Race Recap: Indy Monumental Half Marathon 2017
Half marathon #6 is done – and it was a doozy.
Race Logistics – Monumental Half Marathon
This is the third time I’ve run this race so there weren’t many surprises for me here.
Expo and Packet Pick-Up
There is no race-day packet pick-up for the Monumental because there are over 20,000 runners so it’s just too big. They have a 2-day expo downtown Indy the Thursday and Friday before the race. I went on Friday late morning so I wouldn’t have to deal with traffic later in the day. Luckily, I save my vacation days at work for such occasions as these so I was able to take a half day. 🙂 I parked at Circle Center Mall and walked the couple blocks to the convention center. It was a nice day so not biggie to walk outside.
I actually forgot to look up my bib number before hand, but they had a table there with binders and plenty of volunteers so it was probably a total of 5 minutes between walking in the front door and having my packet in-hand. I scoped out some of the gear, but I had my kids with me and it was lunch time so I wasn’t able to look around like I wanted to. It’s not a huge expo, but there are some pretty good deals on gear and also on other race registrations so I swung by the Flying Pig Marathon table, grabbed a 10% off code and we made our way to the exit.
As Little E would say: easy peazy lemon squeezy.
I gave myself plenty of time before the race to get downtown, park, and walk to the convention center. I used ParkWhiz to pre-pay for a spot so I knew exactly where I was going. It cost me $13 and reserved my spot from 4am to 4pm on race day so that’s a pretty good deal. I parked my car and walked the quarter-mile to the convention center where most people hang out before the race. They have a big room reserved for runners and spectators to stretch out and stay warm. Usually, we can go down the halls of the convention center too, but there was a big group in town for something else so they had everything blocked off for that and we had to stay in our corner of the building. This was a little bit of a bummer because it meant there were only 2 large bathrooms per gender for 20,000 people. Long lines. Lucky for me I got there early enough that there were no lines and I was good to go. There were also plenty of port-a-potties along the start of the race so no worries for most people.
This was the first year of the Monumental that they used a wave start system and I think it worked well. They used to just have everyone line up with the pacers kind of where you thought you’d finish and then everyone started when the gun went off. Obviously, you still walked to the start line, but there was no waiting. This year, they assigned everyone to one of five waves and started about every 3-5 minutes. I didn’t notice much of a difference, but maybe that’s because I started in the middle of wave 3 so I was smack dab in the middle of the whole thing.
The crowd support for the Monumental Half Marathon is decent. I can’t speak to the marathon course past about mile 7 because that’s where they split. There are people outside cheering for most of the course, but honestly it’s nothing like Flying Pig in Cincinnati or the Mini Marathon in Indy in May. There were some fun signs here and there and it seemed like quite a few college students pulled out their goofy Halloween costumes to entertain runners. Seriously, the entire cast of Star Wars was out there at one point. Basically, it was enough people to keep you going, but not enough to make you forget you’re running 13.1 or 26.2.
There were plenty of aid stations in my opinion. I didn’t carry any water because I’d run this course before and I knew that would be the case. There were 8 water/medical stations for the half and that was plenty for me. It helps that it’s a fall race and the course is mostly flat. You’re not typically running in 80 degrees in November in Indiana so you can deal with not having water every mile.
The finish line moves fast and I was grateful for that. Each runner got a space blanket and a medal and then we were moved down the line for water, bananas, Clif bars, cookies, chips, and chocolate milk. Each bib also had a tear-off ticket so you could go to the Papa John’s tent and get a slice of pizza, but I skipped that one because I was pretty sure my stomach wouldn’t have hung on to that long.
The medal is nice (see bottom of the post for pic) and is the 4th piece of the puzzle that they’ve been building for the last 4 years. Anyone who had run each of the last 4 years received a special commemorative frame and the round center piece to complete the picture. I have 3 of the 4, but I was 7 months pregnant one of the years and didn’t think to do the 5k that year just so I could complete the set 🙁
My Race – Monumental Half Marathon
Feel free to stop reading now if all you wanted were the logistics of the race. Here’s where the feelings happened.
I woke up on Saturday morning feeling physically pretty good. I slept well all week which is actually unusual for me so I was grateful for that. I got dressed in all the clothes I had carefully laid out the night before and I headed downstairs. My coffee was already brewing so I popped 2 pieces of whole grain bread in the toaster, put my Superhero muffin in the microwave to defrost, and got out the peanut butter. I like rituals. Before a long run I always have 2 pieces of peanut butter toast and a Superhero muffin from the Run Fast, Eat Slow cookbook (<aaaaaammmmaaaazzzzinng cookbook, btw). If I’m feeling frisky I’ll even throw in a half of a banana, but mostly I stick to what I know works for my stomach. And coffee. Always coffee. Gotta get things “moving”, ya know?
I gathered up my bags, poured my coffee in a to-go cup, and was out the door by 5:45. As mentioned, I pre-paid for my parking so I already knew where I was going which relieved another common source of pre-race anxiety for me. Everything all morning went exactly as planned. Even the weather was perfect. When we started running is where things got wonky.
I went into the race knowing that I didn’t “deserve” a PR (as in, I didn’t put in the miles that would have made it possible for me that day), but I kind of always have that number in my head. I should have just let it go before I started running, but I didn’t.
I’m not sure if this is common or not, but I have my watch on a setting that only allows me to see the stats for the mile I’m in. I figure on race day I can’t control anything but that so it works well. I can see how far into the mile I am, the time that’s elapsed for that mile, and a projected finish time for that mile. Well, at the start of the race something must have happened with my GPS because it kept saying I was projected to finish the first mile in 12 minutes and I knew for a fact I was running much faster than that, but I couldn’t tell how much faster. Long story short, it through my mind for a loop and I wasted a lot of mental energy trying to settle into a good pace.
About half way through the race I started to hurt. Not in any specific place, just all over. That kind of hurt that you get when you’re going a new distance for the first time and you’re just not sure if you’re body is capable of it yet. I felt that way during my first half marathon too, but it wasn’t until about mile 11. This was mile 6. I knew I was in trouble. But every time I looked at my watch and did the math I could see that I was still on pace to match my PR and so I kept pushing when I shouldn’t have. I let my mind go to a place where I thought maybe I could do this even though I didn’t put in the work. But I also wasn’t hungry. That’s not a good sign for me. I know some people can run without nutrition, but I always feel hungry – like stomach growling hungry – when I’m running long. When I hit mile 4 and had to remind myself to eat something I knew it was going to be a tough day.
It’s like my body was just one step behind my mind all day long.
I saw my mom and daughter at mile 6 and was still feeling ok. I had shed my long sleeves at that point and it was pretty funny to see my mom’s face when my shirt came flying at her 🙂 I waved and continued on. For a while I ran with the 2:10 pace group, but eventually they slipped in front of me. I wasn’t too worried because I had actually started out behind them so I knew I was still on pace. Everything in me was fighting to stay on pace and I was making it work until we turned the corner onto Meridian Street at Mile 10.
It was a wind tunnel.
For 2.5 miles we ran into the wind. I’m sure on any normal day it wouldn’t have seemed quite as dramatic, but at mile 10 of this day it was brutal for me. And still I continued to push. I walked a few steps through the aid stations just to give my hips a break. My hips that were now screaming at me for not having put more miles on them and for asking them to do this race. But still I pushed. I saw my mom and daughter again at mile 11-ish and this time I yelled “I want to stop so bad!” but honestly I don’t think they heard me because Little E was screaming “go, Mommy, go!” so loudly. It made me smile and made me proud and made me want to stop and hug her so badly, but honestly I was so sweaty she probably wouldn’t have given me a hug at that moment 🙂
So I continued on and at mile 12-ish I heard my friend Rachel yell out to me. I just looked over at her and told her “it hurts so bad and I want to stop.” I think she saw the desperation in my face and she literally started running down the sidewalk next to the course. We probably ran like that for a quarter mile or so. Me wanting to cry because everything inside me was screaming out to stop and Rachel literally yelling for me to keep going. I’m so thankful that she did that because I did keep going. Everything in me wanted to walk and instead I ran all the way to the end. I even sprinted at the finish line. I think. It felt like a sprint anyway because it was everything I had left.
I crossed the finish line at 2:09:55. 28 seconds behind my PR. Not really upset by it because I knew I had run faster than I deserved, but still a little disappointing because it was only 28 seconds. And I let all the “what ifs” into my head. And I felt a little defeated.
But later I was scrolling through Instagram and Facebook and commenting and liking all of the race posts that my friends had put up that day. So many people accomplishing things that they thought were impossible. And I remembered that this is why I do it. Number 1, the running community is amazing. I don’t care who you are or how fast or how far you run, if you’re a part of this community you know what I’m talking about. The support of one another is just incredible. The strength these people have is inspiring. Stand at the finish line of a race. I dare you not to be moved by the people coming across that line.
And the second reason I run? My babies. I run for myself, yes, it makes me sane. But I also run because I want to be healthy for my kids and I want to show them that they can do BIG, scary things in life. As soon as I got home from the race, E made me take my medal and hang it up with the others. She said, “Mom these are amazing!” and I wanted to cry. You’re right, kid, they are amazing.