In November, Kaela and I headed to Indiana for my final marathon of 2015. I decided that after all the tough races I had throughout the year, that I wanted to end everything on a good note. The Monumental Marathon in Indianapolis had a reputation of being a fast course due to being a fairly flat. Not that running 26 miles and 385 yards is an easy task, but I knew that this was going to be much less grueling that the previous few races (I’m talking to you Hawaii!)
Location: Indianapolis, IN
Finishing Time: 4:23:55
The race was on a Saturday, but since it was only a 3 hour drive from the house, we were able to leave around lunch time on Friday and not feel rushed. We stayed at the Westin in downtown Indianapolis. This was an amazing place to stay as it was connected to the convention center for the expo and only two blocks away from the start and finish areas. After we checked in to the hotel, I did my expo thing and picked up my bib and t-shirt. The expo was fairly small but well stocked with vendors offering samples and ample locations to pick up race nutrition.
For dinner, Kaela and I headed down to Noodles and Company to grab some quick and easy pasta. Kaela was meeting a colleague for dinner and drinks a little later, so I grabbed my food and sat in room with Bella and ate. While flipping through channels I came across my favorite movie, Forrest Gump. It was at the section of the movie where he started his “run”. It reminds me of when I started running , “That day, for no particular reason, I decided to go for a little run.” At that moment I knew that this race was going to be special.
BUZZZZZZ!!!! It was that time again. This time, however, I felt refreshed as it wasn’t as early. As I previously mentioned, we were only a few blocks from the start so I didn’t have to wake up super early to prepare for a drive. I went through my morning routine of eating my PB&J sandwich, kind bar, and coconut water, just as I had done many times over the last few months. The only thing we had to do in the morning was pack our bags and get them in the car before race. We were hoping for a late check out, but there was a Colts game the next day and they needed to have all the rooms cleaned and prepared for arriving guests.
About 45 minutes before the start, we made our way down to the parking garage to load car and then make the super long, two block walk to the start area. The way the course was laid out, Kaela was only going to easily be able to see me twice; once at the start and then again just before mile 3. We walked to those locations so she could catch her bearings and also that I would know where I should be on the road to see her. On our walk, we were stopped by a MarathonFoto photographer that offered to take a picture of the three of us, which is (to this point) the only photo I have ever purchased from them.
I gave my hugs and kisses to Kaela and Bella, and made my way into the corral. My goal for the race was just be under 4:30, hopefully setting a PR as well. I located the 4:30 pace group and worked my way to an open area in the corral for last minute shoe tie. Once I was settled in, I had reflected for a moment of everything that took place in 2015. From running all over the country and being healthy, to celebrating yet another wonderful year of marriage. I am so blessed for the opportunities and adventures that I have been able to have. As the National Anthem was performed, I got a little emotional knowing how much I had worded to get this starting line for the 9th time of 2015. I said a quick prayer, thanking God for these opportunities and for the strength He provides to get through them, took my pre-race Gu, and just waited for the starting gun.
As I made my way to the start line after the horn, I noticed that I was starting to inch closer to the 4 hour pace group with the way that people were being herded together. By the time I had crossed the start, I was right beside them and decided why not stick with them for a little while and see how long I can hold on.In the first mile, we headed south for a mile passing Lucas Oil Stadium before taking a two quick lefts to head back north. The course pretty much ran north and south, with a few zig-zags in those general directions. We spent next few miles going through some pretty cool neighborhoods and the west side of downtown Indianapolis. Around mile 6, I needed to let out some extra hydration I was holding, so ended up having to bail on pace group. I had felt strong holding that pace so decided to maintain it on my own for as long as I could.
The miles seemed to just be rolling by with ease. With nothing particular to see during the run, I just took in the beauty of the late fall scenery and focused on the road. I hit the 13.1 mark in around 1:57:53, well on pace for around 4 hour total. Knowing that my body had been through a beating in the last few months, I decided it would be smart to carry some extra calories to keep body fueled. I took a short walk break to eat a PB&J that I had brought and that I would regret later. It wasn’t the food that was the would end up being the problem, but rather the walking. Breaking up my stride caused my legs to not want to get back under me quite the same. At mile 14 we took the turn heading back south for the last 12 miles.
From 14.5 to 16.5 we headed down a single straight road that seemed to mess with my mind. My legs felt heavy, even though not to long before I felt so fresh. We were running on what seemed to be a main street with lots of shops and businesses. So with the people cheering from cars, as well as, on the side of road, it helped keep my spirits high. By mile 18, my mind got the best of me and I went down for a walk for a 1/4 mile, which helped me bounce back for a few more miles.
Around 21.5, I started to get some pain creeping up my left quad that brought me to a fast walk pace. Checking my watch, I knew that I was still on pace for a PR but needed to make sure that I was moving forward as quickly as I could, even if that was a fast walk. Just before mile 24, we took a right turn that was one of the last of the day. I would run as long as I felt I could, with short walk breaks in between. As we got closer to the finish the crowd support picked up and it definitely helped encourage me to keep pushing.
With just a mile left in the race, I decided to push with whatever I had left in the tank. I knew at this point that I was going to hit a PR but the question was going to be how bad I wanted to get it as low as I could. Approaching the final turn with just .2 miles left, my quad pain started to creep back. There was no way I was walking during this last stretch. I focused on the finish line and did not take my eyes off of it as I pushed on. Kaela later told me that she was yelling and cheering for me while she took pictures, but I did not see her, nor did I hear a single word in that final sprint. Picking up my pace as much as I could, I crossed the finish in 4:23:55. New PR!
Kaela met me in the finishers area to congratulate me, as she also realized that I had gotten a PR. My legs were absolutely beat. She was able to carry most of my finisher items while I headed to get some free chili courtesy of Steak and Shake. I changed clothes behind our car in the parking garage and we grabbed some lunch and enjoyed it outside in the sunshine before heading back to home.
This course was very interesting to me because as I write this, there weren’t many things or areas that stood out. Overall it had the feeling of just a beautiful Saturday morning training run. Mixing it up between some city, some residential areas, and some park trails, there really wasn’t a bad area on the course. I think once I got into the zone of pacing, all of my focus of the surroundings went away and I was locked in. I ended up having a tough second half of the race, but I think I learned a little bit about what I am capable of and what I am able to push myself through even when it hurts.
And with that my races for 2015 were completed. It was my 6th new state of the year, bringing my total up to 9 states completed. I had a busy spring running season scheduled but I was able to sleep well that night, thankful and proud of all that I was able to accomplish in 2015.