Sunday, March 30, 2014

Southern Illinois Spring Classic – Race Recap

March 29, 2014


Initially this race wasn’t even on my radar.  I didn’t even know that it existed!  But I’ve been re-evaluating my 2014 goals (and looking ahead at 2015) and I’d really like to make it to Earth level with Half Fanatics and to get that done I need to complete 31 Half Marathons within a 365 day period.  As my “tentative” race scheduled currently stands, I am only 4 half marathons away from being able to get that accomplished so I began scouring the Internet looking for races.  I found about this one on the website Running In The USA (I highly recommend it), it fit a weekend that I didn’t have anything scheduled, it would only be a two hour drive and was only $60.  So I sent the request to Half Fanatics to have it added.  Once I got confirmation that it was on the calendar, I signed up. 

Friday, MARCH 28th:  My Mom lives in Terre Haute so I decided to spend the night with her so then my drive race morning would only be an hour.  Plus she would like it that I was spending the night.  I got to her house on Friday around 5:30PM, dropped off my stuff and then drove to Lawrenceville, IL to pick up my packet.  This was a completely frivolous thing to do because I could get my packet race morning but…I like having my all stuff ready the night before (especially if the event shirt would turn out to be something that I wanted to wear during the race) and I knew that I would feel better also knowing WHERE I was going and HOW to get there ahead of time.  And I’ll admit, it also meant that I didn’t have to just sit in my Mom’s house with her for two additional hours.  We don’t have a close Mother/Daughter relationship and I know that she would have driven me crazy while I was there so it was best to be there for as short of a period of time as possible.  There…I said it.  Moving on.

So I called up OnStar, gave them the address and I was on my way.  It was a little over an hour drive to get there.  Packet pickup was inside the gymnasium of the Parkside Elementary School from 6:00PM – 8:00PM. 

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The other note to point out is that Illinois is on Central Time so an hour behind Indiana.  I thought I would have to wait a bit but they must have opened early because I got there at about 5:50PM (local time) and people were coming out with their packets.  The entire process was easy peasy.  Since they would be doing packet pickup race morning as well that meant we had access to indoor bathrooms.  YAY!!  (SIDE NOTE: although this was an elementary school everything in the bathroom seemed “average” size but they did have a few stepstools under the sinks for girls to stand on if they were tall enough.  CUTE!)

Race stuff in hand, I got back in the car and headed back to my Mom’s house.  I saw the sign for this bridge coming over so I stopped on the way out to take a picture.  My husband recently found out that he IS related to Red Skelton.  Red is from Vincennes, IN which is about 11 miles from Lawrenceville just across the Wabash River thus the bridge in his honor.

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By the time I got back to my Mom’s I was so hungry.  So I heated up the pasta that I had brought and ate that while she got my sleeping area together.  I knew this would be something that she would “fuss” over but I bit my tongue and just let her do her thing.  I know that she was just trying to take care of me and – even though I might not sound like it - I do appreciate that.  We watched TV until 10:00PM and then she went to her bedroom and I finished getting my stuff ready.  Since I only had an hour drive and I would gain an hour from the time difference, I didn’t have to set my alarm too early but I set it for 5:45AM just to be on the safe side and to allow for any hiccups in the morning.  And thank goodness for the white app noise on my phone!  I am a very light sleeper and the room that I was in had a clock that ticked AND there were wind chimes outside the window that chimed nonstop all night since it was windy.  AYE YI YI.

Saturday, MARCH 29th:  I actually didn’t sleep too bad and got right up with the alarm.  After a quick shower, my breakfast (banana and peanut butter) and my tea and I was ready to go.  It was raining in Terre Haute and this is what the radar map and hourly forecast looked like for Lawrenceville.  This could make for an interesting day and just hoped that maybe the front would have moved mostly past by the time the race started.

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I got to Parkside around 7:40AM (local time) and went inside to use the bathroom, get my headphones situated and just make sure everything was ready overall .  I decided that there probably wasn’t going to be anything to photograph out on the race course so after finding someone to take a pre-race photo of me, I went back out and put my phone in my car.

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Then it was just hanging out in the gym until it was time to actually start the race.  You could smell the pancakes and syrup coming from the cafeteria.  They were serving breakfast from 7:30AM-12:00PM and it was free to all runners.  I don’t know how anyone could eat something that heavy prior to running but I was looking forward to having some afterward.

Everyone headed outside at 7:55AM and after a few brief instructions and the singing of the National Anthem, the gun went off and we were running.  It was cold and drizzling at the start.  The 5K participants and half marathoners all started at the same time and ran through downtown Lawrenceville.  As we headed back toward the school, the 5Kers would go to the track to finish while everyone doing the half marathon would continue out on to the country roads.  We were warned prior to starting that we would not find the roads in this area in good condition and they were correct about that.  The winter had taken its toll and there were lots of potholes, tons of loose gravel and from the rain that morning, well it was just not good.  The rain eased up after the first 3-4 miles but the wind was still whipping.  At one point I looked down at my gloves and they appeared to have frost on them.  I was very glad that I decided to pack my gloves and headband “just in case” because it would have sucked without them.

I definitely made the right decision leaving my phone behind.  There was NOTHING visually stimulating to look at out there on the course.  A few oil wells were pumping here and there in some of the fields but that was about it.  They were true to their word and there was an aid station at every two miles and there were randomly placed porta-potties too.  The water and Gatorade at the first few stations were not cold but with the help of Mother Nature, they were cold at the later stops.  The roads were not technically closed and while I always try to stay to one side or the other, the constant dodging of potholes made that a little more difficult.  I had a few drivers come up from behind and I was a little surprised that none of them gave a small “warning” beep with their horns.  The best road condition was when we were on 800E and would reach the 8 mile marker.  It was smoooooth.  However, this stretch also had us running on a road WITH traffic and it didn’t have a shoulder but I never encountered a car behind me during this time.  The crappiest section was just after the 11 mile marker.  It looked as though we were being routed on a dirt farm road but again with all the rain it was a sloppy muddy gravely rutted mess.

The finish is on the line was located on the high school track – which was technically behind the elementary school.  As you approached to enter and thought you would just run straight and be done…no, they make you run almost a full lap around the track.  KILL ME NOW!

This wasn’t my day for sure.  I had a lot of hip pain mostly on the left side but from time to time on both sides and also the outside of my left knee.  I don’t know if some of it was from the cold conditions or not but it felt tough and I was VERY glad when I was done.

I went in to the cafeteria to get my pancakes.  They were offering sausage links and biscuits & gravy too.  Plus coffee, milks (2% and chocolate) and apple juice.  I saw some runners getting ALL THE FOOD.  I just can’t do it.  It took everything I had to eat most of the 3 pancakes that I took. I should have just asked for 2. 

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After I was done eating I went out to my car to get dry clothes to change in to.  BEST DECISION EVER to bring extra clothes.  Although I wasn’t that wet from the rain, I was sweaty and it felt wonderful to put on something dry.  Plus, I probably was less stinky!  I was hanging around because at 10:30AM they were going to be handing out the age group awards and then everyone that ran was entered into a drawing for $500.  I knew I wasn’t going to win an age group award and sadly I didn’t win the $500 either. Sad smile

Even though this wasn’t a very good race for me personally, the race itself had many positive features.  Every turn was well marked with a sign AND there was a volunteer there as well to make sure you didn’t miss it.  Aid stations were (in my opinion) properly placed and friendly volunteers at each.  Hammer Gels were handed out just before the 4 mile marker and you passed this area again just before the 12 mile marker, although that late in the the race it wouldn’t help to take one.  They had a back drop that I initially noticed as we were heading out to start the race and was surprised that it wasn’t moved elsewhere (like in the gym or cafeteria) so that people could have a “finishers photo” taken in front of it.  And if the weather had been better having it near the finish line would have been even better.

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I doubt that I will ever do this race again but I’m super thankful that I happened upon it.  It gets me one step closer to my Half Fanatic goal and now the Geist Half Marathon on May 17th will officially be #50!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Puppy Love Run – Virtual 5K

March 24, 2014

I found out about this race from a Facebook group that I belong to.  Now I don't want to get caught up in doing a bunch of virtual runs just for the BLING but….this medal was super adorable and the money (only $20) would benefit the Humane Society of the United States.  Okay, where do I sign up?

It was also supposed to be in conjunction with Valentine’s Day but unlike the other virtual run that I did – iRun Against Diabetes (which I guess I didn't blog about) – this race sends you the medal after the fact.  I wanted to wait until I had all the pieces (bib and medal) before doing it.  Well I guess they had some issues with the place that made the medals or was shipping the medals and we didn’t end up getting them until this past weekend.

I didn’t initially notice that my bib said “half marathon” and either that was an error on my part because maybe I thought I would do this while completing an “real” half marathon or an error on their part but typically I always just have these be a 5K for me.  It didn’t matter obviously and they said they'd email me a new bib but I have received it yet.

Anywhoooo….although I had taken a late lunch on Monday and ran 5 miles, I wanted to bang this out.  So once I got home, I changed my clothes and did a 5K around various neighborhoods in my area.  I could tell that I was tired from the previous miles but got them done.


This is General.  He is the very first dog my husband I ever adopted and we got him from our local humane society.  I ran this in his honor.

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Sadly we had to say goodbye to him in 2010.  He lived to be almost 15 years old.  He was such an awesome dog and definitely started our love of Labs and Rescue Dogs.

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Saturday, March 22, 2014

B1G Hoops Day 5K

March 16, 2014


I wasn’t exactly sure how I would feel physically after doing the Get Lucky Half Marathon the day before (you can read that recap HERE) but this was a race where I wasn’t  “worried” about a finishing time.  I was running with my friend AW and she promised me that this was going to be a slow steady pace.  She will begin training for her first half marathon soon and hasn’t been able to do too much running because of her super busy schedule.

This race takes place on the final days of the Big Ten Men’s Tournament and was only $20 if you registered before race day.  The start time isn’t until 11:00AM so plenty of time to sleep in that morning!

My legs felt pretty good when I got out of bed.  My recovery following a half marathon has greatly improved since I began wearing compression socks and shorts immediately afterward.  But what I wasn’t feeling good about was the forecast – specifically the wind!

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I needed to go to packet pickup THAT morning since I wasn’t in town on Friday when it was offered.  So I got down to Bankers Life Fieldhouse around 10:20AM, got my bib and dropped some items off at bag check since it was offered.  It all went very seamlessly and quickly.

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I had to wait a little bit for AW because she was still in a meeting.  She’s a pretty big deal at the Big Ten Conference!  But then she met me up in the Entry Pavilion.

2014, 03-16 (3)I didn’t go to a Big Ten school but wore my Sycamore Pride instead.

We waited inside until the very last possible minute and then went out to start the race.

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We were also striating the race with MA and SB.  SB had recently taken up running and this was her very first 5K!!!!

We also met Logan, the Basset Hound just after the start.  I certainly don’t associate that breed of dog with running but he got it done!

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Silliness along the route:

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AW hadn’t had her picture taken by the B1G on the circle so as we ran past, I tired to snap a few for her.

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Around mile 2, AW and I had gotten ahead of MA and SB.  It was nice to run and talk a little bit.  She asked me about my training, eating prior to a half, etc.  But man, running and talking is difficult!  I don’t know how some people do it during an entire half marathon.

After we finished, we grabbed a Gatorade and then waited for AM and SB. 

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So excited for SB on completing her first 5K.

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Afterwards it was back to work for these ladies; they had to get ready for the Championship Game.  And it was back home for me and hopefully a day of mostly doing nothing!

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Get Lucky Half Marathon - Race Recap

March 14 & 15, 2014


I did this race last year (you can read about it HERE and didn’t really have any intention of doing it again but when I signed up to do the Polar Dash this year - which you can read about that HERE - and realized that if I did all four of the races in the series, the medals would make a circle…well, that’s all it took. 

FRIDAY, MARCH 14th:  After my mostly positive experience with taking the MegaBus to Chicago in January, it was a no-brainer to take it again.  This time however I was going to take an earlier bus so that I wouldn’t be rushed with getting to packet pickup.  The bus was scheduled to leave at 9:45AM which meant that I needed to be at the bus stop at 9:30AM.  I left my house in plenty of time but by the time I got to the bus stop there was already quite a crowd.  I also noticed that the bus in front was being hooked up to a tow truck!  I was really hoping that wasn’t the bus I needed and thankfully it wasn’t.  Since the bus was nearly full I had to sit next to someone.  She seemed nice; although we barely spoke to one another.  She read a book on her Kindle and I listened to my music.  There were no mishaps on the way up although after going through one of the toll booths the driver pulled over so that he could go to the bathroom.

This time the sidewalks of Chicago were clear.  And oh course they were…I brought my snow boots just in case!  And although I still really didn’t have any sense of direction I tried to remember how the cab driver took me in January and headed in that direction.  After walking for about 10 minutes – while stopped waiting for the light to change – I asked the ladies that were in front of me if I was going the correct way and they confirmed that I was.  I wished I had paid more attention to the time but it was less than a 30 minute walk from Union Station to the hotel.  Check-in was listed as 3:00PM but they had a room available so I was able to go ahead and get in.  As I did last year, I was staying at the Congress Plaza Hotel.  Its is definitely an older and “tired” hotel but it is the host hotel, where packet pickup is and where we needed to catch the shuttle in the morning.  For half marathons, I’m all about convenience especially on race morning!

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I had a pretty good view from my room…if you looked up over the parking garage!

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^ ^ ^ ^ Actual view ^ ^ ^ ^

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^ ^ ^ ^ If you looked straight up ^ ^ ^ ^ Winking smile

I went down to packet pickup, got my bib and jacket but didn’t take my wallet so technically the lady shouldn't have given me my stuff but she did anyway. I tried using my Facebook account on my phone as proof of who I was.  Well, I needed to go back up and get my wallet anyway because (although the website and Facebook page said we would pay RACE morning) I needed to ahead and buy my shuttle ticket.  Oh well, no big deal.  I did walk back over to show the lady my ID just so we would be cool.

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Took my stuff upstairs and then decided to walk around the city for a little bit since it was nice and I needed to scout out a place for dinner that night as well.

Here are some (okay…a lot of) shots from the afternoon:

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I then walked a little further north toward the Chicago River.  I was hoping that it would have already been dyed green but it hadn’t been.  I learned that they do that the morning of the parade.

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As you can see by the flags, it was super windy on Friday.  And since Chicago is known as the “Windy City” it’s a good thing that I’m just blowing in and out of here in less that 30 hours!  Sarcastic smile  Thankfully the forecast was calling for calmer conditions on Saturday.

Passed this guy walking back to the hotel.  He was good but I always associated bagpipes with Scotland not Ireland…guess I was wrong and its both.

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So it was still fairly early and I decided to go back to the hotel and relax and get caught up on reading some blogs.  I also worked on getting things ready for in the morning.

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I tried to close the curtains in the room but they wouldn’t shut all the way.  But a call to the front desk had the maintenance guy up in less than 5 minutes.  He got them closed but then the pulley thing broke.  I told him not to worry about it.  The most important thing was that they were closed so I could sleep tonight and he could just put it on the “to do” list for tomorrow.

Around 6:00PM, I left and walked back up north on Michigan Avenue to Noodles and Company.  It seemed like it would be the fastest and least expensive option for dinner tonight.  I’ve never been to this chain before and I must say that I was surprised with the food.  I ordered the Whole Grain Tuscan Linguine and it was tasty…maybe a little too much peeper for this girl but I would order it again. 

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On the walk back to the hotel you could see the full moon in the east. 

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Back to the room after dinner, watched some TV and then went to bed around 10:00PM.

SATURDAY, MARCH 15th:  Not a restful night of sleep.  I could hear EVERYTHING going on in the rooms next to me, above me, and below me.  Not as bad as last year when the hotel was also filled with people in for the Big Ten Men’s Tournament but still annoying! 

I set my alarm for 6:00AM which was earlier than what I really needed but I was scheduled to be on the 8:15AM bus and I also needed to go to the front desk to exchange my room key for a different one so that I could get a later checkout.  I was able to have a 2:00PM checkout!  They were so much nicer about this THIS time compared to when I was here last year.

The weather was cool but at least the winds weren't as strong as they were yesterday.

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We didn’t have to wait long for the shuttle and I sat next to a girl from California that was doing the half marathon.  She had come in to Chicago to visit friends and discovered that there was a race so she signed up.  FUN!

Walking from the bus drop-off area to the start line you could see that portions of the course (if this was part of the course, I wasn’t completely sure) had patches of black ice.  The course changed ”last minute” because – from what I heard – the event folks didn’t get things worked out with the city.  So I wasn’t 100% sure how the course was running.  Sure, I had this map but since I’m not from the area it really didn’t mean anything to me.

Course 2

I didn’t have to wait long before the race was to start; super glad I didn’t get on a earlier shuttle.  I found someone to take my traditional pre-race photo.

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We had to stand in some water and there was a girl in front of me but to the side that kept kicking here legs back in order to stretch but by doing so was splashing water on the girls directly behind her.  I was about to tap her on the shoulder but she eventually stopped.

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This course was better/clearer/cleaner than the Polar Dash course but I still felt like I needed to run with my head mostly down to watch out for black ice spots.  There were a few slushy spots and then there was this one DETOUR that we encountered going both out and back.

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I didn’t take many pictures while on the course but here are a few:

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^^ I remember these folks being at Polar Dash as well ^^

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People running in costumes are fun.  I would run up to these people, take a picture and then pass them. WOOT!

As you came back in near the finish line area, you actually had to pass it and do a final 1 1/2 mile loop.  I heard some people say afterward that other runners weren't aware/didn’t notice this (or maybe they were just OVER IT!) and merely went in and crossed the finish line.  The bad/congested thing about this last loop was that as you were going out to start it, you needed to be on the LEFT side of the path because the runners coming back in to finish were on your RIGHT.  This also caused you to do some bobbing and weaving at the intersection to go into the finish.  This all could be alleviated if this “last loop” was the fist loop of the race and then they routed everyone toward the lake course. And the last loop was in really bad condition; lots of standing water, mud, some icy patches and it was narrow.  But I did get to see the girl from California as she was completing mile 12 and I was just going out on the final loop.

All things considered, my finishing time wasn’t too bad.  I felt very lethargic and checked my watch a lot during this race.

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This is the third time I’ve done a Team Ortho event. 

  • And as is typical with them, water stops/aid stations are limited.  You should still maintain good hydration during cooler weather races but it isn’t as critical as it would be during warmer events.  So I’m a little concerned about their races that I’m doing in September and October.  I guess it might be a good time to try out a hydration belt. 
  • Another annoying this was that there was an aid station just before we’d even gone a mile.  Now this was a beneficial stop because you needed to pass it on your way back in (Mile 10 approximately) but I was surprised at how many people were stopping and getting water since they had just started. THEN I noticed on the left side of the path at this aid station was a guy handing out Hammer Gels.  Again, this should have been done as people were coming back IN.  So you had to decide…did you want water or a gel?  By the time I noticed him on my left (because I was perplexed by everyone stopping for water!), it was too late to grab a gel to save for later.  And as you probably guessed, there were none left (and he was gone as well) by the time I came back through.  I brought my own so it didn’t matter but its not how it should have been done.    
  • And one final complaint/annoyance, at this same aid station – on the way back in -  there was a group of about 6 to 8 girls working it. Five of them were standing BEHIND the table and only ONE of them was filling cups.  And the girls in front of the table were doing nothing!  I had to wait to get a cup of water.  I know, I know…you get what you get when it comes to volunteers but the course organizers need to stress the importance of what the volunteer is there to do.  And it wouldn't hurt for volunteers to participate in an event so they could get a first hand appreciation for what they should be doing.  And yes, I have volunteered at events so I’m speaking from experience.   Okay, enough.

I will NOT do this series next year.  Team Ortho seems to be mostly unorganized and I heard a lot of people complaining about different things at various stages; from packet pickup, to bag drop, to the finish line area. 

But I was a sucker for the extra items I’ll get by doing the series:

Bonus Medal

 Team Ortho Bonus

Team Jacket

Team Ortho Jacket

And the fact that the medals will form a circle.  Well, technically the medals are designed to do this (this is the Minneapolis Series):

Team Ortho Medals MINN

But leaving out the bonus medal, I can have them make a circle.     And I’m halfway there:

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Before getting on the bus to go back to the hotel, I took a picture of this giant gold statue in the park.

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You can read more about this statue (since you can’t really read the photo of the marker) HERE

There were plenty of buses so I didn’t have to wait and we were on our way back to the hotel in less than 5 minutes.  Of course I’m on a bus with less than 20 people and sitting behind me is a guy who is talking to a guy and a girl in the seat across the aisle from him.  But who can I hear the most out of these three people having a conversation?  Not the guy directly behind me but the guy across the aisle.  Sir, lets use our indoor bus voice!

Back up in my room and I took a nice long hot shower.  So glad I had an extended checkout time.  I ended up leaving the room around 1:30PM and sat in the hotel lobby for a little bit but there were WAY TOO MANY loud annoying drunk people in there that had just been to the St. Patrick’s Day parade.  My bus didn’t leave until 3:30PM but around 2:00PM I walked up a few blocks to Starbucks and treated myself to an expensive coffee.  The place was packed.  And to be honest with you, I don’t like the Skinny Vanilla Lattes that much anymore.  I’ll take my 97 cent Ricker’s coffee any day over this almost $5 one.

I stayed at Starbucks for maybe 10 minutes and decided just to head on up to the bus stop.  I had to dodge a few drunk girls but other than that the sidewalk was not crowded walking there.  I got on the bus and originally had two seats to myself but then more passengers started getting on.  I had struck up conversation with a guy across the aisle that was wearing the Get Lucky hoodie and so I moved and sat next to him.  He was very nice and we ended up talking almost the entire way back to Indianapolis about half marathons . 

As I was leaving downtown Indy, the full moon was once again rising in the east so I stopped to take a picture.

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