This upcoming weekend is the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon and for the first time in five years, I’m not running it.
2017 was my first year, when I got all the way to the hotel and realized I left my fuel belt in Columbus. Thankfully for me Dick’s Sporting Goods was a ten minute drive up the road, so I ran in and found a fuel belt. The only glitch was that I got it from the camping section – the only section that had them – and this thing was designed for hikers and wilderness dwellers. The pouch and the water bottles were huge, and overwhelmed me. It looked like Macho Man’s belt, which incidentally became the race anthem that year. I’m not making this up – I spent the entirety of the race singing, “Macho, Macho Man” to myself. It did actually help the time go by faster.
2018 was something else. I took Mom with me and we stayed downtown at the JW Marriott, feeling fancier than we actually are. After picking up my bib from the expo, wandering the Central Canal and getting dinner at the TGI Friday’s next door, we came back to discover a line and increased police presence in the lobby, in addition to some guys in black suits. Mom asked the lady ahead of us, as a joke, “Is the President in town?”
Turns out the race organizers sent all of us an email a few days before arriving in Indy. There was a rally down at Southport High School where former Veep Pence and former President Trump would be attending, and Pres. Trump was staying at our hotel on the top floor. It was a good thing Mom and I carried only wallets and room keys in our jacket pockets – our trip through metal detectors took less time. Some poor lady had to get her pizza frisked. My mother, the small town woman, was both amused and a little anxious we were staying in the same hotel as the president, going back and forth between “I’ve never stayed in the same hotel as a president” and “What if someone tries to attack the place?”
Thankfully the rest of our weekend was uneventful. I had a great race and Mom wound up grabbing breakfast with some Secret Service men.
2019 was the year I PR’ed. That entire race was so amazing I don’t remember any part of it.
2020 was a virtual half. Honestly, running around Hoover Reservoir and trying to pretend it’s Indianapolis just doesn’t work. I found myself praying that 2021 could be a normal running year.
Part of my prayer for 2021 was answered. I did get to run the full marathon in-person. I don’t regret it, but in hindsight, coming off an emotional summer and not training like I should have been meant one of my worst races to date. Arrogantly I thought I could pull off 2021 like I did 2017 and 2019, where I ran Columbus and then three weeks later Indy as full marathons, making a faster time in the latter race. It turned out Columbus 2021 did me in more than I realized.
Additionally – and I say this lovingly for any Hoosiers reading this – the roads in Indy were rough. It was obvious everyone being inside from the pandemic meant road repairs weren’t a priority for the powers in charge. I get some cracks and little grooves are part of road running, but I felt like the entire race was a giant pothole. I wear heavy-duty insoles in my running shoes and I still felt every strike on the road. I was miserable, experiencing pain I hadn’t felt in a long time, having to take more walk breaks than usual, and wondering if my determination to complete 10 marathons before turning 30 was really one of my better ideas.
I finished that race in a little under six hours and immediately told Mom we needed to go home. I didn’t even want to shower in the hotel locker rooms – just get me home, I can shower there and dwell in disappointment. At least I had my celebration cookie cake – 10 marathons is a milestone either way, and I got to take the cake over to Grandma and Grandpa’s that night.
I just realized sharing the cookie cake was the last memory I had before they both went into the hospital and Grandpa passed. Man, last year was rough. I miss that man.
This brings me to now, November 2022. Some pictures from previous Indy weekends popped up on my camera roll, and I had to look through them. I saw the ceiling of the Indiana Statehouse, the fall colors along the Central Canal with Mom. There’s plenty of pictures of Soldiers and Sailors Monument, both of the monument itself and of looking over the city from the observation deck. One of these days I need to take a road trip that’s not race-related, just to wander the city again.
Surprisingly enough, I’m not feeling sorry for myself. My body hasn’t been trained at all this year like it should have been, as evidenced by my times from my spring half marathons earlier this year. If a half, arguably the “easier” distance for me, was that much of a challenge, there’s no way I’d be able to survive a full. I’ve finally accepted that sometimes you need to go through resting and rehabilitation seasons, and that’s where I’m at. And frankly, I don’t see the point of feeling left out and bemoaning it. Either man up and do the thing you want to do if you feel that passionately about it, or accept that it can’t/won’t happen and shut up. I had a terrible habit of wasting time feeling sorry for myself throughout my childhood and into my early 20s. At 30, I do not have the time or tolerance for that.
So what am I doing instead? The past two weeks I’ve finally gotten back on the treadmill. Last week I ran six miles – three Wednesday and three Saturday – at a conservative pace of 5.2 and 5.3 miles. So far this week I’ve ran six miles – three on Tuesday and three on Thursday. Very slowly I’m kicking the speed up to 5.4. My brain and the endorphins keep telling me to go balls to the wall, but my gut is telling me that I need to start it slow and gradually work up the speed and then the weekly mileage. My goal is to work my way back into running 20 miles a week for a month before I start half marathon training on January 1st. I’ve decided I’m getting back to my old fitness levels and finally chasing those personal records I forgot about.
I’ve decided it’s time I get back to who I am – The Broad Running Broad. I run my city. I run through the heart of metropolis, through suburbs and on the trails. I’ve ran up and down the rolling hills of Kentucky and through the mountains of West Virginia. I love to plan for new places and daydream about them. I’ve got a few other states in mind for next year, so bank account willing, I’m going to run those too and check them off my list.
And next fall, I’m going to come back to Indianapolis and redeem myself over 26.2 miles. I already told Mom she’s coming with me. Thankfully next year isn’t an election year, so we should be safe from weirdos and we can enjoy our TGI Friday’s in peace.
With all that being said, it’s time for me to log off and continue daydreaming. And call Grandma.
Yours in writing and running,