3rd Time Is The Charm

This morning I ran in my 5th half marathon race in Carmel, Indiana, a suburb of Indianapolis.

The events are called Carmel Marathon Weekend, which includes an 8 kilometer race, a full marathon, a half marathon and a marathon relay. Many of my running buddies in my running club decided to form a marathon relay team and had a good time. Maybe running “only” an 8 mile leg of a 26.2 mile course is more fun than running the entire 26.2 miles? I wouldn’t know since I have never attempted a full marathon.

About a month ago I had thought that I would jog this race in Carmel and save my energy for the half marathon on May 4th, two weeks from now. But Carmel Marathon weekend and I have a bit of an uneasy history. 2011 was the first year of these running events. I ran in the 8 kilometer race and didn’t do very well, failing to finish in the top half of my age/gender division. In 2012 I ran the half marathon and didn’t do well, again failing to finish in the top half among my contemporaries.

So, about a week ago I decided that it rather than jog this race, I would take off the gloves and do a full effort. I wanted to beat my personal record in the half marathon, my 1 hour and 55-56 minute finish last November.

I remembered the Carmel course from last year as being relatively flat. But because of the flooding in some areas, the race director had to change the course at the last minute and had to get this new course re-certified by USA Track and Field as being 13.0975 miles. This course seemed to have more hills than I remembered. Maybe my memory of the course is distorted by the fact that I hit the wall last year near the end and did a walk/jog for the last 3 or 4 miles? Also, I think in order to get this course certified by USA Track and Field at the last minute, they might have erred on the course being a bit longer than 13.1 miles. My Garmin GPS watch said that I covered 13.27 miles this morning.

I finished in about 1 hour and 54 minutes, a new personal record. During the race, after the first 3 miles, I relied on my heart rate monitor to determine whether I was pushing it too hard or not running hard enough.  In my previous 4 half marathons I didn’t rely on heart rate data at all for pacing help.  I think using heart rate is a good idea.  The only downside is that I might have used my heart rate as an excuse not to push harder than I perhaps could have.  On the other hand, several times during the race the data from the heart rate monitor gave me permission to run harder than I would have if I had relied only on pace from the GPS feature.  

I am happy about the results, even though my Garmin GPS watch was telling me during the race that I was doing better than my 1:54 or so finish as stated in the official results. Garmin can’t be wrong, can it? My Garmin records me as having run a little faster in the second half of the race than in the first half. But the official results say the opposite. This makes me think that the race director did add an extra tenth of a mile in there somewhere at the end. But it was a good time, even though it was about 34 degrees at the start of the race and stayed in the mid-30s for the remainder of the race.  

Perhaps the highlight of the race was during one of the middle miles of the race, perhaps mile 8, when we the course took us through a residential area.  There was a little girl, maybe 7 years old, holding a sign that said, “Run for Boston.”  Yes, the tragedy of Boston last Monday was in the minds of us runners in this race.  We had a moment of silence to honor the victims just prior to the beginning of the race.

This Carmel Marathon Weekend has become a 3 times in a year habit. Maybe I’ll do it again next year.  I admit that running another full effort half marathon two weeks from now sort of goes against my idea of avoiding something called “Extreme Endurance Exercise” and whatever cardiovascular damage that might result from it.  But that’s a topic for another post.