Thursday, September 24, 2015

BLACK FLAG - The Indy Women's Half Marathon

2015 was the 5th consecutive year for the Indy Women's Half Marathon and I had participated every year. That qualifies me as a "Streaker" but I prefer to use the term "Legacy" participant.  I think I read were there would be 120 of us that have done it each year so we would be getting a special bib and medal.

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 18th: Packet pickup was held once again at the Sheraton Downtown. I had to wait until after work to get there and only put enough change in the meter for 30 minutes. I didn't really need to do any shopping - there isn't anything that I really need - and I wanted to get home and get everything ready for in the morning.

I saw my friend J.K. as she was helping direct people in the correct entrance so I talked to her for a little bit but then went in and got my stuff. I saw the race director and said hello to him but after a quick sweep of all the booths there wasn't anything that I hadn't seen before. But just as I walked out the Frank Shorter discount clothing section caught my eye and I went back in...and bought a sports bra. I really do need a few new ones. (Sadly once I got it home, its too small and now I don't know what to do.)

Since all of this seemed exactly the same as last year, I didn't take any pictures.

I got all my stuff ready and was in bed between 10:00PM and 10:30PM

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 19th: The plan was to try to get downtown by 7:00AM. I never officially heard anything about a Half Fanatics picture or even the location for the 50 States Half Marathon photo. But it didn't matter. I think I encountered every red light on the way downtown and traffic was unusually busy for a Saturday morning...thus I was late.

We'd had a downpour earlier in the morning but it had stopped raining before i left the house but forecast was calling for more rain.
I walked out of the parking garage with a girl named Sara(h) and we were talking about the weather (both stating that we'd still be on the course during the next round of predicted precipitation) and races that we'd done and I mentioned that I was a 5 year participant. She then pointed out to me that I didn't have the "special" gold bib. Dang! I'd forgotten that we were supposed to get those. Would this now cause me problems getting my 5 year medal? Once we got to the start line, I headed into the Sheraton to use the restroom. The line for the ladies room was L.O.N.G. but there were several other smart ladies like me that decided the men's restroom was a good option. I was only about 7th in line for that!

Once I got back upstairs, I headed over to the race office/headquarters were I saw my friend TR. She was working the event this year so I asked her about the bib mixup. She said that a few others had brought that to their attention and that I shouldn't have any problems. They were making the folks handing out the medals aware.

Decided I better head back outside to the start line. I saw J.K, again with her 2:30 Pacing Sign and wished her well. Then toward the back, I saw the 3:15 Pace Sign and new that my friend A.L. was leading that group this morning so I went over to wish her well. This was her first time pacing and she was a little nervous but I know she was going to do a great job. I also looked for my friend MYMW but never did see her.
I settled myself in between the 2:30 & 2:45 Pace Signs and waited for the start. Eventually we heard the last part of the National Anthem so people started turning around to be facing the flag. With that many women, there was a lot of chatting going on so we literally heard only the last two lines. It didn't help that I think they only had speakers up by the actual start line. 
For some reason one the the girls behind me was holding the BIG pace corral sign. This wasn't some wimpy sign on a skinny stick. It was a big plastic(?) sign on a piece of wood. For some reason this girl thought the best thing to do was to just lay it on the ground in the middle of everyone after the Anthem was done and said. "Well, we don't need this anymore." I looked at her like she had two heads and told her that would be dangerous for everyone behind us and someone could get injured. So I picked it up and walked it over to the sidewalk and leaned it again the building. Aye yi yi!

It was about 10 minutes later before the wave started moving; I never did hear a starting gun or anything.
I only made it about a 1/2 mile up the road and then my shuffle started cutting in and out. So I stopped to move it to a different area where I thought that maybe the headphones (which I was hoping was the issue) wouldn't get jacked around. Back to running and I was able to get a picture of these service men who more than likely would be handing out our medals at the finish.
Unfortunately another 1/2 mile and my shuffle is still cutting in and out so I switched my headphones to my phone and listened to my playlist that way. The plan was to keep the phone away because I'd run most of the course a gazillion times. At this point it began to slightly drizzle so I slowed down to a walk again to put a baggie over my phone holder just in case.

As we got closer to the 2 mile water station, the sky opened up and the rain really started coming down. I also saw a flash of lightening but at the time I wasn't worried. I saw some women running back and I was confused as to why. My first thought was that they missed the 5K turn. Or did the race route the 5K back though the half marathoners? There was a bit of a cluster with that last year so I was hoping that they had "fixed" it but now I wasn't sure.

I made it another 1/4 mile and a race official was telling all of us to stop and that the race had been BLACK FLAGGED. I stopped my music and my Garmin and  - while still a little stunned - I asked if it was just being postponed or actually cancelled and he said CANCELLED. He told us we were to seek shelter and/or head to the finish line if we felt safe enough to do so. He said that we could pick up our snacks and medals.

I was still in a little bit of shock . The rain seemed as though it was starting to subside and while I still some a couple more flashes of lightening, it wasn't anything like what I had seen while doing HOTlanta last month. As I walked south on Illinois Street, I would wave my hands to other women still running and told them that the race was over. It was Black Flagged.

As you can imagine, the finish line was super congested since so many people were showing up at the same time. I had to ask where to get the 5 year medal. The guy looked for my bib and I told him that I didn't have it; that there were a few of us that didn't and then the girl next to him gave me the correct medal. 

There were tons of snacks for us to choose from (chips, cookies, granola bars, Fig Newtons, bottled water, chocolate milk, fresh fruit) but nothing to carry anything in. I need to reload my race belt with a plastic shopping bag! I got my rose and then headed over to the park area. The Xfinity tent was handing out red cloth bags so I took one just to put all my stuff in and I got it just in time. They ran out five people after me.

I stood in the "free picture" line for awhile but it was still raining, I was a little worried about my phone getting wet and still a little stunned about what had just happened, I just wanted to get home.

I saw my friend J.B. - who was also part of the event staff - and she was kind enough to take this picture of me. (If you enlarge this picture you can see all the women still coming in to the finish line area!) We talked about what a tough decision it was for the Race Director to make the Black Flag call but that it was also the decision of the local safety management people.
I texted my husband to let him know what had taken place and that I was on my way home. He said that his bike event had been cancelled as well.

I still feel guilty that I have this medal; almost like I have "stolen" it. And while I'll hang her with the rest of my medals, she will have an asterisk next to her.


  1. Hey! That person you saw running the other way? That was ME!!! I got lost :( I was in the lead and the lead bike did not come with me, and I ended up taking a wrong turn. It was so upsetting for me, but your recaps show you had a better attitude towards it than I did. Is there an email I can reach you at? I wanted to share something with you :)

  2. Dang, Tina, sorry that happened to you.
    Yes, you can contact me at