Guest blog: Indianapolis Women’s Half Marathon
Last Saturday, my running girls ran a 1/2 marathon. I was in Mexico, sipping fruity cocktails in the pool, and yet was jealous. My friends were accomplishing a race together. I hated to miss it. Bri blogged about her experience here. And during our 10-mile run last night, Christi offered to write up a guest blog about her race. Read on my friends…
My alarm went off at 4:30am, and as I reached over to turn it off, the question of “Why do you do this to yourself, Christi??” echoed in my head, just like it has on many other Saturdays in the past. I briefly considered rolling over and going back to sleep, but knew I wouldn’t. I have peeled myself out of bed before dawn almost every Saturday all summer, and therefore I knew I would get up. It was that time again– time to go running. Today was the inaugural Indianapolis Women’s Half Marathon.
I have run 16 previous half marathons. The 13.1 distance is my race, PR-ing at a 1:47:52, and breaking 2 hours every half marathon on my resume for the past 3 years. This summer, however, has been a little bit different. Coming off an IT band injury in the spring, I had to miss the 500 Festival Mini Marathon (which broke my heart). Therefore, my first race of the year was the Carmel Half Marathon in June. That one was slow going for me, completing it in over 2 hours and 12 minutes, which made me all the more nervous for this Indianapolis Women’s Half. I wanted desperately to prove that my training, physical therapy and dedication had gotten me back to my “pre-injury” status in half marathons. As I got ready that morning, I knew only time would tell.
The humidity was not a variable that we had on our side, I realized, as I drove downtown to meet up with some of my friends (members of the “Perfect Strangers,” the amazing group of women that I have been training with all summer.) It was at about 80% at 6am. It didn’t calm my nerves, but something I was used to, considering several previous weeks we had run in 98-100% humidity, and for longer distances.
The start line was not crowded, as there were only about 2,100 people registered for the 5K and half marathon. Up front near the start, I noticed the elite runners warming up, and about 30 feet behind them, the rest of the participants started filing in. There were no corrals, no signs suggesting where each participant should line up depending on desired pace/mile. Looking around I realized there was a hodgepodge of skill levels, with even some “fanny-pack ladies” positioning themselves to start directly behind the elite runners. (Fanny-pack ladies (n): ladies who will walk 5-7 people wide through the entire 13.1 miles, making it difficult for runners to pass them, talking and enjoying their “stroll” and, of course, wearing fanny packs). I quickly decided that I needed to move around these said ladies, which would put myself in a starting position behind the elites as well (talk about a little “buzz kill” lining up behind women who are sure to run 5min miles the entire race). I said goodbye and good luck to my fellow “Perfect Strangers” and made my way forward. “Oh well,” I thought. “ I’d rather eat their dust than try and maneuver around the ‘fanny-pack ladie’ the entire first mile.”
And eat dust I did. I watched the elite runners take off at a speed that I would only ever be able to consider for a 100 meter sprint. The first mile felt OK, though I knew I had started out a little too fast. By mile 4 I wondered if this was actually the day I would die. I knew if all else failed, however, I could begin walking and wait for my friends to catch, and then join them for the rest of the race, which for about a half mile seemed like something to consider. I was wishing for the support and encouragement from my friends, the same support that had gotten me through some rough training runs earlier in the summer.
Mile 5-8 were easier, and I knew I had finally run through the “wall.” I begin thinking that I could break 2 hours this race, and I was anxious to see if I could actually pull it off. As we ran for what seemed like a decade on 38th street, the sun, the heat and the humidity started to get to me. By mile 9 I took a 2 minute walking break. By mile 10.5 I knew my “under 2 hour” time goal was no longer realistic, but I kept pushing. All the way down Delaware Street, running directly into the sun, I was doing math. I needed to average “X” minutes per mile to still beat 2 hours, “X” minutes per mile to beat 2 hours 5 minutes, and so on. Maybe doing math without a pencil and paper or calculator is a strategy I need to adopt in future races, because the time went by fast, and I didn’t even notice the pain that started returning in my right knee.
Turning on to Market Street, I could see ahead of me the 13th mile marker, and just beyond that, (.1 miles beyond that, to be exact), I could see the finish line. I took off. I finished strong and felt good about it, with a 2:03:34. While I didn’t break 2 hours, I did take 9 minutes back off my half marathon time from June, which seemed to me to be a positive step in recovering from the injury and to getting my stride back. That felt good.
But, the most exciting part about the finish??? Knowing that very shortly I would be meeting up with my “Perfect Strangers” girls and heading over to Kilroy’s for breadsticks and beer to celebrate with each other, something we had been admittedly talking about and lusting over all week long. I quickly came up with the answers to that question I ask myself in the darkness of pre-dawn every Saturday morning when I get up to run…”Why do I do this to myself???” The answer? For the adrenaline rush, and to stay in shape, and the runner’s high, and because I am competitive with myself, and for the camaraderie all runners share, and because I love my “Perfect Strangers” running group, and because I like pizza. And breadsticks. And cheeseburgers. And beer. And cupcakes. And pasta. And……