A record-breaking 42 #IndyMini Ambassadors are training, recruiting and inspiring others in preparation for the 42nd running of the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon. We’re sharing their stories through a series of blog posts; 2018 Ambassador Features. Here is one of their stories.
Initially, my story was similar to many others; I never liked running when I was younger, but as an adult I figured out that it was therapeutic and calming in ways that my younger self wouldn’t have appreciated.
This year’s purpose, however, is different. In the summer of 2016 I discovered a growth in my left jaw joint, which turned out to be an extremely rare tumor that required removal. In November of the same year, I had a segment of my mandible removed and replaced with titanium, which it turns out is not sturdy enough to be a permanent replacement. As a result, my 2017 Mini was followed shortly thereafter by a surgery called a fibula free flap, a procedure that entailed removing my right fibula in order to replace the missing portion of my jaw. No rod or anything to replace the fibula; it’s just not there anymore.
Consequently, my 2018 Mini story began with my 2017 month of May; I kicked off the month with a 13.1-mile run and ended it without the ability to walk without a walker. I signed up for this year’s event with more purpose than any other one in which I’ve participated – I was adamant that I would complete the 2018 Mini, even if I had to crawl across the finish line. I’ve since regained the ability to do almost everything, and I’m on pace to complete my eighth Mini with only minimal challenges.
I’ve always played sports, but running as a personal endeavor was never appealing. Truth be told, if my wife and her family hadn’t pushed me to do my first Mini as a last-second decision, I’m not sure I would have ever discovered the appeal. As I completed my first Mini, I realized that not every runner kept a fast pace, nor did they all fit the physique that I envisioned. My perception of what it meant to be a runner had been significantly challenged and I was intrigued. I was motivated to find my way to be a runner and shortly thereafter, I was hooked. Once I had my running epiphany, I initially struggled with pacing myself appropriately, so I actually preferred the treadmill over an outdoor run. Eventually, I learned what my preferred pace felt like and could maintain it. Running opened up a new level of experience to every traveling adventure and personal challenge that I faced.
Brian’s #IndyMini Experience
When races consist of longer distances, it can be easy to feel left out or disconnected if you’re not competing in the front of the pack. Although the Mini obviously entails such things, this half marathon is more about the experience than anything else. For the first Mini, I walked… and grumbled… and then felt an odd sense of accomplishment as I crossed the finish line. I was unaware of it at the start of the race, but being a part of this initial experience sparked a desire to be a part of it again and again. The Indy Mini welcomes all in a manner that is encouraging, even if you’re not a runner and may never become one. You’ll never feel out of place during the 13.1 miles. It is truly an experience like no other.
Next, if you’re like me and you need a soundtrack for your running, be sure to put together the playlists in advance and try them out for a run or two. I have created these without taking them out for a spin and realized very quickly that they aren’t as perfect of a jam session as I’d hoped.
Finally, run different routes as you train. I have convenient local runs that I can pace out to the distance I need pretty easily, but variety is good for your training and can be reinvigorating for your running soul. I try to sneak out at least once any time we travel and always find myself glad that I did.
Ultimately, enjoy the experience and worry about nothing other than yourself. You’ll hear endless feedback from those who may not understand the appeal of the Mini or why you would voluntarily run such a distance. Let me tell you though, once you’ve completed your first one, you’ll be challenging them to join you for your next.
Feeling inspired by Brian’s story? If you’re interested in participating in the 2018 OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon, click here.
Brian, along with our other Ambassadors, will be sharing his training experience and motivation leading up to the race. Follow along and share your experience using #IndyMini on social media!