On a picture perfect fall morning about 4,500 gathered at Fort Benjamin Harrison in Lawrence, Indiana for an excellent Marathon, Half-Marathon, and 5K. I felt great in the morning and lined up with my pacing buddy at the front of the pack. It was a bit chilly at the start, I think in the mid-50's but was able to stay warm up until the end because my wonderful wife was taking my warm clothes for me!
This is an interesting course because it makes a couple of circles and loops, but is excellent for spectators! The course was very well supported with 21 water stops for the full marathon, it seemed like almost one every mile (the last half of the marathon was an out-and-back so it is possible that they were every mile). I guess in previous years they had some type of powergel available at three aid stations, but this year only at two (both past the half-split). The race festivities started 10 minutes later than expected, so we were in the corrals for about 15-20 minutes waiting. People were walking around prior to the race passing out cards from the photography company. This was a little crazy, because where am I going to put it? The craziest part, some guy was walking across the starting line passing them out to all the runners at the very front!
Looking back on the race it was probably one of the toughest I ever done and I probably felt the worst afterwards. I'll say it was moderately hilly with a major hill right after the 10 mile mark. Miles 5-8 were mostly flat, but the rest had noticeable hills. My overall time was 1:37:31 (7:26). This is actually my second fastest half ever and definitely the toughest course (my PR is 1:34:57 on a mostly flat course) and my goal was 1:30:00.
We started out a little fast, but not an uncomfortable 6:35 first mile. It was pretty flat and we came through the second mile at 6:39. We then proceeded down 56th Street which has some large rolling hills and hit mile three at 6:43 (so around 20:30 for the first 5K). My race plan was to take 2 Clif Shot Bloks around every 5K, so running through a neighborhood loop I reached into my pocket for them and they were GONE! They must have bounced out of the pockets of my Brooks Men's Sherpa Short II.
I think this created a mental barrier that later became insurmountable. This was to be my first half-marathon taking any energy supplements. The plan was to help ward off the late mileage time drops in other halfs. I came through 4 at 6:54. At this point we were running back by all the other runners on 56th Street. Somewhere I missed the 5 mile mark (maybe because of the crowds). I knew I should be seeing my wife again soon and that she had a half-eaten Clif Bar (Spice Pumpkin Pie) in one of the outside pockets of her backpack. So I began looking intently for her.
I came through mile 6 at 13:54 (2 miles) which would make the 10K around 41:48 (my PR is 41:28). This began another out and back section along 59th Street. After tossing my sweaty gloves at my in-laws before entering the neighborhood next to theirs I went 7:15 through mile 7. I was still 2 seconds ahead of my goal pace. After leaving the neighborhood and returning along 59th Street I came through mile 8 at 55:24 about 30 seconds of goal pace. I finally saw my wife and tried to eat some of the Clif bar while running, I saved a cup of water from the aid station, but that didn't really help. Clif Bars aren't made for running! This was another hilly section and I hit mile 9 at 8:25.
At this point we were inside Fort Harrison State Park, which has an almost 3 mile loop trail that goes up a long, somewhat steep hill. Even after walking through the aid station I managed a 7:39 thanks to the long downhill! I walked through the aid station at the bottom and began girding myself for the long uphill mile, which I completed in 9:01. Going through the rolling hills back towards the finish I got passed by a friend and tried to go with him, but struggled fiercely and couldn't do it. I came through mile 12 at 8:22. With a mile to go I started trying to pick it up, I knew I was off pace, but also knew I could still finish under 1:40 which would be the best half I've run since 2006. At about 12.5 the half and full marathons split and I again thought ok, lets pick it up here... pushing a little harder, it seemed to take forever. Then I finally saw the 26 mile mark, only .2 left. Then the 13 mile mark, only .1 left. Here I really started picking it up and "sprinted" past 2 people in the final chute area for a 0:38 last tenth (which is a 6:20 pace!) This resulted in an overall 1:37:31.
It turned out to be a very mental race for me. I do think I became fatigued and the hills were rougher than I had anticipated, but I think the feeling of reaching for my Shot Bloks and them not being there sent a panic through my mind that never really went away. I also struggle to keep pushing my body in those middle and late miles. I want to keep something in reserve so I can finish, but then I still have stuff left in the tank. I also struggle with the idea of taking it too easy from the start, because then you have to pick up the pace and make up for the difference instead of having some time banked away that you can lose. But I know that almost hitting a 10K PR in a half-marathon isn't a good idea!
Thanks for reading this long race review. It was a great race. Let us hear about your race at the Indianapolis Marathon, or other race this weekend.
Pictures coming soon!
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Cross-posted at Run Central Indiana.