Race: Indy Women’s Half Marathon
Place: Indianapolis, Indiana
Date: September 17, 2016
Okay…I admit it…running a half marathon only 2 weeks after dying in a brutal (both with hills (aka: mountains), heat and humidity) in Hawaii…and on the week you are back from a 10 day vacation where you crossed ALL THE TIME ZONES at some point…well…it definitely wasn’t the smartest decision I’ve made.
But…you know…this one was for me. Last year, my 35th birthday (you know…when you move up an age division) fell on a Saturday and there were so many races running that day…but I was in a boot…and not running. So this year, I felt like I needed something for me. Something that I could do to celebrate. And I knew when I signed up for it that it wouldn’t be a PR due to the marathon I was running 2 weeks prior…but I still wanted to do this one.
So, at the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon…I signed up (and got a free wineglass for doing so!)…and…Cathy was kind enough to kick in the additional $25 for the VIP status for the race. So…there was that.
I was seriously hurting after the full marathon in Hawaii. The hip and the foot were both problems, and despite taking a whole week off before even starting up any sort of activity…my body was not feeling the love. Since I had this half marathon, though, I did go out for a couple of slow, steady, easy, shorter runs in the early mornings this past week. Nothing over 6 miles…and it was a slow build and then a cut back. And I said…that would work. Half marathon…here we come!
And so, Friday rolled around. And after a highly stressful day at the office where I was just all over the place trying to get stuff done, only to have my baskets overflowing every time I started to clear them out…I was trying to stay calm and relaxed. But it wasn’t happening. My roomie and I cleared it with the boss to leave early, so when 3 p.m. rolled around, we were heading out the door to make the 2 hour drive up to Indianapolis. And, thankfully, the traffic gods were with us. Not too many slowdowns, so, that was nice. That takes a bit of the stress off.
We were staying at the host hotel, The Sheraton Indianapolis City Centre, so it was a matter of getting to the door for valet parking (stress-free parking, yep, we’ll pay for that!) and getting checked in. This would normally be a super-easy task, except…some jackass pulled in sideways ahead of us, blocking the lane and any parking area behind him, and sent his wife in to check in while he piddled around with luggage and ordered the valet around a bit…and then said he was going to self-park not valet…and then decided (I guess) that his wife couldn’t check-in without his help so he LEFT HIS CAR like that and totally jacked up that lane of traffic and any incoming traffic (it was the host hotel, there was a ton of incoming traffic to the hotel). He didn’t care. And then…he took his time getting back to his car and in his car to go and pull out of that spot so we could pull up and in and let the flow of traffic start again. BOO!! People suck.
Anyway, we were actually quick to park and grab our bags and get the valet ticket. I headed inside to get checked in. Which, didn’t take too long at all. The people in front of me simply had questions. I loved that the Sheraton front desk people were sporting the bright, fluorescent pink Indy Women’s Half Marathon & 5K t-shirts. I think all host hotels should do this. It really gets you excited.
The expo was just downstairs, but I needed to drop my bags first. So, up to room 1425 we went…got inside, dropped our stuff…and had to check the view. For the first time in FOREVER…room with a freakin’ view. LOVED it. Beautiful. Especially with the daylight sort of…easing out. So, that was good.
So, now it was expo time. YAY expo. The expo for the Indy Women’s Half Marathon is bigger than it used to be, but still a small event. I went to get my packet and t-shirt first. That part was easy. I had been e-mailed my bib number (1398) earlier that week…so I went up to the table and gave the nice lady (with a nice accent) my number and…boom…easy. Fantastic race bag with gorgeous race shirt handed over to me. And now…time to explore.
Like I said, there wasn’t too much going on here, but I got a foot massage ball and ended up purchasing a foam roller (which I am now keeping in the car, because I forget to bring mine all the time). So that happened for $25…but definitely worth it in the end. I stopped by the BondiBand table (of course…since I am a #BondiBandAmbassador) and purchased one…yes…just one…new band. I didn’t wear it during the race though. I did wear a BondiBand, but you couldn’t tell which one…because…it was going to rain…and I had a visor to wear. As we were leaving, we spotted the official merchandise, but nothing was still there in the smaller sizes and an XL would swim on me…but I did find my name (twice!) on the back of the shirt. So…that was awesome. If the shirt had been any smaller, I might have bought it. But…no bueno. After that, we trekked back up to the room to drop stuff off, adjusted the dinner reservations to an early time slot and headed down toward the Monument Circle to walk over to the restaurant.
I had found Napolese, an Artisan Pizzeria in downtown Indianapolis, via Find Me Gluten Free. They had gluten free foccacia bread and gluten free pizzas. And, as I can’t do dairy, they have a “freestyle” option, where you can select 3 toppings…so that is what we did. Our waiter, was amazing. He realized that the foccacia bread came with goat cheese on it, and had the chef’s remake it without the cheese so I could have it. And the pizza…wow. It was a standard cracker crust, but that oven…that oven crisped up the crust so that you could hold it up (and mine was topped with marinara, mushrooms, summer squash, and roasted peppers)…and it wasn’t soggy or falling apart. So, total WIN! Dinner was devoured (not all the foccacia…Cathy took that to have as breakfast)…and we strolled over to Rocket Fizz for some gluten-free candy as a dessert. I was craving sorbet, but there wasn’t anything close enough that was both dairy-free and gluten-free…so…dark chocolate it was. After that…we strolled through the Oktoberfest celebrations on Monument Circle…got back to the room…and relaxed by watching Big Bang Theory before turning in just after 9:30 p.m. One last check of the weather…rain. All the rain. Possible thunderstorms. I tell you…the Indy Women’s Half Marathon just can’t catch a break on the weather.
Woke up at 4:00 a.m. to start my pre-race rituals. I climbed back into bed for another 45 minutes before alarm #2 went off. This was my “GET UP” alarm…so, I shut it off, climbed out of bed…for the second time…but this time to stay…and went over to the window. It had stormed earlier in the morning, but it wasn’t currently raining. It was wet out there though. Very wet. I staggered in the dark to the bathroom to get changed into my race gear and put some sunscreen on (guaranteeing that it would rain, HA!) I put my hair up in my signature pigtails, then went out to the room and, in the dark, did all my PT stretches. I have been trying to be good about working these in. If it hadn’t been raining prior to the race, all the dynamic warmup stuff would have happened too…but…eh…I wasn’t going to get wet if I didn’t have to. Once 6:00 a.m. rolled around, I turned on the light and flopped on the bed with my gluten-free cereal and made Cathy get up from her bed and start getting ready. She went to retrieve the foccacia, which needed to be reheated as it just got hard overnight…but…eh…she made it work. As she was getting ready, I was busy checking weather on the news and on my phone. Rain was coming. Rain was definitely coming. Possible thunderstorms. But the Facebook page for the Indy Women’s said it was still a-go…so…I got her to pin me up…I threw on my visor…put my sunglasses on my visor (in case)…also guaranteeing we’d get poured on…and filled up my fuel belt with my Hammer Nutrition and some Essentia Water. Then, we were out the door and heading down to the lobby to stand around until we had to start the race. It was time for me to eat my pre-race banana…it was a little under-ripe still, but I ate it. So, as I watched people dart in from the light sprinkle from being dropped off…and then we meandered down toward the Starbucks, as the other set of doors were down there. Start line…BOOM…right outside. I love staying at the host hotel. The rain had tapered off at this point…so Cathy and I ventured out. We took a picture of me in front of the starting line and as we were walking away, we were asked by two ladies who were doing the 5K if we had any extra safety pins. Cathy travels with a case of safety pins…so we hooked them up. Cathy even pinned one of them up. Good deed of the morning…done.
It was nearing start time, so I shed the jacket I had thrown on in case there was rain before the start and handed it off to Cathy. Then, after she told me to have fun (this race was all a finish line not a finish time!) and went to get a spot for the start of the race, I wandered around the circle looking for my friend Katie…but never found her. They were telling people to get into the start corrals, so I lined up between the 1:50 and 2:00 pacers…because I figured I could at least pull that off with the hip…the foot…the marathon fatigue…and travel fatigue…at least…I hoped. They had someone come out to sing the National Anthem…and all the runners started turning circles looking for a flag. We finally found one on a building. But it was like…everyone all at once started to turn circles. It brought about a good laugh from the participants.
At 7:30 am…SHARP…they sent off the wheelchair racers. This was the first year that the Indy Women’s Half Marathon had a wheelchair division. These racers are inspiring. Seriously. They always amaze me. A moment or so later…the corrals were moved up and we helped count down from 10 to start the race. And…we were off! So, for the first 2+ miles, the 5K runners were with us. Cathy came down and saw me just before Mile 1 ticked off, which was awesome. The first 2 miles had us rounding parts of downtown, running a bit of Monument Circle…heading out into the city and turning onto a road. Before the turn…about Mile 2…I saw the leader of the 5K coming the other way…and she had no one behind her. In fact, Cathy said she finished a good 2 minutes before the second finisher came in. FAST! So…there was a sign that had the 5K runners turn right down a road while the half marathon runners continued on. There was a light, misting rain at this point…but that was going to be short lived.
Miles 3-5 were a bit uneventful. There wasn’t anyone out to cheer, save for the volunteers and this random guy who had a wife/girlfriend/friends running so he was there around Mile 4-ish and was sending out some encouragement. So, that was nice. As I neared Mile 6, I saw the leader of the half marathon coming the other way. And as soon as she passed…the skies opened up. HELLO RAIN!! It was a freakin’ downpour. I mean…deluge. Seriously…hard rain. Just hard rain. I was nearing the halfway point here and I knew my friend Julia was working that water stop. We did get a brief break from the rain (but not the horrible roads) as we ran under an overpass. Back out into the rain and I was prepared to make the turn. Right on the other side of the hairpin turn was the water stop. I immediately spotted Julia and gave her a wave and a shout-out. She did the same to me.
Now…running in the rain is not only badass, but quite fun. BUT…that being said…I am so overly cautious when I run in the rain. I slow down my pace, because road surfaces are now wet and slick. And that’s exactly what happened here. I bitch a lot about running in the rain because it ruins your shoes. I mean…kills shoes. And I had just got these shoes. UGH. And there was no avoiding the standing water and puddle-filled pot holes and cracks in the Indianapolis pavement. So, the shoes were soaked…sometimes I was plodding through some deceivingly deep standing water…and doing my best to not aggravate an already unhappy hip (the hip HATES weather) and twingy foot (which my podiatrist thankfully taped for me 2 days before the race…but the amount of water I was running through meant…it was coming off!). As I said, I knew this wasn’t going to be a fast race for me…so I just took it one step at a time…one mile at a time. Just after Mile 7, we branched off onto a sidewalk thingy to run down White River Parkway…and at some point in this we actually had to hop down off the sidewalk and back down onto the road…but…you do what you gotta do. This is where we continued the lull in any support. I think the rain kept people in…but not sure how much support would have been out there even without the rain. The rain lightened up at one point, but not for long…it was back with a vengeance.
Just before Mile 11, there was a water stop…and some of the quietest volunteers I had ever seen. At this point, with no crowd support through a bulk of this race, some uplifting cheers and excitement was needed. But, I guess they weren’t ecstatic about standing out in the pouring rain. Because they didn’t even shout about the water or Gatorade…just sort of…mentioned it as you neared them. One guy might have said…”Good job.” But…let’s get loud, people!
After that, we made the turn onto Michigan Road, which is familiar from the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon…and Mile 12 ticked off. Rain…so much rain…my shoes were heavy and soaked through…my pigtails were pretty much plastered to my neck. And as I headed into the last mile…the rain started to lighten up again. Nice. I passed a couple of people on the way to the finish…not really able to pick up the pace. This hip…this damn freakin’ (I would use another word…but…I’m being polite) hip wasn’t loving the damp weather at all. Thank God it wasn’t also cold. Soon, the crowd ahead near the finish could be heard and that’s where I got excited again. Time to bring it in!! So, I smiled…pushed as much as I could…passed Cathy and a stranger shouting my name…HA!…and crossed the finish line. So happy to be done. The rain was no longer pouring…but more of a drizzle. I received my medal, some water, a bag of snacks and stuff, and a rose. At the end of the chute, Cathy came down to give me a wet hug and congratulate me. We were both soaked. Kudos to the people who waited at the finish line for their friends and family to finish.
We made our way over to the backdrop to take an official finish photo (no photographer was stationed there)…and then went into the recovery area. As I was a VIP…I thought I would skip the massage table and head into the area. Signs about how to get inside were confusing, but we finally figured it out. Family was not allowed into the VIP area, but could be in the beer garden. I stepped inside…hoping for amazing things…and realized that this was SO NOT worth the extra $25. The fruit they had out was oranges and apples (whereas in years before it was melon, berries, and the like). They had flavored sparkling water in cans. And then donuts (which I couldn’t eat)…as well as beer and mimosas (not ready to drink that close to a race finish). So, I grabbed a can of the sparkling water and an orange…and that was that. No separate massage area…nothing really worth that extra $25. I was really, really disappointed. I thought there would be more to it. And, maybe if the weather had been better…it might have been…but I felt cheated out of money for what was there. So…I highly recommend skipping the VIP upgrade…unless they really ramp it up and make it worth your while next time.
Anyway…this was my 21st Half Marathon…and my official birthday race (2 days early)…so I was happy to be able to do it. I enjoyed the rain…but not the wet pavement. And I just took my time and ran my own race, listening to my body as it is still in recovery mode.
So, my official results of the Indy Women’s Half Marathon is that I finished in 1:47:02, which is a slower half marathon for me, but I am proud of finishing with that time. I have put my body through a lot in recent weeks, and this was a good run to just go and do and focus on a finish line, not a finish time. This race also ran long, my Garmin having it at 13. 23 miles…but I’d rather have a course run long than short, honestly. In fact, around Mile 4, a lot of the runners I was with commented that the mile markers were a bit off. Not sure if the markers were off or that no one was running the tangents as we were all not wanting to go into deep puddles on the side of the road. The world may never know. Anyway…I was 44/946 finishers overall. And I was 10/175 people in the 35-39 division! Not too shabby. I’ll take it!!
Honestly, it felt so good to climb into a hot shower afterwards…and I had to wring the hell out of my running shorts and BondiBand. Craziness. Cathy brought me up some coffee from Starbucks, which I drank while organizing some items to pack up and also checking my phone for updates on the Air Force Marathon (which was delayed due to weather)…as my running partner, Matt, was doing that one. After I changed, we packed up our stuff, checked out of the hotel…and went to get a crazy-good gluten-free and vegan (in my case) lunch at Hops & Fire in Greenwood. Then round #2 of coffee at Strange Brew (a required stop when I’m in the Indianapolis area). I even picked up some local gluten-free granola that they had on sale there. YAY!
I believe, with the exception of the first year that the Indy Women’s Half Marathon & 5K ran (I did the 5K that year)…the weather for this race has been horrible. Every. Single. Time. At least this year the race went off…despite the torrential rainfalls. So, we were already ahead of last year. The year I did the half marathon in this race for the first time…a hurricane was rolling in and humidity was at 90%…so the entire race was like breathing through a wet towel…and no one felt good at the end. So…I hope a few years of perfect weather are headed this way. I love this race. There is something so amazing about a race that only women are doing. We all lift each other up. There were so many runners who would shout out support to the others…it was awesome. So, I do recommend this race…just pray for good weather. And maybe…just maybe…Indianapolis will repave some of those roads. Wow. Horrible roads.
All that being said, I intend to come back to this one again. Maybe with a body that loves me more and weather that is a little less…wet. We shall see. Ladies…keep this one on your radar for sure! We are all badass, rockstar runners at this one.