Sunday, April 21, 2013

Carmel Half Marathon Race Day!

Two alarms set for 5:00 AM.   Running gear and miscellaneous "stuff" laid out the night before so I wouldn't forget anything.  Breakfast food awaiting me...Cheerios, a banana.

The cellphone alarm went off first, and it was race day morning!   I ate my breakfast while snuggled under the down comforter in bed, putting off as long as possible the inevitable.  But at 6:00 AM it could be put off no longer.

The things I'd laid out the night before include the usual running gear - capri tights, jogbra, long-sleeve shirt, socks, running shoes (timing chip already attached).  But then there were the cold-weather items to add to that wardrobe - gloves, kerchief to wear around my neck, Brooks windbreaker jacket.  I agonized between wearing that jacket or wearing a lightweight half-zip fitness fleece pullover.  I reasoned that with the "feels like" temperature being so much lower than actual, much of that chill would be due to those winds, so the jacket won out over the fleece, which provides  no protection at all from cold winds.

Then there was all that other miscellaneous crap I needed to remember:  Car key on a lanyard, drivers license and insurance card to tuck in the car console, room key protected from demagnetizing via a paper slipcase, two sticks of Trident gum, two PowerGel pouches, two Puffs tissues neatly folded and put in the jacket pocket, the special blue and yellow ribbons commemorating the Boston Marathon event pinned to my running cap.

I think I'm ready!  So out to the car, push the unlock button on the driver's side door, and pull the handle.  Some cracking noises and with more than the usual effort, the door groaned slowly open.  I immediately recognized those noises, though I hadn't heard them in more than 23 years.  Those were the sounds of a car door that is frozen shut.  Then I saw the windshield, covered in chunky, crusty ice and the windshield wiper blades embedded in a huge pile of this crusty ice.  Damn!!  We'd had freezing rain overnight!
I so needed this Saturday morning!!

The race starts in 45 minutes, I'm a mile away from the parking lot which is a 15 minute walk from the start line, and I don't have anything in the car that I can use to chip away the ice!  The rear windshield is in the same sad state but at least there's a defroster coil so I immediately turned that on and directed my attention to the front windshield.  I tried using my driver's license to scrape away the ice - a time-tested solution in an emergency - but the ice was just too thick and too solid.  Remarkably, only the front and rear windows were iced; the side windows, thankfully, were relatively clear.

In the end, I gently freed the front windshield wiper blades from their icy prison and then squirted significant amounts of windshield washer fluid onto the mess, knowing the alcohol content would help melt the ice.  Occasional swipes with the wipers and I eventually opened up a hole big enough to see through.  I only had a mile or so to drive to get to the parking lot and felt I could manage this while peering through this tiny opening.  I thought about abandoning the car at the hotel lot and walking the 1.5 miles to the start, but quickly reminded myself that it was 31 degrees out there, I was scantily dressed and furthermore, I would be faced with that 1.5 mile walk at the end of the half marathon.  Not a good idea.

With great caution, I drove out of the hotel parking lot and onto City Center Blvd toward Guilford Street where the parking lot was.  It was already well more than 3/4 full of other cars and there were many runners working their way on foot toward the start line.  I joined them and arrived with less than 15 minutes to spare.  Even though I didn't need to, I got into one of the very long lines for the porta-johns.  It helps the time go by while waiting for the race start, and sometimes I am able to strike up a conversation with a person standing near me.


I positioned myself in the self-seeding corral toward the back, near the 12-14 minute pace sign.  This was in front of the walkers, I assumed.  Never assume!  The race began, we worked our way toward the start line and then we were off.  For the next 3 or 4 miles I kept a steady 12.5 minute mile pace and passed huge numbers of walkers!  Clearly these folks put themselves toward the front of the pack at the start line.  I've never understood this!  In a chip-timed race, why do that?  They gain nothing, but they create an enormous nuisance for the runners who are trying to get past them.

The first few miles were mostly flat, just slight rolling hills.  Carmel is not that big and within a couple of miles we were out in the country!  It was a really pretty course.  A diversion into a pretty subdivision at around mile 2 and then we rejoined that main road and then did a U-turn at around mile 4, while the marathon runners continued straight.

It was a lovely, well-planned course.  Pretty scenery, enough turns to keep it interesting but not so many that it felt frenetic or disorienting...I always knew where we were in relation to the finish line.  It had a few hills, but none that were steep, just gentle and rolling.  The original course was supposed to take the half-marathon runners onto a couple of the trails for several miles, but heavy rains the day before had created a lot of flooding, so the course was changed at the last minute (probably was already a contingency course map out anyway) to eliminate the trails, which was my only disappointment about the race.

We ran through two or three housing subdivisions, beautiful homes on well-manicured lawns.  At one point we ran past a home that had a crew of lawn care workers unloading fresh, steaming bark mulch from a trailer and the strong pleasant aroma greeted us as we ran past.

Turnaround point, near mile 4, heading west.
The occasional home had one or two or more family members standing out front, cheering us on.  One house had three little boys with their parents.  Two of the boys looked like twins and were about 6 or 7 years old.  A runner in front of me veered over to them and gave them "high fives."  This prompted squeals of delight from the boys, as they jumped up and down with excitement.  You'd think they'd just encountered their favorite action hero!!  It never occurred to me up 'til that point to do something as simple as that to brighten these boys' day!  The next time I saw a small child standing with parents, I did the same and elicited nearly the same excitement and response!!  How uplifting!  I'm a mom...I'm a grandmom!  How could it not have occurred to me to do this?!

The last couple of miles took us through the nifty little "downtown" area of Carmel.  It's a cute re-created "Main Street USA" area with new buildings designed to look old.  There were many life-like statues along the sidewalks - an older woman in coat and kerchief carrying a bag of groceries; a man an woman huddled together under an umbrella, the wind seemingly blowing their scarves and coats; a bicyclist, a man sitting on a bench reading.  When I spotted the first statue, I did a double take.  That's how realistic they are.  Be sure to click on the link to see these amazing sculptures!!

The crowds through here were encouraging us, as there hadn't been too many spectators and no entertainment along the course prior to this point.  But that all changed here.  We only had a mile to go, and a couple of turns before we were approaching the finish line.

And then....there it was!  The Finish Line banner ahead, and then I was running across the finish line mats!

Medal around my neck and banana and chocolate milk in hand, I walked back to my car, drove back to the hotel, got to my room and saw a text message from sister Robin..."Are U here?"

I immediately called her and learned she was in the parking lot of the hotel waiting for me....perfect timing!!


I had called a lunch get-together at a fun restaurant called Moe & Johnny's about 6 mile south of the hotel.  Responses indicated there'd be maybe 6 or 7 folks there.  I got cleaned up and then Robin and I drove to the restaurant, where Dana, Kendra, Alan and his wife Brenda with their grandson Bailey were waiting for me.  We had a really great visit.  I was pleased to introduce my sister to some of my friends and to introduce Dana and Kendra to Alan, who is a very accomplished rider.
Dana and Kendra, pointing to my medal!

Me and my sister Robin

During it all, Alan had opportunity to tell everyone about one of his motorcycle adventures- the trip to Copper Canyon Mexico a few years ago.  I told everyone about the book that Alan has written which detailed his trip around the circumference of the U.S. and Canada, and Brenda immediately went out to the car and brought back 3 copies, which Alan autographed for Robin, Dana, and Kendra.

We had a nice long visit, but I knew that Dana and Kendra had a long drive ahead of them, so we all said our goodbyes and Robin and I headed back to the hotel.  Celebratory champagne was in order!  We needed to toast my completing another half marathon and adding another state to my 50 States Quest and having a wonderful visit together!

What the 50 States-50 Half Marathons map looks like now, with Indiana colored in:

Coming up  next:  Kentucky Derby Half Marathon on April 27, but first....a few days relaxing in the cute little town of Nashville, Indiana!


  1. Wow, you are closing in on coloring in the map. Good job on completing another one especially after the freezing rain.

    So cool that your sister could come for a visit and meet your friends too. A perfect way to cap off your race day.

    1. Filling in nicely, right?? And next weekend, when I run the race in Louisville, I'll have "bridged" the gap, connecting north to south by coloring in the state of Kentucky!