Monday, May 11, 2015

Race Report: OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon

I had Friday off, so I spent Friday morning sleeping in (finally!) and then running some errands before my flight out in the afternoon.  I managed to even fit in a trip to Party City around noon to get some last minute essentials for my outfit for the Flying Pig on Sunday (as this was, again, going to be a double weekend!)  More on Flying Pig a bit later... but in any case, I got to LaGuardia, got to Terminal B, ended up at the wrong concourse, had to take a shuttle bus to the right concourse, and then finally got on my flight, getting on the plane right on time.

The Indy Mini Expo!
We landed in Dayton, Ohio, at about 4:15pm, and I proceeded directly to the car rental stand at Alamo to get my vehicle for the weekend.  I ended up renting a pretty blue Ford Escape midsize SUV that we nicknamed "Buford" for the weekend.  The hour and a half drive to Indianapolis was uneventful, save for the fact that there are a TON of semi-trucks on I-70, and they all somehow do not enjoy staying in the right lane, backing up traffic trying to pass them in the left lane.

I got to my Airbnb for the weekend, a modest room on the second floor of a house just off the interstate, but about a 15-20 minute walk from the Indiana Convention Center and the startline (and finish line festival) for the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon.  The Indianapolis Colts' stadium, Lucas Oil Stadium, was within striking distance of the house, and was a notable marker in trying to find my accommodations when navigating back after the race.

Nuun represent!

Runner recovery? Yes please!

Running for Equality! #WhyIMini
Not long after getting settled, I headed out to go to the expo at the convention center to pick up my bib.  It was a sizable expo, taking up Halls A & B, and showing off the best that local exhibitors had to offer.  I managed to get a few more items from this expo in preparation for the Cincinnati race as well.  I met Mike from Nuun, who was the regional field marketing manager promoting the product, too, and grabbed a photo.  I also came upon Cryotherapy Indianapolis, who was offering folks a chance to try out the Normatec Compression System, a pair of leg sleeves that inflate much like a blood pressure test, and help runners with their recovery in a short period of time. After a little while, I headed out and went to the nearby Victory Field and got to hang out with my childhood friend Angela, and her husband T.R., who live in Indianapolis, and just had a baby two months ago - it was a nice opportunity for them to be out of the house (while the baby was with the grandparents) and socialize for the evening!

With the race being held in Indiana, I initially was hesitant to participate due to the strong backlash against the governor and the bill passed through their state legislature, effectively allowing discrimination by businesses against people based on their sexual orientation.  I decided that boycotting wasn't going to do anything, and to make a stand and make a difference by publicly voicing my support of LGBT citizens in the state.  I wore a "Legalize Gay" shirt and proudly displayed rainbow colors wherever I could in my sunglasses and headband!
What you wear when you want to take a stand, make a difference...
...and politicize your hobby to fight injustice! #freedomindiana

In front of the Indiana State Capitol.
I tweeted this photo to Governor Mike Pence

Bright and early, at the startline!

Fifty Staters assemble for a picture!

The course straightaways
Bright and early the next morning, I got up to get myself to the start to gather for photos with my virtual running groups, the Half Fanatics and the Fifty States Half Marathon Club.  Thankfully the meeting spots were close to each other, and only five minutes apart.  The downside - they were EARLY photos at 6:55 and 7am (and my wave wouldn't get going until 8:15)  But I did get time to stretch and take my time to get my stuff to gear check before the start!  I took my place in Corral M in Wave 3, and we started to move along toward the start.  Finally, we were off!

Inside the Indianapolis Motor
The race starts off along Washington Street and moves westward, crossing the White River, with the White River State Park and Indianapolis Zoo to the right.  Almost right at the turn along White River Parkway West Drive, was the one mile mark.  The first mile was pretty congested, with many runners angling for position and getting into a steady pace.  We progressed northward alongside the river before turning again onto Michigan Street and hitting the two mile mark.  All along the course were well marked "pit areas" where water and/or gatorade would be handed out by the race's thousands of volunteers.  We headed westward along Michigan for two miles, and I stayed true to a 5:00/1:00 run/walk to conserve my legs for the two days of racing.  We seemed to cross a few railroad tracks along the route as well - not sure if these were active tracks, but nonetheless, I had to make sure to keep an eye out for my footing, as there were definite gaps in the street where the wooden track had warped away from the asphalt and metal.

Linedancing seniors along the course!
We turned again onto Holt Road, heading northward, and while on this slightly curvy road, worked on my tangents.  We turned again onto 10th Street, heading westward along a pretty industrial looking area, which turns out was the town of Speedway, an enclave of Indianapolis, that is also the home of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  Along this road, runners encountered our first line dance group, a group of about twenty seniors providing some fun entertainment along the side of the road!

Just before entering the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway!
We turned onto Speedway's Main Street, hitting the five mile mark, and in the distance could see the IMS! I hurried along, turning onto 16th Street, the last straightaway before the turn into the most anticipated part of this race! We entered down a steep downhill into the interior of the venue, and then ran about a quarter mile through an interior track before finally starting to run on the oval. And that racetrack was AWESOME. The asphalt was so soft and smooth, it felt like running on trails. I clocked two of my fastest miles while running inside the Indy Speedway, stopping only momentarily to take a picture at the eponymous Brickyard, where I stopped to kiss the bricks before continuing on my way.  Kissing of the bricks is an Indianapolis Motor Speedway tradition, started in 1996 by Dale Jarrett, paying homage to the fabled history of the place.  It's said to bring good luck!

Kissing the brickyard!

By the time we left the Speedway, we were about 8.5 miles into the race, and we made our way out through some side roads before getting back onto 10th Street, for a two mile stretch that was probably one of the more forgettable parts of the course.  My friend had warned me that parts of the course went through some less desirable neighborhoods, and this was evidence of it - just not very scenic for this stretch of the race.  By mile 11, I decided to pick up the pace and just run out the last two miles as best as I could.  The course returned to White River Parkway West and then crossed a bridge over the White River onto New York Street all the way to the finish line just after Blackford Street.

I completed the course in 2:15:04, still a very consistent pace based off the results of the previous three races.  A first - after getting our finisher medals, we were given bags that we could use to throw our food and waters that we were getting through the finisher's chute!  I made my way into Military Park to walk off my exhaustion a little bit and then found my way to the massage tents and fell in line, where I waited about 15 minutes before getting to a table and getting a nice ten minute massage by a rather attractive masseuse named Addison.  I think he gave me extra time - his boss was not happy that he was spending too much time with me rather than working through the rest of the runners in line... but of course, I was not complaining.  AT ALL.  Hahahaha :)

While in line, I met a guy named Tony who was very appreciative of my support of marriage equality and gay rights from my shirt.  He informed me that minutes earlier, he proposed to his boyfriend of two years, Jacob, at the finish line of the Indy Mini, after they both ran the race together.  A really touching way to end the race, and a great moment that I was so thrilled to know about! 

I got in touch with three other runner friends of mine who had coordinated travel between Indianapolis and Cincinnati and gave them an approximation of time to be ready at their hotels for me to pick them up before I headed back down to my airbnb for a quick shower and pack-up of my bag, and then I was off to go grab them to head off for our next excursion an hour and a half away in a new state... Ohio!

Earning a medal for my 30th Half marathon!
#victoryheadstand at a necessary spot! :)

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