Race Recap: Jingle Bell Run 10K

One gray and rainy Saturday my friend Marnie and I met in a parking garage in downtown Indianapolis. Marnie had on her IU running shirt. I had on my candy cane striped knee-high socks.

We crossed the walkway from the parking garage into Banker’s Life Fieldhouse (home of the Pacers) and secured jingle bells to our shoes.

And we ran. We jingled through the streets of downtown.

Here’s the thing. I’m a huge slacker and this race happened last Saturday. As in over a week ago. But I’m still writing about it!

So this was the Jingle Bell Run, which raises money for arthritis. All participants were encouraged to wear festive holiday outfits, and everyone got two jingle bells to tie to their shoes. Marnie did the 5K, and I did the 10K.

The morning really was gray and wet, but not too cold. Thankfully for my phone, which I carry in my hand so I can obsessively check my time, the rain stopped right as we started. My goal was to finish the race in around 52:30 with an average pace of 8:30.

I have this problem of getting swept up in the moment of the start of a race and running my first mile fast, which only makes miles three and four kinda hard. I can pace myself no problem on just a regular run, so I know what my 8:30 pace should feel like. I just get swept up. Maybe I’ll start doing more interval training so that I can practice running all out and then coming back to my regular pace and holding it for a few miles.

Anyway…6.2 mile course was nice. It was different than all of the other races I’ve run downtown, which I appreciated. We wound around the Eli Lily buildings, on and around Mass Ave, around Monument Circle, and finished back up at the Fieldhouse. At around mile 4 or so we met up with the 5K runners.

I love the end of a race. The part where you see the finish line and runners kick it into high gear. I witnessed my favorite race moment as I approached this finish line. I was running alongside a dad and his son for a few seconds. The dad looked down at his 10-year-old and said, “There’s the finish line, buddy. Wanna leave me in the dust?” Of course the kid said yes, and took off. I can only assume the dad slowed down a bit so his son could kick his butt. The competitive runner in me thinks that’s about the sweetest thing. Taking a hit in your end of race sprint so your kid can leave you in the dust.

So how’d I finish? 52:20. That’s an 8:25 pace. RIGHT ON! The results seem to think I finished 10th in my age group. I find that somewhat hard to believe, but I’ll take it! And 175 overall out of 576 runners.

This was a fun race. It was very family oriented, but as a kid-less runner out to hit a time goal, I didn’t feel out of place. Hopefully Marnie and I can both do the 10K next year!

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Race Recap: Wine at the Line 5 Mile

Fall is officially upon us here in Indianapolis. This is my favorite time of year. I never get tired of the crisp blue skies and the bright trees. Plus, fall makes for perfect running temperature. After what seems like months of summer, the relief of not sweating and feeling as though I may suffocate from heat and humidity is so welcome. This fall also marked the beginning of running for me again. I took the entire summer off due to a pretty badly sprained ankle, and set the beginning of August as my official start to run date.

I signed up for Wine at the Line, a 5 mile race just south of Indianapolis at Mallow Run Winery with four of my former co-workers. Michael and I did this race last year. It involves a scenic 5K or 5 mile run through some farms around the winery, and lots of free wine after the race. The whole afternoon is very relaxed, and the course really isn’t incredibly challenging.

So, now the question: how to get back into shape after taking three months off due to an injury? I didn’t want to rush back into running and just pound my poor ankle, but I wanted to be in good condition come October 6. Ashely who writes at (Neve)Homemaker, one of my favorite running/food blogs, had mentioned Hal Higdon’s training programs before, so that’s where I turned. I followed his intermediate 8K plan. Three days of the week I would run at a nice easy pace, one day I did a long run, and one day was a tempo run or interval training. Perfect to slowly bring me to racing shape.

When it comes down to it, coming back from an injury has really taught me to listen to my body. Taking a day off if my ankle hurts is OK, cutting back on mileage is OK, and so is pushing myself extra on a day I feel awesome.

So, Wine at the Line.

This is my friend Heather on the left. She is a beast. You don’t believe me, do you? It’s the crown, I know. Or the friendly smile.

This girl runs like a gazelle, and damn if she doesn’t make it look easy. We started the 5 miles together, and for a bit I ran ahead. Then Heather passed me, and then I lost sight of her crown. (We ran in our crowns.) But you know what? I crossed the finish line and she didn’t tell me her time. She didn’t ask my time. We congratulated each other and discussed running with crowns. We talked about work. I could take a lesson from Heather. I could be less competitive, not obsessively check my pace every half mile, and remember that I run because I love it, the rush of feeling like I’m cruising, the road passing under my feet.

By the way, the crowns, the cow get up? We’re two members of the Dairy Queens—only the best Chicago Ragnar team ever.

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Oh, and my results? 42.55, a new PR at this distance. Fourteenth in my age group. And I was right on my goal of 8:30 minute miles. I’m proud.

How I Survived My First Half Marathon

I almost bailed on my first half marathon.

In the last four months running has become a challenge. A pain, you may even say. Last fall, I signed up for the Indianapolis Mini Marathon, the biggest half marathon in the country. I even convinced Michael to do it with me. In January, we started our Mini training, which wasn’t really mini at all, but felt great. My first half marathon. I’m going to be a real, hardcore runner now.

In the meantime, the March time, we planned to go to Chicago for the 8K Shamrock Shuffle. I had plans to finish that race in 42 or 43 minutes, beating last year’s time of 43:59.

I’ve read around the internets that it’s a runner’s Murphy’s Law that as soon as you get into the groove of training for a big race, you injure yourself. One gorgeous Friday evening, we went out for a light jog. I took a wrong step and sprained my ankle. Guys, really. Do you know how torturous it is to watch your boyfriend take off for an 11 mile run and have to sit at home with your foot on ice? Guys, really. That’s a sentence I never thought I’d utter. “Do you know how torturous an 11 mile run sounds” would be more accurate. But no, once I started training, doing the longer distances, it felt right.

So, ankle barely heals for Shamrock Shuffle, which I finish in a respectable 45:53 without having run three weeks prior. Time to gear up for the Mini Marathon bitches!

I almost bailed on my first half marathon.

I couldn’t run for weeks on that damn sprained ankle after the Shuffle. I tried to swim, I biked a bit, even ran on the elliptical. What do you do to cross train? How do you stay in shape when you’re injured? I was at my wits end.

The week before the race Michael convinced me. Just do it, he said. Get your money’s worth, he said. Cross the finish line and get your medal, even if you have to do it walking, he said. Fine. I’m convinced. I’ll run 13.1 miles after not having run more than 7, and that only on an elliptical.

I am so glad I did. I don’t even care that I’m right back to limping around the office. This past Saturday I finished my first half marathon in 2:21:14. (Let’s not discuss my original goal finish time. It’s irrelevant.) I ran through the first hot and humid day of the year with 40,000 other runners and walkers, around the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and across the finish line. I earned my medal.

No run has ever been so hard. Nothing I have done physically in the last few years has pushed me as much. I honestly felt light-headed at a few points (at which I walked, because above all, you must listen to your body). This huge wall appeared out of nowhere at mile 10. It forced me to walk a lot right at the end. But nothing can compare to the feeling of running across that finish line, of having tucked 13.1 miles under my running shoes. A completely addicting high.

I want to do it again.

That’s what running is for me. It’s this really hard thing, this thing that I have to work at and that I push myself to improve on. But I love it. It feels so good. It hurts so good.

What is running for you? A stress reliever, the one thing that you can do easily and without thinking? Something you do for yourself, noncompetitively and at your own pace?

I finished my first half marathon. I’m so proud.

Next stop, the Chicago Ragnar! Go Team Dairy Queens!