Race Recap: Carmel Half Marathon (1:41:12)

So after my “failed” half marathon PR attempt in St. Louis last weekend, I decided I wanted another chance because I thought I was in better shape and able to run a faster time.  On Wednesday, I made the decision to register for the Carmel Half Marathon and to just go by myself and try again.  The weather looked like it was going to be great, and then I made arrangements with some friends in Cincinnati to head there after the race to visit for a night.

I really can’t afford to keep racing all the time because these things are expensive, especially when you have to travel (and even more especially, traveling alone.)  However, I had a $100 Visa gift card that I won through work as part of our employee recognition program, so I thought this would be the perfect scenario to use it – on a $75 last minute race registration.  Of course, all the “official” race hotels in Carmel were booked already and even if they weren’t that’d a bit too be pricey for traveling alone.  So I scoured my Facebook friends, but couldn’t really come up with anyone in Indy that I was close enough with to ask if I could crash and such short notice.

Enter AirBnb.  I had never done it before, but figured this was the ideal scenario for why AirBnb exists.  And it was.  For $49 (+ a $6 service fee), I was able to stay at the lovely home of an empty-nester couple in a quiet, suburban Indianapolis neighborhood not far from the race.  It worked out perfectly.  Things that didn’t work out perfectly?  The race/my pacing strategy…

Let’s start at beginning with The Expo:

I drove straight from Chicago to the race expo in Carmel, arriving at about 7:10pm.  I had forgotten about the hour time difference between Chicago and Indy, but that didn’t matter much because the expo was open until 9pm.  However, when I arrived, I saw a sign for a FREE pasta dinner at the Whole Foods down the street until 7:30pm.  If I would’ve done proper research and known about this pasta dinner, I probably would’ve tried to go to save a few bucks.  However, I likely would’ve still probably neglected the time change and not made it there.

Carmel Half Marathon Expo

The expo was small, much like you’d expect from a smaller race.  It was in a large gym of a local health club/community center in Carmel.  I picked up my race packet without issue and walked up and down the 2 aisles, just stopping for a free donut sample – little munchkin-type donuts.  So I was in and out in a matter of minutes and then hit up the local Panera for dinner.  Had my (current) usual – half turkey sandwich/half chicken BBQ salad and a French baguette.  I’ve been on a big Panera kick lately, btw.

Pre-Race:

The Carmel Half Marathon was probably the easiest pre-race experience I’ve had.  I took my time getting ready in the morning and headed to Carmel from my AirBnb home, which only took about 10 minutes.  I drove straight to the start/finish area because the website said there were 2 parking locations within half mile.  Luckily once I got to the area it was easy to follow the other cars into a parking lot and then follow a few others walking to the start area.

No lines for the port-a-pottys! (Yet!)

Carmel Half Marathon Restrooms

I used the bathroom, then put together my gear check bag, checked it, and set out for an easy warm-up of 1 mile at 9 minute pace.  I didn’t even need to throw away my “throw-away” clothes because I shed them early and put them into my gear check bag since it was so warm already.  After my warm-up, I also wished I could put my arm warmers into my gear check bag, but that didn’t seem possible because they hadn’t organized the bags by number yet (wouldn’t that be a fun volunteer job while the race was going on?) so they were all just in a big mess of a pile.  But actually during the race, I never once even thought of the arm warmers and wished I could take them off, so I guess it worked out OK.

I tried to wait for a port-a-potty after my warm-up, but due to the long lines, I had to abort early and go line up at the start.  I didn’t want another issue like the St. Louis Half the prior weekend.

The Race:

I had originally decided to try to do a race plan similar to what I had done in the Virginia Beach Shamrock Half Marathon last year – a few miles easy then start alternating 2 miles hard, 1 mile easy – to make it also kind of like a workout, but also going for a fast time.  And this strategy seemed to fit in well with what I could tell of the elevation chart of the course.

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Mile 1: 7:08

Within the first mile, I realized I had started a little behind a pace group.  I wasn’t sure which it was, but I focused on staying relaxed for the beginning, but also gradually began to gain on them.  My watch beeped for a mile and I realized it was a little faster than my plan – I thought I should do about 7:25 for the first 2 miles.

Mile 2: 7:08

Fast again.  But a little after the 1st mile mark, I had caught up to the pace group, realized it was for a 1:35 half marathon, and decided to change my strategy to be sticking with that pace group for the entire race.

Miles 3 & 4: 7:14, 7:02

I still felt good and was very pleased with the weather and my decision to hang out with the pace group.  I tried to convince myself it was just a casual Saturday morning running group out for a run.

Miles 5 & 6: 7:19, 7:28

I was still with the pace group for the 5th and most of the 6th mile, but by the end of the 6th mile, I could tell I was not going to be able to keep up.  There was a water station right at the 6th mile mark and I stopped for a few seconds to walk to get in water.  Of course, my watch beeped for 6 miles while I was walking, but I said “Ok, a 7:28 for just walking a few seconds is still about a 7:20 running pace, so I just need to keep that up.”

Miles 7 – 9: 7:31, 7:39, 7:41

Well, clearly I could not keep that up.  There was a timing mat at the halfway point (6.55 miles) and I came through that at 47:25, so right on pace for the 1;35 (yet I was probably 30 seconds behind the pace group.)  I tried to convince myself I could still PR even if I slowed down a tad, but it also just didn’t seem possible because I was fading fast.  There were 2 or 3 other girls that had been with the 1:35 pacer that had dropped off as well and we seemed to each be playing ping pong with each other for these few miles – passing and then being passed.  I think in the 8th mile was where I walked through another water station for a few steps to get in my Gu/water.  And then I could do no more passing.

Also, somewhere in these miles I had to hop a fence?!?!  I guess we went the wrong way and ended up on a service road NEXT to the trail we were supposed to be on.  I can’t really describe a fence well, so I found this on Google that shows what type of fence it was…easy to climb, but still not ideal.

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Miles 10 – 13: 8:40, 8:52, 8:06, 8:03

These miles were just straight pain.  If I had known where I was, I probably would’ve just dropped out and found the quickest walking route back to the end.  They were filled with not being able to pick up my legs when I did try to run and a few walking breaks.  I did manage to make myself run the entire 12th mile…that’s what my goal changed into – run this entire mile without stopping.  So still not being able to squeak out under 8 minutes wasn’t too cool.

But at least my sunglasses made me look cool:

Carmel Half Marathon Finish

(Sweaty Band = Wicked Exclusive Turquoise 1″)

Last .1 Mile  – 7:12 pace

Major struggle just to push it in, but was so glad to be done.  Gives new meaning to the term “positive split” – first 6 miles in 43 minutes, next 6 in 49 minutes…  I’m in sweet shape for the 8k or 10k I guess though.  I don’t know what my long distance issue is now, but I’ll write out some thoughts on that later.

Finish Time: 1:41:12

Post-Race:

The finish area at the Carmel Half Marathon was THE BEST.  Chocolate milk + bagels + those little munchkin donuts I had samples of at the expo.  Plus water and bags of chips and pretzels and fruit.  I took a few items, picked up my bag from gear check, then just sat on the curb about .1 mile away from the finish watching runners finish.  I had especially wanted to see the first marathoners come through, which was exciting.  I never get to see the winners of a race!  Since, you know, I’m behind them.

After awhile, I headed back to my AirBnB host’s home to shower, then hit the road to go to Cincinnati for the rest of the day/night to soak up the sun.

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Lindsey almost has me convinced to tone down the running this summer to concentrate on learning to swim and bike so I do a half-Ironman with her in the fall… But first I need to get through the Anchorage Marathon!  I guess you could say I’m marathon training now…9 weeks to go.

Have you ever stayed at an AirBnB?  What was your experience like?

Any stories about going the wrong way in a race?  I can’t really say this counts because it didn’t actually seem to affect the distance at all, but it was weird.

6 Thoughts on “Race Recap: Carmel Half Marathon (1:41:12)

  1. Sorry to hear the race didn’t turn out the way you hoped it would :( Though racing halves on back to back weekends has got to be tough on your body! Not a whole lot of recovery time between the two. The only time I’ve been directed the wrong way during a race was at Zooma Chicago in 2013. They didn’t have course marshals at one of the turns, so no one turned and we all just kept going straight. Ended up being 12.8 miles instead of 13.1 as a result. I was not pleased.

    • Thanks for the support, Bethany! You’re definitely right – rough on the body…taking most of these week pretty easy before picking it up again! I think it’s so crazy to hear about runners not going the right way in a race – like how hard is it to clearly mark a course with big signs on posterboard or get a volunteer to stand somewhere that might be moderately confusing?

  2. I can’t believe you had to climb a fence during your race! I don’t think I have ever gone the wrong way during a race but I am sure its frustrating. I think you did really great, congrats!

  3. Congrats on your race! I can definitely identify with the desire to find a comeback race when the first one didn’t go as planned. I’ve been looking for another spring one too! But I also have a ten mile race in two weeks, and I know my body doesn’t typically handle back to back double digit races well- my legs do best with two weeks recovery for a half. That could definitely be why you faded toward the end. But you have a lot of potential for that really speedy half soon!

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