Distance: 13.1 mi
Weather: Upper 60s, virtually no breeze and over 90% humidity even at 7 AM
Course: mostly flat, other than a bridge and entry into the (very hot) speedway
Summary: Loved it. Loved it. Loved it!
7 down, 43 to go.
Didn’t meet my goal, but I thought I did well considering the heat and loved the course and atmosphere of this race!
I usually incorporate this kind of prattle in my “pre-race” section, but as I go along with these, I am more likely to start to compare or make some kind of (what I think is) a significant observation, so you may see this section more often in upcoming half marathon posts. This time, it is the giant races. By “giant”, I mean more thank 30k entrants – tens of thousands of people running the same race. The biggest two I’ve ever participated in are Las Vegas and this one – both producing my slowest times, albeit for much different reasons.
I know I bring up the Las Vegas Rock and Roll race a lot. To me, up to this point, it is the epitome of what a bad race experience is for anybody serious about running in events like that. I’d like to, in this post, contrast (for the benefit of the organizers for the 2012 Las Vegas Rock and Roll – because I know they read my blog – haha) with the Indy Mini because both races had similar features, yet I had the completely opposite impressions of them. For example:
- There was a feature of the city involved in the marketing of the race (come run The Strip at night! come run around the Indy Motor Speedway!) Without these “city features”, few would travel to either city to run a race.
- Both towns, aside from the one city feature, conventions, and a tiny downtown area are fundamentally economically depressed and depend on tourism to keep their economies a float.
- As a result of the city feature, there was a lot of interest in the race – over 40k registered for both races.
- Both races, as a result of the city feature, become destination races for people in the US as well as abroad.
- Heavy, heavy marketing to the running community for both races – “come here – do this race!” “time of your life” “we have training plans!” “you can do it” all being shouted at you from every angle.
This was my 2nd slowest race – only Las Vegas was slower. Why was I so much happier with this race than with Las Vegas? My Friends… organization means a lot. Also, the vast majority of the runners seemed serious about the race – very few costumes, very little partying, and a lot of people exercising runners etiquette. I only wish half the runners in last year’s Las Vegas race would have had that measure of discipline – it would have been a blip of disappointment for me and not much more.
My uncle moved to the Indianapolis area for work from NC about 7 years ago. Because we are a pretty close family, I hated to see him move. Despite the 7 years of invitations to visit, I had not been able to make it work out to come up there for a visit. One of the motivations for me doing the 50-States goal was to remedy the “I couldn’t make it work out” excuse for visiting family and friends. There are certain states, Indiana being one of them, where I will select a race in a certain city just so I can visit family and friends, regardless of any city features. It just so happens, Indianapolis links this event (as well as many others) to the Indianapolis 500. Naturally, I wanted to do what I thought would be a fun race and I had heard a lot of good things about this race from others who had done it, so it seemed like the perfect one to do for me.
I’m also blessed with a pretty patient father who loves to travel and “go mess around” so I enlisted him as my travel buddy for this trip to see his brother and my cousins. I was looking forward to the race, but most of all, I was looking forward to seeing my family and spending time with my uncle and cousins that I don’t see often.
Coming off the highs I had for the Hilton Head Half and the Tarheel 10-Miler, I was actually pretty excited about this race because I felt like my physical condition after each of those races had improved dramatically following those races. My overall recovery time shortened significantly and I was back at running sooner than any of the three half marathons I did last year. Otherwise, I was also excited about the trip itself. I registered for it when registration first opened to the public in November and started planning my trip then. I decided to drive because my Uncle said it wasn’t too bad of a drive (he was right about that) and I could have more mobility if I had my car. I also thought I could stop along the way to be a tourist (which I totally did) and just enjoy the trip as a whole (which I totally did). Make it a ‘mini-vacation’ (which I totally did).
I had a pretty stressful couple of weeks leading up to this race – large, looming deadlines, competing projects and a lot of distractions from finishing what I *needed* to have complete. To make matters more stressful, all of these things were due while I was on vacation… which meant I had to turn it in before I left. (sigh). Who has two thumbs and is the master of bad timing? This girl.
Stressful situations, however, tend to be (unfortunately) my best working conditions, so I somehow managed to get all my projects done and somehow managed to keep my sanity (what is left of it at this point in my life, that is) and somehow managed to be a (relatively) good mom by supporting and attending events important to both boys and still some how managed to get my car packed and get them to school on time every day that week. It wears me out just reading that long, unwieldy run-on sentence. I don’t know what happened because on most days, I can’t manage to keep myself together for a fraction of all of that. But, somehow, I managed it. The only thing I couldn’t manage was more than one run or any other cross-training. I made my 90-mile goal for April and I got one taper run in. While it wasn’t what I wanted or planned, it was all I could manage with everything else so I had to be happy with it.
Friday morning, I had the car packed, including the kids and my dad, and was on time for the bus. We were ready to go. I dropped off the littles, kissed them and told them I’d talk to them that night and got them on the bus. Dad and I set the GPS for my uncle’s house and went on our way to Indy. The trip up was relatively uneventful. Dad and I talked about our planned and previous trips (his Harley trips, my HM trips), we talked about the boys, we talked about movies – 10 hours in the car and we didn’t really run out of much to say. My dad is an awesome travel buddy for me 🙂
We arrive in Indy shortly after 5, and decided to stop off to get my packet and bib. I think it took us longer to park and get to the building than it did to get my packet. Usually, I don’t do a lot at the pick up – I get my packet and I leave. I rarely ever shop or get anything. This time, though, I had incentive to hurry: my cousin was going to her spring dance and I wanted to see her dressed up before I went. We got back to the car, paid the ridiculous parking fee (really? $6 for 45 minutes! Really, Indy?) and got to my uncle’s just in time to see my cousin off to her big spring dance (she was so beautiful!) and grab some dinner – yes, still GF (more on that later) with my meat and potatoes – with my uncle and other cousin. My dad is a pharmacist and my uncle is a biologist, so the conversation eventually turned to experiments they did in college with lab rats and lab mice – not really appetizing dinner conversation. I will say, though, it was entertaining and educational. I’m constantly impressed with how much my family is alike in so many ways – how much I’m like my uncle, how much my cousins are like me. It was a very comforting feeling.
We went back to the house and I got ready for bed. I was excited, but I wasn’t as anxious as I usually am before a race… I guess having my family around helped with that. I finally got a chance to go through my race goodies in my packet pick up bag. A hat – good… I could probably use that. Ads for races in the area I most likely won’t do – eh, ok. In the toss out pile. Next – long sleeved tech shirt – thanks anyway, maybe in about 8 months when it is finally cool again. And… vegetable oil. Vegetable Oil. um… what? vegetable oil? My first instinct is “this is, so far, the strangest thing I’ve received in a runner’s packet for a race”. Immediately, I took a poll of my runner friends, asking if I missed some secret use for premium vegetable oil that runners use that might make this make sense… thankfully, they were all as confused as me – and I heard some creative uses for it for Triathletes, so I don’t feel so bad. Satisfied that I’m not clueless, I turned out the light and went to sleep.
I set my alarm for 5:00 because I wanted to make sure I had enough time to get dressed, do final stretches, get a little breakfast, and drive to the site of the start. I choked down some eggs and coffee and guzzled the remainder of my water while my dad and uncle studied the maps and decided on a good place to park.
My uncle agreed to drive us in to town and had a good place to park so we left around 6:15 to get parked. While it took a little longer to park and walk than we thought, we were still there in plenty of time to start. My dad and uncle told me to go ahead to my corral and find a restroom, so I split off from them on a quest to find a restroom, then my corral. I was sure there were going to be port a johns near by, so I rounded the corner to head toward my corral (J).
To my surprise, was greeted with a traffic jam like I saw in Vegas. Instantly, my anxiety took over and I worried more about getting into my corral on time than going to the bathroom. I made it into the corral (barely) only to find out they were not letting anybody else in to the corral. what?!?!? That had to be wrong… I looked at my watch – 7:25. I was worried they weren’t going to let us in at all, but thankfully, I wasn’t the only runner waiting for a spot so I felt a little less anxious about it. All of the sudden – and I still don’t know what happened here – the entire crowd in front of the J corral moves up and they let us in. Maybe that was the start of the wheel chairs? The 5k runners should have been long gone by this time, I thought, so I don’t know what it was. I filed in with the other runners beside me and found a spot. Not my right side spot that I usually get, but I was OK with the spot I took. I settled in, tapped my watch a few times to keep the signal, and then checked my phone.
A few minutes after I got into the corral, I had a tap on the shoulder from the runner beside me – my dad was along the side of the corral taking photos of me and wanted me to smile for a picture. It was the first time I can remember that I had a photo taken of me at the start line of any of my half marathons and it made me very happy… almost a little emotional. It was a great way to start off the race for me. Even cooler than that, my uncle took a photo of my dad taking a photo of me (we do that a lot in my family – haha). So, I have a photo to share with you, my friends.
The gun went off and the corrals moved up – no wave starts, which was fine with me. We all started walking until we got a few feet from the big arch with a giant American Flag hanging from it and we all started a little jog (some people even said “oh… we’re jogging now…” peer pressure! haha). We crossed the line and everybody took off! It was awesome because they had music blaring and the energy was high – people were cheering and shouting and I had goosebumps! The first thing I noticed, though, is that everybody was moving at around the same pace. Yes, there were some who were Gallowaying it and some who were taking it slower than me, but honestly, they were mostly to the right, or at least moved over that way. I was impressed with how in snyc most of the people in my corral were. Marked difference from the Las Vegas race, indeed. I think the corral placement was good for me – I did end up passing quite a few folks, but, not as many as I had in some of the competitor races, surprisingly.
I settled into a decent pace, but I really, really had to go. It was all I could think about and the first mile and a half were pretty painful for me. Thankfully, they had port-a-johns at about 1.5 mile and, although there was a wait, I had to stop. There is my 2 minutes over my goal time, right there. Once I finished, I ran back to join the crowd and settled into my pace.
I decided early on that I wasn’t going to take music on this race. I have been, recently, not taking music on most of my half marathons. There have been a few exceptions, of course, but those mostly had to do with moods. Hilton Head, for example, I was in a mood and there was no other entertainment, so I brought music (which ended up inspiring me at the end). However, I heard that the entertainment along this route was closer and more frequently placed than even the Rock and Roll events, so I left off my music. Boy, I’m glad I did. I saw all kinds of stuff I never in my life would have even thought of, let alone expected to see along a race route, including
- septuagenarian belly dancers
- pre-pubecent bands singing “we’re not going to take it” (yes, the Twisted Sister song) and “Seven Nation Army” (yes, the White Stripes song… and yes, I threw horns and gave them a “right on” as I passed them)
- a band singing a polka-square dance version of “Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini” – and a troupe (is that called a troupe?) of square dancers dancing to the song… truthfully, I’m painfully curious about the other songs they had in their repatiore
- a band named 3 Chord Monty – which I thought was kind of a cool name
- every possible genre of music represented except maybe zydaco.
- a cadre of bands ranging in talent doing everything from lip syncs to covers (including a creepy version of ‘Elenore Rigby’ that was a bit out of tune) to original songs
- a nice mix of people playing CDs and Emceeing – and even that genre mix was well placed and well spaced along the course
The first four and a half miles, I was just taking in the bands. As far as scenery, there wasn’t really much to see. Once you get out of the immediate downtown area, there is not a lot to Indianapolis. At about 4 1/2, though, you turn a corner and you can see the speed way – the whole reason we all signed up for this race. People started to cheer when we turned the corner (we were at least 1.75 miles from just getting into it at this point, but the folks were excited). I ended up behind some speed walkers who, honestly, were going pretty fast – at least a 10mm pace. Then… we entered the speedway. To enter the speedway, you go down a pretty steep hill and back up it to the front of the speedway museum. Then, you run to the right of the parking lot for the museum and onto the track itself.
For two and a half miles. Doesn’t seem quite that big on TV – haha.
The first thing I noticed about the track is that it was freaking hot on it. One thing I haven’t mentioned so far is how hot it was supposed to be that day. Everything I remembered… except for my Gatorade (sigh). All I had was plain water. It was at the moment we got onto the track that I really wished I had that Gatorade. We ran on the flatter portion of the surface – pardon my lack of correct terminology here, but I’m not really a race fan – it would be the “pit area”. Nobody was really keeping us from running on the slope, but I don’t think many people were up for that challenge with the heat – I know I wasn’t. Occasionally, you’d see someone pulling up onto the slope to step out to tie his shoe or (unfortunately closer to the end) because it was hotter than they expected and had to stop for a rest.
The other notable thing about this portion of the race is that I actually heard two Beastie Boys songs. This is remarkable to me because I’m a huge Beastie Boys fan and, unfortunately, Adam Yauch (MCA) passed away the day before from throat Cancer at the far too young age of 47. I never really got a chance to think about it or grieve – it was out of the blue and he was my favorite personality of the trio. Although I never met him, I have been listening to his music most of my life and will miss his art deeply. Ironically, for me at least, I heard “Fight for Your Right” at the moment I stepped onto the speedway and heard “Intergalactic” around the time I was crossing the brickyard (no, I didn’t kiss it… didn’t think to do that and my splits were already shot). It made me think a lot about his career and my time listening from the beginning until now and I heard the lyric “Beastie Boys don’t let the beat, um, drop” which has a little more significance to me now. I even drove through a tropical storm to see them in Atlanta when “Hello Nasty” (the album with Intergalactic on it) came out. The timing of those two songs was just very ironic and notable for me.
Upon leaving the speedway, I had a lighter feeling. I was happy about the fact I was past the half way point (at about 8.5 once we were out of the building) and had, in a way, dealt with the death of celebrity I liked very much and had been important in my life. It was getting hot, though, and I could feel my body starting to run out of steam. I had made the decision that at every single table that served Gatorade, I was going to take it. I honestly think that decision is what made the difference in the second half of the race. I had already passed my “nutrition” reminder, but decided not to take nutrition because I did not feel like I needed it. I was not hungry nor did I feel like I was wiped out.
But… I was getting thirsty and I was running out of water. I began stopping at water tables and, because the heat was beginning to feel even hotter (it wasn’t actually, but it was starting to feel that way) I ran under all of the water sprayers I could find. I tried to enjoy the music, but all I kept thinking about was finishing. Then, I turned onto the bridge just before mile 12. Ah… almost there! I think my speed began to increase a little because I was starting to feel myself become drained again – then I’d stop at a Gatorade table – feel better, stronger, faster for a few minutes and drained again. This cycle went on the entire last two miles. Not a wall (I’ve hit that before… this wasn’t it) just like a battery drain on my phone – I get the warning at 20% that I’m about to run out so I plug it in to get it back to 30% and it goes back to 20%, so I plug it back in to get it to 30%… the entire last two miles.
As I got closer, though, I could hear the announcements and I could see the giant yellow finish… I was almost there. The only other significant hill of any kind on this course was the bridge taking me toward the finish line and that one wasn’t really even that big. I was delighted that the course was so flat and that I could see the finish that I sped up. No sprint, but a nice hearty speed up to the end of the line. I could hear all the people cheering all of us on and it was a great feeling to finish to such a reception. I crossed finish at 2:02:09. Not my goal of under 2 hours, but all things considered (bathroom and the heat) I’m actually kind of happy with this number. I took my medal, my water and my bag and I located my dad and uncle and walked around for a bit to loosen my legs. Overall, I felt much better after this race than I even did after Hilton Head, and I felt great after that one.
I have to say the most remarkable thing about this race in particular is the support it got from all of Indianapolis. You all made this a great experience for me. The crowds of people there just to cheer on the runners was amazing – the people gathered to help the runners, the additional aid stations they put out on such short notice, the thousands (yes, thousands) of volunteers they had operating the event from the second I got there until the second I left. Everyone was so helpful and supportive and it meant a lot to me.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you Indianapolis.
On a training note, I still think the 90-mile months agree with me and are definitely assisting in my recovery, even after this challenging weather condition. And, the 14 mile run I did before my Tarheel 10-miler was a key difference for me completing the race as well as a did. While I am a little disappointed about not making my 2 hour goal, I felt better than I thought I should after 13 miles in 94% humidity and I wasn’t as dehydrated as I typically get so I’m encouraged and it makes me want to stay on this course.
Finally… the gluten free eating. I promised my dad I would get tested for Celiac, though, since my oldest son is Celiac and it is genetic. I’m pretty much the key to my family and I need to know… so… I’m eating gluten until the end of June. I can already tell the effect it is having on my attitude and my sleep. iDontCareForIt. End of June. End of June. Hopefully, I can get it out of my system and focus on making my #8 Half – San Fransisco Half #1, a better finish time.