5:00 WAKE UP! Get dressed – running skirt, navy blue tank with Grizz Flag attached as cape and yellow headband. Pin race number to shirt. Put RUNMEM shirt on over to stay warm. Eat a bowl of oatmeal and grab coffee for the road. Shoes. iPod. Gary. Gu. Camera.
5:30 DEPARTURE! Picked up by our chauffeur Al – a fellow running buddy who luckily doesn’t get his work done during the work week and so offered to let us lounge in his office before the race while he caught up on things. Spent the car ride reminiscing about previous races.
6:10 ARRIVE! Touch up outfit. Take photos. Remind Dad there’s no plan. Watch local news coverage. Talk a lot about chance of rain. Watch weather. Talk more about the rain. Take pictures.
7:00 HEAD TO CORRALS! Brisk walking. LOTS of people. “Back Home Again in Indiana” playing. Find F. Talk to neighbor. Stretch P.I.T.A. Not so cranky at all. National anthem. Fireworks (hard to see in the daylight…). Circle Centre mall and 34,000 people behind us. NIFS and NCAA Hall of Champions and 1,000 people in front of us.
7:30 WHEELCHAIR START!
7:33 OFFICIAL START! Countdown with the crowds – GO! But we don’t move. It takes four minutes to get to the start line….
Started the race to “For the First Time” because I had been starting runs to that throughout my training. Parts of the song sum up how I felt towards my relationship with running as life continued to happen tryin’ to make it work but damn these times are hard…..find a good comfortable pace and stride. Toss the long sleeves. Dodge a few runners. Keep an eye on Dad. oh these times are hard, yea they’re makin’ us crazy….Over the White River, past the zoo. Energy picking up and no P.I.T.A.! Before I know it the first song and first mile are over…don’t give up on me baby.
Mile 2 starts of with a fist pound to Dad and a dedication to Bubba – my beloved Grandpa who passed away April 16 this year. Dad tries to throw Mama in for mile 2 but I briefly explain that only one dedication can be made per mile. This mile went by quickly as I thought of the things he taught me: patience, dedication, hard work is not easy, keep your family close, and that only real men keep eating when they’re full….; I remembered our special times: fishing on the lake, big hugs, woodworking (a bird house, a doll house, canadian geese – those were his projects, mine was a point on a stick!), hiking the trails at Big Canoe, arm wrestling, pimiento cheese (homemade of course), vacations and practical jokes. A great man with a great concern for his family and great life values. And just like that – mile 2 is gone – strength and confidence growing.
Mile 3 gets another fist pound and we dedicate it to Mama the birthday girl. I’m feeling a little bad for running on her day but unbeknownst to me she’s at home opening her cards and gift without us….not a normal part of birthdays in our house so I’m still not sure what got into her. Here’s to 55 Mama – may it be more fabulous than 54!
As if on cue, “Written in the Stars” comes on at the start of 4 which is one of the songs I associate with my Memphis Grizzlies. They play tonight after the race so I run this mile for them – blue and yellow colors on, Grizz towel on as a cape. Conley, Jr. and Z-Bo are fellow Hoosiers to some degree and I think of the team’s efforts to get past #1 seed San Antonio and run for their continued fight against the Thunder. Gasol, Vasquez, Allen, Mayo. And I can’t forget about Gay just because he’s injured – I know the feeling of fighting through an injury. If a #8 seed can fight past the top, I can make it to mile 5.
Mile 5 I dedicate to my Rhodes girls thinking of all the struggles endured to make it through this freshman year of life (thanks Commencement). A.C. traveling the country to deal with a myriad of sorority issues and all the liberties airlines take (delays, oxygen masks popping out of the ceiling, etc.), and not really feeling like there’s a place to call home. L. surviving a move across the world, changes in plans upon her return and figuring out the next step towards graduate school. K.O. following her dream to go back to Argentina only to find disillusionment and heartsickness, being brave enough to move back and enduring the sudden loss of her grandfather. K.H. experiencing a first year of marriage, first year of teaching and death of her grandmother all at once and still being passionate about all aspects of her life. A.Z. giving up everything she knows to embrace the heat of Tete and raging testosterone of dozens of teenage boys. And despite these challenges each of you met with with strength, grace and courage you still managed to support, love and mentor me through my own struggles. I love y’all, cherish our times in the past and look forward to many to come.
First time racers mile 6 is for you. We’re approaching the Speedway and without looking at Gary I know our pace is strong. Completing a half marathon is not something to be taken lightly and I draw strength from the thousands that must be first timers in this race. It requires courage to attempt something you’ve never done and I draw on the strength of those running their first race. Approaching the Speedway. Can see the Indianapolis skyline in the distance. Down the ramp into the track and back up. First time in this monumental landmark. Lots of cheerleaders. Beyond mile 5 marks farther than I’ve run in 6 weeks. Dad and I high five at halfway. Decide to take Gu pack as soon as I’m out of the track.
Mile 7 is for InsideOut – clients, members, staff and owners. For Donna who worked so hard to cure the P.I.T.A., even giving me an extra session to make sure I was properly “integrated”. Think to myself I certainly feel integrated! For LIsa who spent hours building my core strength and sculpting some confidence back in a defeated runner. For Natalie who started it all and has helped me evolve through instruction in Chi Running, and endless compassion. For those of you who wished me luck, encouraged me along the way and have become my friends – your words, thoughts, luck and wishes fuel and strengthen my muscles and I pull well beyond halfway with y’all in mind. Keep reaching for your goals, working for your health and fighting the good fight – you inspire me!
Mile 8 I dedicate to “The Pack” because I only have our Wednesday morning run left – 5 miles, no big deal….I take a GU. There are blisters forming on my left pinky toe and under my right big toe. I think of your dedication, progress, efforts and commitment to the 6 am run each week and give 8 my all. Somewhere along here the winner crosses the finish line! I contemplate kissing the bricks but decide to skip it for fear I wouldn’t be able to get up. Keep the pace. Feeling strong. Think of our runs on the Greenline, down by the river, from the gym. Leaving the track.
Mile 9 I give to this city we’re in. Weaving through the backroads in an unfamiliar area I think of my high school friends and the endeavors their continuing to make – marriage, law school, architecture school. I think of my small town that I’m often resentful of but still taught me so much. I think of this great city. Then my thoughts drift to my current hometown of Memphis and the near disaster state we’re in with the rising flood waters. There’s talk of record river levels being reached and Harbortown having to be evacuated. Luckily Midtowners are safe but many have lost homes and memories and there’s no telling what’s to come. Water at every stop now.
Mile 10 is for Mama again but this time for mother’s day. For being the best cheerleader and supportive running mom and wife. For evolving into a mom of a college graduate – listening, counseling and advising on a myriad of topics from what book to read next, how to decorate the living room to major motivational talks to do something with the free hours in the day (besides take mega naps!). No one said it would get easier when I was a “grown-up”! xoxo.
Mile 11 is the hardest and I give it to beginner runners. It’s not easy getting to that first mile. The next few come easy but getting to five is hard too. I applaud you for taking the first step (literally) and sticking with it. Noah, Sarah, Camren, Warr and my two groups in Memphis and people thinking about starting or in the middle of training – stick with it! More water. Just two miles to go – rain’s coming. Keep running. Pace is slowing. Dad’s getting further ahead. Whoa Dad.
Mile 12 is a familiar path that I used to run the opposite way during my summer at NIFS. We’re back along the White River heading towards the finish. Walk crosses my mind over and over and over again. And while it absolutely would not have been a failed effort if I walked, I knew once I started I wouldn’t start running again. So one foot in front of the other – this one is for Bubba’s spirit. “Oh, I have slipped the surly bounds of earth/and danced the skies on laughter-slivered rings.” I imagine this and draw strength. “And when the earth has claimed your limbs, then shall you truly dance.” I’m confident in your peace and everytime I want to quit I do another step for you.
Mile 13 seems like the longest mile of my life. Definitely feeling the lack of training I draw on all my strength and determination – secretly pulling strength from my partner. Frustrated with Dad for being so perky and chatty towards the end I tune him out and dedicate the last mile and last fist bump to us. Pain in my feet. So tired. For the 5 mile run that started it all years and years ago, the wintry trips up and down the rail trail, virtual races, “unofficial races” in exotic places, New Years day runs hungover on tequila in cold and ice, miles and miles and miles of memories. Hard to breathe. Half a mile to go. I’m glad to have you beside me in the race and with me during training. Here’s to many more.
We finish hand in hand (me a step in front!) and a huge sense of relief passes over me. I did it. I had no expectations, didn’t worry about time, no pressures and truly enjoyed myself. I limp along collecting my goodies along the way – medal, banana, water and water, cookie, granola bar – trying to keep up with Dad who’s making a bee-line to the beer. I stretch a little and we enjoy our complimentary Michelob Ultra – Cheers!