First of all, why do they call it a “mini marathon”? I mean why can it not just simply be a HALF MARATHON? In my mind mini marathon is something different from a half marathon; it’s just a smaller version of a marathon, where as a half marathon is in fact, half of a marathon. And to add to that, they don’t even offer a Marathon portion of this particular race, it is strictly a half marathon. None of it makes sense to me!
Secondly, this thing they call the “Mini Marathon” is really not so mini at all, unless of course they are talking about the width of the streets the course is run on in relation to the amount of people running this race, then mini might be fitting, but they don’t. As stated in this post, this race is currently the largest half marathon in the United States and therefore the word “Mini” seems ironic to me.
Now that I have my rant out of the way let’s get into details and specifics…
The race is held on a Saturday (always love the Saturday races!) and so the expo is held on Thursday and Friday at the Indiana Convention Center. Alex and I drove straight into downtown on Friday afternoon to get our packets at the expo – it was not hard to get to but you did have to pay to park (I absolutely hate that! I’ve already paid to race, don’t make me pay to pick up my bib and t-shirt!). Seeing as this was the largest half marathon in the US, I had some high hopes and expectation for this race expo but I was really very disappointed. The packet pick-up itself was smooth, quick and easy. We were able to walk right up and get both our numbers and shirts with no issues and no lines.
Then we walked around and looked at all the different booths. Alex had never been to an expo before but I could tell he wasn’t too impressed, I certainly wasn’t. You had your normal offenders – Sports Authority, Nuun, Brooks, New Balance, local races trying to promote, but honestly, nothing too exciting. There were a few Indy race cars on display that Alex enjoyed seeing but other than that we were in and out in under an hour.
Alex and I had plans to ride down with some good friends of Alex’s who run the race every year and know all about the downtown and race site, I think we were both really thankful neither one of us had to drive! The races started at 7:30 and they told you to be in your corrals by 7 am so we had to be up early and at his friend’s house by 6am. I had a muffin and banana when I woke up and actually intended to eat something else before the race but never did.
We got to the race and didn’t have too much trouble parking; however, I wasn’t driving so I really wasn’t stressed too much! Once we parked it was a short walk to the race site at and we were even able to stop and use the restrooms in the Convention Center! Yay for not having to use the port-o- potties and wait in the huge lines!
Alex and I were supposed to be in corral Q and Mrs. Thomas was supposed to be in corral W (they went all the way to X!!!) but due to a traffic jam of people we somehow ended up in corral M.
We were going to move but then realized we had actually been locked into our corrals (on a side note: who does that? That doesn’t seem safe to me to lock a herd of people into a corral. I mean we could have jumped over if needed but it seemed a bit excessive to me). So corral M it was. I was a bit nervous about being so far forward and not having been running. Oh and it’s very important that I note right here that it is currently sitting at about 60 degrees and 100% humidity!!! I knew from that morning that any sort of PR or good time was out the window (Alex had really wanted a PR and I was willing to give it a shot until I heard about the weather…)
At this point being in the corral I didn’t seem too overwhelmed by all the people, but I guess there were thousands more behind me that I just didn’t consider at all. We actually started really quickly; it only took about 15 minutes for our corral to get to the starting line, which really impressed me. And then we were off!
Immediately Alex and I both said we really needed to stop and pee (we had been hydrating really well because we knew it would be humid!) and so we took off at a pretty comfortable pace looking for the first port-o-potty we could find. We ran past the Indianapolis Zoo, there were elephants actually watching us all go by and that was kind of cool. We reach the 1 mile mark and we have both settled in pretty well but we still needed to pee and there was a gas station and we knew with all the people on the course even if we found a port-o-potty soon there would be a line, so we made a quick decision to run into the gas station and use their bathrooms. I felt awkward leaving the course at first and felt bad using the gas station but that quickly all went away when we realized there were several others in there as well doing the exact same thing. It was a quick, 3 minute detour in our race and then we were back at it.
So from this point on things just go completely downhill for me; mile 1 hadn’t been too bad but stopping really threw me off my game. Although I felt better having used the bathroom I came back out and couldn’t find my rhythm again. Mile 2 was absolutely the worst for me mainly because I was still trying to hold onto thoughts of running a good time and not wanting to disappoint Alex. But I was having issues with my fitness belt riding around and sliding up and down, that was annoying me. There were so many many many people, so many and it was hot and I was constantly bumping into them and avoiding them, that annoyed me. My heart rate was sky high because I was upset and irritated and hot and just really mentally in a bad place. In mile 2 I knew my race day was already over, and Alex did too.
Right before mile 3 I stopped for like the second time to readjust my fitness belt and told Alex to go on (I told him angrily of course, so that he would read that I wasn’t serious about him leaving me), but being the smart and caring man that he is he said that he was staying with me because we came to do this together and we were just going to do it together.
I don’t really remember much about miles 3-6 other than it wasn’t pretty scenery, I was irritated at the heat and all the people and the sun was coming out, I was walking a lot and I was just mad. Poor Alex had to listen to me gripe and complain the whole time. I was just so disappointed in how the day was turning out and I was having a really hard time processing it.
Around mile 6 we start heading into Speedway, Indiana where the Indianapolis 500 race track is. One of the perks of this race is that you run miles 6.5-8.5 on the Indy500 track! Despite the bad day I was having I was looking forward to this, even if it was only because I knew Alex was so excited about it. We had said we wanted to try to run the whole portion of the track so we had been taking it easy, taking walk breaks, drinking at every aid station and so as we headed onto the track we take off at a light jog. But unfortunately the track wasn’t entire open to run on. Most of the time we had to run on the smaller, inside portion of the track and with about 7,000 other people you can just imagine how irritating that was in my already hot and irritated state. So running the track became, let’s walk and enjoy the track shall we? I have to really give Alex a lot of credit because not only was this not my best race, but this was most definitely not a shining moment in my existence at all – I was a hot mess that day and Alex took the worst of it, God bless his soul!
So we enjoyed the track, took in the sights, talked some and took a few pictures. It was a cool experience to say that you ran, er…walked around the Indy500 track, not going to lie, kind of neat even in my horrible state of mind.
When we got off the track we were headed back downtown by way of back roads and not so good neighborhoods. Again, I was less than impressed with the overall course of this race – they really do win you over with running the track because everything else is pretty dang crappy! This is also the point in the race where we start seeing a lot of people being affected by the weather that day. As soon as we were leaving the track we actually were stopped by medical personal and had to stop running so they could drive through with a man on a stretcher having chest pains. A little further down the course we would constantly come upon people getting fluids through IV’s at the aid stations and many people were walking.
I should mention here that as early as Wednesday the race directors had sent out heat and weather advisories letting participants know that it would be uncharacteristically hot. They had also done an outstanding job of putting out extra water stops and volunteers. I don’t think we ever went more than a mile without water. It was incredible and they really did a great job making sure people were taken care of!
Most of the rest of the race I just remember being hot, walking a lot and feeling so defeated by the day. I told Alex at one point that it felt like I was on a death march, there were just so many people trudging along looking hot, tired and dejected; pretty much the same things I felt. We tried to run off and on throughout the last 5 or so miles but about mile 11 I started feeling light-headed and seeing as there were so many people already suffering I knew I had to be smarter than that and just take it easy. It was only a race, I’ve done plenty of races and I will do many more. I have a hard time not feeling like a failure when something doesn’t go as planned. I’m a very mental runner and probably take myself way too seriously. But I try to remind myself that no matter what, I’m actually out there doing it. Some people are still in bed on a Saturday morning and no matter how fast or slow I am I’m the one out there on the course. It’s hard to tell myself that in the moment and I’m not very good at listening but thankfully I listened that day.
So Alex and I walked it in until we could see the finish line, and then when we were about 100 yards out we ran and quickly as we could. I didn’t have much left in me but I gave it what I had. My finish time was my worst time ever by 5 minutes. I’m bummed but I was quickly reminded of how trivial that was when right in front of me a dad and his young son were crossing the finish line. The boy looked to be about 9 or 10 and he immediately started sobbing and telling his dad “I did it, I did it dad!” and the dad just could not have looked more proud in that moment. I wanted to cry, and may be doing just that as I type this right now. But that’s what’s important, finishing. I finished. I did it. It may be my worst time ever, it may have been a really bad day for me and I may never ever want to do that race ever again, but I did it.
After the race I guzzled some water and grabbed a snack bag as I was leaving the finishers area with my awesome medal. And we then went to find his friends and head home. We didn’t hang around afterwards, I’m not much for after race festivities and I really wanted to get to the car and take my stinky clothes off and just sit down and cool off!
So there you have it, the worst mini (Half??) marathon experience ever. Not going to lie, I probably wouldn’t recommend this race. Maybe if you were uber fast and started in corral B or C if wouldn’t be too bad, but overall there were just way too many people at this race for the way the course is designed. It’s cool to run on the track, sure but honestly, there are other races that offer that. I’m not saying I wish I hadn’t done this race, because I’m very glad I did; I love travelling and running new races; but I wouldn’t do it again. The course support was great, I have to applaud them for the extra care they took at the water stops and for adding in so many extra stops. But I’ve made my mark on that mini marathon and I’m not going back!
Hopefully later this week I can get a post up about the rest of the Indiana trip up! Thanks for reading this all the way through – it was super long!!!