Sunday, May 4, 2014

Indianapolis 500 Festival Mini Marathon 2014 Race Recap

I believe this was my sixth running of the Indy Mini Marathon. It is the largest half marathon in the country and it's the home of my half PR set way back in 2010. There was a time when I would train all winter almost solely for this half marathon. I would do bunches of 15 mile long runs and once a week run half marathon specific track workouts that built my speed for 13.1. But since then I've discovered full marathons, and shifted my winter training to marathon workouts and thus my half times have suffered. This year, however, I did not plan a spring marathon since I was dealing with an injury December through February. Once I was better, I targeted my training specifically for this race over the last eight weeks.

Goal(s):
So, what would be my race goal? Well, based on my Ravenswood Run 5k finishing time from last week, the McMillan calculator put my fitness at just above a 1 hour 30 minutes for a half marathon. So:

 "A" goal was go sub-1:30.
 "B" goal would be to go sub 1:33 (especially if the conditions on race day weren't favorable)

I knew that in Minis past, I would run about 13.30 miles for the race, so I would need to get close to a 6:45 average mile pace to go sub-1:30. I wanted to start conservatively, since I saw that we would have a slight headwind for the first third of the race and a tailwind for the last third. So I targeted a 7:20, 7:10 start with a progressive drop in pace to around 6:30/mile over the last few miles. The main thing was to have confidence that I would run some fast finishing miles, so that I could relax and run a few early, slow miles.

Pre-Race:
Indianapolis is less than a three hour drive from Chicago, but it is in the Eastern time zone, which is an hour ahead of Chicago time. So, waking up at the hotel at 4:45 ET am to get ready for the race meant that my body thought it was 3:45 am. I downed a cup of coffee, along with a peanut butter bagel and a banana. I packed my race bag and drove from the hotel to the race. I found a $10 spot about four blocks from the start line. I used the ample facilities, and checked my bag. Recently, the race instituted wave starts (15 minute apart). In races past, when everyone started at the same time, thousands and thousands of runners would mill about pre-race in the park adjacent to the corrals. However, this year it seemed only like a few hundred were milling around. This is probably due to the fact that some of the later start waves did not start for another hour and those runners had not even arrived yet.
Pre-race hanging out. Where is everyone?
I made my way to corral "B" which closed at 7:30 am. Then we had to wait about 18 minutes for the race to start. During those 18 minutes, I realized the conditions were near perfect, that I felt fantastic, and that I would almost without a doubt be able to hit my "A" goal. The one caveat would be to start conservatively. If I did that I told myself my race goal would be mine for the taking. The National Anthem was sung, the wheelchairs started, and we were off to the roar of the engines (over the loudspeakers)!
Time to play: "WHERE'S PETE B?"
Picture of me crossing the line at the start of the race.
(Hint: See guy with white hat at the tip of the red arrow).
The Race:
Miles 1 through 3:  I headed across the start line at 7:48:26 am (see pic above). Then headed by the Indianapolis Zoo and people in animal costumes waved. I believe there was an actual elephant that they brought near a fence to watch the race too. I looked at my watch and noticed I was going too fast, so I slowed down. A preacher was proselytizing and several kick-ass bands were jamming along the course. I flashed them the devil horns. I felt fantastic. 7:03/mile
Having fun during mile one!
Miles 4 through 6: These are some laid back miles through industrial areas. The wind was in our faces for most of the time, so per the plan, I did not push it. I kept reminding myself to leave something for the tailwind at the end. We passed a two-steppin' dance troupe! 6:44/mile

Miles 7 through 9: We entered the Indianapolis Motor Speedway by running down a steep ramp. Since it was steeply downhill, I put on a small speed exhibition and whizzed by a dude with headphones on. I think I must have startled him because he shouted something like "hey! hey!". Sorry dude that you couldn't hear my footfalls behind you! Anyway, this is the coolest part of the course - needless to say. The race track is pretty flat on the straightaways, but banked on the turns. Fortunately, if you ran low enough around the inside lane, it was not too bad on the ankles. Some people kissed the "Yard of Bricks" as they made their way toward Turn One. We left the course and headed back to the city and ran by a group of square dancers! 6:41/mile


Making my way around the Indy 500 track
Miles 10 through 12: I started doing mental calculations on what I needed to run for the last few miles to reach a sub-1:30. I figured that I needed something around 7:00/miles for the remainder and I would be okay. I did an endurance check and felt confident (barring a sudden injury or shift of wind direction) that I would easily be able to do sub 7:00s. The wind was a tailwind, so I picked up my pace and focused on pounding out the last few miles with conviction. 6:33/mile

Miles 13 and 13.25 There was a long up-hill over a bridge for the final 1.25 miles, then a nice little downhill to flat ground which starts the mile long sprint to the finish. Over the loudspeakers they played Jim McKay announcing the end of a Indy 500 race from circa 1969: "He's going around the last turn and Andretti will win the 500 mile race!" By the large clock over the finish line, I saw that a sub-1:29 was not within reach, but I knew that I would go sub-1:30. I ran by the grandstands of cheering spectators and my race ended! 6:27/mile

Update:  Just found a video of my finish. I appear at the right of the screen at about 10:16 (I'm wearing a gray shirt and white hat). The "red clock" on the video says 1:29:15 I finish at about 1:29:29:

I stopped my Garmin after I crossed the finish line. A few seconds later, a man handed me a medal and said "This is a special medal for the top 500 finishers, congratulations!". I said thanks and  then looked down at my watch for my finishing time. 

Results:
Official Time: 1:29:13  ("A" Goal accomplished!)
Official Pace: 6:48/mile
Garmin Pace: 6:44/mile

Place Age Group: 12th out of 1,396
Place Overall: 351 out of 28,936

Analysis: Sweet negative split. It felt fantastic to set a goal and then simply nail it. An A+ race day!

Post Race: 
I walked down the finishers' chute and collected my second medal for finishing. I grabbed some snacks, got a photo with my medals and headed back to the hotel.

Post Race with my two medals
Near the finish line



















The Future: Post-race, my legs feel like they have rebounded nicely. So after a couple of rest days, I will set my sights on training for the Chicago 13.1 Half Marathon which takes place in early June. I should be able to get in a couple of more high mileage weeks in until then. So if conditions are right, I'd like to shoot for a sub-1:28 half for that race.

40 comments:

  1. YOU ROCK! I need to borrow you to pace me for a sub 2 half! :-) Congrats, Pete!

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    1. Let me know, maybe I will pace you! Thanks!

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  2. Sounds like a great race. Congrats on meeting your A goal and for earning the second medal - nice!

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    1. Thanks. Yes, it was nice getting the second medal!

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  3. Wow! What a great run! You totally nailed it and were 12 of 1300+ in your age group. That is awesome! So impressive!

    (Meant to tell you - I beat the "I beat you" guy in Ravenswood by over a minute and edged him out again in Run to Remember by about 10 seconds. LOL!)

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    1. Thanks! I am super glad to hear you beat the "I beat you guy" - twice even! Did you say "I beat you" to him to rub it in? :)

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    2. LOL, totally being nosy but I think we all need to hear about the "I beat you" guy!!! Did I miss a post about it?

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    3. I guess some random guy walked up to Erica after a race and out of the blue said to her: "Ha, ha, I beat you!" and walked away! She saw him again when we were both at the St. Michael's Oktoberfest 5k race (and told me the story) so I told her that I would beat him for her at that race. However, now it looks like Erica is crushing him on her own. I hope she is rubbing it in his face somehow! Payback is awesome. Way to go Erica - "you beat him!" Maybe we need t-shirts? :)

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    4. LOL! Was he saying it... like... seriously? It seems odd for anyone to say that, but especially a man, to a woman! Hee hee. I am happy you guys are beating him.

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    5. Hahaha glad to hear you beat the I Beat You guy!!!

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    6. Ha ha. The story is... I came in 5th overall at the Gospel Run and places 2, 3, 4 and me were women. #6 was this man. Then at Bucktown, some guy comes up to me and asks my time and I told him. He then pointed at me and loudly said "I beat you!" At the time, I had NO idea who he was or why I was racing him. Then I realized that I edged him out earlier. Then, at the Oktoberfest run, I told everyone when I saw him that the "I beat you guy was there." He came up and informed me that he "beat me again".

      So... cut to Ravenswood. Saw him after and looked it up. Beat him by over a minute. Then this weekend, I saw him at the start and he said, "wow, nice work at Ravenswood. You got me by a lot." And I just smiled and said, "yeah, I ran with a teammate and had a good run" Then, I passed him at mile 2 and edged him by 5 seconds.

      Since Pete graciously offered to beat him for me (which he did easily) I could not wait to tell him! (And yes, Kim, he was DEAD serious!)

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    7. So that's the real story. Classy response to the "I Beat You Guy" - make it like it's no big deal that you beat the pants off of him. I wonder how he keeps entering the same races you're in? Either he races a lot or he has some secret way of finding out you're registered. :)

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  4. Congrats on the Race!! Really cool that they give an extra medal for the first 500 finishers.

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  5. Good job on the race! This was only my second year running the Mini and I love it. Keeps me running through winter/spring and it's a well-organized race. I agree though, that hour time change gets you when you have to wake up so early for the race.

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    1. Thanks. Congrats to you too! Yes it is well organized and a good motivator for winter running. However, I think I am still tired from getting up so early on Saturday!

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  6. Oh, Eastern Time! I was wondering why you were up so early on Saturday, didn't think about that.

    Woooo hoooo, congrats on the sub 1:30!!!! That's awesome! Hopefully the Chicago Half brings perfect weather as well, you're going to knock that 1:28 goal out of the park!

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    1. Yeah, that's the one downside of the race - the time change! Thanks! If the weather is warmer for the 13.1 (which it probably will be) hopefully, I will be somewhat acclimatized to it by then!

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  7. Oh wow what perfect execution of the plan! Congrats on a great race Pete! The last time I ran this there were no waves and the mass of humanity was pretty amazing at the start.

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    1. Thanks. Yes, the mass of humanity was pretty incredible in races past. I guess the "wave start" trend has put an end to that!

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  8. What a perfect race! You rocked it! I am so happy for you! And I love that you considered that you don't run the tangents perfectly when you were planning your pace - smart move.

    Sounds like the 15 min wave separations are a really smart move for this race! :)

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    1. Thanks. Yeah, at least I consistently run the tangents poorly, so I am not upset at the end when it turns out I ran an extra quarter mile!

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  9. WOOHOO!! What a perfect race you had! Congrats on doing everything just right!

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  10. HUGE CONGRATULATIONS, Pete! You always seem to execute your race plans and paces with machine-like precision. Same as Kim, I love that you were able to draw on your prior experience with this race to know that you'd be running an extra 0.2 miles or so, and to adapt your pace accordingly. Also so cool that you earned two medals for this race! I would love to see pictures of the medals some time!

    See you at 13.1 in a few weeks, if not sooner!!!

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    1. Thanks! When the weather cooperates (i.e. under 60 degrees) it is a lot easier to execute my race plans. It helped to have the 5k marker to help set expectations with my half pacing. Yes, I need to learn the tangents before the race so I can run more in a straight line! I should take a picture of the medals and post them here soon! See you soon!

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  11. Congratulations on hitting your goal!!!!

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  12. Wow great job!! I just don't even know how people run that fast! I doubt I could run even 1 mile at a sub 7:00 pace!! Btw, I did this race last year. Lots of fun for sure!

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    1. Thanks! It took me several years of slow half marathons to learn how to run them fast! Yes, lots of fun!

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  13. man, what a perfectly executed race. Way to go, Pete!!!!

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    1. Thanks! Love it when everything "clicks!"

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  14. Congrats! What an amazing time! So glad you had a great experience. I absolutely LOVE the Mini. The wave start was genius, though I chose to forego my corral to run with friends, which had us starting at 8:30 and there were TONS of walkers which kind of drove me crazy. And the two-steppers are always my favorite:)

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    1. Thanks. Yeah it wouldn't be fun if there were walkers in your path, but at least you were able to run with your friends. Yes the two-steppers are a hoot! :)

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  15. Congrats on an awesome race, and accomplishing your A goal!

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  16. OMG Pete, you are amazing! Congrats on a great race! Remember that every run should have a purpose. Rest when you need to to!

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    1. Thanks Sara! And thanks for the tips. I am taking a few days off this week. :)

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