The Road to My Final Indy Mini – A Race Recap

I toed the line for my final Indy Mini on Saturday May 6, 2017.  

The journey to that final start line has been frustrating and painful.   

It all started nearly a year ago when I experienced some pain in my knee.  I had run 3 half marathons in 2 months, while not totally unusual for me, it was a lot of running, so I figured I just needed a bit of a break.  I focused more on biking over the summer.

But the knee just didn’t get better.  In fact, it seemed to get worse.

After x-rays, an MRI, anti-inflammatories and a couple different doctors, the bottom line was this:  I have bad knees.  

First doctor’s verdict was quite grim.   “You’re too young for your knees to look like this.  You have arthritis and breakdown of cartilage.  Hang up the running shoes.”

Ummm……no thank you!  You can’t tell a runner that her running days are over!

Onto a second opinion.

Second opinion agreed on some level.  His verdict:  “You have bad knees.  You’re going to have to learn to manage them.”

This time I heard that I might be able to still run.  It just might look a little different going forward.  I can handle that.  I love to bike, so doing more cycling was okay with me.  But I still wanted to run.  I have a running club I love. We meet 3 times a week.  I can’t imagine not being part of that group!

Most runners set goals and sign up for races way in advance, especially things like full and half marathons.  So by the time I realized that this knee thing wasn’t going away, I had already signed up for a fall half marathon, a winter half marathon, and the 2017 Indy Mini.  I was able to back down to the 5K for the fall and winter halfs.  In fact the half in December got cancelled and was only a 5K due to extremely cold temperatures.  Even better!

But I wanted to go out on my terms with the Indy Mini.  2017 would be my 20th time running this race.  It was number 59 (I think??) completed half marathons.

A race recap of my final Indy Mini. I went out on my terms. #IndyMini #grateful #runmyrace Share on X

About a month before my final Indy Mini, I ran a 10 miler, and it was great.  I felt so blessed to have finished it without problems.  It gave me hope that the Indy Mini was doable.  But a couple weeks after that 10 miler I was running a Saturday training run, and my knee started catching.  Ugh.  I stopped and stretched and adjusted and continued to complete my 7 miles.  But after that, my knee swelled up and it didn’t want to run for days and ultimately for the 2 weeks that followed which took me to my final Indy Mini.

I showed up that morning not having run for 2 weeks.  I had been biking regularly for sure and strength training, so I knew endurance wise I was fine. It was just that knee.

I settled in and ran/walked/jogged my final Indy Mini.  I won’t go into all the details about the knee pain and the quad that decided to seize up.  This wouldn’t be my easiest one.  That much I knew for sure.  I went into this event with the least training for a half marathon ever.  It was my toughest and slowest half marathon finish.  I eeked in just under 2:30 (2:29:49 but who’s counting??).

This final Indy Mini wasn’t necessarily about the race itself, although I wanted to snag that medal and say I had run this event 20 times.  It was about the journey to getting to the start line and ultimately to the finish line.

I started this process as a distance junkie thinking I could never give up the long runs, but I ended with relief as I crossed the line for the final time.  Through the months from the first hint at knee pain to May 6, 2017 God helped me embrace what will be a new normal for me.  He helped take away that desire to run everyday and do a weekly long run.  He helped me see that being able to run at all was better than complaining about not running certain times and distances.

My final Indy Mini wasn't so much about the race but the journey to the start. #runmyrace #indymini Share on X

He allowed me that final Indy Mini.  While I thought I would be emotional as I crossed the finish line that last time, I was actually relieved that it was behind me.  I was filled with gratitude that I was able to run that race I had signed up for a year ago but I was also okay with not signing up for 2018.

To be sure, I am looking forward to lots of 5Ks and maybe even a few 10Ks.  I will run some, race some, and probably even walk some.

Last year I ran a half marathon with Team Momentum*.  They raise funds and awareness for those who suffer muscle disease.  I’ve thought about that a lot over the last year.  When I’ve been in pain or frustrated with my limitations due to my knee, I think about those kids and the ones who battle the disease daily.  My pain and frustration don’t hold a candle to theirs.  So I am grateful for what my body can still do including the goals I can set and work towards.  It keeps things in perspective.

I may be closing the chapter on half marathons with my final Indy Mini, but I have many miles ahead of me and I’ll be grateful every step of the way.

*If you are interested in supporting the Muscular Dystrophy Association, my good friend and local runner will be running her first marathon in Chicago in October with Team Momentum. She and I ran the half together last May.  Please consider making a donation.

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