I ran the Indianapolis Marathon on October 19.
I completed it in 3:12:45, which was a personal record by 37 seconds.
There are a few things that made this marathon different for me.
#1 This was not a “Goal Race” for me.
I have several goal races each year. I plan all of my training and racing around these events. This was the first marathon I have run that I did not consider to be a goal race. I just decided to run a fall marathon to get a little more experience. It was my 6th marathon. It was also the 3rd time that I have run fast enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon.
#2 Since this was not a goal race for me, I did not train to run a marathon.
I only ran four training runs over 10 miles since my previous marathon in March. I ran one 12 miler in July. The other three longer than 10 where all in September, when I ran 14 miles, 15 miles, and 17 miles on consecutive weekends.
What have I been training for since March? To run faster. I ran shorter races. I particularly enjoyed the summer track series. I raced 800 meters, 1 mile, 2 miles, and ran various distances for relays. Good times.
#3 I was pestered by a couple of minor issues.
While I was doing some intense speedwork this summer, I irritated my heal. I was not careful enough with my form and I paid the price. In addition, I developed a sinus infection a couple of weeks before this marathon. I was on day 8 of antibiotics on race day. Antibiotics can dehydrate you, so you have to pay close attention. I experienced a few minor gluten issues, but thankfully they seemed to be cleared up by race day.
#4 I did not do the usual careful travel plan.
I usually arrive in town two days before a marathon so that I can rest on the day before the race. I like to keep it low-key. I will zip in and out of the EXPO quickly, just long enough to get my number bib and my race shirt. I spend the day hanging out in the hotel room except for slipping out for an easy 3 mile jog to loosen up. Not this time, however.
This time, I traveled the day before with my fiancé, her 4.9 year old daughter, and our little dog Lucy. I actually almost got sick in the car just after we left Knoxville. Not a good sign! Next, we got stuck in a traffic jam in Cincinnati. We didn’t even make it to the Expo. We arrived at the hotel around 9 pm. I had been hungry for a while. I brought food for the trip, but left it in the trunk when I needed it most. When we reached the hotel, I had my smoothie for dinner and got ready for bed.
So, … on race day…
My alarm went off 3 hours before the race. I had another smoothie for breakfast and proceeded to get ready. We arrived extra early at the race site so I could pick up my race bib and shirt. Most races do not allow this. Score one brownie point for the good people of Indianapolis! They scored a second big point because they had ample port-a-potties at the start line. Routine IS everything after all.
When we arrived at the parking lot, it had already been raining for a while. I was hoping it would quit, but the clouds did not agree. The start was a little odd. We lined up a few feet back o the starting line, which is normal. After the national anthem and other pleasantries, they had us walk towards the start line, gave instructions, and got us started. The odd part was that none of us had actually reached the starting line when the gun went off. We were still walking as they said “Runners to your mark!” I did not count this as a big deal because this was not a goal race for me. That extra second or two of “Gun time” would not hurt me any. No big.
Even though my sinus infection had me feeling a little queasy on race morning just like the day before, I seemed to put that behind me when the race started. I was going to treat this like a 26.2 mile training run. I would keep the pace under 7 minutes as long as I could and just see if I could beat my personal record. I kept the pace of each mile between 6:48 and 7:20 for most of the race. The rain finally stopped after I had finished about 14 miles. My average pace at mile 19.72 was 7:02. I had felt my first twinge of a cramp at around 19 miles and had managed to keep going without having a full-fledged cramp. Then I felt a GI issue coming on. I stopped at the port-a-potty at 19.72. I was in there for a little over 3 minutes.
When I stepped out, I tried to regain my composure and get into the rhythm I had been enjoying earlier. My legs were tight and gradually all of my muscles took turns threatening to cramp. Miles 21 to 25 were all in the 7:30s and 7:40s in terms of pace. I reminded myself that I had not properly trained for a marathon. Beating my personal record by any amount of time would be pretty darn good. With a positive attitude, I kept the pace as fast as I could. Mile 26 had a long steady climb. It wasn’t steep, but enough to slow my pace another 30 seconds.
The first female passed me just before mile marker 26. A nice woman that was volunteering shouted, “Hey, don’t let that girl beat you!” I shouted back, “If she is fast, I will gladly let her win.” She had more gas than I did for those last two-tenths of a mile. I was just happy to see the finish line getting closer.
Official Results of Indianapolis Marathon:
Time – 3:12:45 15th place out of 615 finishers
Managing to best my personal record without training specifically for a marathon was a pretty good confidence boost. Yes, it was only by 37 seconds, but I had trained like crazy for the previous one. This time, I ran about 300 fewer miles. My conclusion is that I maintained most of my endurance fitness while enhancing my raw speed through the summer and early fall training.
Will I train harder for the next one? It will be my first Boston Marathon, so what do you think I will do?!?
As for this race, however, it felt rather routine. I was just out for a good run.
The final conclusion: I have now completed 6 marathons. All were personal records. The last three were all Boston Qualifying times for my age group. Not bad for a guy who returned to competitive running in late 2009 after a 25 year break. Nope, not bad at all.
A word about the event: The course of the Indianapolis Marathon was mostly flat and fast. It was nice in terms of natural scenery. There were some suburbs, but most of the scenery was trees, which helped me relax. The race was very well organized and the support was excellent.
For now, I am trying to vary my courses, but this would be on my list of courses to repeat in the future. Thank you, Indianapolis!
“Train smart, eat well, & enjoy the run!” — P. Mark Taylor
Check out these books by P. Mark Taylor for more advice on running:
The Gift of Running: A Book for Runners & Future Runners
Wise Running: Thoughts on Running and Life