Summary: I finished a marathon, felt good, on a perfect day to run. Yet, I left a little disappointed. On reflection, I figured out both the disappointment and the plan forward. And, once more, I realize every marathon has its lesson.
I finished the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon on November 3 and, once more, it was a very good experience. It brought back a ton of very fond memories, since one year earlier I qualified for Boston at this race.
Having run this race at least six times now, I have the logistics figured out. Or so I thought. I got a break, when a friend of a friend was available to pick up my packet for me on Thursday evening before the race. That simplified things.
|My Bib and Cubs Cheer|
But logistics got a lot more interesting when an email arrived late Friday afternoon from the Race Director telling all participants the traffic would be "complex" on race morning the next day. None other than President Trump came to downtown Indy for a Friday night rally. Further, he was staying in a hotel one block from the start/finish line. Oh my, the RD in me grimaced for the race staff. As a result, many streets near all the race parking areas were cordoned off completely from 5pm Friday until 11am Saturday. This also hampered Friday night packet pick up (I was sure glad I had mine in hand). Traffic patterns for this race are normally tight, with 13,000 runners converging and this only made it worse. So I studied the street maps and literally had route Plans A, B, C and D ready to get to my already-reserved parking spot. And decided to leave even earlier than planned.
I left home at 4:48am, had an easy drive to Indy and quickly determined Plan A was a bad idea. I shifted to Plan B and it was blocked off too. Plan C gave hope until a half block from the entry ramp for the parking garage. Plan D activated, I made a turn and, wonderfully, discovered the small, single-lane, back entrance to the parking garage. The QC code worked perfectly and I eased into a parking spot about 60m from the finish line at 6:04am. Two hours ahead of the gun, I was set.
|Pre-race in Parking Garage|
I got the legs comfortable by walking around the start/finish area early, the calm before the storm, so to speak. I saw the security set up around the hotel at which the President stayed, as well as a few of the protesters gathered who, frankly, looked comical. I went back to the car, relaxed, got dressed and walked to the starting grid about 30 minutes before the 8:00am gun.
It was a perfect, perfect weather day on which to run. Zero wind, sunny skies, temps around 40F at the start and around 50F by the time I finished. Wow...so rare to get such a day on which to run a marathon.
I went out, as planned, with the 4:30 pace group (which is a 10:18/mile pace). It worked...we crossed the 10K timing mat at a 10:15 pace and hit the half marathon mark in 2:14:11, also a 10:15 pace. I felt pretty good until mile 18, when I started to feel some odd cramping in my right leg. I hit the 30K timing mat still with the pace group but starting to leak a bit, slowing to a 10:18/mile pace. By the 20 mile mark, I finally had to let the pace group continue. The cramps/tightness in the right leg was just too much, my endurance lagging.
I had to shift to a run/walk from my steady run and the pace group slowly drifted out ahead of me. While it was disappointing to slow down, that was the best I could do with the right leg acting up, inexplicably. It was a time of reflection, remembering how I "toughed it out" in this very same section of the course a year earlier. Not so today.
We made the right turn onto Meridian Street and I finally got it back together by mile 24.5 and ran the rest of the way...with one wonderful exception. At the mile 26 marker, in front of the State House, were our son and his wife, waiting for me! David had run the half marathon and Susan was there to cheer him on and they stuck around for two more hours, waiting to see me in. What a treat to give them a big hug and let them know how much I appreciated them. With an extra hop in my step I hauled around the final right turn and crossed the finish line in 4:33:51.
|Immediately Post Race, at Finish Line|
I didn't hang around too long, post race, just enough to enjoy some chocolate milk, get my gear, change into some dry clothes and eat a bit.
One fun fact: This was the first time I wore my new Purdue singlet at a big race...what fun that was! Got a lot of "Boiler Up!" cheers along the way, a big deal in a town that seems to favor our arch rival from the southern part of the state. I'm pretty sure I'll wear this same shirt in Boston.
On the drive home, this introverted runner-engineer could finally process the day and came up with two big lessons.
Quality of training matters. I simply did neither adequate miles nor any speedwork through the summer or early fall. I messed around too much with a "low mileage" approach to training as I came off the PF I had last spring. And that meant I was only set to finish a marathon but not run it strong. There are no short cuts. This became clear.
Appreciate the days when it works. It was a year ago at this very marathon I BQed, on a day when everything lined up and worked perfectly. Those days are rare. When it happens, embrace it. I'll likely seldom, if ever, have as perfect a weather day in which to run as I did in this event. Yet, even with that, the race was not what I had hoped it would be.
Where to go next? I've done quite a bit of thinking. With Boston looming in April, I'll do some rethinking on training going forward. Lots of cold weather runs, of course, here in Indiana. I'll find a system and see if I can come back.
Final Stats: First half, 2:14:11 (10:15/mile); Second half, 2:19:41 (10:40/mile).
Placement: Overall 2,996th. Men (65-69), 27th of 51.
Marathon/Ultra finish #84
Thanks for reading.