|No caption needed... MARATHON!!!|
I signed up for the Monumental Marathon in early October, about four weeks before the race. One of the driving factors in selecting this race in particular for my third marathon was the fact that I had two good friends making the trek to Indianapolis as well. They, along with another friend of theirs, had offered me a spot in their hotel room. The fact that we'd all be driving to Indy together, as well as spending about 30 hours together, was a definite selling point! One of the three women was none other than Elisa, who I met in Toledo during my first-ever marathon in 2014! My blog readers (all three of them LOL) will recall that I became fast friends with Carolyn, Steph and Elisa during that first full. Their good friend Kim and I met after the race on an early-morning run, and these women became some of my favorite running pals. I don't get to see them nearly as much as I used to for a variety of reasons, but I knew it would be a fun weekend with Elisa and Kim by my side!
Elisa, Lisa (the fourth person joining on our little trip) and I met up at Kim's apartment at around 12:15 on Friday afternoon. We'd decided that my new (to me) van would be our chariot, and by 12:30 we were off! Lisa sat up front with me and we became super-fast friends. Lisa is a fellow triathlete, so we had enough to talk about to easily fill up the 2.5-hour trip! We had to make one bathroom stop, but otherwise made great time and arrived at our hotel at around 3:30 PM. The Alexander is a gorgeous hotel that doubles as an art gallery, and is located about a half-mile from the start of the marathon. After we checked in and brought our bags to our room, we headed off for the expo and to get our bibs. I realized when we were about a block from the expo that I had left my purse (and ID) at the hotel. Oops! Fortunately, it wasn't an issue; I was still able to get my bib, as well as my friend Megan's (she'd asked me to pick it up for her). At the expo, I was happy to run into a few local friends and exchange hugs and good-lucks. Not having my purse was probably a good thing, as I wasn't tempted to buy a single item! After taking pictures and getting a few freebies, we headed back to the hotel.
|Us looking all cute at the expo!|
I was in charge of dinner reservations, which I'd made at a well-reviewed Italian restaurant called Maggiano's that I'd found online... which ended up being a bit further from our hotel than I'd thought. It took us a good 45 minutes to get there, but the food was delicious! Megan met us for dinner, and we had fun chatting and stuffing our faces. After dinner, we headed back to our hotel, where we got everything laid out for the next day. We had all brought almost our entire running wardrobes for the race, as the weather forecast had been changing daily. The rain that had been predicted for race-day morning was no longer in the forecast, thankfully. It was going to be a cold, cloudy morning... just about the best weather that a runner can hope for! I didn't have any trouble falling asleep a little after 10:00 PM, thanks to my Melatonin, and the fact that I wasn't really all that nervous about the race. I didn't have any huge goals. In fact, I wasn't even sure what I was going to do. Not having a race plan is not my typical way of doing things, but I honestly didn't know how I wanted to run this race. I had a few options. My friend Julie was going for a BQ (she wanted a 4:06). I could try to join her, but that would be a bit of a stretch, given my recent calf injury as well as lack of training due to the injury. Lisa wanted to run a PR of a 4:20. This sounded fun as well... to join my new friend and continue getting to know her over 26.2 miles. Given the fact that I was nursing a recent calf strain, I knew that it would be best to not push myself too hard. I decided to sleep on it.
The night passed uneventfully, and I got enough sleep to feel rested upon waking at 6 AM. The race was scheduled for an 8:00 AM start, and we planned on leaving the hotel shortly after 7:00. Despite my calm demeanor the day before, I started to get fidgety as soon as I was dressed and had eaten my bagel and banana. I had decided on my tank top, arm sleeves, my best friend Tamara's shorts (guaranteed by her to not chafe), and compression socks, with throw-aways to wear before the race to keep me warm. It ended up being the best outfit I could've chosen! The temperature at race start was in the mid-40's, and it rose to the mid-50's by the time I finished. I would've been warm had I worn much else!
|Ready to hop in our corral!|
Lisa's plan for the first three miles was to run at around a 10:00-10:30 pace. The rest of us had convinced her to stick closer to 10:00/mile, and our splits were actually more in the mid-9's. After 3 miles, the plan was to start run/walk intervals (4 min run/30 second walk), keeping our run pace in the 9:30's. At around the half-marathon mark, we'd switch to 4 min run/40 second walk, running a bit faster. And then we'd move to 4 min run/1 min walk, dipping down in the low 9's for our run pace. The first 8ish miles went swimmingly! The four of us ran together, and it was so much fun! I love doing intervals, and while Elisa wasn't sure if she'd stick with us, she ended up deciding that she liked them as well. We had fun reading signs made by spectators, sharing stories, and looking forward to our short walk breaks. We met a woman on the course who was originally from Central Ohio, and it just so happens that she graduated from Hilliard (another Columbus suburb) in 1996, just like me, and was a swimmer in high school! Sarah and I chatted a bit and I learned she was also a triathlete (National Champ in the Athena division!). I just love meeting friends on race courses! I promised to look her up after the race, and we are now Facebook friends as well :)
Kim had decided before the race to drop to the half marathon, and we were all pretty sad when she left us just past mile 7 at the turn-off. We were having so much fun together! Around a mile later, Lisa started to have some breathing issues. Due to a recently diagnosed heart issue, she became concerned immediately. We began peppering our runs with more walk breaks, hoping that her heart rate would come down. At around mile 9, Lisa decided to send Elisa and me on. She was going to keep walking and run when she could. We were all bummed that the race plans hadn't panned out, and it was difficult to leave Lisa. She promised she'd stop at the next medical tent to get checked out, so we felt that we were okay to go on.
|Kim snapped this picture at the split when she left us, around mile 7.5. |
I am the one on the right... Lisa in the middle, Elisa wearing yellow on the left.
At that point, Elisa and I weren't sure what to do. She admitted she was enjoying the intervals, so I suggested we go ahead and keep running, but walk the water stops, which were every 1-1.5 miles. Elisa liked that plan, and it definitely worked for us! We enjoyed our walk breaks, but were able to keep a steady 9:20-9:30 pace for the running parts of the race. I made sure to hydrate at every water stop, even if it was just a half-cup of water, and I took more time to drink at the water stops when I would take a gel (pre-planned by me to coincide with water stops at miles 6, 10.5, 15.5 and 20.3). Speaking of fueling, I think I was pretty spot-on for this. I carried my current fuel of choice, Carb Boom energy gels. I had five in my FlipBelt, and used four of them, as I'd planned. I never bonked, but I did have some slight GI issues beginning at around mile 17. As my friend Christine would say, I was not "farting with confidence"... and I was super happy at the finish to see the row of porta-potties LOL! But overall, I was happy with how things went in this area.
Back to the race... miles 10-20 went really well! The course was pretty well-populated with spectators. Elisa and I chatted some, but were quiet at times as well. We crossed under the half-marathon arch at 2:09:28, and at that point realized that we could very well negative split the race. That became a mutual goal of ours, and kept us both going when things got rough later in the race. The very few "hills" (if you can even call them that... really just slight inclines!) on the course were between miles 16-19, and we both couldn't wait to see the "cliff" that was awaiting us at mile 19. This was a running joke during the entire race, as we'd noticed on the course elevation map that there would be a sharp descent. Elisa decided that we were going to either rappel or sky dive off the "cliff". There was definitely a nice little downhill part right around mile 19! It was actually a really cool part of the course, where the road spiraled down and around a neat-looking park. Elisa's pace dropped down sub-9 at this part, and I had to work a bit to keep up with her! She apologized, saying she just needed so badly to embrace the downhill while we were on it. The road quickly flattened out, and we were back to our steady mid-9's.
It was around mile 22 or 23 that we both were feeling "over" the whole race. We were still running steadily, but the water stops seemed further and further apart. Elisa's stomach was starting to bother her as well. At around this time, I started asking fellow runners who were hobbling along if they needed any BioFreeze. I had a few packets in my belt, and was trying to be nice... as well as hoping that I could maybe get an extra walk break if someone said yes! I was pretty stoked when one woman immediately said yes to my offer. As I helped her to open the package, Elisa slowed to a walk behind us. When I began to run again, I realized she no longer was with me. I called back to her, but I could see in her face that she wasn't feeling good at all. I contemplated sticking with her and walking, but to be honest I just wanted to be finished at that point!
I slogged through those final few miles of the race, counting down the amount of time I'd still be running. I was still passing people who were worse off than I was, but more than anything I just wanted to be finished! At mile 25, I decided to see what I had left in me. Maybe I could do my last mile sub-9! I willed my body to push a bit harder, but not surprisingly, there wasn't anything more to give. I trudged through another 9:20ish mile, giving my best fake grin to the race photographer stationed at the final turn. I got choked up during the final straightaway. This was it... a marathon. FINALLY. I was so happy to finish, to get my space blanket, to feel the weight of the medal around my neck... to NOT HAVE TO RUN ANYMORE! I stood around in the finish chute for a couple of minutes, hoping that Elisa would be finishing shortly thereafter, and was super excited to see her less than two minutes after I had crossed. We did the usual post-race stuff (huge embrace, pictures together, gathering food, finding porta-potties), and eventually got in touch with Kim, who had gone back to our hotel after her half marathon. We all agreed that Kim would wait at the finish for Lisa, while Elisa and I would make our way back to the hotel to shower and pack up. The walk back to the hotel was interminable. We contemplated getting an Uber or taking a pedal wagon, but ended up trudging at a snail's pace... Elisa due to her still-upset stomach, and me due to, well, having just ran a freaking marathon.
|Post-race... I love the hat they gave us at the finish!|
10K: 1:00:41 (9:48/mile)
13.1: 2:09:28 (9:53/mile)
30K: 3:30:40 (9:52/mile)
26.2: 4:17:08 (9:45/mile)
Overall pace: 9:49/mile
My mid-race goal of negative-splitting the race was accomplished (2:09:28/2:07:40). My pre-race goal of going 4:20 or faster was accomplished (sadly, not with Lisa, who did end up finishing the race; she was cleared by medical to go on and still was under five hours even with her breathing problems... rockstar!). My #1 goal of starting healthy and finishing happy--check (despite the stupid calf strain) and double check (as evidenced by my happy tears)!
|Lookie, I am a marathoner (again)!|
|Coke + medal = winning|