I went into the Indy Mini this past weekend with no expectations. My friend Mandy and I both signed up for the race and wanted to finish in under 2 hours. Since this was my fourth distance event in six weeks, I was tired. Dead tired. I had yet to meet my goal of under 2, but after the long week of work, school, and other things, my legs were feeling like heavy lead and I was just wanted to be done. In fact, the whole way up to Indy the morning before the race I yawned and complained about being tired. So, at that point, I set my goal to just finish with a decent time.
I couldn't sleep the night before the race, which is unusual for me. I had even taken some Tylenol PM to help me sleep, but it didn't work. I tossed and turned until about 2am and was up again at 4am thinking it was time to go. It was a little early to start getting ready so I laid in bed for another hour and got up around 5am. I did my normal pre-race prep and because it was cold, even took a hot shower to warm up. We headed up to Indy and battled the traffic trying to park downtown. It would be helpful to have police directing traffic, especially considering all the people who have no clue where they are going, which makes things even worse. Thankfully, we decided to preserve and parked in the garage near the post-race party. With less than 30 minutes to start time, we hit up a local hotel to use the facilities, stretched for 2 mins (yes, I know this was not good, but we were running super late!), and made our way to our corral. Thankfully we had both submitted other race times and qualified for a seeded corral. We were in E, pretty much behind the elite people. It was nice to be up front because when the race started it only took us a minute or two to get to the actual start line and we had to waste very little energy weaving around people. In years past, before I had a seeded spot, I was all the way back and it would take 10-15 minutes just to get up to the start line. So annoying!!
Once we got going, Mandy made sure I didn't start off too fast (definitely a problem in the last race). We ran together for the first couple of miles. The weather was very cool (somewhere in the 40s) and overcast with gusts of wind up to 30mph. Minus the wind it was actually ideal running conditions. I was actually feeling pretty good and avoided the wind by staying in the middle of the pack, so I ran ahead a bit and then we split up around mile 4. I was cruising along until somewhere around mile 5 when all of the sudden I ate cement. Yes, I was running along, taking everything in, checking out the signs for the upcoming water station, and keeping my pace when all of the sudden I was on the ground. I apparently hit an uneven piece of concrete that I didn't notice and went airborne before landing on my left hip and skidding across the road. I don't know how, but I was not seriously injured in the fall, nor did anyone trip over or trample me. I also don't know how long I was down, but it wasn't long. Before I knew what was happening, someone had reached down, picked me up off the ground, and set me on my feet. He asked if I was okay and I was able to nod before he took off down the road. To the guy in the red shirt who pulled me off the group, THANK YOU! I don't know who you are, but you definitely helped a klutzy runner girl out! As I started jogging again, I could feel a lot of pain in my left hip. Since I could see the water station ahead, I decided to jog to that, get some water, and walk through the station to see how I was feeling.
I decided that I felt okay and would just keep going at that point. I was definitely banged up, but the pain seemed to subside as I kept on running. Miles 6-9 include 2.5 miles around the Indy 500 Speedway. Normally this is the worst part of the course for me. When the sun is out, it is like all of the heat is trapped in the cement in metal the racetrack is made of. In the past, I have always crashed about this point because the heat would do me in. This year, the weather conditions were great and I had no problems. In fact, I think I ran a couple of my fastest miles on the track. I didn't even feel like I had done the whole track, but before i knew it, we were back on the streets of Indy.
Miles 10-11 are pretty boring as you run back toward downtown through a lot of run down areas. Things start to pick back up around mile 12 as more friends and family line the track to cheer on the runners. This is probably my favorite part of the course because there is actually some crowd support (very little support on other areas of the race) and you head back through the IUPUI campus and downtown, which is a lot prettier than most of the other parts of the course.
All along, I knew I was keeping a pretty good pace. I wasn't able to start my Nike+ on time as we crossed the start line and I wasn't sure how long it took us to get from our corral to the start. So, at each mile I looked at the race clock and tried to estimate my mile splits as a way to stay on track knowing the actual time was not really correct for me. While I was running on the track around mile 8, I knew I was on target to finish under 2 hours if I could keep my current pace. So, I kept reminding myself to run my race and not worry about the others around me. As I got to miles 11 and 12, I started to get a little tired, so I walked through the water station at 11 to give myself a little rest. At that point, I knew I had 20 minutes to complete the mini, so a few seconds of walking wasn't going to set me back too much.
When I hit mile 12, I knew I had at least 10 minutes to complete the last 1.1 miles, but I was getting pretty tired. Worry started to take over, but I just tried to keep my pace and a positive attitude. I saw the signs as I ran along showing there was 3/4, then 1/2, and finally 1/4 of a mile left. But, I couldn't see the finish line. I was so confused. I finally got to the finish and my only clue it was the finish were the people ahead of me who abruptly stopped and started walking. As it turns out, the wind blew down the finish line banner and metal scaffolding the night before, so they did not put it back up for safety reasons. Makes perfect sense, but it was very confusing and this is my 4th Indy Mini. I am sure all the newbies were really confused. Anyway, I was so concentrated on figuring out what was happening at the finish that I missed seeing the clock as I crossed over the sensors on the ground. As soon as my feet crossed the last sensor, I hit my Nike+ and heard a time around 1:55. I figured that couldn't be right because I started it late and my previous best was just over 1:57 and I didn't think I could run anything faster than that.
After collecting my medal and grabbing some food and water, I headed into the post-race party to meet up with Mandy and others at our designated spot. I couldn't find the tent we were to meet at and ended up stumbling upon one of the official race tents. I decided to stand in line and get my official time. I got to the table and the guy entered by bib number and printed out a label with my time. I took one look and about freaked. 1:54:46, an 8:46/mile pace. Holy crap! I could not believe I my time. I made sure it said my name and bib number and it was all there. I was literally walking on clouds. I had beat my personal best half marathon time by 3 minutes. Saying I was pumped is an understatement. I don't know that I will ever repeat a time this good in my life, but coming in this much under the 2-hour mark, is a huge accomplishment for me. I am not the fastest runner, but I do try to train well and eat well (minus all the candy I somehow inhale between the salads I eat). I will definitely remember this race forever!