Carmel Half-Marathon Race Recap – GU, and Seconds, Matter!
My second race this year (following my half marathon in Montgomery, Alabama – check out guest Dude Mark’s report on that race here!) was the Carmel Half Marathon, part of the Carmel Marathon Weekend on April 18th, in (you guessed it) Carmel, Indiana. The Carmel race weekend, in its fifth year, offers a 5K, 8K, half marathon, full marathon, and marathon relay. This race is a Skortaholics favorite, MB, LA, KB, Deborah, and guest dude Mike had done it before as well, with KB getting a super-fast PR. So, we think there is a lot to like about this race: the course is relatively flat; the temperature is typically mild; there are pacers for the half and full marathon; walkers are welcome (6.5 hour time limit for the marathon, 4 hours for the half, and no time restrictions for the other distances); logistics are pretty easy with the race providing shuttles from official hotels to/from the expo and race; and it’s a Boston Qualifier.
Traveling with the gang!
So we headed off to Carmel on April 17th — me (yes, this should probably be an “I,” but whatever), Chrissie, guest Dude Mark, and guest Dude Ernie. Mark and Chrissie were running the full, with Chrissie hoping to snag a Boston qualifying time. I was running the half and hoping to practice race strategies for my upcoming A-race full. Ernie was our driver and support crew for the weekend. Our Friday consisted of lunch at Panera Bread, packet pickup, stressing about the forecasted heat and humidity the next day, carb loading at Biaggi’s Ristorante Italiano, and getting everything ready for Saturday morning. (Which, of course required preparing the required “Flat Sandy” for Deborah — showing all my cool gear: PRO Compression Socks, Ponya Band, Athleta Chi Tank, CW-X capris, Garmin, & Brooks (Run happy!) shoes.)
Race Morning Shuttle Stress . . .
Mark and Ernie were up early Saturday for breakfast at the hotel. I skipped that and had my usual breakfast of a banana, peanut butter, and Gatorade in my room. Chrissie and I joined the guys in the lobby to catch the 6:20 race shuttle. First logistics issue. That plan failed because of an extremely long line for the shuttle. This caused a slight increase in our stress level, but the race official assigned to the hotel assured us that another bus would arrive shortly and would get us there in time for the 7:30 start. We did make it in time, but it was a little difficult weaving through the runners to get to the starting corral that we wanted.
Running the Race – Sandy Thinks There is a Hill!
All of the race distances start at the same time, so it is crowded for a couple of miles. But after mile 3, the half marathoners separate from the full and the course opens up. The half course then winds through the downtown arts district, several neighborhoods, and wooded park trails. The wooded park trails were a welcome relief from the sun and higher than normal temperatures this year (it was in the 40s and below the last time any of us did this race). With the exception of mile 10, I was happy with the course. OK, so keep in mind I HATE hills. Yes, truly hate them. So, for some reason that mile seemed very steep to me. According to my Garmin, however, the elevation gain for that mile was only 33 feet. Yes, I know, not that bad. And the whole race only had 162 feet in gain. So, I guess none of it was bad, but at the time . . .
The great logistics continue at the end of the race with the finish line and race exit being super organized. Post-race treats included chocolate milk, water, bananas, chips, and various other typical race food items. I remember reading about, but didn’t see, a Beer Garden. Sigh. (I wouldn’t have had the beer anyway, but the idea is nice!)
Post-Race Reunions, Chrissie Makes a Wise Decision.
After my race, it was a short walk to the shuttle for a trip back to the hotel for a shower and breakfast. But, I was anxious to get back to the finish line because I had been tracking Chrissie and Mark and was worried because there had been no updates on Chrissie since her half marathon split. All of the Skortaholics were worried about her and the texts were flying back and forth. I was relieved when I found her at the finish line, but I was also sad because I found out she had dropped out of the race around mile 17. I know that was a really tough, but the right, decision for her. She is a great runner, but with the unseasonably warm temperatures, it just wasn’t her day, and I know she will get her BQ soon. Ernie and I were there to cheer for Mark as he crossed the finish line in 4:03.40 — another reflection of the weather as that was a slower time for him and he seemed super happy to be finished. Thank goodness we had our one person support crew there to drive us to lunch and then home. Thank you Ernie!
Lesson Learned – Dropping a GU Can Cost an Age Group Win!
Overall, I was happy with my race. I was able to practice fueling and water intake for my upcoming marathon, and like the race in March, every race is different and there are always new, valuable lessons to be learned:
- After what felt like a near drowning episode in March, I discovered that pouring a little fluid from a cup that’s full and pinching the cup to form a drinking spout will direct the fluid away from your nose. (I need to thank MB and Deborah for sharing this tip with me.)
- The focus for this race was to drink at all but the first water stop and eat every 30 minutes. I think my plan was solid, but the execution left something to be desired At the 30 minute mark, I had one GU in my hand but had somehow dropped a GU. I was determined to follow through with my plan and decided to go back for the dropped GU. I discovered that going against the natural flow of a race is almost impossible and, well, dangerous. It also possibly cost me a first place finish in my age group. I finished in 2nd place with a time of 1:48.12. The first place finisher had a time of 1:48.01. Yep, you read that correctly. Eleven tiny seconds. Eleven.
Lesson learned from this race – take more supplies than you need and don’t ever go back for anything that’s dropped!
What lessons have you learned from a race the hard way!
Share and help someone else keep that tenth of a second!