She believed she could, so she did.”
I fibbed a little when talking about my race goals. I believed in my heart of hearts (I said that to Chris and he asked how many hearts I had, I said seven) that I was ready to run 3:10. But I didn’t feel like I necessarily had the data to support that — I topped out at 55 miles per week, skipped a decent amount of speedwork, and didn’t perform amazingly in my tuneup race or my final 3×1600 workout.
So my rational brain knew setting my goal around 3:13 and going out at a doable 3:15 pace to start was a very good plan. In fact, it was a very good plan. It is not, however, a plan I followed hardly at all.
Monumental starts at 8, so we got up around 6:15. I brought half an almond butter sandwich with me for breakfast, and hopped in the shower to shave to hopefully minimize chafing. The forecast had been stable and beautiful for several days so instead of packing for a million maybes and stressing about what to wear, I only brought one outfit. Tank, sports bra, shorts, socks, gloves. I did bring two sports bras, three pairs of socks and two pairs of gloves … but mostly for color-coordination purposes. Except the sports bra. I’ve been getting some fierce chafing on the band — crazy looking because the band is ribbed so it’s like I’ve been sawed — isn’t marathon training grand? So there wasn’t much to getting ready on my end. I had charged my watch the night before and packed up my gear check bag. So mostly I sat in bed on social media screwing around and waiting on Chris.I did have a cup of coffee (we all know why) and I snacked on maybe half a package of Honey Stinger chews and drank 16 oz of water.
My gear check bag was pretty important because Chris did not have a good training cycle and we weren’t sure how his race would go. So I packed another sports bra and a long sleeve top, along with Recoverite (actually packed two servings), a Clif Z Bar (the kids’ line, in chocolate chip), a Spi Belt type pack, some cash (I heard there was a coffee vendor) and my phone (to check on Chris’s progress).
Then I also had to cram all my gels into pockets or places moonlighting as pockets. I’ve tried as many as four gels in one marathon and, despite that being my PR race, that made my stomach really unhappy. So three it is. I decided to go with non-caffeinated for the first one and minimal caffeine on the other two. The first one went in the place where my sports bra cup liners go — basically a pocket. Then the second in my front key pocket and the third in my back envelope pocket. This was a strategic decision to minimize chafing, too — I still have a scar from one rubbing on my collarbone that was tucked in my sports bra for too long. And by putting them in different places, I didn’t have to worry about fumbling trying to get one out and dropping another.
We left the hotel at 7:35 … it was supposed to be 7:30 but when you travel with Chris, you get used to these things. We walked the first couple of blocks while we waited for Garmins to get satellites, then jogged about a half mile to the gear-check station, then over to the start.
I hopped in the corral just behind the 3:15 group by maybe 10 feet and saw my friend Brooke. We had only run together once this training cycle but had used the same training plan. She had told me she would be happy with a 3:15 but that the pace group stresses her out. It was good to see her but I knew we probably wouldn’t run together. Chris was there with me in the corral, but I knew he and I wouldn’t be together either.
So then the gun goes off, I start my watch, realize I shouldn’t start my watch until I actually get to the timing mat, stop my watch and then somehow screw it up. I figured out that it wasn’t running about a quarter mile in, so my watch splits are messed up. I force-lapped it at mile one so that I could have accurate pace and splits the rest of the way, but my watch says 26.11 miles despite people telling me they had it long.
Totally rookie mistake. Oh well. The 3:15 pack got out fast and I was trying to ease my way up to them. They took some turns out of the first few miles but it still felt like a lot of turns, althought getting rid of the first water stop definitely helped.
Somewhere around mile 2 I caught the 3:15 group. Finally! I thought. They had gone out a little quick. I also saw my friend Amy Jay, who now lives just outside Indy and had come down to run with some friends and cheer. That was awesome.
I stayed with the pace group for … ummm … Less than a mile, I think. I had already settled in to a groove and it wasn’t their groove.
“This is probably a bad idea,” I thought. But when I’d try to slow down it just didn’t feel right. I mean, I really felt good. I caught up to my New Balance Louisville teammate Jackie and ran with her for a few minutes. She had jumped in at the last minute and had just come back from being on vacation at elevation. She was supposedly running more for fun, but ended up PR’ing by almost 2 minutes. Sometimes that’s what happens when the pressure is off.
I saw another teammate around mile 4, Brian, who had started late and was making up ground. He was running the half and he was moving, so it was a quick exchange.
The first 5 miles clicked by like nothing.
- 1 – 7:05 (est., I had 5:49 for .82)
- 2 – 6:55 (whoops)
- 3 – 7:27
- 4 – 7:11
- 5 – 7:11
Of course, this is the part of the race when you’re surrounded by half-marathoners, so not going fast is hard. Fortunately they split just after 7, so things quieted down pretty quick. At this point, I could see the 3:10 group up ahead but didn’t want to go faster to catch them. I ate my first gel going past the split and was having a good time. No counting down allowed this early in the race, really, and I focused on the back of that 3:10 pack and on feeling comfortable and making it to the next “milestone” — 10.
Miles 6-10, which are a little bit of a climb starting at 8:
- 6 – 7:15
- 7 – 7:05
- 8 – 7:20
- 9 – 7:16
- 10 – 7:16
From 10 to halfway — the next milestone — were basically due north. The course is basically a fat out-and-back, so you go up and come back down. So the 13 marker is the farthest point away and you turn around (sort of) and make your way back. Mentally this works for me. And it’s not actually just an out-and-back, it’s an oval, but you get what I mean.
I was chatting with people here and there but not much. Somewhere in here I almost got hit by a fire truck. That was probably mile 8 or 11 because both those are slow. I could hear the fire truck coming from my right, and as I got to the intersection I knew I couldn’t beat it across. It was rolling. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a fire truck go that fast, and I spent a lot of time following them to scenes as a reporter. I ended up swinging right onto the cross street and around the back of the truck, not losing too much time. It was either that or stop., and that seemed like a bad idea.
We crossed the half-way timing mats and I knew I was probably off the clock by 10 seconds or so, but not much. If you’ll recall, my original plan was to hang with the pace group through halfway and hit that checkpoint at 1:37:30. Officially I hit it in 1:34:54. Heck, that’s not even a bad half time!
I was still just cruising, feeling good, no issues. Every now and then my right hamstring would feel wonky but it would go away once I stopped thinking about it. I think my sock was kind of bunched up under my left foot and I never quite got that straightened out, but I don’t appear any worse for wear in that regard.
Passing halfway, I kept focusing on the next “milestone.” This stretch of 5 miles gave me the second-gel landmark, and also is the last of the “easy” part of the race.
- 11 – 7:23
- 12 – 7:08
- 13 – 7:16 (official half split 1:34:54)
- 14 – 7:15
- 15 – 7:18
Mile 15 is also the start of the only hill section of the course, which gives you a whopping 75 feet over three miles. Ha! There are definitely a couple you notice, but there were great crowd supporters out there encouraging us to push to the top. I swear I must’ve spotted at least two or three cross-country coaches. Another lady toldus to ease up to the group in front of us and let them do the work for us. “It’s easier with a group,” she said. True, but I thought to myself clearly she hasn’t done most of her long runs solo over the past 12 weeks, and also doesn’t realize that the uptick in pace required to catch up with that group is a lot more devestating over 26 miles than it is the 5k most high school XC teams race.
Oh yeah, I ate gel #2 in here somewhere, between 14 and 15. A plain one. There’s a few miles in there that are kind of boring and lonely, but once you get to Butler at 17 it picks back up. That said, the course support is solid throughout the race. There’s pockets of bigger crowds but the community seems to understand to spread out. We saw block parties, people handing out candy, people handing out beer, etc.
And lots of muscians. To the guy singing “What I’ve got”? You rock. It’s not often late in a marathon I am clipping off low-7s, passing people, and singing out loud. For the people I passed in that stretch, I am sorry that you got passed by a girl who was singing while you were likely hurting and that you had to hear me sing. I’m not sure which would be worse.
I did do a lot of passing in the later part of the race, including quite a few girls. The girls in particular I would always say something to, because to be up there means you’ve put in work and it is just not going your way right now. I’ve been there, and it sucks. And there really aren’t that many girls around.
16 is a make-or-break area for me. 16 is a legit long way, and you still have 10 to go. That’s intimidating. But, it means you’re almost into single-digits remaining. This time, knowing all the 12 mile runs I did on weekdays was a big confidence boost. “10 to go? I run farther than that with my headlamp before work on Thursdays.
Plus the 16-20 segment includes the Indianapolis Museum of Art, which is my favorite part of the course. It’s a park-like setting (I think the IMA has 100 acres including trails) with a bunch of cheering volunteers. I was still catching and passing people, and leaving the IMA I caught an older woman who is obviously a stud. Honestly as I caught up to her I was reminded of Joan Benoit Samuelson — similiar build, similar hair … It wasn’t Joanie, but it was a really nice lady nonetheless. “You are having a great race!” Thanks, I said, so are you. She asked if I would BQ. I said it was looking good, and that a 3:15 would get me in the first group to register. She told me she was 48, so her qualifying time was a 3:45 or something. I told her I was pretty sure she’d be fine.
Interlude: I had to troll the results once I remembered this exchange. That awesome woman is Dianne Griesser, who last year ran 3:03:25 to win the women’s division of the Martian Marathon in Michigan. Dianne, you rock.
- 16 – 7:18
- 17 – 7:06
- 18 – 7:20
- 19 – 7:00 (downhill mile, yay!)
- 20 – 7:14
Oh. Hey mile 20. Fancy seeing you here. So you’re saying I just have a 10k to go? Well, okay, we can probably handle that. I am still feeling good and am definitely still passing people. The carnage has been happening for a while. More and more people walking through water stops, more and more people walking on the side of the road. I’m slowing down a bit but a slight fade, not a blowup.
I eat my last gel — salted caramel — around 21. I am disappointed that I opted for that flavor. I usually like it, but it was way too sweet. This is not my favorite mile, it’s along the river and sandwiched between a park and a highway, so no crowd support.It is also in the sun. The Indy Women’s Half went down this stretch when I ran it last June and I basically baked and fell apart.
But not this time. I still don’t feel terrible, which is perplexing. Been a long time since that happened. I’m still clicking, feeling strong although not quite as fast, passing people. Giving words of encouragement to those looking rough and to those looking good.
I am definitely getting warm and decide the gloves are coming off at 23. I think they came off at 22. But somewhere near there I saw my friend Amy again (and I had seen her another time, but I have no idea where that one was). I tossed her my gloves and said it was like last time — when I ran Indy in 2013, she was at that same spot along with my friend Rebekah and my husband, and I did the same thing.
Just a 5k. Definitely doable. I can still see the 3:10 group but they’ve pulled away. I’m too far out and too tired to actually do the math to figure out what my finish time might be. My New Balance Louisville teammate David had said he would meet me around 24, after running the half with his wife. (He shot video at basically every mile, it was super-cute. They had a baby in the spring and this was Rachel’s first time running a half.)
We go through 24 and I am bummed because I don’t see David. I run into a guy who runs on the Speakeasies Bourbon Chase team, which means we have lots of friends in common. We talk for a minute, but he’s feeling rough and I’m still pushing. Then David and my other teammate, Brian, jump in.
One mile to go and now I have distraction. David says he wasn’t expecting me to be going this fast — I think they were planning on being at 24 and I just got there too soon. I am rolling, relatively speaking. I ask howeveryone else did — good races all around. Brian ran 1:17, Jackie PR’d in 1:37, our teammate Shannon debut in the half at 1:28 and won her AG, David’s wife Rachel had a great race and Brian’s wife was running well in her first full marathon.
Brian jumps out first and I realize I am going to be very close to my PR from 5 years ago. Because of my poor watch skills, I’m not sure how close, but all I know is I need to hurry up. David hops out as I round the corner. I catch one woman but not another.
I know I’m over 3:10 but I don’t know by how much.
- 21 – 7:24
- 22 – 7:24
- 23 – 7:32
- 24 – 7:20
- 25 – 7:24
- 26 – 6:59
- 1:45 for the last .28, 6:11 pace (so I guess I did have it a little long since I split my watch at mile 1))
At the finish, they have a results tent where you can get a printout. Perfect.
3:10:19. For those of you keeping track at home, that’s 8 seconds slower than my PR from five very long years ago. Would I have liked to break that? Definitely. Every time. But I have no complaints. I ran a beautiful, well-executed race and felt strong the entire time. I didn’t walk, not even through water stops. I almost split even halves — 1:34:54 and 1:35:26. If you’ve run one of these silly things, you know 30 seconds different is just crazy.
Once the final results were posted, I was the 26th female (top 1.5%) and 7th in my AG. I had hoped to crack the top 50!
I did a really awkward clothing change in a government building right beside a security camera. (You’re welcome, security guards.) Heatsheet around like a towel, sports bra swap. No shame. I had Chris’s 30k split so I was guessing 3:25-3:30. By the time I got my check bag, changed, etc., it was that time. I saw him cross in 3:31, which was a solid time considering his training. Then I lost him and it took 15 minutes to find him again.
So, that’s it. I’m happy. Really. And there’s room to improve for sure.
A big thank you to everyone who was out there supporting me that day — Amy, Andy and Natalie Fenton, David, Brian, my husband … And a big shout out to all the people at Milestone who help me be a more well-rounded athlete and offer motivation and support — Sue, Jaime, Alex, Chelsea and Anne (my massage therapist) in particular. The fitness challenge there helped me lose 6 pounds in 6 weeks and hit my race weight goal.