When I signed up for this race back in March, I immediately had the thought that I’d be in great shape to PR because it would be far enough out from The Golden Ultra that I’d be recovered, but not lose my endurance too much.
Boy, was I wrong. I literally limped into this race… getting some last minute Graston last week on my hamstrings because they were so sore. I couldn’t run three miles without them starting to yell at me, and they just felt off.
I flew into Indianapolis last Thursday, telling myself that I had zero expectations for this race. It was to have fun, and the only thing that stood between me and some nice long rest from running so I could finally let my hamstrings recover.
On Friday, Melissa and I met up with Jill at the expo when we picked up our packets. The expo was a pretty decent size given the size of the race itself, and we had fun walking around and checking out the details for some local races. I also signed up to win a free Lasik treatment, so let’s hope that works out for me too!
We grabbed lunch and headed back to the hotel to relax and nap a bit… and decide that we were going to the Kip Moore concert that night. Melissa LOVES him and I’m a fan of country… but initially, I was like, a concert before a marathon? There’s no way! But, a race with no goals? Why not!
We headed to St. Joseph’s Brewery for dinner — and it was so cool! The food was delicious too, but they basically turned an old church into a restaurant/brewery and the interior looked amazing. Since I was just running for fun, I opted to grab a beer with my dinner (session IPA, which was tasty) and we headed off to the Kip Moore concert.
Since we were still running the next day, I said I wanted to be in bed by midnight… and I think I crawled in at just after 11:40 p.m., so perfect timing! I woke up just before 7, got dressed and ate an everything bagel (Panera was out of plain bagels so I opted for this… again, not feeling like it mattered since I wasn’t going for a goal) and headed to the start.
We got lots of compliments on our old down comforter (I hope people didn’t think we stole it from our hotel) and I said goodbye to Melissa about 15 minutes before the race and hopped into the first corral). At this point, I figured I would go out around 8:15 per mile and see how it goes… telling myself that I would rather give it a shot, with the chance of blowing up, than regretting not going for a PR.
The gun went off and I walked slowly up to the start, finally pressing the start button on my Garmin and hitting the course. It was still kinda dark and we were looping around downtown… the first few miles, there were SO many turns! We finally headed out of the downtown area and went along the river and into neighborhoods.
At this point, I felt pretty good. I noticed that after the first few miles, my paces were sticking around 7:45-7:50ish per mile and since I was feeling good, I didn’t want to scale back.
I flipped between water and Gatorade at every aid station, taking in a full gel at mile 3 and half gels at 7, 10, 13, 16, 19 and 22.
Around mile 10, I realized that I was right on pace for a solid PR. A two minute PR, in fact. I didn’t want to get too excited, since I’ve definitely been here before, and with my non-prep prep for this race, it felt like it was inevitable that I was going to slow down.
At the halfway point, I told myself to forget those miles that I ran, and just keep trucking along.
Around mile 14 or 15, I was grabbing a drink at the aid station when this guy cut completely in front of me and came to a COMPLETE stop. I had to push him in the back so I didn’t barrel into him, and I think I even yelled what are you doing?? to which he barely even looked at me. I started going again, but was SO mad because my right hamstring immediately seized up and felt terrible.
Around mile 16 (which for some reason is one of my favorite miles in the marathon because you can finally say you have single digits to go in terms of miles), I passed the 3:30 pacer. Me, passing a pacer! I have never passed a pacer, especially a 3:30 pacer, in my marathon career. I usually get to this point and start getting passed.
I still felt really strong and kept reminding myself to relax, and that maybe I could even get a negative split. Around mile 17, things started to get a little tough. I kept looking forward, focusing on hitting that next mile mark and aid station, and didn’t let myself get negative at all. It wasn’t even an option.
Around mile 21, it felt like we were heading back to the city and I started to get really excited — I had about a two minute cushion! Of course, things weren’t feeling that great. My right hamstring was literally screaming at me and the cramp was growing… and my left hamstring wasn’t too happy either. I just kept focusing on what was ahead of me and tried to keep pushing it along.
Around mile 24ish, I got passed by the 3:30 pacer (but because they started before me, that meant I still had a solid cushion). Instead of feeling defeated, I told myself to keep up with her and the group… and the crowds were cheering us on to do the same. I got to mile 25, and realized that even if I walked a bit, a PR was going to happen!!
It was the moment when I realized this was in my hands… and it gave me the burst of energy that I needed. After turning our last corner with about .13 miles to go, I passed the 3:30 pacer once again and cruised into the finish line! I knew I had FINALLY attained that sub-3:30, the goal I’d been gunning for for the past seven years, and promptly burst into tears and hugged the first person I saw. They have a group of military men and women at the finish line, and I think the dude was so confused at what my deal was, ha!
Official finishing time: 3:28.35
ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE. I talked a bit earlier this week how I was in disbelief on how this happened, but I know how it happened. I had a breakthrough… a mental breakthrough! I always get super negative on myself once I get to about mile 17-20, telling myself I can’t do it, the pace is too fast, it hurts to much, etc., etc. and in this race, I learned how to shut it down. That by far was the most incredible feeling ever, knowing that I had finally quieted that little voice of negativity.
I must say, it doesn’t hurt that we had amazing weather (started in the mid-40s and ended in the low 50s) and the course is pretty flat (even the hills that people said were hills were barely even inclines given the roads I run here in Minneapolis).
However, there were a few downsides to the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon that I really hope race organizers address. For one, the bibs/corrals were SO confusing. I had a blue bib for the marathon; Melissa had red. In the race book, corral 1 was blue and corral 4 was red. But we had to look at the envelope that our bibs were in to know what corral we were in, and then it was based on the honor system. There were a handful of people that did not adhere to this… which can be frustrating when you have to dodge people that are lined up too far up and not at the right pace. I wish they would have just correlated the colors with the corrals.
Also at the start line, there were barely ANY port-a-potties. I usually sneak in right before a race (about 30 minutes before), and literally couldn’t find any so skipped that. Coming in to the finish, I saw some port-a-potties on the side, but given that there were maybe 10 or so, the lines had to be atrocious.
It may also be personal opinion, but I felt like the race shirt design was super disappointing — it’s a muddled gray color with these weird side panels, and totally not a style I would wear. However, I know that everyone has their own opinion on this, so not that big of a deal, but when you pay for a race, you hope for a shirt that you can enjoy (especially when it’s a monster PR race)!
That being said, I would recommend this race even with these caveats. The course is incredible and given the time of year, the weather is perfect for people who run cold-weather races. I basically tried to do everything in my power to mess with a PR, and managed to bring it in anyways! 🙂 Plus, I think it’s more affordable than a lot of marathons out there.
Overall, it was an amazing experience and quite the race weekend. Stay tuned for another post where I’ll get a little bit more detailed about what I think was the game changer for my monster PR.
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