Monday, November 9, 2015

She's Real Fine, My 409

Prior to the 2015 Indianapolis Monumental Marathon, I made it very clear that I was finally poised to break four hours in the marathon.  I had put in the focused but fun training.  I was armed with a solid plan.  I wasn't, however, naive.  I had a set of tiered goals.  Sub-4 was the A-Goal, PRing (breaking 4:12:53) was the B-Goal, and finishing and living to run another day was the C-Goal.

Let's just say... thank goodness for B-Goals.  Without it, I probably would've walked from about mile marker 20.

Everyone knows I loathe the disclaimer... the reason(s) people give for the sub-par job they're about to do. Know that there are a few times in this race report that  I will appear to "disclaim."  I'm not.  I'm merely giving you the facts of the story. I truly have no excuses AT ALL.  I did face some challenges, but I thought that they wouldn't (and still think they didn't), affect the attainment of my A Goal. It just wasn't my day to break 4.

Friday afternoon, Mom and I drove to Indy.  We checked-in to our fabulous room at the Westin, then hit the expo.  I got my bib (seeded in Corral B... what?), and put a hurt on all the vendors.  We visited the Colts store at Circle Center, and then met Wendy, Tim, Sara Jane, the Kleiheges, and a couple of the Kleiheges' friends at Spaghetti Factory for dinner.  Afterward, Mom and I played cards for an hour or so.

I didn't sleep well because I couldn't stop coughing.  All week long, I had been nursing an elevated temp (99°ish), stuffy nose, blistery tonsils, and general malaise.  I was really worried about how it would affect my race, but I rose Saturday morning feeling the best I'd felt all week.

The First 15 Miles
Seeing Wendy on mile 7
My plan for the race was to run the first 18 miles or so in the 9:00-9:10 range, then accelerate if I felt I could.  Wendy said, "Nothing that begins with an 8 until 18!" My watch clicked my first mile at 8:55, but I think that was wrong.  The first four miles or so are filled with tunnels and overpasses.  I hit posted mile marker 1 at 9:05.  I beeped 9-flat right at posted Mile Marker 2.  You can see the rest of the splits here. With the exception of mile 13, I was only a little fast.

I will admit that the 9:00ish pace felt a little harder than it should've.  Not hard, mind you, just not as easy as usual.  I've been having some post-tib trouble in both legs (low on the left, in the middle on the right), so I surmised dealing with that pain might've been the culprit.  However, I only felt my post-tibs on miles 3-6.

Would it have been smarter to run those miles all 5-10 seconds slower? Probably. Did being a wee bit fast cause what happened later? I think not, but who knows?

The Last 11.2 Miles
Something happened at mile marker 15.  All of the sudden, I felt weak.  I had an extra GU just in case, so I took it.  Then I took an orange slice from a spectator.  I think those calories helped, but only marginally.  You can see the heart rate spike in my data right at 15mi.  I held my pace for 15 and 16 and then allowed myself to slow a bit on mile 17's Butler "hills."  On mile 18, I had serious concerns about staying conscious.  Dad always tells me to listen to my body, so I did.  I took a walk break.
Mile 19

You might think I felt completely defeated at this point.  I didn't.  I just felt like I was regrouping, the way Wendy told me to do if necessary, and getting back on track.  It worked.  I started running again, but immediately started getting woozy.  I walked for one minute then got back to it.

I was good to go for a mile or so, then right before mile marker 20, I had to walk again.  This break was longer, and I called Ed and my Dad, mostly just to hear their voices.  Wendy met me around 21.5mi on her bike, and I walked/ran from there, and felt A LOT less lonely.  It was mostly running, but I did take frequent little walk breaks.  You can see it all in the data.

I was mindful of my B-goal (under 4:12:53) the whole time, so I kept an eye on my watch to make sure I was keeping an average pace that would get me to the finish in time.  When I was making the last turn, Wendy reminded me to savor the finish.  I crossed the line in 4:09:50.

What Happened?
Why did I get so weak and woozy a mere 15 miles into the race? Was it because of my ankles? No, they didn't hurt once in the last 70% of the race.  Was it because I have Crohn's disease? No, I had zero tummy issues, and that had been a big concern of mine in the weeks leading up to the race. Is it because I was sick the week of the race? I doubt it. It might've made me somewhat fatigued, but I think I could break four hours being a little tired. Was it because I was undertrained? Uh, no way.  Was it because I can't handle pain? No, have we met? Was it because I was a bit fast the first half? I also doubt that.  We're talking about seconds.

My best guess is that I peaked too soon in my training.  I was running my very best about three or four weeks prior to the race.  Maybe my body was more fatigued than I thought.  I don't know.

Not Mad About It!
PR Finish!
You might think I am disappointed that I didn't meet my big sub-4 goal, but I'm not.  You guys: I RAN MY FASTEST MARATHON EVER. That 4:09 is super sweet to me! I had fun doing it! I LOVED my training! It's a win! I was on cloud (four-oh) nine ALL DAY. I still am!

I mean, of course I'm taking lessons from not meeting my A-goal.  I want to work with Wendy to tweak a training schedule.  I want to practice more pacing.  I want to learn more about better fueling. I want to get stronger at Novus.

Because you had better believe I'm going for the sub-4 goal again.

The Best Part
Absolutely the best part of the race was seeing friends and family.  I saw people I knew all over the place!  Here are a few examples.

More cowbell, Mom!
Joe Ingalls: I saw Ed's and my friend Joe around mile 5.  I can't describe what it's like to see a face you know when all you've been seeing is strangers.  I yelled, "Joe!" and he yelled, "Jo!" and it was funny and surprising and uplifting and awesome.  I saw him again near mile 25, and he actually came onto the course to run with me a little bit. Great feeling.

Wendy: You guys know what Wendy means to me.  I saw her just before mile marker 7, and it made my whole being feel electric.  Later, when she knew I was struggling, she biked the course backwards to find me.  She found me at about 21.5mi and biked just off the course beside me until I made the final turn.  THAT is friendship.

Tim Galloway: I saw Tim on the circle near mile 3, but the moment I remember best is right at the second to last turn.  I felt like my body was going to explode in pain, like I could move forward no more, and Tim started SCREAMING for me. That made others around him scream for me. Which made me start running and pumping my arm.  Which made other people start screaming. It was quite the scene.  That moment alone probably got me under 4:10.

Mom, Ed, and Schanzel: I saw them right before I crossed the start line and right before I crossed the finish line.  There is no descriptive word that can explain what it's like to see your family when you are about to shut the door on extreme physical effort. It is the purest feeling of love and happiness that I can imagine. They are there.  They are there for you.

Thanks to all of you for supporting me in my running efforts. My goals are always more meaningful to me because of all of you.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

2015 IMM Training Punctuation

My Indianapolis Monumental Marathon training is done. Period. Over. Much like last year, I hit every mark. Every run that was scheduled, I ran, to the required distance and at the required pace (if a pace goal existed). My little "training wheel" pull-tab chart has only the race tab left, much different from its initial appearance.

The fact that the wheel now looks like an exclamation point is not an accident. I planned it that way. IMM is going to be the big exclamation point on what's been an ambitious and storied training cycle.

Another reason for the exclamation point is that I have full confidence that I can reach my "A Goal," which is to run the marathon in under four hours. (You can see a summary of my A, B, and C goals here.) My training, both the running component planned by Wendy with Limestone Distance Running, and the strength component planned by Novus Strength Training, have prepared me for the task at hand. I have never felt more prepared for anything in my life.

That is not to say that there's not a "however" to that bold confidence. I am having the nervous jitters as you might imagine. Thoughts like, "What if I fail?" creep into my mind at times. When that happens, I try to change the negative thought into positive visualization of the attainment of my goal... or I text Wendy and have her tell me that everything is fine. :-) As I've previously stated, even if I don't reach my goal, I will have achieved the aim of having a great time during training.

The only question marks that exist are the variables I can't control: the weather and my health. I am reasonably sure that the weather will be in my favor, because the only conditions that spell disaster for me are heat and humidity—uncommon problems in November. (Forecast is for a start in the low 40°s. Thank goodness for the impending cold front!) Also, I could awaken Saturday with a cold or tummy trouble or general malaise or anything that would cause it to not be "my day."

I've done my part. All I can do now is hope for the best and execute my race plan.

My time is NOW. LET'S DO THIS!

***Wendy will likely keep folks updated on my progress via facebook. Also, you can click here to sign up to follow me via text as I pass timing mats during the race. Start gun is at 8:00 A.M. on Saturday!