One date has been circled and underlined on my calendar all year. November 5. That was my goal race. My A race. The Indianapolis Monumental Marathon — a perfect mix of flat, scenic roads with the cooler temperatures I love.
Indianapolis Monumental Marathon was supposed to be my best race of the year.
I got the flat course. I got the scenery, complete with beautiful fall foliage. The weather was perfect, starting in the upper 30s and warming to 50 at the finish.
I did not, however, get the race I had envisioned at the start of the year. My legs decided they didn’t want to get off the plane with me.
But I’m OK with it. I knew going in that my fitness wasn’t near what it was this past spring. A PR wasn’t within reach.
But when my legs tightened up and started hurting in the first 10K, I knew it was going to be a long, painful day.
It was a strange morning. Everything from the race side was perfect. The brisk morning air, my favorite. I had virtually no line ahead of me for port-o-lets, and I hopped right into my corral with little drama. On paper, the 2016 Indianapolis Monumental Marathon was my perfect race.
But when we started, I never fell into racing rhythm. I tried hard early, hoping to seek out a steady tempo. Then I tried relaxing back into a slower pace to get my legs going, and that made me feel worse.
I stopped twice to go the bathroom in the first eight miles, and my legs felt off even when I was walking back onto the course.
I’ve never had a race where my legs felt so terrible from mile one on, and I’m hoping it was a fluke.
Not only did my legs hurt the whole race, but I struggled walking the rest of the day after I finished as well. I’ve felt postrace soreness many times, but this time was different. And now, two days after, I feel fine. I ran today, and I felt better than I did Saturday.
My long travel day on Friday could have contributed to Saturday’s funk. I didn’t get the best sleep the night before, and I ate slightly later than normal. But none of those factors should have taken me down so completely.
So what do I do now?
I learn what I can from a bad race that should have been incredible. And I keep working daily.
As early as mile five, I was fighting mental battles. My body and brain were working against me. I was afraid the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon was going to go from my A race to the first 26.2 DNF of my life. But I didn’t give in. Yes it hurt, but I didn’t stop.
I also ran a little more than eight minutes faster than I ran in Portland last month. I’m still far from PR territory, but on a bad day, I made some progress.
Crossing off Indiana, sub four hours, from my marathon list gives me 27 states down. My medal is cool, and the race weekend was amazing except for the running struggle and Texas A&M losing.
Also, my legs have already bounced back, which is fortunate.
I’m running the Las Vegas Rock ‘n’ Roll Strip at Night Marathon on Sunday. Bring on state No. 28.