The Ups and Downs of the She Power Half

When Cori asked me to sign up for the She Power Half Marathon back in March, I was in a bit of a running funk. I was worried that since I had not really been training, that a half marathon would be too much for me at this time. So when she pointed out that there was a quarter marathon option, I was easily persuaded to tag this race onto my extended summer trip home.

The packet pick up for this race was at one of the branches of the Indiana University Hospital. Pick up was a breeze and there was that extra touch of having each shirt, bib, and various swag in cute little boxes. I felt like I was getting a gift, but then remembered that I actually paid a race fee for this “gift.”

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We decided to scope out the race venue before heading back to our hotel for the evening. The race was being held at Eagle Creek Park just north of Indianapolis. We found the entrance and noticed that it was one car entry. Since we knew we had to pay five dollars for parking in the morning, we just knew that getting into the park before the race was going to be a nightmare if we waited too long to arrive. We decided right then and there that we were going to try to make it to the park by 7 which we did with no problem.

It was a good thing that we decided to arrive when we did. There did end up being a traffic jam at the entrance causing the race to be delayed 10 minutes. It was already a humid day, so I was ready to get started before the sun became too much.

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One of the cool things about this race is that the medal doubles as a photo frame. With all the downtime, we decided to get our pictures printed before the race. That too turned out to be a great idea because our wait was nominal, but after the race it would have been crazy long.

Finally it was time to begin the race. When I registered, I had the option of running a road race or a trail race. I opted for the road since that was what I was used to. If you were running the half marathon, you needed to complete two loops, and you could choose how you wanted to complete them, both road, both trail, or one of each. When I saw some of the ladies’ shoes at the finish, I was grateful to have kept to the road course. Apparently there was a small lake on the trail that was unavoidable due to recent rains.

The trail was mostly flat, but the race starts us a hill which zapped my energy pretty fast on the extremely humid morning. I pushed through and was happy with the course for the most part. It was hilly at times, but one hill was in my favor, and I picked up a lot of ground running down it.

As I rounded the turn to head back to the finish line, I was so glad that I had picked the quarter marathon instead of the half for this race. I just did not have it in me to complete another five miles. The near seven I had already completed was just enough for this morning.

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As I came across the finish line, the race director called out my name, which was a nice touch. Then my medal was placed around my neck. Immediately after I was handed a rose, which was something that I had never been given at a race before, another nice touch. Finally it there was a nice drawstring bag with all the promotional swag. It was so nice to have something to stash all my stuff in and have my hands free for water and post race food.

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I loved that they had a snow cone station at the end. It was the perfect way to cool down and wait for Cori to finish her half. For the first time ever, I was finished before her, and I was able to snag some pictures of her crossing the finish line.

Overall, I was pretty happy with the organization of this race seeing how it was an inaugural race. My only complaints were the lack of restrooms and the spacing of the water stations. The race directors were relying on the four bathrooms already in the park along with four port-o-potties to support all the women in this race. We hit the line around 7:15 and people were already having to beg for toilet paper from the stall next door. The water stations were spaced out strangely. I went about a mile and half between most which is normal, but then there would be two within a quarter mile of each other. With the high humidity that day having a few more stations would have been so appreciated. My only other complaint was having to pay to park on race morning. That is something that could have been added to our race fee so that we didn’t have to wait at a gate and cause the traffic to bottle neck. The support of the runners, medal, food, and free photo downloads were excellent and helped offset some of the negatives of this race. As I just visited their website recently, I’ve noticed that they are changing the venue for next year, so hopefully they will have worked out some of the kinks based on this inaugural run. If I was going to run in Indianapolis again, I would probably do this race one more time. Even though I did not complete the half course, I was inspired to get back into the habit of training, and am working towards a half in November. So thanks She Power Half for that bit of a push I needed.

 

 

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One Day in Downtown Indy

Our run-cation weekend in Indianapolis was only going to give us a mere 60 hours, so like any good adventurer, we were going to make the most of it.   The two hour flight from Orlando had us landing and in a rental car by 10.  Our first stop was the Indianapolis Zoo.  

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I had visited this zoo several times over the course of my life.  I remember as a child going one summer with my brother and cousins and being able to ride on both a camel and and an elephant’s back.  All four of us in a saddle type contraption riding around on an elephant is an experience I will always remember.  As the oldest, I was seated in the back of our pack, and I remember that elephant swatting me with its tail as we rode around.  Of course in today’s world there are no more elephant rides. That was just the first of the changes I would find at the Indianapolis Zoo.

Upon entrance, I was already getting the vibe that this place had changed since my last visit.  The entrance seemed shabby, the restrooms were in disarray, and the animal enclosures felt like enclosure in some places.   The windows to see the tigers were distorted with foggy fingerprints and scratches.  While I might have been able to overlook all this, it was the “new” orangutan enclosure that had my heart breaking.   For the most part, they seemed to have a lot of room, but on orangutan was in a room by itself right near the window.  His soulful eyes seemed so sad and depressed.  I could only bare to look at him for a few moments.  

In all I think we spent about two hours at the zoo, and I don’t think I will be going back anytime soon.

From there it was on to our first food stop of the day, Long’s Donuts.  Situated in a house turned bakery, again, I was left unimpressed with my sprinkle cake donut.  Maybe if we had arrived first thing in the morning, I would have been more impressed.  Then again, I’m spoiled by a local establishment called Bakery Plus that makes the most amazing doughnuts right in Orlando–my mouth is watering just thinking about them right now.

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Long’s was relatively close to the Indianapolis Speedway, where we had to take an obligatory picture.  No speed racing for us today, the track was being used for a Corvette show.

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The original Love statue created by Robert Indiana was our next pit stop.  Located in the sculpture park on the grounds of the Indianapolis Museum of Art it is not the typical red color of those found in Philadelphia or New York.

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Then it was into downtown.  There we walked around the city and ended up on the canal.  The canal is a unique feature.  There are surrey rentals and families were riding up and down both sides of the canal.  What intrigued me most were the paddle boats and kayaks floating up and down.  As we continued exploring the canal area, we stumbled upon a gondola ride.  We opted for the public tour, which ended up being a private tour since no one else joined us.  Our guide even sang opera songs in Italian to make it seem more authentic.

We ended our day with a visit to Bru Burger, full of local beers, and The Flying Cupcake.  Always the English teacher, I fount Kurt Vonnegut, of Slaughterhouse Five fame, overlooking the intersection where both of these places are located.  A beer, charcuterie plate, and couple of cupcakes were delicious after a day of walking around, and I was inspired to reread some of Vonnegut’s work.

Overall, we had a great time exploring downtown Indy.  We each were able to see everything on our list of Indy must dos. The great thing about Indianapolis is that it is a very walk able downtown.   Parking was easy to find everywhere we went, and if it wasn’t free, it was no more than $10.  Next time I’m in Indy, I am making it a priority to jump in one of those kayaks on the canal and hit up some more of the micro brews the city is becoming known for.

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Chasing Garfield Around Northeastern Indiana

I grew up in Northwest Indiana on a 33 acre corn or soybean field depending on the year.  I loved growing up where I did–a little town where you run into people you know at the grocery store every time you go.  It was this version of Indiana that I wanted Cori to see on our weekend to Indianapolis.  

The day before our race, we did not want to do a lot of walking.  We had already walked about 10 miles around Downtown Indy the day before.  In my pre-trip research, I had found something called the Garfield Trail.  I knew that Jim Davis, the creator of Garfield was from Marion, Indiana, but I had no idea that there was something called the Garfield Trail.  After our search to find all the Wizard of Oz statues last summer in Chicago’s Oz Park, I had a feeling that Cori would be on board for a Garfield scavenger hunt plus it would give me a chance to show her the Indiana where I grew up.    

 

We spent the morning sleeping in and getting breakfast at our Hampton Inn before jumping in the car.  We had downloaded the map earlier so we had an idea that we were not going to go in order of the numbers listed, but rather make a big circle through northeastern Indiana.  

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In addition to the trail map, you can listen to information on your cell about each location, but after listening to the recorded voice on one stop, we couldn’t take the sound of the recording and opted to just read the informational plaques when they were provided.

Our scavenger hunt took us through little farm towns, two lane roads, and rows upon rows of corn.  We even had a hard time finding a place to eat.  We eventually settled on hot dogs and milkshakes at a cute little inexpensive Drive In.  

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One of our stops coincided with my Diet Coke addition.  Swayzee, Indiana.

It was quite the Indiana experience.  We talked and laughed, mostly at our rental car that sounded like it was farting as we went over bumps, through the three hours it took us to drive around and find all the Garfields.  I’m sure we looked like crazy tourists as we jumped out of the car and snapped selfies in front of each tribute to Jim Davis.  Along the way, we only ran into one other couple that was doing the same thing we were, so if you are looking for something free and low key to do around Marion, Indiana, this is it.  


The day was so relaxing and a nice way to just catch up.  I was so glad Cori got to see the Indiana I know and love. 

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What’s the strangest touristy thing you’ve ever done?