Race: Geist Half Marathon
Place: Fishers, Indiana
Date: May 19, 2018
Oy. That was a tough one. Needless to say…my runs have not only proven to me that I’m sort of stuck at a certain pace or higher (MEH!), but that I am lacking in endurance, especially as the weather warms up. Also…as a point…I had to give up a fall half marathon I had been hoping to run, but this one was far enough of away from a goal race that I was good to go on this one.
Here’s the thing. I LOVE THIS RACE! For real. The Geist Half Marathon in 2014 holds my half marathon PR (almost 10 minutes faster than this time – 1:38:52)…and that was a difficult course. I think I was in much better shape then. HA! But…it was a goal this year to press on into a new race PR, specifically in the half marathon distance. This was supposed to go down at the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon at the beginning of the month…but things went downhill quickly on that one and my goal slipped, rather quickly, out of my reach.
This race is a beautiful one. You run through the gorgeous neighborhoods of Fishers, Indiana. You run the reservoir, which is stunning. It’s just fun. And…guess what…it wasn’t the race I expected, but damn…I had fun on this one!
Let’s start with Friday…
It was difficult to get away from work early as my roommate’s teammate took the day off at last minute, leaving her to cover for him. Our best chance was to escape around 3:30 pm. The plan was to place a call into Dragon King’s Daughter for sushi to pick up and take with us in the car. Sushi is great travel food, by the way! We got out, but our order wasn’t quite ready at the restaurant, so we waited around near the bar while they finished it up. I loved that they included a little take-away container of the gluten-free soy sauce for me. This is why I continue to return to Dragon King’s Daughter. This also proved to me that sushi is not the magic race food I was toting it up to be. Dang it. I thought I was onto something.
You failed me, sushi!!
The drive up to Indianapolis was uneventful and traffic actually wasn’t bad. Normally we hit bad traffic heading into the Nobelsville/Fishers area. Not this time. But it was getting late into the evening…we were after 6 pm and just now getting into the area to get to the expo and pick up my packet. From past experiences, we know that the expo has little to offer, but you have to walk through it in order to get your bib and then your race shirt. No biggie. We parked at St. Vincent’s Fishers Hospital and walked inside to the Visitors Waiting Area/Food Court entrance, which is where the expo was being held. It was raining at this point. Naturally. And we were supposed to be battling thunderstorms the following morning…but we were hoping that it would hold off.
On my way toward the back to pick up my bib, I heard someone say my name. I turned…and there was Jay…another Nuun Ambassador!! I love seeing familiar faces. We gave hugs and spoke for a moment, but then, I was back on track to pick up my bib number.
I was bib 24. I had to go to the very end. Why the low number? Because I was doing the offered 26.2 Half Marathon Challenge. What is this challenge? Well…the description said: Run another half marathon (or marathon!) in March, April, or May prior to Geist, and then complete the Geist Half Marathon on May 19th! I had done half marathons in March, April and May…so using Geist as the required last half marathon in the challenge was totally in my grasp. Why not? And it got me VIP Access post-race as well. It only cost $49 to throw my name into the challenge and that got me a 26.2 Half Marathon Challenge jacket, a special collector’s edition medal, the aforementioned VIP Access at Geist, and then two chances to win airfare, hotel and a free race entry to the March 2019 Publix Georgia Half Marathon in Atlanta. I’m pretty certain I didn’t win that…as I’ve never heard otherwise. Dang it. OH…the most exciting part of this was when I did go to pick up my race shirt, only to discover it is a tech material hoodie. I LOVE HOODIES!! Day…made.
Since the expo is really small, we had walked through it on the way to get everything…so we left right after getting the hoodie. Still raining. We were off to the hotel for the night, just a short drive up the road…the Holiday Inn Express Nobelsville.
Check-in went smooth. Cathy unloaded the car while I got the key. Cathy spotted the free coffee and said when she brought the luggage cart back down she’d check for decaf coffee (her favorite nightly tradition). We unpacked the cart and she went to scope stuff out while I turned on the traditional Food Network for some Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives viewing while we relaxed and I foam rolled. I laid out my intended race clothes (the humidity was going to be stupid the following morning) and then…lights out.
Race morning dawns…and while I’m changing in the bathroom, Cathy turns on the weather. When I came out, she said, “The weather looks SO much better this morning.” She wasn’t wrong. The rain was now going to hold off until later in the morning. If I ran well…I could beat it in. That being said…the caveat was still that it was going to be 97% humidity during the race. That was going to be a sweat-fest for sure.
The Geist Half Marathon has a 7 am start time. That’s early. But I was grateful for it due to the humidity. We packed up our stuff to head out and noticed that the complimentary breakfast was open slightly early. It’s usually open at 6, but they opened up early for the runners. That was awesome. Kudos to the hotel. Cathy grabbed a light breakfast and I snagged a banana. She ate. And then…we got into the car and made it to the school where we always park the car and walk to the start line.
I was able to snag a 10 minute power nap…which just consisted of me closing my eyes. No real sleep actually happened. But then…I knew the walk to the start needed to happen. So, I got out of the car, tossed on my NYC Half Marathon jacket (in case the morning air was chilly) and we began the one mile hike down to the start line area. On the way, my NYC Half Marathon jacket was spotted by a nice guy (and super fast) runner named Tim. I know a lot of fast runners named Tim. We talked the entire walk and wished each other luck as we both went to find spots for the start. There was still a little bit of time ahead of that, so Cathy got a photo of me, still in the NYC Half Marathon jacket with the start line. Then…I handed it off to her and went to go stand and stretch in the corral. And lo and behold…I ran into a familiar face once again…JAY!! It was good to have someone to talk to and chat with at the start line. Normally I’m good making friends but here…built in friend! Love it.
We wished each other luck and then…the start of the 5K, 10K, and Half Marathon started all at once. And, with a wave to Cathy just past the start line…I took off at a comfortably hard pace.
My training plan wanted me to do this race in over 2 hours. I. HATE. THIS. ABOUT. MY. TRAINING. PLAN. Needless to say, I tossed that plan out the window that morning, because I was now playing “Beat the Thunderstorms.”
The air was incredibly thick with humidity that morning. Like…breathing through a wet towel kind of humid. So, before I even made the first turn after Mile 1, my pigtails were already damp and I could feel the sweat on my skin. This is not a PR course as it is (never mind the fact that this race holds my my PR half marathon time), but it was also not PR weather. Water stops were happening immediately for some. I carry my own fuel/water/electrolytes, regardless, so I only stop if it gets unbearable.
Here is what I love about this race. It’s beautiful. You get to run through the gorgeous neighborhoods in Fishers, Indiana near the Geist Reservoir. The 5K goes along a different course, but the 10K and Half Marathon runners are together for the first 3 miles of the race. It’s after we duck out of a neighborhood and turn onto Fall Creek Road that we get to take our first pass over the Geist Reservoir bridge. The 10K peels off to the left to go to the turnaround point, while the Half Marathon runners stay to the right and keep on pressing forward. It’s back into the neighborhoods and around part of a round-about. And around Mile 5, I remember high-fiving some children at the bottom of a driveway. It was fantastic. I was having a blast. There is something to be said, when you know your speed is down, but you can’t stop having a good time. That’s what this race does for me EVERY. TIME.
The halfway point came and I went ahead and took the HoneyStinger gel (everything new on race day! I had never tried these before) that I had randomly at home. I was out of my normal Hammer gels…so why not try it. I felt an immediate surge of energy, and I actually did pick it up. In the humidity though, it was short-lived. There were, thankfully plenty of water stations along the course and even some sprinklers/cooling stations that could mist water over you. LOVE. So, my pace didn’t start failing me as soon as it did at the Indy Mini…but this was where I did start slowing down, heading into Mile 9. And Mile 9 happens right at the base of a large hill. There were some women out there who were just amazing…very encouraging to the runners and just cheering them up the hill. Some people walked. I did last year, but my legs feel strong…just slow. I pressed up the hill. From about Mile 7-11, I was pretty much following a very strong woman who was just very steady in her pace. Rabbit, rabbit. I passed her, just after we crossed back over the Geist Reservoir and ran the last 3 miles of the course backwards back to the finish line/start line. At this point, if there was water, I was snagging it or running through it. I was pouring it over my head, knowing that in order to keep running and going, keeping cool was going to be key.
I knew I was running smart, but I was also trying to pick it up. I never once glanced at my watch to check my pace, because, honestly, I didn’t care. I felt better than I did at the Indy Mini…so there is that. The final mile is straight down the road, and when you hear the crowd and see that finish line…it’s just amazing. I did manage to pick my pace up for a strong finish. I crossed the finish line…arms barely capable of going up over my head…but I was done.
The 10K race bibs were silver and the Half Marathon bibs were gold…but since I was doing the 26.2 Half Marathon Challenge…my bib was silver with a low number. The woman who was going to give me a medal went to hang a 10K medal on my neck and I stopped her and said, “No…no…I did the half.” She was very apologetic, remarking that she thought all the half bibs were gold. So…volunteers were apparently unaware of the challenge bibs being a different color. It was quickly fixed and the GIANT Geist Half Marathon medal found it’s way around my neck. Then, the woman I had been chasing for most of the race came up behind me and we congratulated each other, thanked each other for the push, and fist-bumped. LOVE the running community.
Cathy met up with me and we decided to head toward the after party area. We had time and the storms were holding off. On the way there, we ran into Tim again. He had a good race even in the humidity…so that’s fantastic. We high-fived and I went to head to the VIP area to get my additional medal and jacket (the medal is plexiglass and the jacket is sort of like a cheap wind-breaker/rain jacket…but it works!)…and then I went to get a massage. Apparently, I am a WRECK. I should really look into massages post and pre race because there were so many spots on my neck and shoulders and back that this poor massage therapist had to really work to get the tension/knots to release. I’ve always been told I’m a train wreck anytime I get a massage. They aren’t lying.
After I had my massage, I put my VIP Access to good use. I went over to the Oliver Winery booth and got a Mimosa to enjoy. I don’t drink much or often, but this was nice and Oliver wine is one of my favorites. It’s SO good. And I snagged the free beer for Cathy. We sat at a table, enjoying not moving for a moment…drinking before 9:30 am. It was great. There was a guy who was dancing…the entire time there. It was amazing. People would join him, he’d get people to join him. The music was wonderful. I was able to eat some fruit…it was good. It was definitely worth getting the VIP Access for this race. I really recommend it for anyone who has thought about doing this race or perhaps have passed on doing VIP in the past. I thought this was worth it. No disappointment here.
After a little while, we knew that if I was going to catch a shower before meeting up with our friend Greg for lunch that afternoon…we needed to get back to the hotel. We headed out to make the mile walk to the car. I called my mom during the walk to let her know how I did and we just chatted the entire way to the car. Back at the hotel, Cathy went to fetch me coffee and a luggage cart while I showered. She packed and got everything ready…and I had time to sit and use my foam roller while drinking coffee before we actually needed to check out and head on our way.
It was nice to have time to relax and just…savor everything from the morning. I was still smiling. This is my slowest half marathon of the 2018 season thus far…and yet…I think this was the one where I had the most fun. I enjoyed every…humid…step.
We were heading to Hops & Fire to eat lunch with Greg. I got the exact same thing I got when I went here after the Indy Mini…the Vegan and Gluten Free Caprese Sandwich with Fries. And we all split an order of the Gluten Free Onion Rings. And then we hit up Half Price Books and a Comic Book Store before needing to hit the road to get home, unwind, give me time to stretch and then head out to the Louisville City FC soccer match that night back in Louisville. Busy day. But a full day. And a day full of smiles.
So, my official results of the Geist Half Marathon is that I finished in 1:45:28. I’ll take it. I thought I was having a better race than the Indy Mini…but I think the humidity got me more here, even if it happened later on in the race. Or my endurance has just gone to crap at the moment. Or a combination of the two. Who knows? That being said, I was 87/869 finishers overall! Top 100 this year. Also…this was half the finishers of number when I ran it 2 years ago. I hope the chance of storms just kept people away because this is honestly a great race. I was the 17/420 women to cross the finish line. And I was 5/74 people in the my age division! Inching closer to an age group award. In 2014, I was 4th. In 2016, I was 6th. This time I was 5th. One day…one day it will be my time!
Can’t wait to return next year!