Short Story – Finished 4:09:39, a 49 min PR!
Long story – I decided last fall to run this full marathon as my second marathon. I had volunteered here in 2010 and watched my DH set a PR. The weather tends to be ideal and it’s pancake flat. I had run Air Force marathon in Sept 2010, going to the starting line with ITBS and PF, finishing in a very painful 4:58. I basically did not have enough miles in to run as I could have.
This year would be different. I set up an ambitious training program. I spent spring and summer building up my mileage as well as changing from running 3 days a week to 4 then to 5 and to 6 days by July. I used a modified Galloway approach. Basically I used his ideas for the long runs and made my own plan (with the help of some wise runners here) for the rest. I also used Galloway’s run/walk idea to an extent. I would run a mile, walk a minute for any run over 10 miles. I had 5 long runs over 20 miles, topping out at 24. My highest mile week was 57 miles and for August and September, I reached 200+ miles. I was injury free and feeling really good.
I decided that I wanted to finish in 4 hours so with my walk breaks factored in, I needed to have a marathon pace MP of 8:45 to average 9:10 min miles. Looking back, I should have done more speedwork and better tempo and MP runs. I planned on running miles 8-14 a little fast to bank some time and then run the last 6.2 without walk breaks, as Galloway suggests (figuring my legs would feel good enough from the walk breaks that I could do this).
Race Day – temps are perfect, 35* at the start and dry. I wore a sequined skirt, arm warmers and a s/s tech shirt. I ran into several friends before the race but since I was running this alone, I stayed kinda low-key and kept to myself. I got lined up in the corrals between the 4:00 and 4:10 pacer. My shoelaces seemed tight so I had time to retie one as they were counting down to the start and we were off.
Mile 1 9:50 – Course goes through downtown Indianapolis, pace feels relaxed and I’m not weaving around people, just going with the flow. A friend taps me on the shoulder and we chat for a second before she runs ahead (she was running the half).
Mile 2 9:26 – we run past Lucas Oil Stadium where our Colts play.
Mile 3 9:06 – decided to start catching the 4:10 pace group that had past me in the first mile. Hands started to get hot so I drop the gloves, start to run into the artsy area of Indy. A fellow Runners World forumite from the Indy Mini boards finds me out of the blue – thanks for saying hi Papafish!
Mile 4 9:06 – see my dad who is a professional photographer, give him a big wave. Noticed that my left shoe felt very tight (I have problems with pain on the bottom of this foot so I try to baby it).
Mile 5 9:17 – stop to retie that shoe, lose sight of the 4:10 pace group, ran in a lot of shade so my hands get really cold, wish I hadn’t dropped my gloves.
Mile 6 8:39 – decide to spring my plan of banking time a little early, find the 4:10 group and pass them. Take my first gel.
Mile 7 9:04 – settle into a comfy pace as the ½ marathoners break from the pack. More room to move now! Then I see a pace group in distance but can’t read the pace on their sign. Assume it’s the 4:00 group so I keep them in my sights.
Mile 8 9:08 – run past the Indiana State Fairgrounds and say a prayer for the 7 people who died in the stage collapse in August. Also see my dad (unexpected! Turns out he was stuck in race traffic and saw the 3:55 pace group go by, got out of his car and waited for me) who snapped some pics.
Mile 9 8:59 – decide to chase down the pace group in front of me, I can now see there is a :10 on the sign which makes me panic, I thought I passed that group!
Mile 10 8:51 – still chasing down that group. Then I notice that it actually says “9:10 pace” on the back of the sign, so it was actually the 4:00 pace group. Cool, I’ll stay around this area. Since I was walking 1 mine every mile, I would lose the group but then pass them when I ran, and would be past back when I would walk. This when on and on.
Mile 11 8:57 – Running through a popular bar area of the city, numerous spectators here.
Mile 12 8:51 – Looking for my dad but don’t see him in this area as I had expected but that’s ok. Carry on! Take second gel.
Mile 13 9:01 – cross the ½ way point at 1:59. Woo-hoo, I’m perfectly on pace! And still feeling terrific.
Mile 14 9:01 – notice that my left foot in starting to bug me but this is not unusual. We’re running through some neighborhoods now.
Mile 15 9:05 – staying right on pace and in front of the 4:00 pace group
Mile 16 9:18 – we were running on a 4 lane busy road, with only 1 lane designated to us. I got stuck in the middle of the 4:00 pace group at this point and couldn’t easily get out. So I wasn’t able to gain any time on them. A lady on the edge of the cones got clipped by a car mirror!
Mile 17 9:13 – I watch the 4:00 group leave as I take my 1 min walk break but I can keep them in sight. Run through the Butler University Campus.
Mile 18 9:11 – Enter the Indianapolis Art Museum grounds. Pass the 30k split at 2:51, projected finish time of 2:03. I can’t see the 4:00 group any longer. But I do see my dad who got some cool pictures. Take my 3rd gel. Notice that my quads are starting to feel sore but reflect on how crappy I felt at mile 18 of my last marathon and know that I’m doing 100x’s better.
Mile 19 9:13 – on some quiet back roads. People are starting to walk around me. I still plan on running the last 6.2 miles without walk breaks. Start reading signs that were placed along the route with interesting tidbits about Indy and Indiana. These are meant to help take your mind off the impending pain.
Mile 20 9:22 – And the pain starts to really hit. My foot and quads. Decide that it’s best to keep up with my walk breaks. My time is 2:56 so I know if I keep my pace, I can still finish under 4 hours. If.
Mile 21 9:45 – this is not fun anymore. But I tell myself that I will not walk unless it’s one of my scheduled breaks and only for 1 minute as I had been doing this entire race. I will NOT walk unless I’m supposed to. The tiny voice in my head says "you can walk more often now, your 4 hour goal is out of reach, the pain will be less if you walk more." Then the louder voice says "No way. The chances of you having perfect training and perfect weather all lining up like this is very slim. Do your very best now because you might not have another chance like this." A nice lady tells me that I win the best dressed award as she flies past me.
Mile 22 10:10 – I’m regretting signing up for a spring marathon at the expo. I’m never doing this again. Please, don’t let me be passed by the 4:10 group. I resign myself to not finishing under 4:00. Mentally though, it’s easier to think that I only have 6/10ths of a mile to go to my next walk break instead of 4 miles to the finish.
Mile 23 9:56 – decide to straighten my shoulders and use my arms. I’m not done yet and it’s only 3 miles to go! This second wind lasted for about ½ a mile. Course turns south towards downtown so I can see the buildings getting bigger, knowing the finish line was near.
Mile 24 10:25 – I see my dad during this walk break and don’t bother to smile for a picture. I get a little emotional and he offers to run with me (he does not run) but I tell him that I’m fine and he needed to get to the finish line. See my first puker, glad I’m not her,
Mile 25 11:02 – Dear Lord, are we there yet?? I take my last walk break and tell myself that I will not walk again until I cross the finish line. An entertainer starts playing a recording of the Olympics song on full blast, I fist pump and laugh to myself at what a dork I must look like.
Mile 26 11:01 – I felt like I was going faster than my time shows. I’m really giving it all that I have. My Garmin shows 26.2 (it started being off about ½ way) as I’m passed by the 4:10 group. I’m praying that my banked time will pay off.
Mile 26.2 (actually .4 on my Garmin) 4:09 – I see my dad at the corner of the final turn and give him a smile. I try to kick it to the finish but it was pretty pitiful. I hear the announcer call my name as I cross the finish line, with my arms partially raised a la Rocky. My DH, who volunteered at the finish line, snaps a picture. I burst into tears and hug him hard while he wraps a Mylar blanket around me. He tells me that he asked the 4:00 pacer about me and she said I was looking really strong (she noticed my sparkly skirt so that’s how she remembered me).
I got my medal and a Marathon Finisher stocking hat (nice!) and found my dad. I cried again while hugging him and he just kept saying how proud he was of me. I grabbed some chili in the finishers tent and swapped stories with my dad. Sent him home while I found gear check and changed into some clean/warm clothes. DH had to stay until the finish so I took advantage of the free post race massage (so nice!!!). Then we walked back to the car. On our way, we passed 2 finishers who were hitchhiking(!!) so we asked why – they were trying to get to the airport and the bus didn’t show up. We live near the airport so we offered to drive them there. We runners are good people, aren’t we?!
So, looking back, I think my training was on par. I probably should have done better with my speed work. My mileage was there. I just faded at the end.
Official finishing time was 4:09:39, 1338 place, 65/182 division place, 9:32 pace. I PRed by 49 minutes!!!!!