Monday, May 6, 2013

Race Recap: 500 Festival Mini Marathon

16 weeks ago, I decided to run a half marathon. Saturday, I ran it. I'm happy to report that I accomplished my goal, which was to run without stopping. I finished in a time of 2:21:11, with a pace of 10:47. I placed 14,940 out of 30,096 finishers. Yup, I'm average. And totally OK with it. 

Here's my recap of raceday...

We started bright and early Friday morning, loading packed bags, puppy, puppy supplies, and ourselves into the Jeep for the 5-ish hour drive to Indianapolis. I'd made lists, I had checked them twice (more on that later...), and off we went. 

We stopped off to pick up my mom, who had decided less than a week earlier to fly in and cheer for me! After a stop for lunch, we dropped pup and mom at the hotel and headed off to the packet pickup and race expo.  Pickup was insanely smooth. And by smooth, I mean, no line, no wait, easy!  The expo? Sucked. I've never been to an expo where the only option was to buy stuff. Isn't the whole idea of an expo to wander around and collect kitsch freebies?

13 hours until race time!

We left packet pickup and headed out to dinner (where I consumed at least 3 glasses of water... hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!), and then back to the hotel for an early night's sleep. Or so I thought.

I went to lay out all my gear, and suddenly realized my shorts were nowhere to be found! Dumped the entire content of my suitcase, checked every item (which proved to be a good thing), no shorts. Off to Dick's Sporting Goods I went...

New shorts? Check.

Standing at the register and suddenly realizing I also forgot my sports bra?  Check.

New sports bra? Check.

So...  after that little debacle, I was finally ready. 

Gear ready to go. Shorts and shirt: Nike. Sports bra: Under Armour. Socks: New Balance. Shoes: New Balance Minimus Zero. Compression: CEP Calf Compression Sleeves. And added to my Bib: Isaiah 40:31 and <3 Boston.

Race morning, the alarm went off at 4:30. Let's be honest, I didn't sleep that well anyway. Strange bed, excited energy... I was ready! We stayed at a Residence Inn, which has a full kitchen, so I tried to make scrambled eggs with ham, which I've had fairly often before a long run. We burnt them, so I opted for a banana, some dried fruit, and a Stoneyfield Smoothie. And coffee. Always coffee.  I also drank about 24 oz. of water with a nuun hydration tab dropped in. They are pretty awesome. They come in good flavors, add electrolytes to your water, but don't add sugar. 

Now, normally, I have to pee 800 times before I run. Really. My body just keeps saying, "You have to pee." I tell it 799 times that I don't. It doesn't work.  Race morning, my body said, "You're anxious!!!!" Yes, I actually puked. Just a little. And laughed at myself. Clearly, I was just too full of anxious energy about how competitive I would be... ha. 

We loaded up puppy and puppy supplies (again), and headed downtown. I said bye to the family and headed off to meet my friend Eric, my long-distance training buddy (he lives in Indianapolis).   On the way, I ate two PowerBar Performance Blends. They are delicious, didn't upset my anxious tummy, and gave me energy to go. Highly recommend! The apple, strawberry, mango flavor is great.   I also had two PowerBar Gels in my back pocket. I like the ones with caffeine, but they are available without.

The corral experience was surprisingly easy. I've done a 5k with 10,000 people in it, and the corrals were jammed like sardines with people pressed against each other and shoving along.  The Mini-Marathon has 35,000 participants, and yet I had room to breathe, stretch, tie my shoes, etc.  AND, everyone else understood that we should walk, not run, to the start line!

Fun side story..  we both had to pee, but saw port-a-pots with no line before we'd crossed start, so we jumped out, peed, and jumped back in, no official time lost!

In the corral. I call this our "we're happy because we underestimate what we're in for" face. 

Off we went!!  The Mini Marathon is obviously jam-packed. We told ourselves to start slow for two reasons.. 1. we didn't want to waste our adrenaline and be burnt out at the end, and 2. you have to pass a TON of people.   Like any race, people seed themselves too high, don't pay attention, or see themselves because they thought they would train, don't, and start walking after two miles. Whatever the reason, you spend about 12 miles weaving through the crowd. 

The weather was fantastic! Couldn't have been better. 50s, very light wind, cloudy. The water stations are beautifully laid out. There are 11 water and 5 Gatorade stations on the course. I made a point to stop at each one, and felt perfect. They also have a Clif Energy Shot station, but since I had my PowerBar Gels, which I know work, I avoided that one. Why risk it?

The course heads out past the Indianapolis Zoo (mmmm.... poop smell..) and then off into the town of Speedway. The majority of the course is tree-lined or winds through neighborhoods, and people love to come out and cheer. There are actual groups of cheer squads, bands, volunteers, etc. plus people who just come out of their house to watch. These groups were awesome!! Some would read your name off your bib and yell just for you, "C'mon Stacey, you got this!!" It definitely keeps you moving. 

Right before mile 6, you enter the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Down under the track, up into the infield, and out onto the famed oval you go. As we entered the track, a video screen was showing the live race coverage and I pointed out to Eric, "Hey look, those people are already done!" 

I worried this part would be boring, but they had several cheer squads, and as you approach the famed Yard of Bricks, the music is blaring, the infield screens are showing highlights, and you get a nice adrenaline burst to get you through.

Mile 7.5-ish. Feeling good on that famous oval.

Exiting the Speedway, you definitely feel good that you're done, you've completed 8 miles, you're in the homestretch. The feeling didn't last long..  it took that 9 Mile marker forever to show up. It took the 10 Mile marker forever and a day. I was pretty sure the 11 Mile marker was lost, and we were doomed to run forever.  I've seen a shirt many times that says, "There will come a day when I can't do this. Today is not that day."  I can't lie, "Today is not that day." became my mantra. It worked.   Well that, and telling Eric to "Just keep swimming" while making swim motions with my arms. 

12 Mile. Crossing that one, I knew I was good. I knew I would make it. Heck, I was hyped. For the first part of mile 13, you actually backtrack the early part of the course. People were *still* there to cheer! Then you round a corner and go up over a bridge. 

As I reached the crest of the bridge, I wasn't just relieved, I was amped. You look down, and you can't quite see the finish line, but you know it's there. The final half mile is lined with checkered flags, and people. Other finishers, families, people cheering and yelling. Music blaring. And you can see the Mile 13 marker. The one that says you've got one tenth of a mile to go. I descended into the last leg, feeling new life in my legs.  About two or three tenths of the way to go, we could see the finish arch and both started sprinted.  I was smiling while running! Weird, right?

Crossing the finish line was awesome! Just knowing I finished a half marathon, I made my goal of running without stopping, and I had a friend along for the ride was great. I'm already thinking about which half to do next!

After. We survived!

Apparently, taking a puppy to a half marathon is a fantastic way to ensure she sleeps for the next 12 hours. I heard she had quite the stimulating morning, sniffing people and things. So much so that when my family climbed into the bleachers to watch us cross the finish line, my husband had to actually carry her!

 You'd think SHE just ran 13.1 miles!

 Overall, it was a great experience. I loved my training plan, and most of my gear. Nike shorts are awesome, I'm obsessed with anything Nike Dri-Fit.

I HIGHLY recommend calf compression sleeves for both running and recovery. I had some serious knots in my calf toward the end of training due to my "pawing"form. Those in turn pulled on my shin, and my left leg was miserable the week leading up to the race. The calf sleeves made everything total bearable and are now a staple of my running gear. I used CEP and loved them.

For energy/nutrition, I definitely recommend PowerBar Performance Blends before and Gels during. They are gluten-free, woot! And give you the energy you need. I had a Gel at about Mile 4.5 and Mile 9, and it was perfect. The Green Apple flavor is pretty darn good too.

nom, nom, nom... PowerBar goodies to keep me moving!

My only disappointment was my shoes. I ran in New Balance Minimus Zeros. They are a minimal, zero drop shoe. The minimal part I love. The zero drop I love. The seam that they for some reason decided to place under my foot, right at the ball of my foot? I did not love. Over a shorter distance, it wasn't so bad. Once you crack 10 miles, it was miserable. Awful. Horrendous. I could barely walk to the car. And I could barely walk the rest of the day. I ended up walking on the outsides of my feet just to avoid the pain from that seam, which of course made the rest of my feet hurt! I wanted to love my Minimus. I did love them for about 13 of 16 weeks. But my first post-race goal will be to get new shoes and break them in so I can go find and run another Half.

Finishers medal. Who's joining me in 2014??

Update: I contacted New Balance and received a very polite response telling me that it was most likely my shoes were defective. Despite the heavy use, they offered to replace my shoes. I ordered a new pair of Minimus Zero, and ran the Ann Arbor Half Marathon in them. The seam is still in the same spot, but has not caused any pain or problems. I am still currently running in Minimus Zeroes (as of July 31).