After 20 weeks of training, this past weekend brought the day I’d been waiting for: RACE DAY.
This marathon was my 6th marathon, but training was a bit different than the previous 5 because I was training for a specific time goal. After setting a PR in my very first marathon, I hadn’t given much thought to paces or times when training for the next. I ran marathons just for fun, loved the grueling process and enjoyed every moment during the race!
This fall, I wanted to finally try and beat my PR. I set my sights on the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon. After running the NYC Marathon last year, I discovered that I loved the timing of having a marathon in the late fall.
The Monumental Marathon took place the first weekend in November, and on a Saturday as well – which is always nice because you get an extra day to recover. The course is really flat, it’s one of the 20 biggest marathons in the United States, and Indianapolis is within driving distance from Michigan.
Here is my Indianapolis Monumental Marathon Recap.
Indianapolis Monumental Marathon Recap
I signed up for this race knowing that I wanted to beat my marathon PR of 4:41 that I set in 2013. I really wanted to push myself and decided to train to break 4:30 in this next marathon.
Spoiler alert: I DID IT!
My excitement started to reach an all time high a few weeks before the race. I was so excited to see my training start to pay off and couldn’t wait to experience the highs and lows of race day.
But as race day neared, it started to seem like everything was going wrong.
About 9 days before the race, I started to get a big flare from autoimmune issues and my joints started to feel really painful. As the intensity of the flare increased, I also started to feel like I was getting sick. My entire body ached, my head hurt, throat was sore and it didn’t take long before I started to panic. My husband was also getting sick at this time and I worried that I was going to be really sick heading into race day.
Luckily, I started to feel better by Tuesday of race week, but then found out that my husband would be unable to come to Indianapolis with me as planned. I worried that I’d have to drive the 5+ hours to and from Indianapolis by myself because I knew that was the last thing I’d want to be doing after running a marathon.
Thankfully It ended up working out because my parents were both able to make it. We met at a carpool parking lot about 2 hours into the trip, where we left my car there and drove the last 3 hours to Indianapolis together.
We had some issues getting a dog sitter and plans were changing even as I was getting ready to leave for the race. I probably stressed an unnecessary amount about this, and of course things ended up working out.
Aside from the dog sitting struggles, the drive was successful and we arrived in downtown Indianapolis early in the afternoon on Friday.
The first thing we did was stop by the expo to pick up my packet. Things went really smoothly at the expo and we were in and out pretty quickly.
After leaving the expo, we headed to our hotel. I ended up booking our hotel way too late, so by the time I got around to it the closest place available was near the airport – about a 15 minute drive from the start. Luckily it ended up being a really easy drive and not a problem at all!
We went to Olive Garden and Coldstone on Friday night for some successful carb loading. I spent the rest of the evening in the hot tub and then headed to bed early.
Saturday morning started off with an early wake up call. I wanted to get downtown early enough to avoid any parking issues and we were able to do just that. We parked near the convention center and were able to wait inside until it was time to walk to the start line.
We headed to the start around 7:35 because I was starting to feel antsy, and boy was I surprised when we turned the corner and saw so many people already lined up. There were so many people that I wasn’t even able to get in the corrals until the first two waves started. Once the first two waves started running my wave was able to move up and I was able to get in the corrals.
I saw the 4:30 pacer way up near the front as I was entering the back of the corral, and I started to panic because I’d hoped to run with the pacer. This panic only intensified as I realized that my watch had not gotten GPS signal by the time we were ready to start. I started to panic and ended up sprinting around the other runners once we started to try and make my way to the pacer.
I finally caught up to the 4:30 pacer just before mile 1. My watch didn’t get GPS until about 0.75 miles in, so the splits were off for the rest of the race – but I felt so relieved to have made it up to the pace group.
Miles 1 – 7
These miles were really congested and I was pretty distracted trying to stick with the pace group since there were so many people. I managed to stay close enough that by the time the half split off from the full I was easily able to locate them and finally run along with them. Having the distraction of trying to follow someone made these miles fly by!
The first few miles of this race ran through downtown. We passed some monuments right away and went by the stadium. The weather ended up being perfect – it was about 40 degrees and sunny when we started. I started with hand warmers which made a huge difference! My hands are always the part of my body that takes forever to warm up, but with the hand warmers they were warm the entire time.
Miles 8 – 13
These miles were actually the most mentally challenging for me. It was at this point that I questioned whether or not I’d actually be able to keep up with the pacer for the rest of the race. I started to get a little worried since we weren’t even at the halfway point, but I know it was just my mind playing tricks on me because my body actually felt pretty good.
We headed out of downtown at this point and ran through a lot of neighborhoods. The colors we were so pretty!
Miles 13 – 20
These miles went by really quickly. I spent my time thinking about what I would do after the race to reward myself, and dreaming about sitting in the car for 5 glorious hours. Each time things started to get hard I reminded myself that it would pass and before I knew it things would be feeling better.
I love how feelings fluctuate during a marathon. There are many points along the way where your body hurts, your mental strength starts to waver and you question why on earth you wanted to do this. But there are also those moments where you hear inspirational stories, run through crowds of volunteers, and tear up realizing what an incredible experience a marathon is.
It really helped to remind myself that things would in fact get better – no matter how much pain I was experiencing, it wouldn’t feel like this for the rest of the race.
And you know what? I was right.
Miles 20 – 24
These miles were really tough. At this point I started to feel more confident that I’d hit my goal, but my body was aching and each step was painful. This is to be expected with a marathon, but even so, it’s hard to overcome in the moment. Although there was never a specific moment where I hit “the wall”, continuing on was the most challenging during these miles.
I spent these miles reminding myself that a marathon is painful no matter what speed you run. If I decided to walk or slow down and leave the pace group, each step would be just as painful as if I stuck with them. This really helped keep me going.
Miles 25 – 26
This was when things really turned around. Although my legs were aching, I felt really optimistic and started to believe that I was going to hit my goal. The excitement started to set in and I felt another surge of energy. I got a little ahead of the pace group and just stuck with it until the end.
I crossed the finish line in 4:28:31 – a full minute and a half ahead of my A goal, and 13 minutes faster than my previous PR.
Although hitting my goals really affected no one else, it was one of the most satisfying moments of my life. I love how running pushes us to challenge ourselves for our own good. We are in competition with ourselves and ourselves only.
Running is a sport that pushes us to become the best version of ourselves. The marathon challenges our mental strength in a way that nothing else can, and provides us with the tools we need to overcome challenges in the future. It chews us up and spit us out, and yet somehow we are all strong when we cross the finish line than when we start.
With that, I plan to take two weeks completely off from running. I like to ease back on mileage during the holidays and this race was the perfect finale to a great summer and fall running season. Here’s to some rest, recovery, and a new seasons of running.