I have to say: I was not excited for this race. I’ve been in a major running rut over the last couple of weeks. Not staying committed to my weekday runs, not getting enough sleep nor eating well for that matter. My lack of mileage has left me with a bitter taste in my mouth. Not to mention major anxiety about the fast approaching Chicago Marathon. So the thought of racing today was less than appetizing. Also, the remnants of Hurricane Isaac were due to strike central Indiana this weekend and the forecast was slotted to be wet and muggy. Actually, quite similar to last year. The deck was stacked against me from the get go.
After more than my fair share of whining, The night before I gave myself a pep talk and finally laid out my running gear for the morning. Rain gear included. I knew I would’ve been furious with myself had I decided to stay home. So at 515a, after grabbing a water, a G2, and a package of PB and crackers, I was on my way downtown. Negative Nancy be gone.
I met up with the girls in the Circle Center parking garage at 630a. Amy, Karen and Lori had met an hour earlier to log a pre-race 5 miler, bringing their day total to 18. These girls rock. Jaime, Kelly, her friend Kristy and I decided that 13.1 was sufficient mileage so we rolled in a bit later. I commented on how sweaty the 18 milers already were with each hug I passed out, knowing good and well that that would soon be me. We made our preemptive potty stops at the Hyatt then headed to the streets a measly 3 minutes before gun time. Though the rain hadn’t yet arrived, the air was thick as can be. Not sure I’ve ever experienced humidity that high. Blech. We made our way to the starting line (the hanging wire!) and after a quick pic, we were off.
It didn’t take long before we were all soaked to the bone. Not with rain, but with our own sweat. I had worn a hat to keep my head/ face dry from the supposed rain, but when it didn’t come, the hat just became a giant PITA. Drippage from everywhere.
I wanted so badly to be Negative Nancy from the get go, but fortunately being with my girls helped keep her away. We joked about switching to the 5k many a time. But ultimately we stayed committed to what we had signed up for. 13.1 or bust.
The race took us on a completely different route this year. There were some similarities, including our jaunt down Fall Creek, but overall the route was very much switched up. Which i quite enjoyed. It’s nice to get different views of the city since I don’t spend tons of time DT. At least I wasn’t drilling Amy with geography questions like last year!
At the first water stop, we all stopped to walk so we could splash our faces and thoroughly ingest the much needed hydration. We kicked things back up to a run, only to have one of our group members suddenly need to stop for some other reason – maybe to tie a shoe?? I can’t even remember. But it was at that time Amy said, “no Perfect Stranger left behind!” And that became the motto for the rest of the race. When someone needed to stop, we all stopped. All 7 of us. When we were all ready, we would go again. We ended up doing more of a walk/ run approach. It was refreshing to have no concerns about time or pace. It was all about logging training miles. I deemed it “The No Race Race.” We joked that we were acting exactly like the girls we hate – SO chatty and absolutely no focus. Oh well, it certainly worked. Hope we didn’t annoy too many people!
There are a few things I loved about this race. First, women only! This means that the majority of spectators are Dads, husbands, and kids. So sweet to see a different breed of cheerleaders out there. Our favorites were the Diet Coke trio. Also, running amongst women is a totally different vibe. There is inexplicable camaraderie amongst all age groups, old to young. We fell in love with one particular C.O.L. (cute old lady) on the course, telling her we could only hope to still be running at her age. There was also a story I read post-race about a woman who survived the Indiana State Fair tragedy last year and ran the race. Amazing and inspiring.
Next, I loved and appreciated all of the volunteers on the course. Seeing all the Back on my Feet Members out there is always uplifting. And there were tons of em! Plus there was an abundance of young’ns that were trying so darn hard to make everyone happy despite the gnarly conditions. I loved their determination. Everyone did a fantastic job and for that I was grateful.
As we approached the finish, there was a little struggling. Some of us were hurting, others had belly drama. But true to form, we crossed the finish line as one large Perfect Stranger brigade. We grabbed our medals and scored a (hopefully) nice post-race pic with the Indy skyline in the background. We hobbled to the park, chugged our chocolate milks, and chatted in the grass. We took one more group pic then started our trek back to our cars, laughing the entire way (there also may have been some quacking involved ;). Amy, Karen and I drove ourselves straight to Kilroy’s where we met up with the other Perfect Strangers who had ran their morning miles on the Monon. Beer, breadsticks, and belly laughs a plenty. Brills.
Sure the weather was crappy. Sure we felt like we were breathing through a towel the entire time. But with a lot of chatting, a little bopping, and a great recovery sesh, we made the most out of a day/ race that had the potential to be horrible. I left with a happy heart and a renewed attitude on the training that remains.
Oh, and my favorite part of the day? Hands down: Perfect Stranger time.