Indianapolis Marathon and Half Marathon, 2013

Last weekend, John, Kira, and Kira's mom, Karen, ran the Indianapolis Marathon (and Half Marathon, for Karen) in Historic Fort Harrison. John wrote his own race report for the event, so I thought I would post that here. My version of the story is a lot more boring: I stood outside in the rain for 3 hours, waiting for them to finish and hoping that none of them had hypothermia. And I got a cold. Kira also had a huge PR that I hope she will write about at some point on her blog. The end. 
So heeeeere's Johnny!

I know I don't post much on the blog, but I wanted to write up a report for my first ever full Marathon. In September of 2012 Abby and I ran our first half marathon with friend of the blog Kira. Ever since then, the thought of a full seemed increasingly plausible. I trained for the half using the 10k plan out of Run Less, Run Faster. I know it sounds silly to use a 10k plan for a race that is twice that distance, but the 10k plan included long runs of ten miles at an aggressive pace. Knowing that I could run ten miles in about seventy-five minutes, I figured that I could at least finish the half and I even ran a 13 mile long run on my own to confirm this. After doing well in the half and loving the atmosphere a full seemed increasingly attractive. 

In February of 2013 I decided that I would attempt to train for a full marathon: the Indianapolis Marathon. I consulted friends such as Kira who had run a marathon, and I also decided on a few rules. If I was going to train for a full I had to: 1use the roller everyday, stretch for 10+ minutes after all workouts, and I had to avoid injury by strength training. There were certainly a few days when I forgot to roll, but I'm sure I averaged a good home roll at least 6 days a week, often more. Training for the marathon went well, and come October I felt strong and confident. 

The day of the race finally came, and I lined up on a cold and rainy Saturday morning in Lawrence, IN to run 26.2 miles. The previous Saturday had been spent in bed as I tried to get over a cold. It lingered all week, but by Friday, I was confident I could at least start. I had four tiers of goals: 1 Finish the marathon; 2 finish in under four hours; 3 finish with the 3:30 pace group; 4 finish under 3:30. I had trained for a 7:45 pace, but I didn't expect to be able to execute a 3:23 for my first run, and many experts advise against having time goals for your first marathon This turned out to be good advice. 

The first 13.1 miles really whizzed by. I know that sounds crazy to anybody who's never run that far, but after training on my own for 15 mile, 18 mile, and 20 mile long runs, having people to run with and fans to cheer us on felt amazing. I posted a 1:44:18 for the half, right on schedule for my third tier goal! This, however, was to prove the end of my 3:30 dreams. Soon after 13.1, I started to feel tired and tight in three danger zones: my glutes, hip flexors, and ham strings. Previous experience had taught me that combined stress in these areas indicated fatigue. Under similar circumstances in a few training runs, I had ended early because of such feelings. At around 15.5 miles I attempted to stretch my hamstrings, only to find them especially tight. I knew I was in trouble. 

For the remaining 11 or so miles, my pace became erratic and I battled leg cramps. The worst stretch was from 15.5 to 20 miles. During this stretch, I was not at all convinced I could finish the race. I knew that if the pain increased, I would have to drop out. Furthermore, I had ditched my shirt, as planned, but the stopping and starting contributed to a lower than planned core temperature. Basically, the race was far from over, I experiencing new pain, and I was running shirtless in 45 degree weather. Not ideal. 

I basically just kept running. at a little turn around, I saw my 3:30 pace friends, one of whom yelled "Enjoy it!" I took his advice, focused on my first tier goal of finishing, and set about moving in bursts. Once my watch read 32KM (20 miles), I knew I would be able to finish. It was still difficult. At one point I had to ask a volunteer to help me tie my shoe because I had to remove a pebble. My hands were too cold to tie them back on. I just kept going, and attempted to enjoy myself. I had never run farther than 20 miles, so every new mile was an accomplishment. I clung to such thoughts like an emotional life preserver as I kept moving, and other runners kept passing me. 

I was just short of 25 miles when I stopped again. Another runner who had been with me for some time encouraged me to continue, saying "Oh, come on!" He said this in a good way, as in "you're so close, don't stop now." I started running again. About .75 miles to the finish, I saw Matt, the 3:30 pacer appeared and ran toward me. He matched my pace (something like an 11 minute mile) and started pouring encouragement into me. 
"This is your first marathon," he said. "You're already faster than most everybody who runs a marathon," he said. "Do you have someone waiting for you at the finish with a jacket?" 
I probably could have finished without Matt, but when he appeared and started running with me, I felt like I could be proud of what I had done. I will never forget seeing him and the unconditional support he offered. With less than half a mile to go, he asked if I could make it on my own. I said I could and he left to go run with others. I don't think I sped up, but I kept running, even passing a few people before the final turn. Once in the finishing chute, I saw and heard Abby. As usual she was angrily screaming at me to run faster and finish. I heard my name called out, and then heard the beep as the mats registered my chip. Total time: 3:51:12. 

All in all, it was and continues to be an amazing experience. I keep remembering that I actually ran a full marathon. I don't know for sure what happened with my legs. I usually do some dynamic stretches at about 2-3 miles, but I skipped that. It was also a bit colder than I had been training, and it rained a lot. I also stopped to pee twice during the first half and ran hard to catch the group (a serious tactical error). Whatever the cause of my troubles, I still managed to finish (and I trounced that lying son of a bitch Paul Ryan, a goal that helped keep me moving). I think the training plan I used worked wonderfully, and I love how I only had to do three runs a week (plus cross training and strength. I loved having Abby there to catch me at the end and to think for me when I was too exhausted to remember to put my pants on. And I can't wait to do it again. 

Pre-race photos:

Lining up in the corrals: 

Abby, warming her gloves by the fire, during the race:

Awesome race sign:

Post-race photos:

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