I love the Mini Marathon. This is the only race I find myself coming back to year after year. This is partially because it’s an opportunity to go home to Indiana for a weekend, but obviously, I have to enjoy the race if I’m going to keep paying to run it. This is a beautifully organized race with a full fun crowd. And this year was very much the same, and very much different. So here it is…
We intended to meet our friend Eric at 4:00 at the Expo to pick up our packets and roam a bit. Race weekend with a baby is different though… which was pretty much the theme for the weekend. We ended up a bit behind schedule to begin with when Nathan caused an extra pit stop on the way into town. Then traffic downtown was a MESS. Worse than I’d ever seen. In previous years, we were in and out quickly. This year… man, oh man. It took FOREVER just to get near the parking garage. It took even longer to get in the garage. We finally parked, unloaded the BOB stroller, rescued the front wheel after it rolled out of the Jeep into a random car (thank goodness it was just a rubber tire!)… And we met up with Eric around 4:30.
Packet pickup was beyond easy, like every year. Packets are lined up by number, and there were more than enough volunteers. I had my packet in hand within 30 seconds. We took our traditional Expo photos… and it went downhill from there.
The Expo was extremely cramped and crowded. I don’t recall the space being so jam packed in years prior, but this year, there was no room to maneuver. Add in the BOB, and there was less room to maneuver. Not to mention, for a huge room of runners, it seemed a surprising few had ever actually seen a running stroller before. I had numerous people simply walk in front of me, and then look shocked that they’d been bumped. We got Eric signed up for the Monumental Marathon and then got out of there as fast as we could!
The night before the race was… different (see a theme??). Nathan starts his bedtime routine by 7:30 at the latest. So by 8:00, I was tiptoeing around, trying to get everything organized and laid out without waking a sleeping infant… Luckily I had packed well, and was able to get everything set up. I was also forced into a nice, early bedtime!
Race morning, things finally got smooth again. I woke around 4:30 naturally, so I began getting ready, and when Nathan woke at 6:00, we fed him, changed him, and headed out the door. We found a parking garage a few blocks from the start line, found Eric, and he and I entered the corrals.
A couple years ago, the Mini moved to a wave start. It is still PACKED. In fact, I never get out of the crowd during the course of the race. But, the wave start gives you some extra time, and they have plenty of different clusters of porta potties. After having a baby, this was a perk, and I was able to get a quick pee in before we stepped off!
The start line is always extremely exciting. This year was extra exciting because Meb Keflezighi was going to start off the elite runners, then go to the very back of the crowd, crossing the start line as the absolute last runner, then pass as many runners as he could, giving most of us a chance to run with Meb. For this reason alone, I was carrying my phone, and my SPI Belt worked perfectly for phone and fuel.
The JW Marriott had an amazing graphic on the side, and the music at the start was booming. Training had been rough.. neither of us had hit long distances, and I still don’t have speed, so I made sure to check our pace and kept us from going out too fast. The Mini curves around the Indianapolis Zoo and then takes you into some neighborhoods on your way toward Speedway. There is one corner where you cross paths with Mile 12 for a short bit, and we cheered for the wheelchair athletes as they passed.
Eric and I set a goal to high five the Chick-fil-A cow, and then we could start taking walk breaks if needed. Chick-fil-A mans a water station almost 6 miles in, and we figured we could make it that far. As we approached Speedway, I thanked my lucky stars that the weather was holding. The forecast had called for rapidly increasing temps, from a start of 55 degrees to a high of 75. Instead, skies were still overcast with a nice, cool breeze and a rain threat.
Running through Speedway is always fun. Main Street is super cute, and there’s always a decent crowd with entertaining signs and kids handing out high fives. There is nothing like high five-ing spectators for me. I honestly get a boost of energy each time.
Just outside the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, we saw them! The Chick-fil-A cows! And we were still going strong. I pulled out my phone for a fun selfie…
I put my phone halfway away and darted through a “Spray Zone”, which is exactly what it sounds like. At that moment, I heard cheering behind me. I figured maybe other people were enjoying the spray zone, but it was loud, so I glanced back. And there he was!! Meb!! Coming up right behind me with his entourage. One was yelling “Get a selfie with Meb!”, and I started fumbling with my phone, trying desperately to get it out in time. With my fumbling, I looked up and found myself in the middle of Meb’s crew. Literally running right next to Meb!! And he was amazing. He slowed his pace a bit, put his arm on my shoulder and told me, “You’re trying too hard.” I laughed, “Yes, I am!” and got my phone out for one of the best selfies ever.
That runner’s high gave me the energy I needed to get down and up the hill under the track that gets you up onto the track. At the 10K mark, I started hurting. I took some more fuel and just focused on keeping up with Eric. We both agreed to NOT kiss the yard of bricks, agreeing that if we stopped moving, we might not start again!
After you exit the IMS, you wind through neighborhoods again until Mile 12. The good news is that there are always good crowds. Unfortunately, I was hurting at this point. At Mile 9, I needed to stop and stretch my left leg as I could feel my calf and shin cramping. I started taking two drinks at every water or Gatorade stop from that point forward. As a breastfeeding mom, I definitely needed more fluid than I expected! Thankfully, the Mini is absolutely the BEST at hydration. More than enough stops and AMAZING volunteers. At Mile 10, it rained on us, which felt fantastic by that point.
I won’t lie, by Mile 11.5, I wanted to quit. Everything hurt, my boobs were filling with milk and I could feel it, I had a hot spot on the top of my right foot, and I HURT. The furthest I had made it in training was 6 miles. It’s HARD training with an infant. But I thought about Nathan, almost cried, and focused on the back of Eric’s head as I kept putting one foot in front of the other. By Mile 12, I knew I couldn’t give up.
One of the few things I don’t like about the Mini is that you make the final turn at around Mile 12.3. You then go over a bridge, and everything in you thinks, “I’m almost there!” You’re not. Don’t try to sprint home yet. And it felt even longer this year. Thank goodness the crowd starts building again at this point. People were cheering us by name, and soon I was in the home stretch, looking for DH and Nathan. In sight of the finish line, I saw them. My husband held Nathan up, and I gave them both big kisses!
I finished the race with immense pride. Receiving my medal, I told the volunteer, “I had a baby five months ago, I earned this!!” “Yes you did! You’re crazy!” I hobbled through the finish line area, and Eric and I fought through the HUGE crowd to find my family. The post race party seemed extra crowded this year, and the Family Meetup was further from the finish line than before… which was not a good thing this year!
As always, the Mini was crowded, fun, and well-organized. The Expo and Post Race Party felt a bit too crowded this year, but I guess that’s to be expected. The medal was extra large, as it was the 40th running, and I was more proud than ever to earn it. I will definitely be back, Indy!