So, what would be my race goal? Well, based on my Ravenswood Run 5k finishing time from last week, the McMillan calculator put my fitness at just above a 1 hour 30 minutes for a half marathon. So:
"A" goal was go sub-1:30.
"B" goal would be to go sub 1:33 (especially if the conditions on race day weren't favorable)
I knew that in Minis past, I would run about 13.30 miles for the race, so I would need to get close to a 6:45 average mile pace to go sub-1:30. I wanted to start conservatively, since I saw that we would have a slight headwind for the first third of the race and a tailwind for the last third. So I targeted a 7:20, 7:10 start with a progressive drop in pace to around 6:30/mile over the last few miles. The main thing was to have confidence that I would run some fast finishing miles, so that I could relax and run a few early, slow miles.
Indianapolis is less than a three hour drive from Chicago, but it is in the Eastern time zone, which is an hour ahead of Chicago time. So, waking up at the hotel at 4:45 ET am to get ready for the race meant that my body thought it was 3:45 am. I downed a cup of coffee, along with a peanut butter bagel and a banana. I packed my race bag and drove from the hotel to the race. I found a $10 spot about four blocks from the start line. I used the ample facilities, and checked my bag. Recently, the race instituted wave starts (15 minute apart). In races past, when everyone started at the same time, thousands and thousands of runners would mill about pre-race in the park adjacent to the corrals. However, this year it seemed only like a few hundred were milling around. This is probably due to the fact that some of the later start waves did not start for another hour and those runners had not even arrived yet.
|Pre-race hanging out. Where is everyone?|
I made my way to corral "B" which closed at 7:30 am. Then we had to wait about 18 minutes for the race to start. During those 18 minutes, I realized the conditions were near perfect, that I felt fantastic, and that I would almost without a doubt be able to hit my "A" goal. The one caveat would be to start conservatively. If I did that I told myself my race goal would be mine for the taking. The National Anthem was sung, the wheelchairs started, and we were off to the roar of the engines (over the loudspeakers)!
Time to play: "WHERE'S PETE B?"
|Picture of me crossing the line at the start of the race.|
(Hint: See guy with white hat at the tip of the red arrow).
Miles 1 through 3: I headed across the start line at 7:48:26 am (see pic above). Then headed by the Indianapolis Zoo and people in animal costumes waved. I believe there was an actual elephant that they brought near a fence to watch the race too. I looked at my watch and noticed I was going too fast, so I slowed down. A preacher was proselytizing and several kick-ass bands were jamming along the course. I flashed them the devil horns. I felt fantastic. 7:03/mile
Miles 4 through 6: These are some laid back miles through industrial areas. The wind was in our faces for most of the time, so per the plan, I did not push it. I kept reminding myself to leave something for the tailwind at the end. We passed a two-steppin' dance troupe! 6:44/mile
Miles 7 through 9: We entered the Indianapolis Motor Speedway by running down a steep ramp. Since it was steeply downhill, I put on a small speed exhibition and whizzed by a dude with headphones on. I think I must have startled him because he shouted something like "hey! hey!". Sorry dude that you couldn't hear my footfalls behind you! Anyway, this is the coolest part of the course - needless to say. The race track is pretty flat on the straightaways, but banked on the turns. Fortunately, if you ran low enough around the inside lane, it was not too bad on the ankles. Some people kissed the "Yard of Bricks" as they made their way toward Turn One. We left the course and headed back to the city and ran by a group of square dancers! 6:41/mile
|Making my way around the Indy 500 track|
Miles 10 through 12: I started doing mental calculations on what I needed to run for the last few miles to reach a sub-1:30. I figured that I needed something around 7:00/miles for the remainder and I would be okay. I did an endurance check and felt confident (barring a sudden injury or shift of wind direction) that I would easily be able to do sub 7:00s. The wind was a tailwind, so I picked up my pace and focused on pounding out the last few miles with conviction. 6:33/mile
Miles 13 and 13.25 There was a long up-hill over a bridge for the final 1.25 miles, then a nice little downhill to flat ground which starts the mile long sprint to the finish. Over the loudspeakers they played Jim McKay announcing the end of a Indy 500 race from circa 1969: "He's going around the last turn and Andretti will win the 500 mile race!" By the large clock over the finish line, I saw that a sub-1:29 was not within reach, but I knew that I would go sub-1:30. I ran by the grandstands of cheering spectators and my race ended! 6:27/mile
Update: Just found a video of my finish. I appear at the right of the screen at about 10:16 (I'm wearing a gray shirt and white hat). The "red clock" on the video says 1:29:15 I finish at about 1:29:29:
I stopped my Garmin after I crossed the finish line. A few seconds later, a man handed me a medal and said "This is a special medal for the top 500 finishers, congratulations!". I said thanks and then looked down at my watch for my finishing time.
Official Time: 1:29:13 ("A" Goal accomplished!)
Official Pace: 6:48/mile
Garmin Pace: 6:44/mile
Place Age Group: 12th out of 1,396
Place Overall: 351 out of 28,936
Analysis: Sweet negative split. It felt fantastic to set a goal and then simply nail it. An A+ race day!
I walked down the finishers' chute and collected my second medal for finishing. I grabbed some snacks, got a photo with my medals and headed back to the hotel.
|Post Race with my two medals|
|Near the finish line|
The Future: Post-race, my legs feel like they have rebounded nicely. So after a couple of rest days, I will set my sights on training for the Chicago 13.1 Half Marathon which takes place in early June. I should be able to get in a couple of more high mileage weeks in until then. So if conditions are right, I'd like to shoot for a sub-1:28 half for that race.