Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Indianapolis Monumental Marathon review 2013

I didn't particularly want to do the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon. After completing Chicago and Detroit, and between the stomach flu and a sinus infection, my health was far from ideal. The sicknesses ensured that I was able to run no more than two miles in the two weeks between Detroit and Indy, and I just wasn't in tip-top shape.

Yet I had already paid for the race and pre-paid the hotel to get the cheapest rate, and I hate wasting money. I'd rather drag myself through a marathon than waste $140. Weird, I know.

Bill and I left on Friday afternoon and seemed to drive forever. I didn't have any gloves, and it just happened that a Salvation Army was right next to where we had dinner, so I ran in to pick up gloves and the cheapest sweatshirt I could find. For $1.19 I represented the Rockford United Methodist Church. Not only was it cheap, it was still fuzzy inside, as though it had never been worn. 

The expo was at the Indiana Convention Center, which is gargantuan, but our section was small and I could run in and out within 10 minutes while Bill idled on the street. Aside from a pint glass here and there, I'm not one for buying stuff at the expo. I certainly don't buy shirts because I have a plethora from all the races I've done. Yet on my way out, I saw a guy with shirt designs I had never seen before, and I had to decide quickly. In the grand scheme, it's just a few dollars, so I got one. I always write the message on my arm in Sharpie anyway, so now I can stop that and wear it on my back.

At the start line I immediately ran into "Mad Dog." He asked if I was doing anything the next day. You mean, beside laying on the couch eating ice cream? He does back to back marathons, and while I'm crazy, I'm not that crazy!!!

Within 5 steps, my right quad was really tight. Luckily I was able to run through it and it passed, as did the miles. At mile 6, we ran past the state fairgrounds. Traffic going our way had been re-routed. Traffic going the other way was stopped all three lanes across, and the drivers had largely shut off their cars and gotten out. Then we heard the distinctive sound of a wailing siren from a fire truck that needed to head our way. There's no way the stopped cars could have moved, so the truck ran THROUGH THE MARATHON!!!!! It was like Moses parting the Red Sea and I ran on the median until it passed.

My first half was slower than normal, but I thought perhaps with the slower start, I wouldn't crash and burn as much in the second half. Nope, no such luck. I fell apart in the second half, because that's what I do.

At mile 19, I gave up mentally. I was DONE! I was bored, hungry, thirsty, cranky, etc. I didn't want to be there anymore, I certainly didn't want to go another seven miles. Yet, once I make it that far, I'm not giving up for anything!!!!

The course map said Gu would be available at miles 10, 14, 17 and 21. In actuality, the only place I could pick up any was mile 21.5, and I hadn't passed a water table in at least three miles by then. My strategy had been to take a Gu every 10k, which didn't last past the two Gu I had packed. Not sure it would have made a difference, but it was definitely inconvenient.

I kept going. I saw a blind runner, with a guide on either side, attached at the waist by a 2-3' rope. Well into mile 25, I saw a woman whose body was wrapped in Ace bandages from her rib cage to her knee and she was unable to walk. Two men were on either side, supporting her weight so she could get across the finish line. I cried when I saw that.

At the very very end, 15 steps from the finish line, a woman tried to pass me. I could sense her, and refused to let her pass me. It was the fastest 8 steps of my entire run, but I crossed before her.

My time was awful. Somehow though it was within 8 minutes of my Free Press time and I have no idea how I managed that because I had been trying at the FP, unlike Indy when I walked the entire 22nd mile. There was nothing lucky about #13. 
Not a happy camper :(
Bill made my sign, then let me go to town with the Hello Kitty and Winnie the Pooh stickers. He said he got a lot of looks from women runners much like "awwwh, why won't my man hold a Hello Kitty sign for me????"

The food at the end was total crap - bananas, and one-bite bread things. I guess there had been much more and better food earlier, but like the Gu on the course, it was poorly managed, so anyone over a 3-hour finish was left out in the cold.
A small section of the clothing mountain
The best part of the day was at the very end when we stopped at a rest stop off the highway in Michigan. Two women were walking back to their car as I shuffled toward the door.

"Did you run?" one of them asked, recognizing the race shirt I wore.
"How did you do?" she asked.
"I finished."
"Woo hoo!!!!" she cheered.
"You did it!" her friend cheered, raising both arms overhead. I felt crappy about my finish and they were cheering for me!

I still maintain that the shirt is the ugliest race shirt I've ever gotten, despite Bill and "Indy" arguing that it's GREAT! It's not great, it's hideous, yet it fits better than any other running shirt I have. Go figure! They offered shirt exchange right at the expo, but I didn't need it. Something really small that I like is the running figure in the zero, and on the side, are both women. It would have been easier to use the generic man for both shirts, so I appreciate that there's a woman on the women's shirt.
All runners also got a race program and poster. I registered early enough this year that my name is printed on the poster. All finishers also get a hat. I still haven't worn my 2012 hat, but I like the little extras like that, or the beer mug in Toledo. 

The medal is GREAT! It's huge and gaudy and I like it! The only problem is that mine wasn't sewed exactly right, so the fabric is frayed at the seam. Since it's a flat bar hung medal, the seam is right in front and it looks noticeable damaged. Naturally I didn't notice this until several hours after the race. I emailed the director that night to request a replacement be mailed to me. He said the registration coordinator would take care of it, so once I receive the new one, I'll donate the damaged one to Medals for Mettle - they change the ribbons anyway.

I really doubt I'll do this one again next year. Nothing against the race, but there are so many that are closer to home. Besides, it was tons hillier than I had remembered!!!! Very little spectator support as well. Last year, we could blame it on the weather, but it was low 50s and sunny this year.  

I've been reading one of Hal's books "Marathoning A-Z" and he says it all. "You grade 'A' in the marathon as long as you finish. How fast you run the race is not as important as many would think." We'll have to discuss this further after Columbia City.


  1. You are a marathon running BEAST. Seriously.
    Love love LOVE the shirt you bought. And the sign. And the medal.

    1. Great Recap Michelle. You had me laughing. I love your new Shirt..The Strength one. I like your monumental one as well. Congrats on ANOTHER Marathon. You are seriously the Marathon Mama! I don't know how you do it.

  2. Thanks for writing the review..I'm surfing the web looking for a marathon about a month-ish after Chicago and I've never been to Indiana much. Looks like a decent race.

    For whale watching I recommend Hawaii (Maui), Moss Landing (south of San Francisco on the Monterey Bay) and off the coast of Boston (near an undersea mount called "Stellwagen bank")

    1. Thanks for the suggestions!

      The Indy race is ok. I prefer the Veterans Marathon in Columbia City (near Fort Wayne) the week after, although it's super small and a seriously difficult course of hills and wind whipping across the plowed fields. The church ladies serve soup at the end so it's all worth it :)

  3. The Monumental will be my first marathon, I enjoyed the half in 2013 so much that I knew it would be perfect for my first. I personally love my race shirt I got for the half which looks exactly like yours but with a red theme instead of blue and I appreciated the spectators and the volunteers. Not sure about the rest of the full course after us half marathoners had split up, but I know for sure the half course was very well maintained and managed. Sorry you had a less than desirable experience.

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