Race: Geist Half Marathon
Place: Fishers, Indiana
Date: May 19, 2018
Time got away from me on this race recap as we are almost one month removed from it. My apologies. Marathon training is back in full swing (again)…and I’ve just been busy. Even on weeks that haven’t had a stacked training plan. Hey…I do have an actual job (if I could make a living is a blogger…that would be amazing, but it’s not my destiny) and some obligations that happened between then and now. But…here I am…finally getting this written up.
I will preface it with this…going into this race, being only weeks off of a full-on marathon where I attempted (and almost hit) a BQ race, my coach and I agreed to use this one as a training run. No pushing the pace. Keep it easy. And with the humidity and weather trending the way it was for Saturday morning, I was relieved that this was our decision. But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself…
Let’s start on Friday evening, after leaving work around 2-ish to head up to Fishers, Indiana to get to the expo and pick up race bibs. I say bibs, because once again, Cathy was taking a spin at the 5K. We did hit some traffic jams, of course, but we finally arrived and I was ready to get my race stuff and do a quick walk through of the expo (it’s tiny…honestly) before checking into the hotel just up the way.
The expo was simple to explore. You can do the first part of it as you enter St. Vincent’s Fishers Hospital. There are a few vendors, but nothing that I, someone from out of town, really needed to stop and check out. So, Cathy and I maneuvered ourselves to the back of the room to the table set up for packet pickup. I went to get my bib for the half, and Cathy went to get her special VIP bib for the 5K. We don’t remember her signing up for VIP…but she had VIP. So…who knows. After that, we checked out the second half of the expo, simply walking past the booths, heading to the room near where we entered to pick up our race shirts. The 5K was short sleeve. The 10K was short sleeve. The half marathon…long sleeve. It’s an April race…if it’s not the really cool hoodie thing that I got last year…I want short sleeves. But, the shirt was very nice…so I won’t complain.
That was it for the expo. We were in and out in about 5 minutes and heading up the street to the hotel we stayed in last year. Check-in took a bit longer than usual, because someone was checking in bunch of different people in different rooms (not sure for what, but it wasn’t for the race). But eventually I got up to the front desk and got our room, up on the 2nd floor. We hauled our luggage up to the room and now were waiting on our friend, Greg, to meet up with us so we could grab dinner at Woody’s Library Restaurant (my new favorite place to grab food when in Indy). It was taking a bit longer than expected because…traffic…so Cathy and I split a Clara Cookie that I had picked up at the Glass City Marathon expo in Toledo. It was the Peanut Butter one. And it was delicious. And it was perfect to keep the tummy rumbles at bay while we waited for Greg.
He did finally make it and we headed down to see him, somehow missing him when we walked through the lobby. We ended up doubling back and finding him. Hugs all around before making the drive from Fishers to Carmel, Indiana to eat dinner. We ended up finding a really good parking spot and were seated immediately at a corner table.
I had looked at menus online, so I was prepared and ready to go with my order. Greg got the Triple Grilled Cheese and a beer. Cathy got the Friday special of Fish & Chips (her favorite), and I got Spinach Mushroom Tacos. I didn’t ask for extras or for hot sauce, because with the race the following morning, I was hoping to keep things mild. With it, I got a side of the sweet potato fries (which are gluten free!). We spent the time waiting on the food (it did actually take awhile, but they were PACKED that night) chatting and catching up on things that we had been up to. And when food arrived, we dove in. Tacos, however, are one of those foods that once you pick it up to eat…you’re committed and you just have to keep going on it. So the tacos disappeared first…then I hit up the fries. We all seemed pretty satisfied with our meals. Afterwards, we went back to the hotel to hang out. I did some foam rolling. Greg left after a bit more talking and we got ready to get some rest with a 7 am start time staring us down.
I always set two alarms for race morning. I got up with the first one to take a pill…use the bathroom, then crawled back into bed for another hour. The second alarm went off, which is also Cathy’s alarm. We’re actually really good about staying out of each other’s way…letting each one have a turn in the bathroom, and getting ready pretty quickly. We have this race morning thing down. So even early start times aren’t too stressful.
With the way the morning was heating up already, I went with the new Boston crop top that my friend Natalie got me as a gift for finishing Glass City in Toledo (even without the BQ). I love this crop. It’s motivation in and of itself. And…shorts. My compression sleeves were pink to honor my mom’s continuing battle against breast cancer. I made sure I had two Nuun tablets in my hydration pack’s bladder to help balance out electrolytes, because it was definitely going to be a sweaty race.
We left the hotel room early, but I forgot to grab something and had to go back in. Cathy went down to the lobby without me, where she met a runner celebrating her birthday. Her name was Katie, and not only was she a Disney runner, but she was Bib 34, celebrating her 34th birthday. AMAZING!! She was super nice and I actually ended up running into her again as she and her family were headed to the hotel pool as I was heading up for a shower and to pack up to head out for lunch and then get home.
Cathy loves parking at the school which used to host the expo for this race. We never have trouble finding a spot. And while it is a bit of a hike down to the start line, it is never hard to get to and from the parking area so we can get back to the hotel without any stress. So…worth it. We parked and made the walk toward the start area. I got a text from my friend Jay, and I went and met him at the Fishers Running Club tent. But, like I said…start time was 7 am….so while their club was getting their photo taken, I meandered down to check out the start line. It was about this time that I realized that I had left my fuel (save for the Generation UCan I had for 20 minutes before the start) back in the hotel room. I had enough UCan to get me through a half marathon…but with the heat, I wasn’t sure if I would need backup or not. So, I was bummed. Big time! Whoops!
The 10K and Half Marathon start on the right of the line. The 5K starts to the left. So, after snapping a couple of photos, Cathy and I parted ways: she went to line up in the 5K corrals and I went to find a spot at the start for someone who wasn’t racing. I was hoping for at least a 1:50 half…so I stood near that pacer. The National Anthem was sung…and the lyrics were flubbed, but we were close now to the start. I took in some water and readied myself for a training run with a medal at the end.
I made a point to stay just in front of the 1:50 pacer in the first mile. There were a lot of people going all-out, full throttle from the start, and I really think this worked against them that morning. The emcee announced that it was the hottest Geist Half Marathon to date!! So, holding back I think helped me not have burnout, like I did last year when I just gunned it at the start and then ended up having walk breaks at water stops. I don’t think walk stops are a bad thing, but when you’re gunning for a PR…it’s not exactly something you usually incorporate.
This year…I was supposed to keep the pace easy…and treat this as a training run. Mostly because I was fresh off a marathon. In the end, this tactic seemed to work for me. I never really felt awful at all. And I was able to run the entire time. Was it my slowest Geist Half Marathon to date? You better believe it! Am I okay with that? You better believe it.
I continue to come back to Geist, despite the heat and hills (dear, God, are there ever hills!), because of the atmosphere. It’s stunning. The race runs you through gorgeous neighborhoods, starting at the corner you turn soon after hitting Mile 1. The people who live there come out with speakers and with treats and with sprinklers and with sidewalk chalk and cheer and encourage. And it just makes you feel good. You belong there. The 10K and Half Marathon stick together for about the first 3 miles. Just before that Mile 3 marker, 10K runners are instructed to go left, while Half Marathoners are told to keep going straight. This year, I was running near a young man who had his headphones in, wearing a 10K shirt and bib…and didn’t hear the instructions. So, it seemed he was getting himself into more than he was ready for. He was yelled at by volunteers at least 5 times. THIS IS WHY YOU SHOULD NOT WEAR HEADPHONES IN A RACE. Or, if you must, keep that volume at a reasonable level, okay?
This is the point where we cross the reservoir again (we do it the first time as we head out from the start). I love this part because it’s gorgeous, but also because there is usually a nice breeze coming off the water. Love it.
The halfway point came and went. I would normally fuel at this point…but I was just relying on that superstartch to get me through the heat. I still felt good, mostly because I wasn’t really pushing any sort of pace…wanting to just keep my momentum moving forward without stressing over a goal time. There were plenty of water stops along the way, and some cooling stations as well. If there was water being sprayed at any point, you better believe I was running through it. I used the water stops to grab the cups of water and pour them over my head. Every stop. Without fail. Trying to keep that core temperature down. This worked. Honestly.
From everything to remember on this course, I always remember that Mile 9 is a giant hill that we have to run up. I passed a few people on this, who had shuffled to the side to walk up it. I gave a couple of people a “nice job” as I jogged my way up. Hills are a MAJOR struggle for me. So why do I do this race? It’s my PR race. On a harder course. So…one day, maybe it will all click again. It wasn’t that day though. Nope. Not that day. Not in that heat. At the bottom of the hill, we make a turn to head back toward the bridge to go back over the reservoir and then back into the neighborhoods and then back to the finish line. It was at this point, a man behind me said, “Are there any more hills?” The volunteer stationed there said, “I don’t know…maybe little ones?” I laughed. Out loud. The last 3 miles are basically retracing the start of the race. People were still out cheering, offering orange slices, water, whatever runners might need. More importantly were those who would shout out that you were getting close…that the finish line wasn’t far…that we looked strong. Some people who were struggling, they would ask if they needed anything. Honestly. THE BEST.
As I was making the turn at Mile 12, I passed my friend Jay. He told me I “looked strong” and I decided to give picking up the pace a shot. The road to the finish line always seems long, but as you get close, you get the crowd and you get the announcer. I passed a few people. Got passed by some people. But, ultimately, entered that chute and ran towards the finish line. I saw Cathy on the sideline and she started screaming at me to cheer me in. With hands held up…I finished the race. Another Geist Half Marathon in the books.
Cathy made her way over to the finishers area, and had me stand under the spray of a cooling station there. It was nice and felt really good. Jay found me as we were leaving to head up to the VIP area for Cathy to grab free beer and some snacks. He invited me to stop in at the Fishers Running Club tent for any sort of refreshment. I took him up on that before we went to get official results and let Cathy have one more go at the VIP area. I have videos on my cell phone of her first go-round in the VIP section. HA!
I went to get my results printed and after the paper was handed to me, I glanced at it and went, “Holy crap. Third in my age group!” For the first time…without trying or even racing…I once again placed in my age group. This was becoming a fun trend. I went to the awards table next door and was handed a little cinch bag with the words “Age Group Winner” on it. I always have use for bags…but this one would have to be on display. We then went back to the VIP section…Cathy went in for beer and fruit and I hung out on the curb near the gated off area. We chilled for a few minutes before deciding to head back to the hotel room so we could cycle through showers and head back to Carmel to grab lunch at…yep…Woody’s Library Restaurant again.
So, my official results of the Geist Half Marathon is that I finished in 1:49:06. It was my slowest Geist Half Marathon yet…but I felt good throughout it, never really fading. That’s a testament to Generation UCan if you ask me. So, I was 104/942 finishers overall! I was the 18/450 women to cross the finish line. And I was 3/87 people in the my age division! How ironic is it that I finally snagged an age group award on my slowest finish time for this race? In 2014 (my PR year), I was 4th. In 2016, I was 6th. In 2018, I was 5th. Nailed it. Somehow. Without trying.
And yes…I can’t wait to have another spin around the reservoir next year!