Thursday, November 21, 2013

Indy Monumental Marathon and a few short races

Man, this job is eating into my blogging time! But it also pays my entry fees, so there's that. This Saturday I'm running JFK 50, so I need to get this done before I forget any more about my last marathon. A few weeks ago I flew to Indianapolis and ran the Indy Monumental Marathon, which was marathon (or longer) #30 and state #19 for me. I flew out Friday morning and my awesome running friend Smilin' Tobes and his even more awesome wife Linda picked me up at the airport. We checked in to the hotel, grabbed some lunch and headed over to the expo. Tobey was good enough to indulge me and pose for goofy pictures.

I was tired, Linda was tired, and so we decided naps were in order. Of course as soon as I got to my room and lay down, I was wide awake. So after awhile, I decided to walk a little and see Indianapolis and try to find some Gatorade. Indianapolis is a cute little city.

We had an early dinner and then off to bed. The hotel was only a half block from the start line, and the race didn't start until 8, so it was pretty nice to sort of sleep in (by sleeping in I mean wake up every hour panicked that I overslept, then going back to sleep, until a little later in the morning than other races). The hotel (Fairfield Inn) opened up breakfast early for the runners, which was pretty cool. Tobey and Linda got a late checkout, so after breakfast I packed up my stuff and took it up to their room, and checked out from mine. Temps were low 40s, perfect for marathoning. I decided on a long sleeve shirt and shorts.

The course is described as flat with a few small hills. I don't remember any hills. The first several miles are downtown. A few turns, but my Garmin says I'm hitting the tangents right on, so I guess it wasn't too crowded. About 3 miles in I took off my throwaway gloves and saw something fly as I tossed them to the side. Didn't think anything of it at the time, but realized several miles later it was my Cody's Crew bracelet. That really bummed me out, but I know where I can get another one.

Mile 5 and I have to pee. Dang it. I'm not stopping until after the half and full split. Even though I'm not running this for time, I do not want to stand in line for 10 minutes to go to the bathroom. The half splits off just after mile 7 and I start looking for a bathroom. See a couple up ahead and this group of three girls right in front of me head for them. Now there's a line, so I go ahead. They decide not to wait (I don't have the heart to explain that the race seems to have put out two port-a-potties at each aid station, so since there are three of them, they are going to have to wait no matter where they stop). I hear them discussing it behind me and pick up the pace to get to the next bathrooms ahead of them. About mile 9.5, I see two more bathrooms with no line so I decide to wait. The three girls decide to go on, as I have now created a line. Waited less than a minute, but that was enough time that as I was coming out of the port-o-potty I heard the crowd cheering for the very large 4-hour pace group going by. I'm kinda done with pace groups. So I sped up and ran a couple fast miles to get around them and away from them.

Coming back into town there was this nice lady cheering for everyone. Spectator pro tip: "Good run" is a great thing to yell to runners. "Good runs", not so much. I probably got a good half mile of laughing thinking about her telling a bunch of runners that carefully watch what they eat to avoid any sort of gastric distress the day of the race that she wants them to have "good runs". Hey, it was 15 miles in, it didn't take much to make me laugh uncontrollably at something stupid.

One of the coolest things I thought was around mile 17. We ran through Butler University and one side of the road was closed for runners. The other side of the road had cars stuck in traffic because of the race. But instead of honking and complaining, the people in the cars were cheering for us out their windows, standing up and cheering through their sun roofs, etc. Well done, random people of Indianapolis, well done.

We continued on, went right up to the front door of the Indianapolis Museum of Art, and then through a kind of quiet empty section. This coincided with the dreaded mile 20. Since I was treating this as a long run, I was fine, but I started passing a lot of people at this point. The marathon did try to keep us entertained by putting signs up with Indiana trivia. I don't know about anyone else, but it entertained me. Did you know the inventor of Sudoku is a Hoosier? As is the inventor of Barbasol. And some basketball players and David Letterman.

The last few miles head back into downtown. Bigger crowds, more walkers, downtown looks right there, but you know it's still a ways to go. Since I was still running a lot of spectators were calling me out by name (names on our bibs) telling me I was looking strong, etc. I kind of wanted to tell them not to cheer for me, cheer for the people who were struggling. Eventually we made it back into town. You take a right, go a few blocks, then make a left, one block and another left and then finish right at the state capitol building. Big crowds all along this part. Right before the first left (so two blocks from the finish) this guy in the crowd looks at me, points and says loudly, "YOU! have a lot left in the tank and the finish is right around the corner! Pick up the pace!" He made me laugh, so I obliged and picked up the pace. I felt great. At the second left I heard a "Go Karen!" and saw Tobey and Linda in the crowd. Finished in 3:53:26. Happy that what was my race goal a year ago was now my "run it for fun" pace. Got my medal, a finishers hat, some chocolate milk and some food and headed back to the hotel, where I got a nice warm shower thanks to Tobey and Linda's late checkout. They drove me to the bus station and then headed home.

What? The bus station? Yes, a couple months ago my sister told me that she and her daughter were running a 15K in Chicago that Sunday. And since I was already in the Midwest, why didn't I run it as well? Flights were expensive, the train didn't work, but the Greyhound did! So three hours on a bus with comfy seats and free wifi and I was in Chicago. For only $20! And now that I'm all about public transportation, once I got to Chicago I took public transportation to the hotel, and the next day from the hotel to the airport. That's right, $3 from downtown Chicago to Midway.

Anyway, met up with my sister (her daughter ended up not being able to go because she got into the high school musical and couldn't miss rehearsals the weekend before the show), and ran the Hot Chocolate 15K the next day. I had entertained the thought of racing it, but I pushed it a little more than I should have in Indy for that, and decided it would be more fun to run it with my sister anyway, so we ran it at her pace. My hamstrings thanked me. It was cold, it was fun, and the chocolate was really good after the race. I flew home, she did a little shopping and then took the train back to Quincy that night.

The following weekend I raced the Veteran's Day 10K downtown. It was so convenient - packet pickup was on Friday at a running store just a few blocks from my office, and the first Metro train on race day got downtown (about 1.2 miles from the race) 20 minutes from the start, so a nice little warm up. I got to the park, checked my jacket, and lined up to race. Very happy with a 44:06 and second in my age group. And of course I wore my Indy Monumental shirt so that if I blew up, people would know I ran a marathon the previous weekend! It wasn't pretty, but it was fun.

Then, as I was looking at results for that online, I noticed that a race I've always wanted to run but have never been able to was rescheduled for the next weekend (it was canceled in October because of the government shutdown). Again, packet pickup on Friday a few blocks from my office, first train arrives downtown about 1.2 miles from the start, checked my jacket, and raced the Run! Geek! Run! 8K. This one was smaller than the previous weekend, and I finished 6th female, 2nd masters. I got the coolest bobblehead trophy! In addition to my bib and t-shirt, the packet also contained geek glasses. Sorry Jake....

So that's it until Saturday and JFK 50.

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