Race: Indy Half Marathon at Fort Ben
Place: Indianapolis, Indiana
Date: October 5, 2019
Friends…I am 21 SECONDS away from matching my half marathon PR (which I set at the Geist Half Marathon in 2014). That’s…that’s ONE HILL. Do you know how thrilled I am to see this time? To know that I’m 22 seconds away from a new PR (hey, a 1 second PR is still a PR)?! I am ecstatic!!
And shocked. This is my second fastest half marathon to date. It’s been over 3 years since I even came close to my PR.
This is HUGE!
I apologize right now for all the bold, italics, caps lock, and exclamation point abuse!
Let’s take the deep dive into this race, shall we?
This story starts…on Friday. Friday’s are complete rest days for me. I hadn’t been sleeping well this past week, which sucked, but my sleep was a bit better Thursday night into Friday morning. Not great…but better. I got up, showered, finished packing, and started to prep my overnight oats (I’ve been eating these prior to long runs all summer, so why stop now?) to take with me to Indianapolis for race morning. I put those in the fridge, finished getting ready for work, and went into the office for 6 hours. Arrangements had been made to leave at 2:30 pm, head to Dragon King’s Daughter (because my magic sushi had to happen prior to a race for sure and I had a cooler in the car to keep it through the drive), and hit the road. We were about 30 minutes away when I realized I had left my prepped overnight oats in the fridge at work. UGH! So, Cathy and I said we’d find a grocery store to find something comparable when we got to Indy.
The drive was uneventful. We listened to Meb Keflezighi on the Ali on the Run podcast for most of the drive. Great listen, by the way. It’s part of the “You Can Run a Marathon” series that she put together. It was a funny, inspiring listen and it got us pretty much all the way into the greater Indianapolis area. We rolled into our hotel, checked in, dropped stuff…I put sushi into the fridge in the room…and we headed out to hit up the race expo.
The expo itself was small (probably good from a financial standpoint), but very well organized. Finding packet pickup was easy and I quickly was able to retrieve both my packet (bib and quarter zip) and my friend Kelly’s (she couldn’t get off work early and was going to drive up in the morning) packet for the half marathon. Cathy went and got her 5K packet before we stepped into the small merchandise area. She bought me a hoodie from the race. YAY. And that was all we did. We left to head to the Fresh Thyme (for some pre-made overnight oats, cashew butter, and waters) and then Noodles & Co. (because Cathy needed a night before the race fuel too), before heading back to the room to eat while watching, what else?, the traditional Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives.
Cathy went to shower after we polished off our respective dinners, and I got down to stretching and foam rolling. Lights out was just before 9 pm. And, my newfound insomnia kicked in again. WEEEE! I tossed and turned and tossed and turned and didn’t get much sleep…yet again. UGH! That sucked. I switched off the first alarm I set because I was able to get up and not have to wake up anyone else because…I WAS ALREADY AWAKE. I got back into bed for another 45 minutes, but no rest was coming. Apparently I was going to run on fumes. YAY.
The temperature outside on race morning was a brisk 47 degrees. This was really the first morning of cold weather any of us were experiencing. I decided to race in the outfit I wore in the Glass City Marathon, and would likely be wearing again at Monumental. Arm warmers and everything. Cathy had a bit more of a dilemma…because 40s are hard to dress for. Sleeves are good, but sometimes you warm up fast. Short sleeves might not be enough. She opted for sleeves. We ate some breakfast (she brought oatmeal from home), finished getting ready, and then headed out the door to drive up to the giant parking lot prior to the half marathon and 5K.
Kelly was there bright and early, so when we parked she made her way to the car while Cathy got out the trash bags she brought for extra warmth. I handed off the packet and zip to Kelly, who was excited she was actually getting one of the jackets, before she went to drop it in the vehicle. She was just in shorts and a tank (calling herself a human furnace)…and I was cold just looking at her. HA! She returned to the car and the three of us made our way over to the staging area near the start line. There were some nice fires going, and we tucked in to attempt to stay warm. Cathy went to drop her bag at Bag Drop, and we were just killing time now. I did drink my Maurten 160 Drink Mix 30 minutes prior to the start, per the usual.
As the start of the race neared, we did meander over toward the start corrals, where we met up with Elizabeth (another member of the MRTT/SRTT Southern Indiana Chapter), took some pictures, and then wished each other luck. I was in Corral B, Elizabeth in C, Kelly in D…and Cathy was in the 5K corrals, so she was able to at least take some photos, video, and cheer at the start of the half.
The 1:40 pacers were in my corral and lined up near me. I was to run this one at MARATHON PACE, so I wasn’t paying any attention to that. It was a cool, crisp morning, and after the elites and first corral were sent off…we were moved up. Cathy actually got a nice video of me starting, though she didn’t realize it at the time. In fact, she was waiting for the corral after that. Oh well. That’s what happens sometimes.
The 1:40 pacers were fantastic, especially Troy, as he gave a lot of helpful advice to those who were running with him as we started out. And it was a good reminder that we still had a long road ahead. The first part of the race was a slight downhill…so I let gravity work it’s magic there. We were off, and I was feeling surprisingly good.
The first two miles of this race were a nice, relaxed, gentle downhill. My legs were feeling rested and good and they were on the move. Mile 1 rolled by quickly, and as we hit Mile 2, we were already inside the Fort Harrison State Park. It was as we headed into Mile 3 that we hit the first monster hill in the race. It’s funny, when you look at my splits you can see the 2 giant hills that you have to tackle in this run. But this one was early and my legs were fresh with some bounce. And I just bounded up it and kept going.
The next few miles were rolling hills and flats. And they were enough to just sort of keep your legs guessing and feeling good. The volunteers at the water stops were phenomenal, cheering loudly for the runners as they came through the aid stations, and just being really encouraging. I was still feeling good as I hit the 10K mark, knowing that I was ahead of my marathon pace, and hearing my mind tell me that if I slowed down, it was okay. But I wasn’t going to make myself slow down. We had perfect race conditions and I was rolling. I took out one of the Maurten 100 Gels (the new one with some caffeine) and managed to take it without slowing down much. There were no trash cans, so I held onto the wrapper until I spotted one, about a mile later.
We were routed into a little round about of a parking lot, looped and came back out on the other side. Just after Mile 7, we crossed a grassy path and onto a bike path (the Harrison Trace Trail) for the back half of the run. While this was a bike path, it never doubled back on itself, so it didn’t feel crowded or cluttered. In fact, I felt like I had plenty of room to stretch my legs and push myself.
Just after Mile 8, we hit a HUGE downhill. I love downhills, but I wasn’t expecting the drop that this one had. Luckily, downhill is my favorite speed and I adjust very well to it. My footing found itself and I easily rolled back into my pace. It was just after this point that I removed my gloves and tucked them into my hydration pack. It was starting to warm up, and every time I thought I could take off the arm warmers, a cold wind would sweep up, and I’d keep them off.
After Mile 10, where I took another (non-caffeinated) Maurten Gel 100, we hit the largest hill on the course. It was one of those that starts up, levels off, then continues to go up. This was my slowest split of the entire race. It felt good to get to the top, but now my legs were definitely feeling the fatigue of the speed of the race. Just after Mile 11, we ducked back across that grassy path and onto the road, heading back toward start of the race (also the finish, obviously).
It was at Mile 12 that the 1:40 pace group caught up to me. And this entire time, in my head, I am reminding myself that I’m not running for a PR…I’m running Marathon Pace. I knew I was way ahead of that, but I still felt good, despite that late, monster hill. I ran right with them as Troy told his runners to skip the final water stop and keep rolling. As we got halfway through the mile, Troy started to talk runners in…take some deep breaths. He said they were easing back on pace, so as not to blow people out so close to the end (they were just slightly ahead of the time on his back)…and I kept going. And I picked it up a little as I started to make the final turns to head toward that finish line. I felt amazing. And I crossed, still feeling good. I stopped my Garmin, collected my medal, and then finally pulled the wrist band away from the watch face to look at my time. And I about died.
It was my second fastest half marathon since I started running half marathons. My two top times are on hilly courses. How about that? I mean, I hate hills. Cathy came over and she was all, “YOU KILLED IT!” And I did. I killed it DEAD. And I still felt good (which was also good because I had another 13 miles to run the following day with more speed thrown in).
We decided to go and check out the cookout that the race offered, ducking in. There wasn’t really anything for me (food allergy queen), but Cathy snagged a piece of Jockamo’s pizza and a cookie. She went and purchased a beer and got me a local kombucha (which…was delicious!!). She ate and we went to go walk around, but had to stay in the little (and it was little) picnic area (we weren’t sitting in the tent) with our drinks (even though mine was NOT alcoholic). So, she chugged her beer and I drank what I could of my kombucha but I was fresh off a fast half marathon and chugging something didn’t sound appetizing…and I was freezing…so I didn’t want to stand there any longer.
We made one more pass through the official merchandise…and I was tempted to get the finisher’s shirt with the names on the back (mine was on there)…but ultimately walked away from it. I was happy with the hoodie that Cathy got me (she had to buy it as it said “Finisher” on it). We made the drive back to the hotel where I took a shower and dried my hair while she packed up everything. We headed to Carmel, Indiana (a short drive) to catch lunch at Woody’s Library Restaurant (where I got the Mushroom & Spinach Tacos with a side of the Cajun Dusted Tater Tots). Then, we headed over to the Indiana State Fair Grounds because…Half Price Books was having a BIG clearance sale, where all books were $2 or less. Amazing.
We left after a couple of hours and a lot of texting with my dad. Road work delayed our return to the Louisville area, but we finally made it home. Still without groceries. I ended up making popcorn for dinner and then heading to bed. And not sleeping well again.
My experience at the Indy Half Marathon at Fort Ben was amazing. I can’t wait to run it again next year. Hopefully more of my friends can join me!! It was definitely much better running weather than what the large group of over 100 MRTT/SRTT ladies dealt with at the Indianapolis Women’s Half Marathon had the week before. Kind of glad I opted for this one.
My official results of the Indy Half Marathon at Fort Ben are that I finished in 1:39:13, which, as I previously mentioned, was a mere hill, or basically 21 seconds off of my PR time from 2014). This race proved something very important to me…that I can still push the pace for 13.1 miles. With all the times I have doubted my body, my ability, and mentally let myself check out, I felt strong and capable this entire race…even the two hills that messed up my fast splits. HA! I was 156/1726 finishers overall. I was 24/851 female finishers. And I was 6/138 in my age division. Guys, my age division is SUPER competitive…always. This race was no different. But this rank…is beyond what I thought I could accomplish here. If you need a fall half marathon on your radar…put the Indy Half Marathon at Fort Ben on your radar!