It was the inaugural year for this event and I had been signed up since early January, if I remember correctly. I figured it would be a small race but didn’t realize they were limiting it to 500 participants. It also had a 5K & 10K option.
I drove to New Castle the day before to get my packet. Its less than an hour east of Indianapolis and although I could have picked up my packet race morning, I wanted to see where I was going, was there any road construction I should know about & how long would it take me…knowing my drive time would be quicker oh so early in the morning.
Packet pick-up was at the YMCA. I didn’t have any problems finding it and although it wasn’t supposed to open until 5pm, I saw other people coming out with packets so I went in around 4:45. The course would be (mostly) a double loop of the 6 mile route. I’ve never done one like that & must admit I had some concerns. Don’t know why; I’m just a natural born worrier.
As I was driving back to Indy, I noticed that the Steve Alford All-American Inn had advertised a King bed room for only $55. I was so tempted. The extra 1 1/2 hours of sleep sure would be nice. But decided to stay with the original plan. Side note: Steve Alford is from New Castle, played basketball at IU and now coaches at the college level. He’s the local celebrity to say the least!
I got up at 4:00AM (UGH!), took a quick shower and ate my usual pre-race meal of peanut butter on wheat toast, a banana and a Starbuck Frappuccino. I went to the bathroom as many times as I could before leaving the house at 5:15AM. This was really too soon to leave but; 1)I wanted to give myself some wiggle room in case I needed a bathroom stop, 2) you had to pick up your timing chip that morning and 3) there was a pre-race meeting at 7:00AM. I was pretty sure the meeting would be worthless & I was correct.
I did stop at a rest area in Greenfield on the way and used the bathroom again. I think mentally I was making my stomach more nervous because this wasn’t my regular routine. I got to the park with plenty of time, got my timing chip and then got in line for the bathroom. Luckily this was an indoor facility – The Smith Building – but only one women’s restroom and there were only two stalls. At about 6:50AM I ate a packet of Sport Beans and then waited for the meeting. Just like the last event I did with this organization, the main purpose of the meeting was to go over the course. If you aren't already familiar with the area, are you really going to remember all of this 30+ minutes from now while you are out there? I highly doubt it. After a few minutes I went back inside to wait and get in the bathroom line one more time.
There was a nice sunrise to start the race. It was cool and windy. I had taken a throw-away and some gloves but decided not to fool with them. All three distance started together and the race started on time. Probably two-tenths of a mile into it we are running up our first hill. There was elevation chart so I had no idea want to expect. I told myself to run the hills the first time around but could walk up them during the second loop if I needed to. I had my iPhone with me and there were a couple of things along the course that I wanted to take a picture of but decided against it. I thought if I really wanted to I could just go back after the race and take them then. The course was well marked but the roads through the park/golf course were in bad shape; lose gravel and lots of pot holes. Between miles 2 & 3, I felt like I needed to make a bathroom stop but the restrooms in the park were still closed for the winter! Luckily, this feeling eventually subsided. The first loop wasn’t bad although the wind was still crazy and it wasn’t at my back very often. Some of the roads in the park were banked so I tried to stay in the middle when I could.
Since this was a small race and I’m a slower runner, I approached the second loop alone. And I was confused at one point when some runners were headed back toward me and was worried that I was doing it wrong. I remember passing the 7 mile marker and then some time later looked at the time on my iPhone and thought I was having the slowest race of my life in quite some time. The phone said that it was 9:00AM and I still hadn’t seen the 8 mile marker. Seriously? Were the hills really taking that much of a toll on me? Then I remember that we started at 7:30 and not 7:00 so I wasn’t 30 minutes behind…but I still hadn’t seen the 8 mile marker. Well I must have completely overlooked it because when I came upon the 9 mile marker I certainly felt better about things. The strangest thing about the course was an extra “turn around” on the second loop. It was on the south side of the road but they didn’t want you to do it until you had gone through the main turnaround point. So that meant as we are running east we now had to cross the road so that we could run this little loop (maybe two-tenths of a mile) and then cross the road again to get on the proper running side of the road. (it wasn’t a closed course and there was a officer there but there was some traffic). It just would have made more sense to do it first while we were on THAT side.
The best thing that the last part to the finish line was downhill. Wheeeee! It also had a hairpin turn that you had to be cautious of but going downhill was fun. When I crossed the finish line I was fairly certain that I had a new PR but I wanted to wait until the final results to be sure.
Back inside the Smith Building and the Optimist Club was serving breakfast – FREE! I enjoyed two pancakes and a water. YUM! The award ceremony was scheduled to start at 10:30AM but they started early and again, small race so I hung around…just in case. Well, you gotta love being an older runner in a small race because I got an age group place award!
I got a PR by one minute and a place award I’d say it was a pretty successful Saturday.