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.

Training Log – Weeks 1,2

Comment: As I’ve done many times in recent years, I counted weeks backward from the next Indy 500 Festival Mini-Marathon until I got to sixteen, and then declared on the first day of the first week of the sixteen that I was in-training for my next goal race. This year, the day fell on January 15. I don’t have a formal training program that I’ve chosen, but I’m thinking of simply trying to begin with about twenty miles per week of easy running divided between three or four running sessions until I get reacquainted with this quantity of running. Then maybe I’ll create a short training sub-program with designated fast runs and long runs about two months before the race. I’m planning to add a little bit of stretching and weight lifting this year for balance, which I haven’t been doing so much in previous training programs. I’m not going to begin the program with anything hard, because I don’t have a solid running base on which to build. For the past two months, I took a break from goals and plans, intending to just run for fun, and unexpectedly, I mostly took a break from running.

Comment: Back at the beginning of the year 2016, I made a New Year’s resolution to run less, keeping running distance totals down to around twenty miles per week and thirteen miles per long run maximum. I reminded myself of the resolution repeatedly, and did an excellent job of adherence throughout the year. In the beginning of the year 2017, I made an unresolution, to free myself from the previous year’s resolution and run as much I want. And on New Year’s day, I registered for the next Monumental Marathon. The Indy 500 Festival Mini-Marathon will be my next goal race, but it will also be a step to my next full marathon.

Raw Data: The following are the dates, distances, paces, and locations of running sessions. For some sessions, additional information is included. ** 15-Jan-2017, 4.0 miles, 10.9 minutes per mile, treadmill. ** 17-Jan-2017, 3.3 miles, 10.3 minutes per mile, treadmill. ** 20-Jan-2017, 3.1 miles, 10.3 minutes per mile, treadmill. ** 21-Jan-2017, 5.53 miles, 10:58 minutes per mile, neighborhood. ** 22-Jan-2017, 4.01 miles, 10:33 minutes per mile, neighborhood. ** 24-Jan-2017, 2.5 miles, 11.0 minutes per mile, treadmill. ** 28-Jan-2017, 5.2 miles, 11.5 minutes per mile, treadmill. ** The total running distance was 27.6 miles for weeks 1 and 2.

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.

Photo: Revisiting the Track

Behind pit lane and the race track, Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway Indiana, May 2016.

Behind pit lane and the race track, Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway Indiana, May 2016.

When I moved my home to Indiana, I found myself undecided about what sports to pay attention to and which teams to root for.  In time, my interests changed to long-distance running as a participation sport and IndyCar racing as a spectator sport.  In the beginning of May, I ran a lap around the track of the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the Indy 500 Festival Mini-Marathon.  I didn’t snap any pictures that day because I was busy in my participation sport.  I returned to the same track two weeks later to watch cars replace runners around the track a week in advance of the Indy 500 auto race.  I had plenty of time on this day to snap pictures in my spectator sport.