Continuing from Part 1 of my recap from the weekend in Indianapolis…
Saturday morning we met at the hotel breakfast
buffet to send everyone off for the race. Katie’s husband, Jerry, was running his first half marathon and Rik was there to help pace him for the race. The corrals were staggered with starting wave times, with the fastest runners starting in Wave 1 at 7:48am. I was in Wave 4 of 5 which had an 8:30 am starting time. Most of my teammates had started in earlier waves. Like the Rock n’ Roll AZ race, it took quite a while for our corral to actually reach the starting line. The music was loud and fun. It was much warmer than I was expecting. I had brought a large sweatshirt of my dad’s to toss on the sidewalk after I warmed up but I did that before we even started. I was wearing a purple tank in honor of
Pediatric Stroke Awareness month (May) for Brennan.
Unlike the races earlier this past fall and winter, I completed a full 12 week half marathon training plan (Hal Higdon’s intermediate half marathon plan) to prepare. I did my best to do the speed work, particularly interval training, every week. I hoped pushing myself would help me get a PR (beating my 2:30:41 time from my first half marathon in 2014). The best time I’ve had this year has been 2:39:59, moving in the wrong direction. However, I could tell by my training runs that I just am not improving much. I’ve had
some faster shorter runs, but I do not have any endurance. Honestly, I know I could do more to improve, but I’m OK with just finishing the race this year….”staying in the game”. Recently I’m discovering that I should be pushing harder on some runs and backing off on others. I’ve read that through the years but I guess it is finally starting to click in my brain. These habits and skills have to develop over time. I spent a long time battling my inner strength and will as an out-of-shape, overweight asthmatic with a dangerously high exercising heart rate that I did get nervous and backed off when my heart rate zone entered the highest limits. Now I’m not approaching them (progress!) but I also kinda developed a bad habit of quitting on myself when things get painful. Anyway, all this to say, I napproached this race withe the hope that I would push throug some pain. I hoped, secretly, that I would get near my PR and I was optimistic. That is, until about mile 5…I was doing OK, but I was barely holding onto my PR pace (sub 11:30) at this point and knew 8 more miles of that was potentially unlikely. Right about this time, Hilary and Paige came running up from behind and surprised me. I didn’t realize they had hung back in Wave 4 to have fun being in the “back of pack”. I had just gotten my headphones out and put them in before I saw them – I should have taken them out to chat with them but the realization that I was slipping back was stressing me out and I knew I couldn’t keep up…again, some mental toughness issues playing games in my head.
At this time we were also approaching the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the highlight of the race. I took a few pictures on the way in- I love seeing stadiums and other hotspots of different cities or things I’ve seen on TV. The big banner we had been able to write on at the expo was now hanging on the fence on the track as we entered. The track
was pretty much like running on a hit asphalt street, but at least it wasn’t very banked like I had feared. I only really noticed that on the curves, but then we were down on the inside lane and it was very flat there. As we ended our time on the track, there was a small section of the ordinal brick of the track and it is tradition for the runners to get down and kiss the bricks. I thought there was no way I would do that …a) because that is a little gross and b) getting down on the ground mid-race is difficult, if not impossible on my tired legs. But, I considered this as an experience I might share with my kids or grandkids some day and being able to point to the track during the Indy 500 and say I kissed those bricks could be cool, or not. It should make for some amusing photos both because my legs were stiff and I was wearing a hat and getting my mouth on the bricks was far from graceful.
The race had phenomenal volunteer support and ample water and Gatorade stations – almost too many because I normally walk aid stations but found that this was making me walk way more than normal too. The weather was warm though, even for me, but pretty similar to what I’ve been running in the past month. As my pace continued to slip I swayed between fighting really hard to not quit on myself…and and quitting on myself. My attention focused away from getting a PR but towards beating my 2015 best. I knew that a solid effort continuing with what I was doing would make this possible. It was the least I could do after all that training. I came into the last quarter mile and moved over to the right side – Katie said she would be watching from there (I failed to mention she had decided not to run because her stress fracture is still giving her some issues). Actually since I’m the slowest of our group, the whole team was there at the finish when I went by, so that was fun.
My finish time was 2:37:57 – way slower than I had hoped for but, nevertheless, my fastest time in 2015 (or since my first half marathon). I realize now how much work it is going to be to get back to even a 2:30 or faster.
I joined up with the rest of our group in the park, had a few beers, and took some fun pictures. It was a gorgeous day.
Eventually we walked back to our hotel, got cleaned up, and ate about 3,000 calories of crap. We did more walking around the mall before meeting back up at the hotel room with the guys. We all watched the Kentucky Derby together which was really fun. I couldn’t believe how many of them had never watched it before. I got a little teary eyed when they played My Old Kentucky Home, thinking about my mom and grandma singing that song before the Derby, every single year. After the derby, we had a HUGE surprise! Katie’s sister came up to our room to announce that she had been down in the hotel bar and she and her friends were going to come up and hang out with us…and that she had met some cool guy and invited him too because he had done some Ragnars. Well, we didn’t think too much about that but, suddenly, in walks in the mystery guy – it was DEAN! Hugs and tears flowed and we were all so happy to see him. Dean was the driver or my
Ragnar Van #2 – the only guy of our group of 6. He is the nicest guy you’ll ever meet and has THE most inspirational story too. Unfortunately, he had to stay back home in Ohio because of a work event, but he wanted to see us so badly that he worked an 8 hour shift, got on his motorcycle and drove 2.5 hours down to Indianapolis to hang with us for the night … then had to get up at 6:30 am and drive back to Ohio to work another very full day! We moved our little party down to the hotel bar and set up a bunch of tables together and played Cards Against Humanity for a couple of hours. So so so funny…and totally inappropriate. Good times. We took one last group picture before saying some goodbyes – hoping to see these faces again next year at another Solemate reunion.
Sunday morning I slept in a bit and then, after saying goodbye to everyone that was left, my cousin that lives in Indianapolis picked me up for brunch downtown. It was fun to see her – twice this year, since I saw her in Kentucky last August! She dropped me off at the airport and I headed back home to Phoenix. What a great long weekend. It was so good for me to be with these people again. It is important to connect with those that have shared a similar journey – and are traveling the same paths.