Monday, April 14, 2014

Carmel Marathon Recap - It's All About Being There for Others

April 12, 2014
Well it had only been a week since my last race, a 50K but I was back at it again.  This time the Carmel Marathon.  I was planning on using this as another training run for my upcoming 100 mile ultra in May at the Nanny Goat 100.  My week leading up to the Marathon consisted of a 50k, 13.1, 3.1, 11, 10, 10, and 1 miles so there was no taper for this race or last weekends 50K but my legs still felt strong and ready to run.  I had been talking to my friend Michelle from
This Momma Runs all week.  She was talking about coming down to this race and her husband running the 8K.  I paced Michelle the previous weekend at the Chicago Lakefront 50K in her very first ultra and we had such a blast so the fact that I would get to see her and her family again was exciting.  Not only that my family would be coming to this race and they could meet each other.  I have 3 girls and they have 4 so that's a lot of little girls all at once. :)  I also met and ran with Michelle's friend Karen for about 10 miles in Chicago.  I found out she was planning on running Carmel as well so I was pretty excited I would get to see some familiar faces.  When we were talking in Chicago she wasn't sure if she was going to do the full or the half yet because she had been fighting off an injury which made it hard for her to train the last 2 weeks.  She said she was feeling good now but was still a little unsure.  I told her to go for the Marathon.  The 2 weeks off probably wouldn't hurt her and might even help with her being on well rested legs.  I could tell as we talked she was rethinking of doing the full but didn't come out and say it.  I also told her that if she wanted someone to run with I would run with her the entire race.  I got a message from Michelle later in the week saying Karen was going to go ahead and do the full.  I thought that was great.  Then I got a message later in the week from Karen saying she was going to run it but was just going to try to keep it around 8:30-8:45 pace which I knew just from talking to her briefly the following weekend was not true.  So at this point I hadn't asked her if she still wanted to run with me or not.  She kept saying to me it was a smaller race.  I would have a good chance of placing so I wasn't sure if she was trying to tell me to do my own thing or if she was wanting me
to ask her if I still wanted to run with her.  I know she wanted to Qualfy for Boston in this race and I had a feeling she was still going to go for it. She ran Boston in 2012 the year it was miserably hot.  We had planned a meet up before the race.  Race morning comes and the weather is so nice to start.  Around 50 degrees without much wind but that would soon change.  At this point I'm still not sure if I'm running with anyone.  I had been running with my friend Katie her long runs with her all during her marathon training for this but she had already said she wanted to do it on her own which I was fine with.  I finally get to where Karen is and meet some of her runner friends that are there.  I ask her what kind of time she is shooting for and she says I would like to be under 3:45 which is an 8:35 pace (which is her Boston Qualifying time, just like I thought she was going to say :)).  I finally just ask, "do you want me to run the whole race with you?"  She smiles and says that would be great!!  Awesome, now I have someone to run with.  I was still just using this as a training run so we could both keep each other in check.  It was so nice having someone to run with last weekend so it was going to be great again this weekend.  The miles just seem to fly by when you have a buddy to run with.  We wait in line to go to the bathroom and Karen decides she can't wait anymore.  Well, I guess going behind the dumpster will have to do she says.  Haha.  That's awesome I think!!  This is going to be a fun day of running with her.  Right before the race I get a quick meet up with Amanda from Tootallfritz.com and Katie From Ice Cream to Marathon  hopefully next time we will have a little more time to talk and hang out.
We finally get started.  Everyone is crammed into corral B and we are off.  We start off together trying to get a feel for each other and the crowd at the start.  First mile beeps and 8:14.  Pretty fast for it being so crowded but we continue on.  Next few miles are strong at 8:01, 8:05, 8:04 and 8:13 as we finally settle into a comfortable pace. Mile 6 we see a band playing.  I tell her to keep going.  I stop and dance with them for a second then catch back up to her.  Mile 6 is 8:19, mile 7 at 8:23 and mile 8 at 8:18.  At mile 8 Karen says to me, "THAT MILE WAS TOO FAST!!!!  WE JUST DID A 8:03 MILE!!"  At this point my watch hadn't beeped yet and we notice our watches are now 1/10 of a mile different.  Actually we do an 8:18 the 8th mile.  She says ok and settles down. :D  I look over at her and am constantly asking if she is ok and if the pace is ok.  At this point she is running great, her stride looks good and she has great form.  What I end up doing at most of the aid stations is running ahead and get water/gatorade for her so she doesn't have to stop in the congestion and can keep her stride going.  She sees a lot of her friends along the course who are there to support her which helps to keep her motivated.  We had talked about if the wind got too strong that I would take the front and she would run right behind me so I could help block the wind from her to help save energy.  We keep right on moving and get to mile 9 with a 8:25, 8:09, 8:08, 8:14 and 8:21.  At this point she is still running strong but it is starting to get warmer.  Now it's not hot by any means but when you are used to running in sub zero temps all winter for it to get up to 70 degrees on race day starts to take it's toll on you after a while.
Mile 14 done at a 8:16, mile 15 in 8:09.  We are doing great on pace at this point.  Somewere around a 8:10 pace overall through the first 15 miles.  We try to stay focused on the task at hand.  8:35 pace is her Boston Qualifying pace so anything at that pace from this point on is great.  next miles we come in at 8:20, 8:28, 8:40, 8:35, 8:40 at the 20 mile mark.  I keep asking how she's feeling and she keeps powering forward with the look of determination.  Around mile 19 I see some signs being held up and think to myself those are some cool signs!!  Then
I get to looking and notice it's my wife and my little ones holding up the signs!!  I get so excited to see them!!  At this point in the race I know Karen is feeling it but I also know how it can get. It takes guts and determination and she showed all of that battling the wind and some of the heat I knew she had this in her.  Her friends were there and showing awesome support for her!!  Mile 21 done at 8:26, then 8:45, 8:53, 8:31 and 8:41.  1 more mile to go and we had 13 minutes to finish it!!  Her friends and I are yelling that last couple miles.  You've worked hard, you got this, fight it.  I could see the look in her face that it was hurting at this point but her heart was pushing those legs with all she had left  She knocks out the last mile in 8:53.  As we are approaching the finish line the crowd is going nuts as we are all yelling, BOSTON QUALIFIER, SHE'S GOING TO BOSTON, BOSTON BABY!!"  The crowd gets louder and louder everytime we scream it.  Karen is staying focused because she has worked so hard and it is about to happen.  She crosses the finish line in 3:41:02.  4 minutes under her Boston Qualifying time!!  BQ Baby!!  She ran a great race, gutted it out at the end and showed a huge heart pushing through when it sucked and it hurt.  I know what that is like, I've been there before.  Very proud of her.  I might have just met Karen but learned a lot about her in this race.  She was a warrior, fought when it got hard, never gave up and made it happen.  The heart of a true
marathon runner and now a Boston Qualifier once again.
My friend Katie that I had done all her training runs with had an amazing race too.  I told her before the race started that she better start out slow.  I was going to look at her watch after the race was over and if she had any crazy fast miles in the first 6 miles she would be in trouble.  I finally met up with Katie after the race.  I was getting text alerts during the race of her progress and could hear my phone go off everytime she crossed the timing mat so I had a pretty good idea how she was doing.  This was her very first marathon and she had a goal of at least 3:40 to qualify for Boston.  My phone finally made it's last beep at 3:33.  I asked her what her time was and it was 3:33!!  7 minutes under her qualifying time.  What a great group I'll be seeing in Boston in 2015.  I did look at her watch after the race and there were a few miles in the 7's but she ran an incredibly even paced race. 
Michael (Michelle's husband) ran the 8k as I was telling you about and set a new PR in his race as well.  He ran a blazing time of 35:46.  Congratulations man and it was so great seeing you and your awesome family once again.  Now if we could just get your to slow down a little on those long runs during training. :P
My Brother in Law Tom smashed his half marathon PR in this race as well running a 1:53 breaking the 2 hour mark for the first time.
The course is very nice with a few rolling hills but nothing really that terrible.  It's a mixture of roads around Carmel's beautiful neighborhoods and some tree lined park paths.Would be great for a first time half marathoner or marathoner and also for seasoned racers.  They also had race pacers for the full and half in this race which was a nice added touch.  The aid stations were about every 1 1/2 miles and had poweraide and water at every one.
My fuel for the race consisted water and taking Cliff Shot Mocha Gel at 30 minutes in then 1 every 40 minutes after that.  It worked very nice and I never once felt tired during the race.
This is why I love this sport so much.  Runners are such awesome people and never give up. They support each other.  It's all about each one's individual journeys and their paths they take.  Runners are just plain awesome!!
This was my 21st marathon/ultra in the last 2 years.  Every one of these I run always holds a special place in my heart, whether it is setting PR's or helping others they are all special and never get tired of that awesome feeling you get when you cross that finish line.  It is a feeling like no other.  My next race is the One America 500 Festival Half Marathon on May 3rd before the Nanny Goat 100 mile ultra.  May should be one heck of a month!!
Mike