the right place for a good bagel.

Finding a great bagel in the age of Yelp wasn't too difficult. The clear favorite in Cleveland stood out: the Cleveland Bagel Company, located in the Ohio City neighborhood, had a line out the door when we arrived. We'd been spending a lot of time in Ohio City, visiting the Hansa Import Haus, the West Side Market, Great Lakes Brewing, and a ton of other shops and restaurants, so it was not surprising that this gem was in the same neighborhood. Not deterred by the long line, we waited patiently for about ten minutes (not bad!) until we had delicious bagels in hand. I had the everything bagel with plain schmear, and Ellie ordered a rosemary bagel with a brie, honey, and walnut schmear. Both were exceptional. We may have also split a cinnamon cranberry bagel as well. Also delicious. Don't judge.

Cleveland Bagel Co. didn't disappoint. Their bagels were fresh—we got one of the first everything bagels from a fresh batch!—cream cheese ratio was on point, and we had an overall a great experience. Their coffee was pretty good, too!

The Date: Celeste Barber and Other Things

What an action-packed couple of days! The main event, besides the race of course, was a comedy show at Cleveland's House of Blues. We saw Celeste Barber, who's comedy set focused on the absurd double standards on social media between celebrities and average people. If you haven't seen her Instagram, get on it. She features photos and videos of herself mimicking viral posts from celebrities in what she calls "Celeste Challenge Accepted." She also included some social media messages she's received that describe her as "brave" and "courageous" for posting photos of herself, which she points out is kind of insulting. Just because she doesn't fit the stereotypical "Instagram model" mold doesn't mean she should be shamed or made to feel like she's being brave for posting a photo of her in a bathing suit. If ya wanna post a pic of yourself in a bathing suit, post the pic. She delivered an empowering message to not feel ashamed of your body and to just be yourself and not care what other people think. It was an awesome show, and Ellie scored us some great seats, just six rows back from the stage and right in the middle. 

We actually went on a number of dates over the course of the weekend. And a trip to Cleveland wouldn't be complete without a stop at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I wouldn't necessarily say that Ellie and I are huge music buffs, but I would say it's a must-see for anyone who enjoys music. You're guaranteed to recognize bands and songs, and you'll definitely learn something. If you're interested in fashion, a ton of amazing outfits worn by various performers are displayed throughout the museum. We saw everything from Bob Marley's signature hat to Britney Spear's outfit she wore for the 2000 MTV Video Music Awards. Spoiler: it's amazingly 2000s.

Ready to rock our faces off at the hall of fame!

We also did a brewery tour at Great Lakes Brewing Company (which has a zero-waste mantra!), stopped at the Hansa Import Haus to stock up on Ritter Sport and Haribo treats, and walked through the West Side Market, where I ate my first buckeye (YUM). We spent a while walking through the Cleveland Museum of Art, where we saw Auguste Rodin's The Thinker. This version of the famous sculpture was bombed in 1970, damaging the base of the piece. There was actually so much to do and see in Cleveland that we had to make some cuts . . . sorry, Botanical Gardens, you've been chopped.

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The Race: A Christmas Story 10K

Now for the main event: the actual race itself! The 5K distance takes you from Higbee's, the department store where some iconic scenes in the movie occurred, to the house where the movie was filmed. The 10K brings you all the way back to Higbee's (now JACK Cleveland Casino). Ellie and I haven't truly run since August, so signing up for ten kilometers may have been a little ambitious . . . but we crushed it! Our official race time was 1:02:34, which we were extremely happy with. This hovers right around the ten-minute-per-mile mark.


Knowing full well that we haven't been focusing on running since the summer, we initially signed up for the 5K. But as race day drew closer, we, for some silly, overconfident, naive reason, felt like it wouldn't be enough. So we swapped our 5K bibs for the 10K. Lucky for us, the course was great. Cleveland is pretty flat, like Buffalo. The biggest hill we encountered was running over an extremely long—but not-too-steep—bridge, followed by a run through the Ohio City and Tremont neighborhoods. At the 5K mark, we had the option to stop and call it a day at the house, but we pressed forward and finished strong. We walked very little, really only at water stops and once at the base of the bridge. Overall, we are both very proud of how we did. We're also going to start drinking Ovaltine after every winter race because that hit the dang spot. "Be sure to drink your Ovaltine!!!"

The medals are huge!

The best part of this race was how much the community got into it. There were pink-bunny onesies everywhere, and some people braved the cold and ran in lamp shades and fishnet stockings to evoke the "major award" leg lamp. Neighbors blasted music, and a Tremont Santa serenaded us on the guitar. You could tell people from Cleveland were excited to share The Christmas Story with us tourists, and it was a great, well-run event. 

The State: Ohio (Specifically Cleveland)

We absolutely loved our stay in Cleveland. Native Clevelanders seem to be very proud of their city, which we can identify with. And as we drove around the city and neighborhoods, it was heartwarming to see leg lamp after leg lamp in the windows of homes and businesses.

There was so much to do, so much to see, and so much to drink. Seriously, the Cleveland area is home to thirty craft breweries now, and the two that we visited (GLBC and Masthead Brewing) were both very good. Ellie has already stated that she would like to run this race again, though I am quick to remind her that we have 49 other races to go before we should think about repeating any. Cheers, Cleveland, you done good!