I wasn't sure about this race. Matt had agreed last year to run this one with me ... and I knew it would be a week after the Kentucky Derby Festival half that we had already registered for as well. I guess we figured that we'd still be tired/sore after the KDF race that we'd be able to run/walk this one together and just enjoy the scenery and the chance to be on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway track. Well, life got in the way and Matt decided not to go. I didn't want to give up on $120 for the two registrations so I decided to press on and go anyway. No goal for the race other than to finish still standing. That's about my daily goal anyway these days ...
Packet pickup was at the Indiana Convention Center and it was very nice ... considering this is the largest race in Indiana, there are tons of sponsors and there were more than 70 vendors with booths to tempt me. I was good though -- the only booth I knew I wanted to stop at and get something was the Indiana University Alumni Runners booth ... and no one was there! They have an annual membership that provides race discounts to a variety of races, but membership also gives a discount for IU running apparel. Alas ... no one was at the booth so I admired the candy-stripe tech shirts (homage to the striped warm-up pants of the basketball team) and the IU logo'd shirts/tech hats/etc. and kept on moving.
Had also made plans to meet up with my oldest and dearest friend, Amy. I know I've said it before (at least on Facebook -- but I think on here too) that everyone needs an Amy in their life. She's seen me at my best and at my worst. She's talked me off ledges (figuratively) and knows just when to contact me when she hasn't heard from me in awhile. So since my traditional pre-race meal is pizza (something about needing that extra sodium before long races that helps keep my hands/fingers from swelling), we went to Jockamo's Upper Crust Pizza in Irvington. Split some breadsticks and a Pomodoro pizza with her (Grilled eggplant, tomato, fresh basil, garlic, extra sauce) ... Delicious! (no photo - so take my word for it)
Since my mom has moved to a nursing home near me, my sister is still at the family house, cleaning up her accumulations over the years and also seeing if there's anything that belongs to me or my brother that we can take with us after a visit. The weather has been all over the place lately and not only have they had flooding, but also it's been chilly/cold ... and she didn't want to turn the furnace back on until absolutely necessary. I slept in my parents' old bedroom ... which has the entrance to the crawlspace in the closet ... which is where the sump pump is ... which was coming on every few minutes. I legit slept in my clothes - jacket, socks, a few extra blankets - and couldn't sleep anyway due to normal pre-race jitters, life being sucky lately, being cold, being in a strange bed, and then the sump pump singing its praises regularly. Possibly had 3 hours sleep total ... not sure.
Ended up leaving the house at 6 a.m. even though my wave didn't start until 7:40. I didn't know how bad parking would be so I decided to just go. Rather than park on the street and try to figure out the meters, I went to my go-to parking garage at Circle Centre mall. And from past experiences, I knew I needed to take a photo of what level I parked on and also the nearest sign post to locate my car. Post-race brain fog is a real thing.
After taking a photo of the level and location of where I parked, I thought about also taking a picture of the entrance to the parking garage and marking it on Google Maps. It may be my hometown but I'm no longer a local.
This was a big race. I was assigned to Wave 2 and Corral I. I've been in races with corrals before -- and those are a joke. When you're assigned to Corral B and people next to you are wearing bibs that clearly say they are in Corral E or F and they don't care that they are going to be slowing down everyone around them ... it's a pet peeve of mine. Start in the correct corrals, folks! They're there for a reason!
This happens to be the biggest race in the state though. And they do corrals right. The entire race start line is behind barricades and you can only enter the barricades through specific points ... and there are race volunteers there checking your bib to make sure you're allowed to be in that particular corral. I loved it!! What I didn't love is that apparently I thought Matt and I were going to be Speedy McSpeedsters when I sent in our registrations. Since they put me in 'I' and I knew that I'd be going slower than originally planned anyway, I was going to start at the end of the corral/beginning of the J corral. Well, that happened to be right where the 2:00 pace group was. There was no way they assigned us to the faster-than-2:00 corral ... but they had. Idiots.
This was a giant mural on the side of the JW Marriott. Notice the bright orange O and N signs -- those are the corral identifiers. I think they had corrals down to the letter Z ... I know I saw an X corral. The corrals started in waves -- so about 4 or 5 corrals would start at a time. My start time was 7:40.
I didn't take any photos during the race. For one, it was raining a bit at the start. And cold (42 degrees). One of the freebies in the race packet was a tech hat (as seen in the above photo -- the white/blue one) so I made sure to wear that to keep the rain out of my eyes. It definitely helped. I also enjoyed running through parts of the city I had never been in before or the areas had been updated since I was last through there. Because of the large number of runners in the race, I was constantly being passed and also passing others the entire 13.1 miles. Being able to run by myself without knowing anyone else in the race was probably what I needed. I could focus on my thoughts, my breathing, meditate on what life is dishing out, and stop to walk whenever. The thing is ... even after the KDF half the week before, I felt fine. I really think running with intervals is my lifesaver. So I kept my interval timer set at run 5 min/walk 1 min and turned it on after about the 2nd mile.
Because this is a large race, there were "pit stops" at every mile marker with water or Gatorade and a long line of portapotties. I waited until probably mile marker 4 or 5 till I found a line of portapotties without a line of people waiting -- dashed in there right quick, got back on the road, and didn't stop my RunKeeper timer since it was less than a minute.
There are also tons of support groups -- I think they said there were more than 50 bands, cheer groups, etc. along the way. That has to include the people who were helping hand out water but it was still pretty amazing to always see another group of cheering people or a band up ahead. There were cloggers and square-dancers ... there were school groups (from elementary to college) ... there were church groups. It was just an awesome experience all around.
What I was really looking forward to was being on the track at around mile 6-9 -- and we ran the entire oval (2.5 miles). I kind of wish I did stop for a photo but Meb Keflezighi was at the track and I got a high-five from him. He's a little fellow -- a little taller than me (I'm 5'1") and just a toothpick. But I probably would be too if I were a professional marathon runner. It was pretty cool to see him though. And running over the finish line (made of bricks, hence the track's nickname of The Brickyard) was also neato.
At one point while on the track, I realized that the sun had come out and I was getting warm in the rain jacket so I pulled over to the side to try to take it off. Of course I would safety-pin my bib all the way through the jacket to my shirt ... so I was wasting valuable minutes trying to undo the pins to get the jacket off, then re-pin the bib to my shirt and then figure out how to tie the rain jacket around me and be able to run without it falling down. My phone and gels were in the pocket though and I ended up having to stop a few more times until I could get everything situated.
I don't remember much about the last few miles other than the supporters were more supportive and seemed to be more running-group mentors than regular school groups. Not sure if it just seemed that way or if they were placed there because the organizers knew that people would be struggling at the end. I needed them though. And they put my name on my bib so it was incredibly helpful to have them run alongside me saying "you've got this, Elizabeth". Yep ... started getting teary-eyed each time too.
I had a good idea on what time I crossed the start line (about 8 minutes after the first people started) so I tried to do the calculations at each mile marker to see how I was doing. I'm pretty sure I messed up at some point though because when I saw the timer at the finish line, it showed I was going to have a PR ... say what?
Yep -- with all the crap going on right now and with having completed a half 7 days prior and with having only 3 hours of sleep the night before and with stopping for several minutes to fix my bib/rain jacket ... I finished in 2:26:00 for a PR.
And got a nice medal too.
Post race - unfortunately, I never saw the chocolate milk table. After a race is pretty much the only time I indulge in chocolate milk ... so I was bummed about that. I did get a chocolate chip cookie, banana, granola bar, fruit cups of pineapple and mandarin oranges, pretzels, and a bottle of water. Since no one was waiting for me at the finish line, I just meandered my way out of there and back to the car to get back to the house to clean up and head home. Since I had only had a PowerBar for breakfast, my sister and I went to Panera for lunch and I got my usual ... a Mediterranean Veggie 1/2 sandwich and bowl of the tomato soup -- can't wait until the squash soup is available again!
Not pictured, my chocolate chip cookie and a French Toast bagel.
Hey, when Panera tells me I can get a free bagel each day during the month of May, I don't want to disappoint them.
So I was thinking that this would be a one-and-done race and could just mark it off my bucket list and move on to something else. That may still be the case but I really enjoyed this race. They'll be opening up registration this week for $60 (I think) and then will close registration until later this summer and at a higher price.
Just curious -- do you have any running events that are on your bucket list? Or, if not running, then something you want to do/see/experience? (mine include hiking the Grand Canyon and also Machu Picchu)