Race: OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon
Place: Indianapolis, Indiana
Date: May 7, 2016
Four years ago…four years ago I ran the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon as my second half marathon EVER! I was fortunate enough to have a friend in my corral, a local runner I met with the (now gone) Blue Mile Monday running group. It was a fantastic race that day. Hot. Steamy. Sweaty. But fantastic. It was such a spirited, fun, and well-run race and expo…that I vowed to go back.
And then…it didn’t happen.
Until, I decided to run it again. It was a really random, really quick decision to run it. And I didn’t really shout about it because, as I’ve said before, every day is different for me. I never know when there is a good day ahead or a bad day…so, I haven’t really been talking about races I’m doing just in case it’s not a good day and I don’t actually run it. It’s hard coming back from injury, but I’m being cautious and smart about it and I’m not pushing it. So…I left work early on Friday and trekked up to Indianapolis, Indiana to get checked into the hotel. I always stay at the JW Marriott when in Indy for a run, when it’s convenient. It was for this race. The start line was right out the door! HA! Besides, I’m a princess…I like to stay in nice places. (Joking…sort of…). After checking in and dropping off bags in the room, Cathy and I headed down to the race expo to pick up my race bib. This was a little bit of a hike through the convention center, but it’s a hell of an expo and worth the hike.
We noted the Starbucks in the hotel and said we’d stop and get a banana for me for in the morning on our way back. Once we got into the expo, we were handed drawstring backpacks and we immediately headed to the Packet Pickup area. Since I registered later, my number was pretty high up there, which meant hiking further back in the line of windows with bib numbers. I found my spot and went up to the window. They said to have your photo ID ready, but the guy didn’t even ask for it. He did find my bib and got my shirt…tucked it into a Blue Mile bag and handed it over to me. YAY! Officially ready to run. But first…shopping…
…and the official merchandise store always has some goodies to offer. Cathy went and bought an official Finisher shirt for me (I can’t buy that…bad mojo). And I ogled a few other things, but opted to leave it with just the shirt. So…we began a quick weave through the expo. This is where I fell in love with the Ocean Spray PACt Cranberry Extract Water. I am forever having this stuff in my fridge. HOLY COW!! SO GOOD!! We scooted past the Clif Bar place, which had a line due to all the samples they were handing out. And then…
…I signed up for another race. It was one I was considering anyway…and with the expo discount and the promise of a free hat…I ended up going ahead and signing up. Somebody stop me!! LOL!! This one isn’t too far away, so I feel confident I’ll be in good form to run it.
We then found the BondiBand booth…and…oh yeah…there were purchases made. I ended up getting 3 more…because…I can’t have too many of these. I wear them on runs, at the gym, and in spin classes…so, yeah…they get used. I still own the very first BondiBand I ever had…my 13.1 one that my friend, Heather Dillon, purchased for me at my first half marathon in Chicago back in 2011. You might say that I am a fan…but I’m also a brand ambassador for them now too. More on that once it’s officially official. Anyway…more money spent and it was time to leave the expo to get to our dinner reservation. We stopped for a moment to sign the banner wall at the exit. Then, food.
Now, my pre-race eats is always…ALWAYS…a gluten free pizza. BUT…we couldn’t find a close spot that offered that near where we were in Indianapolis. And we really didn’t want to leave the area…so Cathy found out that the hotel restaurant, Osteria Pronto, offered gluten-free pasta on their menu. I normally don’t do pasta as I am a pasta freak and will EAT ALL THE PASTA…and sometimes it’s too much and I still have it with me in the morning. But, you gotta do what you gotta do. Turns out, this place had their act together. The chef and servers were very knowledgeable about gluten-free dining and when they brought out Cathy’s bread…they brought me out some toasted Udi’s Gluten Free Sandwich Bread to have with either butter (no dairy for me) or olive oil. It was a nice gesture. The chef threw together a pasta dish for me using the Gluten Free Penne and their amazing red marinara and some fresh vegetables (onion, red pepper, broccolini). Cathy got their signature pasta dish – Straw & Hay (chive noodle & egg noodle, lardo, English peas, garlic cream, pine nuts, and topped with a soft boiled egg). I didn’t think I was that hungry…but as I said, I love pasta…and I devoured mine. LOL!!
After dinner, we returned to the expo to finish up. Starbucks was closed…so Cathy said she’d get a banana in the morning for me. We revisited the entire expo, walking through the slightly less chaotic area this time. Cathy bought another BondiBand for spin class, and the lady working there gave us the discount so she only paid $5 for it, since we previously bought some that day. YAY!! I found the NUUN table and got to talking with the cute guys behind there. I told them I was a #nuunambassador and we got a picture together. LOVE!! It was fun. My new favorite flavor…the Mango Orange. WOW! And…then I signed up for ANOTHER race. Seriously…stop me. This one is in the fall…and they gave me a free wine glass and an expo discount for signing up. Cathy was given a race shirt because they were so impressed with what a great running fan she is and everything she does for not just me…but other runners. SUPER awesome. We wrapped up the expo and hiked outside to Circle Center to hit up Rocket Fizz. We ended up purchasing a Diet Root Beer for Cathy and a Nut Goodie Bar to split for dessert. I am a firm believer in dessert. And then…it was back to the hotel. I talked to my sister on the phone on the way back…and I even stood at the window in my room and watched an ongoing baseball game…which was totally awesome. Cathy went to go shower and I needed to do my nightly foam rolling.
I had made a promise to my good friend, Deana, after the Derby Mini, that I would dedicate the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon to her. I kept my word, and in Sharpie, on my race bib, I wrote: FOR DEANA! I texted her a picture and we chatted for a little while…as I watched some Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives (seriously…this is a tradition!) and did more foam rolling and used THE STICK on my hip and hip adductor. After that…it was time to set the alarms for the morning and get some sleep.
My first alarm went off and I got up, turned it off, took my medicine, used the bathroom, and then…went back to sleep. My second alarm got me up at 5:30 am. I grabbed my pile of race gear and headed into the bathroom to change and put on ALL THE SUNSCREEN. Hey, I’m a pale, blonde, Irish girl…I burn easily. And I had to slather it ALL OVER myself. I wasn’t sure at this point if I was running in just a sports bra or if I was throwing on a tank, but I acted as though I’d do the bra only. Once I had my Injinji socks on and my Newtons laced up, I put my hair up in my signature pigtails, dressing them up with red and black hair extensions. And the BondiBand was a pink and black checkered one I found at the expo. It was the closest thing to a checkered flag I could find. I went back into the hotel room and made sure Cathy got up out of her bed. Her mission was to go get me a banana from Starbucks. They were giving them away for free, but it was a madhouse, and she was gone long enough that I managed to eat my cereal, do all my PT stretches and turn on the news/weather. When she got back, she changed, ate a protein bar, and drank her Starbucks Cool Lime Refresher. At about 6:45 a.m., I had my fuel belt on and was heading out the door. Cathy realized she forgot the sign, so back to the hotel room to snag it. And then, we were on our way, heading down the elevator and out the door.
My friend, Julia, was running in the 5K, which was going off at 7 a.m. I was hoping to find her, but, there were SO many people that I never did see her. I looked and waited. And never saw her go by. DANG IT! Cathy thought she heard the announcer say something about corrals closing and said that it involved mine, so now we were walking the line down to the split in the corrals. She found an information guy and asked and he aid that my corral was going to open as soon as the 5K runners were though…since I was in C. So…Cathy made me panic for no reason. She does this a lot at races. Seriously. *deep breath* We walked back up and I downed my banana and I went to get into Corral C. I had a moment to do my dynamic warmup moves before Cathy said she needed to stake out her spot at the other side of the start…so she made me take off my NYC Marathon zip I had put on to keep warm. I parted with it, and was surprised that it wasn’t too chilly at the start. A little, but not enough that I was shivering. The National Anthem was sung BEAUTIFULLY and the wheelchair racers were sent off by Meb. Meb was there running from the back of the mini to the front…I never got to see him. Dang it. In fact, I finished the race before he even started. I did beat his time though, LOL!
The corrals moved up and the first wave was prepared to be sent off…by Meb…at 7:33 am. The horn sounded, Meb waived the green flag, and we were off. I crossed the start line, started my Garmin, and just went with the crowd. I saw Cathy and gave a wave and headed toward the Indianapolis Zoo. I didn’t see any animals out this year…but it is a nice way to start the race regardless. That zoo is gorgeous! This was a quick pace for me, though it didn’t feel it at the time. My first mile was 6:57, apparently, but I dropped back after that. Let me say, I am very glad that Cathy told me to go with the bra top only and not the tank. The humidity was very real at Mile 2…and it was still early. So, yeah…that worked out wonderfully. I would have died with fabric on me. As it was, my legs felt heavy and I was wondering how well this race was actually going to play out for me. But, I pressed on, hoping I’d find my stride and fall into a comfortable pace and hold it. Mile 2 and 3 are run on W. Michigan Street. In fact, much of the first 5 miles of the race is through residential and such areas…but always with spectators and people there to cheer, some more populated than others. Mile 5 is Main Street…and a banner is spread over the top welcoming runners to Main Street. There are restaurants and the like out here and the crowd was loud and proud. It was a nice way to make the turn toward the Speedway itself. You enter the speedway via a steep downhill slope, and then back up. Inside, you hit Mile 6 and the run around the actual Indianapolis Motor Speedway is on. This is the part I always look forward to. This was also the slowest miles of the race for me. I think it’s because the sun had come out, the humidity was high, and there was no shade out on that track. But I was running ON THE TRACK of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. How cool is that. They have 2 pit stops (water stations) inside the track, but I carry my own water and fuel with me, so I never make use of these. I thought about it though, with the humid air. I was sweating! The best part…the highlight, is hitting that brickyard. I flashed devil horns to the photographers and carried on. You exit the Indianapolis Motor Speedway just before Mile 9. From here…it’s 4 miles to the finish.
4 miles is a morning run for me. So, despite feeling like I was really slowing down, I was super happy with how I was plugging along. I kept saying, “This is for Deana…and Deana doesn’t quit!” Or “Be relentless…like Deana.” Mantras really help. LOL! I wasn’t about to quit…when it’s humid and hot, you just slow it down and run comfortable. Miles 9-11 wind you back toward downtown, and when you get to Mile 12, you see the checkered flags, and hear the crowds, and you just run. You just run because you’re almost done. You just run because you are heading to that finish line. You just…do what you’ve been doing all along, but with feeling and spirit and maybe jazz hands. Or maybe not. Jazz hands might be a little much…
I love this part of the race. The energy is amazing. I could hear the finish line announcer and I knew I was getting close. My watch beeped long before the 13 mile marker (I was about .20 miles ahead of the mile markers), and I picked it up some more. I gritted my teeth, dug deep, and pushed it. I saw Cathy to my right with my sign and just screaming at me. And I noticed, as I neared the finish, that the clock time said 1:39:45…I crossed. I just turned out another half marathon (13.29 miles on my Garmin)…and was only 1:07 minutes off of breaking my PR set at the Geist Half Marathon in 2014. I felt amazing. And accomplished. And…yeah!! I was ushered toward the medals and was handed one, which I eased over my head, somehow not spilling any water in the open water bottle I was holding. I’m just that talented, folks.
I was given a plastic bag to put water, banana, fruits, energy bars, and whatever else into as I walked through the runner recovery area. As I got a Dole cup, one of the Dole employees said he loved my outfit and smile and asked if he could get my picture with the Dole cup. So, I agreed. If I turn up on any Dole advertisements, let me know. I am almost famous, LOL! Afterwards, I headed into the After Party area where I was to find Cathy in the family reunion zone around the end of the alphabet. I spotted her and rushed over…and she gave me my official time!! I was SO happy with it. Impressed because I felt like I was running through tar at some points…no joke. But this was 2 minutes better than Derby…which was 2 minutes better than NYC. Nice pattern there, yes? LOL!
I changed out of my shoes and put on some recovery shoes. I snagged some chocolate milk for Cathy and then headed into the massage tent. I NEVER miss a post-race massage whenever possible. Seriously, this just helps me with my recovery. The lines weren’t long yet either. The nice lady who gave me my massage was awesome. It was, seriously, one of the best post-race massages I have ever had. She asked me a lot about running and how I got into it…and she really stretched me out and worked my muscles. She told me she loves working on people where she can feel their muscles and see how they move when she works on them. GO ME! Afterwards, I was ready to head back to the hotel to shower, so Cathy and I headed that way.
The hotel was handing out cold towels to runners so we could wipe our faces and get refreshed, which was SO awesome. Once we got up to the room, I went to go shower and Cathy packed up everything. Once I was clean and dressed, she called down to have the car brought out by valet and I downed some water and played on my phone for a moment. We finally went down just as our car came around. Packed up…we hit the road to go to Target and then meet up with our friend, Greg, at Cheeseburger in Paradise. A celebrator Gluten Free Veggie Baja Burger (no cheese or sour cream) was in order. I got mine with the gluten free sweet potato fries. I devoured it. No joke. We did a bit of shopping after lunch, hitting up Half Price Books…Strange Brew for coffee…and the outlets in Edinburgh, before heading home.
Half Marathon #18…done. And it’s my third fastest one to date!!
So, the official results of the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon is that I finished in 1:39:28. I was 889/24,768 finishers overall. I was 123/13,487 female finishers. And I was 21/1,939 finishers in my division! I am so happy with this result and I texted Deana and she was so honored and happy. It was a wonderful race, and now I remember why I loved it so much. I hope not to wait another 4 years to return to this one. That being said, I’m already in talks with Deana about some upcoming stuff for next year, which I’m super excited about. I’m sure I’ll discuss that when it all falls into place. I am certain my endurance will continue to get better. Half marathon distances used to feel so easy for me, but I’ve been struggling in the last few miles as of late. But this one surprised me, because I thought I had really slowed down, but I never once hit a sub 7:45 minute pace. At all. WOW!! And to think I slowed down to a pace that felt “easy.” At least my fitness has been kept up over the span of time I was out with injury last year. I credit that to my spin classes, regular gym visits, and sheer determination on my part.
Deana…I ran hard and strong for you…I’m glad this race turned out the way it did. Thank you for being an inspiration, a badass, and truly, an amazing friend.