I just realized I never told you all how the Columbus Half went. Which should tell you all how busy the last three-ish weeks have been in the life of Allison.
The short ‘n sweet version is that I did PR in Columbus. After two years and seven halfs I finally got that 2:10 finish time. The day was perfect – cold and overcast – and it was made even better that I ran as a Children’s Champion fundraiser. I knew deep down I was going to PR, and according to the pace on my Garmin watch I was killing it. I’m still a little fuzzy over that.
I’m also still impressed there are runners – the elites, that is – who run shirtless or in shorts and bra tops. The start line was in the upper 20s with wind. My mom and I were both wrapped up in puffer coats and even those couldn’t help us.
But it was still a strong, happy run. Which brings me to this past weekend: The CNO Indianapolis Monumental Marathon. My fourth time running 26.2 and my second time running in Indy.
The day leading up to the race was way too much fun. My mom went with me, so I stopped by my parents’ house to drop off my car, load my stuff into Mom’s and hit the road. The Dayton commuter came out of Mom a few times, which is hilarious to listen to now since she pretty much never swore when I was a kid (in front of me, that is.) And I discovered that in spite of living in Indy for four years (college), I actually didn’t have as good of a grip on I-65 northbound. Our exit was a left exit we almost missed had my dainty-spoken driver not cut across three lanes of traffic in time.
We also learned that the red lights at one-way left turns in Indianapolis are suggestions. Still not sure what to make of that, but we’re both alive so I’m not going to overthink this too much.
My stepfather was gracious enough to let us use his room points to make a reservation at the JW Marriott downtown. You guys – this hotel is gorgeous.
We were put on the 17th floor facing the east, so we got a beautiful view of the Indiana State House, the Lucas Oil Stadium and Soldiers and Sailors Monument.
After getting checked in and my stuff from the expo, Mom and I weren’t hungry for our early dinner yet so we went to explore the Indiana State House, followed by the canal going through White River State Park.
I’m obsessed with Instagram and taking pictures – mainly landscape and cityscape – and kept stopping to take pictures of trees and water. Mom was starting to get hangry, and in a few pictures I can see the progression of her calling for me to quit taking pictures and get up there. “There’s trees in Ohio, stop taking all those pictures!”
The walk was fun, and right before Mom’s hanger got the best of her we sat down at TGI Fridays. I started off craving fettuccini alfredo but decided to get a chicken dish instead, which was filling without feeling heavy. We decided to split a Boozy Oreo Shake, which was made with Ciroc vanilla liquor, oreos, whipped cream, marshmallows and a graham cracker because why not. That was our drink dessert, and I can confirm it is possible to get tipsy off two jumbo marshmallows saturated with Ciroc.
10/10 would do it again.
Unbeknownst to us until 5:45 that night, President Trump was in town and apparently staying at the JW Marriott as well. The outside of the hotel was quiet and looked normal, but once we got in we saw the police and Secret Service all over. Mom whispered that we got checked in at a good time and was glad we decided not to carry purses to the restaurant after watching some families getting checked in having to unload everything from their and their kids’ suitcases.
The lady in front of us got her pizza searched. I kinda wish a Secret Service agent would have given it back to her with a bite taken from one slice. But alas, protecting the president is serious, so no mild shenanigans were to happen that night.
The next morning I got up to roll my legs out while Mom got herself ready to go. Our hotel was only a block or two away from the start and finish line, so we didn’t have to deal with traffic or the new roadblock that was put up in front of our hotel for the president’s stay.
I had high hopes that I would be able to finish the race in 4:20 or 4:30 based off how I ran in Columbus, which I told Mom about. She was optimistic I could PR but felt it would probably take me closer to five hours. Honestly, after the disappointment I had in April at Glass City – where I finished in 5:03:58 – I wanted Marathon #4 to be the race where I finally ran a sub-4. My goal is still 4:20, but I’m okay with it taking time to get there.
I just didn’t want that time to be five hours.
The sun came up and about 10 minutes after eight, my wave started to inch toward the start line. I said I final I love you to Mom – who was able to stand with me in the corral – and it was time to go.
I ran great during the first mile, but was a bit annoyed that my Garmin wasn’t reading my heart rate and starting when I did. Miles 1-3 are some of my favorite in Indy- the course leads runners to The Luke and north toward Monument Circle, which is a beautiful area. At Mile 3 I had a cramp kick in, so I had to walk-run some of it until the cramp passed through.
I felt great through Miles 4-7, which lead us through Mass Ave to Fall Creek Parkway, and found the best original race sign: “Worst Caravan Ever.” I didn’t remember Fall Creek having hills last year, so that was a bit of surprise leading to the Indiana State Fairgrounds.
Miles 10-12 are my favorite. Washington Blvd is an elegant residential area where the residents set up their own tables to give out candy and cupcakes. The Mile 12.5 Beer Table was back, which I find amusing as a non-drinker. But if a Dixie cup of Pabst Blue Ribbon is what does it for you then I am not one to judge.
The first 13.1 was good to me, and then as soon as I hit that halfway point I started to fall further behind. Focusing on the sights around me – an adult beverage aid station with Jello shots and mimosas, autumn colors – didn’t motivate me to go faster. My ears started popping like crazy – which was pretty weird in a flat area – and I just couldn’t mentally get back “into” the race.
I felt a little better during Mile 18 through the gardens at the Indianapolis Museum of Art and IMA grounds, but at Mile 19 on the White River trail I had to talk an extended walking break. The last 10k came up, which was damn hard.
That final 5k went on and on and on. Mile 23 seemed never-ending and I couldn’t figure out when Mile 24 turned to 25. The sun had come out, so I was starting to feel a little sun nauseous. During the 25th Mile I wondered if it was even worth trying to hustle. I was done completely, but I couldn’t let myself run a 5-hour race.
It was then two things happened. The first was that I saw the Monument Circle, which confirmed that I only had three more turns downtown to the finish line. I teared up when I saw it. The second was that I ran past the K-Love tent. One of my favorite songs from Christian band MercyMe is “Even If,” which is about having faith in God and His outcomes no matter what they are. There’s one lyric that gets me every time I hear it, and as though God Himself was telling me something, that was the lyric I heard blaring from the speakers.
God when you choose to leave mountains unmovable/Give me the strength to be able to sing/”It is well with my soul.”
I wasn’t ready to just walk and let that mountain defeat me after putting in all that work. So I pushed myself. The calf flare up from Glass City came right as I hit the 26 mile marker, but I once made myself a promise that I would never be caught dead walking across a finish line.
My final time – 4:51:52.
It wasn’t 4:20 or 4:30, but it’s still the fastest I’ve ran a full marathon to date. Even better is that the Indy Monumental is united with the Indy Half at Fort Ben, so for runners who complete both events, they get the INDYTHON medal for first-timers and corresponding charm for whatever the total distance between the two is. Since I ran the half at Fort Ben and full on Saturday, I got the 39.3 miles charm as an “Ultra” runner.
Moral of the 2018 CNO Financial Indianapolis Monumental Marathon: just because it may not be the personal record I was looking for doesn’t change the fact it was a PR. And that’s more than good enough for me.