ORN: 26.2 miles, 5:15:27, at multiple paces.
So here’s a summary of my experience in the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon on Saturday, November 9...it was Three-Act Play
Act 1: Start to mile 7.5
The entire focus of this (and the ultimate point of the entire day) was a running adventure with my oldest son and his oldest son, our first grandson. You may recall GS1, age 15, has gradually been running since about a year ago, first with spring track and then fall Cross Country. So my DIL suggested, strongly, earlier this fall he register to run this half marathon...and this was the day.
The day was chilly, with temps in the upper 20s. I was slightly concerned the cold weather would cause him to bail but he was totally game. I met up with DS1 and GS1 a short ways from the start grid a half hour before the gun...from there we got in the back of the pack for the start. GS1 seemed to really enjoy the entire experience...he was laughing and observing and generally enjoying it all
The race started and off we went. We quickly settled into a comfortable pace, as DS1 correctly wanted to take on a pace which would allow GS1 to finish. We agreed to take walk breaks as needed and generally enjoy the experience.
So much fun happened, I don’t have time to bore you with all of it. Suffice it to say, though, the conversation was lively and steady. As a Dad and Grandpa, I was deeply pleased to see the wonderful relationship my son has with his teenage son. It was open and steady, without the edge which so easily can happen at that age.
GS1’s longest single training run was just short of 5 miles...so once we got near that distance, he was in new territory. Around mile 5, he reported his right leg was getting pretty sore. We took some walk breaks and then ran but it was choppy. So, I asked him if he’d like to go to a regular pattern of running one minute and walking one minute. He was fine with that and it worked...we kept that pattern through the split point of the half and full. His spirit improved and the chatter was back and it was terrific.
We stopped for one more pic at the break, with hugs and smiles all round.
They carried on and finished at exactly 3 hours for the HM with a good attitude...here’s a picture my DIL took of GS1 finishing, with the state capitol building in the background.
Act 2 Mile 7.5 to Mile 19
Bidding farewell to my son/grandson, I then set out to see what my own pace felt like on this day. It was quicker than what we had been running and I was steadily passing people. I felt comfortable, not pressing but just running. I hit the half way mark at 2:35 and it felt slow but that was due to the slow pace early on.
Around mile 14, I caught up with the 5 hour pacing group. We were entering a narrow portion of the course so I just glommed on with them...the pace was fine and I figured it would be a five-hour race anyway.
In this pack, I had some fun conversations, most notably with a guy a year older than me as we talked about “old guys who still run”. He was happy to hear I had run Boston this year and I learned he too had run Boston....in 1971, as a 19 year old, when he ran 3:15!! I asked how many ran and he said they were all thrilled it was the Humongous total of 1,200 runners!! What fun to talk to a guy with that kind of history, still out there running.
We snaked through Butler University and the Art Park and down onto Fall Creek Parkway, when Act 2 abruptly ended.
Act 3: Mile 19 to Finish
In a mere half mile, my race went from comfortable to painful. My left quad very quickly started seizing up. I couldn’t stop it...it ground me to a mere walk. Full blown cramping, leaving me looking like the Tin Man, stiffly moving along. With 7 miles to go, I wasn’t keen on having to walk it in so started thinking. I realized I had made a serious tactical error the night before in that I decided, given the cold temps, I didn’t need to pack the usual electrolyte tabs I always bring along. Dumb, Joe, very dumb. So, how to get electrolytes?? I started drinking from my handheld water bottle, which I had half Gatorade/half water. I gradually swallowed a Gu they had handed out, despite the fact it was mocha flavored and I hate coffee. I reloaded with more Gatorade and found another Gu pack in a spare pocket. I restarted running on a 1/1 ratio, just as I had earlier with GS1.
Gradually, the cramping subsided. I kept the 1/1 ratio to mile 23, when I upped it to 2/1. That held and I ran that way to the end.
Finishing the race was a new experience.. I think this is the slowest road marathon I’ve ever run and I was clearly in the back of the pack. Probably useful for me to know what that feels like to finish in 5:15:27. MInd you, two years ago at this race, I went 3:58 to BQ. But with sketchy training this fall and a 3 week flu bug hiatus, I pretty much expected it to be in the five hour range. I still smiled all the way down the final 100m...I never get tired of finishing marathons. But today was much more a day for reflection rather than celebration.
Epilogue: Post Race Conversations
I crossed the finish line, hit the stop button on my watch and looked up and who should I see standing the but Deena Kastor, the Olympic Bronze Medalist who came in for the weekend. I struck up a conversation with her and she was totally delightful! We talked a lot about running, promoting the sport and paying attention. I thanked her for all she’s done for running and a lot more...it was a 10 minute chat with some substance. That was cool
Then, a little farther down the chute, I saw the Chairman of the Board of the race, the man who originally thought this thing up. I first met him about four years ago and we’ve talked regularly since. I told him about my three-generational run and he got very excited about that. He then pulled another Board member in for the conversation and we discussed elements of working with city authorities to pull off such a major event. So, even though my left quad was toast, it was nice my mind was working OK.
So, there you have it. I think this is the seventh time I’ve run this marathon...it’s very familiar turf. I enjoy marathons so much because of days like this. The marathon is an exacting taskmaster...if gives nor offers any quarter. You can’t fake it...you pay the price or you don’t and the result shows how many coins you put into the machine. I never tire of it.