The Indy Mini-Marathon was Saturday, and I met my goal of finishing the race, plus I was able to run/walk every other mile! After I walked the first mile, I thought, “I wonder … could I just ‘jog’ a little bit and see how that feels?” Many of you know that was my original plan, but I didn’t train the way I wanted to, so I had given up hope of achieving that goal. Plan B was that I just wanted to walk to a finish. Anyway, I took off at mile 2 and finished it jogging, and then decided to walk, then run the next mile, etc. By mile 11, I was unable to run the whole mile, so I alternated at will, with the last mile or two being almost completely walked. But I made it! And I even got to “run” about half! I may run slower than some people walk, but I gave it my all.
It was a kick just to see my name on the final results on the Internet, even if my performance was less than stellar. I had an official bib pinned on my shirt, official electronic timing chip on my shoe, and official pre-race nervous jitters, even if I did have an official start point at the back of the back of the back.
We left Muncie before dark. When we got there, the first thing most of us did was use a porta-potty. I stepped into one and saw a puddle just under the urinal. Yuck. I consciously placed myself over the toilet and away from the puddle. But when I moved, my MP3 player dropped off the clip and fell INTO THE PEE. Before I knew it, I had yelled “CRAP!” and everyone outside waiting on me cracked up. So I had to wipe it off and just go on, but I was so grossed out I cannot verbally express it.
It was fun to see the streets blocked off and feel the party atmosphere before the race. It took us a full 30 minutes just to get to the starting line. In the meantime, they hit big beach balls through the crowd and played music. Everyone cheered when we walked under the official start banner.
The first mile took us on a bridge over the White River and through Indy. We did two laps around the Speedway track, where we saw official pace cars. Patrick Dempsey is driving a pace car this year, and my girlfriends are plotting ways/means to get down there to see him.
We ran through run-down neighborhoods on streets lined with garage bands of dubious talent but rocking volume. One “band” consisted of two guys, one of which had on a costume and beat a bass guitar with a drumstick as they chanted “Run. Run. Run.” in a monotone dirge. There were evangelists yelling at us through megaphones, garnering all kinds of reactions from the crowd, all different but all negative, that I heard. (Good job, guys.) There were people cheering us on with their pit bulls at their sides, toasting us with open beer bottles at 10:00 a.m. Even though most of Indiana is pretty flat, there were times when you could see thousands of people ahead of you in the race. That was awesome.
About every mile, I kept seeing this large sign running vertically instead of horizontally that I could not figure out. I kept reading to myself over and over when I’d pass, but then I’d just give up and keep going. “Pita-ria.” “Pitar-ia.” Finally, it hit me why there were so many of these weird restaurant signs or whatever it was: “Pit Area.” Oh.
Also, I began to notice certain people would pass me, then I would pass them, then they would pass me. It became a personal challenge not to let them pass me for good. One in particular was a guy dressed in a big yellow Charlie Brown shirt with a black zig zag on it. We “played tag” a lot. About the third time this happened, I was determined to beat Charlie Brown.
Other highlights: I lost my sunglasses, was cheered on by a group of cheerleaders chanting, “We know you’re dying; (clap, clap) keep trying!” My hands swelled like sausages, my feet have huge blisters, and after the race was over, one of our teammates had to be taken to the hospital for heat exhaustion. So there we were, sweaty, gross and exhausted in the emergency waiting room and hospital cafeteria, waiting to hear how she was and for her husband to come there. He made it; she had improved, and we went home. Even though I can hardly move today, feeling like I’ve been in an automobile accident, I’m so, so happy!
One last thing: the first half of the race, I did a lot of praying and praising. I felt so good physically, emotionally and spiritually. Around the last three miles, my stamina was fading fast, and I started to doubt by the last mile if I would really make it or fall down. I’m not joking. But my husband, who had run another race, showed up to cheer me on, and friends along the road called my name with huge smiles on their faces, and I made it across. This, of course, reminded me of all the scriptural references to running the good race among the cloud of witnesses. Today as I wrote my piece for Wednesday’s Internet Café, I noted 10 things this mini-marathon has in common with “the ultimate long-haul.” Please come by and read that Wednesday!