Sunday, May 3, 2015

Indy Mini Marathon -- May 2, 2015

This will probably be a really, really long post, so bear with me. But that said, I can sum up the day in just one sentence.

It felt so good to be back!

Saturday's Mini was the first time I had run the race since 2007, and running it again just made me realize that I had missed it so much. It's always been one of my favorite events, and it once again did not disappoint.

Let's back up to Friday. Darcy and I drove down that afternoon, and because of heavy traffic the trip took a little over four hours instead of three. Ugh! Fortunately the hotel where we were staying was not only just outside of the starting line, but it was only a block away from the expo at the Convention Center. So after getting checked in we headed over.

The expo was really nice, not too big and not overly crowded. Everything was really easy to find and the people were really helpful. I grabbed my number and of course took the obligatory photo near the race's countdown clock.

One of the cooler things they always have at the Mini expo is a collection of shirts, medals and news articles from past races. Since this was Darcy's first trip with me to the Mini, I showed her the races I had run in the past and shared some memories of those days. It's also an interesting display because it's a great way to see how the sport -- and the event itself -- has grown and evolved over the years. Looking back, everything from the clothes they wore to the shoes they had were so primitive, but so many of them ran so fast! And they looked kind of funny too!

Number in hand, we walked a few blocks to the Bourbon Street Distillery, where we were meeting several people for dinner.
Darcy and I were joined by her cousin, Madeline, our friends Wally and Larissa, and three of their friends, Michelle, who is about our age, and Dick and Sharon, a husband and wife team from the Twin Cities. Sharon runs the races, and Dick spectates, and like Wally and Larissa, they have run all over the world. In fact, while they don't live very far from each other, they met at some faraway race and travel together to all sorts of destinations.

It was interesting hearing about some of their travels, especially of their trip to South Africa for the 56-mile Comrades Marathon, and their experience running a marathon on Easter Island in South America. Just some amazing stuff...I promise I will get him to write it all down someday!

After dinner we went back to the hotel and I tried to sleep, but had some, ummmm, intestinal issues. I don't know if it was the dinner or what, but it was probably about 2 a.m. before I finally fell asleep. Not getting much sleep didn't bother me, that's happened the night before a race on several occasions, I was just worried that my problems would carry over into the race, which wouldn't be good.

As I said, our hotel was right next to the starting line, and despite being on the 27th floor, I was awakened at 6:45 by some pulsating music as the buildup to the 5K (which started at 7:15) began. We had a great view from our hotel room, and I was able to take some cool pictures, and video, which I will have at the bottom of this post.

What was cool is that we could see not only the start, but almost the first mile of the course. That gave us a good view of the start of both races. Although Wally, Larissa and I were scheduled to start in the 2nd wave, we moved back to the fourth
wave to join Sharon and Michelle. With the races starting at 7:45 and our wave not starting until 8:30, I had the unique experience of watching a race start that I was actually participating in!

We watched the start from our room (as well as the TV broadcast), and headed down to meet everyone in the lobby about 20 minutes later. After taking some photos and getting settled into our corral, we slowly moved forward to the starting line. I'm normally not a big fan of wave starts, but it looked like we were going to take only 10-15 seconds to get across the line, and I have no qualms with that!

With the rest of the group heading to Cincinnati on Sunday to run the Flying Pig Half (Larissa and Wally) and Marathon (Michelle), they were taking it easy for the Mini and were doing a walk/jog combination of 15 seconds each. I'd never really gone into a race with a tactic like that, so I was curious to see how it would work.

Right at 8:30, the horns sounded and the race was on! We ran the first 1/2 mile or so and then settled into our walk/jog thing. I actually tried not to "walk", instead going to a really slow jog, and that seemed to work. About two miles into the race we passed under an inflatable display marking the 500th mile of the Mini's history (39 races plus two miles). I also realized later that at about the 8.5-mile mark of the race that I had run 100 miles in Mini competition (seven Mini's plus 8.5 miles -- or so), pretty cool!

I wasn't even keeping track of our pace or anything, but I did have the Mini app loaded to my phone and saw we completed the first 5K in 44:01, a little slow for my tastes but we were having a ton of fun.

A couple of miles later, we were outside the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and I was so excited. My pace quickened a little bit and I pulled away from the group. It was a real thrill to be back out on the track again. I made my way onto the backstretch and through turns three and four, and we made our turn onto the main It's just an amazing thing to look down the tunnel of grandstands and feel the history just seeping from the place. From this view you can see well over 100,000 seats, and I tried to imagine what it felt like for a driver flying down this canyon at over 230 mph.

At about this point I waited for Wally to catch up to me because I needed his help with something. One of the newer traditions at the Speedway is for the winning driver and his team to kiss the bricks at the start/finish line in celebration. When the Speedway was first built in 1909, it was paved with bricks, which were gradually paved over with the exception of a one-yard strip at the line.

The actual original brick surface sits a couple of feet below the current asphalt, so the bricks at the start/finish aren't the ones first laid there 100 years ago, but it's still hallowed ground. When I decided to run the race again this year, one of my goals was to get my picture taken kissing the bricks. So here I am!

Dorky? Hell, yes, but I wasn't the only one! This race will once again be on my yearly schedule, and no matter what pace I will be running in the future, I'll stop and do the exact same thing! As a fan of the Indy 500 and the Speedway for more than 35 years (I'll be attending the race for the 18th time on My 24), it was a really, really special experience.

We continued on and left the track, heading back to downtown and the finish. I lost the group at about Mile 10 and felt like I was starting to tighten up -- especially my back and hamstrings -- so I tried to pick up the pace to see if I felt better. After hitting a water stop at Mile 11, I decided to go hard and run non-stop the rest of the way to the finish. While that involved a little zig-zagging around people, once we were to that point of the course the streets were nice and wide.

I hit Mile 12 and turned left onto the New York Street bridge for the final mile home. The last 1/2-mile is a gradual incline to the finish, so I was running so hard it was hurting a bit going to the finish, but I kept going! I ran the last two-plus miles at about a 10-minute pace and crossed the line in 3:03:08.

Darcy was waiting near the finish, which gave me a big boost. I found her in time that we could watch the rest of the group finish, and we spent some time in the post-race area having some beers and talking about the race.

What made me happy was that I got to experience the race with some friends -- old and new -- and that they enjoyed running the race so much. It was great to be able to run the race with them and have so much fun doing it.

Though I didn't run Faster Than Frank, it's been a great journey since I decided to run this race last September. I'm so glad I got the opportunity to run this race again, and I'm glad I got to share it with you through this blog, as well as my Facebook and Twitter pages.

The great thing about running is when one journey ends another one begins. My next quest? To run at least three more half marathons this year -- Rock N Roll Chicago (July), Chicago Half Marathon (September) and Rock N Roll Las Vegas (November) -- with the hope of breaking two hours at Vegas in November.

It should be fun. Hope you plan on joining me!

Here's the Mini start!

Here's the 5K start!

And finally, here is a video Darcy took on the ground of the start of our wave.


  1. Fantastic race report! I love that you got to watch the start of the race from your hotel - it's kind of like when we could see the start line of the Honolulu Marathon from our balcony. I love your photos. And I think kissing the bricks is just cool and fun - great tradition and why not?? Awesome race! I look forward to hearing about your upcoming races, too! Great job!

  2. Thanks! Saturday was definitely a unique experience, and a really special day for me!