Give me a "P"...Give me a "R"...What's that spell...? We'll get to that...
I have been the voice of the race for the last 8 months. The race director, Steve Tomboni, asked me to come record the commercial in the Spring. "My name is Chris Day, I used to weigh 310 pounds. I knew I had to change my life. And with the help of Muncie MultiSport, I was able to complete my first 5k, 10k, Sprint Triathlon, and I can't wait for this year to try the Muncie Mini Marathon". It was an honor to be asked to do the commercial, and many of my friends have commented all year that they had heard it. Then, without any expectation, Steve emailed me last week to tell me that I was going to be presented bib #1 as a thank you for my help promoting the race! Very cool. No money out of his pocket, just a nice gesture, that got me LOTS of comments today. The last few days, I had joked that I had some Kenyan blood in me, and that I was going to line up at the front of the field and be the rabbit for the first 100 yards. However, today, my joke turned into, "I was the only one that showed up for qualifications!" Before the race started, I got some laughs by walking around saying, "Excuse me, Pole Position coming through!". Good times!
Race morning started with helping the YRC president, Ted Johnson, set up a tailgate near the finish line so that we could party after the race. Molly joined us around 8 a.m. as she planned to run the 5k (yay, she's racing again). As others arrived, we started getting juiced up, and found our way to the start line for an 8:30 prerace meeting. However, problems with the speaker system made it impossible to hear anything. There were instructions, an invocation, and the national anthem, but I'm pretty sure no one heard them. A good crowd. Over 200 in the half, and another 120 in the 10k and 120 more in the 5k. But a lot of standing around until go time.
9 a.m., and we're off. I lined up near the front so that I didn't have to fight through anyone (and I had pole position). So, even though we had chip timing, my start time was just seconds off of the horn. Started on University Avenue by the Hospital, and headed East toward campus, cut through the quad by Beneficence, and onto McKinley North. Mile 1 clicked off fast at 9:16!
Passed the bell tower and then East on New York, past Noyer, Studebaker, and headed toward Minnetrista. Not much in the way of crowd support, but a few familiar faces. Mile 2 was 9:34. Winding through Minnetrista, and out the other side headed toward McCullough park. The cool thing about this area is that you're headed toward a turn around which means the leaders are coming right back at you, so you get to see everyone. I'm having a great time at this point, cheering on others, talking it up with people who are passing me, high fiving every YRC shirt in sight. Mile 3 was 9:41.
After the turn around, now you can see everyone who is still behind you, but the 10k folks are blended in there too because they're on the same route at this point. There are some tough hills to get out of the park (pictured) and back to Minnetrista, but I'm solid with Mile 4 at 9:57. Great volunteers around the area as we pick up the trail and catch the sidewalk alongside Wheeling Avenue (picture) as we head South toward the High Street Bridge. Pretty solid through this area, and catch Mile 5 at 9:51.
As we jump on the trail on White River Blvd, we get a nice downhill, but by the time we come back up at the Jackson Street Bridge, the legs are starting to feel it. Took my first Gel here at the water station. We stay on the road after some funky cross country area near the bridge construction, and turn North onto McKinley headed back toward campus. Mile 6 is off just a tick at 10:04. We turn West onto Gilbert and head toward the finish line...but it's way too soon for that. I've got to run that course again.
Molly was waiting for me at the completion of lap 1. She had already finished her 5k, and high fived me as I turned into the parking lot which runs us through the hospital parking garage, and back out onto University by the finish line. I caught David Rawls here in the garage. David and I met last year, and finished the Monumental Marathon within yards of each other. He and I seem to cross paths quite often.
DeJaVu, we're back on the exact same course for lap two. I'm still very solid. Mile 7 was 9:42, and Mile 8 was 9:57. Near the end of this mile, I saw Pete and Amy for the first time. They were cheering me on, and trying to figure out where everyone was. I told him I was solid at 9:50 pace, and feeling good. Little did I know, that was about to change...As I got into Minnetrista again, I was really feeling it in my legs, and got passed by a few more than I care to admit. Mile 9 was 10:17.
Into the park and headed to the turn around again, I was pleased to see many friends still coming out of the park, but remember the hills I mentioned earlier, yeah, they were still there. I could feel myself slowing down, and sure enough, Mile 10 was 10:42. As I'm on the Wheeling sidewalk headed toward the trails, I was excited for the downhill, but dreading that Jackson Street bridge hill. I was aware that my goal of 10 minute pace was slipping away, and was therefore going to be okay with walking that hill and just hanging on for a great PR. My goal for the day was 2:18, and I knew I was going to get that. Mile 11 is a little slower at 10:47.
So, I'm coming up to the Jackson Street bridge, totally ready to start walking when without warning I hear, "Come on Bud!". What? Are you freaking kidding me? It's Pete! WTH? He and Amy chose to come to that spot for God knows why (to help me obviously), but how can I walk now? So I struggle, barely running to get up the hill, and Pete has the nerve to say to me, "Don't think about the full marathon next weekend". SERIOUSLY? I hadn't thought about that at all until he mentioned it! Thanks a lot! However, he helped me up the hardest part of my race, so how can I be angry? At this point, I refused to walk, so kept the slow jog on, but Mile 12 was easily my slowest at 11:22.
So, here we are, turning onto the home stretch and I'm thinking I've got a mile left, but I'm looking down the road and it doesn't seem that far. And guess what? It wasn't! As I see the sea of yellow (YRC shirts) waiting for me, I hear Molly above everyone else, yelling "You're going to PR by like 12 minutes! Go, Go, Go. You're going to do 2:10" WHAT? 2:10. My goal was 2:18, My dream was 2:11 (ten minute pace), but I had stopped looking at my watch after mile 12. Had I picked up the pace that much? Who cares. I see the finish line, and am striding out for it, and with a 13.1 mile smile, I cross at 2:10:16! ...2:10:16? How the...hmmmmmm. Yep, my Garmin measured the course short. 12.84 miles? Hmmmm?
So now the mind games start. Did I really do a mini marathon in 2:10:16, or do I add 3 minutes for what should have been another quarter mile to go? You know what. I wish it measured out correctly, but after talking to several others, I came to realize...it's not that big of a deal. I would have PRd anyway. I know what I'm capable of, and today was the best race I have ever run at this distance. I'm not going to let this get me down in the slightest.
Highlights of the day: I am in awe of my wife for getting moving again, and deciding to do it completely on her own. I am inspired by so many of my YRC friends, many of which had PRs today as well. Some that I have known well for years, and others that I honestly just met today. It is an amazing running community that we've created, and the support is unlike anything I've been a part of. Celebrating together afterward at the tailgate was the icing on the cake.
Disappointments of the day: I do wish the course had measured 13.1 on my watch, but not a huge deal. Every finisher got a magnet. A magnet? I don't get that. For many, this was their first half marathon, and all they have to show for it is a magnet. Really should have had finisher medals for everyone! Molly had the brilliant idea to punch a hole through the IU logo, and string it to a lanyard...instant medal! And along those same lines, Cotton Tshirts are great for 5ks, but tech shirts are appropriate for this level of sport.
As I write this tonight, my legs actually feel pretty good. Feet are a little sore, but I think I'll feel it a little more in the morning. Should get some good rest this week, and maybe just 1 or 2 short runs, and then in just one week...MONUMENTAL MARATHON!! Stay tuned!