Race Review: Veterans Marathon

Saturday marked the second marathon in a week that I would be running.  I knew it would be tough recovery after Monumental Marathon, but was wanting to try a different challenge and see what I could do on very short recovery.  Up until this point, the shortest time between marathons was 29 days.  So do go on 7 days rest was a whole new ball game for me.   

 The Veterans Marathon is run in Columbia City, IN and is held the Saturday following Veterans Day.  This is by no means a large marathon. There were 172 runners in the full marathon.  There was also a half marathon (269 finishers) and a 5k (151 finishers) option.  Last year I did the half marathon a week after running the full at Monumental, and actually did well by running a 1:23:22 and placing 2nd overall. 

The race starts off at 8:00 AM just northwest of the downtown court house. Prior to the race, there were 2 moments of silence.  1 was for the victims of the terrorist attacks in Paris the night before, and another for all those who have been lost during times of war. One thing I would like to say about this:  Runners, please pay attention when the announcers ask for a moment of silence.  Stop your conversation and just take a moment to be quiet. No, it is not cute and funny when you notice how oblivious you are to what is going on around you and wonder why everyone else is quiet.  Same goes for the national anthem.  Stop stretching and moving,  Take off your hat and show some respect. My kids do a better job than a lot of adults at this.   There, rant over. Also before the race they asked to recognize all those who have served our country in any branch of military by having them come together infront of the starting line.  This is probably my favorite part of this race.  

 
The race is started by the firing of a cannon and the race is on.  

 The race time temp was maybe mid 30s. Up until 20 minutes before the race, i was still battling in my mind on what to wear.  I decided to go with long sleeve shirt knowing there was a big chance of getting warm during the run. It was either that or wearing my arm sleeves and not providing much warmth to my upper body other than my arms.  I went with the long sleeves mainly because I had been sick earlier in the week and still battling a head cold, so I played it safe.  I may get warm, but I didn’t want to get any more sick than I had been. 

The main goal for the race was to run as close to a BQ pace (7:14 miles) as possible for as long as I could.  I actually started off not feeling too bad and was comfortable.  I ran the first 4 miles in 7:11, 7:13, 7:08, and 7:09.  It was in mile 5 that I knew, there was absolutely no shot at a BQ on this day. I knew it was a long shot, but thought I would give it a shot.  Mile 5 was in 7:22.  I knew it was only one off mile but it was very early and my legs just didn’t feel it any more. This was a start of a long day.  

I am not going to bore you with any further splits, it only gets worse from there, and to tell you the truth, I stopped caring about my splits anyways.  At this point, it was just another long run for me.  

This course can be tough on your body and tough on your mind.  The course is 2 laps of the half marathon course.  So you get to do the first half with the half marathon runners, cross the finishline and then do it all over again except this time with few runners out there with you. There are also a few rolling hills out there as well, with the worst being at miles 11 and 24 (same hills, just have to do them twice. 

As I was completing the first half, I seriously considered dropping out, maybe seeing if they would go ahead and downgrade me to the half.  Apparently Tina (she ran the 5k earlier) thought I might do that as well as I was not looking good she said. Honestly, I annoy sure what made me do it, but I ran through the finish and made a right hand turn and went out for the second lap.  No turning back at this point.  

 Lap number 2 was just as I expected, all alone. I could see one runner in the distance, and figured there were a few more close behind me.  Honestly, didn’t see another runner running in the same direction as I was until about mile 24 when we came upon the last couple hills.  At that point, I was passed by 6 runners at once.  A little demoralizing.  

Finally I made my way back into town for the final mile and just wanted it all to end.  

 Three turns left, 3 blocks left around the courthouse and straight into the finish where I get to stop this time. 

 I have no idea why I gave the thumbs up other than “Thank goodness it is over!” People have asked my why I did back to back weekends of marathons.  It was simply a new challenge.  Honestly, if I didn’t race Monumental the way I did last week,  I am sure that Veterans would have been a much more enjoyable experience.  But at the same time, I wanted to come away from Monumental with a good time.  So I don’t regret that decision at all. 

Swag: ok, this would go under the slightly disappointed column.  I was disappointed a little in the shirt, but I knew I would be.  The provider changed from New Balance to Brooks.  Last year we got New Balance Jackets.  They were nice and different than what you usually got.   

 This year we got log sleeve Brooks shirts.  Absolutely nothing wrong with them, in fact, I love the color and the logo, but just miss the jacket.   

 
Finishers medals were also of course given to finishers of the half and the full.  

 
The first 200 runners (no matter the distance) to register received a free Brooks pint glass.  It’s free so I can’t complain.  

 
Also everyone who registered for the half or full marathon received a free pair of Brooks Dash gloves, which came in handy during the race and for many other runners as made evident by the number of gloves I saw on the road during the race.  

 Course:as I mentioned early, this can be a mental race.  You have a lot of alone time on the course.  Your mind can really start making you wonder if you can push yourself more or even if you should drop out after the first lap.  Also, the hills can be rough but certainly are not the worst I have seen.  The one thing I didn’t like about the course and it seemed to be a change from last year was that you had to run through a church parking lot that was limestone gravel.  Felt a few stones poking through my shoe and also made for lose footing. 

Also the aid stations were kind of spread out funny.  Aid stations were at 2, 4.5, 5.5, 8.75, 9.75, 11.75, 12.5, 13.1, 15,17.5, 18.5, 21.75, 22.75, 24.25, and 25.5. The aid stations had water and Gatorade and one static that you actually went by 4 times, had Gu.  

What’s next: I will be running in some local 5k’s and a 4miler in the coming months but no other longer races in the next few months.  The spring will bring more marathons as I get ready to run in the Carmel Marathon (Indiana) in April, and then the next big challenge.  If you thought running back to back weekends with marathons was nuts, next May, I will do back to back days of marathons.  I will run the Wisconsin Marathon, followed by the Kalamazoo Marathon the next morning.  

Some may say: “Mark,  you didn’t recover well after Monumental, how will you recover in time to run another 24 (maybe it’s 23 because of the time chance) hours later?” Good question.  One thing I did come away with after this is more confidence in it.  I was surprised, after not pushing myself as much, with how my legs felt on Sunday.  I really wasn’t all that sore. If I don’t race the first marathon (as I should not), and just go out for a long run, I think I will be fine.  I will not be trying for PRs or BQs.  Just to finish.

Should be a fun experiment.  

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