Race: OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon
Place: Indianapolis, Indiana
Date: May 5, 2018
At the beginning of my training season, after Dopey in January and after I got over the flu, my coach asked me, specifically, for some goals this year. I laid out two. And one of them was to PR my half marathon distance, specifically at the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon.
It was in writing. And I was actually starting to finally have a good training cycle, when, one morning, as you read in a previous post (and I swear I will blog about the saga…maybe…perhaps), I fell hard on a training run early one morning. It was a long run I was doing to beat the rain and storms that were supposedly coming. And…it took me out of any sort of strong training for the entire time leading into the KDF miniMarathon. I kept telling myself that this would actually work out for me in the end. My body would recover…and I’d be well-rested coming into this race, despite having a half marathon the week before.
Mind you…I took it very easy on KDF. I barely broke an 8 minute mile when all was said and done. So, my legs felt good and my foot was finally feeling good…but I haven’t been feeling strong or fast as of late. Keep in mind, the races I have been doing, I haven’t been doing at pace. This was supposed to be what makes me able to do this for goal/key races. So, I assured myself that the missed runs wouldn’t matter. I was ready. I could do this.
Friday morning came and I went out for an easy shake-out run for 30 minutes. Showered. Then began to prep breakfast for that morning. Melissa and Paul were coming over (we were all driving up together) and I was going to make us a hearty breakfast to get us through the Panel of Olympians (I won two tickets to it and Melissa and I were going to attend) that morning, the race expo itself, and whatever else we ended up doing afterwards until dinner time. The menu: Avocado Toast and Hash Browns. I used Simple Kneads Gluten Free Quinoa Power Grains Bread, smashed ripe avocado on each slice, topped it with some Trader Joe’s Everything But The Bagel Seasoning, then capped each slice with a sunny-side up egg. Served with some Ore Ida Hash Browns (with onions and peppers). It was perfect. We ate. We drank coffee. We eagerly discussed the events that day. And then…we were literally off to the races.
We talked…the entire time heading to the hotel. We were staying at the JW Marriott (I’m a princess…sorry, not sorry!) and we were going to check in and take things up to the room before heading over to Indiana Convention Center (we could do this via walkway, but why not enjoy the wind that day?) for the Champions Panel that started at 11 am (but they wanted ticket holders in by 10:45 am).
We pulled up to the hotel and while everyone else was unloading the car, I was sent inside to check into the room. And this friends…is where the tale truly begins. Because, upon entering the hotel, all wind-blown and looking like a hot mess…I notice someone in a race jacket holding a cup of coffee near one of the pillars at the front of the lobby. And my brain went…
This is where I lost all motor functions for a moment. I smiled at him and walked toward the line for the front desk check-in. I pulled out my cell phone to text my group, but I couldn’t get my fingers to hit the right numbers on my unlock screen. I did finally get there. I typed a simple message, “HOLY SHIT! MEB!” And I sent it. And just as it sent, Cathy came strolling in. At this point, Meb went to go talk to a group of runners in the lobby and I started pointing at him (his back was to me). She glanced over, did a shrug, then did a double take. It was awesome.
She told me to go ask if I could get a selfie with him. I’m not shy. So I did. I’m surprised I could now find words. I’m honestly not the type to get star-struck like that…but Meb is a one of my running heroes and I was..honored to be in a hotel lobby with him. Also, no one informed me that I looked all a mess from strong winds and car ride. But…hey…at least he looks good in the photos. I took a selfie and then someone took a picture for me. Both of which I look like a star-struck fool with really, really bad hair.
Hey…you never know when you’ll met your heroes.
He was so very gracious and generous and never once made me feel like I was inconveniencing him. And that’s one of the many things I love about Meb. After the photos in the lobby, Cathy and Paul sent Melissa and I on our way to get to the Champions Panel while they took stuff up to the room. Paul was on a business call at this point anyway. So…we braced ourselves for the windy walk to the Indianapolis Convention Center (we could have walked it inside, honestly) and went to get in line for the panel.
We were seated in the second row when doors opened. And as they brought in the Champions for the Champions Panel…they also introduced the woman who was conducting the panel, Indianapolis’ very own Lindsey Hein, the host of the “I’ll Have Another” podcast…which I am a total fan and listen to every week. So, I fangirled a little there and hoped to snag a picture with Lindsey afterwards…but we were escorted out of the room quickly and I never got to ask. Dang it. NEXT TIME!!
The Champion’s Panel was amazing. It started off with having us introduced to the Elite Ambassador and Special Olympics athlete, Andrew Peterson. His story and the way he told it was inspiring and tear inducing. Seriously. What an inspiration. From being told he could never do things…to being the second Special Olympian to qualify for the Boston Marathon…he is nothing but inspiring. What a way to kick off the panel. Then…they brought up the rest of them:
Frank Shorter, Bill Rodgers, Alexi Pappas, and Meb Keflezighi!
The stories all of these athletes could tell about mental fitness, experiences in running, etc. I now have a major girl crush on Alexi for one thing. She’s a doll. Frank Shorter and Bill Rodgers had tales to tell about the running community and running game back when they were at the top of the game. And Meb had lots of uplifting and insightful things to say. Alexi is training with Deana Kastor for her first marathon. And I’m currently reading Deana Kastor’s book. Full circle. Just…love. This was the way to kick off the weekend for sure. It was the day before Meb’s birthday, so we all sang Happy Birthday to him. So that was amazing.
After the panel dismissed the audience, Melissa and I met up with Cathy and Paul, who had already gone shopping through the expo area. So…now it was our turn. We went to pick up our bibs and race packets first before setting out to see all of the expo area and try not to spend too much money. HA!
Actually, because Newton wasn’t there (I really want to try on the Distance VII), I came out of it on the plus side. Cathy bought me my mandatory Bondi Band’s (this has to happen at every race or bad stuff happens!) and I was told I wasn’t allowed to buy any Finisher’s gear (which means, she got me something). And with those being the only restrictions, I just set out to see what was there. This is a great expo. Lots of samples of products, lots of vendors…all very relevant. Area races were present and promoting. And, while we paused for bathroom breaks, that was when Corey Queen found us!
He actually started sneaking up on me and got pretty damn close before I saw him and gave him a hug. He’s a ninja, that one. The five of us stood around and talked for a good while. We discussed races and being ambassadors and weather and just life in general. Seriously, if this weekend proved anything…it’s that the five of us could stand around and talk and not get bored with it. HA!
When we all finally decided we needed to finish seeing the expo and make Meb’s autograph session before heading to our dinner reservations. We did traverse the rest of the expo, killing time before standing around near the area the line would be forming for Meb. Currently Bill Rodgers was at the autograph table. So, we hung out until the volunteers at the expo came and put up some partitions and had us maneuver inside to wait for Meb.
Melissa asked me if Bill Rodgers book was worth buying, and I told her definitely. So she asked if she could get into the back of his line for an autograph. We had thought of doing this earlier, but Cathy had overheard one of the handlers say that he was just signing books…but the man ahead of Melissa had his Boston Marathon shirt so she looked at me and said, “Do you want Bill Rodgers to sign your medal too? He’s a four time Boston Marathon champion.” I took my medal from her and went to stand with Melissa. This worked out because it meant I could take photos with her and Bill and she could return the favor for me. Bill was awesome. He recommended to Melissa that she run Chicago Marathon and she told him she was this year. And he wouldn’t let up on how amazing the crowd support is there and how amazing the race is (everything I have touted all along) and as I was taking their picture, he apparently kept whispering “Chicago. Chicago. Chicago.” in her ear. HA! My turn. I brought him my medal and I told him my Boston story. When I told him about my hip labrum tear, he said, “That’s a bad injury. Did you have to have surgery?” I told him no. He said, “Lots of physical therapy.” I nodded. “So much physical therapy!” He signed my medal and graciously took a photo with me and wished me luck in Chicago this year too. Melissa and I went to duck back into our spots at Meb’s line.
Meb arrived and we were seriously near the front of the line. Meb took his time with people, signing an item for each person. We sent Paul and Melissa up to him first and it was so amazing to see just the sheer joy in Melissa’s face as she got to talk to Meb and tell him how much he inspired her to run her first race. He was the best and gave her encouraging words and was so uplifting. He signed a photo for her and a quote for Paul, and they took pictures with him. Then…it was my turn.
I knew telling my story to Meb was going to be emotional to me. So, thankfully I had Cathy on hand to tell him about my path to the Boston Marathon and the injury that I wouldn’t let take me out of it. She also mentioned the hip labrum tear, and his eyes got wide and he said, “That is a BAAAAAAAAAAAAAD injury.” He’s not wrong. It was (and still his and will hopefully forever be…the worst injury I have ever endured). I laid out my medal and asked him to sign it for me. He said, “This is the first one I have seen of these today!” One of the professional photographers took photos as he signed it. And then we did the stand and smile photo ops. Honestly, everything you have heard about Meb is true. He’s very humble and very human and very generous. And uplifting. Man, I walked away from that table feeling like I had just met a rockstar. I had. I mean…for real.
We needed to drop off our race expo stuff, so we took the walkways back to the hotel. We dropped things off in the room (Melissa and I hadn’t been here yet) and then set back out to go to the Hard Rock Cafe and then make our way to dinner at Harry & Izzy’s in downtown Indianapolis.
Originally, I thought Cathy and I were going to split one of the gluten-free pizzas. BUT…she started eyeing other things on the menu. Pizza has been a good food for me the night before the race, but as I knew I couldn’t eat the entire thing by myself and it would be a waste of money to just eat half of it (I wouldn’t have gotten back to it after the race or anything), I went a very different direction. I ended up ordering the Oven Roasted Beet Salad (hey…beets are supposedly good for athletic performance), which consisted of artisan greens, local goat cheese (I asked them to go light on the cheese), candied walnuts, and had a tarragon vinaigrette. And then I placed an order for the gluten free fries on the side. It was super yummy and I devoured it all. I mean…you need to be fueled for the race, right?
Afterwards, we walked to the candy store, just for some fun, and then headed back to the hotel to charge Garmin’s, shower, lay out race day stuff, and finally, get some rest. I had Melissa help me pick between the two outfits I brought, a tank and shorts or a crop and a running skirt. As the tank and skirt were in Boston colors and my Boston Marathon medal was now autographed by Bill Rodgers and Meb Keflezighi, it seemed like a good omen.
We set alarms for 6 am. And race morning dawned and alarms went off. We went with the bathroom circuit that we’ve established since the NYC Half Marathon. I grabbed my stuff and went to change into my shorts and tank before coming out and allowing the next people to work their way through. I always use the bathroom one last time before leaving the hotel. I realized I didn’t eat anything leading up to this…or take in some water. So…that was that working against me. I did have a banana, which I ate as we made our way to the lobby, as we were 30 minutes out from the start of the race. I know better than to JUST eat a banana before a distance race. A shorter race it would be fine…but not for a half or full marathon.
We got outside and gave hugs to Melissa and Paul. My corral was in Wave 1, which was going off at 7:33 am. So, Cathy went to cut across to the other side, and didn’t think that there was openings to the corals on that side (there was), so we hugged and she told me to have a good race. And….I went to get into Corral B. I had to pause though, as the National Anthem was starting, so I did that before heading up to the actual corral entrance and ducking inside. I didn’t move too far up, but I got out of the crowd there at the back. In fact, I wasn’t far from a guy in a penguin suit. No joke. I also noticed a lot of other Corral’s in my corral. Like a woman who should have been in Corral L. Okay…
I felt nervous energy as the light breeze kept the start line cool. The humidity was higher that day than what I was used to running in and the start line was a gorgeous 54 degrees…but it was going to hit the 60s fast that morning. When Wave 1 was sent off after the wheelchair start, I headed over the start line, waved to Cathy and took on the streets, telling myself that it was going to be a good day. And for the first mile I felt strong. And was definitely on pace to hit my PR. But that didn’t last long. My endurance is shit these days and immediately, I dropped off that pace and that was the story of my race. A steady decline and a huge missed opportunity.
Mile 1 was clipped off at a fast 7:10 minute mile. But they got slower soon after that. Mile 2 through 4 were steady and still in a good range of where I could be to finish ahead of my goal. Or so I thought. I never once looked at my watch or the clocks on the course. I didn’t want to fuss over time on this race. I felt strong heading up W Michigan and really thought I was pacing myself well. But as I turned onto Main Street just around Mile 5, I could hear conversation behind me. Whenever there is conversation, there is a pace team. I had no idea which one, until they started pacing me for a brief moment. It was the 1:40 pacer. I was way behind my goal and I could feel my energy really fading fast.
“It’s not meant to happen today,” I said to myself, and then just set my next focus on finishing a strong race. The 1:40 pacer faded and I decided I would at least try to stay ahead of the 1:50 this time.
Heading into the track, the lugs on the bottom of my Newtons picked up a stone, so just after Mile 6, I pulled over to dig it out. It apparently fell out on its own just as I slowed. So, I jumped back into the race. The race track has always been the thing that slows me down. And it was no exception this year. I kept telling myself to relax, but the humidity had gotten the best of me and at this point, I was no longer sweating. You know what that means? I was now overheating. I also fuel on half marathons during the time I’m inside the track, where we weren’t allowed to take any sort of gel at the time. So…I waited it out and made my lap of the track. I could feel my legs slowing down, and at times just feeling tingly. Definitely not having a good race. I didn’t let it dishearten me too much, and I did pick it up for the part where I ran across the brickyard. Flashing devil horns, as always. Coming out of the track, I usually am able to pick it up, but my body just had nothing left. I started making stops at the water stations to pour water over my head. I took my Hammer Gel, but it was too late at this point. I was now just focusing on counting down the miles to the finish line. My training plan said to try to finish ahead of 1:44…it was going to be close.
At Mile 12, I did glance at the course clock. It was where I should have been heading to the finish. But this mile does bring in crowds and cheers and the road lined with checkered flags, so my staggering pace started to slightly (not by much) pick up. I ignored the people handing out the leis and just kept pressing on. In order to finish, I just needed to focus on getting my legs to move. I forgot how awful crossing that last bridge felt, but kept going…feeling like I was moving through mud. As I was in the last quarter mile, I noticed medics near the curb and a young woman laying on the ground. They were radioing for an ambulance. I made the final push, seeing the finish line and could see Cathy with the sign near it. And I powered through, crossing at 1:44 and change. I missed the goal by seconds that I was supposed to aim for in my training plan. But I was just glad to be done. Meb was supposed to leave after finishing to head to Texas for his brother’s wedding, but he was at the finish line for as long as he could be, and he happened to still be there after I crossed. He gave me a fist bump, and it made me at least smile at a moment when I didn’t really feel like smiling.
I made my way through the finisher’s area, getting my medal and my bag that then had snacks from bananas and fruit to Clif Bars tossed into it. I got my photo taken at the backdrop and then headed into the Runner Reunion area where the after party was happening.
Normally, this is where Cathy would meet me at the letter X and we would take photos and head back to the hotel so I could shower and all that. But she wasn’t there. I had looked for her as I was coming into the area, but never spotted her or the sign. So, for the next 30-40 minutes, I was wandering around trying to find her, always returning to X, just in case she showed up there. I was really upset about my race and now this was upsetting me more…but I finally spotted her near the entrance to the runner reunion and came up behind her. She gave me a hug and my official finishing time – 1:44:14. I just decided to harp on her about not being at X and she admitted that she “got cocky” and tried to catch me before that point.
We went to take a photo before heading back to the hotel. I needed to drink water, but I wasn’t ready to. My stomach wasn’t loving anything at this point. The lobby of the JW Marriott had employees handing out water bottles (bless them) and cold towels. It was just what I needed. I went up to my room and Cathy went to pack up some stuff and make my BCAAs up while I showered and changed. We were going to check out, leave our luggage, and head down to wait for Corey, Melissa and Paul.
When our friends finished, we gathered together under a shady tree and just…voiced our thoughts that day. Being that none of us have really had humid or warm days to run in up to this point, we were all glad to have finished and sweat it out. I know Melissa and I were not happy with our times, and our coach, Linda, called to talk to us about the race. I don’t know what she said to Melissa, but Linda said she was looking at my splits and I just looked like I got tired.
Told you…endurance is shit right now. MEH! I told her I felt good up until Mile 5 and then it just spiraled from there. I was frustrated and disappointed, but she was very uplifting and positive about it. Did it make me feel better about it? Not really. But the positive affirmations did so much for my mental state at that point.
After Cathy, Corey and Paul shared a beer and a half (they were apparently VERY stingy with the free beers offered at the after party), and we passed the lemon blossoms I baked around…we decided to make our way back to the hotel. I needed to actually start the recovery process with some nutrition and Paul and Melissa needed to change before we spent the rest of the day in and around Indianapolis. This was where we found out that the guy who came to take our luggage gave us the wrong tag. And this is where we all freaked out because my backpack had my Boston Marathon medal in it and Melissa’s wedding rings were in her bag. But, Cathy went back to find the correct cart and we did have our stuff. We went separate directions to let them go to the Fitness Center to change and us to get some coffee. Nutrition after a race is important to recovery and coming back strong. Sometimes I don’t want to eat anything, but I always make sure I do.
I drank my protein shake and, while it wasn’t what I wanted, it would do for now until we would get dinner. Melissa got a coffee and Paul got himself coffee and a sandwich of sorts from Starbucks. We decided to head out…headed to Greenwood for Half Price Books, Strange Brew Coffee…and finally…dinner at Hops & Fire. After that…the long drive home…where we once again talked the entire way.
So, the official results of the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon is that I finished in 1:44:14. It was definitely NOT the results I set out for or wanted. But you never know what will happen on race day. So, you learn from it. I was 1304/19,588 finishers overall. I was 224/10,403 female finishers. And I was 50/1438 finishers in my division! I am trying really hard to not let these results bother me. But I would be sugar-coating it to say that I was okay with this. I set out for a PR…and I didn’t come close. And yeah…I’m disappointed. But this just drives me to step up and try again. I’ve been chasing PRs for years now. Eventually one of them is bound to fall. Disappointed…yes. Deterred…never.
Onto the next…