Race Review: Carmel Marathon

The Carmel Marathon was held on Saturday, March 30th, which means this review is way overdue.  Following the marathon (the next day) the family went to Wisconsin Dells for a week over spring break.  Then after returning, work was real busy and just life in general took up most of my time so I did not find time to do my review.  Anyways, it was not the best weekend for a marathon.  Forecast for race morning was 50 degrees at the start but strong winds and rain.  I had every intention in running in shorts and a singlet for the race.

The race expo was held at Carmel High School.  Last year, the expo was held in one of the schools gymnasiums.  If memory serves me correctly, there was a fire, since then, in that gym area.  The expo this year the expo was held in another part of the school and it felt like the expo and all their vendors were kind of crammed in.  It was a little confusing on where to go for your bib numbers and shirts.  Both were in separate locations.  I don’t understand what is so hard about getting your bib number and your shirt in the same location.  Just have the shirts in the bags and ready to hand out with your bib number.  Tina and I did take advantage of talking with a couple of the represenitives that were present of a couple of the fall races we will be running, Urban Bourbon Half and the Air Force Marathon. Other than that, there wasn’t much at the expo for us.

After the expo, we went to get dinner at Buca Di Bepo and also walked around the local mall before heading back to our hotel.  The rest of the night was spend resting and preparing for the next mornings race.

On race day, we woke up to what we feared would happen, rain.  Heavy rain.  We had the opportunity to either check out of our hotel when going to the race, or hopefully having time to come back and shower.  At the last minute, I decided we should take our stuff and if we had time, come back and shower before heading home.

We arrived to the race location early and got a spot in the parking garage, which gave up the opportunity to get our race gear out of the care without getting wet first.  I did have to go use the restroom before the start of the race.  I took one step outside and realized, while it was 50 degrees, with the wind and rain, that it was not smart to just run in a singlet.  Luckily had a very nice Nike jacket with me that was water resistant and would be a good outer later to wear.  I also decided then to wear a t-shirt instead of a singlet under that to avoid chaffing in the arm pit area.  I highly recommended that Tina do the same and she did.

Rain continued to come down hard and wind continued to blow leading up to the start of the race.  The race made the decision not to have the race start in waves and to just have everyone start at once.  It was a rough start with some participants needlessly cutting off other runners in the first 100 meters, almost seeing some go down.  It was a very slow start for me, which I thought was a good thing. I was aiming for a 3:10 finish (so 7:14 average) and went out for the first mile at 7:35.  I was able to get mile 2 down to 7:16 but wasn’t feeling too comfortable.

One issues that came up on mile 2 was that the 100% chance of rain for the whole morning, seemed to have went away.  The rain was gone, and now I was starting to get a little warm in my jacket.  I heard may people say along the course to the runners, “at least its not raining any more.”  I wanted to say to them, “I am wearing this jacket for the rain, I would prefer the rain at this point.”  Miles 3-6 were in 7:21, 7:16. and 7:30.  I just could not keep things going at the pace I wanted to, I was not comfortable, I felt like my legs just didn’t have it in me, and I was getting warm.  Not feeling like my legs had it in them that early in a marathon is very bad thing.

It continued to stay dry as far as the rain is concerned.  Miles never got faster, in fact, I started to get even slower.  At this point, I was considering this more of a training run rather than a race.  All goals were gone. I was in survival mode, knowing that the worse of this day was still to come.  It didn’t start raining until I got to mile 11, and it came down hard.  Finally felt more comfortable wearing the jacket.  The rain lasted until I got just past the half way point.

There is one discouraging part of the marathon course is that the full marathon course go right by the finish line before heading out to do the second half of the race.  After the half way point, another shot to the gut, the 3:20 pace group passed me and I couldn’t go with them.  I had planned for this race to have the wind at my back from miles 16-23.  Should have been a nice break from everything else.  However, once again, another change to the forecast.  As soon as I made a turn to the north, I noticed that the wind was now in my face again.  the wind had shifted directions.

The pace was gradually getting slower and slower.  At mile 18, I ran my first mile over 8:00 pace.  This is the earliest in a marathon that I remember running a pace slower than 8:00.  It never got faster than that the rest of the way.  The wind was tough, it wasn’t raining much (off and on) the rest of the way but it was cooling off and I was starting to get cold.

At mile 23, I had enough and took some time to walk.  I probably walked for 2 minutes before getting going again.  It was the low point of my day but was happy to just finish this race off.  I came a crossed the finish line in 3:28:20.  One of my slowest marathons I have ran.

The conditions were so bad for the day that Tina and I decided that we were not going to hang around for any of the post race activities, instead just head home,  Thankful at this time for the parking garage which allowed me to change before going home and that we grabbed our belongings from out hotel room before the race as we did not have the time to go back to the room to shower.

It was a rough day, but there are always things that you can not control.  The weather was a big part of that but I am not sure I would have done too well on a good weather day.  The legs just didn’t seem to want to move from the beginning .  I will try to do better on May 5th when I go up to Michigan for the Kalamazoo Marathon.

The race management handled the circumstances that were handed to them very well.  There is nothing that race management could have done better to make the day better.

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