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.