Sunday, May 4, 2014

2014 Indianapolis 500 Festival Mini Marathon

This half marathon was less than 2 weeks out from the Boston Marathon. When I got my entry for Boston I knew this wasn't going to be a half that I would PR in but past that I wasn't really sure how I would do so I held off on setting any goals for this race until late last week.

If you read my Boston race report you know it took a lot out of me. Honestly, I am usually way more recovered by now. I think it was Wednesday or Thursday before the race that I even attempted to set some vague goals. I was still feeling pretty beat up and on top of that I had gone to a couple of CrossFit classes earlier in the week and was suffering from a bad case of DOMS. So, I settled for the goals of sneaking in under 1:30 and getting a top 500 finish (special "500 club" medal for that). Even these goals were based mostly on vanity and not really on what I was confident that I could go out and do and as such they actually caused me a great deal of anxiety.

This race has become a family affair. My wife and daughters all were running the 5k. My Uncle was also running the 5k and a close friend was coming in from out of town to support us all. We met up for dinner and packet pickup in downtown Indianapolis Friday evening. We headed over to our hotel, the Westin, which is the host hotel for the event. As the host hotel, all of the pros were staying there and we saw several of them. They were being lead around by event officials. It was pretty neat to see actually.

Laying in bed I was more nervous for a half-marathon than I have been in a very long time. Boston really scarred me. When I woke up around 5:00 AM race morning, I laid there contemplating just lining up for the 5k.  I just didn't feel like I had it in me yet to go out and race a half-marathon and I wanted no part of a slow 13.1 miles. Instead I just decided to quit thinking about it, shut down, put it in auto-pilot mode and pretend like nothing was happening. So I got dressed and ate my ritual cliff bar and banana pre-race breakfast.

We headed down to the corrals. The 5k starts about a half hour before the half so I saw my family into the start area and watched the 5k take off. They cleared and we started loading the corrals for the half. I was seeded in corral A and apparently we have a lot of fast runners in Kokomo because I started seeing several guys that I know. I made small talk with a few of them as we were waiting to run. I was still nervous and unsure how the race was going to go here and still trying to pretend nothing was happening.

We started and I had no trouble holding back. I was shooting for under 1:30. The course is pancake flat so I knew I could run even splits around 6:50/6:51 and hit my goal. First mile in 6:46. I dropped the pace from there averaging around 6:40 for the next few miles. Each mile I hit and was below pace was a surprise. I was working hard and surprised I was able to maintain a 6:40ish pace. Each mile started with an uncertainty about how much longer I could keep up the act.

About mile five I got a true humongous blessing for the day. I had been a few steps behind a guy I was pretty sure I recognized as another runner from Kokomo. I have known Jay's name for a while from local race results and the Club Kokomo Road Runner newsletter but had never met him until a few days ago in Boston through a mutual friend. We ended up side by side right at the mile 5 mark. Remember, there are over 25,000 runners in this race and Boston was packed. The fact that we met there and then ran into each other in this race right where I needed something I in no way count as a coincidence. We reconnected and exchanged a few words about the Boston race. Mainly that we both still felt pretty beat up. He told me that the pace we were running was right where he was looking for and I said I was happy here too. I needed this as I was just about to give up the sub 1:30 and relax the pace a bit. But with someone to push me on I knew I could maintain.

We didn't really talk much but just kind of stayed side by side. There is not a whole lot to say about the rest of the race. We just kept clicking off miles and were in a good place; passing other runners and not really being passed ourselves. I think it was mile 11 I realized that we could let up a little and still hit 1:30. But Jay pointed out that if we could maintain our current pace we were on track to finish in under 1:28. The difference between 1:28 and 1:30 in a half is pretty big on a good day and seemed huge under the current circumstance. I was happy and fearful at the same time. Finishing the day at 1:28 would be a huge confidence boost but the next couple of miles were going to be uncomfortable.

Making the turn to hit the last mile it was all business. I was right on the verge of puke threshold and was hanging on for dear life. As soon as the finish line clock became visible I knew we were going to miss 1:28 by just a few seconds. Kicked anyway and finished the last .1 in 35 seconds for a 5:42 pace. Frustrating but not devastating with an official time 1:28:10. Hit the timing mat, paused the watch, Sign of the Cross, dry heave, nearly puke and done! I gave it a good go and for starting with such a lack of confidence to finishing nearly 2 minutes faster than my goal for the day, all in all I was happy.

Mile 13 and starting to kick.
Jay and I ran most of the race together and I think we were both glad it was over.

It was a good day for racing in my family. My wife has been battling endless injury for a nearly a year now and she had a good race in the 5k. My oldest daughter Kasey was supposed to run the half but has been fighting shin splints for the last 4 weeks or so and dropped back to the 5k. She had a good race on very little training in the last month and best of all no shin pain at all in the race. My youngest daughter Hannah has been out of the sport for a while but is getting back to it and this was a good baseline race as she is gearing up for Cross County in her freshman year of college.

A great day for racing for the whole family.
Thumbs Up!

So highlights abounded this Saturday. A successful race for my whole family. And it is always a good race when you make a new friend. I also met an old friend after the race. Fr. Hasser, maybe my favorite priest, moved on from our parish a few years ago. He recognized me and came out to greet me from the Race for Vocations club tent. To say I was very happy to see him and spend a few minutes talking to him would be an understatement. It was the explanation point on the day.

Meeting Fr. Hasser after the race. A great surprise!
No real training. Just coming off of the Boston Marathon 12 days prior. I spent most of that time either not running at all or running very easy.

Overall -- 304/25525
40-44 Age Group --32/1594

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