Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Indianapolis Marathon: Slow Me and the Bandit

So this past weekend I did my 5th marathon in my 5th state, Indiana. My nephew, his wife, and their four kids live outside Indianapolis. All the kids get along, and we have a good time. I chose to do the Indianapolis Marathon because of its reviews and the small field. My niece was supposed to do the half with me, but she signed up for the larger more well known Indianapolis Monumental Marathon in two weeks. I will most likely pace her for the half. Considering my race this past Saturday, I'll just be paying it forward.
Finishing Strong!! 4:58:58

The Indianapolis Marathon takes place in Fort Benjamin Harrison Park in Lawrence, Indiana. The trees are full into fall and look fantastic. The race caps out at 5,000 for the full, half and 5k.  This is perfect for me. I like a small marathon. The first half of the course is hilly and loopy. The second half is a flat out-and-back.

It was a cold windy morning. I gear checked at the last moment and got in the long lines for the bathroom. It was another National Anthem that I missed and didn't stand up. I managed to sneak into my corral as it was creeping toward the start line. Each corral started a minute or so after the last one headed out. So wise. I started 9 minutes after the clock start time. I met some nice ladies at the beginning. One was doing her first full and wanted to finish in 5.5 hours, and another doing the half said that the trees were prettier this year than last year.

I had downloaded a bunch of new songs on my Ipod for the second half of the course. I figured that I would get tired then and need the motivation.There were times in the first half I wanted my music badly. As it happened I didn't need my Ipod at all. The first half was great and brutal all at the same time. There were some nice hills and beautiful scenery, and I even saw a deer. I felt as good running as I did for the Omaha Half Marathon, but my time at the half was 13 minutes slower. It was that hilly. I enjoyed the half greatly. The top of my thighs were warm by mile 10.

I ran every hill, and as I ran up the long hill to the half I ran along side a gentleman. We kept pace. When the full split from the half, he was next to me again. He said, "You're a good pacer." I asked, "Is this your first marathon?" He responded that he was out for a training run. A bandit. His son was running the marathon, and he was going to run to the 17 mile mark, turn around and then meet his son at the finish. In the next 14 miles, I got to know John. I didn't know his name unril we had run three or four miles together. He is 69 and has run 40 marathons. He had retired from Target and had been instrumental in having Target sponsor Grandma's Marathon. He was trying qualify for Boston in a marathon a few weeks later with a 4:25 in the 70 year old division. He also volunteers as a cross country and track coach at a small high school in rural Indiana. If a bandit angel pacer could drop out of the sky just for me, John was it.

At mile 17 he looked for his son but could not find him. He worried that his son had dropped out at the half. I had mentioned halfheartedly at one point that he should run the whole thing with me. In the running club, I have been know to "talk" people into running a few more miles with me. I really don't feel that I'm that influential, but John decided he would run the whole marathon, five extra miles, with me. I showered one liners, and he showered encouragement.

Here's some of our dialogue:

Me: Have you run this course before?
J: Yes. And you don't PR on this course.
Me with relief: Oh.

J: I think you have some more in you, and you can go ahead if you want.
Me: If you can find it, you let me know.

At mile 22 I hit the wall hard. My abs were cramping, and I was tired. He mentioned but didn't complain about his hip and stomach.

Me: I'm going to cry.
J: No. Don't do that.

Me: I want to stop.
J: It won't make you feel any better.
Me: True.

At mile 24 I took a longer time drinking water. John waited for me. I told him I was coming and ran again. Although I didn't listen to my Ipod, a song that I didn't download was running in my head for the last two miles. It's called Good to Be Alive by Jason Gray. The lyrics, "I want to live like there's no tomorrow, Love, like I'm borrowed time. It's good to be alive," kept pace in my head. I need to download that song. It's good perspective.

The last mile is uphill with turns. I was so tired. John kept telling me the finish was just around the corner. When the clocks showed our time with half a mile left, he pushed me to pick it up and finish under 5. I finished at 4:58:58. John finished and got a medal too. He knows that he didn't pay his dues, but he definitely earned it. We shook hands at the finish, and I didn't see him again.

My girlios and cousins were at the end cheering with posters. I was so happy to have them there, and I am so thankful to have had John as my pacer. I've recovered well and have no injuries. I am ready to run another day, probably tomorrow.