Monumental Lesson

When I signed up for the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon I thought I was in prime shape to qualify for Boston. That was back in June. Since then I’ve made two trips to China, the most recent trip lasting just over five weeks. I did run and exercise while in China, but nothing resembling a proper marathon training program. So at the start of the race yesterday my confidence level was not very high, but I felt good. In hind sight it might have been wise to just have a fun easy run, but as I told a friend if I didn’t at least try to do my best I would end up being disappointed in myself.

At the start of the race the temperature was around 30 degrees. After ditching my outer clothing at the Indy Runners tent I went for a short warm up run and then made my way to the starting corral. I was soaking in the sights and sounds. Thank you God, this is awesome. I wasn’t sure how to dress. I settled on shorts, long sleeve t-shirt, vest, hat, gloves. I also wound up wearing compression sleeves on my calves. Not only did they keep my calves warm, but today my calves feel good, well, good compared to some of my other muscles. The vest was nice because the pockets were great for storing gels and electrolyte capsules, but after a couple miles I was all warmed up and wishing I hadn’t worn it. The weather wound up being pretty darned awesome. The sun was shining and only a slight breeze.

The first half went pretty well, I did not make my usual mistake of starting out too fast. I eased into my pace over the first couple miles. Out of the almost nine thousand runners, I ran into Mike Smith and Mike Gossman. We ran and chatted for a little while, but I eventually started to pull away from them. Somewhere around mile 4 I passed the 3:40 pace group, probably a mistake, but with only 4 miles in the bag and at the relatively slow pace I was still feeling pretty good. I soon settled on the mantra of “left, right, all day”. That’s right, I can do this all day! Silly, yes, but whatever it takes to drown out the negative thoughts. Around mile 10 I saw Trail Boy, nice to see him out cheering the runners. He gave me a high five and asked how I felt. “Pretty good”. The adrenaline boost wouldn’t last very long. I hit the first half mark at 1:46:29. Respectable, but I would have to run the second half faster to qualify for Boston. I kept the pace to mile 14 but then began to fade. All the positive mental tricks won’t make up for a lack of training; however, they can keep you running when every muscle in your body is screaming stop already, why are you abusing us like this? I was determined to finish under 4 hours. So I kept running, “left, right, all day”. Somewhere around mile 21 the 3:40 pace group passed me. In mile 22 I finally had to stop at a port-o-pottie. At 10:29 that would end up being the only mile split to exceed 10 minutes. I kept running, only walking a little through the water stops. As the final miles ticked by some negative thoughts started to creep in. “You can walk a little and still easily beat 4 hours”. NO! I am not walking, not only am I going to beat 4 hours, I am going to beat 3:50. “Left, right, all day”. My finish time was 3:48:39. My third fastest marathon. Lesson learned, if you want to run fast you have to train properly, but the physical training is only part of the equation. If you want to perform to the best of you ability you have to be prepared mentally to deal with the pain and keep moving forward. I had always read about that mental stuff, but never seemed to be able make it work for me. I ran a lot of marathons and half marathons before I finally figured it out at the Sam Costa Half back in March.

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