To Run the Half or The Full – A Monumental Decision

indecisive

I’m sill waffling back and forth as to whether I should run the full or the half at the Monumental Marathon. If I don’t decide within the week, I’ll be stuck with a marathon bib.

I can still back out in the middle of the race—the half-marathoners go their own way around mile 6. But then I’ll be the person with the marathon bib that all the volunteers are yelling at to go the other way. And then I have to yell back, “I changed my mind! I’m running the half instead!”

I’ve obviously been there before.

I’m struggling to decide what to do, so I figure the best way to decide is to lay out the reasons for and against running the full.

Reason to Run the Full #1

I want to redeem myself.

 The Indianapolis Marathon on October 17th did not pan out how I would have liked it to. I believe that I have a 3:4x:xx somewhere in me.

Reason to Not Run the Full #1

Redeeming myself may not be physically possible.

Realistically, it’s going to be tough to pull out a PR 3 weeks after another marathon. I have done these races back to back before, but I was not going for a time goal. I ran them both fairly easy and my times were only a few minutes apart. BUT, in 2010 and in 2011, I ran the first marathon faster. I remember my legs feel weird at the Monumental both times.

Reason to Run the Full #2

I love running full marathons.

I just do. I’m probably more equipped and better built for half marathons, but fulls are my jam. I love the feeling of accomplishment that comes with running 26.2 miles. I can’t really explain it.

Reason to Not Run the Full #2

Extra time with little man. 

I am taking the day before the Monumental off and I have the entire following week off, so I will definitely be getting lots of time with him. But hey, ANYTIME with him is awesome. If I run the half, I get home to him a couple of hours earlier. Plus, I will be able to actually chase him around and play with him, instead of hobbling like a zombie.

Reason to Run the Full #3

I will want to race the half, and may not be ready for racing just yet.

If I choose to run the half, I’m really going to want to race it. It’s hard to keep that competitive drive down. My body may not be ready for the hard effort.

Reason to Not Run the Full #3

I might be able to pull out a big half PR.

On the other hand, after lots of long runs and a recent full, I might be able to pull out a nice half PR. I tested out a few more faster miles this morning, and it felt pretty good:

Tuesday

What this really boils down to is that I want to run another full marathon and have a good race. And by good race, I don’t mean that I have to run the time I’m shooting for or even PR, but I want to HAVE FUN. I did not have fun at the Indianapolis Marathon. I had put to much pressure on myself to enjoy it.

I also have the secret hope that my speed and endurance are still there from this training cycle, and that I will be able to run a PR race. This may just be wishful thinking.

I will continue to change my mind 50 times this week. Indecision is one of my strongest character traits.

It wouldn't be one of my blog posts without a picture of Max!
It wouldn’t be one of my blog posts without a picture of Max!

Have you ever run goal races in the span of a few weeks? How did it go? Would you do it again?

What would you do if you were me?

Advertisements

Recovery Week Running Recap

Thank you all for your kind words about last week’s race. I’m getting over it. I went into the race with 3 goals, the last being to at least have fun, and I missed all of these goals. While this made me feel as if I had “failed” I’m realizing that failing would have been to quit when I knew I wasn’t going to meet these goals (Either to BQ, PR or have fun). But I suffered through it, and I am proud of that.

Re-reading my post and trying to imagine that I was reading someone else’s re-cap, I came to the realization that I am pretty hard on myself. I think that’s part of the nature of runners. We strive to be our best selves and we push ourselves hard to meet goals and if we miss them, we are upset and blame ourselves. We have the inherent need to become better and when we don’t, it’s very upsetting. I do believe that pushing yourself hard can really pay off, but you also need to be kind to yourself and remember that you are human. So, I had a bad day? Who cares? I’m going to use the letdown to fuel me for my next race.

And now, on to last week’s running recap.

Monday: REST

Tuesday: Easy 3 AM, Easy 4 lunchtime

Wednesday: Easy 4, PIYO DVD in the evening

Thursday: Easy 5

Friday: 6 miles AM with a few fast miles thrown in, 2 miles PM

Saturday: Attempted long run, quit at 10 – easy pace

Sunday: 6 mile progression

Total miles: 40

Also, lots of foam rolling, stretching and light yoga

And the details:

I woke up Sunday morning pretty sore. I did not run at all, but I did take Max to a birthday party for my niece and nephew who were turning one. I did quite a lot of chasing after Max and playing with kids. Somehow, I always end up as the adult playing with about 10 kids. I suppose I am a kid at heart 🙂

This guy keeps me young :)
This guy keeps me young 🙂

By Monday the soreness was greatly reduced, but I again did nothing. I was ITCHING to run. Like, if I didn’t run soon I was going to lose my mind. Maybe I need to find some additional stress relievers?

Tuesday morning I did a short, easy 3 miles. It felt GOOD. I’ve find that the first run back after a race often feels a little stiff, but I didn’t notice any of that. I still had a little bit of soreness, and this run helped to release it.

I had a light day at work, and the opportunity to run at lunch that day. Who am I to turn down a run opportunity? I ran 4 easy miles on part of the marathon course from the Indianapolis Marathon. It was weird how different I felt on Tuesday as opposed to race day. I felt relaxed and smooth and I wasn’t hating life, like I had been at the race. What a difference it makes to run without the pressure of a race. I realize the pressure is self-imposed, but it’s just amazing how different it feels to run for fun versus race.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday’s runs were fairly unremarkable. I was able to get some speed out of these legs on Friday, so that was encouraging.

Saturday, I intended to run 14-16 miles. I am running the Monumental in 2 weeks, and in that weird place where I’m recovering from a marathon, but preparing for another. I figured a semi-long run at a very slow pace might give me some confidence and keep my endurance up.

In hindsight, this probably wasn’t a good idea. I felt pretty worn out by about mile 6. I cut my loop short and ended the run at 10 miles. My body needed some more recovery and I was fine with that.

I slept from 9 PM to 7 AM Saturday night, which is a lot more sleep than I usually get. My body is definitely craving rest, so these next two weeks before the Monumental will be all about easy runs and as much sleep as possible.

Sunday, I did eek out a pretty decent run. It was an unplanned progression, with my last mile at 7:58. Then, I slept 10 hours again last night.

I’m still not 100% sure I will run the full at the Monumental on November 6th. I’m going to see how this week of running goes.

How was your week in running? Are you recovering from a race or getting ready for one?

That Time I Failed Miserably

Sadly, I did not BQ on Saturday.

I didn’t even PR.

I ran nearly 2 minutes slower than my PR.

What happened? Well, I’m not 100% sure. I’ve thought about it a lot and I think there were a few factors that led to my missed goal.

We’ll get to those in a minute. First, let’s rewind and recap the race.

I took the day off on Friday, the day before the race. I slept in till 8 and then had to wake Max up at 8:30. WHO IS THIS KID? I think he knew I needed the rest.

At the apple orchard
At the apple orchard

We spent the day as a family, picking apples, drinking cider slushies and relaxing. I felt very anxious all day—a total departure from my zen-like attitude toward the race of late. To be honest, I was doubting my ability to finish, second-guessing my training and just worried. It was weird, because I don’t normally feel this way before a race. I’m usually a little nervous, but mainly excited. It wasn’t fun.

Race morning I got up at 6, dressed and ate a bagel. It was chilly out – about 32 – with a predicted high of 55. I wore a lightweight long-sleeve tech shirt and shorts, with a throwaway hoodie and pants.

I got to the race early, stayed warm in my car and then met up with my sister. I felt like I might puke for some reason. I got in my corral and the gun went off. Go time!

*NOTE: I am using the split times I have from Strava. These times are innacurate from about mile 19 on because Strava auto-pauses when I stop—and I stopped a lot those last few miles. For 19 on, I’ll give an estimated time based on my finish time. If I can get garmin connect to load up, I’ll update the splits at a later time, as these are more accurate.

The race started and I struggled to get in a good position. I was jumping and dodging people and I could tell that I was going pretty fast. My Garmin was jumping all over the place as I slowed down when I was stuck behind people and sped up to pass. Mile 1- 7:59

The next few miles were a blur. I knew I was going too fast. But I thought that I might be able to hang on. I did plenty of fast finish long runs. I can do this. Miles 2-7 – 8:04, 8:17, 8:12, 8:18, 8:24, 8:26

race-1

Around mile 8, this hills started. Damn, I should have done more hill training. Just hang on around 8:30 pace and you’ll make it up after the hill section. Around mile 10, a guy running barefoot fell into step with me. I was fascinated by his feet, which were so dirty and calloused, they made mine look pretty. He was a badass. Miles 8-11 –8:33, 8:13, 8:26, 8:41

The hills were finally over. Instead of picking up the pace, I found myself slipping. I was hurting. Already? We got to the point where the half-marathoners turn to finish. I want to go finish with them. I convinced myself to keep going. I knew, right there, that it was going to be a rough 13 more miles. Miles 12-13-8:33, 8:31

run-2

At this point, I figured I could salvage the race as long as I held onto an 8:30-8:40 pace. I could still PR. But hanging on proved harder than I thought. At some point during these miles, I told myself that a 9:00 pace was fine. So I stuck to that. This is when I mentally gave up. I even asked myself, “Why am I doing this?” And I could not come up with one reason why. I was hurting. I was tired. My brain was done. I couldn’t believe how early in the race this had happened. WTF is happening? Miles 14-19 –8:40, 8:42, 8:45, 8:55, 9:00, 8:57

Hating life at this moment...probably one of my worst race photos ever.
Hating life at this moment…probably one of my worst race photos ever.

At mile 21, I saw my sister. This is an out and back course, and you run adjacent to other runners ahead of you for a few miles. She was at 17 and looked so strong. She yelled and waved and told me how awesome I was doing. She gave me some life I desperately needed. I can do this. Just hang on to a 9 min pace. Nope, the pace continued to slip. And then I started stopping at every water stop, which was about every mile. I stopped for up to 30 seconds each time. I was OVER IT. Miles 20-26 –roughly 9:30 average (don’t have correct splits from my Strava due to auto-pause feature)

We crested the only real hill in the second half and then took a curvy road to the finish. I knew I was almost done and tried to dig deep, but I had nothing. My legs felt like lead and my left hamstring was screaming at me. And then, I saw my husband holding Max, my mother- and father-in-law, and my husband’s aunt and uncle. I nearly lost it as Max cheered for me. Seeing all these people that care about me out there helped me finish.

Waving to my family!
Waving to my family!
Here comes the ugly cry
Here comes the ugly cry

I was done. Thank God it’s OVER!

DONE. OVER IT.
DONE. OVER IT.

Max ran to me and then got really upset about the foil blanket. I threw it out and hugged my sweet boy and my husband. His parents and aunt and uncle told me how great I did and were just so nice. I tried to hold back the tears because I was so disappointed. I just couldn’t figure out what happened.

Overall Stats: Final Time: 3:53:54. (8:56 pace)

9th out of 55 in my division

38Th female out of 286

129th place overall

I am disappointed, sad and a little embarrassed. I told so many people, including anyone who reads this blog, that I was going for a BQ. It sucks to have people ask how it went and have to tell them that not only did I not BQ, but I didn’t even PR and I missed my goal by almost 20 minutes.

I’m frustrated with myself and with the marathon distance. Pretty sure I told my father-in-law as we walked back to the car after the race that I was done with marathons.

After processing this race for a few days, I’ve come to few conclusions as to why this race went so poorly for me and some solutions to these issues to put into practice ASAP:

I went out too fast. RUN SLOW AT THE BEGINNING OF RACES EVEN IF YOU FEEL GOOD. Duh.

I gave up mentally. Stay positive and believe in yourself. YOU CAN DO THIS.

I should’ve done more hill training. Run hills once a week. Boom. Easy.

I’m not as physically strong as I need to be. Do more strength training. Cut back on mileage if necessary to squeeze it in. No excuses.

I’m sure there’s other things that I did wrong at the race and during training, but these seem like the most likely culprits and the most fixable.

It’s disheartening to me that I trained pretty hard for 4 months, getting up at the crack of dawn most days and running 6-7 days a week only to fail. I’m still kind of bitter about that.

I’m also really humbled to realize that after 8 full marathons and 7 half marathons, I’m only just now learning how to race. I find it easier to do the training and the workouts than it is to mentally figure out racing and follow-through with a race plan. It’s just plain hard.

But, I’m trying to put this all into perspective. This is not a big deal. There are people with real problems out there. It’s just running. I just need to get over it. 2 years ago I would have been over the moon about a sub-4. I have to remember how far I’ve come.

So, here’s what’s next: I am signed up for the Monumental Marathon on November 7th. I originally signed up on a whim a few weeks ago when they posted on Facebook that they were 95% full. I blame taper crazies and the race director’s clever ploy to add urgency to the purchase. I figured Fort Harrison would be my “A” race and then I would take it really easy at the Monumental or step down to the half if I didn’t feel rested enough. I did run these two races back to back in 2010 and 2011, so I believe I can do it. But, I’m feeling so over the marathon distance that I’m not sure what I’m going to do yet.

My husband planted the seed that the Monumental could be my redemption race, but I’m almost positive I won’t be recovered enough to full out race. I’ll decide the week of whether I will run the full or half, and whether I feel recovered enough to try to PR (3:52:11 is my PR).

I still feel like I have a ton to say about this race, about how frustrated and mad at myself I am and how jaded I am with marathons, but I think this post is getting a little long. If you’ve made it this far, I applaud you for listening to my whining this long.

To sum it up: It wasn’t my day.

Highs and Lows of The Last 7 Weeks of Marathon Training

In 3 days I’ll be running a marathon.

20th_Annual_Indianapolis_Marathon_and_Half_Marathon

Scratch that – 3 days from now I’ll be done running a marathon, cuddling on the couch with my sweet 2-year-old and double-fisting a mimosa and a chocolate milkshake from Steak’n’Shake.

Lunch___Dinner___Specialty_Milkshakes___Double_Chocolate_Fudge___Menu___Steak__n_Shake

No matter what happens on Saturday, I feel really good about this training cycle. I was flexible, I didn’t beat myself up, and I enjoyed running while not letting it interfere with my life.

Win-win-win.

I won’t bore you with 7 weeks of training logs. Or maybe that interests you? I doubt it. Let’s just cover the highs and the lows of the second half of Indianapolis Marathon – Home Page training, shall we?

The Lows

Injury Scare-I wore ridiculously high wedges to my brother’s wedding Labor Day weekend—this after 13 consecutive days of running because I’m a moron. I woke up the next morning with so much achiness in my shin that I thought it was a stress fracture. I’m also a tad bit dramatic when I think I’m injured. I took a few days off, and realized that it was getting steadily better. Then I put two and two together and figured it was the damn shoes. I swore I would not wear wedges or heels until after the marathon.

Hubs and I at the wedding, I couldn't find any good picks of the offending shoes. They have since been burned.
Hubs and I at the wedding, I couldn’t find any good picks of the offending shoes. They have since been burned.

A Week of Treadmill Running-I traveled to Boulder, CO the second week of September for work. I was in BOULDER. Ya know, running mecca? I didn’t get to run outside once the whole time I was there. Thanks to work all day everyday from 8:30 to 6:30, followed by dinners out, the only time I had to run was early. I didn’t want to run in the dark somewhere I don’t know, so I made friends with the treadmill. #travelingrunnerfail

It stinks that I didn’t get to enjoy the beautiful Boulder trails, but on the plus side, I did some killer speedwork.

Long Run Fail– I got home from said trip to Boulder late Friday night and planned to do a 20-miler early Saturday morning before I picked Max up at the in-laws. The run started at 5 and I felt like death. Maybe it was due to lack of sleep all week, a little too much alcohol 5 days straight and some serious humidity, but that was a sad attempt. I capped it at 17-miles and tried not to stress too much about my craptastic performance. My overall pace was fine, but I felt like I was barely moving and that I could never, ever run 26.2 miles.

17mi

The Highs

Long Run Success- After my failed attempt, I went for another 20-miler a week later. I managed to drag my butt out of bed at 4 and was outside and moving by 4:15. I was motivated by the fact that I won’t have to get up that early again for a long, long time.

20

It was pretty much a perfect long run. It felt nice and comfortable, and I actually enjoyed that the majority of the run was in the dark. I also listened to an excellent book, which made the time fly by—The Admissions by Meg Mitchell Moore. I’ve had to run super early this whole training cycle in order to be home when Max wakes up, and for some of my runs I’ve done the first part on the treadmill and the second half outside. This saves me from running in the dark the whole time, but also makes for a more painful second half. Something about the treadmill kicks my butt, which is why I just wanted to do this whole run outside.

Early Morning Runs-I’ve successfully made the transition to a morning runner. I was able to get in so many more runs because I’ve stuck to the morning plan. At this point, I actually wake-up a few minutes before my alarm goes off. WHO AM I?

 

Must run in the morning so I have time to play drums with this guy!
Must run in the morning so I have time to play drums with this guy!

No Stress-I’ve had a cool as a cucumber approach to this training cycle and I feel a lot less beaten down. Usually, by the time my taper comes around I feel physically and mentally drained. And then I spend three weeks obsessing over whether I did enough. Not this time. Life is so full these days that running is not the main thing on my mind—and I love that. I get up, I do my run and get my “me-time” and then it’s on to my day. I’ve found when I don’t expend so much mental energy on my running that I actually run a lot stronger.

Unrelated...but cute
Unrelated…but cute

The Outcome

Well, we’ll find out on Saturday, right? I will say that overall, I think that I am in shape to run close to a BQ, but it’s going to have to be a perfect day. I strongly believe that a PR is in reach, as long as I take the first few miles SLOW. I’m guessing I’ll end up somewhere in the 3:40s possible upper 3:30s. I know, that’s a big range. But I’ve run enough marathons to know that ANYTHING can happen.

Cruising on my way to PR city!
Running last year’s Monumental Marathon

Ultimately, all I really care about is running in the moment and enjoying the race. This is the last year that there will be a full marathon at this race (the half will continue next year- not sure if they will change the name?) and I want to savor the beautiful course. The Indianapolis Marathon was my very first full in 2007 and I’m so sad it will be gone next year. I’ve run the half or the full every year since then except for 2008 and 2014, and I want to relish running my hometown marathon one last time. Finishing this year will definitely be bittersweet.

Do you have a race that you hold near and dear?

Who’s racing this weekend? If you’ve already done a fall race, tell me about it! I’m so out of the loop!

 

 

 

Getting My Racing Mojo Back

I think I’m getting my racing mojo back. Does anyone say mojo anymore? My dorkiness is showing.

Source
Source

Anyway, after watching my sister crush her marathon this weekend, and after watching some of the Boston Marathon yesterday and seeing so much about the race on social media, it’s safe to say that my marathon mojo is BAAACK.

I get like this sometimes, where the thought of racing has me hopping, skipping and leaping through my days. Where I’m actually jittery just thinking about how much fun it’s going to be. I hope that I can keep this excitement going until my next half marathon on May 16th. I’m also hoping I can keep it going all the way through summer training in the oppressive Midwestern humidity for my next full marathon—The Indianapolis Marathon.

I guess that’s how training and racing goes—your excitement ebbs and flows. At least, that’s how it is for me. Sometimes, you’re on top of the world thinking about your next race and then a week later you’re just not that into it. Injuries, training burnout, bad weather, life stress…all of that takes a toll on my racing groove. But I’m definitely getting it back!

Watching all of the racers at the Carmel Marathon definitely gave me chills and reminded me what it’s like to finish a race you’ve trained so hard for and that you’ve given everything during. It took me back to my last race and the emotions I felt. I never would have dreamed before I started racing how emotional running 26.2 miles is. When you’re fighting through the physical pain, it takes so much mental strength to keep going. Once you see that finish line, it all comes out.

Max and I at the race. He's way too cool for me. Also, why are my sunglasses so big?
Max and I at the race. He’s way too cool for me. Also, why are my sunglasses so big?

Watching the marathoners finishing on Saturday, I could feel their emotions. It was amazing to watch. I actually cried—which little man thinks is hilarious. He always cracks up when I cry and says “Momma crying!” So then I was laughing and crying.

Yep, I’m a total sap.

When I caught up with my sister, who ran a 4:30 just 6 months after baby, she was happy, tired and HOT. It was a really warm day, especially for Indianapolis in April. But she killed it, of course. My sister has amazing mental strength. She’s an Ironman as well as a marathoner. So yeah, she’s awesome.

My sis and her husband post-race.
My sis and her husband post-race.

Anyway, I’m definitely going to try to ride this high through the next few weeks until my next race. Geist Half Marathon – I’m coming for ya!

Is it emotional for you to watch others race, or am I the only one?

Does your training excitement ebb and flow? How do get excited again when you’re faltering?

Getting Back To Running After A Baby

This has only been used 10 million times on the internet, but whatever. Just pretend you've never seen it before :)
This has only been used 10 million times on the internet, but whatever. Just pretend you’ve never seen it before 🙂

Happy Hump Day! This day is actually almost over, which makes it practically Thursday, which is practically Friday. We’re almost there! I want to talk a little bit about getting back to running after pregnancy. I definitely want to do sort of a series on this, as I know it’s different for everyone. I’ll talk about how I got back into running soon, and you can read more about my running during my pregnancy in the Bump On The Run section, but today I want to talk about my amazing sister.

My sister and I on my wedding day, 2010
My sister and I on my wedding day, 2010

This weekend, she’ll be running the Carmel Marathon, her 18th marathon (she’s also an Ironman!), just 6 months after giving birth. Can you believe how awesome she is? She blows me away on a regular basis.

Sisters after The Indianapolis Marathon 2010
Sisters after The Indianapolis Marathon 2010

Running her 18th marathon alone is a huge deal, but I think the fact the she’s running one when she has a six-month-old is also amazing. What’s even more impressive to me is that she didn’t run during most of her pregnancy. This was doctor’s orders, so she stuck to low impact stuff like the elliptical and weights. And yet, even with that hiatus, she was able to get back to the sport she loves after giving birth, and to get marathon mileage in on top of that.

Us at the Carmel Marathon 2012...I wish I had some better running related pics of us!!!
Us at the Carmel Marathon 2012…I wish I had some better running related pics of us!!!

So, for anyone who is sidelined from her favorite activities during pregnancy, there is hope. You’ll be back at doing what you love, whether that’s running marathons or doing triathlons or racing on your mountain bike, after you have your baby. The drive that you had doesn’t just disappear once your bundle of joy arrives; in fact, I think for many it becomes even stronger. I know for me, I needed running because I felt like I was losing some of myself. With a newborn, I was constantly doing something for my sweet baby and I just needed 45 mins or so a day to just run. Whether you’re able to continue running or not when you are pregnant, just know that you can continue your active lifestyle after baby comes. It might be a little more difficult to find the time, but you can make it happen. The cheese and I will be cheering on my sister at the finish line this Saturday morning at the Carmel Marathon. Cheese’s Gymboree class is conveniently in Carmel as well, so as soon as it’s over we’re heading to race! I’m super excited and I hope little man enjoys it as well. If we time it right, we should be there right as she’s finishing 🙂 Of course, this all depends on what kind of mood Mr. Cheese is in, but I’m hopeful! In other news, I had a stellar run today. I did end up taking the day off yesterday, and enjoyed a date night with the husband that ended very late. We went to the Pacers vs. Wizards game and it went into double over time. It was so much fun, and the Pacers won (!), but we didn’t get home until midnight.

Pre-game last night
Pre-game last night

I still managed to drag myself out of bed this morning and run. I know, right: Who am I? I was feeling a little dehydrated and tired, but after the first mile it was like magic—I felt good. Really good. I ended up doing a progression run. First mile was 10 minutes, then splits were 8:35, 8:25, 8:15, 7:45, 7:20 and a two mile cool down at 8:50 and 9:15. Whew! That was not planned and was just sort of flying by the seat of my pants, but I think part of it had to do with an easy day on Monday followed by a full day off on Tuesday. 1-2 days off is ideal for me, but I often get so worried that something will come up later in the week that I try to take every opportunity to run. And then I end up going like 2 weeks without a day off and I feel like crap. I need to remember to take that day off, and then if something comes up later in the week and I have to take another day off, who cares? Running will always be there. I just forget sometimes 🙂 How many days off a week do you take? Do you get caught up (like me) in seizing the day and end up not taking days off? If you’ve ever been pregnant, did you have trouble getting back into your running or other exercise activities post-birth? Or did you bounce back quickly like my superwoman sister?

Monumental Marathon Race Report

Spoiler Alert: I did it. I ran a sub 4 marathon. 3:52:11 to be exact.

I realize this does not qualify me for the Olympics or Boston and certainly does not deserve much in the way of accolades, but for me this is a big deal.

A HUGE deal.

I ran my first marathon in 2007. My time was 4:29 ish. I went on to run 5 more marathons, all within the same time frame. My PR up until Saturday, November 1, 2014 was a 4:15:59 set in the fall of 2011.

In between that PR, I landed a much more demanding job than I had held up until that point. I had been a freelance writer and part-time waitress, and while these jobs are not easy to say the least, I did not work close to 40 hours and I never struggled to find time to run.

Then, I had a baby. He is the most amazing, special little guy in the world (I know, every mom says this. Sorry for the annoying bragging). And while I love every moment that I spend with him, he took what little running time I had left up with his feedings, dirty diapers, not sleeping and play time.

Since my last full in 2011, I have run 6 half marathons—2 while I was pregnant—and while I enjoy running halves, I was hungry for a full. And a PR. With very little free time—AKA NO free time—it was a huge challenge for me. I had to beg, borrow and steal to find the time to train for this marathon.

Fast forward to the day before the race. My less miles approach had me more nervous than I ever had been before any race. It was Halloween, so I tried to push the marathon out of my thoughts and enjoy the day with Andy and Max. We suited Max up in his Frankenstein outfit and took him to the Children’s Museum to play.

Once Max was thoroughly worn out, we headed over to the expo. Since little man was ready for a nap, we made it quick. No time to listen to the speakers or peruse the booths, but it looked like there was a lot of great stuff there. I did hear a lot of side conversations about the next morning’s weather, and the fact that the forecast was calling for snow(!) that night. This was a little troubling, but I filed this away in the can’t-do-anything-about-it folder and carried on. Packet in hand, we high-tailed it out of there and drove home to put cranky pants down for his nap.

Cutest. Frankenstein. Ever.
Cutest. Frankenstein. Ever.

That evening, after Andy left for work and I was debating on whether to attempt trick-or-treating with an 18-month-old in sub-freezing temps, it began to snow. With the sight of that first snowflake, I began to relax about the race. I’m not sure why this calmed me so much. I think because I had been stressing so much about something going wrong—falling off my pace, forgetting to put my bib on, my Garmin dying (how can I LIVE without my Garmin?!)—that something like the weather hadn’t crossed my mind. I can’t control it, and if the weather was going to be shitty, what could I do? Wear some gloves, grin and bear it.

Needless to say, I didn’t take the munchkin trick-or-treating in the snow. We visited my in-laws and then we went home to relax. Of course, Max had other plans. He was in full wild man mode. Seriously, he ran in circles from the living room to the kitchen to my room and back for about an hour. It took me forever to get the little dude to wind down and go to sleep. I think I finally tucked him in around 9:45. Eeek.

I still had dinner, bathroom and kitchen cleaning, and outfit selections to make. I know I sound crazy for cleaning the night before a race, but our bathrooms and kitchen were hurting, and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to do it post-race or even on Sunday. There was no way I could deal with a gross house until Monday.

So I cleaned. Then I ate my go-to pre-race meal of chicken noodle soup and a shitload of crackers, chose my outfit and crawled into bed around 1:30.

The incessant beeping of my alarm started all too soon a mere 4 hours after my head had hit the pillow, but I dragged myself out and got ready. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the temperature was in the low 30s. I was expecting a lot colder. Plus, the light dusting of snow from the night before was all but gone. It was shaping up to be perfect fall race weather.

I got downtown and parked with plenty of time to spare. I stopped at the Westin to use the restroom and hang out in the heat before heading to the start line, and it appeared that about 10,000 other racers had this idea as well. The place was PACKED. The entire lobby was full, the Starbucks had a line out the door, and the bathroom lines were rapidly growing. I used the restroom and hung out for awhile. Then, I headed to the start.

Unfortunately, this race does not have corrals for average racers like myself. They have multiple corrals for those who run faster times. I believe you have to run faster than a 3-hour marathon to be in a corral. Everyone else starts behind these speedy groups. I don’t remember this being the case the last time I ran this race, so maybe this was new? While I love this race, I really think this is a flaw. This puts everyone from 8-minute milers to walkers all together, in a race with thousands and thousands of people. I think that definitely needs to change.

Cruising on my way to PR city!
Cruising on my way to PR city!

Once the gun went off, I spent the first couple of miles jostling for position. The beginning miles go through the streets of downtown Indy, and it’s absolutely beautiful. The sky was growing lighter and lighter and my legs felt good. I focused on not getting too excited. My plan was to hang around 9-minute miles for the first half or so, and then see how I felt. If I had anything in me to speed up, I would. If not, I was pretty confident based on my training times that I could hold on to a 9-minute pace for the entire race.

After a week of barely any running, however, I wanted to speed up! Holding back was frustrating, so I focused on listening to a book on my phone. NERD ALERT! Yes, I listen to books while running. Not during speedwork, but most regular runs and definitely long runs. I love to read, but I usually give up reading time to run. So what better way to enjoy a book than by combining it with running? I never claimed to be cool 😉

The miles downtown ticked by quickly. Around 2.5, we went under a bridge and my Garmin lost its satellite connection for a minute or so. When it returned, the paces it was showing were totally off. I panicked a little. How was I going to stick to the plan if I didn’t know what pace I was running? I tried to chill out and run on feel, but I’ll admit this threw me a little. When the next mile began (and my Garmin was about 2-tenths off of the clock), I was able to see my pace again. I was still right where I wanted to be, so that was positive. garmin_first5 miles After winding around downtown, the course heads down Fall Creek Road. Around mile 7, the half marathoners peel off. They were all super supportive, shouting “good luck!” to the all of the full-marathoners. After that, I had a lot of elbow room and felt a little more relaxed. We turned onto 38th street and headed down to some of the most beautiful neighborhoods in Indy. The colorful, tree-lined streets were a welcome change from the city atmosphere we were just in. People were outside their homes, cheering and handing out Halloween candy. Some houses were blasting music and I even saw spectators wearing Halloween costumes. It was definitely a good time. Gramin 6-13 It was in the neighborhoods, around mile 11, when I began to feel a twinge in my left hamstring. I wasn’t sure what the hell was going on, so I tried to ignore it. My plan was to take a gel every 6-miles, but I went ahead and took one right then. I really had no idea what to do, so I went with eat. That’s pretty much what I do in my everyday life too 😉 The twinge subsided and I continued to focus on the pace.

We headed through Broadripple and past the halfway mark. According to the race clock, I came in around 1:57. So far, I was hanging on to the plan. I didn’t feel like it was smart at this point to go any faster. Most of the times I was seeing on my watch were in the 8:50s and that felt doable. I knew how brutal the final miles could be, and I wanted to have gas in the tank.

At mile 15 the one and only “hill” of the race began. After the Nike Women’s Half in San Francisco two weeks ago (Recap coming soon—I swear!), this hill was nothing. It was like a tiny bump. I felt strong and barely fazed. In fact, I even sped up a bit here. 14-19 After the itty-bitty incline, we headed towards the Butler area. I absolutely love this area of Indy. We went right past Hinkle Fieldhouse and lots of cute little houses. Then, we headed towards the Art Museum of Indianapolis, which is stunning. As my watch bleeped out I was at mile 19—one-tenth of a mile behind the clock, grr—I realized that I had more. So I pushed the pace a little. As each mile ticked on, I felt stronger. I was only dropping about 10 seconds per mile, but I’ve had marathons where after 20, I’ve lost up to a minute per mile off my pace. To be gaining speed felt soooo good. Untitled_by_mollysharp_at_Garmin_Connect_-_Splits As we headed towards downtown, I kept trying to turn it up. There was no need to conserve now. 22, 23, and 24 ticked by quickly. At mile 25, I let go and ran as fast as I felt I could hang on to for the next 1.2 miles. I glanced down and saw my pace was hovering around an 8-minute mile. Damn, that felt good.

At the 26-mile marker, I sprinted. The fan support at this point was amazing. I felt like I was flying! I couldn’t believe how good I felt. I have never experienced that in a marathon before. I crossed the finish line in 3:52:11 and was overcome with emotion. This training cycle had been such a challenge, mainly because I had to give up time with Max to get in the miles. To hit my goals was such a triumph and I think Max would have been proud of his Mommy if he understood what she was doing! I’ve never finished a marathon that strong before and it was amazing. Results I’m still riding that runner’s high days after the race. Meeting the goals of running sub-4 and running negative splits gives me confidence that if I put in the work, I can achieve even more. BQ, I’m looking at you! I have so much more to say about this race, my training and my goals for the future. If anyone even made it through this marathon length blog post, I’m impressed! More to come soon!