2018 Carmel Marathon

2017 ended with a dissapointing marathon time so I really wanted to change that, but I also knew my next best chance would be in the spring. So I decided to embrace the cold and run in some harsh conditions, all winter to prepare for a early spring marathon. I also decided to use some new training specifically, Runninglane.com I worked with Will Rodgers a running coach who prepared my weeks workouts, and gave me help and advice along the way. Will was very easy to work and gave me new and very challenging workouts. I think I benefited from switching things up and it felt like I was in some of the best shape of my life. Fast forward a few months and I am driving over to Carmel, Indiana. After talking with Will he thought a 3:08 should be my goal time with a 3:10 as B goal and a new PR as a C goal. I was little un-easy about going 3:08 pace but honestly thought it was doable considering some of the training runs. I figured  I would see how I felt race day and go from there.

After arriving in Indiana and picking up my packet at the expo, I checked into the hotel and went off to eat my usual pre-race meal… Noodles and Company.. I grabbed my buttered noodles, side of mac n cheese, some breadsticks and a cookie. Perfect =). Got back to hotel laid out my clothes and prepared mentally for the race. Luckily i didn’t have to write down my split times as this race was nice enough to include a pace chart band on your bib that your tear off and wear on your wrist! This was a huge plus in my book. 

Since Indiana is 1 hour ahead I was suppose to go to sleep around 10ish, which would be 9 my time. I figured I needed to calm my nerves so a small glass of wine at the hotel bar would help. Go back to the room and try and wind down, but my mind is still wound up. I can’t seem to calm my nerves and I am not tired. Sure enough I toss and turn the entire night, and never fall asleep. Not even for a minute. I did lay in the bed and “rest” but never actually fell asleep. The annoying part was about 430am I actually finally felt tired… but i was suppose to get up 30 minutes…. so at this point it didn’t matter much. My two alarms went off and I ate half a bagel, peanut butter, a banana and a banana nut muffin.  After I swigged down some water and OJ and hit the bathroom and showered to try and wake myself up. All systems good to go, I head out and the bus is waiting to take me to the start. Hop and on and arrive at the race start. 

The race start was pretty desolate at this point, but i took note there were not many porta potties… about 30-40 for a race that had about 2,000 people registered between the 8k, half and full… Ugh. Found the Busse Woods tent and said hello to a few familiar faces… I tend to run solo or a bit faster then most of their group but I still run the same routes they do, every Saturday so it was good to see some friendly faces. Waited for a group photo, put some of my gear in Jim’s car (thanks btw!) and headed off to the porta potties with Tony a fellow runner I know only via strava. 

Arriving at the porta potties was a nightmare you would expect… We had about 30 minutes until the race was suppose to start… and with 5 minutes to spare I finally get access to the bathroom. Nerves were eating me up at this point so you can do guessing. Get out of the John and run/jog/skip to the start line… But i realized I am in corral A and the only way to get there is to go through the entire 2,000 people already lined up.. The weaving begins. I make it to right behind the 3:15 pacer the announcer yells “GO!”. I still had my good will sweatshirt on and threw it off fast and remembered to hit my watch so it could get a satellite signal in time. Phew! OH SHIT! I forgot to turn on my iPod and lync it to the headphones… crap crap. I try to do this while jogging to the start line and hitting the start button on my watch. Luckily I am able to get synced up… but I realized it wasn’t playing the right playlist.. I figure ill set it later as i don’t listen to music for the first half anyways. 

Mile 1: 7:29 – Fought with my iPod and tried to warmup this first mile. I remember having to avoid cones that were spread over the course (Construction). I also passed the 3:15 pace group hoping that would be the last time I see them. And also popped 2 of my enduralyte tabs, since i didn’t have time at the start. I had to swallow them without water while running.. fun times!

Mile 2: 7:12 – Now my focus is on finding the 1:35 pace group, where I should be for this entire race. 

Mile 3: 7:12 – Another effortless mile, I have to remind myself to conserve my energy.

Mile 4: 7:18 – Still trucking along, I take my first blok here.

Mile 5: 7:13 – My eyes might be misleading me but I think i see the 1:35 pace group ahead.

Mile 6: 7:17 – I am consistently passing people, a little worried when that happens early in the race, but I also know there is a half running the same course.

Mile 7: 7:14 – Pretty sure I took another tablet here. Just a single.

Mile 8: 7:21 – Take my 2nd blok this mile. This is the first challenging part of the course as we go through some steep uphills in a nice neighborhood. The hills were not long, just short and steep. 

Mile 9: 7:21 – Another set of small hills. And I also start running with a guy who is doing the half marathon. He tells me how he was suppose to do the full, but had to downgrade his entry due to life getting in the way. We all have been there. 

Mile 10: 7:18 – I try to encourage the guy I am running with to catch the 1:35 pacer with me. We kind of feed and surge off eachother for the next few miles.

Mile 11: 7:16 – Gaining on the pace group now.

Mile 12: 7:38 – Pace group is closer, and in still passing a lot of people.. But my mind is getting fatigued and the crowd support is non-existent. I decide it’s time to turn on the music. But oh ya… the playlist was messed up. I struggle to try and read my armband while running and decide it’s worth it to just stop for 5 seconds to get the correct music going. I do this, but still can’t read the damn thing so I proceed on… about a quarter mile down the road I am finally able to get the correct music going and I feel a little better. But I officially lost the 1:35 pace group. 3rd blok here.

Mile 13: 7:22 – I pass by a sign that reads mile 25 and realize I will have to run this same route again… in another hour or so.. fun times. I proceed to the “finish line” and hear yells of support for the half marathoners finishing but nothing for us marathoners.. who still have to run… 

Mile 14: 7:16 –  I turn the corner after the finish line and a giant gust of wind blows me back. Yup… the wind picked up and now I was running right into it. I have done some super windy training runs so I tried to tell myself it was just cooling me down. Problem is I lost one my gloves along the way, so i had to alternate my one glove to keep my hands warm. A look ahead I a runner… literally 1. After the half marathon completed the race was empty.

Mile 15: 7:24 – This mile and the last were probably some of the most scenic miles of the course, running along the path it felt like I was running back home and just doing a training run. 

Mile 16: 7:22 –  4th blok here, nothing memorable about this section besides for some houses.

Mile 17: 7:19 –  Man this section of the course is lame. Go into a tunnel and emerge to the other side and then go into another tunnel. I am still passing people and have not been passed pretty much since mile 5.

Mile 18: 7:24 – Hmm things are getting to be a little tougher. My legs are getting heavier and it’s taking a lot more effort to pass people. 

Mile 19: 7:28 – Running next to a freeway, fun. Very scenic. I think I took my last enduralyte tab here, I lost the other one I had. 

Mile 20: 7:33 – Make a turn and am greeted with more wind, take another blok.

Mile 21: 7:31 – The race is officially on, but I have nothing left to give. I am just trying to hang with another runner who looks like she could run this pace all day. 

Mile 22: 7:30 – Now the mind games begin.. okay If i just maintain this pace 7:30ish for the next few miles I can get under 3:15. Side note: in the future I need to take some extra stuff here.. 2 enduraltye tabs, 2 bloks, maybe a couple M&Ms…. either this mile or mile 19.

Mile 23: 7:52 – Who am I kidding? I am tired as hell. I can barely run.. I decide its best for me to stop to get 1 water and 1 powerade. Down them both, catch my breath real fast and proceed on.

Mile 24: 7:49 – I see some runners ahead and realize they are not slower than me but an out and back is about to occur. Crap. I have to go up some stupid bridge to do this.. and guess who it is.. right on my tail.. the 3:15 pace group. I probably should of taken another blok here but I think mentally i was out of it and figured it wouldn’t have done a lot of good with 2 miles left. 

Mile 25: 7:54 – Okay it’s gonna be a battle. I am officially on the struggle bus and it’s not helping having to weave through people WALKING the half marathon. Look I am cool with people walking, but please get to the right of the path/road and keep the left side open. When I have to yell for you to move it’s pretty aggravating and tiring. I can hear the 3:15 pacer behind me yelling for people to move as well. Damn’t they are gaining on me…

Mile 26: 8:16 – This mile was officially a blur, the only thing i remember was when the 3:15 pacer passed me with 1 guy and another right on his tail. I screamed “son of a bitch” but had nothing left to try and hold with them. I am wobbling back and forth and barely conscious at this point. I remember some guy screaming at me to run faster, and he was like running backwards.. so probably someone who finished earlier. Oh look a hill… I can barely run at this point, I do a shuffle step and look about as fast as the people walking in the half marathon.

Last .2 : 7:31 – I look at my watch and realize it’s gonna be close. I give it everything I have.. which is like nothing. and get past the finish line. I collapse on the floor from exhaustion and just sit there for a minute. The photographer comes up to me and says.. “You look tired…” He gives me a hand and I get up on my feet look at my watch and realize I just got a new PR.  3:15:26 Okay… here comes the wave of emotion.

Why is it that every time I PR my eyes start to tear up. It has to be the culmination of busting my ass for months in the freezing cold, doing tempo runs by myself in the early morning, speed work, core work, long runs on a treadmill.. YUP, that happened. All of that was for this one moment. To get 1 minute off my previous PR. That previous PR was from 2015 on a much more friendly course with a net downhill and better crowd support. So you know what, I am damn proud of this. Yes it’s not my 3:10 or even my A goal of a sub 3:10 but you know what… I’ll take it!

Thanks again to my wife for supporting me along the way, and my parents for always being there as well. Thanks to Will at runninglane.com for the outstanding coaching and putting together some great workouts for me. Thanks to Fozzie for being my go to training partner during the week. Thanks to Aimee for running with me on Saturday and putting up with my bullshit. Thanks to Jim and the Busse Woods running group for finding this race and a great after race meet up. And thanks to Carmel for putting on a good race and helping me get that new PR.

The rest of this consists of notes to myself and my coach to try and figure out what went right and what went wrong.


  1. First and foremost.. Will did a great job of mixing up my workouts and keeping me busy during every week of the cycle. Keeping me motivated, especially on those tough days and workouts. I knew he would be looking at my workout later so it was like I was running to keep him from being disappointed. I recommend Will and the guys over there for sure. Thank you!
  2. Speed days. Wednesdays sucked, but you know what they were great too. Every Wednesday my tempo run got harder and harder. And every week my confidence got higher and higher. I knew I was getting faster and it felt great.
  3. Long Runs on Saturday, thankfully I had Aimee to run most of these with which helped a ton. Otherwise solo running 20+ miles would of been.. ugh.
  4. Shoes, I decided to wear my racing flats (Hoka Tracer 2’s) These guys are awesome and I think it really helped having lighter feet.
  5. Diet and core work, I started to develop what looked to be… abs! Whenever I can see some definition in my stomach I know it’s because I am in the best shape of my life.

Now.. what went wrong.. what can I do differently or improve on..

  1. Sleep, the night prior I got ZERO FUCKING SLEEP. this has never happened, and it sucked. I think I just need to watch some star trek, read a book, and go to sleep WHEN I AM TIRED. Don’t force it.. but just relax. The week building up to the race I thankfully got 9+ hours a night and that helped a lot!
  2. Nutrition, I changed up the training.. now to focus on some nutrition.. During the second half I think i need to up my calorie intake. I know it’s common to struggle around mile 20, but in the past I have not had issues.. It’s now becoming normal and I want to be able to cruise past 20-23 without having to feel like death. Take some extra bloks, tablets and maybe stash a few M&Ms in your baggie for some quick sugar.
  3. The start, I was rushed. Had no time to warm up, no time to get my watch or iPod set. From now on.. use the porta pottie 45 minutes in advance of the start as an extra precaution, then if the line is short, just get in it again if you have to. No reason to be stressed like that. This was also a fault of the race for not providing enough porta potties. 
  4. Confidence in your training, I doubted I could maintain a 7:10 pace for 26 miles, but I think if went out a few seconds faster… I would of broken that 3:15 marker and then some. 
  5. Race prep, obviously with Chicago winter there were not many options for race prep. But next cycle find a half marathon 4 weeks out and race the shit out of it. It will prep you mentally, and you can gauge your level of fitness.
  6. Harder long runs, the long runs were good, but maybe intermix a few were you progressively ramp up.. aka start close to 8:15, and finish at 6:30. To teach yourself how to run when you are DEAD ass tired. And maybe some medium speed long runs were you maintain a consistent pace of 7:30 for the whole thing to push your threshold.




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2 Responses

  1. Donna Wrightson says:

    Huge congrats! Finishing another marathon, getting a new PR… you should be “damn proud” … way to go!:)

  2. Mark Wrightson says:

    Good run report. It still amazes me how you can finish a marathon at the pace you run. Great job!

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