Screen Shot 2014-11-04 at 10.44.50 AMSaturday was my second trip to the Monumental Marathon, having run the full there last year. This year I was taking on the half, while my husband was running the full.

A few days before the race, I received an email with a link to all the bib numbers, so you could check yours and have it handy for when you got to the expo. Except I wasn’t on the list. I had confirmation emails (two), could confirm my entry on the website and could find myself on the athlete tracking site.

So I tweeted to the race and let them know the issue. They gave me an email address to contact — which I did, and got an out of office reply. I never did get a response. Upon arriving at the expo, I went to the solutions table and gave them all this same info. Something was definitely wrong with my registration; they could see me in some places but not others. I had to fill out the registration form again. A bit of a hassle, and I’m a little confused why you would send out the list in advance if you weren’t equipped to fix the errors ahead of time. Marathoners are usually pretty neurotic, and it was bugging me all week that I didn’t know what the issue was. In general, it wasn’t a big deal and they got me taken care of fairly quickly (although we went to the expo pretty late, so the crowd was light).

We had dinner at Granite City, a brewpub kind of place nearby. Service wasn’t great and the food, while a diverse selection, pretty mediocre. Beer was good, though.

We stayed at the Comfort Suites City Center, which I would definitely recommend. Newer hotel, rooms were very nice and very clean. (I was impressed by how clean the tile grout was in the shower — I think I watch too much Hotel Impossible.) They also have a restaurant/bar open pretty late, a nice workout room, pool and hot tub. It’s right behind Lucas Oil Stadium, putting you a nice half-mile away from the start/finish. It’s a nice warm up/cool down distance that’s also a manageable walk if you’re tired of running. It’s also just far enough outside the course that you can easily get out should you need to drive somewhere while the race is still going. (This came in handy when I wanted to leave the hotel to drive out to mile 21 to see my husband in the full.)

The one downside to the hotel was the $20 per night parking fee that I didn’t know about until we arrived. But on the upside, we didn’t have to worry about finding parking.

With an 8 a.m. start, we were able to sleep until about 6:30 with no worries and headed up to the start around 7:30. We would’ve headed up sooner, but it was about 32 degrees with a windchill of 26. Race organizers did have the expo area in the convention center open for people to warm up — and just stay warm. They even had a couple of gentle warm up yoga sessions.

We had trouble finding the gear check, which was all the way past the starting line — and if you leave the expo/warm up area, you’re not even halfway up the line up area. I think moving the gear check into the convention center would be pretty convenient, but I know those are complicated logistics. (I think sometimes race directors forget how frantic runners get before the race trying to find the gear drop off, and forget how brain dead you usually are after the race.)

I was in the seeded 2 corral and Chris was in seeded 3, but there really weren’t very many people up in the front corrals. We ended up starting together. I don’t know if maybe some of the faster runners dropped because of the weather — stayed in the 30s for most of the race with winds pretty steady at 15 mph — but it was wide open up there.

As I said last year during the full, I think race organizers could eliminate the water stop at the 1 mile marker. Seriously, nobody needs water yet, and it’s wedged between two turns. Things are still congested with everyone packed together, and we all know people stink at navigating turns.

That said, all the water stops had great volunteers. They did a good job telling you what was where and did a nice job encouraging runners and handing off cups.

The crowd support was generally fantastic considering the weather. Traffic control was mostly spot-on, although were definitely spots where people had been rerouted away from the course only to find their way to another intersection a few blocks away with no police. I saw a few close calls.

The course is generally flat, just a few tiny hills at least on the half. There is a pretty tight turn coming into the finish, and you don’t get that nice cue of being able to see exactly where the finish line is until you’re pretty much there.

The half marathon course lacks a lot of the cool sites that are out on the marathon course, but there is some really interesting architecture. If you’re into older, brightly-colored gingerbread houses, you’ll be entertained for miles.

At the finish, they handed out tyvek zip up tops to stay warm, heat sheets and commemorative toboggan caps. Tons of photographers were there to take your post-race photo with medal and cute backdrop. I didn’t think the food selection at the end was great … but then again, I just got braces on two weeks ago so I still hate pretty much all food that requires chewing. They had chocolate chip cookies (not really recovery food but yummy), bananas, and little bagel bites. That was about all I saw. Jimmy John’s was there handing out mini-sandwiches just outside the finish, too. There were also a couple of food trucks and a coffee truck — that would’ve been great info to have earlier (even posted on social media) so I would’ve thought to throw a few dollars in a pocket or gear check bag.

And if you care how my race went …

Considering the weather, and just not feeling super confident, I thought my goal of finally breaking 1:30 was a goner. I figured something in the low 1:30s was more realistic. Either way, I knew the first half of the course was mostly into the wind and generally uphill. And that means the second half — really the last 5 miles or so — was mostly downhill with more of a tailwind. My game plan was to go out a little slow, around 6:55, see how that went until we hit the turnaround part of the course, then hopefully pick it up.

That’s pretty much exactly what I did. First 3 miles were 6:54-6:68, then I started hitting closer to pace with miles 4-9 between 6:43-6:52. I really didn’t realize I was running that close to 90-minute pace until about mile 9. And by then the downhill and tailwind were starting to work in my favor. I was feeling good and started to pick it up. At mile 10 I was able to start calculating how much time I had to knock out the final 5k to hit the 1:30 goal. I split 6:29, 6:31, 6:26 and 6:15 over the last 4 miles, with 49 seconds for the last .13 (about 6:16 pace). Caught quite a few people over those last miles. Tried to encourage each of them so I hope it helped push them on over that last bit.

In the end, I finished in 1:28:12, 32nd female. Great day for me; helped that the pressure was off because of the weather. And I didn’t go out too fast like I did in June at the Indy Women’s Half (when I wanted to run 1:30, went out closer to 5k pace and struggled in 17 seconds over the mark).

(And a special shout-out to Matt Ebersole, the elite athlete and pace team coordinator, who had faith in me and put me in the seeded 2 corral despite my flop in June.)

Chris had a great race too, having set 3:15 as his A goal and 3:20 as his B goal … and finishing in 3:12. Good day for #TeamGreen.