They say there’s a first time for everything…
And this weekend I was unable to complete a race for the first time, due to lightning.
Let’s take it from the top. I elected to do only one half marathon this year (instead of my usual two), and chose the Indy Women’s Half Marathon. This race holds a special place in my heart because it was my first half marathon in 2011, which was also its first year. I’ve run it every year since, and this would have been our fifth year. We’ve been through various race directors, courses and finishing times. Not only that, but my dad has made it a tradition to visit Indy for race weekend. Needless to say, I was looking forward to this year’s race.
On Friday, the day before the race, Nick and I took a look at the forecast. It wasn’t promising; it showed storms overnight and into the morning. We remained hopeful as we made the drive north. Since we got up there later in the evening, my dad had picked up my packet at the expo. The three of us spent a few hours eating and relaxing before an early bedtime (for me, at least.)
We woke up on race morning to rain, but I felt that I could deal with that. Running in the rain can be invigorating, after all, especially when it is warm and humid. We found the local news and listened as the weather forecaster predicted that the next round of storms would move in around 9:30, which should have given me time to finish up.
I sent Nick off on his long run (he’s training for a half marathon this coming weekend), and my dad and I walked out to the start line under dry skies. I breathed a sigh of relief, and yet I couldn’t shake the feeling that I wasn’t guaranteed to finish. With that in mind, I elected to use a race tactic I haven’t before: sticking with a pace group. In fact, I took several chances in training for this half marathon, which I’ll talk about in a separate post.
The gun went off and I was, as my dad said, “hip to hip” with my pacer. I settled into a good rhythm and the first couple miles were sailing by. After about twenty minutes or so, it started to rain. What was at first a gentle sprinkle soon left me wringing out my shorts and wishing I had goggles. I commiserated with the women around me, commenting that the front was moving in quicker than expected. Then, we saw the first little flash of lightning. We all hoped it was just one flash, but soon a second and third lit up around us. As we came into the next water station, we were told that the race had been black flagged, meaning that it was canceled. A group of us waited under a tent for a few minutes. Some women said they were going to finish come hell or high water, although they were advised against this as roads were going to be reopened and water stations dismantled, not to mention the danger of the weather conditions. At any rate, timing had been stopped. I decided to keep up my race pace but head back toward my hotel. Along the way I saw other women who told me that the finish line was still handing out medals and snacks, so I made a detour there.
At first, I didn’t feel like I earned the two medals that I received – one for finishing the 2015 race, and one for being a five year finisher – but a friend said, “You earned it with all the hard work you put in day in and day out….Race day is simply the culmination of all that you put in.” I feel better knowing that I did everything in my power to preform my best at that race, even if it wasn’t a full 13.1. I’m disappointed that we couldn’t finish the race, but I am thankful that the organizers put the safety of runners and volunteers first. I’m not sure I would have enjoyed racing in that storm anyway…
To make up for a horrible race day, I was rewarded with a cool, clear Sunday morning run along the White River.