As I wrote yesterday, these last blogs about the Mini® will be a 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 2.
If you buy new shoes for the race, break them in at least a full week before. Blisters are a killer. Buy some good socks, too. They are a good investment. At mile eight or nine, every little bit of comfort helps.
Take along some kind of self-entertainment. The race rules say nobody can wear headphones. As a lawyer, I believe that provision was inserted by the legal team of the Mini® for whatever reason. I never have seen that rule enforced. About a third of the participants would be in violation—it can get boring out there, mile-after-mile. Make sure the wire to the headphones—or ear bugs or whatever they call them today—are out of the way of your arms. You can easily snag the wires and personal entertainment devices go flying. Also, if your personal entertainment device is battery-operated, take along a spare set.
Also—there is water on the course and the volunteers who work the water (and Gatorade®) stops are great. But sometimes you will get thirsty and there is not a stop for a while (or, near the end of the course, the water stations either have run out of H20 or the folks are breaking down the gear and heading home). Get some sort of mini-thermos bottles for your utility belt. Go to that water as a last resort, but you want some along.
Wear shorts for the race itself, but remember this—it probably will get warm. That’s why people peal off sweatshirts and sweatpants and toss them to the side right there at the start of the race. And try to wear apparel that doesn’t chafe. The wrong material in a shirt can hurt after a few miles of sweat.
A few years ago the Indianapolis 500 Festival® started giving out caps. I have MS and direct sunlight is bad for me. The course can get extremely hot. The caps they give out provide for air to flow through side material with perforations. They also are light-weight. I prefer to wear a wide-brimmed hat. That is why (not because I want to be stylin’ out there) usually I wear a Panama hat with the same kind of perforated sides as the caps given out in your race package. I have a Stetson® jungle hat with the same wide brim but more solid material that I have worn years when rain has been predicted for the race.
Find your way to your stall and move up (if you are not there already) to the rope that separates your stall from the stall in front of you. As I said yesterday, you want to get to the track as soon and as early as possible.
After the first mile.
I began to feel confident. People wear all sorts of shirts. A lot are the year’s shirt given out with the race packets. (I’d say "given out ‘free’ with the race packets," but you are paying for that shirt.) The shirts, however, are long-sleeve and more appropriate for training than for the race itself. Some shirts are from other races—past years’ of the Mini® or other half- or full marathons. Other shirts are of the category of dedication to loved ones or friends who have passed away. Others are declarations of religious conviction. Whatever works for someone—fine. I liked the one that said, "I may be slow, but I’m ahead of you."
Drink water at the first stops. The rule of thumb (or body tissue) is that is you feel thirsty, you already should have been drinking. I like to drink a cup or two of Gatorade® when it is available (and it is at a few of the stops).
Be careful at the water stops. Think of traffic on Pit Row during the Indianapolis 500®. The same principles apply. People are trying to weaving and out and grab water. Traffic’s heavy. Also—IMPORTANT—discarded cups on the ground and get slippery when covered with a lot of splashed water. You do not want to fall down, and the n suffer the indignity of having someone walk over the top of you.
You settle into a rhythm. What I found helpful when I walked for time was to find someone who was shooting for about the same pace (you can tell after while who is moving at what speed) and "draft" that person. That person sometimes gets paranoid. More often s/he realizes someone is drafting and it turns into something of a race, and then you converse. If you are doing the Mini® with a friend, this point is moot, maybe.
Then you turn right off of tenth and onto Main Street in Speedway. Usually a couple of groups of cloggers are there dancing. At the end of Main is 16th. Just ahead lies the Indianapolis Motor Speedway®. If you have managed your water intake properly, you do not have to use the restroom. You will see the course officials waving people to the left and looking to make sure people have their bibs numbers on. You go under the short chute between turns one and two. The air is cooler there but the slope is steep going down and again back up. Then you break out into the infield next to the track’s museum.
Now is the big challenge: the track.