Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Pusher, the Pacer and the Monumentally Bad Small Talk Maker in Indy

I'm sick of the car. However, this past weekend was not about me. It was about my niece, Christy. She ran her first half marathon (insert cheering and whistling here) at the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon (IMM). In short, she rocked it. For the long version, read below.

Right now in my life, I've been in need of help more than I can offer it. People have served me more than I've served them. It's been very humbling. This weekend, I wanted to be helpful. I wanted to serve. Running is so selfish for me. My runs are my me time. I'm not fast, though I am competitive, particularly with myself. I put that all aside. It was Christy's first half marathon. The IMM is a big race, twice as large as the race I had run two weeks earlier. Seasoned runners and newbies get nervous at a big race. I gave suggestions to Christy about when to go to the expo (Thursday rather than Friday), what to wear (wicking layers) and what time to leave (before 6). Trying not to sound so know-it-all-ish, the info was received well and appreciated.

Christy and I before the race

We left just before 6 to get down to the race, which started at 8. It took about 40 minutes to get down to the start. It's hard to explain the hurry up and wait of race beginnings. Our timing was perfect. We parked at the farthest lot from the start, which was the closest lot to the finish. It was shivery cold outside. I forgot to pack an extra sweatshirt in my gear bag. Oops. On our way to gear check we found a line of open portas. Score!

In front of gear check as I was stooping down to grab something from my bag, and the race director asked us if we wanted to be interviewed. Umm. Sure. We did not realise that it was a live television interview with Fox 59. Very exciting. Most newbie half-marathoners don't get to do that! If I do get my hands on the clip, you will understand why I don't leave messages without scripting them first.
Good Morning Indianapolis!
Before the start, we got in a second potty stop and lined up. It was a beautiful sunrise and a great start. The first few miles went really well. She wanted to keep under a 12 minute mile. I started my timer on my watch as we crossed the start. Christy kept the pace, and I tried not to push. The IMM is a nice flat course. I reminded Christy to look up, pointing out shops, the guy in costume, and the pretty trees. I made a habit of saying what mile we were at every time a mile marker came in view and congratulating her on her accomplishment.

At mile 5 she was doing great. She was high-fiving, thanking the volunteers and looking good. At one point she mentioned, she could keep this pace for a long time. That was a signal to me. I have found that when that thought crosses my mind I get tired in a mile or two. I watched for signs of fatigue in Christy. We crossed the 10k mark around 1:10 and kept on. Since it was cold, and we both had a lot of water that morning, we kept an eye out for an open porta with no lines. That didn't happen until mile 10. Even then we had to wait a little while.

Shortly after we had a gel at mile 7, Christy told me to talk to her until mile 10 when we would walk for a little. I'm not a great small talker. I'm terrible at it. I babble, don't get me wrong, but I like to be the one throwing the questions out there. We had been talking since 6 am, and I had a particularly boring week. I got nothing. I threw out some random boring stuff from my week, and then started pointing out things I saw. Her face was getting tight, and there were signs of fatigue.

Christy ran cross country in high school. It was obvious on the course that she had done races before. She's got a competitive spirit. She did not complain. She did not give up. I repeatedly asked her how she was doing. Is this okay? How's the pace? She was either silent or said okay. As her weariness grew more evident, I was impressed by her perseverance. She could have stopped or let up at any time. She didn't.

At mile 10 we walked a little bit. She said the race was hardest for her from 10 to 12, and it looked like it. Christy dug in and kept pace. As a race gets longer it's very easy to feel the same while pace gradually decreases. It takes work and energy to keep the same pace. Those miles were pretty quiet as her jaw tightened, I was out of conversation, and we kept passing people.

There were a few people on the course who particularly impressed me. One was an older woman wearing some loud pants and kicking our butts. Another were two couples. Three of them were taking turns pushing a man in a running stroller. They were sharing the load, running the race and helping the man experience the race when he couldn't run it. And they were having a ball. What great friends and companions to have.

There were a variety of smells on the race too: cinnamon rolls, sewage, meat, fried something, and a long long stretch of exhaust due to the cars backed up by the marathon. That was bad for both of us. Nauseating. We were so glad for fresh air.

At mile 12, I told Christy that we were looking good for a 2:35 finish. As soon as I said that she took off. Apparently she wanted to finish sooner. We passed a lot of people, and for the most part kept  up the faster pace. When we saw the finish line just after mile 13, she sprinted. I am not a sprinter. I tried to keep up with her, but she beat me to the finish by a second with a 2:33:37 as her new half marathon PR. (For the record, she did her 11 miler in 2:27.) She rocked it, and she's still taking to me.  I was so glad I could help.

Christy, the Capital, heavy medal, and me

On the way to the car, she did almost hit me for saying that I could do a few more miles.


  1. You BOTH did great! Congrats!

    1. Thank you! It was fun. I think I was more nervous than she was.

  2. Replies
    1. Thank you Maggie. She's already talking about doing another one. I think she's caught the bug!

  3. Congrats you too! It is so rewarding to run a race with a friend... and especially a family member!

    I never thought about bonking after thinking "I could keep this pace up forever!" I should watch for that :)

    And I hear you on running out of things to talk about. Ha!

    1. I've tried to reply to you a few times. Can't figure out my own blog!

      Thanks! We had a good time. We do have to run together!

  4. Congrats! I didn't know any other Chicagoland bloggers were making the drive out there. It would have been great to see a friendly face!

    Loved the race expo there, too.

    1. Thank you! I missed the expo. My niece picked it up for me, because we didn't get there until 10 the night before the run. I hope you had a good run.

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