Noe and I have been hiding out here in suburban Indianapolis for the past couple of days, visiting his sister, brother-in-law, and their son Thomas. Between shopping expeditions (scored an awesome vintage bundt pan and a great necklace) and hibachi dinners I managed to squeeze in my fifth running of the 500 Festival Mini Marathon.
The term “mini marathon” is slightly misleading – honestly, it’s just a half-marathon. Indianapolis celebrates the running of the Indy 500 for the entire month of May, and the Mini is one of the kick-off events. It’s one of the largest half marathons in the country, with over 35,000 entrants. The course starts in downtown Indy near the capitol and the monuments, then runs out of Indy proper and toward the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Two plus miles of the race are run on the speedway itself, then the race winds back into town and finishes up outside Military Park.
I started running the Mini the first year that Noe and I were together. I had run the Detroit Free Press half-marathon that October (my first half-marathon ever). Noe told me about the Mini, and we decided that we’d go to Indy and hang out for the weekend and I’d run the race. We’ve done it every year since, even when we had to fly in from CT.
I love Indianapolis and I love running the Mini. The course is mostly flat and it generally seems to go by pretty fast. Running on the Speedway is legitimately cool even if you’re not in to auto racing (which I’m not, really) and the crowd/people watching are generally top-notch.
Last year, however, I did NOT love running the Mini. We were in the process of organizing the move from CT back to MI; I had just come off a very tiring few days of final interviews for the job I would be offered (and four months later be let go from due to the position being eliminated); we were selling my little yellow house (that I still love to this day)…even though we wanted to move back, I was in a very strange frame of mind. I was also tired and had managed to pack on about ten pounds (yeah, it was that bad). Needless to say, I wasn’t working out very regularly, let alone running. But I pressed on with the Mini, thinking that I had run races slightly under-trained before and it would be fine.
It was NOT fine. It was awful. I was tired and miserable the entire time and my knee gave out at mile 8. This proved pretty problematic since I still had 5.1 miles to the finish. I limped/jogged/walked the remaining five miles and – as I practically collapsed at the finish line – swore I was taking the next year off from the Mini (like it was the Mini’s fault or something).
The registration email came. I deleted it. The subsequent “filling up fast” emails rolled in (the race always sells out). Finally I received the official “SOLD OUT” email and prided myself on sticking with my decision.
By this time the extra ten pounds were long gone. Around the beginning of 2011 I started actually running on and off again. By April, I had secured a new job that I really liked and was working out and running on a pretty regular basis. And the Run for Laura brought my motivation to an all-time high.
So I spent my non-working hours last week scouring Craig’s List for a mini entry. And I found one. And I bought it. And here we are in Indiana, the day after the race…
…and I feel AWESOME! Not only was my time respectable (I’ve never been a fast runner, so my 11-ish minute miles are absolutely fine by me) but this was actually my favorite of the five Minis I’ve run. The weather was perfect (a little cool and overcast – sun on the Speedway is a bitch) and I maintained a really steady pace throughout the whole race. (The fact that I not only remembered to bring but also to charge my iPod – two things that have never managed to happen simultaneously – didn’t hurt, either.)
We celebrated last night with a fantastic sushi/hibachi dinner (one of the few things that totally pleases all five of us, including the seven year old). My knees and ankles even felt good enough that I wore heels to dinner and had a couple glasses of wine since I wasn’t doped up on painkillers.
Moral of the story: I’m not sure. I feel like it’s something motivational like “never give up” or something but maybe it’s “don’t get fat and out of shape and blame the mini for your injury” – both sound pieces of advice, if you ask me!
Back to the usual food and wine bonanza tomorrow – cheers!