Saturday, May 08, 2010

Indy Mini Marathon Report

I completed the Indy Mini Marathon today, though at the start I was deciding whether I should just go back to the hotel and skip it. Somehow I didn't bring the right clothes and had to wear shorts. Though I also brought my favorite jacket and a throwaway sweatshirt, I didn't dress with enough layers when we left the hotel and I was freezing. Not sure why I didn't just go back to the room and add layers, but I didn't. Maybe I thought I would eventually warm up.

Regardless, the weather reports said it was 47 degrees with 30 mph winds.

We got to our corrals before 7, got into the corrals at 7. The sound system was fantastic! We heard every announcement, the national anthem and the start. They had a DJ-type person making frequent announcements and playing requests sort of like Casey Kasem. (Though a little cheesy, it was fun.) The half marathon started at 7:38 and it took more than 30 minutes to get to the starting line. The bad thing about corrals is that a LOT of people ahead of us lied. There is no way that these people we passed would ever finish faster than 3:45, let alone before 3:15, where we were lined up.

The wind was brutal! In downtown Indy, it blew down the streets like a wind tunnel. Standing in the middle of an intersection with additional winds from the cross streets was even worse!

The one thing I do not like about this race is that it is really hard to get around slower people at the start. In the first mile we just could NOT pick up any speed! I bet by the time we got to the 1-mile marker we had already walked 1.5 miles because of trying to get around people. The wind continued to blow hard and I was still cold. After eyeing tons of shirts and jackets lying on the side of the road, I made the decision to grab a huge Notre Dame hoodie and put it on. Wow! Instant relief. I was going to wear the hood, too, but it felt a little bit crunchy and I was afraid of what might be in there.

As we progressed, the crowds barely thinned with lots of slower people ahead of us. We ended up still having to zoom around people. Early on, Barbara and I had to make a pit stop. This was not a "want," it was a "need." We skipped several stops because of the lines, but around mile 5 we just could not wait any longer and ended up having to wait in line over 9 minutes! Argh! The good news is I was not going to PR anyway, so what was 9 minutes compared to my comfort.

Shortly before we hit the Indianapolis Motor Speedway I warmed up quite a bit and was able to toss the Notre Dame sweatshirt. Walking in the Motor Speedway is very cool! This year we did an entire lap. I think the last time we did this race we did about 3/4 of a lap. The wind did not lessen in there, which surprised me. There were several really enthusiastic cheerleading groups that were fun!

Though there were a lot more bands and dance groups than at any other race I've ever entered, there were about half as many as the last time I did this race. We had about 10 minutes total of silence and the last time there was NO silence. Not a big deal, just a little different.

Toward the end of the race, the water stops were a little closer together which is great when the weather is hot. It was not needed this year, but it is very nice!

At mile 12 I picked up my pace a tiny bit and left Deb and Barbara. Between mile 12 and 13, there were several signs telling how far there was to go. First 3/4 of a mile, then 1/2 mile, then 1/4 mile, then the 13-mile marker. Very cute idea!

Before actually going through the finish corral, I waited for Deb and Barbara. (They were just a couple of minutes behind me.) The finish is very well organized! You are funneled through to get water, then a medal. Volunteers handed each of us a plastic grocery bag to pick up our food, however, the food was slim, so it really was not necessary. We received a cookie, apple, banana and a bag of chips. I would have liked something a little more substantial than one cookie.

From there we encountered a ton of photographers for after-race photos. Deb, Barbara and I did a group shot. We left the fenced in area (with lots of exit doorways) and went to the family reunion area where we agreed to meet at letter A. All of our friends who finished before us were waiting and our final friend found us without any difficulty.

Overall, this is a really good race -- nicely organized, reasonable costs, lots of bands, nice expo, tons of water stops, lots of volunteers, lots of people on the street cheering you on! The shirts are pretty nice -- though mens' sizes, the small technical shirt is small enough to actually fit me. We also got a hat in our goodie bag! The medal is just OK. The one I had from a previous year was much nicer.

The things I didn't like about this race this year: there are so many people, it takes more than a mile to get around enough of them to pick up speed; the food at the end was disappointing; the medal is just OK; there could have been more port-a-johns on the course (a long line at every single one of them); this year's timing chip was built into the bib, meaning we had to make sure our numbers showed when we crossed each computer pad -- lots of layers made that tough.

The good things totally outweigh the dings! I really enjoy this race and would be thrilled to be able to do it every year!

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