Nov 16, 2009

Indy Monumental Marathon - Race Report

About time I got this report posted. Sorry in advance for it's length.

On Friday morning, at around 10 AM, my wife and I loaded the car, and left for Indianapolis. I was beginning to wonder if WE'D ever get out the door. I knew I was going, the question was whether or not Susan would be able to go. She'd been battling with the flu, and a bad case of chest & sinus congestion. She bought some OTC medication to try and help it, but unfortunately, it made her feel even worse. She was having some side effects to the meds and was wondering if she should go at all. As much as I wanted her there, she was REALLY struggling. I didn't want her to feel pressure to go, if it was best for her to stay home. But we figured so long as she didn't take anymore of the meds, and waited for them to wear off, she'd be OK. So she made the trip.

We arrived in Indy at around noon. Had a little trouble finding the hotel, but no big deal. Now, I had e-mailed the hotel and requested a late check-out, just so I could grab a quick shower after the race, before heading home. No problem, they said. My reservation had been set to indicate I had this late check-out time promised to me. When we arrive to check-in, I remind the desk clerk that I have a 2PM check-out, and she says, “Nope. Sorry. We can't accommodate that.” I tell her I have an e-mail, from an employee there at the hotel, guaranteeing it for me. She says that it doesn't matter, they can't accommodate any more late check-outs, and so no way am I getting one. I'm floored, and angry. But it is clear that there is no way I'm winning this battle with this lady. So I ask if they have showers in the fitness room that I can use after the race, and I'm told absolutely they do. OK, fine. Not what I wanted, but it'll do. I'll complain later. For the time being, I just want to get checked in, and get some food. While at lunch, I look up the e-mail, and respond back (she had also cc'd her supervisor, so I made sure she got my e-mail too) about how disappointed I was with what had just happened. I'd hoped perhaps she'd respond and ask me to stop by the desk. No luck.

We go to lunch, come back to the hotel, and Susan decides to take a nap, hoping she'll feel better when she wakes up. I go down to the lobby and tool around on the laptop. As I'm sitting there, I hear lots of folks get told that they can't get a late check-out, but that there are showers in the fitness area. Now I begin to wonder how many people are going to be vying for these showers. So I go to check it out. LOL. They have a family restroom in there, and a SINGLE shower. That's it. One shower. OMG, I'm really upset now, so I go right back to the registration desk, and I know exactly the two people I want to ask for. One of them is going to hear how unhappy I am. Next thing I know, a guy comes out and asks how he can help. I tell him my name and my situation, and it's clear he already knows exactly what this about. They say they couldn't give us the 2PM check-out b/c of the room we are in (the Houston Texans were coming into town the next day, and they needed the room). But if they could move us, they then could give us the 2PM check-out. Well, duh. OF COURSE that will work. Would that have been such a tough thing for Little-Miss-I-Don't-Care-Who-You-Got-an-E-mail-From to do?!? So I go tell Susan, who'd just woken up, that we need to repack, and move rooms. They then put us in a room on the opposite side of the floor. We think to ourselves how can this be right? Seriously? Opposite side of the elevators, and we're all good? Whatever.

At this point, my dad is now with us, and we're getting ready to leave to meet some friends for dinner. While Susan is getting ready, dad & I go to Shula's Steakhouse and have a drink at the bar. Immediately, Susan calls and says I need to come upstairs immediately. WTF?!? Manager is there saying they AGAIN put us in the wrong room. Now they put us up on the club level and, for sure, we are good until 2PM. Our room was identical, but we had access to a small lounge area, with couches and TV's, a bar at night, water bottles & snacks 24/7, breakfast in the morning. OK, fine. Whatever. So long as this is the last time we have to move, I'll be happy.

We leave for the Broad Ripple area to meet Kirk & Alissa for dinner. We get little turned around trying to find the place, but finally we do. Some little French cafe called Cafe Patachou. Broad Ripple is a very nice area, trendy. Dinner was great. The most sickeningly, delicious mashed potatoes I've ever had. Not exactly the best pre-race meal, but it wasn't too bad otherwise. After dinner, we drop off my dad at his hotel, and head back to our room. Time to sleep. Sorta.

Sleep wasn't easy. I probably woke up every hour. I was actually relieved to have my watch start beeping and tell me it was time to start getting ready. I had planned for about 45-50 minutes to get up, get dressed, eat a little food, and drink a little coffee before meeting my dad downstairs in the lobby. All things were running smoothly until I was ready to walk out the door. I suddenly realized I wasn't wearing my Garmin. I know I'd laid it out the night before with all my gear. I'd even seen it that morning. But suddenly, I couldn't find it. So I rifled through my gym bag, throwing stuff all over the place. Couldn't find it! Son of a...!!! I go back to the chair I'd put my clothes on the night before, and there it was. It had somehow gotten wedged in b/w the back of the chair and the seat cushion. WHEW! OK, time to get downstairs and warm up.

Warmed up for about 20-25 minutes with some light stretching, easy jogging, and then made my way to the start area. Weather was really nice...downtown. Couldn't feel the wind. And what wind there was, was mostly in our back as we headed out the city. Things seemed to be organized fairly well. I worked my way over to the 4-hour pace group and tried to get inside the barriers to find a spot. But I literally couldn't get in. The area they had for the start was apparently a little small, and so I had to wait outside the metal barricades until after the gun went off,. As people started moving forward, hundreds of others, like me, tried file into the mob of runners. Fortunately, I was right up against the entrance to the start area, so I had little trouble. But you could see, and hear, others complaining about not being able to get into the flow. But finally, I made it to the starting mat, I started my watch, and I was off!

First several miles where pretty crowded. Through 2 miles, I felt boxed in the entire way. But in a way, I didn't mind too much b/c I wanted to make sure I didn't go blasting out from the start. I hit 3 miles in 27:31, which was perfect. Right after the 3-mile mark, we got to a section of the course where the DOT had set up these 5-foot high traffic barricades, blocking off the entire street! WTF?!? Who is the idiot that set these up when there's a freakin' marathon going through? There were gaps b/w them about 2-people wide. So we all had to funnel through them, or go around them on the sidewalks. If you were like me, and somewhere near the center of the street, there was no choice but to slowly make my way through. The next few miles were fairly uneventful. I hit the 10K mark in 56:36.

At around mile 7-8, some woman started chatting with me and that helped the next few miles go quickly. It was at about this time that we started noticing a spectator who was cheering wildly for everyone who ran by. Nothing weird about that. What was weird is that he kept popping up all over the course! You'd see him, half a mile later, there he was again. And again. And again. No bike, no roller blades, nothing. He just kept getting from spot to spot faster than we were! After about the 5th time, I started getting a little irritated. OK, not really, but damn. Lace up the shoes, and get a bib number dude.

Ran as comfortably as I could have hoped all the way to the halfway point, which I reached in 1:58:13. I was really happy with that. Exactly the pace I was looking to be at. But as soon as we turned to head back to the city, the wind that was coming out of the west-southwest really hit us in the face. No more protection of the downtown buildings. But I continued to run well. I reached 30K at 2:49:05, and knocked out miles 13-23 at 8:59/mile, over than span. I had a near disaster just short of the 20-mile mark. It was time for me to take my Endurolyte capsules, which I had in a small sandwich bag, tucked into the waist-pocket on the inside of my shorts. Took the capsules, then went to put the bag back into the pocket. As I'm looking down to see what I'm doing, I run dead-smack into a pylon in the road! I stumble badly and damn near face plant. OMG, scared me to death. Thankfully, I managed to keep my balance. Some guy running next to me asked me if I was OK, which I was, and we proceeded to run together and chat from mile 20 to mile 22.

I made it to 23.1 miles (5K to go) in 3:29-ish. I'd completed the second stage of my race plan and I was right where I wanted to be. Now on to the final part of my plan. After getting to “5K-to-go-mark” at a nice, comfortable pace, I simply wanted to run the final 5K with whatever I had in the tank. Here's where I would lay it all out, and empty the tank. I felt really good. And as soon as I thought to myself, “Here we go!”, both of my calves started to twitch and spasm a bit. I had to make a decision here, and I decided to hold off on stepping on the gas pedal for a minute or two, and see what happens. Sure enough, they started spasming again. At this point, I knew throwing the hammer down wasn't going to happen. So I decided to try and just keep running steady splits, like I had been. Unfortunately, that wasn't possible either. They kept spasming. Not so as powerfully as they did in the spring, but strongly enough that I knew I was going to have to incorporate walking breaks to get to the finish as efficiently as possible. It was while I was walking that I began to realize that I was having some tightness/soreness in my left hip too. I kept trying to apply pressure to it with my fist to help, but it was temporary relief. So I did the best I could to run & walk. Mile 24 wasn't too bad, but the 25th is when I really knew my calves were going to prevent me from getting in under 4 hours. The final 2.2-ish were really uncomfortable.

I say “ish” b/c there's some real question as to the true distance of the course. It was a topic on the Runner's World forum. I know for sure that my watch was barely off through 20 miles. After that, I paid less attention to it. When I got into downtown, it lost the signal temporarily, so my watch distance should have been less than what I actually ran. But when I load the run into Sportstracks, it adjusts for the distance covered, and since I made no turns during that stretch, it should have adjusted correctly. When my watch hit its 25th split, Sportstracks says I'd covered 25.07 miles. No problem. At the 26th split, the software says 26.23. Hmmmm. And then it says it covered another 0.76 miles, for a total of 26.99?!? Others on the RW forum have distances in the 26.5-26.9 range too. I'm not getting hung up on this though because I know my final 5K was crazy slow, and that I have plenty of work to do. No problem.

Ultimately, I covered the final 5K in about 37-38 minutes, and finished in 4:07:53. Once again, cardio fatigue was a non-issue. I had gas in the tank, I just didn't have the wheels to allow me to use it.

Indy was a very nice race, and I'm glad I went. The weather played some tricks on me. The forecast was for a cool (mid-40's), windy morning that turned into a mid-50's & windy day. I chose to wear shorts and long sleeve technical shirt. It got up in to the mid-60's later in the morning, and at that point, I was wishing I had a short sleeved shirt on. Still, I wasn't terribly uncomfortable, just a little.

The plan for the remainder of '09? 10K Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning with a friend from Alabama, 5K Jingle Bell Run the week or two after that with my wife & step-daughter, and nothing but easy running otherwise. The backs of my knees have been achy since the race, so I'm trying to rest, which is very difficult for me. I managed to not run on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday or Saturday. This week, I'll pick it up a bit, but not much.

Now that I've finished my first marathon, I've learned some things:

1) I have a lot room for improvement, and I now have a base time to work off of and improve on.

2) My calves still need plenty of work. When it happens once, I can say was a fluke. Twice is an issue. Gotta be diligent about stretching & self-massage to help loosen them up.

3) This is kind much as I like races, I realize how much I LOVE the training. I think I prefer training. I'll keep racing, for sure. They're fun. But the grind of training gives me that everyday sense of accomplishment that I thirst for.

4) Just finishing, even if I don't finish strong, or hit a goal, or whatever, just finishing is enough for me to avoid the post-marathon blues. I'm anxious to start to training again. I want to figure out what race to run next so I can get back after it. My mental outlook is just so much better right now than after the Flying Pig.

So now it's time to enjoy the holidays, and make it to 2010 healthy. By then I hope to have a target race, or races, and a training schedule in place. And maybe finally a podcast episode? More on that later.


  1. havent been on in a while and didnt see this report. nice job you worked hard!

  2. Very detailed report indeed! Congratulations! I have mine in photos here: