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 13,14

Comment: On the two weekends of this training period, I went to the large municipal park that is so popular with runners in metropolitan Indianapolis and intended that the sessions be dress rehearsals for the Indy Mini-Marathon, but I was unable to achieve elapsed times that were reasonably close to my goal time for the race. Not to worry, though. I’m an experienced runner and this has happened before, including these two weekends a year ago, with no consequences. I will attribute the slowness to accumulated fatigue from training, and expect some speediness to return by race day.

Comment: My training has peaked and now it’s time to begin a two week taper. I’ve had a sense that I’ve haven’t tapered well in recent training programs, so I’ve done some research and made a plan. I will not have any more hard running sessions that push for either speed or distance. All runs will be no faster than goal race pace of 10 minutes per mile, for 3.1 miles twice in week 15 and 3.1 miles once or twice early in week 16, and for 8 miles at the end of week 15. For my diet, I will maximize carbohydrates and proteins and minimize fats and fiber in week 16, then switch to mostly complex carbohydrates for two days before the race.

Raw Data: The following are the dates, distances, paces, and locations of running sessions. For some sessions, additional information is included. ** 10-Apr-2017, 4.0 miles, 10.2 minutes per mile, treadmill. ** 13-Apr-2017, 3.2 miles, 9.2 minutes per mile, treadmill. ** 15-Apr-2017, 13.12 miles, 10:42 minutes per mile, Eagle Creek Park. Instead of my normal practice of running by feel and looking at my watch to learn the pace, I looked at my watch and ran by pace, then learned the feel. I’m transitioning to racing mode. I ran each of the thirteen miles in about ten and three-quarter minutes, and felt more fatigued than I wished to feel just three weeks before the race. ** 17-Apr-2017, 4.96 miles, 10:25 minutes per mile, neighborhood. ** 19-Apr-2017, 3.3 miles, 9.8 minutes per mile, treadmill. ** 20-Apr-2017, 4.0 miles, 10.2 minutes per mile, treadmill. ** 23-Apr-2017, 13.11 miles, 10:54 minutes per mile, Eagle Creek Park. This was supposed to be the hardest long run of training, and I was hoping it would be the fastest long run of training. I ran each of the first nine miles in about ten and three-quarter minutes, but then became too fatigued to maintain the pace and slowed to eleven and a half minutes for each of the last four miles. Note this day is Sunday, yet I’m crediting the session to the previous training period, because I was compelled to use my normal Saturday time slot to participate in the extraordinary and unprecedented March for Science. ** The total running distance was 45.7 miles for weeks 13 and 14.

Training Log – Weeks 11,12

Comment: My typical Saturday morning running sessions take me through two residential neighborhoods to the western edge of the town of Brownsburg Indiana and along a rural road in Hendricks County to the historic location of the pioneer town of Tilden Indiana. The empty field where the train station once stood is now the west end and future trail head of the growing B&O Trail. For over a decade, I’ve been running this particular segment as the first three miles of my running route before heading down other rural roads in the county and then circling back toward home. For the last two consecutive weeks, though, I’ve turned onto the new section of the B&O Trail, not waiting for the official opening later this year, and have run to the major artery of Green St before turning around and heading back toward home.  I’m liking this change, and envision that this will become my new regular Saturday morning route.

Comment: The next Indy Mini-Marathon occurs in exactly one month. I’m having a good training program so far and am cautiously optimistic that if I add some hard miles during the next two weeks and then have a sensible taper, I might achieve an elapsed time in the race that is at least a few minutes faster than last year. Could I set a new personal record this year?  Could I finally break the two hour barrier this year?  Not realistic, but maybe I’ll dream.

Raw Data: The following are the dates, distances, paces, and locations of running sessions. For some sessions, additional information is included. ** 28-Mar-2017, 4.3 miles, 11.0 minutes per mile, treadmill. ** 29-Mar-2017, 3.8 miles, 9.7 minutes per mile, treadmill. ** 01-Apr-2017, 13.22 miles, 10:52 minutes per mile, neighborhood and rural roads including B&O Trail from CR 500 E to Green St and back. ** 03-Apr-2017, 4.0 miles, 9.8 minutes per mile, treadmill. ** 04-Apr-2017, 3.3 miles, 9.7 minutes per mile, treadmill. ** 06-Apr-2017, 4.5 miles, 10.7 minutes per mile, treadmill. ** 08-Apr-2017, 13.12 miles, 10:48 minutes per mile, neighborhood and rural roads including B&O Trail from CR 500 E to Green St and back. My goal was to run a steady pace and keep each mile faster than eleven minutes, and I succeeded for the first twelve miles, though the effort was harder than I expected. ** The total running distance was 46.2 miles for weeks 11 and 12.

Training Log – Weeks 9,10

Comment: In the first week of this training program, I didn’t have any formal plan, and began with about twenty total miles per week of easy running. I still don’t have any formal plan, but I’m solidly back into my normal routine of designated fast runs on weekdays and long runs on Saturdays. With a little more than a month until the Indy Mini-Marathon, I’m going to increase my total mileage to about twenty-five miles per week for the next two or three weeks.

Raw Data: The following are the dates, distances, paces, and locations of running sessions. For some sessions, additional information is included. ** 14-Mar-2017, 3.1 miles, 9.5 minutes per mile, treadmill. I pushed for speed, to convince myself that I’m making progress toward being race ready. ** 18-Mar-2017, 13.71 miles, 11:06 minutes per mile, neighborhood and into the countryside. For the multiple consecutive week, the angel in me honored the closed sign at the west end of the B&O Trail. ** 21-Mar-2017, 3.1 miles, 9.4 minutes per mile, treadmill. I pushed for speed again, and showed some more progress. ** 23-Mar-2017, 4.0 miles, 10.4 minutes per mile, treadmill. For some reason, I felt fatigued during this session. ** 25-Mar-2017, 13.11 miles, 10:45 minutes per mile, neighborhood and into the countryside. After many consecutive Saturdays of temperatures below freezing, suddenly this day had temperatures in the 60’s, and the weather felt wonderful. I’ve been a good citizen this winter about the B&O Trail, but the devil in me surfaced on this day and ignored the closed sign on the new section of the B&O Trail, and I joined other runners and walkers on a short trip from CR 500 E to CR 575 E and back. ** The total running distance was 37.0 miles for weeks 9 and 10.