Indy Mini Marathon
May 7, 2011
(This is ridiculously long – I desperately need an editor..)
In many ways, this was a really unique event for me. First, it has something like 30,000 entrants and the largest event I’ve entered previously was around 5,000. Second, I have never before travelled to an unfamiliar city for a race, which added the hassle of travel logistics -- with the help of some RA folks from the Indianapolis area, this was pretty low-key, but still had the hassles of planes, taxis and hotels.
If you skim the forum here in our ½ Marathon Trainers group, you can see I’ve been obsessing about running the Indy Mini for a few years -- even had an entry for the 2010 version which I had to give away due to injury. While it won’t make much sense to many folks, my obsession was driven by the unique feature of this race…in the middle section of the race; the course does a lap of the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This was surely the only way in my lifetime I’d get to do a lap of The Speedway.
I’ll leave out all the boring travel details other than to say the schedule didn’t work well as I was out of town for business travel starting early in the week, so my flights to Indy came as the 6- 8th flight segments in a week spent in meetings and hotels – point being it wasn’t was a prime training and prep week heading into the weekend.
Race start time is 7:30AM, and with the huge crowds and not knowing what to expect, I decided to start early. Up at 5AM, had a banana and some water and out the door to head for the start. Waited outside the Eitljorg Museum, casually sitting on the curb until about 7AM and then into my assigned coral. Well….that was easy. I had sent in a seeding time and was assigned to coral C. (corals go from A to way back there somewhere….Y or something) Coral C was fairly uncrowded and full of runners talking with each other about all the times they’d run this race. I just chilled out.
In deference to the fade I’d experienced after mile 11 in my last 2 halfs, my plan race strategy was to go comfortably fast through 5 and see what it felt like. Then into the Speedway and just take in the experience, then get to mile 10 and adjust from there. Or more simply: Pre-Speedway – Speedway – 10 -- Finish.
Temps were in the low-mid 50s with overcast and chance of rain, just a light breeze. Perfect! There’s some announcements, a military person sings the national anthem and we start shuffling to the start line. We’re off! Over the chip mat, start the Garmin and tug the cap down tight.
Knowing nothing about the course, I start to the left and just try to stay out the crowds and get into stride. I focus on turnover, easy and light to save the quads. We run past the zoo and some great sounding bands – this was new, bands! Pretty cool.
Miles 1 – 3…I focus on easy stride and not using up the legs too early. I fall in behind a woman with a distinctive top who is working the course and the crowd well so that all I do is focus on her and log the miles. I decide early on that the temps and humidity are warm enough compared to what I’m acclimated to that I will take water early and often.
Not much to see on the course itself, just city neighborhoods – so the bands, which seem to be too close together, are a welcome distraction. Some are really good!
At mile 4 we turn onto a section of divided highway, and then left into an industrial area, I’m glad for the overcast – if sunny, this section is wide open and cement, it would have been brutal.
In the middle of the industrial parks, we hit a section of what looks like a theme park version of a “downtown” – it is Main St in Speedway, Indiana. There’s a good crowd here and I’m constantly reminding myself to save, save, run easy, keep the effort easy – the speedway is coming and I don’t know what to expect. I look up and can see the speedway stands looming. The first section is over.
Splits for this section are good and steady…even pace and even effort. Tempo training runs are paying off…
1= 7:43, 2 = 7:39, 3 = 7:39, 4 = 7:40, 5 = 7:43
I really don’t have much to say other than as we turned right on 16th Street, the Speedway is THERE. Looming over the road. I’ve made it. I actually get a bit emotional, start choking up a bit, and just try to focus on something to gather it up. Hard left turn into the entrance tunnel, sharp uphill to the Hall of Fame Museum, right on the access road then it appears – the track. I am actually on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Wow!
I soon realize that I’ve slowed down and I need to leave my “partner”. I want to bank some time for stopping at the start/finish section of brick, so I pick it up. Still feel strong.
Approaching the start/finish I deliberately move far out the right to get away from the crowd and on my own as best I can. I pull up, time doesn’t matter. Down to hands and knees to kiss the bricks, start back up, and then…nope – I’m doing that again! Another kneel, another kiss. Swwweeet! I am jazzed. I yelled so loud I can hear my voice echo in the grandstand. And….wait….is that Al Unser over there on pit wall….YES it is. It’s too much.
Now its head down and back to business. Finish the lap of the track and bring it home! A hard right at about mile 8.5 and we pop out of the track back to the streets of Indy.
Splits show the lack of focus on the race at this point:
6= 7:42, 7 = 7:47 (brick kissing here), 8 = 7:37
Get to 10
Leaving the track, I go for a Gu at the first water stop. I seldom use Gu, but it was an early morning and early and light breakfast. I laugh at myself struggling to tear the darn thing open…but get it done.
I’m still pulling back the reins to avoid crashing, so a lot of internal chanting “…easy, easy, turnover, focus…” More bands, more water stops and we hit the 10 mile mark. This segment is over.
9 = 742 (fighting with the Gu), 10 = 7:29
Bring it Home
A hard right and we’ve moved onto a road that has some slight downhill and I decide to up the tempo a bit. I want to click of some miles and get to 12. To help pull myself, and distract from checking my watch I look far ahead to a traffic light and run them in one-by-one. The bands fade from my attention, and water won't help now – so I’m not bothering. The first split of this section scares me – I worry that I’ve dropped the reins too soon. So I drop the guy I was pacing off and let him go. Still the pace builds and as we near mile 12 I’ve reached my limit for the day. Now its just hold on. One last gospel singer, mile 12 marker, a hard left over a bridge and then a right onto the finish stretch.
The finish is a straight shot, ¾ of a mile down a tree-lined 4-lane road. They got checkered flags unfurled and lining the road. There are distance markers each ¼ mile so it becomes a focus to just get to the next. “Hold it, just hold it” becomes my internal mantra running from marker to marker. There are speakers playing play-by-play from past year’s Indy 500 races as we pound into the crowd-lined finish.
I squeeze the right of the course, looking for my wife in our designated area – want to high-5 her on the way by. She’s not there that I can see...so head’s down to the finish.
Final section splits are a nice progression
11 = 7:32, 12 = 7:30, 13 = 7:19
Finish time of 1:40:26
I had a blast!
(Here is a link to a video of the course that shows in pictures what I've tried to describe from memory: youtube link)
I would run down the lane and into the night; Run so fast I swear my feet would fly; But the smell of the world came into my lungs; The sound of the gravel when my legs went numb; And my heart nearly burst right out of my chest...
Andy, Great report. It's not too long at all; Race reports like this make it feel like we're reliving the race with you!
What an awesome experience and great time!
If there are ever any non-running doubters out there - this is why we run.
Bloody marvelous! Well done
2013 Goals1) Break 1:50 in a HM (PR 1:52:19)2) Break 4:00 in a Marathon (PR 4:20:39)
Loves the outdoors
I remember reading your kissing the bricks thread ages ago. So great to hear you finally got to do it! And see someone presumably pretty famous (sorry not a car race follower). Sounds like a wonderful race in many ways. It's an impressive come-back!
Great report. I love how you made the dream happen. I've got a dream race and I imagine I'll feel the same way when I run it.
Some Half Marathon in 2014!
It aint pretty, but...
Plant the kiss:
Start running again:
That was a great race report and not at all too long. I agree with MattJ -- the race reports always make me feel like I was there too (I dont think we see nearly enough of them in Running Ahead any more and dont understand why)..
I have 4 other friends ran in that race but I had NO IDEA that it was as big of a race as it was...........one of my friends came in 4th in the womens division....... She said its was GREAT race and one of her favorites of the year.....
Champions are made when no one is watching
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