Saturday, October 20, 2012

2012 Indianapolis Marathon and Half Marathon Race Report

This is my second year in a row running this race but there was a huge difference this year. I am in the first week of "taper" for a very aggressive marathon training cycle. Last year I decided to run this race about 6 weeks out and didn't do any real focused training. I had been running long runs of any where from 10 to 12 miles every week or so. This year because I am following a high milage training plan I have been running long runs once a week as far as 22 miles and runs of 12 to 15 miles 2 times a week.

I have been excited to run this race for a few weeks now. It is about 2 weeks out from my goal marathon so it was a great tempo training run with plenty of time for my body to absorb the physiological adaptations and make me that much stronger for the marathon. About a week ago my youngest daughter Hannah finished up the cross country season and began an intense off season training program on her own. I signed her up for the 5k as a baseline race for her to build her training program around. But once again we had a daughter missing, this time it was Kasey who was busy at her last cross country meet of the season. We missed her but she ended up posting a PR for cross country so it was worth it. Hannah PR'ed the 5k at 26:10 and took second in her age group.

The race is set in the city of Lawrence IN an east-side suburb of Indianapolis. The city is home to Ft. Benjamin Harrison and Ft Benjamin Harrison State Park. The race course spends a lot of time inside the park and the landscape of the park is a scenic oasis in the middle of Indiana. Really a very beautiful setting especially in the fall. The half marathon had 1802 finishers this year along with the 650 marathoners and the 600 5k participants so this is a mid-sized event.

The course is well staffed with water and gatorade stations and there are volunteers at every turn to help guide the runners and keep them on the right track. All of the volunteers seem to be great people and offer tons of encouragement to the runners. Not to mention they are just standing out there in the chilly, windy conditions for hours on end. You couldn't tell it though from their actions, words, and smiles. They look like they are having the time of their lives. I always try to make it a point to thank them as I pass. These races would be a whole lot different without all of the volunteers who give up thier weekend mornings to put on them on.

It was about 40 degrees and overcast this morning so the gear for the race included a long sleeve fitted tech shirt with a short sleeve tech shirt over the top (for warmth and pinning the bib to). Sock hat, gloves and shorts rounded out the clothes. I wore my Brooks Adreniline 12s and of course my new Garmin Forerunner 610. I made a last minute decision this morning to forego the heart rate monitor and I kind of regret that now that it is over because I really love analyzing the stats of my runs and would have liked to see what my heart was doing on the hills. When we arrived I got out of the car and ditched the sock hat, I could tell that it was already to warm for that.

I live about an hour from Lawrence and since the race offers morning of packet pickup and we learned last year that the city and race organizers do a very good job of traffic control and parking we decided to forego the additional costs of either two trips involving one to the expo Friday night and one to the race Saturday morning or the cost of a hotel for the night. That being the case, the day started around 5:15 AM for me. If you follow my training you know that this is sleeping in for me anyway. As a testement to how well orginized this race is, all went as planned we arrived, parked, did the packet pickup in plenty of time before the race. I did a little light jogging between the car and packet pickup location and called that a warmup.

My plan going into this race was to not get hurt, to not push so hard that I needed more than a day to recover but to get a good test of my fitness and preparedness for the Monumental Marathon in two weeks. Some other goals were to get control of my pace through the opening mile or two and to try to negative split the race and finish strong. I also wanted to and was pretty sure that I could get a sub 1:30 half marathon. Mission accomplished on all fronts.

I was in corral A and I started about mid-pack in the corral. Again, I wanted to control my opening pace so I wasn't worried about congestion, especially corral A type congestion. I controlled the first mile a little to well as I came in around a 7:00 minute mile so I picked it up just a bit in mile two. I remembered from last year that mile three included a hill that already had people walking so I knew I had that to contend with. Even though my goal race is supposedly as flat as a pancake I have included hill sprints in my training to help build leg strength and speed. While that allowed me to recover quickly after the hill, the hill still took it's toal on my pace in mile three pushing me back down around 7:00 minute mile.

Once the pack spread out I was only passed a couple of time in the rest of the race. Once was during mile 4 where another runner came up beside me and struck up a conversation. I was happy to learn that I could pass a talk test at this point of more than one or two full sentences. We talked a little about training and after finding out he hadn't run this course before I warned him about a nasty hill around mile 10.5. He started to build a gap and the competitive runner in me wanted to surge, close the gap and drop him. But we were only at about 4 miles or so and I had a plan and I was sticking to it. This is not my goal race and I wanted something left in the tank at the end. I gritted my teeth and let him go.

From this point on there is not a whole lot to say about the race. A few minutes after my conversation I caught sight of my wife which always raises my sprits and motivates me. There is a joke in my family that there are pictures of everyone else running but never any pictures of me. Even though she tried to rectify that in the last race I surprised my wife with my finishing time and she missed getting a picture even then. This time she was ready and caught me by surprise right around 4.5 miles and got my picture.

Mile 4.5 2012 Indianapolis Marathon and Half Marathon
My wife finally got a picture of me running.
From here until mile 11 I kept a pretty even pace right around 6:30 with a few miles a little faster and a few a little slower, all in all even. Mile 10.5 offers a pretty nasty hill especially that deep into the race. There were two runners ahead of me well with in striking distance and I felt that if I could maintain an even effort I would get them by the top of the hill. I was able to pass both runners and I also closed the gap a bit on my friend from mile 4. I began to visualize catching and passing him over the next 2.6 miles.

The full and half split right before mile thirteen and as I caught up with another runner I asked which he was running and found that he was doing the full and that it was his first. Again, happy to pass a talk test with full sentences at this pont. I offered him some encouragement and we split. Me heading for the finish and he for the next 13.5 miles.

The gap between my new friend and I was continuing to close and I noticed that he was beginning to look back. I caught him with less than a mile to go we talked a little more and he said that he had gone out to fast and was running out of gas. From here we could look diagonally and see the finish line. I pointed it out to him and encouraged him to dig and finish strong. As I pulled ahead he encouraged me and I called back and told him to hang with me. We made the turn for the last .1 and I had plenty of fuel left. A friend on, Cesar, had pointed out that based on my recent 10k performance I should be able to get under 1:28:00 for a half. I was a little worried that I wouldn't get in under 1:28 so I gave it everything I had in that last .1

I finished with a new PR by 4 minutes and 45 seconds at 1:27:22 for 2nd in my division out of 112, first in my AG since first in the division actually placed in the overall, 26th out of 1802. This was another great race. I have confidence in my pacing strategy and ability to execute it for the upcoming marathon. I have gained additional confidence in my physical fitness and preparedness for the marathon and I have gained more respect and trust inthe training program that I have been following. I think all of the psychological boosts that I recieved today will help over the next couple of weeks as the marathon begins to loom large.

My only regret is that my plan for the marathon includes fluid and nutritional intake and I should have practiced that today. Instead I took absolutely no fluid for the entire race and no nutrition. In retrospect I wish that I would have used the race today to practice that.

I know I will run this race again next year, I am just not sure at this point if I will do the full or the half. I'll do something though because the Indanapolis Marathon and Half Marathon is a great race, at a great time of year, on a great course!

2012 Indianapolis Marathon and Half Marathon.
Placing in our age groups. It's a fun family activity that we like to do some Saturdays.
2012 Indianapolis Marathon and Half Marathon
Finishing Kick!


cesar bobadilla said...

Great race!! Thanks for the mention!! I appreciate it!

Greg Strosaker said...

Great job Christian, smartly managed race and a good tuneup, I wouldn't worry about the fueling and hydration strategy, tough to simulate that in a half anyway. Sounds like you ran this smart, a hard enough effort but not enough to blow the legs out before your marathon. You definitely have more runway on your 1/2 marathon time if you were focused on that type of race. Still impressed by the AG win in that large of a field.