You know I LOVE to travel for races. And if it’s to a new place in the USA then that’s even better, so when I was invited to Indianapolis to run the Indy Mini Marathon, I couldn’t refuse.
Plus this trip to Indiana was officially my 26th state. Over halfway!!
Lindsey picked me up from the airport on Thursday evening, and dropped me at the hotel where I managed to convince myself to hit the treadmill for 7 miles. I find that going to the gym when I arrive often helps stave off jetlag as it wakes me up.
Friday morning we had a shakeout run planned with some locals around Indy. It was a great group and so fun to finally run with Janae (aka Hungry Runner Girl). I have read her blog for years and years, and she is just as nice in real life as she appears online. (and she made sure I got my Froyo fix while in Indy!)
The race organisers of the Indy Mini had arranged for us to do a meet-up at the expo which I always get so nervous that no-one will show up. But we met some amazing runners, and it was so much fun to hear about everyones goals for the weekend – including the girls here for a bachelorette.
With 20 miles on the plan, I made a last minute decision to run the 5K with Kim (although definitely not with her) before heading straight into the half marathon. It’s so cool that the 500 Festival lets you do this with a special ‘Mega Mini Challenge‘ – 16.2 miles and 3 medals!
The 5K started at 7am right outside our hotel, which was ideal. I find that the corrals for 5Ks are always hit and miss, and sure enough, despite starting around the 6min mile area, there were walkers in front of me. No issue for me when I was running easy for the first 8 miles of the day, but frustrating for those taking advantage of the fast, flat course.
I ran around an 8.40 pace for the 5K, it was sort of hard not to get swept up with all the runners around me, especially when I was overtaken by a small child at mile 1! But I knew it was the start of a long run and kept it sensible.
After finishing the 5K race, I was directed to the race start corrals for the half marathon, and managed to meet up with Lindsey, Tina, Janae and Glenn (Lindsey’s husband) just before the gun went off for wave 2.
My plan was to run the first 5 miles easy with Lindsey, then pick it up and run 7.45-8min mile pace for the rest of the race (and finish with 3.5+ miles easy pace). It had started to rain gently during the 5K but got heavier and heavier as we started running the half… originally I was trying to avoid puddles but soon my feet (and whole body) were drenched so it seemed pointless.
Around mile 7 we entered the speedway, the most famous part of the Indy Mini Marathon – a full lap of the speedway racecourse. It was awesome, albeit wet. I somehow missed ‘kissing the bricks’, and the free donuts given out by running legend Frank Short. However, I did spot Kim who had been given a police escort to spectate at the racecourse!
I cried as we ran down the golden mile, a stretch of the racecourse with tributes to fallen local military heroes. Their families stand by the photos, cheering on the runners. It was such a special, yet heartbreaking part of the race.
Leaving the racetrack and the rain seemed to get even heavier, but with 4 miles to go, I felt comfortable and like 7.45-8min pace was totally doable. I took cups of water/gatorade at every aid station, managing a sip or two of each (I hate cups!).
Ash (my coach) wanted me to run the final mile HARD, although all I had left after 15+ miles was a 7.20 min mile.
I was freezing after finishing, but really wanted to complete the 20 miles. So I grabbed my 3 medals, left them at the tent for Lindsey to collect, and ran a final 3.5 miles.
20 miles at 8.26 average pace – such a great confidence boost before the Edinburgh in 3 weeks.
Race Day FAQ
Packet pickup – there’s an awesome expo with plenty of local company stands as well as bigger sponsors. It was more inline with what I’ve seen at marathon expos than half-marathons which was really cool. We did an informal ‘meet and greet’ which was so much fun. I also picked up some more running fuel and headphones (mine broke on the flight).
Bag drop – I didn’t use it since our hotel was so close but the awful weather at the end made me wish I had. The process looked pretty smooth for collection despite the pouring rain.
Aid Stations – there were SO many water and gatorade stations (11 water and 5 Gatorade!), manned by really friendly volunteers and the armed forces. I am useless with cups so really appreciated that these were so frequent so I could have a few sips and move on (also it was so wet that it wasn’t obvious that I poured basically every cup straight down myself). There were also Cliff gels at mile 10.
Loos/Bathrooms – There were so many porta loos at the start, finish and along the route. I had to wait about 20 seconds for a free bathroom at mile 4ish.
Cut off time – 4 hours for the half marathon
Pacers – there were official pacers for every 10 mins between 1.30 and 2 hours, then every 15 minutes from 2-3 hours. This is a really fast, flat course, PERFECT for a PB/PR!
How much is entry? There’s currently a race weekend special of $60 until 8th May, and the 5K is $30 until then.
Post-Race – there was great food freebies at the end, however sadly due to the weather, the runners village didn’t have the party like atmosphere I imagine that it usually does. Lots of running clubs had tents with refreshments, whilst sponsors had bars, shops and food too.
Race photos – sadly not free. I was given a few but a package from Marathon Foto is $75. I wish all races included free race day pics!
Thank you to the 500 Festival Indy Mini Marathon for inviting me to take part and covering my travel costs.