Tuesday, November 8, 2016

2016 Indianapolis Monumental Marathon

Training Details
20 Weeks Total
1453 total miles
3 100 mile weeks
3 full distance training runs (2 at actual marathons)
7 20+ mile runs

Race Details
Finish Time 2:51:31
77th Overall
72/2412 Men
12/413 Men Age 40-44
First Half 1:23:55
Second Half 1:27:37

The short description of this race would be a solid 23 mile race and a really, really bad 5k. The long painful story follows.

First of all, I was very happy to line up healthy this year and finish the race. Last year I pinched a nerve and was unable to run the race after the best training cycle I have ever put together. The heart ache lasted for weeks and the disappointment was nearly unbearable. So, while the rest of this report may sound like a pity party, it's not. It's just an honest review.

My goal back at the beginning of this training cycle was to get back to the shape I believe I was in last year. I was pretty sure that a 2:47:00 marathon would have been a walk in the park. I think that if I was feeling brave I could have gone 2:45:xx. I was very anxious about how to get back into shape and I decided to hire a pro to write my training plan. I sought out a custom plan from Maximum Performance Running. I can't say enough good things about Mark Hadley, the guy who runs it. Check him out at his blog or twitter @MPRunning

I worked diligently toward that goal for about 15 weeks and it became apparent that I wasn't going to get there. But I did feel like if everything came together I could still hit 2:47:00. It's just that it was going to take a PR type effort and leave me spent. So my goal when I toed the line on November 5th, 2016 at the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon was just that 2:47. That's a 6:22 - 6:24/Mile pace.

Once again we stayed downtown. I was seeded in corral A and It was a chilly morning, about 37* and no wind. This is perfect marathoning weather. I honestly couldn't believe how good the weather was. But 37* is a little cool for just standing around in. That being the case we stayed in the hotel room until the last minute and walked down and jumped in the corral with about 5 minutes to spare.

Once in the corral Garrett found me. I also see some other runners I know, Matt York, his friend Dustin, and Heather Weber. We all say hi and make a little small talk. I say I'm going for 2:47. Garrett and Matt both indicate they think they'll be a little slower than that.

Getting ready to start another marathon with Garrett.


First 5k 20:12 6:30/Mile
We get the start signal and we are off, slowly. We didn't realize how far back we were in the corral and the first mile is just wall to wall people. The first mile was 6:50ish. Way to slow. In the first and second mile I think I see every single marathoner I know. It actually started feeling a little ridiculous how many people I was talking to. I'm not a social guy. I don't have friends. But I in the first few miles here I feel like the kid in school who is friends with everybody. I saw Matt, Cliff, Glenn, Chad. At some point Garrett says "the moral of the story is you have a lot of fast friends." Yeah, I guess I do.

We hit mile 2 and I was averaging high 6:30s. Way too slow. I drop the hammer and I think Garrett has already decided he didn't want to run that fast. That's all right, it's just me today. Next thing I know there's Garrett. He decided to come with me and I'm happy for that. The marathon is a much easier beast when you have some one to work with. A few minutes later we catch up with Chad. He tells me he's going for 2:48. Cool, we'll run together for a while and see what happens.

Second 5k 19:43 6:20/Mile
I ran most of this with Chad and Garrett and there really isn't much to report except to say that I felt good, the pace felt good and I had high hopes for the day. I take a gel right at the 10k mark.

Third 5k 19:52 6:23/Mile
About mile 7 we split off from the half-marathoners. I was running with Chad still and I think Garrett started to fall off a bit. By mile 8 Chad had started to pull ahead some and I was running by myself but close to other runners. I know Matt must be close behind because I see a contingent of supporters from Kokomo and hear them call out my name and Matt's.

Forth 5k 19:47 6.22/Mile
Matt had caught back up to me and we ran side by side for several miles. Matt is an IronMan so I picked his brain a little about training and equipment. I have a draw to IronMan that I can't seem to kick. I was still feeling very strong at this point. Confident that my primary goal of 2:47:xx would be doable and entertaining going for it in the second half, putting up a big negative split, and getting in under 2:47.

Fifth 5k 20:00 6:26/Mile
I take a gel right at the half. Matt started to pull away as we turned back onto Meridian. I wasn't worried at this point. I assumed that either he was picking it up or my legs just needed a change of pace for a minute. Unfortunately, my Garmin wasn't a good indicator as it was bouncing thru a relatively large pace range. Whatever the case Matt stayed within 4 or 5 meters. I was still connected.

6th 5k 20:15 6:31/Mile
My pace slipped a little but it wasn't because I was tiring, there is a lot of incline in this portion of the race. really its the one of the only areas that isn't just about flat. I still feel fine and it takes no convincing what-so-ever to tell myself that its just the incline and once we get to the IMA the pace will come back to the low 6:20s where it needs to be. I should have taken a gel by mile 19 but I missed it. I believe this plays a significant role in the way the rest of the race unfolded.

7th 5k 20:26 6:34/Mile
I roll thru the 20 mile mark and I try to drop the hammer. The problem is, there is no hammer. The gap between myself and Matt is now significant. I am no longer connected. He ran a hell of a race and negative split by a minute. So He was picking it up and I was slipping a bit. For the first time I have started to worry that I won't meet my primary goal of 2:47:xx. I am also worried that the rapid deterioration would even cost me a PR.

By mile 21 my pace had dropped to 6:44. From behind I hear Garrett! "Looks like you could use some help." I was very happy to hear that voice. In my mind I thought "Garrett has come to at least help me salvage a PR." He encouraged me and I tried to stay with him but my legs were going down in in flames. All I could say to Garrett was "The wheels are coming off." Through all of this I still did not realize that I missed a gel.

8th 5k 21:47 7:00/Mile + Finish
I saw my wife and daughter Kasey at mile 23. My wife said she knew it was bad because Garrett was pulling away from me and she has never seen me look so bad in a race. I was passed I don't know how many times here. My legs gave up but my heart and mind didn't. Each time I was passed I dug deep to answer and regain my position. The only problem was my legs would not respond and I failed each time. I never quit though. Ever. I kept pushing. It was bad.


Dying at mile 23


At mile 24 I realized what was happening. I realized that I had missed that gel. Marathoners know that the body is capable of storing enough energy to run for about 2 hours. Anything over and above that you have to supply during the race and at the appropriate times so that your body can make use of it. I was out of fuel. Commonly referred to as "hitting the wall." I took my last gel in hopes that it would at least help me in the last mile or so and keep this from getting even worse. Hopefully, I could at least trick my body into thinking it had some fresh source of energy to pull from and free my legs to move with a little more strength. It must have worked to some degree because while mile 25 was in the mid 7s and I was able to get back to the low 7s for mile 26 and under 7 for the remaining .2


So, I was on pace to meet my goal even to mile 23. I should have easily PR'ed. I keep going back and forth about was it the gel or is that just a convenient excuse. I really believe it was the gel because I felt good until I didn't feel good. I believe it was the gel because my mind and my heart still wanted it but I couldn't will myself to move any faster. In other words it was a physiological fail.

What's next?
I am signed up for the Celebration Marathon in Celebration, FL on 1/29/2017. I was just going to run this for fun but I am weighing the option of turning around on a short cycle and racing it to get that 2:47:xx. I'll take this week and next week to decide but at the moment I am leaning very strongly in that direction.