First thing first - THANK YOU to Indiana Vein Specialists and Dr. and Mrs. Jeff Schoonover for sponsoring my entry into this event for the second year in a row! Your sponsorship of this event is appreciated by the event coordinators, community and athletes like myself.
This race is first class and if you have yet to do one of the distances at the Carmel Marathon weekend, you simply must. After having done the full marathon last year, I was content to do the 8k this year. I didn't want to train long miles over this winter, but didn't want to miss this event, so the Carmel 8k is my first race for 2014!
Packet Pickup was Friday and Team Olson took care of that for me. The shirts are great this year. Tech as always and almost like a soccer jersey look to them! I was impressed with how comfortable they are. This one may go in my "just wear it, don't workout in it" pile!
Saturday called for a YRC 5:30 meet up and caravan from the Yorktown Middle School parking lot, and it was smooth sailing all the way into the Palladium parking garage by 6:35! Gear up, stretch out, and hit the port-a-lets before the 7:30 start of the full and half marathons.
The usual suspects, Pete and Amy Olson, along with YRC president Ted Johnson lead the charge. Shared our prerace rituals with John Mickle, Brad Wilson, Matt Harber, Mike Shunneson, Chris Smith (his first half). We were able to meet up with Chuck Alfrey and his wife Staci, and I ran into my local friend Ryan Doyle as I checked my bag in prep for the 8:00 start of the 8k.
Once the half and full athletes clear out, there is plenty of room and time for another bathroom break and stretching. The sun was now fully up, and I felt as good as I have felt in weeks at this hour!
Not the most dramatic start for the 8k, but we're off and with nearly 600 in this race, it is pretty tight on the short uphill start, so I took to the grass, but got back on the road before the first turn which is onto a nice wide roadway as we wind our way around to the monon. It does get a little congested here as locals are coming at you on the trail, likely training for the upcoming Indy Mini. Mile 1 is here and for me a 9:12 mile, is about what I expected.
A water stop coming off the trail and onto a familiar road that I recall running in the opposite direction last year. A roundabout and a couple hills including a nice downhill to the Bike Out of the Carmel Sprint Tri (been there, done that) help me hit mile 2 at 8:56.
The plan for the race was to negative split, and as we had to climb the hill to get to the downramp onto Keystone (yes, they ran us on Keystone), I struggled a bit. And we climbed the offramp to get off of Keystone, I couldn't hold a strong pace for mile 3 at 9:36. (If I had this mile back, I would have pushed harder on the downramp and watched the watch closer on Keystone instead of letting my mind drift into this "why does Carmel have so many roundabouts and exit ramps, etc...SQUIRREL...you get the idea)
Mile 4 is a literal out and back. Half mile East to the last water stop at 3.5 and half mile West right back to the the Keystone interchange. No serious hills, just some gradual inclines, and in my effort to negative split, I had my heart set on that 9:12 from mile 1 and clocked a 9:15. Good enough! Now all I need is an 8:53 last mile and I'll be there.
At this point my Garmin is measuring almost 0.1 long already and so I know it's going to be over 5 miles (and 8k is actually 4.96) - Again, I let my mind wander and started looking around, and by the time I looked at my watch with a half mile to go I was averaging over 9:30 that last mile. I picked it up and could feel the legs resisting, but pushed all I had to get mile 5 back down to 9:14. The remaining 0.06 on the Garmin had me screaming into the downhill finish at a 7:38 pace.
Garmin finish time 46:40 and a 9:14 pace. (Since I've never raced this distance, that's a PR, right?) The results website has me at a 47:08 (9:29) pace. I believe that is my gun time, not my chip time. Doesn't matter much, except that this is the first race in a 3 part 8k series (Hoosier Park Triple Crown) that I'd like to continue with and they total my times.
Into the finish line, got my medal and looking for my chocolate milk! I love it when the local distributors see me coming up with the REFUEL Team Chocolate Milk race shirt on. They smile big, and high five and ask about it! Got a wave from Ryan Doyle who bested me by a few minutes while I grabbed all the goodies offered and went straight to gear check to get my stuff. I was anxious to see my text message updates for all my friends out on the long courses today.
Snapped a few photos and headed back to the finish area just in time to see Sophia Liu finish 3rd for the women's half (1:24:xx) - She was winded but looked like she could turn around and do it again. Then ventured up to the VIP area (yes, I got the hookup again) and found my hometown friend Scott Caldwell helping in that area). Spent some time catching up and saw Doug Elliott and Amy Ramsell finish.
As Amy finished I could see she was struggling and I ran to the finish area just in time to see her collapse into the arms of a Medical rep. Helped her to the tent and stayed with her until her husband arrived. She PR'd and gave it ALL to get there. She was doing fine shortly after.
Saw Mike and Chris finish up the half as I checked my GPS to find Pete and Amy. Pete was hoping to help pace Amy to a PR, but as he rounded the corner for home, she was no where in sight, and he said they didn't make it. Pete finished around 2:15 and I jogged in with Amy shortly thereafter. They both did great given the tough course.
No other PRs today. Chuck's day ended early with a blood pressure issue that he's been dealing with lately. John battled through a tough last 10k, but still impressed the heck out of all of us! And Matt and Ted ran together the whole way and seemed pleased. A handful of other facebook friends report being there and having great days too. The Carmel marathon weekend is alive and well! A beautiful course and city. Looking forward to doing it again!
Legs didn't tighten up too bad all day and this morning feel pretty good. We had great weather and I enjoyed this distance quite a bit. I can see myself maintaining a base mileage to do this distance for many years. I do wish I could have gone faster. I was able to run a 8:24 pace in November over the 4.7 mile Drumstick Dash, and I could barely muster one mile under 9 today. Now I need to focus on going further again as the Flying Pig Half Marathon is just 3 weeks away!
Thanks for all the support and love yesterday. Was great to see and hear from so many of you! Chocolate Milk Cheers!