Friday, May 7, 2010

The Mini

Dear Mom,
On Saturday, the 34th annual 500 Festival Mini- Marathon kicks off the Month of May in Indianapolis. I think it was twenty years ago that I walked in my first mini-marathon. It was not my last mini.

It was my second to last.

That first marathon, I walked the 13-point-whatever miles with some co-workers. The dentist I was working for at the time was (and still is) an avid runner and he convinced some of us that we could do it. So we did. It was a bright, hot day. Perfect for a nice long walk. Until you are so hot and sweaty and hungry and your fingers have swelled so much that you can't make a fist, that you start praying for clouds and a significant drop in temperature. Back then the Mini was held just before the actual race at the end of the month, started at Monument Circle and finished at the track, forcing the participants to finish the last 2 1/2 grueling miles without shade, on hot asphalt and with your legs striking the pavement at different levels thanks to the banking of the track all while suffering the illusion that the next turn was within reach when really it was a mile away. But we got to cross the "yard of bricks" that is the finish line.Since then the race has been moved to early in the month, and the route has been changed. I think they still run on the track but it is only part of the race route.

The next year, with the promise of unlimited cookies at the finish, I convinced Wendy to walk with me. She was a nearly newlywed, still living in an apartment, and we trained separately, but boasted of our training progress. This was back in the days when a Sony Walkman was the hi-tech way of taking your music with you, and I can remember walking many miles and listening to Prince's (he was still Prince back then) Batman soundtrack. I don't know what Wendy listened to. Probably not Prince.

Our Race Day arrives and it is a rainy one. Wendy drives herself to my house, and I drive us to the track. We park and take a shuttle to Monument Circle and await the start of the race. Personally, even though my feet squelched with every saturated step, I felt good. I was not hot. It became clear about halfway through the race that Wendy was not feeling the joy. At one point I decided I couldn't walk that slow anymore and told her that I would meet her just past the finish line. "Turn left through the gate. I will be right there on the right side. Don't forget. There are cookies!!!" And on I went. I ended up finishing with my best time. I know. Best of two is not worth mentioning, but still. I crossed the finish line, grabbed some cookies and water and waited. And watched. And waited.

I finally see Wendy approaching the finish line. She manages to make it to the left through the gate, but in her dazed stupor, she walked straight past me and sort of winds her way in the opposite direction AWAY from the cookies. I fought my way through the crowd, grab her and saying the only thing it would be possible for her to comprehend, shout, "THE COOKIES ARE OVER HERE!!"

At this point, a miracle happens. Wendy is able to walk at a brisker pace than she was able to manage for the last hour. She has focus and determination. I direct her to the cookie table. She picks up one cookie, and her rain soaked, shaking hand is poised to take a second cookie when.... SLAP! Her hand is smacked away by the lady managing the cookie table. I was afraid Wendy would start to cry. I don't really remember much of what happened after that. I just know we found our way back to the car, threw modesty out the window and changed into dry clothes right there in the front seat of my Mazda and drove back to my house. I think we stopped for fast food burgers on the way.

I also remember that Wendy didn't have the energy to drive home and David had to come and get her. Sadly, I have no pictures from our rain soaked accomplishment. I cannot find the photo taken when I crossed that wet finish line all those years ago. I wonder if Wendy still has hers.


p.s. Yes, as revealed in the picture, I did walk with my t-shirt tucked in and I had a cute belt in my walking shorts. Clearly, I did not know what I was doing. I do know that I wore knit pants with an elastic waist the second year. Probably still had my shirt tucked in, though!