This race, the biggest half marathon in the nation, is just an hour down the road from me. It was the 9th time I've run this race and was the most fun I've ever had. While there were nearly 32,000 finishers, it was my time with two others making this race so special.
Back in January, a former boss of mine from my previous job connected with me. Stan had recently begun running regularly and we had some good chats about it, resolving to try to run a race or two together. He then entered this race and asked if I'd like to run it with him. While I had not planned on running "The Mini" (as it is known around here), the chance to run with Stan was a real draw, so I signed up. Stan's been a friend for a long time and I really looked forward to being with him.
As we corresponded, it turned out Stan's daughter Rachel was also planning on running. Rachel had actually worked for me at that company, so I knew her, albeit a decade ago. So, all the logistics lined up and, race morning, we met at their hotel in Indy and began our most excellent day.
When Rachel had worked for me, she was just out of high school, a quiet, bright kid, working part time and going to school as well. Fast forward ten years; she subsequently married and now has three kids, ages 6, 4 and 2 years. As we caught up, she described how she discovered how much she came to enjoy running. So much so that she ran through most of her pregnancy with her second child; "I even ran two miles the day I delivered him!! Not that fast, though!" she told me!! "My midwife told me it was OK!!" Wowzers. She continued to enjoy running, a hobby she shares with her husband...that's a requirement for a lot of the cooperation to get any sort of training done! Both of them had hoped to run this race, but Craig's ITB flared up. Rachel did the training, though, and this was her first attempt at a half marathon.
Stan, Rachel and I lined up together in the middle of the throng, in corral M. We originally intended to run together. It took about 14 minutes to cross the starting line and off we went. Around mile 1.5, Stan eased ahead and enjoyed his own pace, finishing his first half marathon as well, in 2 hours flat. I decided to stay with Rachel, however. It was fun to catch up and run a race non-competitively.
The early race went smoothly. We got onto the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the signature element of this race, a full lap on this most famous of all car racing courses. We chatted with each other, other runners and enjoyed the time. Here's a video I shot on the front stretch of the IMS, about mile 7.5 in the race
And lots of folks paused to kiss the famous "Yard of Bricks" that marks the start/finish line of the IMS
We carried on and made the final left turn, meaning one mile to go. We took a walk break and then Rachel looked at me with a sly grin and said, "Let's do this!"
And off we went. I let her set the pace...and wow, did we start moving. We were passing people left and right. I peeked at my Garmin to see the pace down to 9:10, then 8:45 and ultimately 8:20 as we neared the finish line. Utter joy...she finished strong and nailed her first half marathon. Check out this photo, about 2 minutes after we finished.
It was a treat to run together.
We met up with Rachel's Dad and husband afterwards and went out for breakfast for more conversation. What a treat.
So, a great day, making something very personal out of a huge event that can be quite impersonal. I had so much fun and what a treat to be with good people, good friends, good folks for many years.
Persevere. The best friendships do just that.