Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Indianapolis Monumental Marathon

A few weeks ago, I was debating running the Indianapolis Monumental Half-Marathon.  The course was advertised as flat and fast and they gave a $500 bonus to anyone running under 65 minutes. But training wise, it didn't make a lot of sense. But fellow Nashvillian, Jeanette Faber, mentioned that they were looking for a rabbit to run at 2:18 marathon pace, which is about 5:15 a mile.  I liked the idea of that much better, since I felt it would be more suited to marathon training and would be a good, long stimulus.  After a few back-and-forth emails, I was set to be the 2:18 rabbit.

The agreed upon parameters were to be within 30 seconds of 68:49 at 13.1 miles and 1:45:00 at 20 miles (5:15 a mile, which comes out to 2:17:38 marathon pace). I felt like coming in 30 seconds of 68:49 wouldn't be much of an issue for the 13.1 mile split, but was nervous about the 30 second range for the 20 mile split. However, I was prepared to run as hard as I had to in order to hit the times because I was now somewhat in control of other runners' destiny.

I took a half day off work and Mary and I were on our way to Indianapolis. We rolled in shortly before the elite meeting and I ran into former Tennessee resident, Nate Pennington, who was hoping to run sub 5:10 pace for the half-marathon and is gearing towards the CIM marathon. I also talked to Mark Hadley of Elite Marathoning and later on, saw Paul Peterson, Hurricane teammates Jake Krong and Andrew North and my Nashville buddy, Hunter Hall.  A few people asked if I were going to chase the Olympic Trials time if I felt good at 20 and I guaranteed I wouldn't.  Even Paul cracked up and didn't believe me when I said I was only going to run 20 miles hard.  At the meeting we went over race logistics and some random information and after meeting Jesse Davis, who was also going to hop aboard the sub 2:18 train, Mary and I were on our way to the pasta dinner to eat with Hunter Hall and his mom, where I ate too many cookies, some steamed veggie and pepper concoction and some pasta.  I also talked with the President of the race board for a couple minutes and he said I was one of the most important people in the race.  Talk about added pressure.
Which bald guy am I?

I wasn't feeling too hot at this point and was worried I would wake up sick in the morning.  Thursday, my normal cold routine started.  I had one nostril closed with congestion and Friday night, I had both nostrils clogged and one side of my neck was really sore and tender.  I was worried that I would have some body aches or something in the morning, so I stopped by the pharmacy for some meds, in case I needed them.

But luckily, I didn't need them.  While I was congested, my body felt fine.  I ate a Mixed Berry Powerbar, a couple bowls of Honey Nut Cheerios, some yogurt and chugged some Cool Blue Gatorade.  Cool Blue Gatorade used to be one of my favorite drinks but after this weekend, I think I'm going to retire it.  Maybe I have an aversion or something to it or something now because it used to be my go-to sickness drink.
It was good while it lasted.  It's not you, it's me.

Traffic was terrible on the way to the race and there were a few idiots, who were slowing things down.  I ended up parking with about thirty minutes until the start of the race and I jogged about half of a mile to the elite tent, changed into my race gear, did a few leg swings and strides and I made my way to the line.

When the race started, the half-marathoners shot out as expected and I let them go as I paid attention to my GPS.  The pace felt really relaxed but I went through the mile in 5:08.  Oops. I tried to slow down a little more but ran the next mile in 5:11 followed by a 5:04.  In my defense, the 5:04 was only .98 miles on my GPS, so maybe the sign was 5-6 seconds ahead of place.  While I was directly in front, we must have had a good marathon pack because I heard a lot of "good job marathoners!"  There was a short Kenyan half-marathoner in a Spira singlet throwing me off my game a little bit because he couldn't decide on his pacing.  He would let us catch him, then pull away a bit.  He not only did a great job of running the tangents but would also cut across the sidewalks and grass, saving him a second or two with every turn.  Maybe he couldn't control the springs in his Spiras or something.

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Once we got 4-5 miles in, the half-marathoners were breaking away and there was no one directly in-front of me.  With the road mostly clear, I was then able to lock into my rhythm, hanging +/- a few seconds from 5:15.  Jesse was right behind me, off my left shoulder and Paul was off my right with David Tuwei and Boniface Biwott behind them.   Paul and I chit-chatted some but I didn't want to talk to him too much so he could focus on his race.

Elite men's marathoners on mile three in the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon, Indianapolis, Saturday, November 3, 2013. Robert Scheer/The Star
Elite men's marathoners on mile three in the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon, Indianapolis, Saturday, November 3, 2013. Robert Scheer/The Star

At around 10k in, I grabbed my first water cup.  The lady was holding two cups with two fingers and her thumb and was shocked when she dropped the second cup after I grabbed the first. Seriously? I was able to get a total of about half an ounce or something since I still don't know how to drink out of those.  After that copious amount of water, I took my first gel.

They had clocks with the cummulative time at every mile, so I tried to do some rough math to make sure I wasn't running too fast.  I went through 10 miles in 52:17, which meant I was 137 seconds slower than 5:00 pace, which meant I was running 5:13.7 pace.  A hair quick but pretty much on target.  The four guys were still in tow, with the Americans still in second and third.  Jesse was the hometown boy, so he got most of the cheers.  I would have wanted the local to win, but since Paul was in the race, I was hoping he would be able to pull it out.  Sorry Jesse. 

Around 20k, we approached the first fuel table.  I didn't bedazzle my water bottle enough, so it was hard to find and I had to put on the brakes for a second but was able to grab it.  I took all of my gel and a squirt of water before asking Jesse if he wanted some. Boniface got it first and I assume he gave it to Jesse next.  Finally, the half-marathon sign was approaching and I went through in 68:39.  It was nine seconds fast but you can't get much closer than that.  And Jesse and Paul still sounded like they were feeling good, so that was a good sign.  At this point, I was debating finishing the race since money went five deep and there were only four other guys.  I definitely didn't plan on racing to the end because that would have been a chump move, after telling them I wouldn't and I knew putting my body through the extra stress wouldn't be too smart.

I continued to lead the pack of four as we knocked out the splits pretty consistently.  I paid constant attention to my watch so I wouldn't run too fast because I was finding it very easy to accidently sneak into the 5:10 range.  A few miles after the halfway point, I checked over my shoulder and noticed Paul was about five meters back.  I wanted him to catch up but I had my duties to fulfill.  A mile or two later, Jesse was also off the pace.  I turned around and told Boniface that the mzungus were gone and we kept on.  At 30k, I was hoping to get my third gel but I couldn't find it in time since all of the bottles looked alike and the table was pretty small.  Oh well, I didn't really need it anyway.

My duties were close to becoming completed and it couldn't have come any sooner.  Not because the pace was hard but because I really had to use the bathroom.  In the 19th mile, Boniface pulled up right beside me like he wanted to throw in a surge.  I told him that I was the rabbit and was stopping the pace at 20 miles.  He was confused at first but I assured him that if I kept on running at 20 miles, I would slow down the pace a lot and would not fight for the win. He then pulled back in behind me and I focused not on the 20th mile but on finding a porta-john.  

I reached 20 miles in 1:44:47 (pretty good pacing!) and then stopped.  I knew a guy was supposed to pick me up and when a guy asked me if I was ready to leave, I told him I was going to finish up the race and started jogging away.  We were running through the middle of a park and I used my hawk vision to try and spot any bathrooms because I wasn't seeing any porta-johns in the near future.  Nothing was spotted (or maybe there was one there and my hawk vision is off).

I was hoping to run 6:30s but my body was fighting anything slower than 6:00 pace.  Six minute pace felt like eight minute pace, so I guess my body just got locked into a fast rhythm.  This was the one and only time I wished I was running the Top of Utah Marathon because they had porta-johns every mile.  After going through 22 miles, I was in survival mode.  There's no hiding anything on the internet, and I knew I had to find somewhere fast.  I walked for a few seconds before noticing some kind of plant or something that had a car in the parking lot.  I ran over to it and rung the doorbell, waited about 30 seconds and rung it again.  No answer.  Things were about to get messy until I noticed some heavy, dense shrubbery about 50 meters away. I parted the bushes, did my business and kept my eye on the road to make sure a runner didn't pass.  Talk about a crappy situation!  No one went by and I was back on the road, only to pass a porta-john a minute later. Seriously?

While the pace was feeling super easy, I stopped at a fuel table to get some Clif Shot Bloks to be safe and get in some extra carbs. I've always liked the taste of them but trying to chow down on them while you running was very similar to trying to chew on very dense gum and took me a few minutes to eat all three of them.

Around 24 miles, the half-marathoners and marathoners merge onto the same road.  There were some cones designed to separate the two groups of runners but I still had to do some weaving because the half-marathoners decided to run in the marathon lane as well.  I was still cruising at a pretty easy effort and when I checked over my shoulder in the 26th mile, I noticed a marathoner about five seconds behind me.  I wasn't about to get in a marathon kick, so I threw in a minute or two at sub 5:00 pace, checked over my shoulder again and saw I had a nice lead.  I cruised across the line in 2:26:33 (2:23:20 running time, which included an extra .13 miles of running to the business, the bushes and back on the road), got my medal and a beanie hat and made my way back to the elite area so I could see how everyone else did.
Myself, Andrea and Jake.  I'm kinda embarrassed that I have by-far the tightest pants in the picture

Jake Krong was trying to make a run at sub 65 in the half-marathon but came up short.  But he's gotten in some killer training and maybe just has some residual fatigue in his legs.  But he's more of a marathon guy and will make a run at 2:18 at CIM.

I was surprised to see that David won.  He was always in the back of the pack and didn't strike me as being a threat when I dropped out.  I guess he was hiding out and biding his time but he won by almost two minutes in the last 10k.

Paul was a little short in 2:19:40 but he didn't get in a ton of training for this and ran off my shoulder quite a bit.  I think he will be ready for a sub 2:18 after getting in a couple months of marathon-specific training.  Jesse was a little behind him in 2:21:43.

Hunter ran really well to finish in 2:38, which I was glad to see.

49 year old, Colleen DeReuck and 16 year old Alana Hadley finished 1st and 4th in the women's race to both qualify for the Olympic Marathon Trials.  Pretty wide range in age there.

I ended up taking two gels during the twenty miles, three shot bloks on my 10k "cool-down" and had probably less than four ounces of water during the race.

Overall, this was a very motivating trip.  At no point did it feel like I had to focus on pushing the pace, I was constantly slowing it down.  I've never felt as relaxed at 20 miles into a marathon as I did here and feel like I could have run 2:16 without a problem if I finished the race, even though I wasn't tapered and haven't done any marathon workouts yet.  Take away this weekend, give me a two-week taper and people to run with and I know I'm in sub 2:15 shape, even without the marathon workouts.  At first I was debating re-entering CIM but after thinking about it, this race shows that I'm best suited to rhythm courses, which Houston is and CIM isn't.

I was also really impressed with the race board.  When some companies are taking away elite support, these guys are increasing it.  They had about 100 elite runners and gave a $1000 bonus for a sub 2:18 and $500 bonus for sub 65.  Part of me wishes I would have hung in and gotten the extra $1000 and take my chance at the $1200 first place prize, but I had to play it smart. 

Not only is the elite support great, but the course is fast and the weather is traditionally perfect.  This year, there was about an 8mph wind but tempos were in the low/mid 40s.  And I remember one gradual uphill and a couple downhills.  This thing is fast and in my opinion, faster than Houston.  With hotels being pretty cheap (mine was $65), this is a good, cheap marathon that is a perfect place to PR.
Always hangs around 700 ft. with a little bit of running over 750 ft. Can't get much better than that.

For some reason, the results make me look like a chump and that I wasn't doing my job.  They show I was fifth at 10k and the half-marathon and third at 30k, even though I was leading the entire time.  I got a bit of a jump at the start, so maybe that's chip time or something. Hopefully the people who brought me in to rabbit don't think I was slacking.

Balanced Splits: 5:08, 5:11, 5:04, 5:11, 5:23, 5:14, 5:15, 5:19, 5:14, 5:17, 5:18, 5:15, 5:14, 5:13, 5:14, 5:17, 5:16, 5:16, 5:07, 5:20 (end of rabbiting) 6:08, 7:05 (extra .13 of running with the bathroom break), 6:15, 6:04, 6:07, 5:46, 1:10.


  1. I think the fact that you picked it back up to a 5:46 at the end is the best part of this.

    Running 20 under 5:15 pace is fantastic. Your next real marathon is going to be pretty special.

  2. I couldn't let that guy take my $250, so I have to give him a taste of my mini-rocket boosters. I may run one more marathon as a long run (2:25ish range) but may run Club XC instead.

    I'm looking forward to seeing you run at CIM. Sub 66 a few weeks out points to a 2:18, especially when you're more of a strength guy, like yourself. After Houston, we can both celebrate our marathon success.

  3. I was "that guy" and you did a nice job crushing my dreams of 250 bucks over that last mile. Of course reading your whole race recap shows that your performance was far more deserving of the cash. I guess one man's solid workout is another man's PR. Great blog and best of luck with your upcoming races!

  4. I wish you had a little more company that second half because it looks like you were pretty lonely the last 10 miles. Well, scratch that because you would have made me run harder! Keep on plugging away and whoop Chris Herren's butt back into shape.

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