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Monday, September 19, 2016

Race Recap: Indy Women's Half

Rooftop pool! Unfortunately, it was rainy, but the view was great.
The Indy Women's Half took place September 17, 2016 at 7:30am. I tried to run this last year, but it was black flagged just after mile 3, so this was my chance to see the whole course!  

Pre Race: Distance, Weather, Oktoberfest
Because the race was stopped last year, the race director gave the 2015 participants a discount code. This summer's been a rough training cycle (humid, hot workouts and general burnout), so I wasn't sure I'd want to run the half. Last week I ran the Run Like a Girl 5k and PR'd. It was a hilly-ish course and Indy is flat so I considered switching to the 5k to chase another PR.

Expo swag!
I followed the weather and Saturday was looking pretty miserable. Low 70s, high humidity, and an 80%+ chance of storms had me fearing another mid-race cancellation, so the 5k seemed like a good strategy. I could probably finish it before lightning struck. But when I looked into it, they were going to charge me $15 to switch! What?! I've never heard of charging to downgrade your distance. I know it was only $15, but it was the principle of spending more money that kept me in the half! Plus, I kept thinking the race would get stopped for weather...

For some reason Alex and I didn't take Friday off work (mistake), so we had to haul our butts to Indy before the expo finished at 8pm. We made it by 7:20 and Alex checked into the (race) hotel while I grabbed my race goodies. Coincidentally, downtown Indy's Oktoberfest was in full swing, so we stopped by for a beer from Sun King and I saw the only other Columbus runner I knew participating in the race! We chatted for awhile, then Alex and I headed to Chipotle for a late dinner. We were back to the hotel around 9 and watched HGTV while I set out my race gear. I tried to get to bed before 11, but didn't end up falling asleep until 12:30 or 1. I was super nervous and deep down I think I knew the race wouldn't be stopped and that I'd have to run the full 13 miles.

Radar before the race
Pre Race + Goals
I was thankful to be in the race hotel as we were steps from the start line. The forecast still looked ominous: storms were supposed to start with the race. It was drizzling as I lined up near the 2:00 pacer. I had no idea what would happen with the weather, so I had flexible goals:
A. 2:05 to 2:10 finish if I was feeling it
B. run as a "training run" (~10:45 pace)

The Race
Before I knew it I was saying goodbye to Alex and pressing play on my podcast. My stomach was a mess leading up to the race and I truly believe it was because I knew I'd have to run 13.1 miles. I was not confident in my half-assed summer training!

I knew if I ran by feel and didn't walk I'd probably finish somewhere between 2:05 and 2:10. There wasn't a 2:05 pacer so 2:00 seemed like a good place to start. I stayed with a big group surrounding the 2:00 pacer for the first mile or two. We went slower during mile 1 (GPS was a little tough to follow downtown), which was a good thing for me (warming up), but the pacer sped up after we left downtown to get back on the 2:00 pace. I fell back slowly and can't remember when I lost sight of her. Since I didn't plan to run to run a sub 2 I wasn't upset.

Photo from IWH Facebook
I was more upset not knowing what was going to happen with the weather. It was sprinkling a bit harder now, but every time I passed a milestone from last year I'd think, "this is where I saw lightning." "There's the gazebo we stood under..." The point where we turned around last year was 3.4 miles in. When I reached that milestone I readjusted my mentality from,"when will the race be stopped?" to "ok, I have to finish this."
Miles 1-3: 9:38, 9:19, 9:15

The course
The first downpour started at 4.5 as I was eating my first gel (I ate another at 7.5. I was so hungry!). I'd been sidestepping puddles for a few miles, but it was useless. My headphones popped a bit and I wondered if I was going to lose them. Luckily, they kept working. I started passing people in this section. I love running in rain, which I think gave me an advantage as I continued to run by feel.

About a half mile before the 6.5 mile turnaround I could see some of the faster runners coming back. The 2:00 pacer was ahead of me, but by less than I anticipated. I was trucking along after the turnaround. I think it's fun to see other runners in the middle of the race, but I'm glad it wasn't for more than a mile. I find myself trying to be polite and smile and it takes up too much energy! ha! The rain was still pouring and at every water stop from 6 to the end I tried to thank the volunteers. They were drenched, but in such good spirits. I really appreciated their enthusiasm.
Miles 4-6: 9:28, 9:25, 9:13

I wanted to walk around 7, but then I figured I might as well get to 8. I got to 8 and didn't realized it til my watch said 8.2, so I figured I'd just make it to 9... and then we took a slight downhill turn near 9.5 onto a busy road. We were running against stopped traffic and I felt proud. It was another strong downpour and it was kind of awesome to run through deep puddles while everyone was sitting in their cars looking at us like we were nuts. Just before 10 we had to cross a bridge and that small elevation change, plus a strong headwind made me laugh out loud. The woman next to me (who coincidentally finished right before me) also said something funny and we had a nice moment... til we turned the corner and had to run through deep-deep-deep puddles. My shoes were soaked.
Miles 7-10: 9:10, 9:21, 9:27, 9:12

Around mile 11 I caught up with another girl in a Oiselle singlet. We were both running out of gas and decided to stick together for a while. We chatted and I found out she's from Indiana and training for the Chicago marathon. We talked about Volée, how we weren't gunning for PRs (I think she's way faster than me, by the way), and how surprised we were there wasn't any lightning. Just before mile 12 she told me to go on without her. It was such. a. struggle. I was starting to breath loudly. I only had a little over a mile to go, but it felt so far. I tried to think, "just 10 more minutes..." I wanted to walk, but I knew it would take me longer to get to the finish and I wasn't going to die if I kept running. Luckily, we ran by a water stop with encouraging volunteers. And as I got closer to the finish there were more spectators telling me the end was close.

I sped up into the finish and passed someone, but I also got passed. Oh well. When I crossed the line I was beat. I collected my medal, some water, and my goody bag (a lovely reusable backpack full of snacks). When my Oiselle team member crossed the line we got a photo and thanked one another for the motivation. Alex and I split off and found the beer tent. They had beers and mimosas for all finishers and because of the weather, and the fact that most of the field hadn't finished yet, they gave Alex a mimosa, too! ;) He and I grabbed my results printout and talked about how well I did on very little planning and sleep.
Miles 11-13.1: 9:22, 9:21, 9:12, 8:14 (final .18)

My new Oiselle friend and me at the finish line

Final Stats and Thoughts:
Running in the rain is one of my favorite things and I am so thankful there wasn't lightning. I didn't want to run 13 miles on Saturday morning, but once I realized I'd have to I changed my mindset to something more positive.

Final Time: 2:02:05 (2:01:29 at 13.1)
Overall: 158 / 946 (17%)
Age Group: 33 / 142 (23%)
Splits: 9:38, 9:19, 9:15, 9:28, 9:25, 9:13, 9:10, 9:21, 9:27, 9:12, 9:22, 9:21, 9:12, 8:14 (final .18)

I'm happy that now when I run by feel (on a flat course) I can finish close to 2:00! That's a big step forward for me. This was my second fastest 13.1 and I never felt like I was racing. I got tired, but it wasn't a struggle. I'm hopeful that my goal race (which has one giant hill) will go well next month! By the way, I would come back to Indy in a heartbeat. Wonder what the weather will be like...

The butterfly medal!
Up Next: My schedule is up in the air. I'm signed up for $10 half on October 3, but my last long training group run is October 2 and I'd rather be with them. Dare I do a double? Alex and I may run a 5k at the zoo October 9, but we haven't registered yet. If all else fails, my next race is my goal race: the Autumn Blast Half on October 15. I think I'm almost ready! 


  1. Great job! That's a very evenly paced race "by feel". Once you get soaked, it just doesn't matter any more. At least the rain made for comfortable temps? What a pretty butterfly medal too.

    1. Thank you! I felt like this race was a big confidence boost. And the rain was definitely better than pure heat and humidity. It cleared up for a bit after mile 10 and the heat was unbearable. I was thankful when it started raining again.

  2. That's a really pretty medal! I'm glad lightning stayed away and you were able to finish the race. You're right - running in the rain is fun! It's like a little distraction from the usual effort running takes, plus it's a bit like being a kid again :)

    1. The rain was great. It was raining last night, but it was a very cold rain and I forgot: rain is only fun when it's warm-ish! ;)


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