by Laurie S.
It was going to rain and I was not happy about it. All week, the weather had predicted anything from a drizzle to a downpour for the 2017 Indy Mini half marathon in Indianapolis. On race day morning, it was overcast and radar showed a storm bearing down on the course. As my husband and I left the hotel to walk to the race start, precipitation was progressing from a mist to a spit and into a light rain. Despite this, the starting line (or “village” as some races seem to be calling them these days) was lively and it HAD PLENTY OF PORTAPOTTIES. So that was a big win on the day. How often does that happen? I think I waited in line for maybe 30 seconds. Already my mood was shifting from unhappy to merely curious to see where the day would go next.
I got in my corral, which I noted was in the front half of the racers. That also never happens to me. My wave trundled up to the start line, which I couldn’t see – but I could hear it. Indianapolis takes its racing history seriously and had a real live race car in front of the wave, revving its engine. The announcer yelled, “That is the sound of American inspiration!” I laughed. Then we ran.
The course is flat, as in pancake, tabletop, mirror flat. The course elevation chart shows a difference of about 25 feet from the lowest point on the course to the highest point on the course. And there wasn’t much wind, a pleasant change for the Midwest. The race starts in downtown Indianapolis and winds northwest to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. You run a lap around the track and head back downtown. On the way out to the track, we passed the zoo, some cloggers, a few rock bands, and a some rappers. There was a scout band that got a lot of cheers. Heading into the track was a square dance group. I was entertained by the wide variety of musical acts. I was also passed by an 8 year old girl. A woman right behind me termed it “ego-destroying,” but hey, it’s good to get your kids out exercising early.
The turn into the track has a short downhill under the stands and a short uphill onto the track service road. I high-fived an IU football player on the way up the hill (clearly I was overcome by the strenuous course conditions! Go, Badgers!) and that caused immense guilt and anxiety. To wipe the slate clean I high-fived Meb when I passed him during his Motivational Mile. I felt much better and firmly in the “winning the day” category. Running on the track was awesome: it’s flat and in perfect condition. Many racers knelt to kiss the bricks, but signs were posted asking them to kneel on the right so racers could pass on the left. That worked well, at least while I was passing through. While on the track, the sun broke through the clouds and the wind picked up – no rain after all!
The way back had a similar collection of entertainment. There was some bluegrass, a barbershop quartet and a woman singing despite her amp going out. There was a group of people racing dressed as sheep that paused in front of a bar and had a beer together. They seemed pretty nice, as they gave beer to two guys racing with big military packs on. That beer was short-lived.
On the opposite side of the street sat a small house with a small front porch and a small bench in the front yard. An older couple sat on the front porch; the woman was holding a small dog. On the bench was a small white sign that said “RACIN FUEL,” a small stack of shot glasses and a large bottle of tequila. The bottle was not full.
The end of the race was marked by almost a mile of the black and white checkered flags and more zooming engine sounds. The finish line “village” was quite large. I was handed a bag and a very nice elderly woman overloaded me with mandarin orange fruit cups to put in the bag. I love these, so this bumped my day up to pretty spectacular. They also had bananas, cookies, pretzels, chocolate milk and tiny cups of Michelob Ultra. If you wanted a big cup or a can, you had to buy it – because every runner I know races with cash. There was a PR bell with a photo backdrop and a line of people 50 yards long waiting to ring the bell. The fast, flat course paid off for a lot of racers!
So, let’s recap: The IndyMini is fast and flat, you get to see a wide range of musical acts, Meb has a Motivational Mile, the race organizers like “villages” and there are fruit cups at the finish line. My mood went from disgruntled to sunny, like the weather. And no, I don’t know if tequila works as racing fuel.