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.



Training Log – Weeks 15,16

Comment: I’m ready. My ninth consecutive Indy Mini-Marathon will be Saturday May 6 in Indianapolis. I’ll line up in corral “N” on Washington St near the Indiana Repertory Theater. I’ll start in the middle of the third wave and begin my race a few minutes after the third start time of 7:50 am.  The course is White River Pkwy, Michigan St, Holt Rd, 10th St, and Main St to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, once around the track, and different sections of Holt Rd, 10th St, Michigan St, and White River Pkwy to New York St and Military Park.  I’ll end my race within a few minutes of 10:00 am.

Comment: When I registered a year ago for the Indy Mini-Marathon, I predicted an elapsed time of 2:15 hours. This is slightly slower than my actual elapsed time a year ago of 2:14 hours and my average elapsed time for all eight previous Indy Mini-Marathons of 2:12 hours. During the final five weekend long runs of this training program, I ran paces of approximately 10:45 minutes per mile, and after a good taper in the past two weeks, I think a race pace of 10:18 minutes per mile this year or even faster is achievable. I am therefore setting a goal of finishing this year with an elapsed time between 2:15 and 2:12 hours, though the truth is that I feel exceptionally healthy, fit, strong, and injury-free, and I am setting a secret goal of finishing this year with an elapsed time of 2:07 hours. Don’t tell anyone!

Raw Data: The following are the dates, distances, paces, and locations of running sessions. For some sessions, additional information is included. ** 25-Apr-2017, 3.1 miles, 10.1 minutes per mile, treadmill. ** 27-Apr-2017, 3.1 miles, 9.9 minutes per mile, treadmill. ** 29-Apr-2017, 6.0 miles, 10.0 minutes per mile, treadmill. An entire weekend of continuous thunderstorms kept me inside. ** 02-May-2017, 3.1 miles, 9.9 minutes per mile, treadmill. ** The total running distance was 15.3 miles for weeks 15 and 16. The grand total running distance was 291.5 miles for the training program.

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.

Training Log – 2016 Half 17,18

Comment:  Almost 5,500 marathoners and 10,000 half-marathoners will line up around the Indiana State Capitol building at the beginning of this year’s Monumental Marathon and Half-Marathon. The rapidly growing organization that is now called Beyond Monumental has been getting recognition as the operator of one of the best marathons in the country, and this year is expanding the field to admit 1,500 more marathoners and 2,000 half-marathoners than last year. The fastest runners will be assigned to several corrals near the starting line, and I’ll take my place with the remaining runners in a semi-organized crowd and begin my race about four minutes after the official 8:00 am start. This year I’ll run the half-marathon and expect to finish around 10:19 am.

Comments:  When I registered for the half marathon that is associated with the Monumental Marathon, I submitted a predicted elapsed time of two hours and fifteen minutes. I’m sticking with this prediction and creating a race strategy accordingly, but my strategy will be aggressive and set me up to finish even faster if I’m having a good day.  The weather forecast is for good running weather and I had a good training season, so I might surprise myself with some extra speed. I won’t care about my pace in the first mile, as I expect a lot of chaos among mismatched runners until the first water stop. After runners of different abilities get sorted, I’m going to set a pace that is near my 10:15 minutes per mile average of the Indy 500 Festival Mini-Marathon last spring.  If I can maintain that pace throughout the race, I’ll finish with something close to my predicted elapsed time. Around mile 4 or 5 or so, I’ll assess my condition and adjust my pace appropriately, and if I’m feeling strong, I’ll pick up the pace a little.

Raw Data:  The following are the dates, distances, paces, and locations of running sessions. For some sessions, additional information is included. ** 25-Oct-2016, 3.1 miles, 11.0 minutes per mile, treadmill. ** 27-Oct-2016, 3.1 miles, 9.8 minutes per mile, treadmill. ** 29-Oct-2016, 6.35 miles, 10:35 minutes per mile, neighborhood to historic former town and back. I’m tapering for the race, and keeping all my runs short, slow, and easy. ** 01-Nov-2016, 3.1 miles, 9.9 minutes per mile, treadmill. ** The total running distance was 15.7 miles for weeks 17 and 18.

Training Log – 2016 Half 11,12

Comments: Runners World compiled and published an ordered list of what they consider the fifty best running cities in the United States. While my opinion is that most such lists of cities are just publicity stunts with no value other than to increase attention on the entity publishing the list, I have a passion for running and I subscribe to both Runners World magazine and their syndicated news feed, so I studied the list. They gathered data to create indexes in five categories, ranked the cities in each index, weighted the indexes, and totaled the scores to create the final list. The categories were called Run, Parks, Climate, Food, and Safety. While the cities near the top of the list make sense as great places to be a runner, some of the cities further down the list are unexpected. Upon close inspection, I see that those unexpected cities made the list by excelling in a single category. My own city of Indianapolis made the list ranked forty-five, solely by virtue of the category Run, in which the city ranked second in the nation, while falling near the bottom of the indexes in all the other categories. In the category Run, Indianapolis got credit for holding one hundred fifty-six races this year, having fifty-six organized running clubs, and having the second highest number of people reporting that they ran in the previous year. Yes, I take advantage of being a member of the running community, as I participate in two of the greatest races in the country, the Indy 500 Festival Mini-Marathon in the spring and the Monumental Marathon in fall, and by training with one of the premier clubs, Indy Runners.

Raw Data:  The following are the dates, distances, paces, and locations of running sessions. For some sessions, additional information is included. ** 11-Sep-2016, 13.12 miles, 11:33 minutes per mile, neighborhood to the next town and back with a few spurs.The weather was absolutely perfect, and I had a great experience, though I don’t understand why I ran slower than previous weeks. ** 13-Sep-2016, 3.3 miles, 10.0 minutes per mile, treadmill. ** 15-Sep-2016, 3.3 miles, 9.3 minutes per mile, treadmill. I was feeling fresh and strong today, so I pushed for speed. ** 17-Sep-2016, 6.0 miles, 10.0 minutes per mile, treadmill. I don’t normally listen to music while running anymore, but today I listened for the first time to the newly released Carrie Newcomer album. ** 18-Sep-2016, 3.20 miles, 9:21 minutes per mile, neighborhood. My out-of-town brother and sister in-law were staying at the house for the weekend, and I decided to go for speed rather than distance so that I could get back in time to eat breakfast with them. ** 20-Sep-2016, 3.1 miles, 9.5 minutes per mile, treadmill. ** 22-Sep-2016, 6.0 miles, 9.9 minutes per mile, treadmill. ** 24-Sep-2016, 13.11 miles, 10:56 minutes per mile, from Broad Ripple running deck, south on the Monon Trail, west on 54th St, a zig-zag through the Butler-Tarkington neighborhood and past the heavily guarded Indiana Governor’s mansion which was surrounded by Secret Service agents, looping around Butler University and Christian Theological Seminary, northeast along the Central Canal Towpath with loops around more of Butler University, the Riviera Club, and 54th St, and back to Broad Ripple. Like many of the Indy Runners sessions this summer, the pace that I record here in raw data has an invisible asterisk, due to my use of the pause button on my running watch during bathroom and beverage breaks. ** The total running distance was 51.2 miles for weeks 11 and 12.