Thursday, November 13, 2014

My 500 Festival Mini-Marathon history (and a giveaway!)

I have a very exciting giveaway to share with you. In fact, out of all the giveaways I've done, this one is one of the most exciting for me, because of my history with this race.

Back in 2008, when I was well over 200 pounds, my sister asked me to walk a half-marathon with her: the Indianapolis 500 Festival Mini Marathon. When I signed up, I had all these plans of training and losing weight before the race. Unfortunately, that didn't happen. On race day, I only had a few miles of walking under my belt, but I did the race anyway. It was extremely difficult, and I even wound up getting bad tendonitis from my nonexistent training, but I loved the race itself. That was the first race I'd ever done, so I didn't have a clue what to expect, but I definitely wasn't expecting it to be so fun!

2008

I immediately signed up to do the race again the following year. Despite my intentions of losing the weight (again), I toed the line in 2009 at my heaviest--253 pounds. However, I did prepare and train this time, and had a much better race. It was during the 2009 race where the infamous "before" photo of me in the blue shirt was taken.

2009

It was that year that I really felt out of place with the group that had gone--I was the "fat one" in the group, and I hated that feeling. Again, I vowed to lose the weight for the following year (because of course I was going to do it again!). And to make a very long story short, I followed through. In 2010, I was down to 165 pounds and I had trained my butt off for the race. I shaved nearly 30 minutes off of my walking finish time for the race, too.

2010

Seeing my brother, Brian, along with my sister's friend, Jen, and my friend, Renee, run that year lit a fire under me to start running. Instead of making weight loss resolutions, I decided I was going to run the half-marathon in 2011. I had been doing a little running up until then, and was at the point where I could run 5K, so I started adding mileage and working my way up to training for a half-marathon.

In 2011, I was 147 pounds, and ready to run 13.1 miles for the first time. I am SO glad that I chose the Indy Mini as the first half-marathon I ran! The course is so entertaining that the miles just flew by, and I truly (honestly!) enjoyed each minute of it. I ran the entire way, and crossed the finish line in 2:10:40.



The 500 Festival Mini Marathon is a FANTASTIC race, especially for first-time half-marathoners. With 35,000 participants, the Mini is the largest half-marathon and the seventh-largest road race in the U.S., as well as the 18th largest road race in the world. The course is lined with over 80 bands (yes, EIGHTY!). There are also several groups and cheer squads along the course to entertain the runners and walkers.

The race is also very walker-friendly! I walked this race for three years before I decided to run it. The course has minimum pace requirement of 18:00/mile, but even if you're just starting out, I believe there is plenty of time to train to meet that requirement. I held a 17:41/mile pace at my heaviest weight (after training). With 35,000 participants, there are a LOT of people walking; I never felt embarrassed to be walking instead of running. Here is the plan I used to train to walk the race; and here is the plan I used to train to run the race.

The course is unique in that you get to run around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway race track. That's where the name "500 Festival" comes from--the Indianapolis 500 is a 500-mile motor race around the track held over Memorial Day weekend on that track.


Personally, my favorite part of the course is actually in the first mile, when you get to run past the zoo. If you look to your right, you can see the elephants :) It's kind of crazy, but when I walked the race, just before the 2-mile mark, you can see the elite runners as they approach mile 12! They start the race right as the gun goes off, but since I was in the back of the pack of 35,000 people, it took me nearly 30 minutes just to get to the starting line. So the timing makes sense that the elites would be there at that point. The first place finishers usually finish under 1:02 (about 4:43/mile). Crazy fast!

Each time I've gone, we've made a fun weekend out of it. We get a hotel right at the starting line (the Embassy Suites Downtown Indianapolis), so we can literally walk out of the hotel and into our corral. We've always gone out for pasta at Buca di Beppo the night before the race. And I LOVE that this race is on a Saturday, because that means we can spend the afternoon/evening drinking relaxing at the hotel instead of making the drive home.



Anyway, I was already registered for the 2015 race when the Director of Marketing contacted me to see if I'd like to offer a giveaway on my blog. I'm not an ambassador for the race or anything--I just truly love love LOVE this race, and I would love to give the opportunity to someone else! I'm really looking forward to spending the weekend there in 2015 with my Sole Mates Ragnar team.

I have not one, but TWO free registrations to give away. Right now, the registration cost is $85, and it jumps to $95 on January 1st (the race usually sells out before then, however). I know that because of the location, many of you may not be able to enter; but if you're considering a destination race next year, this is a great one to do!

So, if you'd like to enter to win a registration for the Indy Mini, just fill out the form below. Before entering, please just double check that you're able to go to the race if you should win.  (ETA: There was an issue with the form--my mistake. So sorry if you weren't able to have access to it before! It appears to be working now.)



I will close entries and choose a winner on Friday, November 21st at 1:00 PM EST. Good luck!


26 comments:

  1. Katie! It looks like the form isn't working, it's protected or something! I'd love to enter, I had already been talking about doing it!!

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    1. Thanks Emily! I just fixed the issue. SO sorry about that! Thanks for letting me know.

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  2. I was going to echo you as well Emily! I am super excited to enter, and have only heard wonderful things about this race :) Thanks Katie!

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    1. Sorry about the issue with the form. It's fixed now!

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  3. Desyacv2.
    I feel like doing it. You inspired me, I've been following you since 2011, back on sparkpeople. I have never run a half marathon but I think that will be something fun to do. I live in Ohio so it's like 2 hours from Indianapolis.

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  4. I'd also be interested in entering, Katie. I live in Columbus, so this would definitely be doable over a weekend. I was considering running the Cap City Half again next year, but if I won an entry to Indy that would be fun too!

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  5. How fun! It would be really neat to walk the same half you started with since you inspired me to walk my first half! But it's a 9 hour drive for me and I don't think I could make it work if I were to win. Bummer! Good luck to everyone else!

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  6. I would LOVE to enter as a team of 2! I live in FL and have a friend in AL. She CONSTANTLY encourages me and I do the same for her. We would love to meet up for a destination race!

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    1. btw - I can't see the form either. It says I need permission?

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    2. I was just trying to see what the issue was, because there weren't any responses yet... and I realized I forgot to change it to where you don't have to be signed in. A big mistake on my part! Please let me know if it works now.

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  7. What an awesome giveaway!!! I've never done anything over 6 miles so this would be a fun challenge :)

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  8. How very cool. Would love to enter, but because of distance cannot commit to being able to take advantage of the prize. Good luck!

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  9. I ran this in 2012, my first half, and finished in 1:45! I loved it, even though it was packed in the beginning. I ran it with my aunt which made it even more special :) great giveaway!

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  10. Ah your history of doing the race is just so awesome! What a transformation from year one to year three! Wish I could go but my friend talked me into doing a Disney half in May and that's already going to cost a fortune :)

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  11. I would love to do the Indianapolis 500 Festival Mini Marathon! Thanks so much for doing this give away!

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  12. This sounds like so much fun! I just started at a gym so I can walk/run this winter. I want to complete the couch to 5k before winter is over! This would be a great goal to work towards!

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  13. Quick question, is this a 1 time entry or can we enter as many times as we want? Thank you Katie! :) It'd be awesome to meet you finally!

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    1. Just one entry per person, please. Thanks and good luck!

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  14. Is this transferable? I will still be in the Dominican Republic in May, but my Mom lives in Columbus so if I happened to win I would want to pass it to her. If not, no big deal, I'll just link her to your blog and have her enter for herself.

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    1. I will be emailing a registration code to the winner, who will complete his/her own registration. So if you won, you could just use the code to register your mom.

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  15. Just read your message to only enter once! I entered a couple times ...Sorry Katie! I would drive from Minneapolis, MN. I was just excited! Thanks! Love your Blog!!

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  16. I may have accidentally entered twice?!? Or maybe it wldnt have let me... Saw the reminder today, but couldn't remember if I had submitted. Sorry if I doubled!��

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  17. So excited for this! I live in AZ but am a Hoosier girl from ft wayne! I am doing much like you've done, gathering a group of sorority sisters from ball state and centering a weekend reunion around my first indy mini. Just haven't bought my race entry yet. Fingers crossed!!!! Either way, can't wait!

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I'd love to hear from you! I read all of my comments, and if you have a question, I do my best to respond; sometimes, however, I get busy and forget to go back to reply, so if it's important, just email me! :)