November 6, 2010


Do I have a story for you! This race recap is for my benefit, but if you're interested about all the trials and tribulations of a marathon, then read on...

Let's start with Friday. I wake up to find a sign in my front yard compliments of the Yorktown Running Club (YRC)! Love the potential future for this group!

When I got home after packet pick up, I found quite the display from my kids and family. They been such huge supporters! The inside of the house was filled with posters that the kids had made, as well as the balloons that Molly sent me at work.

After a long evening volunteering at WIPB telesale, I was home and in bed by 10. Of course don't think I fell asleep until well after 11:30. So much on my mind. And I think I checked the alarm clock 3 times "just to be sure it was set right"

Alarm was set for 5:15. Of course I watched the clock click to it from about 4:45 on.

I chose to wear my lycra shorts on the bottom, and my loose gym shorts on top of them. Loaded my pockets with two powerbar gel packs in each pocket, and of course my ipod. I also wore sweats over them. On top I wore my sleeveless wicking shirt as the base, a short sleeved cotton tee over that, and a long sleeved cotton tee over that. I pinned my number on that shirt, so there was no plan to shed layers from that. I wore a heavy sweatshirt with a hood over all of that. I wore an ear band, and a pair of cotton gloves.

We met up with a caravan of Yorktown runners, and I discovered that my wife had used some window markers to write on our vehicle...of course I shared the love by writing on all the other cars too!

We arrived safely and got parked with no trouble and found a nearby hotel to use the facilities one last time. Ted had given me the idea to spell my name on my shirt with tape. This way people would actually be yelling "Go Chris", and it makes it so much more personal and means that much more. Made sense to me, so I agreed and we taped away! A few more photos and we took the walk to the start line!

Stopped off for one last stretch session in a tent (blocked the wind) and got pumped up! I took off my sweatpants, and decided since I had only ever run in shorts that I was going to stick with that (even at 27 degrees!)

Pete and I entered the field from the start line, and tried to make our way back to the signs that said 10-11 minute pace, but we only made it as far as the 9 minute groups before we were stopped by the gridlock. It was shoulder to shoulder in the staging area, but was nice and warm.

The countdown from ten was on, and off we went.

First let me say that Pete set his goal pace as 10:35 on his tracking device, and I knew I would never hold that for 26 miles, but I wanted to run with him and help him do as well as he could. Read on to see how that turned out...

Mile 1 - Started off West on Washington Street, and a Right turn South on Illinois as we went under the Arts Garden was a great way to start. Another right onto South Street, and a quick left onto Capitol had us going by Lucas Oil Stadium where the Colts Cheerleaders were out front "cheering" us on! As we came to that first mile marker, I heard my Garmin click off early (this happened at every mile all day) that we had just run our first mile in 10:15. "Hey Pete! I think we might be a little fast!" It's easy to get caught up in the excitement and we felt for a moment that we could run the whole thing at that pace.

Mile 2 - We turned left on McCarty and felt good making jokes about jumping into Shapiro's for a sandwich, etc. We turned left to head North on Delaware and witnessed the first of many impatient drivers who were being held at intersections while we passed. We turned left back onto Senate and finished mile 2 in 10:36 (much better)

Mile 3 - We turned right onto Meridian and started one of the neatest stretches of the race as we were heading straight toward the monument. As we got closer and closer, the crowd got thicker and thicker. I began to shed my sweatshirt so that I could throw it to Molly as I expected to see her in the crowd, and if I didn't I would just throw it on the curb where they were being picked up and donated to charity. As we came up to the monument, I spotted Molly standing with Pete's wife, Amy, on the steps to the monument, they spotted us, and I threw the sweatshirt where she could get it, blew her a kiss, and continued halfway around the monument continuing North on Meridian. We then turned right to go East on New York Street where some hip hop dancers were performing and clicked off 3 miles in 10:52. We were right where we wanted to be!

Mile 4 - Apparently the heat building between my sweatshirt and tee shirt were enough to cause the tape to peel off. At this point I had H-R--S left on my shirt, so I just peeled the rest off. The course turns North onto Alabama where a younger middle school drum line was "performing", before we turned East briefly onto Michigan, and than caught the diagonal road of Massachusetts Avenue! This is a long angular stretch of road with some interesting scenery that I wasn't crazy about. At the end of the Mass Ave, we turn back West onto 10th Street, and it was neat to look over my shoulder as I made the turn to see the sea of people behind me! We completed mile 4 in 10:40, Excellent!

Mile 5 - We headed North on Central Avenue, and the crowd was much more sparse through this neighborhood. I took my first gel pack just prior to a water station at about 4.5. There were some very nice families that were set up in their front yards with fire pits, breakfast, etc. cheering us on loudly. At 16th Street we turned back East and finished mile 5 in 10:43, Fantastic!

Mile 6 - We turned North again on Pennsylvania Avenue, and went past some "interesting" dwellings. This was a tough stretch for me mentally, thinking about Pete peeling off on the half course soon. But we maintained our pace at a steady 10:42.

Mile 7 - We picked up Fall Creek Parkway and followed it Northeast. This is a road that I travel often when going to downtown Indy, and I usually drive it very fast, so I knew it was very winding, and only a few small hills. However, at the first sign of the course splitting, I actually got a lump in my throat. The thought of losing my running partner was far more daunting than I imagined. I was so pleased to have this opportunity, but going alone would challenge my mental abilities like never before. As we neared the split in the road, we bumped fists one more time and told each other how proud we were of each other. Just as we were about to split, we look up and THERE'S MOLLY AND AMY! They had gotten in the car and found their way through the heavy traffic to that point. *TEARS* This mile clicked off for me just after we split at 10:21

Mile 8 - I still had another mile on Fall Creek and focused on maintaining the pace. I wasn't sure how long I could do this, but surely I could do this one. 10:31. Excellent!

Mile 9 - We cut through a side street which spit us out on 38th street. Wow! This was an incredible amount of stopped traffic on this stretch. I witnessed people honking, cursing at runners, and in one case, getting out of their car and going toe to toe with an officer, telling him that he "HAD to let her go" ..stay classy Indy! This stretch was also a mile long and I held onto my pace with 10:50.

Mile 10 - We made a turn North (again) onto Washington Blvd. This was a very difficult part, as I thought about continuing to run AWAY from the finish line, while my friends were nearly finished back downtown. As I followed the road, I actually came upon a familiar face. A couple, David and Gina Rawls, are from Muncie. I had met them last month at a 15k race on the Greenway, and overheard them discussing the marathon. They were walking through a water station when I caught them. They had told me that their plan was to walk 1 mile for every 6 that they ran. They shortly passed me again and disappeared into the crowd ahead. I paced this mile at 10:39. Still got it!

Mile 11 - This stretch of road on Washington Blvd seemed to go on forever or at least another mile. Just more of the same, but I it became much tougher to hang on to this pace. I have always run with an ipod, and spent a lot of time creating a specific playlist of songs just for this race. I was aware of the music the entire time, but since Pete left me, I really was in tune with the songs. Shortly into this mile, a song spoke to me like never before. Matthew West is contemporary christian artist and his song Motions took on a whole new meaning for me. The first verse is:
This might hurt, it's not safe
But I know that I've gotta make a change
I don't care if I break,
At least I'll be feeling something
'Cause just okay is not enough
Help me fight through the nothingness of life.
After the Chorus, the second verse continues:
No regrets, not this time
I'm gonna let my heart defeat my mind
Let Your love make me whole
I think I'm finally feeling something
'Cause just okay is not enough
Help me fight through the nothingness of this life.
This song helped me hold onto my pace at 10:52 and there was no way I was walking until the halfway point.

Mile 12 - 20 blocks later, we turned East onto 58th street for a hilly but short trip to over to College Avenue where I finished that mile at 11:16. I knew I would pace over 11 eventually, but I was okay with it.

Mile 13 - We turned North onto College Avenue, and this was a neat stretch as we ran into Broad Ripple. The crowd thickened up again! We had some very entertaining signage and a few that I had seen a few times. My favorites to this point were, "Even Chuck Norris can't run a marathon", "Your feet hurt because you're kicking so much butt", and my new all time favorite, "26.2...because 26.3 would just be crazy!" As I neared the 13 mile marker I knew I was slowing, and started to debate walking for the first time, so I ran to the sign and paced that mile at 11:26.

HALFWAY - 13.1 As I crossed the 13 mile mark, I slowed to a walk that lasted all of 5 steps as the course reached it's furthest point North and turned back to the West onto 66th street, I could see a significant marker for the halfway point. An inflated arch that said 13.1 and a timing mat. I immediately kicked into a run again and finished the way mark at 2:22:27 (a 10:53 pace)

For the record, the fastest official half marathon race I had ever run was in 2001 when I ran 2:33:42. I know I'm in much better shape this time, but I wasn't sure that going 2:22 was the best idea. If I were to break 5 hours, I'd have to go roughly 2:37 on the back!

Mile 14 - Once the excitement of the halfway mark wore off, the pain of the halfway mark set in. I knew I was going to have to walk some, so my plan was to pick a phone pole in the distance and run to it and then walk for 2 minutes. Then if I saw a water station I would run to it and walk through it. I kept this strategy most of the back half. The course turns Southwest onto Riverview Drive and I managed to pace this mile at 12:32.

Mile 15 - The course turned South onto Meridian, and it was refreshing to think we were headed back toward Downtown. The next two miles would take us by some beautiful homes including the Governor's mansion at the end of the stretch. I continued to walk when I had to and fought hard to keep my pace under 13 at 12:45.

Mile 16 - The traffic was very thick. They had us in the far right hand lane which had Southbound traffic down to one lane all the way back to 38th street. That intersection must have been a nightmare. I found myself moving faster than traffic many times, and that says a lot because I had to do a fair amount of walking. The largest hill on the course was on this stretch and dropped my pace to 13:18.

Mile 17 - The course turned back East onto 46th street, and then South on Illinois, and then again East onto Hampton Drive which took us right into the heart of Butler University. There must have been a football game as I saw a couple students in band uniforms heading toward the stadium. Otherwise, campus was pretty dead. This mile didn't have as many hills and I paced it a little better at 12:53.

Mile 18 - I found this to be a very difficult mile for me. The pain my back was growing from being hunched over too much as my core was getting tired, and my right ankle felt like it could just break at anytime. I had a pain in my left big toe that felt like all of the blood in my body had pooled in the tip of it and with every rolling step I was about to explode the tip of my toe right off much like a tube a toothpaste when you're trying to squeeze one more week out of it! Hampton Road curves to the South and becomes Haughley Avenue. Where Haughley meets 42nd, we turn back to the East. At this point, I located, for the first time, a port a pot that did not have a line. Nature calls! I jumped in and did my business. 42nd street turns into Woodstock Blvd, and it is a very long stretch with woods on the left and some business looking complexes on the right. I forced myself to run the rest of that mile to avoid a big number on the clock, but it still paced out to 13:48. Not bad for stopping to pee!

Mile 19 - Once I crossed over Michigan Rd, the course winds through the Indianapolis Museum of Art property. There are trails cut out that lead you to the main entrance. This was one of the most beautiful parts of the course. I found it quite inspiring. As you come off of the property you are back on the busy 38th street still heading East, all downhill! The downhill leads to an exit ramp that winds around a large family picnic/playground area where you can see lots of other runners as you curve around 270 degrees to end up going under 38th street. I've not said much about the pace groups, but there was a 4:30 pace group that passed me somewhere around mile 10. And there was a 5:00 pace group that I briefly considered running with from the beginning. I crossed a timing mat at the 30k mark in 3:33:48 and did the math in my head to realize the 5 hour group would probably be catching me soon. No sooner than I realized it did I check my shoulder and there they were. Right on pace. I decided I had to go with them no matter how bad it hurt. I jogged the rest of mile 19 with them for a 12:24 pace on that mile. Much better!

Mile 20 - Maybe you've heard others talk about THE WALL that everyone hits at mile 20? Well I was determined not to hit that wall. Now traveling South again on White River Parkway, I had a nice view of the River to my right and crossed under I-65 still with the pace group. White River Parkway turns into a neighborhood of duplexes, and as I'm starting to fade from the pace group, I witness the marathon strike pain into another competitor. Only this time, it was a key participant! Of all people, I watched the pace group leader of the 5 hour group drop out of her pack. All of the pacers in the group continued on while looking over their shoulder to see if she was okay. She darted to the other side of the road and hunched over as if she were about to vomit. A couple of competitors stopped and ran back to her to check on her, and she limped back onto the course holding her side, and yelled at them, "Keep going! You can do it!" As I passed her, I could see she was in tears and visibly in pain. To be a pace leader you have to have completed a large number of marathons, and be able to easily maintain the pace for the group you are leading. Today was obviously not her day, and it showed me that ANYONE could go down at anytime. I remember seeing another sign that said "Trust your training!" I knew I had done the miles to be ready, but after witnessing that I wasn't sure how much longer I could hold on. I finished mile 20 with a struggling 13:11 pace.

Mile 21 - Remember the wall I mentioned? FOUND IT! After watching the pace leader go down, and thinking through my own pains, I began to walk more than ever before. And I couldn't powerwalk like I had done in previous miles. Everything slowed to a point that I could never imagine. We passed the Naval Armory, and it was difficult to hear people at the water station yelling "You're doing great!" as I can barely walk by them to get my next drink. The course turns back East onto Bursdal Parkway which is an older neighborhood with very little traffic, and some very unkept lots. There was no inspiration for me at this point. Many people were walking, each water station had at least two people in a medical tent. It was at this point that for the first time, I briefly considered quitting. I did the math in my head one more time and knew that 5 hours was out of the question given the pain I was in. I was beat both mentally and physically. I finished that mile with a 14:43 pace.

Mile 22 - Looking down and seeing that pace click off was defeating enough, but as I continued down this road, the pain intensified, and every time I would try to get a jog going again, it would only last 3 steps. I was becoming quite emotional thinking about how hard I had worked, and how lonely I felt. It was the longest mile of my life. And I believe with all of my heart that God knew how I would be feeling and he performed nothing short of a miracle. My wife (God bless her) had been traveling the West Central side of Indianapolis for who knows how long, trying to find a place where she could see me again. She got so lost that she saw the Indy 500 track! But God brought us together, and there she was standing at the 22nd mile marker waiting for me! *TEARS* I did all I could to trot to her, and as I met up to her she ran briefly with me and told me I could do it. She is the only person in the world that could have pulled me out of the self defeat I had just experienced for the last half hour. The pace for this mile was my worst by far, an embarrassing 15:47.

Mile 23 - With my new found hope, and trying to block out the pain, I tried to run a little more than before. The back pain was tremendous and my right ankle felt like it was already broken. Bursdal finally turned into Fall Creek Pkwy at some point as I crossed under I-65 again, and I began to recognize a few areas, and could see the downtown skyline in the distance. I knew I was getting closer, and there was no quit in me now. Just after turning South onto Meridian I realized that I was on the same road that the half marathoners had been on as they were finishing. I paced this mile at 14:42. A little better and my goal became to improve each remaining mile.

Mile 24 - As I continued down Meridian South, the skyline was getting closer and closer, and I could nearly see the tip of the Monument in the farthest distance. I still had to walk as much or more than I ran, but with some gut wrenching determination, I was able to improve that mile slightly to pace it at 14:11

Mile 25 - As I finished mile 24, I found another familiar face. Matt Stinson is a runner in Yorktown that I've not really gotten to know well, but he was part of the large group that had gone down to run the half marathon today. He was in street clothes, and looked refreshed. He jumped out on the road and asked if he could run me in. I was encouraged to have someone to run with and push me home, but I kept asking about everyone else. How was your race? How did Ted and Melanie do? Do you know how Pete finished? Matt kept me focused. He'd say, "one stop light at a time, let's get to the next one", and when we did he'd say it again, "your goal is to get to the next stop light". As I'm coming up on that next stop light, I hear "GO CHRIS" and find Ted and Melanie waiting for me (duh, they rode down together), Matt jumped off with his congrats, and Ted jumped in. At this point I'm BEYOND emotional. The support that these friends have shown me well exceeds my expectations. Ted has been my mentor and coach through much of this training, and I trust him more than anyone when it comes to running. He immediately says, "I know you hurt, I've been there. Don't worry about your time, and in fact don't even talk, just listen!" His motivational words were so well timed. Ted says "Did you know that less than 1 percent of all Americans will ever attempt a marathon in their life! You are in an elite group of athletes" "Your wife is so proud of you, your kids are at home waiting for you, and you are their hero!" At this point, I'm convinced I have to walk. I told him just get me to the interstate (I-65 overpass was just another block ahead), and then let me walk for one minute; just one minute, don't let me walk for more than one minute. Ted would never tell me what to do, but he encouraged me in a different way. Instead of telling me I didn't want to walk, he said "All those hours, all those miles, all those early mornings before work, all those Saturday mornings away from your family...THIS is where that pays off *TEARS* You can do this. Finish this the way you started it. Once you reach mile 25 keep the legs turning!" Seconds later, Ted said, "I've got to go". NO!!!! Don't leave me! "You've got this, you can do it, go get 'em!" and just like that he was gone! THANK YOU! He and Matt helped me pace that mile at 12:49, I hadn't done that since mile 15! Wow!

Mile 26 - There was a water station just before I started this mile, so I walked through it, and once I started Mile 26, I DID NOT WALK AGAIN! I knew I could run the last 1.2 miles, and nothing was going to stop me. At this point I'm coming into Monument Circle and the crowd is thickening up again. The folks that have already finished are finding their ways back to their cars, and are yelling encouraging words all the way. They're holding up their medals and saying "there's one of these waiting for you". I don't recognize anyone. The people I had been commiserating with in the earlier miles were left behind thanks to my friends pushing me minutes ahead of them. I take the quarter loop around the Monument and spit out on the West side looking squarely at the Capitol building and knowing that the finish line is just on the other side of that building. The course squares off around it going North on Capitol Avenue for two blocks and West again on New York for 3 blocks. I clicked off 26 miles with a pace of 13:18 and my tank is all but empty!

26.2 - THE FINISH. The course was measuring long all day, my watch was clicking off miles earlier and earlier so I knew my watch was going to have me going more than 26.2. Maybe it was because I was weaving through people too much early on, or maybe it really was long, either way, I was going to finish! As I near the end of New York, there he is...IT'S PETE! I was so worried that he wouldn't be there. He had tickets to a Broadway show that started at 2:30 and it was 1:15. He waited for me! *TEARS*. At this point, I'm running so slow that he can walk with a long stride beside me. He's telling me about the spread that's waiting for me, he's showing me his medal, and of course he's already had a shower and a cheeseburger. He leads me to the next to the last turn which is South on West Street. At this point, I see another familiar face. Remember David Rawls from Muncie that I saw around mile 10! There he was! I caught him. I looked over and saw his wife on the sidewalk, cheering him on. He was walking gingerly and clearly in pain. I yelled up to him "Is that you Muncie?" I passed him at the finish and said "WE DID IT!" as I turned into the finish chute which is an amazing tunnel of Government buildings, I let out a loud "WOOOOO HOOOO" and it echoed off the buildings! I pumped my fists in the air and kept yelling "YES!", I could hear David behind me saying, "I'm gonna get you Yorktown!" I spotted Molly and Amy on the sidelines and Pete was still running along side me outside the gates! I DID IT! It ended up measuring 26.43 miles and a very proud 5:21:54 which is a 12:10 pace. The time on my watch matches identically to my official time on the race website. It also tells me that my time on the back half was 2:59:28 which is a 13:42 pace. My Garmin watch also calculates some interesting data when I wear my heart rate monitor: My average heart rate for the entire race was 165 BPM, and I burned 4,487 calories!

When it was done, they gave me my finisher medal *TEARS*, a foil blanket, and filled a bag of food for me with bagels, cookies, bananas, apples, and bottled water. I paused to speak with David who told me he cramped badly and had to walk the last 6 miles. His wife had finished around 4:40, and with parting congratulations, I went to hug my wife!! We took some great pictures together with the Capitol building behind us, and parted ways with Pete and Amy.

Molly and I made our way to the car (slowly) and found our way to Olive Garden! She had not had lunch yet and I was STARVING! We took our time and ate well. We finally returned home at nearly 5 p.m. and I couldn't wait to get on facebook and read all of my posts and comments of congratulations.

I've had AMAZING support from so many friends during this entire journey. And for those who were there with me on raceday, I don't know that I can ever repay you for your infinite display of generosity! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!


  1. Read the whole thing....great job! What an awesome experience! ...Odessa

  2. Awesome post Chris! You had me near tears a few times reading your inspirational post. Now on to the next adventure! Congratulations!

  3. Congratulations Chris!! You are trully blessed. ;)

  4. So proud of you Chris!! What an accomplishment!! Congrats!

  5. Great story! Thanks for sharing.