Breaking 90 (Monumental Half Race Report)
I am not usually one to write race reports, but since this has been a long time goal I want to get it in print before I start forgetting the details.
Although I focused on triathlons this season, I had some solid races this spring (1:30:33 at Carmel, and 1:30:47 at Derby) so I knew that I was knocking on the door.
They say the average runner who begins racing in adulthood only has seven years before they reach their peak. I’m 41 and have been racing consistently since 2008, so should be on the downward trend. But as a coach, I have seen numerous athletes defy the odds. Masters athletes can not only excel, but continue to improve for much longer than predicted.
On the day before the Monumental Half Marathon, Wendy, Kara and I piled into Sarah’s Jeep for the three hour trek to Indy. We checked into our downtown hotel, walked to the very crowded race expo, and then searched for a restaurant. With two of us being being plant based, dinner could have been tricky but the Yard House was perfect for a mix of meat eaters and veggie eaters. I had the Gardein orange chick’n bowl with rice, and the hummus appetizer. Everyone liked their food and the ambiance was good.
After watching some HGTV, Wendy and I went to sleep early. I set my alarm for 2.5 hours before the race, so I could eat my Picky Bars beets-and-chocolate oatmeal. It sounds weird but don’t knock it til you try it. Since the weather was pretty frigid (it would be 27 at the start with cold winds) we headed to the hotel gym to warm up. Why had I never done this before? I biked for 20 minutes, ran for 6 minutes on the treadmill with a couple pick ups, and then foam rolled and did the Myrtl Routine to loosen up the hips. It all felt much better than battling the elements outside!
About twenty minutes before the start we headed out, and finished with a few form drills. We all wished each other luck and headed to our separate starting positions. I was dressed appropriately in a tee shirt with arm warmers, gloves, Senita capris, Nike 4% shoes and a Headsweats cap. A winter hat or headband would have been too warm, so I glad I didn’t wear that.
The gun went off, and I quickly muscled my way into the huge 1:30 pace pack. The first few miles were total chaos- feet clipping each other, elbows flying, people swearing, people apologizing and lots of stress. It was also kind of exciting, so the first few miles went by fast. By mile 4 the pack started to thin out just a bit. Michael, the pacer, had done a really good job keeping it steady. At this point I can usually tell if it going to be a good race, and I had definitely found my rhythm and was feeling optimistic. He did take the next two miles “a little hot,” with a 6:35 and 6:38, but he quickly dialed us in with a few slower miles that allowed me to regroup.
This course is pretty uneventful, being almost completely flat aside from a couple very gentle inclines and declines. As the miles ticked by, I engaged the pacer and a few others into conversation. I learned at Carmel that disassociation is a useful mental tactic for me. We talked about favorite races, injuries, training and pacing. One of the girls mentioned she was a high school senior coming off an 11th place finish in the KY State Championship Cross Country Meet, so that was pretty neat.
As far as fueling, I didn’t do much. I had sipped on Tailwind all night and morning, so was well hydrated. I had one strawberry Huma gel that I nipped on every few miles. I took a small swig of water around mile 6 and a small swig of Gatorade later in the race. At mile 10 I was feeling fantastic. I thought about surging ahead, but this goal had been coming for such a long time, and I didn’t want to do anything risky. Usually at this point in the race, I am slowing by 5-10 seconds per mile and trying not to dry heave, as I watch the 1:30 pace pack disappear into the horizon. So this was a breath of fresh air! We now had a very small pack of about seven guys and one or two other women. At mile 11 or so, we turned into a substantial, cold headwind. I was happy I decided to stay with the pack, because the group provided slight relief from the wind. At mile 12.5 I felt incredible, and knew it was time to go. I could not stop smiling, because I knew I would achieve that elusive sub 90 goal. That mile ended up being one of my fastest at 1:40, and I sprinted to the finish to officially get a 1:29:12.
At the finish I found Wendy and Azurdee. We all train together often, so it was no surprise that we finished within one minute of each other. Sarah finished a few minutes later with a huge 15 minute PR, and Kara crushed her first half. Another client, Sandy, had a strong race too. Monumental is a perfect, late season race. The flat course combined with chilly weather is conducive to fast times, so it is always popular for Olympic Trials qualifiers. They had 39 runners qualify this year! Now that the sub 90 is in the bag, it is time to find some new goals. With that race being as comfortable as it was, I feel like there is plenty more gas in the tank. It will be fun to pick out some new goals over the off season!