I decided last November that it was high time I attempt the Indianapolis 500 Mini Marathon again. I've done it once before, way back in 1999. I'd run the Walt Disney World Marathon earlier in the year, and my friend Julie suggested I run the Mini with her. No problemo, I thought. Ahhh, those were the days . . . young and stupid enough to think you can run 13.1 miles without properly training, just because you'd done a marathon four months before.
It was a disaster. It wasn't just that I did a half-ass of job of training, though that didn't help matters. Julie and I had never actually run together. Once we started running the race, I realized that not only was she a faster runner, but she also doesn't stop. You see, I am a run/walker, thanks to Jeff Galloway. I take one minute walk breaks periodically, and I always walk through my water breaks. I desperately wanted to keep up with Julie, so I threw my previous training regimen out to the wind and ran. And ran. And ran. Until we got to the mid-way point, which is where you run around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. That was when I got a cramp in my calf that nearly earned me a free ride to the finish line. Instead I waved good-bye to my friend and shuffled my way through the next 6 miles. Walkers passed me, but by God I was going to finish. I did finish, but it was Ugly.
I've never forgotten that race.
Last November I decided it was time to redeem myself. I wanted to run the Mini again, but this time do it my way. If it meant doing it all by myself, then so be it. There was also the motivation to lose weight, remember? And so I signed up. In the last 5 months I haven't missed a single training run. Weekend after weekend I've run long runs by myself. I ran in the snow and ice. I ran in the rain and sun. I ran at the beach. Once I was nearly attacked by a pair of Canadian geese. But I ran and I ran and I ran some more.
On Saturday it was time to give the Mini another shot. Mike and Elena showed up to cheer me on. Here I am at mile 4:
Elena wanted to run with me a bit. If you look closely, you can see that her feet aren't even touching the ground. Here's my training advice, should you ever decide to try a half marathon: Don't let a 6-year-old set the pace.
Mile 4 also happened to be the spot where our friend Garry Sumski and his band, The Gas Station Bandits were set up to play. Thanks for putting an extra hitch in my giddy up, guys.
Here I am again, at around mile 9.5. No, Elena didn't run with me from mile 4 until here, but I don't doubt that she could have.
I was all smiles by this point because I was feeling great and I knew I was going to finish strong. By the time I got to the last mile I was giddy. I usually keep around an 11 minute/mile pace. At one point during that last mile I looked down at my iPod and it showed me running a 9.39 mile! Was I fast? No. Did I care? No. My goal was simply this: to run this Mini and run it well. I wanted to be able to say that I ran 13.1 miles better and stronger in my 30s, after having two kids, than I did in my skinny, youthful, kid-free 20s.
I did it!
And now, excuse me if I don't run 13. 1 miles for a very, very, very long time. Like until my 40s.