Sunday, November 2, 2014

Race recap: State #4: Indiana

Race: Indianapolis Monumental Marathon
Date: November 1st, 2014
Result: 5:18:51

When I signed up for this one on New Year's Day I had visions of this one being my PR.  I was also about 25 pounds lighter and didn’t yet know how lazy I would become.  In 2013 I logged over 1500 miles of running.  This year, I’ll be lucky to break 900.  The training for this race started well enough the first eight weeks or so in July and August, but when it was time to start putting in the long runs of over 13 miles, I ended up twisting my ankle at the start of my 11.4 mile third leg in Ragnar Napa in September and didn’t run at all for over a month until about 10 days before the race started.  I jokingly posted each day on facebook a 10 day crash course training program, so if you find yourself in the same situation you can do the following:

10 day crash course marathon training begins today! Day 1: Look on internet to see if such a thing exists. No such thing exists.
Day 2: Wore my running clothes under my work clothes today.
Day 3: Studied course map to determine most convenient mile marker for Mae to pick me up with her car.
Day 4: Watching horror movies is a good way to elevate the heart rate when you're this inactive.
Day 5: New shoes! Looking good is more important than feeling good (With a warning in the comments that this is actually a very bad thing)
Days  6, 7 & 8 - the fetal position provides an awesome back stretch.
Day 9: Cut nails and hair to offset 0.00001% of the weight I gained.
Day 10: (pic of holding a beer) hydrate hydrate hydrate! And carboloading!

The drive down to Indianapolis in our rented green Kia Soul was an ominous one – it snowed the whole way down with high winds rocking us back and forth as if we were out on a boat.  But we got to the expo just in time as the exhibitors were folding up shop and Mae picked up a head band and arm phone case from one of the vendors since we forgot to pack them in our haste to get down here on time.  During bib pickup the volunteer who was handing out bibs asked me what I was shooting for.  “Oh, I just want to finish.”  
“He didn’t train at all,” Mae gleefully added.  The volunteer, a fit grey-haired man with the look of tens of thousands of miles under his belt, almost looked at me with contempt.
“I trained, just haven’t been running much this past month.  It’s my third one this year.” 
“Well, you know what to expect then.  Just don’t go out too fast and listen to your body,” he told me as he handed me my packet.

My pre-race pasta dinner
We grabbed a late dinner at the empty Hard Rock CafĂ© across the street from the Hampton Inn downtown since they offered 20% off for hotel guests.  Unfortunately their menu was pretty scant of any pasta dishes so my pasta meal was a cheeseburger and fries.  The only other carbs I put away for the race came from the Stella I nursed throughout the meal.

Thankfully the snow didn’t stick on the ground although it was below freezing but we were at least both prepared for the cold.  Under Armour’s thermal compression gear really keeps the heat in and the pants also double as compression socks to help keep the calves from cramping up early.  I saw in the race guide that they were giving out Clif Shot Bloks at two different points in the race, which I normally use, so I only packed one into my runner's belt, along with four Advil, my phone and my Bluebud X headphones.

With my typical three hours of sleep, Mae (who was running the 5k) and I walked the few blocks to the start line and stayed in a heated building near the start until the race line started moving and I was under way.  The first two miles were spent running through highway underpasses and between taller downtown buildings so my GPS incorrectly logged 2.2 miles when I crossed the second mile mark.  This extra distance really messes you up because every time you look at your watch you think to yourself that you really haven’t run that far yet.  And I kept the wise old volunteer’s words from the expo running through my head.  Hold back.  Listen to your body.  And my body was telling me to run 11 minute miles.  The only people I was passing were speed walkers who were presumably doing the half marathon since we don’t split off into our own routes until mile 7.   

Approaching Monument Circle
The race felt like a neighborhood 5k since most of it runs through residential areas.  There were police officers at every intersection letting through cars one at a time whenever there was the smallest gap between the runners, which were few and far between.  With their hands already extended out, holding up the traffic, I tried high-fiving all of them. 

Besides the beautiful fall colors the only scenery of note was the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument downtown, the Art Museum area and the Butler campus.  With barely any spectators and not much of a view (I’m spoiled after running in wine country in my last race) I turned my focus to the many bouncing female butts in black runner’s tights in front of me to pass the time.

I was actually feeling pretty optimistic at the halfway mark of getting my first negative split since I held back so much.  But even at 11 minute miles my pace started to slow at mile 17 when my feet really started to bark at me.  I didn't have enough time and training to break in a new pair of Nike Lunaracer 3's, and with only 8 miles in them before the race I really paid for it.  I normally would like to have 100 miles on any shoe when running the full.  I should have just run in my NB 980’s which have over 500 miles on them, even if they didn't provide much cushioning anymore.

Love is all you need
I was texting back and forth with Mae as we gave each other updates on our locations after she finished her 5k when I finally met up with her at the Indianapolis Museum of Art around mile 18.5.  We talked for what must have been 5 minutes and snapped some selfies.  I told her I was feeling good and she said I looked good too, which according to day 5 of my 10 day training, is most important.  We kissed our goodbyes and shortly after I passed my favorite sign before the 30k mark – “You run better than the government.”

What sucked about being a back of the packer though was by the time I got to each of the stations where they gave out Shot Bloks they were all out, and there were just wrappers everywhere on the street.  I was tempted to pick one up since it seemed like many of them still had pieces in them, but didn't want to create a gross-out memory for the runners behind me.  So I had to ration my only pack of six Shot Bloks over the course of 5 hours.  I did scarf down a pair of bite-size frozen snickers that were being handed out at a random table since I didn't have much of a breakfast.

This cock though near mile 19
But at my slower pace my energy wasn’t the issue, it was my feet.  The last 12k became a test of how long can I withstand running with what ended up being three blisters on my right foot.  So I would run until my feet needed relief, then walk until I felt better.  This method left me with so much energy that at mile 26 I was able to sprint for the last 200 meters across the finish line and passed about a dozen runners just trying to make it across.  I was handed my medal, a disposable hooded jacket, a knit stocking hat and a cookie and took some finishing photos.  The pain in my feet was so bad I took off my shoes and barefooted it over to the parking garage a few blocks away and headed straight to the closest Arby’s off of I-65 to order what is now a post-marathon tradition – an Arby’s Max with double meat as my protein recovery food.

Even though this was my slowest finish time it didn't really bother me considering I didn't train for this thing.  I never hit the wall and my calves never cramped up on me.  I couldn't believe how enjoyable a marathon can be when you’re running at a pace dictated by your body, not your watch.  Moving forward I won’t shoot for specific times and just listen to my body so I will no longer fall apart the second half like I did in my previous four marathons.

And it was inspiring to see these amazing volunteers standing out in this freezing cold for so long helping us get through it.

Next up in 2015 will be Grandma’s Marathon in June with my friends Mike and Wanda, who inspired me to run the 50 states, and possibly the Borgess Run for the Mittens, which is two marathons in a weekend (Michigan and Wisconsin), in early May.  I said this after my last full in Ohio, but with a renewed awareness of my fitness level and how far I've fallen back I’m going to start counting my calories and run more often now so I can get back into and beyond the shape that I was in 2013.

Registration: $60 + $5.30
Flight: N/A
Hotel: Hampton Inn Downtown $139

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