Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Race report: Indy Monumental Half Marathon

We were getting ready for a team run when Kerry said "Dano, do you want to run the Indianapolis marathon with me in November?", so I said "sure!"
There's a funny sensation, once you finish an Ironman, that you can do anything. It's one of the great joys of completing the thing, I'm sure, the confidence and empowerment that comes with a long, long journey and crossing that line. Unfortunately, there is a certain element of "training" that goes into all these endurance events, which the body requires in order to be able to do them.... I finished IM after training long, and training smart - with careful build ups and lots of rest. So Indy - I had 5 weeks to go, and had been moving well since September, so I set up a mini-training plan where I'd build up quickly through 10, 14, 18 miles, then taper, then run! If each run worked, I'd go on to the next. On the 14 day, my legs said 'nope', so I made the switch to the half-marathon instead. No sweat.
Word got around, and by the time race day came there were six of us in two cars, making a road trip to Indy for a fun weekend. Coach Art had been training all year with the TNT teams, but hadn't had the chance to actually run a marathon all the while, and was looking to re-qualify for Boston. Coach Ronnie is gradually working his way toward marathons in all 50 states, and needed Indiana. Mike, I suspect, just loves to run and probably was looking for a weekend out of the house! Kerry had spent the last half year or so training for the San Francisco marathon, successfully finished it and didn't want to stop there, since she was trained! Maren, Kerry's roommate, also finished San Fran, but this time was happy to act as our #1 fan (are you ranking the "smartest" in the group?!)
Race day: this was a really interesting mental race for me. It wasn't a high priority - I was looking forward to it, but wasn't vigorously training, or visualizing, or really all into it. But when I got to the expo, I got to feeling the race-weekend vibes. I laid out my gear - not with the same worried meticulousness of a first-time half-marathoner like two years ago, but now with an organized feeling of a more seasoned runner. I was up most of the night, feeling calm, but turning over and over. Yep, race weekend! And race morning, we got up early, made our way in to town, and headed to the starting line! There were about 7,000 runners and we happened to queue up next to the six TNT'ers from the local Indy chapter! Great to meet them and talk with them about their training for Disney in January.
The gun went off and the field began slowly moving forward. Unbelievable day for November: clear blue sky and a high over 60 degrees, perfect for shorts and a T shirt. My plan was to run with Kerry, just like she had originally asked me to, but take the split to the half-marathon course after 10k. We had a great hour together, catching up and talking about racing and everything. We saw Maren a couple times going nuts on the sidelines, too. I tried to say some inspirational words to Kerry, at her request, before we split, and then she went off to do the hard work while I headed for home, a shower, and back to my training for my next A-race in February! It was a great run together, and we had held a comfortable 10-minute pace through 10k, clocking in at 1:02.
What happened next was an interesting mental game. I was solo, feeling fresh with 6.9 miles to go, and a half-marathon PR of 1:58 in my books. My mind was spinning.... that's 56 minutes left to go 7 miles. 56 / 7 = 8. I had been going 10. I can either just keep running normally and miss the PR, or try to run really fast and risk blowing up and missing the PR - but also risk breaking it. So I kicked up my knees and thought what the heck, let's try the second half at 10k race-pace and see if I can hang on! First mile, 8. Second mile, 8. Third mile, 8. This was no longer a leisurely run, but I told myself: pretend like you're finishing a full marathon! There was the thrill of running past everyone else, since I was cruising up from the 10-minute bunch. There was the 10-mile marker, where I knew I could keep up a 7:30 pace for 5k! And then there was the finish line, with a 1:55 and a new PR. Mike had finished just a couple minutes before, showing great prowess with the run-walk method.So I stretched out and showered off and headed back for the marathon finish. Art needed a 3:35:39 to qualify for Boston - and he brought it in at 3:35:32. Ronnie, who had been laying on the floor and barely able to move the day before because of a sore back, was about a minute behind Art, and being an age group older, also qualified for Boston! Kerry maintained pace the whole way and came in with a new PR of 4:31. Wow - it was success all around!
Afterward, Art showed us the way to a highly-recommended local deli called Shapiro's, where we replenished more than the number of calories burned in the ultimate human endurance test. Delicious!
Then we drove back to Madison; I stayed in Chicago to meet up with Jenn and some friends, and by now, everyone is pretty much back to normal and thinking about which one to do next!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Walk of shame / Run to glory

Happy Halloween!
7:30 on Sunday evening, and I'm sitting here in the standard-time darkness drinking the last pumpkin ale, having just eaten the last candy, and looking for the mood to write. The weather this weekend was super mild, and even warm, so I spent a lot of time on my feet putting the yard to bed. It's funny how each year you work on shutting things down, and you just keep working until it snows, then you're done. This year, it's been 60 and sunny, and I've practically finished everything. I may have shed a little tear as I sponge-bathed my now-1-year-old tri bike in the garage before taking it back to the trainer in the basement. Thanks, Chris, for that chilly but excellent ride Wednesday morning. It was one hell of a year out on the road.

Last night was Halloween, and I held down the fort handing out candy to neighborhood trick-or-treaters. I have gained a bit of a reputation for creatively lighting my house - this year I added a couple torches to my usual black-light setup. I used the classic standby Phantom costume by simply adding a mask to my tux.
Halloween is a huge night in Madison. Tens of thousands of people go downtown and party at "Freak Fest"; there are big name bands, the headliner starts at midnight. This weekend my lifestyle changes were especially apparent. I invited some of my runner-friends over to chill for a couple hours so that we'd be able to have a few Halloween festivities, but not have to go out so darn late to party! I was glad to be able to connect with a few people who understood... Lynn came over dressed as - yep, a marathon finisher. Very cool considering she just finished her first full marathon, so I know the feeling of secretly wanting to put on all the finisher's regalia again and go show it off!
This morning was sunny and quiet as I drove to church. The sight I saw crossing campus is common each week, but today stood out more to me. Here and there the proverbial "walk of shame" - evidenced on the morning after Halloween by, say, white fairy robes under a winter coat, or naughty-anything's fishnets and boots. Today there were also little groups of people carrying pillows, and while not in costume per se anymore, were certainly not wearing "normal" clothes. Maybe making their way back home for some legitimate rest. (I can't say I don't know exactly how that feels.)
And in the same hour, on the same sidewalk, there goes the same yellow '09 shirt that Lynn wore last night - Milwaukee marathon finisher. The runners are up to seize their days! The quiet stillness of the morning is theirs to enjoy because they dared to give up the party for the glory.
I'm not suggesting anyone's better than another, or that one lives their life more fully than the other, or even that the two are mutually exclusive. But the two next to each other were striking to me today, and felt affirming that I spent Halloween relating with early-rising runners. I like where I am now, I like the consistency of my energy levels, and while sometimes I wonder what I let go when I go to bed at a kid's bed time, I like getting stronger because I make rest a priority. We had a good time, and I don't need to spend the next three days getting back on schedule! Happy Halloween!