Indy Mini-Marathon 2017

This race report documents my ninth consecutive running of the Indy 500 Festival Mini-Marathon.

This year’s event had the lowest number of participants of any year since I became a runner, with only nineteen thousand entrants reaching the finish line. No doubt part of the reason for the poor attendance was the weather forecast of cold, rain, and wind, which caused many entrants to not show up at the start line. For me, though, the weather didn’t matter, because I invested too much time and effort. No excuses. This is Indiana. The weather wasn’t perfect when I was training, and I don’t require it to be perfect when I race.

I woke up at 5:15 am before the alarm activated, got dressed and ate a breakfast of bread, jam, and coffee by 6:15 am, arrived in downtown Indianapolis at 6:45 am, and got to the starting area along the corrals at 7:15 am. I stepped into the PNC building for a few minutes to stay warm and dry, then entered my assigned corral. The temperature was 43 F with light rain and light breeze. I wore a long sleeve technical running shirt under a short sleeve shirt under a lined jacket, with running shorts, running shoes, and a cap. I may have been overdressed, but I was remembering the previous cold mini-marathon a few years ago when I was underdressed and miserable, and feared making the same mistake again. I wore my indispensable running watch and pinned the bib and timing device onto the right leg of my shorts to offer flexibility in layering and un-layering during the race.

The race organizers did something different with the starting corrals this year, though I haven’t exactly figured out the something. I was assigned to corral “N” in the middle of the third wave, even though I copied and pasted the same information into the registration form as in previous years when I was assigned to corral “E” in the back of the first wave. Throughout the race this year I was packed into a crowd of runners, elbow to elbow and toe to heel, but it was okay, because most everyone around me was running at the same pace as me. Kudos to the organizers for getting starting assignments right.

The third wave was scheduled to start at 7:50 am, and it took my corral an additional three minutes to reach the start line. Once we were finally running, I was mildly concerned about my shoes maintaining grip on the wet asphalt, but I never slipped. The trip from downtown Indianapolis to the town of Speedway was uneventful. My split times were 10:29 minutes for mile 1, 10:18 minutes for mile 2, 10:18 minutes for mile 3, and 10:11 minutes for mile 4, with an official 5K course pace of 10:33 minutes per mile. As in previous races, my running watch was showing an extra 0.01 miles per actual course mile, which would equate to a shortage of six seconds per mile on my watch. I skipped all three beverage stations. I was maintaining what I planned to be a conservative pace in the beginning of the race that would set me up to achieve my elapsed time goals, however the pace felt more aggressive than I expected, and I realized I needed to temper my goals for this day.

The rain slowed and then stopped, though the humidity was high and road surfaces remained wet. Running through downtown Speedway and into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is always fun. My split times were 9:59 minutes for mile 5, 10:26 minutes for mile 6, and 9:47 minutes for mile 7, with an official next 5K course pace of 10:10 minutes per mile. As I write this race report, I don’t remember why mile 6 was slower. I skipped the water stations but patronized the Gatorade station, a practice that would continue for the remainder of the race. Although I was running hard, I felt good and hoped to be saving enough energy to be able to speed up at the end of the race

Unexpectedly, the clouds thinned and rays of sunlight occasionally penetrated, raising the actual temperature toward 50 F and the apparent temperature even warmer. Once I crossed the yard of bricks in the speedway, I paused briefly to remove my jacket and tie the sleeves around my waist. When I noticed that the excess jacket sleeves were dangling over the bib and timing device pinned to my running shorts, I adjusted the knot and rotated the jacket to try to expose the bib, and tried minimize the distraction as I continued to run. My split times were 9:54 minutes for mile 8, 9:50 minutes for mile 9, 9:47 minutes for mile 10, and 10:01 for mile 11, with an official next 5K course pace of 9:57 minutes per mile. I planned to be running at a pace around ten minutes per mile during most of the course, and I was pleased to have been able to accomplish this.

At this point in the race, I felt hot and tired and my performance was falling apart. My mind was saying it’s time to bring the pace down to about 9:40 minutes per mile and get to the finish line as quickly as possible. My body was saying it gave everything its got and it’s time to take a break. My mind said get moving now because there’s just two miles to go. My body said that’s not happening on this day. I paused briefly to remove my short sleeve shirt and carry it in my hands for the final two miles, hoping that a cooling down would help. My split times were 10:40 minutes for mile 12, 11:06 minutes for mile 13, and 2:54 minutes for the remainder of the course plus accumulated watch error, with an official next remaining course pace of 10:30 minutes per mile. I fizzled at the end, though my post race analysis shows the pace was faster than I felt I was running at the time. I was happy to be able to finally amble through the finisher’s chute and collected my medal and refreshments. I visited some of the people gathering in running club village, got my official race results, and then went to the reunion area to meet up with a fellow runner.

My official elapsed time was 2:15:25 hours:minutes:seconds for an official average pace of 10:19 minutes:seconds per mile. At the conclusion of the event, I was mildly disappointed in the results, but upon considering for a day, I consider these results to be realistically good for me.

I’ve participated in enough Indy Mini-Marathons for the experience to be familiar, but it never gets old or boring. At several instances during this event, I reflected that there was no place I’d rather be and nothing I’d rather do, than be in that place at that time. On the following day, I registered for next year’s Indy Mini-Marathon.

 

 

Monumental Half-Marathon 2016

Before I get into the details of this race report on the half-marathon that accompanied the ninth running of the Monumental Marathon, I’ll write out these initial thoughts. First, I received my registration for this race via transfer from a friend who was forced to withdraw because of a health issue that prevented her from training. I wish her well in her recovery. Second, after finishing the half-marathon, I felt a teeny tiny bit that I was a slacker for not running the full marathon. Yes, I know. I’m a rational person and it’s a bit silly to say that running a half-marathon is slacking, yet I’m just putting out there an authentic emotion that poked into my consciousness.

I climbed out of bed at 5:45 am, got dressed and ate breakfast by 6:30 am, arrived in downtown Indianapolis at 7:10 am, and got to the starting area behind the corrals at 7:40 am. I forced my way through the gridlock of spectators to take a spot within eyesight of the correct pace group for my speed. The temperature was a chilly 40 F and the humidity was low, with the sun rising into a clear sky and forecast temperatures of 42 F and 47 F for the middle and end of my race, respectively. I wore a short sleeve running short over a long sleeve running shirt, running shorts, and running shoes, with a giant cotton tee-shirt over the top for warmth. I tossed the outer shirt into one of the rapidly growing piles of discarded clothes at the starting line when the race began. The race organizers reported that this year’s charity to receive the clothes will be Wheeler Mission. I wore the running watch that’s become one of my favorite pieces of running gear besides my running shoes. I pinned the bib and timing device onto the right leg of my shorts, which allowed me layer and un-layer my shirts without worrying about covering or losing my bib. My shorts weren’t going anywhere.

From the starting line at the Indiana Statehouse, the course followed Capitol Ave past the Indiana Convention Center and Lucas Oil Stadium, turned on McCarty St, Delaware St, and South St to wrap around the Eli Lilly corporate center, and continued on several more downtown streets to curve around half of Monument Circle. My split times were 10:45 minutes for mile 1 and 10:44 minutes for mile 2. Those two miles were utter chaos on the course, with runners of different speeds sorting themselves and runners trying to get around walkers. I expected such in the first mile, but was disappointed to still be blocked by walkers in the second mile. Why couldn’t the walkers show some basic courtesy and line up behind the runners at the start, or at least walk along the sidewalks until the runners could all get by? There was water and sport drink at an aid station after mile 1 that I didn’t understand. Folks, we were all completing a marathon and a half-marathon. Did we really need aid already after one mile? Lest these comments sound critical, I point out that I showed patience and remembered that we were all here to have fun.

The course continued on several more downtown streets, including Massachusetts Ave to the northeast and back on Fort Wayne Ave to the southwest. My split times were 10:07 minutes for mile 3, 10:03 minutes for mile 4, and 9:59 minutes for mile 5. Part of my race strategy was to refuel with sport drink at the aid stations after miles 4, 7 and 11, and I grabbed the first of the refueling in this segment. I finally got past the walkers and could run a bit more consistently, as the faster split times reveal, though I still felt hemmed in on all sides by other runners, many of which were slower than I wanted to be. Whenever we turned a corner or entered a narrow street, the breadth of the crowd of runners was restricted and everyone needed to slow.

The next segment of the course followed Pennsylvania St and Fall Creek Parkway, which are major streets out of downtown that are wide and straight. My split times were 9:26 minutes for mile 6, 9:34 minutes for mile 7, and 9:25 minutes for mile 8. I grabbed the second refueling in this segment, taking two cups this time to top off the tank. With a bit more room to run, I was able to go fast and hard and try to make up some of the time lost in the beginning miles. Three consecutive miles at a pace around nine and a half minutes per mile exceeded my speed expectations, but I was having a good day. A really good day.

The course took a small loop around a Fall Creek residential neighborhood using Washington Blvd and Pennsylvania St. My split times were 9:46 minutes for mile 9 and 9:16 minutes for mile 10.  My pace was slightly slower going up a hill in the ninth mile and slightly faster going down the same hill in the tenth mile, though I use the word “hill” loosely, as my running watch reported elevation changes of only forty feet up and forty feet down. In Indianapolis, that’s a hill. At one intersection, there was a woman yelling at a police officer, saying that she paid rent to live on one side of the street and had to leave her car on the other side of the street, and all of us runners didn’t pay anything to be taking over the street. One spectator defended us by saying that the runners did pay, but nevertheless I sympathized with the woman. This major event closed roads across much of Indianapolis for hours, and must have caused traffic disruptions and neighborhood inconveniences all over the city.

The full marathon and half marathon courses merged for their final three miles to go back into downtown and back to the Indiana Statehouse, mostly along Meridian St and going past Indiana Governor Mike Pence’s mansion, the main campus of Ivy Tech Community College, and many of the local broadcast media organizations. My split times were 9:27 minutes for mile 11, 9:41 minutes for mile 12, and 9:51 minutes for mile 13. I refueled for the final time on this segment, skipping all other aid stations.  I didn’t intend this slight slowing of pace at the end, but I was slightly fatiguing and my legs weren’t going as fast as my brain was requesting. I remained very happy about paces faster than ten minutes per mile, however. As in two previous races, my running watch measured a small excess of distance. To run around the final corner at the Indiana Statehouse and reach the finish line, the correct distance was 0.1 miles, but the accumulated error measured by my watch during the entire race was 0.15 miles, and the watch timed 2:20 minutes to cover the final 0.1 miles plus the error distance. My watch reported an average cadence of 155 steps per minute and an average stride length of 1.05 meters. I’ve been trying to increase the cadence with some success, as it used to be around 149 steps per minute last year and was 152 steps per minutes last spring. After a moment of celebration at the finish line and picking up my medal and a variety of food and beverage items, I walked over to the results tent to get my official results and then relaxed with Indy Runners in their cheer zone tent while waiting for a friend who would be riding home with me.

My official elapsed time was 2:10:14 hours:minutes:seconds for an official average pace of 9.:57 minutes:seconds per mile, finishing in place 3,660 out of 8,154 half-marathon finishers. I’m very pleased. This is the fastest I’ve run a half-marathon distance in over five years, and I had a great time throughout the entire event.

In a final note, for the last several weeks I’ve been tracking diet and exercise using a popular smartphone app and database. After returning home, I entered my nutrition for the race: a slice of Pepperidge Farm hearty white bread with Smucker’s orange marmalade and a half cup Starbucks Via Columbian coffee before I left the house; a Clif Bar white chocolate macadamia nut with the other half cup coffee after arriving downtown; an estimated twenty ounces of lemon-lime Gatorade at aid stations; a banana, a Taylor chocolate chip cookie, and a bag of Lays potato chips after crossing the finish line; two pancakes with syrup and two pieces of bacon at the Indy Runners tent; and a Big Mac, medium fries, and Diet Coke after dropping off my friend and pickup up my wife. That’s a whopping 2,140 calories, enough for a typical adult for an entire day.  And then I entered cardiovascular activity: one hundred thirty minutes of “jogging” at ten minutes per mile. The exercise of 1,818 calories almost cancelled the diet, giving me another approximately two thousand calories that I could consume for the rest of the day. Hmm.

And now I’m on a training and racing hiatus for the remainder of the year.

Indy Mini-Marathon 2016

The Indy Mini, as the Indy 500 Festival Mini-Marathon is now generally known, is a massive community phenomenon..  Approximately twenty-five thousand runners and walkers from all over the city of Indianapolis and the state of Indiana were joined by visitors from around the world this past weekend in one of the most popular half marathons in the country.  The event on 07-May-2016 was my eighth consecutive, so running the Indy Mini has become a tradition for me.

I awoke on race morning at 5:15 am, got dressed and ate breakfast by 6:00 am, arrived in downtown Indianapolis with a fellow runner at 6:30 am, and got to my corral not too long after 7:00 am. The temperature was 61 F and the humidity was medium, with the sun rising into a partly cloudy sky.  In addition to my warm weather outfit including short sleeve running shirt, running shorts, running cap, and running shoes, I wore a second tee shirt for warmth, which I discarded into the traditional pile of donated clothes at the starting line during the countdown.  On my wrist was the running watch that I bought before last year’s Monumental Marathon.  I pinned the bib and timing device onto the right leg of my shorts instead of the front of my shirt like I did in every race before, and really liked the new arrangement.

I lined up on Washington St just west of West St in my assigned corral E, which was the last corral for the first wave of runners, and worked my way through the crowd to get to the center back of the corral.  When the race officially started at 7:33 am and the crowd of runners slowly moved forward toward the starting line, there were only one or two dozen runners scattered behind me and the second wave of runners wasn’t scheduled to launch until twelve minutes later, so there would be plenty of open space behind me for the first few miles until the waves of runners gradually spread and merged.  I was surprised that the clock showed 2:17 minutes into the race when I crossed the starting line, because that meant all the runners in the entire first wave were going to get ourselves onto the course in an amazingly short time.

One of my concerns for this race was the risk of a recurrence of a right hamstring injury, so I planned to start out slowly and not push hard until I put a few miles behind me.  My split times were 10:21 minutes in mile 1, 10:22 minutes mile 2, and 10:25 minutes mile 3.  My pace was a bit faster than planned, but I was feeling good and didn’t detect any adverse consequences.  Officially, I reached the 5K line at a split pace of 10:28 minutes per mile.  The course went across the White River, around the Indianapolis Zoo, and along Michigan St through the residential neighborhoods of the Haughville district.  I noticed that the distances reported by my running watch weren’t agreeing perfectly with the course markers, with my watch reporting an extra 0.01 miles per mile compared to the markers.  I was feeling warm already, and decided to drink beverage at every pit stop to stay hydrated.

I felt some distress in both my stomach and intestines and was becoming uncomfortably warm.  By any objective measure, the temperatures in the 60’s F were fine for running, but my long runs each Saturday morning during training were almost always in below freezing temperatures and I wasn’t accustomed to this weather.  Nevertheless, I decided to slightly increase my speed.  After all, this was a race and the clock was ticking, figuratively.  My split times were 10:01 minutes in mile 4, 10:00 minutes in mile 5, and 10:06 minutes in mile 6.  The pace was faster than in any of my training long runs, and I was pleasantly surprised at my performance so far.  The course went into and through the town of Speedway, with its resurgent little downtown along both sides of Main St.

I followed the course into the main entrance of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway by descending to a tunnel below the south grandstands and track.  Upon ascending again from the tunnel into the speedway infield, one of my fellow runners shouted that “somebody just won in one oh two”.  I understood when I looked up at a giant video screen facing the currently empty bleachers and saw the live television broadcast of the Indy Mini.  I observed that a runner crossed the finish line with a race clock showing one hour and two minutes, and the runner was approaching a microphone to be interviewed.  One of the annoyances of my past Indy Mini experiences was glancing up at those video screens while I was somewhere in the speedway and seeing other runners finish their race, knowing I was only at the midpoint of my race and already getting tired.  This year, I hadn’t even stepped onto the actual track before seeing somebody finish.

While I was running along the back straightway of the track, a cloud passed over the sun and cast a shadow that lowered the apparent temperature a few degrees, and I felt a cooling breeze blowing from the west that hadn’t existed before.  I looked up and saw the sky becoming overcast, and my worries of overheating were relieved.  My split times were 10:09 minutes in mile 7, 10:13 minutes in mile 8, and 9:56 minutes in mile 9.  Officially, I reached the yard of bricks at a split pace of 10:10 minutes per mile.  The course made one lap around the track and went out an access road to return to 16th Street.  When I got to the exact midpoint of the race and realized I was still running strong and feeling good, I gained some confidence that my performance could exceed my expectations.

I had no reason to hold back anymore.  There was no pain in my right hamstring, my digestive system was holding steady, and the weather was tolerable.  My race was going really well, so I decided to let loose and run as fast as I could, and hope I could maintain some serious speed to the end.  My legs were pumping and my lungs were puffing.  My split times were 9:37 minutes in mile 10, 10:02 minutes in mile 11, and 10:14 minutes mile 12.  That speed in mile 10 was awesome, but I couldn’t sustain it.  Officially, I reached the 11 mile line at a split pace of 10:05 minutes per mile.  The course returned to downtown Indianapolis and reached the state university.  In this section of the race, I realized that there was nothing I would rather be doing at this particular moment than running down the middle of 10th Street in Indianapolis with a crowd of like-minded runners.  Life doesn’t get any better than this.

I was tiring at the end, but refused to slow down.  I had established a pace in this race that was faster than any of my training runs and frankly was faster than I thought I would achieve in the race.  I would have been happy with an elapsed time of 2:15 hours:minutes this year, but I knew I had a chance to finish even faster.  My split time was 10:11 minutes in mile 13, though my running watch had been accumulating extra reported distance throughout the race, and at this point was in error by 0.16 miles relative to the course markers and gave a remaining split time of 2:33 minutes to the end.  Officially, I reached the finish line at a split pace of 10:16 minutes per mile.  My watch measured an average cadence of 152 steps per minute and an average stride length of 1.04 meters.  I strolled through the finisher’s chute and collected my medal and a variety of food and beverage items.  Later, I walked over to the results tent to get my official results and reconnected in the reunion area with my fellow runner.

My official elapsed time was 2:14:18 hours:minutes:seconds.  I had been thinking before the race about my finish times in the previous seven Indy Mini events, and noticed the clear trend of slowing by a minute per year, from two hours seven minutes in my first race in 2009 to two hours thirteen minutes in the last race in 2015.  The new elapsed time of two hours fourteen minutes falls right in line with the trend.  My body is getting older and wearing out, and I can be content with losing only a minute per year. That is a small amount.

And guess what?  When I got home, I turned on the computer and registered for next year’s Indy Mini.

Monumental Marathon 2015

In January, I resolved that I would run a full marathon this year.  In July, I began training in earnest for that marathon.  And on 07-Nov-2015, I completed the Monumental Marathon in Indianapolis.  Below is my account of the event at the end of the journey.

As I drove into downtown Indianapolis and parked my car, I committed to enjoy and appreciate the experience of running a full marathon.  I invested a huge amount of time and effort over seventeen weeks of training to get here fully prepared, and I understood the magnitude of what I was attempting to accomplish.  When I began training with Indy Runners, I had in mind three goals, which I labeled with must, should, and could.  The first was that I must finish the full marathon.  Anything less than getting to the finish line would be failure.  The second was that I should run the entire distance.  Walking would be okay if necessary, but I’d try to avoid walking if I could.  The third was that I could finish with an elapsed time faster than five hours.  Since I never ran a marathon before, I didn’t really know how to set a time goal, but four and a fraction hours seemed like one that logically followed from my previous mini-marathon elapsed times.  In the depths of training, though, I was barely maintaining goal pace in the longer runs and wondered if the third goal was realistic, and I encountered enough problems in the longer runs that I developed doubts about the second goal too, so I latched onto the first goal as the one that mattered.

The temperature on race day started around 40 F and was forecast to rise into the 50s F by noon with full sun in a cloudless sky.  I wore a good long-sleeve running shirt with my racing bib attached, running shorts, a running cap, and an older warmer shirt over the top, intending to donate the second shirt to charity somewhere along the course.  From my arrival near the starting line before 7:00 am until roughly 7:30 am, I sheltered inside the convention center for warmth, since the official start wouldn’t be until 8:00 am.

The organizers of the Monumental Marathon provided optional marathon pace groups for all runners, from the very fastest trying to qualify for the upcoming Olympic Trials to the very slowest trying to beat the cutoff deadline at the end of the event. Each pace group had a leader that was tasked with running a consistent pace and reaching the finish line at a predicted time.  When I situated myself at the starting line with the slower runners, I placed myself between the 5 hour 00 minute pace group and the 5 hour 15 minute pace group.  I decided that if I was having good performance and the 5 hour 00 minute pace group was still within my sight around the middle of the course, I would try to get in front of the group and finish with a time faster than 5 hours.  Otherwise, I wanted to make sure I didn’t fall back into the 5 hour 15 minute pace group.

The first section of the course went well for me.  As the marathon started, I found a fellow Indy Runner whose speed was about the same as mine during the informal Monumental Marathon training program, and we ran together for about two miles until getting separated in the chaos of the first water station.  I was feeling good and maintained a consistent easy pace for a quarter of the course, in spite of the elbow-to-elbow and heel-to-toe density of the crowd.  I didn’t pay attention to the time when I crossed the starting line, because I wore my new running watch and would track my own time, distance, and pace.  My split times were 11:29 mile 1, 11:52 mile 2, 11:19 mile 3, 11:32 mile 4, 11:44 mile 5, 11:27 mile 6, and 11:54 mile 7 (all paces provided in minutes and seconds).  Sights in downtown Indianapolis included the Indiana Convention Center, Lucas Oil Stadium, Lilly Corporate Center, Monument Circle, Mass Ave cultural district, and the Fall Creek neighborhood.  In order to finish the race with a time faster than 5 hours, I would need to achieve an average pace of 11:26, and I was staying fairly close.  I was conserving enough energy to consider speeding up later and everything was going according to plan.  In the Fall Creek neighborhood, the half marathoners and the full marathoners separated, and I was pleased that the crowd around me was suddenly much thinner.  I was beginning to experience pain in my right knee, however, and was becoming concerned.  Also, I could no longer see the 5 hour 00 minute pace group.

The next section of the course was where my plans started to go awry.  The day before, a running friend gave me advice, that if I was already feeling bad by mile 10, then something was wrong, and if I was still feeling good by mile 20, then something was wrong.  Well, my right knee was hurting at this point, and I remembered the advice and decided to slow down for a few miles to avoid any more trouble.  My split times were 12:27 mile 8, 12:33 mile 9, 12:46 mile 10, 12:52 mile 11, 12:55 mile 12, and 12:56 mile 13.  The course went through the rest of the Fall Creek neighborhood, the Meridian-Kessler neighborhood, and entered the Broad Ripple cultural district.  I was getting warm and finally removed the outer shirt.  In spite of the very easy pace, the pain in my right leg had spread to my hip and was becoming intense.  I wondered if my right knee problem was altering my gait and causing even more problems.  It was demoralizing when the 5 hour 15 minute pace group passed me in front of the Indiana State Fairgrounds.

After the mid-point of the course, I needed to review my goals,  The one that mattered was that I must finish the full marathon.  No longer was I trying to maintain any particular pace.  No longer was I even trying to run the whole way.  Rather, I was just settling on a successful finish.  I kept reminding myself that a marathon is a distance and not a time.  I vowed to finish. The pain in my right leg was excruciating and I needed to take periodic walking breaks.  My split times were 13:56 mile 14, 13:29 mile 15, 13:51 mile 16, and 13:23 mile 17.  I did appreciate going through the Broad Ripple cultural district and the Butler-Tarkington neighborhood in which I ran much of my training during the past three and a half months, as these felt like friendly and familiar roads.  The aid stations had run out of energy gels, but one station at Butler University handed out Snickers mini-bars and some of the neighborhood residents put out bowls of leftover Halloween candy.  Fortunately, all the aid stations still had water.  Somewhere in this stretch, the 5 hour 30 minute pace group caught up to me, and I decided to run with them as long as I was able.  I don’t know how long I stayed with them, but I couldn’t hang on and let myself fall behind.

The ending of the course was where I needed to reach deep within myself to find the motivation to limp to the end.  Another fellow Indy Runner and I had passed each other a few times in the previous few miles, and we decided to walk together for a while.  I was becoming fatigued and exhausted, and we encouraged each other to persevere for the remaining miles.  Eventually, there were a few times when my right leg felt a little bit better and I resumed running again, but I couldn’t sustain running to the end.  My split times were 14:13 mile 18, 14:07 mile 19, 14:12 mile 20, 15:00 mile 21, 14:24 mile 22, 14:59 mile 23, 15:10 mile 24, 15:06 mile 25, and something like 19 minutes to mile 26.2.  The course wound around the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Riverside neighborhood, and back into downtown Indianapolis.  As I turned the final corner at the state government buildings and saw the chute leading to the finish line, I summoned just enough energy to get back into a run for one final stretch that lasted until I heard the beeping of the sensors registering my presence.  I did it!  I felt terrible.  And I felt great.  I claimed my much deserved medal, two cookies, and a bottle of water before pausing for a few minutes and hobbling to the results tent to get my official elapsed time of 5 hours 49 minutes.

Although my overall performance didn’t go according to plan, I have no regrets.  I gave everything I had to accomplish this thing; running a marathon.  Completing a full marathon was an amazing experience that I’ll always cherish.

Indy Mini-Marathon 2015

I’ll start with the important stuff.  I had an absolutely wonderful time at the Indy 500 Festival Mini-Marathon, which is an annual running event in Indianapolis that is now adopting the nickname “Indy Mini”.  This was my seventh consecutive completion of the event.  In some of the previous years, I became so obsessed with my performance that I forgot to have fun, but this year I made a point of appreciating every single moment.  I noticed all the sights and sounds, reveled in all the emotions, and immersed myself in the entire experience.  I trained hard for this.  I wasn’t going to mess it up.

I awoke on race morning at 5:15 am, got dressed and ate breakfast by 6:00 am, arrived in downtown Indianapolis with my team mates a little bit after 6:30 am, and got all of us to our corrals not too long after 7:00 am.  I lined up in corral E on Washington St just west of West St, which was the last corral to start in the first wave of runners.  The temperature was mid-50’s F and the humidity was low, with the sun rising into a clear sky.  In addition to my short sleeve running shirt, running shorts, and running shoes, I wore a second tee shirt for warmth, which I discarded into the traditional pile of donated clothes at the starting line during the countdown.  I was full of anticipation when the crowd of runners began to move.

I looked closely at the clock when I crossed the starting line, and saw that the time was passing through 7:52:40 am.  Since the official starting time for the mini-marathon was 7:48:00 am, I knew to subtract 4 minutes and 40 seconds from the time on subsequent clocks to calculate my own race time.  I settled quickly into a rhythm, one step after another, one breath after another, passing around the Indianapolis Zoo and into the residential neighborhoods.  The weather was perfect and I was feeling good.  I skipped the first water station but then took a sip at the first sport drink station.  I thought I was starting slowly, but I ran each of the first two miles at a pace around 10:12 (all paces provided in minutes and seconds per mile), which was faster than my planned pace of 10:30, but I didn’t panic and simply slowed a bit more, and completed the first 5K with an official split pace of 10:18.

As I passed Allison Transmission, I noticed that the course deviated from previous courses, taking what seemed like a shortcut around an intersection.  When I went past the Dallara IndyCar factory to the newly built traffic circle, I understood that the shortcut compensated for some extra distance around the circle.  Entering the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a thrill and I know that being able to run on the track is one of the highlights of the event, but I’ve done this before and the miles around the oval track just seem to go on forever.  I skipped one or two of the water stations before the motor speedway, but took cups of water and sport drink at the subsequent stations.  I maintained the previous pace for the few more miles in western Indianapolis before experimenting with a pace of 10:00 on the track, reaching the brickyard with an official split pace of 10:08.

Upon exiting the motor speedway, I considered my physical state and decided that I was just a tad more fatigued than I should have been at mid-race.  The temperature was rising into the 60’s F and I was feeling warm.  A couple of times I noticed that my strides were getting shorter and my posture was starting to slump, so I needed to be intentional about maintaining good running form.  I also knew that I couldn’t maintain that 10:00 pace all the way back to downtown Indianapolis, so I slowed down ever so slightly for the next few miles to reach the 11 mile mark with an official split pace of 10:11.

At that point, fatigue was turning into exhaustion and I was feeling hot.  I took cups of water and sport drink at the remaining stations until skipping the very last station.  I was momentarily in danger of forgetting to have fun, so I reminded myself of all those cold winter weekend mornings running around the neighborhood and into the countryside and all those weekday evenings running on a treadmill at the health and fitness club, knowing that all that work was so that I could be in this place, at this moment, doing this thing.  When I turned the final corner into the university campus toward Military Park, I knew the end was near.  I powered through the last two miles as fast as I could make my body move to get an official split pace of 10:01 to the finish line.

After slowly collecting my medal and an assortment of food and beverages in the finishers chute, I reconnected with my team mates in the reunion area and walked over to the results tent.  My official elapsed time for the race was 2:13:27 and my official overall pace was 10:10.  I was expecting to be a few minutes faster, but am totally content with this result.

At last year’s Indy Mini, I was disappointed with my results and immediately resumed my training for the next races.  It’s almost like I’ve been training a whole year for this year’s Indy Mini, even though I’ve only logged the past sixteen weeks as the training program.  This year I’ve earned a well deserved post-race break, and will only be running when I feel like running and won’t have any goals for the next few months.