This race was a pretty last-minute addition to the race calendar. Mr. Chicory and I signed up the Monday before the race. My coach wanted one more all-out effort from me before my goal marathon in November, and the mister doesn’t race very much and needed to get a better sense of his goal for the same marathon.
Indianapolis is about 2 hours from our house in Louisville. I looked for a race closer but the only ones I could find 10k to half-marathon were all 2 hours away in various directions. Indy gets preferential treatment because we go often enough that we sort-of know our way around, and because my coach is based there. This means extra perks, usually, like a tent where we can leave our stuff plus last-minute motivation and an on-course cheerleader/photo-taker.
This race was the original marathon in Indianapolis that started 21 years ago. However, in recent years, Monumental has grown in size and the other has dwindled. The group that puts on Monumental decided to purchase this race last year, and eliminated the marathon for this year’s running. It’s a nice-sized race, about 3,000 in the half and the 5k combined.
The expo is small, just a couple of vendors and sign ups for a couple of other races. But, free long-sleeve half-zips instead of t-shirts! My coach had a booth at the expo, too, so I got to check in and pick up some branded gear he had for me.
Our hotel was about 10 minutes away, and we had dinner at a place called The District Tap, which was perfect. Did I eat cajun tater tots with buffalo sauce and blue cheese? Yes.
I packed up all my race-day gear into a smaller bag that night, and got to bed early. I am not one of those people who can’t sleep the night before a race. In fact, I usually sleep better. I got more than 8 hours of sleep Thursday and Friday!
Wake-up call was at 6:30 a.m. — we needed to be parked by 7:30 because of road closures, which were an hour before the race start. I wasn’t worried about being 100 percent ready when we left, I just needed to have all my stuff with me. I grabbed a piece of wheat toast with jam from the hotel breakfast (love you, Hampton Inns!) since we had two hours until the race.
It was chilly — first day I’ve seen below 50 degrees. I love fall racing weather. Glad I had my new half-zip and some lightweight warm up pants, though.
Once we were parked, we walked over to the start, hit the portajohns before the lines got long, then dropped our stuff at the PBT tent. I had a Hammer Gel and started my warmup in my warmer clothes and my heavier training shoes. Mr. Chicory decided he needed to go back to the car and to the bathroom, so he went off on his own. We had about 30 minutes to go, so I hoped he’d get back in time but I couldn’t worry about it. I finished the second mile of the warm up, then had some Hammer Fully Charged and took off my warmups and changed into my racing shoes.
Right as I was about to abandon Chris and head to the start, he came flying over, ditching clothes, and grabbing his race belt. Did I mention he doesn’t race much? We lined up on the first couple of rows — I could see a couple of girls I knew so I had a pretty good idea of who to get behind once we started.
The course is decently hilly, about 450’ of gain, and the first 2.5 are mostly downhill before the longest uphill going into mile 3. My plan was to sit back until after that hill, stay comfortable through halfway, assess, press after 10. I averaged 6:40 at Indy Women’s three weeks ago, so I hoped to start out around that pace and then negative split (the opposite of Indy Women’s).
Miles 1-3: 6:35, 6:31, 6:44.
The first two miles were downhill and a little quick, and Chris took off ahead of me but then I passed him around mile 2. I tucked in behind a teammate and another woman around mile 1. The first hill sucked. 83’ of gain, just a long grind of a hill. 10 miles to go.
Miles 4-6: 6:31, 6:32, 6:28.
Little bit of rolling through this section. I was staying with two other women, but around 3.5 I realized they were going more like 6:25 pace which was too hot for me. I let them go and settled in. Coach was at mile 4, cheering loudly, in something like 8 different pieces of PBT gear. At that point, I was still tucked pretty tight behind the other two women.
I tossed my gloves at the 5-mile marker and realized soon thereafter that Mr. Chicory had reappeared and was tucked about three feet behind me off my right shoulder. I could tell it was him by his breathing — is that weird? I focused on hitting halfway and cruising on the relatively flat street section, which was actually slightly downhill.
Miles 7-10: 6:37, 6:33, 6:20, 6:36.
Got to double-check the women’s count — there were two women together, then a gap, then two women, then a gap to me — as we headed into a sort-of strange parking lot turnaround. Lots of cheering on both sides of the road, which I like, although it was distracting so no surprise I was a little slower there.
At about 7.2, I got a little surprise — gravel! Apparently, to get back into Fort Ben park, they had us run this little gravel cut-through. Not more than maybe 50 feet, but it was unexpected. From 7.5 we hit a big down hill for about 1200 meters — enough that there was a sign cautioning the steep grade! I took most of my gel at the 8-mile marker.
Mile 9 was also downhill, so we zipped right along, then a little slower on the next flat mile that included some tight turns. Husband was still tucked on my shoulder. We weren’t talking and I hadn’t actually acknowledged that I knew he was there. I was still focusing on the woman ahead, who I could see ahead of me, and was trying to keep that distance from growing.
At this point, I was like, I’ve got this in the bag. I felt good, smooth.
Miles 11-13: 6:58, 6:35, 6:26.
JUST KIDDING. 84’ feet of climbing from 10-11. Now I felt like death. Seriously I thought I couldn’t move another step. Holy hell.
Back on the gravel at 11.5. Recover. Focus. Finish.
The rest of the race was just a tiny bit uphill before a tiny downhill finish.
I’m pressing. A mile and half. That’s nothing. My hamstring was bothering me and my stride felt all out of whack. What happened to how good I felt at mile 9?????
I’m still getting used to my new watch (Garmin FR35) and I didn’t have a screen set up with running time on it. Because of the hills, my splits had been all over the place so I had no clue what the average was. When I dropped that 6:58, I started to think if I was under 1:28, that would be good enough (although I had wanted to be faster even with the hills). There was a brief moment of discouragement in there. But once I split 6:35 again at 12, I was okay.
Coach was at 12.5. Mr. Chicory had passed me, like I knew he would. Another guy had passed us, though, so I wanted him to catch that guy if he could (negative). Coach yelled for “Team Green,” at which point I decided it’s pretty cute that we ran this race mostly together even if I ignored him the entire time and he just used me as his pacer.
At this point, I had no idea what my overall time was. Like zero.
There’s a quick left, then a right, then we were straight to the finish. The 5k was finishing on the other side, so there were a lot of kids but fortunately, they were basically on their side and there was plenty of room.
I could finally see the clock and I think it says 1:25-something. NO WAY.
I get closer, I run faster. It’s just ticking over 1:26. I had .14 on my watch at something like 6-minute pace.
I finished officially in 1:26:15, a PR by 1 minute, 45 seconds. If you ignore the smidge of a PR I set 3 weeks ago, it’s a 2 minute PR from the one I set in 2014.
I have never been so excited going through a finish line. I hope there are photos. I was being ridiculous. Once I stopped, I started laughing/crying, although I was really too tired to do either one. Chris was sitting on the curb, then he got me a water and I laughed/cried some more. 1:26 was the A goal, and I was awfully close. On a flat course, I’m certain I would’ve had it, just by leveling out those two slower uphill miles.
We ran basically the world’s worst 1 mile cool down, then made our way to the results tent and got our official print outs. Mr. Chicory was a little bummed that he was 6 seconds over 1:26, but he did place third in his age group. Since I was top 5 overall, they sent me to another tent for the official awards ceremony, in which they called out our names and gave 2-5 the same mug that the age group winners get. Oh well. Matching mugs!
It was a good day for Coach’s Personal Best Training crew, with the 3rd and 4th place men and 4th and 5th place women (amongst many other great results).
The Indy Half features a post-race cookout and bonfires, with a fall festival vibe. Hamburgers, brats, pizza, etc. A great small/mid-sized tune-up opportunity, including quality pacers starting at 90 minutes. This race also served as the Indiana USATF half-marathon championship and paid cash to the top chapter members.