Saturday, May 10, 2014

4th Half Marathon of 2014: Indy Mini 500 Half Marathon

NOTE: Soon I will post the blog from our Dralla Review Board week (April26th -29th) but I am waiting until all the Grant Award Winners have been officially notified. Congratulations to the winners and a sincere thank you to the committee for your hard work during the difficult selection proceedings!

Indianapolis, IN: Indy Mini Half Marathon

Thursday, May 1st: 

It feels as though I just got off the plane in NC (back from Alexandria, VA for Dralla meetings) and now I am back on another flight bound for Indianapolis. We're off to run the "Indy Mini" and I am excited for my second time around this course...check out part of it from the air:

We'll be on that track Saturday morning for 2.5 miles of the half marathon. 
The view coming into Indy was great, a break in the clouds offered a fantastic birds-eye perspective of the city. Upon landing I made my way downtown and learned I wouldn't be able to check into my hotel until the afternoon. Thank goodness for free Wi-Fi in the lobby; I was able to work for awhile there until my room was ready.

As per usual on these race weekends, I'm on-call for media opportunities while I try to solidify other meet-ups during my time here. One person I am hopeful to connect with is a woman I "met" at the starting line in DC last month. In actuality, while trying to take a start-line selfie photo with my stepmom, my husband and my cousin at the Rock 'n Roll DC Half Marathon I saw an email inquiry pop up on my cell phone. It was from an Indy resident, Cindy Bantista, who had just read about me and was eager to connect somehow. Her email mentioned that she "sobbed when she saw my story" because she thought she was alone in her challenge which just happened to be quite similar to my own. While my family was prodding me to hurry up and take the photo of all of us, I felt compelled to answer Cindy first; I wrote to her that I had to run, literally, but that I'd be in touch as soon as the race was over. 

Fast-forward 6 weeks and Cindy now has her own ToeOFF brace thanks to quick work from Allard rep, Shawn Notarione, and the local O&P practitioners at Midwest Orthotics. She and I have been in email contact since DC and we've both hoped that our schedules would align enough for us to meet in person while I'm here. 

I just received word that Cindy will be able to take off from work to meet me at the hotel this afternoon--yay!

Forever the multi-tasker, I'm working on my Get Back UP sign
when Cindy arrives at the hotel lobby.

Cindy and I "talk braces" and realize we both wear the same size shoe 
and wear our AFO's (ankle-foot-orthoses) on our left leg. I let her try my 
Ypsilon in comparison to the ToeOFF she was prescribed. We both think 
she maybe able to graduate to this more flexible version soon...but for
 now she's been really happy with how much progress she's made in the 
few short weeks she's been in the ToeOFF.
Within 5 minutes of greeting Cindy I feel like we we've been long-time friends. As with so many people I meet through this Get Back UP journey, we quickly bond and share the complexity of challenges that accompany mobility impairment. Not only that, we laugh as we notice that even our outfits are matching--bright orange, right down to our shoes and our nail polish! (Shannon Poortenga, if you're reading this I want you to know how much this meeting reminded me of our first meeting. I miss ya, sista'!)

As Cindy and I are talking, I get a phone call from a local reporter who wants me to meet him at the race Expo. I ask Cindy if she's game for an interview too and with my desperate "Please?"she agrees to accompany me to the Expo. We meet the reporter at the convention center and immediately he wants to include Cindy as the main feature. Thank you so much, Cindy, for being brave enough to share your story so publicly (and on such short notice)--you never know how many others you will inspire by this!

Even the reporter commented on our matching outfits,
he didn't believe this wasn't planned. :-)

Thanks to Chance Walser at ABC6-TV, WRTV for this fantastic coverage:
With tears streaming down both of our faces, I present Cindy
with a Get Back UP medal as the videographer captures the moment.

For all of you runners who've ever had to attend an Expo while
injured, you know how difficult it is to be amidst the
excitement of all the able-bodied runners. Cindy made the most
of her own disappointment of not being at this year's start line by
paying it forward. Thank you so very much for your generosity
today, Cindy. Others are already benefiting from hearing your story.
We're SO rockin'  in our ToeOFFs, I think we're gonna
start a new fashion trend.

I run on behalf of so many who can't but this race will be for you, Cindy.
Next year, let's run it together.
Friday, May 2:

The entire morning was spent working in the hotel room and through early afternoon I was busy speaking with media outlets for this and other upcoming events. I had to miss an opportunity to meet a local woman, Jessica, who survived a stroke at birth and lives with daily physical challenges because of it. I took time out to call her and introduce myself by phone--not quite the same as meeting her in person--but I was so inspired by her and grateful for the chance to talk. Jessica, I will be in touch during my next trip to Indy and hopefully then I can meet you AND your horse!

By the time I look up and notice the time, it's 4pm and I'm famished. I just learned that I will need to go back to the Expo for an interview with another local TV station so Jim and I run out to grab a quick bite on the way.

I've heard so many great things about local Indy restaurant, R Bistro,
so we make our way there for a quick bite.

I don't have time for a full meal now but I'm adding
R Bistro to the list of places to revisit!

Apparently the locals and critics agree that this restaurant
is outstanding. 

Fresh Asparagus Soup is the perfect quick remedy for my
empty belly. YUM. (So sad for all of you who don't like don't know what you're missing!)
Back to the Expo to meet WISH-TV, and also to pick up race packets for fellow TeamUP co-captain, Lisa Victorius and her friend, Tenly, coming in from Chicago in the morning--yay!!!

Clowning around with the Indy cars. For the record, I won.

TV interview number 2 and another chance to spread the message here in Indy.

Finally, back to the room to add finishing touches to the race sign, get ready for the Half Marathon and get a good night's sleep for a big day tomorrow. Good night!

Saturday, May 3rd: RACE DAY!!

5:00am arrives too soon, which is our meeting time with Lisa and Tenly to give them their race packets & then to head to the Marriott near the start line.

Right on time! These ladies didn't get to their hotel until almost 11pm
last night. They are both finishing up their last semester
at PA school (Physician's Assistant) and couldn't get out of
their classes until nearly 6pm. They ate on the way from Chicago and
now they're here bright and early and ready to race--ah, to be young again.
Lisa surprised me with a SUPER COOL surprise...

...A temporary tattoo, custom-made and all the way from Australia!
Lisa, myself and Tenly all spreading the Get Back UP message
in style--thanks, Lisa!!
TeamUP Co-captains representing the rest of our team
today in Indy. Lisa, along with Todd Hart who is racing in MO
this morning, are our 2 newest captains.

Jim opts out of the tattoo but dons his TeamUP jacket to help
spread the word. He's running in his CMTA shirt to promote awareness
here in Indy today. Go Team!

As the sun rises over downtown Indianapolis we make our way
to the gear check buses and prepare ourselves for the 13.1 miles
ahead of us. Looks to be a great day for a run.

Lisa ran the Chicago Marathon just last weekend; for
her today is just another "short training run". The competitive
runner in her, however, soon begins to show as she jogs ahead
to line up for her 1st wave start. Good luck, Lisa--we'll see you
as we finish with all the other slow runners in Wave 2. :-)

GYPSY SIGHTING! We find our good friend and fellow
Rock 'n' Roll Gypsy, Kamika Smith, waiting for us near our
start-line Corral. Great to see you, Kamika! He's running the Half
here today then heading to Cincinnati to run the Flying Pig Half
Marathon tomorrow. Good luck and safe travels back to Hawaii!

Runners lining up in the 2nd Wave of today's starting corrals.
The Indy Mini 500 Half Marathon is the largest in the country.

With Wave 1 starting more than 15 minutes ago the rest of us
are eager to get going. The temps are mild, mid 50's to low 60's,
but the winds are going to average 14mph with gusts over 25mph today.

Indiana Pacers mascot helps us promote the Get Back UP message.

Jessica, you're with me out here today!

To my friends at the CMTA, Jim and I are keeping you in our
hearts here in Indianapolis.

And we're off! The first mile marker seems to come so quickly. Note
the time on the sign in the background: we must be using the clock from
the 1st Wave start because I KNOW we didn't need 24 minutes to clear
the first mile.
We approach Mile 2 and finally find some elbow room among
the throng of runners. It's been slow going just trying to avoid
collisions and pot-holes with so many runners enjoying today's
events. Truth be told, I'm happy to keep this easy pace!

Jim takes some time at Mile 2 to ham it up for our friends
at the Charcot-Marie-Tooth Association. :-)
More shots from the first few miles:

"4 Jessica"!!

Mile 5 marks our approach to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Runners enter the tunnel and prepare for the 2.5 miles along
the race track.  I love this portion of the course.

Indiana University cheerleaders meet us on the speedway.

One stop for water before we "hit the brickyard".

For my wonderful know what I'm thinking!

For the Hayes family in Texas and for all of our CMTA friends,
we're running the bricks for you today!

Jim ran with his mom's original wedding band around his neck
today. His mom, Georgia Beaver Austin, was a huge racing fan and
Jim is honoring her as he "kisses the bricks" in her memory today.

Carter, here you are on the bricks of the Indy Speedway today...
thank you for the inspiration!

That's me in my best push-up form, kissing
the bricks for the 2nd straight year.

See you next year, Brickyard!

We lost a lot of time with our long photo-session at the bricks
but it was well worth the sacrifice. It was important for us to reflect
upon all the reasons we're running this year, and all the people
who've inspired and supported us along the way.

My Indy 500 pit stop.

Last 5K ahead!

This guy was funny. Running ahead of him were two people
 in similar t-shirts,  one reading "lost 6 pounds",
the other "lost 4 pounds"...then his summary.

Finally we see downtown Indy again, greeting us in the background.

The final stretch, complete with checkered flags waving us in.

We did it! Lisa ran a fast 1:40'ish and Tenly had a PR (personal record) for her Half Marathon efforts with a time near 1:50. Jim and I brought up the rear but had a really fun, meaningful run and we have over 75 photos between us to show for our efforts.
TeamUP reunited at the Blue Mile finisher's tent.

Happy faces from our PA's.

A great day was had by all!
Shots of the downtown museums on our windy walk back to the hotels:

And finally, FOOD! Lisa and Tenly patiently waited for Jim and me to finish and now we owe them a lunch before they make the drive back to Chicago today.

Lisa found this restaurant on her walk back from the finish line.

Just what I needed--post race pizza!

Sporting their Sweaty Bands and their post-race fuel,
 these 2 tiny ladies got busy devouring every last morsel.

Thank you, Indianapolis, for another fantastic event.
I hope to see you again next year!

As I'm finishing this post one week later I'm in a hurry to get to another event while I'm now here in New Jersey. I'd write more but I have a start line to get to, you'll have to wait for my next entry!