I am nearing the home stretch on these blogs that are part combination of memories of doing the Mini® and advice, based on those memories, of how to do it. I had no clue, in 1999, about the proper approach to the race. All advice given in this, or any other column, is not given as a healthcare professional. I do not have the formal training received by M.D.s, so check with your physician before the Mini®.
Before the start, part 3.
Choice of music: something with a good bet helps your pace. I have found "Machine Head," by Deep Purple, as an album (recorded in the early 1970s, "album" is the proper term), gives a good beat for a fast pace. If you wear shades it is helpful to have one of those cords that attach to each stem and wrap around your neck.
The course crosses part of the infield and enters the track just outside Turn 2. Look ahead of you: it looks relatively easy. What? One three-quarters of a mile? Then it seems to get longer. At this point you should be really conscious of drinking water at the water stops. If you need to cool off radically, take off you cap or hat, lean your head back, and pour water on your head.
When pouring water on your head, don’t get any in your shoes. The same holds true for the well-meaning people a couple of places along the course who spray garden hoses on race participants. Steps around the spray. Water in the shoes gets socks wet and can cause blisters. Back to IMS®.
One appreciates how really long the turns are when one has to walk those turns. You enter three, stay low, go through the short-chute, move through four, and come out on the main straightaway. This is Indy®. On the left is the Tower and, on both sides, way up there, all those suites. The walk has become something of a death march by now—especially if the day is warm and sunny—and each step is an effort. Be aware that, as you get about 20 yards from the "Yard of Brick"®, the Indianapolis 500 Festival has photographers stationed on a catwalk spanning the track. Look up at them, smile, and wave. The last few years I hold up my fingers to indicate how many in a row this is for me. Otherwise, year-to-year with my hat and other attire, I can’t tell the difference.
I always like to walk across the rectangle, marked on the asphalt, where the car of the pole-sitter will rest on the grid on Race Day®. That way, when we watch the 500 on TV, I have a connection with everything.
Between turns three and four, the past two or three years, my knee has started to hurt horribly. There is nothing I can do about that, of course, except continue to walk.
You exit the track just outside of Turn Two. You follow a circuitous driveway around to the right (an area in which DePauw, my alma mater, has had a water stops the last few years), and get a couple of slugs from a Gatorade® stand. Then you are back out on 16th Street going East before a right to wind around the Marathon Oil® fuel depot. Then comes Mile 9, what for me, in the past, has been a difficult point of the race. I am exhausted. My knee aches. But the distance to the end is the same as I walked each morning when I began morning walks. As you turn onto Michigan, look ahead and you will see tens of thousands of people as nutty as you are for doing this. This is a very long stretch. Mile 10 is a long way in coming. Mile 11 takes even longer to appear. You can’t make sense of the time because you no longer can calculate your time subtracted from the original starting time. People you recognize as having passed earlier, now pass you. As did the Andrettis, you are slowing down. But keep one foot moving in front of the other. Grab another cup of water.
And just ahead, on the left, is a bar. A waitress stands outside with a tray of paper cups of beer. Just say "no thank you" to her. There will be plenty of time, later, for beers.
You turn right onto the White River Parkway. You’re almost there.