There are periods in which person experiences self-doubt. Self-doubt can lead to loss of “confidence”—“full trust; belief in the trustworthiness or reliability of a person.” The American College Dictionary, 1962 ed. Three people had to help me the last three-quarters of a mile to finish yesterday’s race. They gave me confidence.
Yesterday I was determined to finish the Mini. My goal in my first Indianapolis 500 Festival Mini-Marathon®), in 1999, was to break three hours for the 13.1 mile course. As I wrote yesterday, I walk the Mini with the attitude I would flip “the bird,” metaphorically, to the Multiple Sclerosis from which I lost use of my legs and with which I was diagnosed in 1994. I began to walk in the mornings before work. To “do” the Mini seemed a goal reasonably related to what I had experienced. If I could walk again, and 13.1 miles at that, I would post a victory over MS. When I finished the Race, I swore to myself I would not miss a Mini.
My first seven or eight Minis, I finished in under three hours. My best time was in 2002 at 2:42:13, a fairly quick pace for a walk. I was in shape from having trained and walked the full marathon, the previous October, at Fort Ben.
I began to slow down. I had lost cartilage in my left knee. The walk hurt. I was bummed out, but took the loss of velocity in stride, so to say. I trained less. I had done the Race so many times, I figured I could do it okay.
In 2012 I had to pull over after mile 10 and take the bus. The folks who worked the Race and the people on the bus, were great. In 2013, I gritted my teeth and finished. Last year I had to pull over just after mile 9. My knee was extremely sore.
This year I trained hardly at all. Knee pain had been the reason I had to take the bus to the finish line those two years. I had no doubt my stamina.
A very good friend, Amy Kelley, picked me up at 7 and we went downtown. She dropped me off and I found my way to my area for the start. I felt great. I could finish this Race.
I had an equipment malfunction. My cassette player crapped out. I had to listen to a radio station instead of my own selection of music—a minor inconvenience.
In 2002, I walked the first mile in 10:30. Yesterday I covered it in 17:35. The pace quickened to about 16:30 for the next four miles. That was cool. I felt okay. The knee let me know when I had to take Aleve. The roll of my feet helped, but did not eliminate the pain.
The weather was another matter. The day was downright hot for me, especially at the track. The Panama hat I wear each year provides good cover, but the sun was too bright. The track is brutal under those conditions. There is no shade. Any breeze is cut by the grandstands. The asphalt radiates warmth. One’s eyeballs begin to feel warm. I thought I never would have the opportunity to once more sit down.
At mile 9 I told myself I could make it—only look to finish the next mile. At mile 10 I remembered when I pulled over in 2012. I was a bit light-headed by that point yesterday. I moved on and looked for the mile 11 signs. After I passed them, I called Amy and said she should drive downtown to the place at which we agreed she would pick me up.
I began to stagger a little. Some of the people who passed me asked if I was okay. I nodded. I was not able to talk easily. I had to save my energy.
I passed the mile 12 marker and turned onto the New York Street bridge. The bridge is uphill and crests at its half-way point. I inferred the man I heard encouraging people was doing so for people with whom he was doing the Mini. He got up even with me.
“Hey,” I said. He looked over and asked how I was doing. I asked, “May I use your shoulder?” He did not hesitate and said “sure.” I put my left arm around his shoulders, and he did the same with me. His name is Michael. He is a police officer in Indy. I told him my name and explained I had been silly not to train for this, my seventeenth. “Really?” I said yeah, my first was in 1999. “So was mine.”
We walked that way for about a quarter-mile. Two men came up from behind us and asked if we needed held. Michael said no, we were doing okay. I thanked the guys and said, “Michael here has had enough extra weight for a while. Yeah, I can use some help.”
I thanked Michael and told him I would not have been able to make it but for his help. He said, “But you made it the first 12 miles.” I agreed, but said the last mile would have been impossible without his help and wished him a good “rest of the Race.”
David and Kurt (or Kirk or Curt; I was a little whoozy by then) were on each side of me and I had an arm around the should of each. They were rescue workers of some sort. We talked as we made our way toward the finish line. About a hundred yards before the finish line, I said I could make it the rest of the way. I thanked them, and said the same thing I had said a few minutes earlier to Michael: without their help I could not have made it. Their reply was the same as Michael’s. “You made the first 12 miles.” My response was a reprise of what I had said to Michael.
I made it across the finish line, received my medal, and walked a couple more blocks, where Amy awaited in the cosmic rescue vehicle.
For those of you who went downtown to see a loved one off at the start of the Mini, the day could not have been more beautiful. For people in the Race—especially those of us who are slower and started later; or, at least, for me—the weather was bad. I got home, took a long pull on a jug of water in the refrigerator, flopped onto my bed, let one of the cats—Little Bit—curl up next to me, and passed out for 90 minutes. I woke up refreshed.
I ignored some of the advice I gave yesterday: “If you feel like you might be about to feel bad—pull over. If Mario and Michael slowed down at the 500, you can, too. A ride on a golf cart to the nurses’ station is better than heat stroke. And those folks are there to help you.”
I apologized (or think I apologized) to Michael and David and Kurt) for having not trained. For next year’s Mini I shall train. I will buy a used treadmill (anyone know of one on the market?). My goal, once again, is to break three hours. (My official time yesterday was 4:54:01.)
I wrote about “confidence” at the top of this blog for a reason. There is confidence one has in oneself. There also is confidence one gains from the realization that the people around us are good and will help. I should not have laid that onto the gentlemen who helped me finish the Mini. They were okay with it, but I should not have been so irresponsible as to necessitate their assistance.
So I would like to thank all of you who read the blog yesterday (and am grateful for your comments) and all who volunteered to work the Race. I tried to thank the folks as I walked past the Pit Areas where they pass out water and Gatorade®. Also, thanks go to the members of the National Guard, the Civil Air Patrol (at least I think those were the uniforms), the Marion County Sheriff’s Department, the IMPD and the State Police who were all along the route. I also thank the musicians and other entertainers.
I would like to thank my friend Amy Kelley. (I promised I will buy dinner for her and her boyfriend Jim). I could not have driven myself back from the Race.
As much as anyone, I want to thank Michael and Kurt (or Curt or Kirk) and David. You renewed my confidence in several ways. You told me I had made the first 12 miles. Without your help, I could not have finished the Race. You let me understand people are good. Still, I’ll train for next Year’s Mini.
And Linda, if you read this, this Mini was for you, kiddo.