Firecrackers, Fireworks and Fireballs.

On Sunday we began to prepare for Independence Day by going to Dicks. Here we brought  some running gear for the race this morning. We had an ad hoc method for our training. That is we did none. Instead we signed up two days before and brought extra equipment a day before. Oh well! It was nice looking around the store at all the other things on sale,  including canoes and hammocks. We were then interrupted by a helpful assistant who thought I looked lost. This was until Luke helpfully informed him that I always look like that! Well that earned him  a playful (sort of) shove. As well as a  knowing jeer from the surrounding sales advisors as they obviously know what not to say to (or about) their girlfriends. Luke is still learning. Even after nearly six years! Yet, he made up for it later by letting me drive. Yes really! I have actually driven the Edge and managed to reach the pedals which is lucky really as it helped me be able to drive it. Granted it was around a deserted car park, except for a security guard, but I don’t think he minded. I think he was just  glad I was driving and not  speedy Gonzales Luke.

We had a quiet night on Sunday as we got up at five am this morning for the run. I woke up feeling sick with nerves. I get really nervous before events like this and I know I have been in the gym but I haven’t done a timed six-mile run for a while. As I shakily ate my peanut butter on homemade banana bread with a tiny amount of coffee, as recommended by running forums, my first thoughts were why was I putting myself through this!? It is a good thing it was so last-minute as I may have had the chance to talk some sense into myself! By the morning of the race it was too late. I refused to let nerves get the better of me and, more importantly, Luke. There was no way I was letting him do the run without me. We headed down to city market in our running clobber. On the way Luke was attacked by a tree but we still made it in one piece. Looked like I was still going to have to race!

My nerves eased a little as we got to the farmers market, not to do a food shop but to collect our starter kits. We also had a chat with the volunteers handing them out. One said she liked my accent so I replied I liked her nails. I know it sounds lame but I genuinely did like her nails. We bobbed back to Riley and dropped the kits off before our race. If only that had been the end of the race! However, the kits were really cute and consisted of various sports drinks and our very own firecracker t-shirt.

We then went back and joined the rest of the 475 runners who were mad enough to spend their  early ( eight am) bank holiday morning running through the streets of Indianapolis. Insane! We were blessed first and I even found myself saying “Amen”. I must have been nervous. There was then a rendition of the American anthem, where Luke had to stop himself saying “Come on England’ , or something else highly inappropriate to say in a crowd of over 500 Americans celebrating their independence from Britain. Thankfully, he didn’t have the chance as the race was quickly started by Firecrackers going off (hence the name). I was with Luke until my Ipod paused, which I had in a sandwich bag tucked into my shorts because of the dilemma of no pockets and impending rain. By the time I had sorted it out and began running to ‘Knights of Cydonia’, Luke was nowhere to be seen.

I kept with the crowd on mile one. I was relieved to see the dancing lady of mass Ave near mile two. I wanted to give up on mile three. The cups of water handed out by the volunteers helped, but were not so easy to drik out of whilst running. Over halfway on mile four I passed Luke on his return and was heartened to see I wasn’t that far behind him. As well as just a tad annoyed I wasn’t ahead of him. Also, I appeared to be playing a game with a fellow runner where we were both consistently overtaking each other. I had to stop myslef from saying some really unfunny comments. I just kept wanting to jokingly splurt out “are you following me?”.Yet, I refrained.

I did not know this was mile four untill I heard two old codgers ( and I mean that in a respectful way but it is the best description for them) were cheering each other up by highlighting the oncoming five-mile sign. I was ecstatic as I thought we were still on mile three. I explained this to them and told them to enjoy the race as I sped up. This spurt was to the soundtrack of ‘Where the streets have no name’ , whilst heading towards the beautiful Indiana skyline. It had never looked so good.

I was somewhat perturbed by being overtaken by these old codgers a little bit later but I re-overtook them. This apparently was a consistent theme as the person I had been playing that game with got the better of me and passed the finish line before me. Oh well it is all in the name of fun and sporting camaraderie. Well, I’ll keep telling myself that. I crossed the finish line to the sound of the world cup soundtrack ‘Waving the flag’ and my name being called out. More annoyingly my photo was taken too. I bet that will be one for the mantlepiece! How some people remain looking as if they had just started the race, even at the end, is beyond my capabilities! I was given a bottle of water which I promptly tipped over my head and Luke and I perched for a bit.

I was pleased I had finished the race, but that was never debatable as I wouldn’t expect anything less. However I was a bit disappointed with my results. ( I finished in 1:06. I was 347/475. I was 24/30 for females my age. I ran my last lap around 8 minutes. I ran the first three in 31.26 and the last three in 34.47 so I averaged at 11 mins p/h). Luke did brilliantly and came in 190th place at a time of 55.42 minutes. I had really wanted to come in under an hour . Yet , as Luke pointed out, we had done no training ,it was my first race and it was hot. There is always next time. I guess it is just an achievement that I finished and I didn’t come last!

We collected more goodies and went home for a bit before heading to the Bavarian themed Rathskeller where we opted for the un-Bavarian fish and chips and a vegetarian pasta dish. However, Luke did manage to have a German beer.

A little later on we joined the masses descending on Victory Park for the baseball. It was  sweltering but we managed to find a shady spot and marked our territory with our cushions and cags. Luke had put his foot down at my request to take our grass carpet with us.
It was lovely and there was a great family atmosphere. Even the sound of children whining wasn’t too grating. We had various bits of food that could amount to a picnic and were very settled during the hours the match was on I would talk more about the match but I spent the majority of the time soaking up the atmosphere, singing along (with the crowd, not by myself) to songs like ‘Sweet Caroline’ and staring at this view.
Which seemed highly appropriate.Luke joined the rest of the ‘men’ and watched the match
From what I could tell, it was an ok match. I think everyone was just enjoying the 4th July celebrations. My favourite part of the night had to be the fireworks. We got to watch some at victory field
Then we got to see some more beautiful ones in the town centre (there’s a few more photos on my favourite page)
It was like a huge street party. Their was lots of Jay walking involved but I let Luke know we would just tell any questioning police that it was Independence day, the day of freedom so surely we would be free to cross the road, even on red. Luckily, we didn’t have to test this theory as we walked along the pavements, which were packed. Throughout the walk home we passed dozens of people sat on chairs, motorbikes and bicycles just enjoying the firework display. A huge round of applause and cheer reverberated around the town once the last firework had burst. I have never seen anything quite like it. We then made it back to Riley and joined the queue for a lift. There was a very surprised couple who came out of the lifts and saw us all waiting there! Then, one guy recommended we squeeze as many people in, so we did. I’m just thankful it didn’t break and we got to enjoy watching everyone else begin their firework display and light up the surrounding skyline. I woke up this morning very happy to have experienced an American Independence day and over the moon at not having to go for a run. Not till next year me thinks.

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