Saturday, May 03, 2008

Race Report: One America Mini Marathon

ORN: 13.1 miles, run, 2:03:45, 9:27/mile

Quick Summary What an event. This was my fourth straight year running this mega-race of 35,000 and it is always full of surprises. I shot for a 2:05 in humid conditions and was pleased with my time even though I did not get the negative split I had hoped for. I did have two conversations, however, which made the entire day worthwhile.

The Gory Details The drill for this event is pretty familiar now. Up at 4:30, wheels turning at 5:00, leave car in the same parking garage, marvel at the spectacle before the race actually starts. Running buddy Jess drove and ran the race with his son Josh who had just finished his last Mechanical Engineering final exam at Purdue around 10pm on Friday night. The joys of youth…it was not a biggie for him to sleep five hours and run 13 miles.

I was a little blasé about this race going into it. I don’t know why…perhaps the bigness of it; perhaps the warm weather; perhaps its familiarity; perhaps I was just mentally tired. I don’t know. My goal to “Run the best race conditions allow” still held, though. The mix of this blah feeling and humidity added up to shooting for a 2:05 and wearing my clunky shoes to avoid any injury.

The race went off on time. I was seeded into Corral F (out of the 26 total corrals, A-Z), so got a clean start and crossed the start line about 3.5 minutes after the gun. As I have done in recently, I eschewed the run/walk sequence on race day, choosing instead to run continuously and walk through the water stops. The early miles were smooth; my chip time over the mat at mile five was 46:13, a 9:15 pace. Mile 6 dropped to 10:00 though, as I had to make a “pit stop” just outside the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The next four miles averaged 9:20 but my 10 mile chip time showed miles 6-10 slowing to a 9:25 pace. The humidity was taking its toll. The last three miles were 9:37, 9:26 and 9:37, with the last bit of a rush to the finish line at an 8:40 pace. No negative splits today. Final official chip time was 2:03:48, an overall 9:27 pace.

Yet, I enjoyed the day, more than I thought I would. As is often the case, people win out over raw numbers. Two conversations touched me; one poignant, the other invigorating.

Along the front stretch of the Speedway, I came up behind a guy with a t shirt commemorating a soldier who died in Iraq. I asked him if this soldier was a relative or a friend. He told me the story of the loss of his brother-in-law seven months ago. The pain was real for him and I felt for him. It is a mystery to me why some things happen; why my son made it home from Iraq, safe and whole, when others do not. It is inexplicable. I could only share with him my sympathy, how sorry I was for him and, as the father of two soldiers, my inadequate yet sincere identification with his family. We shook hands and he seemed to genuinely appreciate the conversation. I hope it was an encouragement.

The second conversation began in Corral F at the start. I noticed a young woman with lettering on the back of her shirt “Run with endurance the race set before you.” That’s an alternate reading of the inspiration for the title of this blog. I walked over, we chatted briefly and wished each other well. Well, around mile 11.5 I noticed that same shirt as we were in the home stretch. I said hello again and we started chatting. Lynn is an effervescent person doing her first half marathon, her longest single run before today being one 10 miler. We had a lot in common, even to the detail of finding deep metaphorical and spiritual significance in ITB injuries. We talked and talked. Then, with about a quarter mile to go, I invited her to open it up to the finish line; she did, enjoying the sprint to the finish and she had her first HM in the bag. As we headed out, we realized we both have blogs; hers is here. Lynn, it was a treat to meet you!!!

One funny note. I got home, showered, donned today’s race T shirt and went to the grocery store to pick up some items for supper. As I walked out of the store, a mid-40ish woman glared at me and said sternly “Why aren’t you hobbled like I am??” She was shuffling along, stiff and sore from running the race today and obviously upset not everyone felt that way!! Sorry, Ma’am, I feel fine!!!

So, a race I was rather neutral about turned into a most enjoyable event. Persevering through meant everything. Thanks for listening.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like you had a good race. Isn't it cool the fellow travelers we meet along the way as we "run the race set before us." The problem is so many times we tend to focus on our own journey that we miss the inspiration of others and the opportunity to be a inspiration to others.

Lynnster said...

Joe!! I'm so glad that you found me as I was going to look you up today. Great Blog!! I'm going to blog later today! I got to share with a lot of my friends the highlights of the race- including your encouragement! We'll continue to run with perseverance! I'm not hobbling this morning! And Amen to David's comment!

Sarah said...

Congrats Joe! I love how its more than just running/racing for you. You have a way of connecting with the most amazing people. I think that may mean you're the amazing one. : )

Mary Gee said...

I am so glad you were there for the person who lost their brother in law. It is amazing how we can connect with people if we really try. And I think we should.

Great job, all the way around!

Wes said...

Great race report, Joe! You'll have to work a bit harder on those negative splits ;-) Isn't it fun to identify with people beyond running. You did a special thing out there that day, more than once. That's pretty freakin cool :-)

John said...

Nice job Joe!! Always good to read the details from the race. I can't imagine running that well in the humidity, but you did it.

We'll see what May 31 brings!

crossn81 said...

Excellent job today Joe. It is a little weird to have missed the Mini this year. Glad it was such a great one for you!

Backofpack said...

Sounds like a good day Joe. It is amazing to intersect a life for a few moments during a race, amazing the impact those few moments can have. I have a feeling you touched them as much as they touched you. Way to go!

Bob A said...

Enjoyed your race report, Joe. Glad you had a great time -- both in terms of the clock and in talking to folks along the way. I always enjoy the Bible references to running -- Hebrews 12:1-2 is my favorite. I'm heading to Lynn's blog now to check it out.

Darrell said...

I'm not at all surprised that you turned a blase day into a great day at the races.