Saturday, November 8, 2014

Monumental Half Marathon - Race Recap!

One week ago, I ran my fourth half marathon of the year. As I shared in my 2014 Goals post, I had two running goals for this year. First, to run a half in under 1:50. That one didn't happen and I'm 100% OK with that. Second, to run 13.1 four times in races. The Indianapolis Monumental allowed me to do just that!

Here's why I'm 100% OK with not hitting the sub-1:50 goal.

1. There's always another race. (Not so with a goal of 4 in 2014.)

2. My training was sub-par - actually it was virtually non-existent after September - due to my trip to Uganda.

3. I proved to myself that I have more to give in future races.

I will start by saying this was a fantastic race. Well organized, great expo, appropriate aid stations, interesting course, crowd support and of course, a FLAT course. And, although it didn't happen for me, many PR's were set. The most unique are covered in this article. Highly recommend this as a fall race that should be on your list!

And, now, for the recap.

Friday was Halloween. And it was expo day. Jack and I made the trek into Indy to get bibs for a handful of people. Being the awesome wife that I am, I actually forgot to register Tom for this race. However, we knew someone who got injured and couldn't run so we were able to do a switch. I have to give major props to the race organizers here as they allowed me to switch the bib to Tom's name and age group for a small $20 fee. (Much better than the last minute entry fee!) I'm not sure too many races offer that and we were greatly appreciative! Now, I just need to buy him a shirt.

Even though I had a very short time at the expo, I stocked up. I picked up four race packets, four posters, a T-Shirt, 2 pair of disposable gloves, more GU packs, 2 hats and 2 sets of handwarmers. At this point, we knew it was going to be cold. Looking back, I'm so glad I was prepared!

On my way out, I saw a booth for Jeff Galloway. (For those non-runners, he is an Olympian and very well known in the running world for his injury-free training programs and column in Runner's World.) I noticed he was speaking later in the day, but didn't expect to see him at the actual booth. I felt a little starstruck and bought a few books for him to sign. And, of course, took a photo.

Seriously, that was enough motivation to get me to the starting line. 

I had been really dreading this race to be quite honest. A part of me was so disappointed that this was supposed to be THE race. The one where I cracked 1:50. And, I knew that wasn't happening. Aside from the Uganda trip and the lack of long runs, I managed to pull something in my back the week prior and had logged only a few runs since the Indianapolis (Half) Marathon. I was not feeling confident.

Really, before this moment, I was ready to throw in the towel and register for the Santa Hustle in December for my 4th race of the year. I needed an attitude adjustment and this was the ticket. 

We decided on a pre-Trick-or-Treat pasta dinner for Tom and I. Nothing fancy (AKA no photos), but it was very nice to have it over earlier in the evening. I also downed a few glasses of water. Hydration was not top of my mind like it usually is - I think because of the cool temps. 

Costumes and makeup and coats and we were ready! Seriously, it was one of the most miserable Trick-or-Treats that I remember! The kids were good sports though and managed a decent candy haul. (Tessa was the smart one - I suggested she go as a snowboarder.)

After a second dinner of chips and guac and some other snacks at the neighbor's, Tom and I turned in fairly early. I think we were in bed by 10. And, we both slept so well! In fact, we're lucky we woke up. Tom didn't set an alarm and I changed my Tuesday AM alarm so no alarm for us! 

Tom checked the weather while still in bed and said, "Sara, it's 32 degrees out there." I said, "Nothing has changed. That's what it said last night." That's all we said about that. I told him later that if either one of us would have pressed the issue, we wouldn't have gotten out of bed! 

The girls spent the night at the neighbors and we dropped Jack there too. At this point, we were running slightly behind schedule. If you know me, I don't like to be late. And, on-time is late. So, I was a bit stressed. The traffic jam going into the parking garage didn't help. Turns out we were all good and were able to meet our friends at the Marriott. No picture of the group, but here we are in our matching hats. 

We were able to hold tight inside until the last minute. I think we stayed there until about 5 minutes before the race started. We split up at some point and I found myself in the corral alone. This is a big race, especially since the full and half start together.

It was cold in the corrals, but lucky for me, it was a short wait. I made it to the start fairly fast and off we went! Even though I knew this wouldn't be a PR race for me, the race adrenaline had me flying high! The early miles just flew by and at a decent pace. I decided early on that my goal was under 2 hours, but for the first few miles, I was clocking an 8:40 pace so I went with it. I managed to hold that at least through the 10K mark. 

Here we are running toward one of the monuments on the course. Just a little crooked! 

Around mile 2, I realized I was overdressed. Honestly, I probably had on two layers too many. I told myself that I could take off a layer one mile after my feet unfroze. (That would mean my core was warm.) That was the worst part of the early race. My feet were like bricks they were so cold! My hands were good because I had gloves with hand warmers inside. I also tucked my phone in there for the whole race. 

I felt good. Really good. I started thinking I could get under 1:55 which would be impressive, considering my training. I came upon Hailey Danisewicz, an above-the-knee amputee running the full marathon. She went on to break the Women's Marathon Record for above-knee amputees. Of course, I didn't know that she was going to do that when I saw her, but was glad to catch the announcement and to have run beside her on the course! 

I found myself fairly emotional many times during the race. I had refocused my attention on the fact that, as long as I finished (which wasn't in doubt really), I would be fulfilling a year long goal. One that I had set a few years prior. One that would propel me into 2015 when I would be running 5. And, into 2020, when I would be running 10 at the age of 40. That kept me going. When the half broke from the full, I wanted to high five all of the runners continuing on for the full. What an accomplishment. 

Then, mile 8 and 9 came along. Somewhere in there was the slightest, and I mean slightest, of inclines. I slowed down. By mile 10, I was struggling. I remember telling myself that if I could pass 10 people, I could walk. That worked great until I passed 8 and then was far away from the next pack. Mile 10 was my slowest. I think this is always one of the hardest honestly. Three miles seems like forever and a day.  

I did a lot of body checks during those last three miles. What hurts? Nothing. How are your lungs? Fine. I was just out of gas. I'm sure it was due to the lack of long runs and hydration. The endurance just wasn't there. One foot in front of the other got me to the finish. 

Finally, we reached Monument Circle again. I remember from watching Tom last year that the faces on the runners turning that corner were priceless. The disappointment was so apparent on most runners turning that corner. I was one of those faces this time. You turn that corner and expect to see the finish line. Instead, you see a long road still ahead. Slightly discouraging. Another little, tiny walk break for me. 

Eventually, I saw the marathon marker of 26 miles which meant only .2 miles left. I kicked it in as much as I could. Tom was right there at the finish. I was glad because I almost collapsed. I have to say that I felt worse at that finish line than any other race. My stomach was turning and my legs felt pretty wobbly. I attribute that to lack of hydration and, of course, proper training. As I said on Instagram, I was literally leaning on him for support. One tired girl! 

We hobbled back to our car. Both of us were overdressed for the run and completely drenched in sweat. Which made us even colder after we were done. I took off my hat in the car and my hair was soaked! I didn't end up taking any layers off during the race because I was afraid my wet clothes would make me way too cold. I was right.

My time was only 6 seconds slower than the Indianapolis Half two weeks prior! How crazy is that?! I am more than pleased with my time of 1:57:15. To know that I can go out and run 13.1 at that pace with very little training is very encouraging. It means that I have a real chance of sub-1:50 with the right training, hydration and nutrition. That makes me feel really, really good. And, really, really excited. 

I came across this on the Runner's World Instagram feed a few days after this race. I've said this many times but to be honest, I really don't enjoy running. I do, however, enjoy the feelings that come from running. Setting and meeting long term goals, especially while struggling along the way, is such an exhilarating experience. It makes me happy. 

That all being said... 1:49:59... I'm coming for you. In 2015, you will be mine. 

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