The One America Mini Marathon kicks off the month-long celebration of all things Indy 500. There's nothing quite like Indianapolis in the month of May, whether or not you're even an Indy Car race fan, and the Mini Marathon couldn't be a better way to get the party started. The Mini is the largest half marathon in the country, with 35,000 participants cueing up at 7:30 yesterday morning awaiting their turn at a lap on the famed Indy 500 racetrack. This was my seventh Mini, and Hubby's millionth (or something like that). Each year is just a little different, but the festive atmosphere is always the same. As we wait for the start in our corrals (there are 26 of 'em!) the local news channel is interviewing participants, John Mellencamp (he's from Indiana, ya know) is blasting from speakers, fans are packed in like sardines and hundreds of black and white checkered beach balls are volleying from runner to runner. Suddenly a strong voice can be heard over the melee...and an Indiana State Trooper is singing the obligatory "Back Home Again in Indiana" to signal it's almost race time. He isn't Jim Nabors, but he did a pretty great job all the same.
After the gun went off, it took me a little over ten minutes to get to the start line (Hubby, or Mr. Fast-Seeded-Runner as I like to call him, only took 45 seconds). It took the people in the last corral nearly 40 minutes! The start is crowded, and I have to say it's annoying to me that people lie about their estimated finish time just so they can start closer to the front and then are IN MY WAY because they are walking right from the beginning and not only are they walking but they are doing it THREE ABREAST so that it is impossible to pass. So mile one was a little hairy, but after that I found myself settling in with people at my pace...which was...remarkably...about 9:30. I decided I was going to try to maintain the pace for as many miles as possible. I didn't know how long I could keep it up, but before I knew it I was in front of the Speedway (mile six-ish) and I was still feeling strong.
Running on the track is the hardest part of the race for me. I do think it's awesome to run over the yard of bricks, and for a race fan or someone who has never been to the speedway it would probably be a great life experience. However, having been to the 500 lots of times, to the time trials even more, and drunk at Carburation Day more times than I should have been, it loses some of the luster. That's why I find running on 2.5 miles of pitched pavement with nothing but empty bleachers as scenery kinda boring. The good part of the track, however, is when you exit... all of a sudden you're at mile 9!! And for me, I was at mile 9 still running 9:30s!
I'm not sure what happened between miles 9 and 11, but somewhere out there I finally left the self doubt on the side of the road and allowed myself to believe I could actually finish a half marathon averaging less than 10 minute miles. Somewhere after 11 but before 12, I knew without any uncertainty I was running my best half marathon ever.
My IT band injury never even bothered me (amazing). I was tired, but felt good. I was running to some crazy mantra I had been repeating in my head since the track and suddenly there was Hubby, screaming my name and to "go, girl, go." I could tell he knew where I was. That was all the motivation I needed to find my last bit of energy reserve and finish hard.
Oh, how I love a PR!!! (who doesn't, right!?) Offical time: 2:06:30, which is 7:06 better than last year, and 5 minutes better than my previous PR. That's a 9:40 average pace! What a great day for this back-of-the-pack runner...and to make it even better the Mini has turned into quite the family affair. I had more than ten various family members also participating. What a blast.