I came into Monumental race day less than two weeks after the Freep Half, after which I wasn’t in any hurry to lace up my kicks again. I figured that if I were to run any faster in Indy than I did in Detroit, I would’ve had to have put in the work much earlier. So I essentially succumbed to my fate, realizing that my goal of the year to finish under two hours was not happening. And surprisingly I was okay with it. When I realized that Saturday’s race would be my fifth half marathon of the year, I was straight up proud. I was in a good place knowing that I had done some damn good work thoughout the year, goal met or not. Between races, I took the kids on a few leisurely stroller runs and focused on enjoying what was left of fall in Indiana.
Friday was Halloween and due to the blustery conditions (snowflakes included!), the fam and I stayed inside and passed out candy instead of braving the frigid temps and 30mph winds. I enjoyed a healthy glass of wine and chatted with our visitors that arrived that night. Besides ensuring I was well hydrated, I did little to really “prepare” for race day.
Morning arrived quickly, and the feel-like temperatures outside were in the teens with winds still blowing strong around 10-20mph. Swell, I thought, I guess this race will actually be COLDER than the Freep, go figure. After layering up (tank + arm sleeves + tights + long sleeve 1/4 zip + headband), I made a peanut butter english muffin, brewed a cup of coffee, and hit the road to the Circle City. I found my friends at the Convention Center where we all sat, stretched and commiserated about the weather. Perfect Strangers Amy and Meggie were running the full marathon, and Dana had dropped back to the 5k. Though part of me wished I had dropped back too, I was actually looking forward to just going out and running by myself, something I don’t have the luxury of doing all that often. Meg & Ams asked me what my pace/ goal was, to which I kind of laughed. Again,, zero expectations. Just stay warm and have fun! Oh yeah, & #bemonumental.
After dropping our bags off at gear check, Amy and I waited until just after the official start to force ourselves into the jam-packed corrals. She too was running alone so she went towards the 3:45 pace group. I hopped into the pack close-by, thinking to myself that I was wayyy too far in front for the pace I would likely maintain. But I went with it. And I was passed by plenty early on. But I also did some passing myself. The beginning of a race is always the easiest part for me. It’s also the part where you can lose sight of the big picture and go out too fast. I’ve definitely done that before and crashed 4 miles in. I tried to keep myself somewhat restrained this time around and when we hit the first mile marker, my watched beeped at a 9:00 min/mi (2 minutes behind the official time clock). Alright, I thought, I guess that’s how it’s going to go today. After I hit mile 2 (9:17 min/mi) and mile 3 (watch lost signal under bridge, 10:16), I realized I should just go hard and see where the roads take me.
Just after mile 3 I saw fellow Perfect Stranger, Meghan, & her husband Jake on the sidelines. Yay for spectators! Also around this time was when I finally found myself falling into a comfortable groove. And the next 4 miles showed that,,, I’m still amazed at these paces myself. Who is this girl??!
I took my first gel (aptly named BOOM) at mile 4.5. Yummy stuff. I also took water at most stops, skipping only a few as to not get that sloshy belly feeling. I was happy that, unlike at the Freep, my belly was deciding to fully cooperate! I had a little mental debate on whether or not to drink my chocolate Shakeology pre-race, since I have been drinking it consistently every morning for over 3 weeks. I decided against it, thinking that changing up my nutrition on race day would only lead to disaster. And I’m totally happy with my decision.
The course split around mile 7, separating the full marathoners from the halfsies. I was over halfway done with my run at this point, and still feeling good. Really good actually. I tried to avoid looking at my Garmin frequently because I tend to start obsessing when I do. I only looked down after each mile. And with each beep of my watch, I got a little flutter inside. I can do this, I thought to myself. I can finish under two hours. By now the sunshine had come out. I was warmed up and ready to finish the second half strong.
I ran past the dinosaur in front of The Children’s Museum, which made me smile as E & I had just spent the afternoon there a few days earlier. It’s one of our favorite places. This race can make anyone fall in love with Indianapolis. Running past Lucas Oil Stadium where the Colts play, through beautiful historic housing additions, and of course around the stunning Monument Circle. It’s such a beautiful place,, I’m grateful to have landed here and for all the memories we have already made.
The final stretch down Meridian St is a long and painful one. Runners are faced with a wide open road (minus the line of backed up traffic – whoops!) that feels truly endless. I remembered this stretch from years past all. too. well. As I kept passing the mile markers, I continued my pep talks to myself. Thoughts such as ‘you’ve got this, just stay strong’ and ‘how bad do you want a sub-2 finish?’ were running through my head. At one point I decided to name off all the people that I was running for. These people included my son. My pup. My husband. My family. My extended family. Everyone that’s dealing with health setbacks. It made my heart smile to honor those who haven’t or just can’t run these distances, even though it is a somewhat of an innate task for me, for which I am so grateful. I kept these happy thoughts in the back of my mind as I charged down that sunny road.
As we turned off of Meridian, I knew I was really close. Especially when I hit the final time clock that read 1:48. I remembered that exact moment from two years ago while running with Jaime. How all I wanted to do was scream and be done. Holy hell. That phrase, “so close, yet so far away” is so unbelievably true at the end of any race. I ran past the Carmel Runners Club tent and finally made the final turn towards the finish line. My parents, who had spent the night at our home on their way to Nashville, had mentioned they might come down and watch me finish. But I had no idea where they’d be and they had no idea what I was wearing to look out for me. Thankfully I had set my Dad up for text updates, so he timed it out perfectly and as I hit that final stretch, I heard our friend Herman yell my name. Struggling HARD at this point, I flailed around to the left, waved my arms quickly to let him know I heard him, then kept on with my forward progress. I was pushing so hard. Harder than I have post-baby. I wanted that sub-2 finish. & I wouldn’t look down at my watch (because I’m stubborn like that) to see how close I was. I knew I was close. So I just pushed. & pushed. There was literally no one in front of me (which I later read as ‘no one standing in my way’). While in a way I felt totally alone during those final strides, I charged towards that finish line with all my might and what felt like the worst ugly-cry face in history.
I immediately crumpled in half after crossing the finish line (owie, that hurt!!). I grabbed my medal, found my Dad, who was yelling for me on the sidelines with Mom, Herman & Denise close-by, flashed my watch and yelled “Boom bitches!!!!” (Nashville flashback!). I couldn’t believe it. I had done it! & I couldn’t have been more excited. Who would’ve thought that on a freezing fall November day, the little girl who went into her 18th half marathon with no expectations would totally surprise herself and meet her goal. Guess that goes to show ya. With a little will, there is a way. And again with my motto: I can, so I will. And dammit I did.
I made my way through the post-race chute, grabbed my space-coat (?), a bagel bite, chocolate milk, and my souvenir hat. Then my spectators and I scrambled to seek refuge from the bitter cold wind. BRR!! Amazing how the frigid temps seemed to disappear while I was running, but returned the second I was through. We braved the cold for a few pics.
It took a long time for me to thaw out yesterday, but after I did, I felt great. I woke up this morning with super sore calves but a smile on my face (probably from the extra hour of sleep + my lingering food coma from Recess last night). I’ve spent the morning watching the NYC Marathon while rocking my compression socks and blogging over cups of hot coffee. It’s everything a Sunday should be. Post-race highs are something I will never get sick of. I hope this one lasts awhile because Mama doesn’t plan on signing up for another race anytime soon. At least until next year 😉
PS,,, I want to give a HUGE congrats to all my friends who ran yesterday’s race, especially Amy (rocking an amazingly shiny new PR of 3:43) and Meggie (head & heart, my friend). I’m so proud of you both!!
PPS,,, new blog design coming REAL SOON!! 😀