One America 500 Festival Half Marathon-Indianapolis, Indiana
Saturday, May 5th, I ran the 31st annual One America 500 Festival Half Marathon in Indianapolis, Indiana. This race kicks off the 500 Festival which is a series of events leading up to the Indy 500. I flew into Indianapolis on Friday and was picked up at the airport by my friend Dusti and her kids. Dusti is the wife of a student/professor at MUA on Nevis which is how I met her. Her husband is now doing his clinical rotations in the U.S. and he met us there and raced also. After she picked me up we checked into the hotel and went over to the expo to pick up our race packets. Our packets were full of future race flyers, samples of lotions, and snacks, coupons, information about the race, race bib and timing chip. We walked around Indy for a while and then settled into the Hard Rock Café for dinner. We each ordered one of the pasta dinners and went back for an early night’s rest. The weather outlook was looking grim on Friday night but I was hopeful that the rain would hold off for us. The morning dawned humid but cool with no rain. After a quick breakfast we all head over to the race start. We were in corral M which was right in the middle. We waited in our corral like a bunch of caged animals while beach balls were bounced around over the heads of the crowd. After the Indiana State song and the National Anthem the race kicked off at 7:30 a.m. It took us only 10 minutes to get up to the starting line. The race was slow to go at the beginning with all those people. At mile one I was at a 10 ½ minute pace. I needed to step it up but it was so hard to get around people. I was getting cut off and stuck behind walls of people running together. It was difficult to get around them. I now know why they have this race in Indianapolis before the big NASCAR race…it is truly like racing down the track swerving in and out of lanes of people trying to pass and not get hit! The crowd started to thin out finally and it was easier to pass people until the road narrowed again. My pace was slower than the last race which was too bad because the course was generally flat. Around the end of mile five we entered the track for the Indy 500. There was a small tunnel upon entering the track and the crowd went wild going through it. It was really cool to race down onto the track where they’ll be racing in just a few weekends. In some places the track got very narrow and it was difficult to get around people again. I did however kick up my pace enough to bring up my finishing time. After leaving the track there were only four miles left of the race. The race was well organized with 17 water stops, bathroom facilities along the course, and entertainment. The entertainment began at the starting line with music piped in over loud speakers. After the start line there were bands set up on the side of the street every few hundred feet which were very entertaining. The sound of one would fade out and another one would be up ahead which helped me because the battery on my I-pod was dead from the race start (I think everyone who knows me knows how much I rely on my music to get me through my races). The last few miles of the race went well and I got my time up a bit. The crowds were thick and loud, cheering us on near the end of the race. The last stretch took us up and over a bridge with the city looming ahead. More importantly the finish line was right around the corner. As I crossed I saw that my time was just 47 second slower than my other half marathon. I could live with that. I had a 9:05 pace which for me is pretty good for a long race like that. I was number 6825 out of 30,000 people! I was impressed by that! As I came through the finish area I was handed a bag for my goodies. We got bananas, apples, Gatorade, water, cookies, power bars, chips, crackers, and all kinds of stuff. I had a full bag of food by the time I was done. I also got a really cool finishing medal which had the Indy track and a little car that races across the bottom, hanging from a checkered flag ribbon. My friend Dusti bested her time by about five minutes which she was very happy about and her husband was right behind her for what I believe is his first half marathon. What a great race!