What? You’ve never heard of Carmel, Indiana? It’s famous! It has the most roundabouts of any city in the US, earning the nickname “Roundabout City, USA.” There are 102 glorious traffic circles strategically placed throughout the city. And if you run any of the annual Carmel Marathon Weekend races, you get to run through what feels like all of them! I’m still dizzy thinking about it.
I did the full marathon at Carmel in Spring of 2015. It was my first marathon, so it holds a special place in my heart.
I knew going into this year’s race that they had changed the course. Marathoners and half marathoners now run together on the same loop for 13 miles and then the marathoners split off to run a second, different loop. The half course is now a lot more rolling than it used to be. Otherwise, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the course.
I went into the race without expectations to run a PR. Usually, this makes the race experience more relaxing. However, my nerves were almost shattered by a 23-minute port-a-potty line before the race. I’m pretty good at finding the shortest line, so that’s where I stood. The minutes ticked by. Hurry up, people! I finally got out of the potty at 7:53. My husband was nowhere to be found – probably already in the corral, given that the race was almost starting. I ran toward the corrals, stopping for the National Anthem. With about 2 minutes to race time, I slipped into my designated spot. I walked toward the start line with my group, and there he is! Mr. Barberry is waiting for me. How chivalrous! I told him that if he was feeling good, he certainly did not have to stay with me the whole time.
Go Time! My hope was to finish around 2 hours or a little faster. We did some weaving around the crowd before really settling into a groove. The path went straight for the first few miles, rolling up and down the road along the way. After turning, it was another straight path until 5 miles into the race and then it was more rolling hills.
I started to get a little frustrated. I swear this course wasn’t this hilly when I did the marathon 3 years ago! I was certainly glad to not be running 26.2 today. I live in a pancake flat town and definitely have not been running any hills recently. My husband, who was still with me, was loving it. He was feeling good. I kept telling him he didn’t have to stay with me, but he kept saying something along the lines of “let’s have fun today.” Hills aren’t fun! I mean, they aren’t HUGE hills, but there was enough elevation change to get on my nerves. I guess this is payback for me forcing him to be more positive when we ran together on our last half!
The next miles aren’t quite as straight, but still rolling. We pass through a neighborhood with several cute kids along the sidewalks cheering for all of the runners. One of them was even handing out chocolate! As much as I wanted to grab some, chocolate doesn’t fit super well into my race fueling strategy (stupid intestines). I made a running friend around mile 8. He complimented me on my National Parks running shirt. He was running the marathon – number 100 for him! Crazy. I have done 3, and I’m pretty good with that for now. I told him this.
Around Mile 10, I can really tell where the lack of speed work comes into play. I’m lacking another gear. Even though I’m happy to be running pretty much pain-free in my foot between the treatments, injection, and taping, I miss my speed work. I’ve been too nervous to try it out, fearing it would irritate my foot. Maybe soon.
The last mile or so of the Carmel Half has you running through Carmel’s Main Street and the Arts and Design District. There are some pretty good restaurants and stores in this area. There was also a band playing, which was nice to see. Overall there wasn’t a lot of on-course entertainment, but there were plenty of friendly and encouraging faces at the water stops and in the neighborhoods.
The last mile was familiar to me, it was the same for the marathon 3 years ago. We rounded the corner and saw the beautiful Carmel Palladium. I had a little bit of gas in me the last mile, so we chugged along to the finish line. I ended up finishing in 1:55:09. My PR is 10 minutes faster, but I was very happy with my finishing time.
Hooray! Another half marathon completed! The medal is awesome and sparkly. There were glorious post-race snacks. The post-race snack and beverage game is extremely strong at this race. My favorite post-race fuel is chocolate milk. The food bags had Oreos! Oreos!!!
We collected our bags and watched as the marathoners continued on their way. I wanted to wait and see my friend, Danielle, get through the halfway point. It was starting to get colder and the wind was picking up. Eventually there were 40 mile per hour wind gusts, causing the Carmel Police and Fire Department to order taking down some of the vendor tents for safety reasons. It would be pretty awful to have one of those blow into a path of marathoners, as if running 26.2 miles in that wind wasn’t bad enough. We did see Danielle, cheered her on, and carried on our way back to the car.
Overall I felt pretty good post-race. My foot was fine, my hips were a little sore. After a good lunch I took a post-race nap. What more can you ask for from a race day?
The half marathon is definitely my favorite distance, and despite its hills, I would definitely recommend the Carmel Half as a spring race. As for the rest of this year: I have two half marathons planned, and my strategy is to just enjoy them!