2019 Carmel Marathon

I wasn’t even sure I was going to start this race. That’s how bad I was feeling leading up to the Carmel Marathon this year. I had a string of injuries leading up the race. 1 Hamstring, 1 foot (left), and 1 glute (right).

The first two healed fairly quickly but still took key workouts away from me. And required a total of about 2 weeks rest between the two. The glute on the other hand… was a weird one. This sucker HURT a lot in the morning, and at the start of my runs. I remember telling myself after waiting 2 days for it to get better… I can’t afford to wait anymore I need to run. So i pushed myself to run and it actually felt better after 2 miles…..So between icing, resting, stretching, seeing a PT and massage therapist… my goals for the Carmel marathon began to change. Originally it was the elusive 3:10… or rather sub 3:10. But after all the setbacks I knew that was not realistic.
Race weekend called for strong winds and rain on race morning. The worse periods being at the start and possibly in the middle of the race. Should be fun! We have a lot of things we can control in a marathon, the weather is not one of them. One benefit of my racing experience is that I have run in the WORST possible conditions. 2012 CIM for example…

Not to mention this cycle alone, my race preps consisted of sub-zero race along the lakefront and an ankle deep muddy trail race. Weather plays a factor, but I wasn’t going to let that ruin my experience. As one my training partners Tony said.. There is no B race.. this is our race.

The drive down to Carmel wasn’t that bad, there was an accident that forced a detour but overall my Dad and I had a good trip. Oh ya, my Dad decided to join me for the race, he would later commit to running the half. 

The usual pre-race stops… Expo, Hotel checkin, and then dinner. Noodles and company of course.. Buttered noodles, side of mac n cheese… and some bread with marinara sauce. Got back to the hotel and laid everything out. I brought two headphones with me, my usual over the ear and smaller earbuds.. I decided to wear the earbuds for this race because of the weather. They should withstand the rain better and are more compact to stuff away until I need them.

Nutrition I had planned out pretty well from my last marathon and wanted to do pretty much the same. 5 Maurten gels, some honey stingers and bloks mixed in as well as salt tabs. Brought my foam roller with me and did some leg rolling before heading to sleep. Got about 5 hours of sleep the night before and was ready to go in the AM. My Dad and I met up with Tony at this hotel (right next to ours). And waited for the shuttle. When we got off the shuttle it was raining… wind was blowing… and I was limping. Limping BEFORE a marathon isn’t really a good sign. My glute was bothering me and I was hoping a warmup would do the trick. While everyone was huddled inside the lobby of some business nearby… I decided to out and do about a 1 mile warm-up. Of course, the heavens let loose. It came down harder than it did all morning. Not only was I the only lunatic warming up but I was being pushed around and getting drenched in the process. Ugh my glute is hurting pretty bad…Oh well. Head back to the lobby are and its now so packed in with people it looks like a clown car. I wave to my Dad to come on outside as we should drop our bags off and head to the corral.

I had an awesome throw-away jacket from CIM. Seriously best race swag… So i dropped off my warmer jacket at the gear check and just had that an singlet underneath. I had gloves on, but at this point they were worthless. I should of dropped them at gear check but thought they might be nice to have for a few miles. 

Get to the starting area and drop my Dad off at the 2:45 HM pace group and wish him luck. Then Tony and I struggle our way to the front and get somewhat close to the 3:25 pacer. I tell Tony I was planning on starting somewhat slow and then hoping to gradually increase my pace.With all the pressure and nerves on the start I forget about my glute and the gun goes off.

Mile 1 – 7:32: I actually contemplate where I would drop out if my glute doesn’t not feel better soon. I tell myself I could limp run and finish the half marathon. My glute is screaming at me, I try to find a balance and stride that doesn’t hurt it as much. Nice and easy this first mile.  I am sticking with the 3:25 pacer.

Mile 2 – 7:22: Okay, my glute seems to have relaxed now, I might be able to actually run this race, a huge relief considering. I read a lot of advice from faster runners and one thing that stuck with me is to FOCUS on the race, focus on the now and what you are doing, not what happened or what can happen. So my goal was to announce every mile split to myself out-loud. I left one earbud in as my watch does this for me. Just no music. The idea here was to actually NOT zone out.

Some strong wind gusts…

Mile 3- 7:17: My coach told me to turn on the music after the half, and I agreed with him. So just the watch telling me split times was the only audio I heard. One mile at a time. Having run Carmel last year I knew that Miles 2-4 were fast. Some downhills in these miles so I controlled the pace but also didn’t fight going a bit faster. Some girl behind me commented on my jacket and asked me about CIM. Had a brief conversation with her before she started to trail behind and said have a good race, I turned back saying you as well!

Mile 4 – 7:19: Keeping things in check. The rain stopped. And I asked why I was carrying these heavy ass gloves filled with water when it wasn’t that cold out. I decide to ditch my jacket first instead. Farewell CIM throw-away jacket, you served your purpose! Take my first Maurten gel here. Tasteless and delicious! 

Mile 5 – 7:29: Notice a girl’s shirt that is running near me TCRC.. Thinking it might be Twin Cities Run Club? Maybe something in Indiana, surely no one from MN would come to do this race? right? 

Mile 6 – 7:28: I ask the girl in the TCRC shirt (Lisa was her name)… What she was doing, the full or the half? She responds with the full. Ask her what her goal was… said 3:15. Said we should run together, we are around the same pace, might as well. She didn’t seem to mind. I decided I should take my salt tabs here, but with no water swallowing 2 pills is a bit of challenge and it makes for a good distraction. I am sure I looked quite strange. I got one down without much issue, but the second I had to hold in my hand until the next water stop after several failed attempts. 

Mile 7 – 7:21: The first hill is coming up I warn Lisa. Its short but steep. We both laugh as we had experience with hills out west. But since moving to the mid-west I have lost our advantage…things like bridges are now hills. But this year… With all the Barrington hill running I did, this thing seemed like a joke, especially considering how much it slowed me down last year. I still proceeded with caution and didn’t tax myself.

Mile 8 – 7:27: The next few miles are a steady climb, take my second Maurten gel here. I look around and notice it’s getting very dark. After about 30 seconds of darkness the skies open up and it decides to start pouring rain, on top of that the wind brings it in my face sideways. Strong headwind forces whoever is left around you to bunch up. I decide to get behind whoever i can to draft until I need to pass.

Mile 9 – 7:28: Back onto a main street, pissed off drivers giving us dirty looks as we run past. I decide to yell out the mile splits as we pass by the markers, since Lisa was right behind me. 

Mile 10 – 7:36: Another climb here, steady and controlled.

Mile 11 – 7:26: Wind kicks into high gear, I swear to God the wind was always in our faces… I am not making this up. Proceed to draft.

Mile 12 – 7:37: Another runner comes up to us and asks to join. By all means we say. I tell her we are the unofficial 3:15 pace group since our current pace was just that. The newcomer decides to turn up the pace a little and we follow for a bit before I mention to Lisa we are doing a 7:00 min mile.. I guess she was doing the half marathon and with only a mile to go that would make sense. We ease off the gas and let her go. Sure enough she was. Take my 3rd Maurten gel here. And I took another salt tab here, but can’t remember for sure. 

Mile 13 – 7:24: I get prepared for the sudden loneliness that will occur when we pass through the halfway point. The race turns into a desolate field of runners as the majority only do the half. Some guy says something to us as we pass by… something about only 8 girls ahead of us? Didn’t let it bother us and we proceed on. I decide to turn on my music and listen to it for about 2 minutes before I turn it off and decide to save it for the last 10k.

Coming through the half…drenched.

Mile 14 – 7:21: The next 3 miles are my favorite part of the course. The greenway. Birds were chirping in the background, paved pathway with no car fumes in to breathe in. It was nice.I talk with Lisa about shoes for the next few miles. Brought up how many Nike Vaporfly’s we have passed thus far. She mentioned she was a Brooks Lifer. And I mentioned I was wearing of all the brands…. A Skechers. It became my joke for the rest of the race. How many people can I pass wearing these things? Pass a few more people, including another girl.

Mile 15 – 7:24: My 1 earbud that is reading my mile splits says “POWERING DOWN”. I freak out trying to turn my headphones back on, but everything I try fails. I enter panic mode but try to remain calm and pack them away. Lisa says just to remember the eye of the tiger song in your head. I say.. the theme from top gun is far better!

Mile 16 – 7:21: The last mile of the greenway. I take my 4th Maurten gel.

Mile 17 – 7:29: We run through a tunnel and sneak out under a freeway. I decide to take my first caffeine honeystinger here. Just one I tell myself.

Mile 18 – 7:39: The whole race I was telling myself that the race does not start until mile 20, it’s just a long run, then a hard 10k. But this mile beat me up. This was the real turning point for me, thinking back I told Lisa to go if she was able too, as my legs were starting to feel like dead weight. She passed me at some point and was gaining distance and I was thinking to myself.. Here goes another marathon where I fade and let it slip by. I decide to fight as long as I can and also try lifting my legs higher, longer steps to try and use different muscles. It seems to work…

Mile 19 – 7:32: Still fighting but I know my pace is slipping. Take a blok here, reminding myself nutrition is important.

Mile 20 – 7:27: I start gaining on Lisa, and eventually am drafting behind her. Take another honeystinger.

Mile 21 – 7:27: Take my last Maurten gel here. I was pretty polite about throwing trash near cones and or water stops. But at this stage of the race I tore open the gel with my teeth and gulped it down and threw it on the side of the road, not caring.

Mile 22 – 7:20: I pass Lisa here. As well as a crap load of other people. We are burning through them like crazy. She mentions something about the race starting. I respond ya, I am going to just try and hang on.

Mile 23 – 7:22: I see a blinking light up ahead, it looks like a bike. Pass another vaporfly wearer here…brings the total to 6, which to be honest was a lot less than I expected. CIM every damn person had a pair of crimson red vaporfly 4%s on… not today.

Mile 24 – 7:30:A water stop mis-hap slows me down a bit, but i gather myself up and catch up to Lisa. And notice the lights ahead again. It is for sure a bike, and it appears to following a girl. I mention to Lisa that it could be 3rd place female. It’s possible as the race is on the smaller side and the weather could of impacted how people performed. A slight-uphill slows us a down and then I turn on the after burners.

Mile 25 – 7:08: We are gaining on the bike, and the person riding it constantly is turning around to check on our progress. Lisa is right behind me. I see the girl up ahead and notice her stride is suffering. We pass by another 4 or so people and then the biker. I ask him what place female was that? He said 5th… Then proceeds to follow us now as she became 5th place. 1 Mile to go… I did mental math last mile realizing it would be damn close I didn’t look at my watch for the splits. I just ran hard.

Oh race photos are so flattering.

Mile 26 – 7:09: With the renewed sense of energy Lisa takes the lead and I get right behind her Biker behind us. Not going to lie, was pretty cool to have an escort for the last 2 miles. Knowing a hill is coming up I try to maintain my pace, I am peaking at 6:50 in the last mile of a marathon. This is new territory for me as usually I am fading hard and trying with everything i have to keep moving. I think back to Mile 18 when I made the judgement call to fight. And I was happy I did. I thought to back to my training runs at Barrington, running the last 4-6 at RP on tired legs… I thought about those long tempos and grueling out just 1 more mile…. I thought back to the book I read, quotes and articles… All saying the same thing. You will hurt now, but you will feel fine the next day. Hurt is an understatement. My legs were ON FIRE the last 2 miles. The pain was immense but I knew i was close to the finish.

Last .2  6:15 pace: I crested the last hill remembering what it felt like last year. This year, I was cruising. Pass by one more person before the finish line. And see 3:14:09 on my watch.

Wobble around as usual post marathon looking for water, find a medal, some chocolate milk and see Lisa. Congratulate her and say great run. She says the same and thanks me for the help. Find my Dad who is right there looking upset, because I guess he missed me coming in. He said he saw me but didn’t think it was me. He managed a 2:47 on his second half marathon. So mad props to him, especially at his age.

I then started to freeze, and realized how cold my hands were. Everything started to hurt and I started to get stiff. I knew I had to get out of this weather ASAP and waddled over to the gear check to collect my warmer and hopefully dry clothes. Threw a sweatshirt over my singlet and saw Tony walking over. He not only PRed but BQed with a fantastic 3:20:20, huge congrats to him!

Thanks as always to my wife for putting up with my morning runs, injury complaints and strange diets. Thanks to my family for being supportive of me throughout the process and my Dad for making the trip down to Carmel with me. Was really fun sharing the experience with someone. And I know he enjoyed the medal he got.

Thanks to my training partners and running crazies who ran in frigid temps and put up with my constant trucker’s mouth during some of those harder runs… Thanks to my massage therapist and my PT Dr. Nick, for helping me through injuries and muscle pains. As well as good ole Icy Hot.

And thanks to coach Will, from runninglane.com for putting up with demands and questions through the cycle. And for being supportive when I was injured. Maybe we can get a full cycle without injuries and make some real head-way this time?

Last, thanks to Carmel for putting on a race and having some awesome volunteers monitoring the course and aid-stations! Again, very happy to get a PR at Carmel this year and ultimately getting 1 minute closer to Boston.

A much enjoyed flight of beers post marathon.

Next part is just notes to myself and coach for next cycle.

What Went Right…
Training: I think adding those 24 mile long runs really boosted my confidence in the later miles and reminded me I was capable of running fast on tired legs. Running at Barrington on the weekend was a huge benefit, running those hills made everything seem small at Carmel.

Nutrition: Was spot on for the most part, maybe take an extra caff gel at 16/17, otherwise the individual baggies for each salt tab, the maurten gels throughout the race and the water up until mile 20 seemed to work great!

Pacing: Constantly reminding myself to stay relaxed and conserve for the later miles really seemed to pay off this time. Whether it was the reminder or pure adrenaline the last 10k was great.

Focus: Focusing on the race, and every mile reading and listening to the mile split really seemed to keep me vested in the race I was doing, not the race I would be doing later.

A running partner: I never have success with pacing groups because they generally stick to a pre-determined pace and that’s that. I like running my own race and I got to do that but also had someone to run with for almost the whole thing. I think finding someone to run with helped me a ton here, so finding out to re-create that will be a challenge. Shout to Lisa for running a great race!

Sleep: rest and sleep obviously play a role in success and having 5 hours of sleep before the race helped. Took half a tablet of melatonin 30 minutes before bed seemed to do the trick.

What Went Wrong….
Injuries: Obviously… Foot injuries, hamstring injuries, glute injuries.. I got banged up this cycle. Hoping some rest and no running will help heal things up before we start up again. But I need to start making sure I do Yoga on Sundays again. I think it helped loosen things out in ways simple stretches don’t.

Shoes: The vaporflys and shoes with plates (carbon rockets) seemed to really hurt my feet but only in later miles and hills. I think finding a combination of the two and I might be able to take advantage of them, but for now no plates until I am 100% again. The Skechers did the job well, even if they did look hideous and say SPEED across the side…

Confidence: My confidence was low leading up the race, but after a solid workout it was restored slightly, having some confidence booster workouts can really help you believe in yourself. Don’t make every workout so difficult you won’t achieve success. Aka take a week off from the hills. =)

Tempos/Speed Days: I still need to work on my turnover and speed and I hope once I start up again I can begin doing that with success. I think adding some longer tempos into my long runs could help. Basically i’d like to run two days a week fast rest easy/moderate. With the goal of 1 tempo day, 1 interval or other type of speed session day.

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3 Responses

  1. Donna says:

    Well done! New PR! Great race! Congratulations! 🙂

  2. Mark Wrightson says:

    It was great traveling down with you and getting to run the Half. Good run report- you will good race.

  3. Donna Wrightson says:

    Congratulations on a great race and a new PR!,

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