500 Festival Mini Marathon 2013: Believe & Achieve

Mini 2013: Bryan 1:27:42, Me 1:58:39

500 Festival Mini Marathon

Indianapolis, IN

May 4, 2013

Time: 1:58:39   Pace: 9:03

Overall: 6618/30059

Gender: 1769/16029

Age Group: F25-29, 332/2550

5K: 27:40   Brickyard: 1:09:30   11M: 1:39:53

My biggest competition is myself. My mind to be exact. My biggest weakness is my mental strength. I lack confidence in my abilities as a runner. I was making great strides in my first training plan until I had to take some time off at the end of month two to rest. I had lost my momentum until I had my best training run six days before the Mini. So I was feeling a little better about it. Thursday evening Bryan and I went to packet pick up at the convention center. All the people and vendors started to get me excited and pumped up about our run. I even moved up to Corral G this year (I was in M last year). Bryan moved up as well from Corral F to Corral A and qualified for seeding. After the Mini Expo we went to Bazbeaux Pizza on Mass Ave to start carb loading early. It was a beautiful evening and pizza was exactly what I needed.

The next evening, the night before the Mini, we laid out our running gear. I was nervous. I wasn’t running 13.1 miles to just have fun and run it, but I wanted to run it in under two  hours. My previous PR was 2:08:14 and previous Mini time 2:17:12. To ease my mind, I made a carb loaded spaghetti dinner for us and then attempted to get to bed early.

race ready

4:00 a.m. alarm #1 goes off. Snooze. 4:30 a.m. alarm #2 goes off. I laid in bed awake until 4:39 a.m. and then rolled out of bed. First thing I did was load up on water, oatmeal, a banana, and Advil. Then got our stretch on and waited for our friends to arrive at our apartment. At 6:30 a.m. we left our apartment to walk to the Mini start line. The guys (Bryan, Brandon, and Greg) were pumped up, jogging on the streets. Nugget ninja and I were both a little nervous, me for obvious reasons and Justine because she had not trained.

At the start we ran into more friends, both runners and spectators. But no time for socializing now, it was time to get into my zone. Corral G there you are. I anxiously awaited for the gun to go off. And when it did, I was ready. I had trained for three months to achieve my goal: run a sub 2 hour half marathon.

Bryan at Corral A

Mile 1 – 8:43, I knew that to run a sub 2 hr half marathon I needed my average pace to be under 9:09 pace/mile. I started off a little fast, but I remembered what Bryan told me “bank time for the end of the race when you’re tired.” So that’s what I did.

Mile 2 – 8:47, Even starting in Corral G I was constantly weaving in and out of people. Literally, almost pushing people out of the way to get past. I felt bad, but I was on a mission.

Mile 3 – 8:47, Still feeling good despite starting out a little fast. However, every time I arrived at a water station, the course bottlenecked and I would come to a stand still at times. Must keep pushing forward through the people.

Mile 4 – 8:43, Nice 5K time. I wonder where Bryan is on the course. I bet he’s crushing it. Wait, was I just passed by a 65 year old man running barefoot? I then giggled inside knowing how pissed my sister must be receiving text updates about my run when she’s trying to sleep in.

Mile 5 – 9:00, Heading to the track and running up some elevation. Oh no! My time is at 9:00 min/mile. Calm down Melissa,  you only have to run under 9:09. Time for my first GU.

Mile 6 – 9:12, In the track. I need to run on the inside of the track and hug the curve so the pavement would be level. Apparently everyone else knew that too. How am I going to do this? My pace was slowing and I saw that it was over 9:09. Stay calm, only half way there. Plenty of time to make up for it.

Mile 7 – 9:09, Grass running. The only way to pass people and to pick up my pace into the safe zone was to run on the grass. I ran half of the track on the grass.

Mile 8 – 9:15, Never ending track and starting to bottleneck and slow again as we exit the track. I literally kept having to tell myself that it’s okay if my average time is above 9:09 because I can speed it up the last two or three miles.

Mile 9 – 9:13, Feeling defeated. My mind was starting to take over. I kept repeating “Believe & Achieve” over and over again, the slogan on my Road I.D. But my mind kept trickling in with thoughts of slowing down. “It’s okay if I slow down. Even if I don’t run sub 2 hrs, I’ll still run a PR.” Bryan is probably finishing now.

Bryan with the white visor exiting the track.

Mile 10 – 9:04, Time for GU #2. I was so dehydrated it was hard to swallow and I even gagged a little. Come on caffeine please kick in and get me through this!

Mile 11 – 9:14, Somewhere during this mile, I think towards the beginning, I stopped at the gatorade station instead of running through and chugging and running at the same time. I had let my mind get the best of me. And I didn’t think my goal was possible, especially because I would need to run even faster due the fact that my watch will probably hit 13.1 before I actually cross the finish, which means that I would have to make up that time somehow. Defeated.  Then out of nowhere I heard “Melissa!” I looked up and it was Dr. Petkovich, and he was waiving me over to run with him. I immediately threw down my gatorade and ran up to catch him. “What do you need?” he asked. Anything under 9:09. He was running 9:00 min/miles, so if I stayed with him.

Mile 12 – 9:02, I was running on fumes trying to stay with Dr. P, but it was working. My pace was back in the safe zone. I was going to squeak in under 2 hours! Again remembering what Bryan had told me a few days ago, ” Are you really going to give up with only a few miles left after months of training and after having already run over an hour? You didn’t put in all that training to just give up at the end.”

Mile 13 – 8:49, The final stretch. One mile to go, but it seems like it’s the longest mile ever because it’s a straight shot to the finish down New York St. Come on legs move faster! Bryan and your families will be waiting for you at the finish. Dr. P and I were still going strong and even picked up our pace to under 9 minutes. It must have been the song that was playing on my iPod shuffle: Jay Z and Kanye “***** in Paris”, “Don’t let me into my zone, I’m definitely in my zone.” Perfect song for the last mile of the race. Half a mile left and the crowds of people were getting thicker. I kept my eye out for our parents and Bryan, but couldn’t spot them. My Garmin had already hit 13.1 and I was under 2 hrs, but I was not at the finish yet. I started sprinting knowing that the only clock that truly mattered was the one at the finish line. I crossed at 2:04.01. Since I didn’t cross the start line until 5+ minutes after the gun start, I subtracted 5 minutes, putting me under two hours with the official clock! I did it! I did it!

Dr. Petkovich and I sprinting to the finish.

I gave Dr. P a hug and thanked him for yelling my name and helping me finish strong. If he had not have caught up to me at that moment I probably would not have picked up my pace in time to have compensated for my slower miles and the slight difference between my watch and the start/finish clock. I couldn’t wait to see Bryan and tell him my time and see our families.

After going through the finishers’ shoot and getting water and food, I headed to the post-race party to find everyone. I didn’t have my phone on me so I was standing around in a sea of people. Then I head “Melissa!” This time it was Bryan. I gave him a big hug and told him my time and asked him how he did. He achieved his goal too, sub 1:28 by running 1:27:42. He even received a second medal for finishing in the top 500 runners, The 500 Club. He actually was 293 overall out of 30,063 13.1 runners!

My parents and I.
Bryan and his parents.

Moral of the story. Believe & Achieve. I definitely achieved but my believing could still use some work. I need to have confidence in myself as a runner, confidence that I can run a certain pace, and confidence that I can run a certain time. Although Bryan is a seasoned runner, he still gets the jitters before a big race questioning if he can hold a pace. And what do I say to him? You can do it, you know you can. Maybe I should start taking my own advice and ‘believe & achieve.’

Thank you to Bryan for believing in me, our parents for being the best spectators and supporters, and Dr. Petkovich for keeping me strong at the end. I couldn’t have done it without all of you!


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