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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Race Recap: Indy Women's Half

Spoiler alert: The course map, and what I ran.
The Indy Women's Half took place Saturday, September 19 at 7:30 am in Indianapolis, Indiana. The race was black flagged after 30 minutes. 

Swag city
Expo and race morning
We checked into the Residence Inn on the Canal, then walked a few blocks to the expo. I got my bib around 6pm (no line!), wandered around, then left. I'm not a huge expo person, but there were lots of vendors and the swag bag was pretty incredible: lotion, vitamins, snacks, coupons, energy tabs, etc... all in a reusable Athleta tote bag. After packet pickup we walked around, grabbed Chipotle, then headed back to the hotel to watch HGTV.

I set out my gear and got to bed at a reasonable time. I slept well. In fact, it was the best sleep I've gotten before a half marathon...until we awoke to a large clap of thunder at 5:40. Uh oh. I got up and watched the storm, dressed, and ate my pre-race toast and peanut butter. It was my smoothest race morning ever. The rain stopped around 6:20. We left the hotel at 6:45 and made it to the start with enough time to take a bathroom break (no lines!). I corralled with the 9–10/min mile group and waited 'til takeoff. The race started a bit late, but I wasn't listening to announcements (if they made any) because I'd started my playlist. (By the way: I enjoyed running with music.) Eventually the countdown began and we were off.

Some blurry photos! I'm the yellow blob above ^^
The Race: (I finished in 50 minutes!)
Things went pretty well for the first mile and the race was full of polite runners. I was never cut off and stayed with a pod of ladies running a consistent 9:30–9:40 pace. It felt good. Somewhere around mile 1 it started to sprinkle. I was relieved because it was hot and humid (71° and 94% humidity) and I was already wiping away sweat. At mile 1.6 the sky opened up and it began pouring. I've run in rain before, but nothing like this. I attempted to dodge high water, but gave up. You could feel the energy from the other runners and I was having fun. At mile 2.5 we crossed the canal and I saw the first flash of lightning. Uh oh. I think we all tried to pretend it didn't happen.

Under the gazebo, hoping to run more.
There was a water stop near mile 3 and someone was holding the black flag. It meant seek shelter, timing is suspended, and the race is over. We were re-routed to a gazebo-like structure to seek shelter. We stood under cover for a few minutes (I think we all hoped the storm would pass and we'd start running again–even if we weren't being timed). Another group of women ran past, so a bunch of us began running to continue on the course.

There was more lightning as we ran up to a major intersection and a cop. A group of fast ladies were running past us, back towards downtown. The cop said, "You're all adults and I can't tell you what to do, but you should turn back and seek shelter. Course support has been suspended." One woman asked if she could keep running because we could see others up ahead. He replied, "Those women are on their own. They will have to stay on sidewalks. The roads are no longer blocked off." Since I'm not from Indy, I knew it was time to head back. (Looking back, it's funny that we all wanted to keep running so badly in lightning. Runners be crazy.)

There were groups of ladies heading back and I followed along. It was about 2 miles to the finish, so I sped up and ran my miles in the 8s. When I arrived at the finish there was a line. Because everyone finished around the same time, there was a backup for medals, snacks, and roses. I felt bad for the volunteers. I was fine in the rain, but I was moving! I talked to some ladies in line and of course we were disappointed, but we understood. It only takes one terrible accident to ruin the race forever. The race directors did the right thing calling it off. 

So many snacks!
I met up with Alex, snapped some photos, and we walked back to the hotel. On the bright side, I got to take advantage of the free hotel breakfast! My clothes were completely drenched. I was able to wring out my tank top and socks. And my shoes...? Well, I'm glad I was planning to retire them after this race anyway. They smell baaaaadddd. After changing and eating breakfast, I went out for a quick 3 mile run along the canal trail. By that time (10 am) the weather had calmed down. I saw other participants getting their miles (in bibs or the event tee). I'd changed into my back up outfit so I was no longer soggy enough to demonstrate my solidarity.

Thoughts on the cancellation + some people are turds
I went on Facebook after and posted a positive message to the Indy Women's Half page. Yes, it's a bummer it was cancelled, but I had a really great time. There were some hiccups: we were confused on the course (the 5k and half turn-offs were a little bizarre, but I think the course marshals were preoccupied with the storm) and it was strange that the police left us alone on our return to downtown (no escorts across busy streets). Ultimately, those aren't things the director could control in the moment.

The beautiful hotel couch as a backdrop
I was really upset to see so many selfish posts on Facebook: "How could you cancel?" "What a waste!" "I trained months for this!" "I didn't earn this medal!" "Where's my medal?!" "I demand a coupon code for _____ [a race this event group isn't affiliated with]." I wanted to tell them to get over themselves. The race committee planned this race for a year. Do you honestly think they wanted to black flag? Luckily, the positive messages outnumbered the negative. I was happy to see many women ran the rest of the milage on their own (after the weather settled). Some even finished the course. I applaud these ladies who made it work for them!

Cheesing under a tree.
I remember my first half marathon and how pumped (and scared) I was to put my training to the test. Honestly, if it was canceled for weather I would have been amused. Maybe that's because I'd already caught the running bug and knew I'd sign up for more races? Maybe because I enjoy storms? Perhaps it's different for someone using Indy as a one-off bucket list event. At the end of the day, yes it stunk that it was canceled, but it was unavoidable. The weather didn't clear up until at least 9 or 10 (1.5–2.5 hours after the start), so even a 30 minute delay wouldn't have solved the problem.

Anywho, I had a ton of fun. I loved running in the rain and I loved the excitement and the "what the heck do we do now?!" camaraderie. (I like chaos sometimes.) I really love storms and I'll remember this race forever. Obviously, I have unfinished miles to run in Indy, so I'll be back next year.

Positive Odds & Ends:
  • I listened to music for the first time in a bajillion runs.
  • I ran a steady pace for the first 3 miles, though my GPS went nuts right before the rain began.
  • I wore the teeny Oiselle Mac Roga shorts and they were fantastic

Up Next:
Loveland Half Marathon (my goal race). I was hoping to use Indy as a gauge of my current fitness, but oh well. I guess we'll see what happens. 


  1. I agree with you! Race directors made the right call. You have a great attitude!

  2. I agree with everything you said, the RDs made the right call - safety first. Way to go on maintaing a positive attitude. Im sure in the sign up page there is a disclaimer that states this event can be cxl due to xyz - ppl prob dont read it.


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