I had Friday off work for my birthday holiday so I was able to relax that morning (somewhat - I mean, errands and housework are always on the agenda when I'm off work). But Matt also was able to take 1/2 day from work ... so we went to early voting and then loaded up the car to head to Indianapolis.
This is the first time we've stayed at a hotel as opposed to at my parents' house. It was Matt's idea since this would be my first marathon and we wouldn't have to worry about traffic and parking getting to the start line. I made the reservation MONTHS ago and many of the hotels were already sold out ... the closest one I could find that was still downtown was The Columbia Club - very nice and very historic but very weird ... for being sold out that evening, we never saw another guest. We saw "club members" but no one in the hallways and never heard anyone on our floor. Very eerie. But I did like that we could park the car overnight and just walk to the expo then to supper, then to the start line that next morning.
Room with a view - 9th floor overlooking Monument Circle (and what was the start of the Indy Women's Half)
Race Gear and Packet Pick-up -
The bigger races seem to have all switched over to Virtual Swag Bags so the bag basically had just the tech shirt (BLUE for the marathon!) and a few announcements about upcoming races. The expo was nice though. I had hoped we'd have more time to go through all the booths but we were getting hungry and it was getting late. Pretty much the only thing we bought were more Sport Bean packs, since that's what Matt fuels with. I'm glad we bought several because I ended up using them as well. I had done my long training runs with the Carb Boom! Energy gels that would also be provided along the race -- but I had no way to carry them. I seriously needed a backpack for everything I was lugging. My phone - for RunKeeper and text-support (if needed). My interval timer (on a wrist-strap that I wore around my palm instead. My FitBit (just because). And a Nathan belt to hold my gels or beans. It ended up being too small for the 6 gels I planned to take so I had to pack in the beans.
Race morning -
Couldn't sleep well (as usual). Finally got up at 5:30 -- race start was at 8 but we were meeting friends at 7:00 at our regular spot ... the port-a-potties. One mistake I made was not eating breakfast -- the hotel didn't have a breakfast line and I didn't want to order a spread via room-service and then not be able to eat. Ended up eating a PowerBar ... and drinking a big bottle of Gatorade. I guess that was it. And then the dilemma of what to wear when it's 37 degrees at race start but would be 60 degrees by the time I finished. At least it wasn't raining. I decided to go with a long-sleeve tech shirt plus a long-sleeve thin pullover. I probably could have done without the pullover but the wind was persnickety and I was glad to have it when we were still waiting to start.
We've registered for the Monumental with them each year - Ted is a seeded runner for the half (note the green sticker on his bib), Johanna was running the full with me, and Matt was aiming to PR his half. Ted ran with their 12 year old son, who was running his 1st half ... and Jonah ended up CRUSHING it to win 4th in his age group!
According to the Marathoning for Mortals book, it was HIGHLY recommended to go straight to the port-a-potty line as soon as we got to the race, then get back in line as soon as we were done until it was race time. So that's what I did, or planned to do. While I was in line the 1st time, everyone started showing up ... so when we got in line the 2nd time, it was so incredibly long. Because it was so long, I never got to meet up with Katie from Ice Cream to Marathon, but I was sending good vibes to her on her 26th half marathon and race goal!
The Start -
My friend asked if she could run with me -- she runs the entire race though so we were just going to stick together until my first walk break. We tried to line up in the 5:30 corral but somehow ended up in the 6:30 corral, just a few rows in front of the SAG wagon! Actually, I'm glad we were back there because it did wonders for my morale to continually pass other people. Sorry, not sorry. :) And because it was so crowded on the roads the first mile or so, I skipped my first two walk breaks and ran with Johanna for the first 1 1/2 mile. I was feeling pretty good but I knew I still had a LONG way to go and needed to get started with my intervals.
The Route -
It changed just a little bit due to road construction - but that just meant we were on Monument Circle for two quadrants instead of just one, so that was nice. The volunteer support is amazing on this race - and they put your name on the bib so every time I was at a water stop, I'd hear "Way to go, Elizabeth!" All the night before and that morning, I was nervous without knowing why - it was a weird feeling. I knew I was planning to run a marathon but it really hadn't hit me ... until the half/full split at mile 7.5. Half runners go to the left, Full runners straight ahead. I crossed that mark and teared up ... and wanted to turn around so badly. But I powered on through. Got to run through so many parts of the city that I've only driven through (Broad Ripple, Museum of Art, past the Governor's Mansion) or had never been on before. And also recognized a portion from the Indy Women's Half I ran in September. I didn't really think of anything during my run - just put one foot in front of the other. Music would have distracted me, I guess. But I wanted to be in the moment, not in a song - if that makes sense.
Seriously, I love the intervals. I stuck with 5 minute run then 1 minute walk. Around miles 20-24, I started walking after 4:30 minutes with a 1:30 walk and that helped immensely, but when we got back on the Meridian Street straightaway, I went back to the 5 minutes till the end. I was completely surprised at the number of people who were walking - I guess they had hit the wall at that point. I'm not sure but I didn't know if I should be encouraging as I went past or what. I know I hit my wall at mile 20 -- which was why I increased the walking breaks. As I finished one running interval, I heard my name from behind and it was Johanna! Apparently I had passed her but didn't realize it. I had hoped to be able to stop at a port-a-potty during one of the walk breaks ... ended up being stuck in line for almost a full 5 minutes ... and the very next port-a-potty stop had NO ONE in line. Grrr ...
The Finish -
With my phone on my arm, I didn't check the time, my pace, or anything ... though the constant buzzing from texts coming in gave me a boost and I couldn't wait to finish to read them! :) But I knew once I hit Meridian St, I was coming up on the end. Thank goodness I was wearing my sunglasses because I started doing some ugly crying on New York Street -- but was pretty much too tired to do more than a few seconds. Plus, it was between buildings so no sun, therefore no spectators since it was cool/breezy on that street. From New York, we turned back onto Capitol where the start line was and there was Matt and just about three blocks to go. Again, yay for the intervals because after 26 miles, I was still able to speed up towards the end and boom - I am a Marathoner!
After the Finish -
Well, since I really just wanted to finish uninjured (did it!), I didn't want to focus on a time goal for my first time. And since three days later, I'm still feeling really good about the whole experience, it looks like I'm going to register for my second marathon with a time to beat of 5:15:27!
A bottle of chocolate milk later and I made the mistake of sitting down on the curb. FYI - don't run 26.2 miles and then sit down on the curb. Just don't.
Considering we don't buy cow's milk at home, this was a creamy treat after the race.
And when you find out you know the lady handing out the milk to the finishers and she gives you two bottles?
The angels were singing ...
But I made it! I set a goal, I stuck to a plan (mostly), and I did it! yay!