Race: Geist Half Marathon
Place: Fishers, Indiana
Date: May 21, 2016
I’m not going to sugarcoat this in any way. A part of me is very, very happy with this race result; the other part of me is beyond disappointed.
I know…I know…I shouldn’t be so hard on myself, but it’s hard…when this race is, specifically, your PR half marathon. And I ran that PR 2 years ago…back when the course finished up a hill and around a corner. In fact…my blog from 2 years ago recounted said finish…
I had been hearing tales of the “hill at the end” and wasn’t sure what to expect.
It was…KILLER! I thought Chicago was evil for putting a hill at Mile 26 of the marathon. This was the half marathon equivalent. Not only do you climb this hill…you then round a corner and the finish line is right ahead. So, with legs screaming at me…I got up the incline and took the turn…and there it was…the finish.
Ah…the good old days when nothing ever hurt. I was able to run free without all the stretching and warm ups and cool downs and all that stuff that takes a lot of my time away from my morning routines. I shouldn’t grouse about it. I’m back to running. And I’m happy about that for sure.
To be honest, the week leading into this race was not my best. Back on Sunday, I went out to eat and ordered something off a “gluten sensitive” menu. I normally don’t risk any sort of “sensitive” menu when it comes to gluten…but I’d eaten here before, so I figured it would be safe. NEGATIVE. I was glutened. And it really altered my mood and my energy levels. Top it off with the nasty cold snap that came through and ALL. THE. RAIN. Seriously, I was getting really tired of running in the rain this week. My hip has been unhappy with the return of the cold weather and with the dampness too. BAH. HUMBUG! AND…sinuses! My God, this area is HORRIBLE when it comes to allergies. And it started to hit me last week…and…oh yeah…tying to breathe on runs has been less than stellar.
So…while I was looking forward to Geist…and the new half marathon route (no more finishing up a hill!)…I also wasn’t feeling my best leading into it. And that sort of had me down in the dumps. Even though I knew there would be no shining PR in this race, a part of me, deep down, was really hoping to pull something off.
It was not meant to be.
All that being said, Cathy and I made the drive up to Fishers, Indiana, on Friday. We left work about an hour and a half early and hopped in the car. This drive always takes forever. Seriously. It’s just north of Indianapolis, so navigating all the traffic to get there is…well…frustrating. But, we managed to get up there without too much of a delay, but were quite happy with the decision to leave early, as by the time we got to the expo, it was already almost 6 p.m. Damn rush hour traffic.
Regardless, we got to the hospital where the expo is held and stepped inside. Before anything else, we both made a dodge for the bathroom. That was a long trip, and we downed a bottle of PACt Cranberry Lemonade. Anyway, once that was taken care of, we stepped back out, looked up my bib number at one of the convenient stations, and rounded a corner so I could pick up said bib. I was number 1541. And there was a small line…and one guy working. There is always a line. It wasn’t too much of a wait with the few people ahead of me, and soon I was being handed a bib. I stepped out of the room where I was handed a black reusable bag and we meandered further into the reaches of the expo to find the shirt booth.
I picked up my long sleeve shirt and after that…we made the short trek through the expo. I kept expecting to see a running store represented…because the weather changed and now it was looking like rain at the start and I needed a visor or a hat. But…nope. There was one booth of headbands, and the rest were like…attorney offices, Orange Theory, and a Chiropractor. Not much for your race day shopping needs. I was a bit bummed out about that. Thankfully, there was a Dick’s Sporting Goods just up the street. So, after checking the race map and then giving one small glance around to make sure we didn’t miss anything…we were off to Dick’s.
Dick’s was a bit of a mess. Finding the hats/visors was a task in and of itself for one thing. Cathy finally tracked them down…on a little hanger thing. I picked up an Under Armor pink visor…that way my pigtails could still fly free. We went to check out and the cashier was the S-L-O-W-E-S-T human being in the face of retail. Seriously. This guy was in NO hurry to do anything.
Wow…I am really taking advantage of caps abuse on this blog. But, seriously, we were standing in line for about 15 minutes while he rang up 2 pairs of shoes and a jacket that a lady was purchasing. Seriously. SERIOUSLY!! And there was another person in front of me to go. Luckily another cashier opened. And I was starting to wonder how long it would take for him to ring up my visor. The answer…about 5 freakin’ minutes.
At this point, I’m hungry and we’re coming up on 6:45 pm. This is now about an hour later than I like to eat on the night before a race. MEH! We had, at the last moment, changed our mind on our restaurant of choice for gluten-free pizza, and went over to Brixx Wood Fired Pizza…mainly because they had vegan cheese…and Cathy never likes to assume a place that doesn’t have a build your own option would allow a build your own or a cheese-less option. I say…they would. But nonetheless. We got to the small shopping center that Brixx was located in…and there was not a parking spot to be found. Not in the lot and not in the parking deck. We turned around in the parking deck and went back out, tuned around, and suddenly, there were 4 spots. GO FIGURE! We parked…and walked over to Brixx. I checked in with the hostess station and they said it would be a 20 minute wait. That meant it would be about 7 pm by the time we were seated…and we still had to order and eat. UGH. Nothing stresses me out more than eating later than I like on the night before the race. They took my phone number and said they would text me when my table was ready. So, Cathy and I took a short walk up the street…and then we went and sat down outside until a spot cleared up in the lobby area inside. We moved in there…and not but 5 minutes or so later, I was texted. We were seated just around the corner from the hostess station.
And our waiter, BTW, was adorable. He had the cutest smile with dimples. He was dark and handsome and tall…for me…maybe not for Cathy. I wanted to steal him and take him home with me. Cathy and I had it narrowed down to two of the veggie pizzas…either the Wild Mushroom or the Artichoke. We asked Hot Waiter for his opinion, and he said Artichoke. So…Brixx Wood Fired Gluten Free and Vegan Artichoke Pizza….order in.
About 15 minutes or so later…the pizza was arriving. There was enough time to snap a picture of it before we both just sort of pounced our our half and devoured. I mean, we were starving at that point. The combination of the herb-marinated artichiokes, roasted red peppers, sundried tomatoes, basil pesto and the vegan cheese was just what we needed. Our waiter was right…it was amazing. And gone in record time. HA! We paid and left…dropped by a Kroger for post-race watermelon, pre-race bananas, and some water. Then, we finally went to the hotel to check in and settle in for the night. Normally, this is where we settle in and watch Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives on Food Network, but this hotel didn’t get Food Network. In the end, we ended up watching Say Yes to the Dress…which is as addictive as ever…and we stayed up way past the usual pre-race bedtime.
I had alarms set as usual. The first alarm went off at 3:30 am. I got up and turned it off…went to take my medicine and use that bathroom. Then climbed right back into bed. The second alarm went off at 4:45 am. I hauled myself out of bed, turned it off again, and went to go get changed into my race clothes and slather on some sunscreen. Buy the time I was finished with that, I was making sure Cathy was getting out of her bed and getting herself ready to hit the road to get parked and to the start. This race starts at 7:00 am. Love an early start.
Oh…but guess what…that rain that was supposed to be out before start…was here. Pouring down rain. UGH. No wonder my hip was acting up that morning. I hadn’t bothered to look outside. At that point it was still dark. But, Cathy did look outside and grumbled about wet and rain and my spirits fell. I know some people don’t mind running in the rain, but I become a much more cautious runner when that pavement is wet. Last thing I want to do is slip and go down. Also, I don’t mind if it starts to rain on me when I’m out there, I just really hate starting a race in the rain. But, you can’t help what Mother Nature throws at you. Another rainy run. Um…yay? I think I had done my share of them leading up to this race. Regardless, I put the visor on and got my race bib pinned on. I threw on a jacket and we were out the door…banana in hand…fuel belt slung over my shoulder. Made a quick dash across the parking lot to the car and we were making the short 15-20 minute drive to the school to park the car and then hike…about a mile…to the start line. We were actually ahead of schedule on departing the hotel, so, I attempted to nap on the way…but that wasn’t working out. The trip was rainy and pouring and it just made my spirits fall and my hip hurt. MEH! Cathy parked, and we had about 30 minutes to start time. This left me a few minutes to once again attempt to nap. Still wasn’t happening. Instead, we looked around at everyone else sitting in their cars, hoping the rain would lighten up. It did…right as we needed to get of the car to make the hike to the start.
We were not alone. There were steams of runners and spectators making the long walk toward the start line staging area. I have made this exact hike every year that I have run Geist…even the 5K. They were not doing shuttles this year like they have in the past. Thankfully, the air was just a little damp with a mist…the rain had let up. We got to the start with very little time to spare. There was time for a start line picture, a hug, good luck wishes, and Cathy was off to find a spot just beyond the start gate and I was in the corrals, moving as far forward as I could manage. I ended up getting locked in in Corral B…near the 1:55 pace group. No sooner had I got locked into that spot, the race was off…and we were running. No time to stretch or do any of my dynamic warm-ups. That…was it.
So, I crossed the finish line, scanning the line of people for Cathy. Due to the weather, the sign was not with her, but I saw her, gave a wave, and continued into the first mile. This is the first time we run across the reservoir. There is a bit of an incline leading into the turn to hit the first mile, and a teenager said to his buddy, “This hill is going to kill me!” And then said, “There was one year they sent us up a hill to finish.” I pointed and said, “Yeah…2014. It was 2014.” See, they will never live that down. Never ever. I made the turn after Mile 1 and started in through the neighborhood tour. This is a short tour, and due to the wet weather, there weren’t too many people out on the driveways to cheer like in past years. That was kind of a bummer. I love having some crowd support. Ah well…it is what it is. These neighborhoods boast gorgeous homes and, when the weather is better, families that come out and cheer on the runners that invade their neighborhoods.
Before Mile 3, you are back out on a main road and heading across the reservoir once again. Just beyond the reservoir was the turnaround for the 10K. This is also where the race used to end back when I was doing the 5K. I did it twice, and this was the final turn toward the finish back then. So, that sort of made me smile as I ran past. I cheered on the 10K runners who were booking it back to the start to hopefully win the race. Exciting stuff. And then, the half marathoners were on their own.
This portion of the race is a combination of commercial and residential…and just gorgeous scenery. There are businesses…and more gorgeous neighborhoods, and people standing on the corners just to cheer people on. The race volunteers were positioned throughout the various points, so there was always a voice at some point calling out to you. I was exchanging spots with a guy wearing a Boston 2015 shirt…he would lead, then I would, then he would…this went on for the entire rest of the race. And after a climb, I had a runner catch up wearing a Marathon Maniac singlet. I called out, “HEY MANIAC!” He wasn’t too talkative with me though. He was with this nice older man who told me he had a beer riding on this race. He was running here and a friend of his was running in Colorado. HA! So, I made some friends along the route this time around. It was nice, especially when they were talkative, because it took my mind off of the hip…which was still not feeling this run one bit.
I do want to give a shout-out to the guy who was just beyond Mile 9. There was a steep hill ahead, and he was at the base, calling out every race bib number and telling that runner that they were doing great, looking great, and that there were less than 4 miles left. Seriously, he was amazing. What he was doing was something every runner needs, especially when the struggle is getting real.
Just before Mile 10, we make a turn out of the neighborhoods and are back on familiar turf. We are back near that old finish line area…right where we cross the reservoir. Mile 10 was just beyond where the turn around for the 10K was marked. I pressed on, the humidity from the rain and weather starting to really exhaust me. Turn a corner, and now we’re running the opposite way through that first neighborhood. There were some rolling hills through this, so we were hitting them again, just backwards. My legs were pretty much done with hills. They were slowing me down more than they should have, which only pissed me off. But now the hip wasn’t wanting to fire, so you just do what you can manage at that point. Mile 12 was at the corner before you round for that final trek toward the reservoir again.
I picked it up because I saw a female ahead of me, and I was now playing games to get myself to that finish line. I passed her, and that was a good feeling. I told myself to keep going, and not let her sneak up and catch me. She never did. I could finally see the finish line…which was such an uplifting feeling. I tried to put on the afterburners to sprint in like so many people can…but it wasn’t happening. I just pushed as hard and moved as fast as my legs could manage at that point…and ran across that finish line. I could hear Cathy screaming at me. When I crossed, I received my medal and felt this wave of emotion wash over me. This race was an important one to me, and I had some expectations…some desires…and, sadly, the race wasn’t the way I envisioned or imagined it would go. That being said, after receiving my medal, I had one of the guys who had talked with me come over and high five me. Cathy came over and as I was about to take my victory shot, the guy in the Boston shirt came over and high fived me as well and said said that I kept him on an amazing pace for the race. That was a nice feeling.
Cathy took the picture and I changed into different shoes. I keep forgetting to pack extra socks again. D’oh! After the shoe change, we decided to hike over to the runner recovery area and see what was there. We were in search of the massage tent, and we found it. YAY! But, after standing in line for 10 minutes, we were told that we needed to fill out a form. So, a bunch of us runners went to fill out the paperwork and get back into line. It was another 50 minutes before they even got to me. At this point, I was cold and had Cathy pull my jacket back out. But, the wait for the massage was worth it. This massage was very thorough and felt amazing on my achy body. Amy was my massage therapist and she did a great job. While I was getting worked on, Cathy went to get my official race results…and after that…I called my mom and spoke with her on the long walk back to the car. The long, cold, walk back to the car.
After that, it was just a short drive back to the hotel, where I hopped into a hot shower and warmed up and cleaned up. I changed clothes, checked out, and we were off to grab food and then coffee. Then…the trip home.
So, my official results of the Geist Half Marathon is that I finished in 1:42:13, which was faster than my NYC Half Marathon, but slower than Derby and Indy. I was a little bummed out with my time here, but I had a lot to contend with going into this and during this race. That being said, I was 103/1601 finishers overall! Almost in the top 100…how about that??! I was the 20/557 women to cross the finish line. And I was 6/185 people in the 30-39 female division! Can’t argue with those status right?!
Please don’t get me wrong, I am very proud of my accomplishment and this finish. I think that it’s hard, when you return to your PR race, to not be a little disappointed when a new PR doesn’t happen. I was so close when I ran the 500 Festival a few weekends ago…so I had some hopes that this race would get me a PR that I’m searching for this year. It wasn’t meant to be…and that’s okay. It will happen. I don’t know when or where…but it is bound to happen. I just have to keep running safe and strong. It was just not meant to be this year. But…this is still my favorite half marathon. It’s beautiful and challenging and just…fun. And this year, I got to talk to and meet some of the people running it with me. Those are special friendships forged during the grind.
Will I be back? Of course. The race is one of the best…and that’s why I keep coming back. Hopefully next year, the circumstances will be better.