2021: Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon

I’d be lying if I said an injury resulting from one missed step in the 2021 Blue Mound Trail Run would have taken twenty extra weeks than the two I thought it needed to heal. I’d also be lying if I said the longer path to recovery didn’t bring unexpected but much needed lessons along the way. Most of them were variants of letting go – being my own medical doctor, being a knucklehead and bluntly pushing through obvious physical pain in races, and so on. Some others helped fine tune the Assistant To The (Chief Timer, Race Director, Volunteer Coordinator, and so on) and the guy behind the camera skills at events I had signed up to race. Yet others – myriad of emotions on the faces of people of varying ages and abilities along the course and in the vicinity of finish line – helped reset some forgotten perspectives. Best of them all was … drumroll please … the affirmation that I have a lovely family of supportive friends: none of them made any kind of funny (or negative) remark or gave me a hard time for DNFing (not once but twice – Marquette Marathon and Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon) instead of pushing through the pain!!

Training plan and compliance

Marquette Marathon had come about in the 7th week of the original 12-week training plan –  designed by Pete Pfitzinger and Scott Douglas (detailed in their book Advanced Marathoning). The sharp pain in my left heel and stiffness in the right gluteal region had resulted in a DNF after 8.50-ish miles. In my mind, the path back to regularly scheduled training involved

  1. Taking a step back – drastically reducing volume (and intensity) for a week after the Marquette Marathon, giving my healthcare system a complete run down and seeking their feedback. It turned out that the heel pain during the race was an indication that the new ligament strengthening treatment was actually working! So, we decided to continue the treatment. The routine involved one session per week (Monday) for three weeks (#09-11). There’d be no running for the first two days after each session, and short and super easy runs afterwards.
  2. Re-starting from a known checkpoint – reviewing the training log and checking the last time I did the workouts as prescribed. It was in week #06. If the DNF was entirely due to performance reasons, I’d have just re-started the training from week #05 after one week of recovery. Because it involved healing an injured body part, I opted to push the original weeks #09-12 by four weeks (i.e., they’d now become weeks #13-16).

While not easy, Birkie Trail Run Festival Half Marathon (end of week #10) and WhistleStop Marathon (end of week #12) needed to be removed from my list of Fall races/events. My buddy, Rob, had shared with me run-specific cross training activities to add intensity and maintain/improve aerobic fitness while the treatment went on. Reviewing the supplemental learning material in the aftermath of a second DNF (Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon in week #12) improved my understanding of resuming training after a 2+ week hiatus. Timing of other very high priority projects at work and in life – two of them 2 years in the making and the other 10 (yes, ten) coincided with weeks #13-15.

Taking all of this into account, it didn’t make sense to continue pushing the body hurriedly through a marathon training program. A part of me wanted to end the training cycle after the Queen City Trick or Trot 5k in Marquette at the end of week #15. Some other part of me, thanks in great part to all my Unicorn friends who ran the Boston Marathon in my week #11, still wanted to run the distance (and maybe earn a new PR, if not catch the Unicorn). While comparison can be a thief of joy, it also served as a reality check (or as the cool kids call it, dropped a truth bomb) in this case. Compared to a year ago, I had run less than half the volume in 2021 so far. Based on the visual cue Ray had taught me before (wider the base, taller the pyramid – I call it the pyramid scheme but in a good way), it was rather unrealistic to expect to achieve (or sustain) the same goal paces I did last year.

After several back and forth swings of the decision pendulum and an honest analysis of post-QCRC Trick or Trot 5k feels, I took suggestion from Kiera, encouragement from Kristin and Paige as well as an opportunity to surprise visit Laura and her prime family … and upgraded to the half marathon distance at Indy. Renewed/Revised goal was to get a feel for what the combination of residual fitness and plenty of rest can do before ending this training block, and use it as a baseline for the next one down the road.

Week by week compliance with training plan - inconsistent as it may be due to aforementioned reasons - is summarized in the chart above. Day by day compliance is summarized in the table below. The first 7 weeks were used towards the 2021 Marquette Marathon. Final 10-ish weeks of this plan underwent more revisions than many of my submissions to research journals - so much so that it barely has any resemblance to the original version. The complete log of my training activities is available in Strava, if interested.


Training Plan
Notation: Easy (E) | MLD (M) | LSD (L) | Recovery (R) | Tempo (T) | VO2Max (V) | Race (R)
Distance in miles and time in h:mm:ss.
Entries in the final column represent the average miles after a given number of weeks in the training cycle.
Wk Mon
Tue
Wed
Thu
Fri
Sat
Sun
Week Cycle Average
01 07/19
E 8.00
8.13
3:47:12
07/20
Rest
-
1:00:00
07/21
E 9.00
9.01
2:26:54
07/22
Rest
-
-
07/23
R 5.00
5.45
2:23:16
07/24
M 13.00
10.73
1:44:11
07/25
Rest
-
1:00:00
35.00
33.32
12:21:33
35.00
33.32
12:21:33

35.00
33.32
12:21:33
02 07/26
M 11.00
11.43
2:58:54
07/27
Rest
-
-
07/28
T 8.00
8.06
1:24:15
07/29
Rest
-
2:15:00
07/30
R 5.00
12.49
5:03:12
07/31
M 15.00
13.12
2:45:56
08/01
Rest
6.23
2:05:47
39.00
51.33
16:33:04
74.00
84.65
28:54:37

37.00
42.33
14:27:19
 

W02D06 (2021-07-31) was the Queen City Half Marathon (Strava) in Marquette, MI.

03 08/02
E 8.00
-
1:30:00
08/03
R 4.00
4.04
0:46:50
08/04
M 11.00
8.49
1:39:31
08/05
Rest
-
1:30:00
08/06
R 4.00
11.43
3:26:16
08/07
L 16.00
-
-
08/08
Rest
13.12
1:41:25
43.00
37.08
10:34:02
117.00
121.73
39:28:39

39.00
40.58
13:09:33
 

W03D07 (2021-08-08) was the Traverse City Half Marathon (Strava) in Traverse City, MI.

04 08/09
R 5.00
5.46
3:27:25
08/10
T 10.00
-
-
08/11
M 11.00
10.32
3:52:07
08/12
Rest
7.50
2:04:48
08/13
R 5.00
5.00
3:00:00
08/14
L 17.00
7.13
1:12:06
08/15
Rest
13.12
2:48:44
48.00
48.53
16:25:10
165.00
170.26
55:53:49

41.25
42.57
13:58:27
Wk Mon
Tue
Wed
Thu
Fri
Sat
Sun
Week Cycle Average
05 08/16
Rest
-
1:30:00
08/17
M 12.00
5.05
1:15:43
08/18
Rest
10.06
2:45:58
08/19
T 9.00
6.02
0:53:20
08/20
R 5.00
10.01
3:04:40
08/21
L 16.00
6.26
2:40:59
08/22
Rest
6.54
2:17:44
42.00
43.94
14:28:24
207.00
214.20
70:22:13

41.40
42.84
14:04:27
06 08/23
R 5.00
5.07
2:23:31
08/24
V 9.00
8.57
1:25:41
08/25
M 12.00
14.92
3:03:52
08/26
Rest
-
0:30:00
08/27
R 6.00
3.16
1:26:46
08/28
M 15.00
9.13
2:39:11
08/29
Rest
6.38
2:11:39
47.00
47.23
13:40:40
254.00
261.43
84:02:53

42.33
43.57
14:00:29
 

W06D05 (2021-08-27) was the Husky Hustle 5k (Strava) in Houghton, MI.
W06D06 (2021-08-28) was the Lake Antoine Classic 15 km (Strava) in Iron Mountain, MI.

07 08/30
R 6.00
5.82
2:02:18
08/31
R 7.00
9.60
2:25:48
09/01
Rest
2.36
1:49:18
09/02
Rest
-
3:00:00
09/03
R 4.00
3.35
0:59:52
09/04
R 26.20
10.74
2:40:39
09/05
Rest
-
1:00:00
43.20
31.87
13:57:55
297.20
293.30
98:00:48

42.46
41.90
14:00:07
 

W07D06 (2021-09-04) was the Marquette Marathon (DNF; Strava | Journal) in Marquette, MI.

08 09/06
Rest
-
1:30:00
09/07
R 3.00
3.86
1:42:45
09/08
R 3.00
4.38
0:50:15
09/09
Rest
-
1:30:00
09/10
Rest
-
-
09/11
R 3.00
3.13
2:04:44
09/12
R 3.00
3.35
1:35:24
12.00
14.72
9:13:08
309.20
308.02
107:13:56

38.65
38.50
13:24:15
Wk Mon
Tue
Wed
Thu
Fri
Sat
Sun
Week Cycle Average
09 09/13
R 6.00
6.27
3:50:28
09/14
Rest
-
-
09/15
Rest
0.75
1:41:47
09/16
Rest
-
-
09/17
R 4.00
4.36
2:26:06
09/18
E 13.00
13.76
3:35:52
09/19
R 6.00
6.23
3:16:16
29.00
31.37
14:50:29
338.20
339.39
122:04:25

37.58
37.71
13:33:49
 

W09D06 (2021-09-18) was the virtual BAA Half Marathon (Strava).

10 09/20
Rest
-
1:30:00
09/21
Rest
-
1:30:00
09/22
Rest
1.00
2:20:00
09/23
Rest
-
1:30:00
09/24
R 4.00
5.71
2:17:33
09/25
R 6.00
6.52
1:02:29
09/26
E 12.00
11.78
2:53:09
22.00
25.01
13:03:11
360.20
364.40
135:07:36

36.02
36.44
13:30:46
11 09/27
E 5.00
5.14
1:19:07
09/28
E 5.00
5.13
3:21:59
09/29
E 5.00
5.13
0:40:55
09/30
Rest
1.54
0:18:46
10/01
E 5.00
4.94
1:27:45
10/02
E 3.00
3.79
2:07:39
10/03
L 26.20
17.02
4:04:27
49.20
42.69
13:20:38
409.40
407.09
148:28:14

37.22
37.01
13:29:50
 

W11D07 (2021-10-03) was the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon (Strava) in Milwaukee, WI.

12 10/04
R 5.00
7.72
1:19:53
10/05
E 6.00
6.23
2:31:00
10/06
Rest
1.10
0:38:17
10/07
E 6.00
6.32
2:32:45
10/08
R 5.00
6.06
2:28:28
10/09
R 10.00
9.99
3:00:08
10/10
Rest
-
1:00:00
32.00
37.42
13:30:31
441.40
444.51
161:58:45

36.78
37.04
13:29:54
 

W12D06 (2021-10-09) was the JHS Jets 10k (Strava) as part of the Oktoberfest in South Range, MI.

Wk Mon
Tue
Wed
Thu
Fri
Sat
Sun
Week Cycle Average
13 10/11
V 7.00
7.06
1:05:14
10/12
R 5.00
5.18
2:58:32
10/13
E 6.00
6.30
1:02:41
10/14
R 3.00
1.46
0:19:56
10/15
Rest
-
-
10/16
Rest
-
-
10/17
E 6.00
6.12
1:56:46
27.00
26.12
7:23:09
468.40
470.63
169:21:54

36.03
36.20
13:01:41
14 10/18
Rest
-
2:00:00
10/19
R 5.00
6.47
1:02:20
10/20
E 6.00
6.02
0:52:29
10/21
Rest
-
2:00:00
10/22
Rest
-
-
10/23
Rest
-
-
10/24
Rest
1.76
1:27:59
11.00
14.25
7:22:48
479.40
484.88
176:44:42

34.24
34.63
12:37:29
15 10/25
Rest
-
1:30:00
10/26
R 3.00
3.31
0:32:04
10/27
E 5.00
5.08
2:15:36
10/28
Rest
-
1:00:00
10/29
Rest
-
-
10/30
R 7.00
7.16
1:30:32
10/31
Rest
-
-
15.00
15.55
6:48:12
494.40
500.43
183:32:54

32.96
33.36
12:14:12
 

W15D06 (2021-10-30) was the Queen City Trick or Trot 5k (Strava) in Marquette, MI.

16 11/01
Rest
-
1:30:00
11/02
Rest
-
0:30:00
11/03
R 3.00
2.62
0:51:10
11/04
Rest
-
-
11/05
E 3.00
3.30
0:34:36
11/06
R 13.10
13.28
1:43:36
11/07
E 5.00
4.50
1:42:44
24.10
23.70
6:52:06
518.50
524.13
190:25:00

32.41
32.76
11:54:04

Training eye candies

Activity type by time (hours)

If not the long-ish table, this pie chart should summarize this training cycle: nearly as much time spent in prehab sessions as in running, hiking and roller-skiing combined.


Activity type by distance (miles)

Surface type by distance (miles)

Easy-Hard distance (subjective; miles)

Companion-Solo distance (miles)

These two - one above and one below - are by far my favorite eye candies: very grateful for 65+ friends who kept me company on runs and hikes, and accounted for nearly 30% of the total training distance!

Vitals (sleep and resting heart rate) were measured every day shortly after waking up. If a measurement wasn't taken on a given day, then the recorded value from the previous day was used for computing the 7-day moving average. 50% of the body weight (55% since 2021-09-11) in fluid ounces was the hydration goal on normal (i.e., pleasant weather, non-workout and non-race) days.

The vitals (sleep or lack thereof, and higher than normal resting heart rate) tell the tale of culmination of three projects over the final 3-4 weeks of this training block. One of them was due over 10/11 - 11/01 at work, another took place over 10/22 - 10/24 in Wisconsin, and yet another one needed gathering and shipping critical stuff to Uncle Sam by 10/29. Having prepped well for the first two projects, it was mostly positive anxiety and excitement. The third project needed my attention during day time on week days and away from Houghton - which, in turn, led to burning midnight oil to keep pace.

Race weekend

My boss, being the amazing human he is, granted Thursday off. The drive to Naptown USA started pretty early in the morning. In spite of being 600-miles long and punctuated with several quick detours in the second half and getting into and out of Central timezone, it was smooth (see what I did there?). First planned stop in Indiana was at Laura and Jeff residence – a surprise for them. They are a big reason the long drive from da Yoop to Indiana felt like driving home! Checking into the the hotel just east of Indianapolis was a breeze. A full night of sleep – owing to the aforementioned projects – had been a rarity over the last 2-3 weeks and I got one of them on Thursday night.

After a quick photo-touring run of Indianapolis downtown (first one in a week) on Friday morning, I spent some time at the pre-race expo. The expo was small but very well organized and there was even a CSA with offering their organically grown greens as a salad bowl! After getting another quick bite to eat, I was back at the hotel to continue tying up the loose ends and making some more progress in the recently completed major work project. Friday night ended early as well – after setting myself a pace goal of 7:00-7:15 min/mile range. Yes, the pyramid scheme showed evidence to the contrary but given the penultimate day of a 16-20 week training cycle, I felt I had nothing to lose by going a bit crazy (or cray cray – as the kids in style call it).

Race day morning was interesting – in the process of setting the alarms at 4:30 am, 5:00 am and 5:30 am, I inadvertently turned off the first two. Fortunately, the start line was less than a 15-minute drive from the hotel and I got there with plenty time to spare. Derek, Kirstin, Kristin and Paige were staying only a few steps from the finish line, and they were kind enough to let me use their casa as my gear check area. Weeding our way through folks moving every which way between start and finish lines, we made it to our respective corrals well ahead of the scheduled start of proceedings.

13.11 mi (21.09 km), 1:43:30, 7:53 min/mile (4:53 min/km), 7.61 mph (12.24 kmph)
Garmin Forerunner 945 and Tempe Sensor, Stryd Power Meter, and WP GPX Maps Plugin

Once the starting horn sounded after a beautiful rendition of The Star Spangled Banner, I started slow and according to the plan: easing in, focus on breathing, maintain good posture and don’t waste energy wading through fellow runners around me. By mile #3, I felt comfortable with where I was – in the 7:00-7:15 min/mile range. But that third mile turned out to be the last mile I was in that desired – albeit audacious – pace range. A combination of consistently inconsistent training, lack of race-specific workouts, consistent shortage of sleep and participating in the Upper Peninsula Regional Blood Center activity as well as a communal scientific endeavor was the primary reason. I discarded the single-use gloves a bit too early and then spilled water over my singlet which turned the ideal cold racing conditions miserable but that was my own doing.

Following the 1:40 finish pace group for a few miles helped quite a bit too. Having DNFd twice already in organized events and having cut short many of the scheduled runs/workouts, the two new goals were to finish the race and do so while running the entirety of distance. After what seemed like more wobbling sideways and vertical motion than forward progress, I finally crossed the finish line at 1:43:30. I can’t imagine how much longer I’d have bounced around the course had I not seen Laura and Jeff (and their littlest one) several times along the course OR had I not worn the white arm warmers just like Eliud does!

Goal: 13.11 miles in 1:35:00 (7:14 min/mi or 4:30 min/km)
Lap Cumulative
# Time
mm:ss
Avg
HR

bpm
Avg
Cad

spm
Elev
Gain/Loss

feet
Distance
mi
Time
h:mm:ss
Avg
Pace

min/mile
Elev
Gain/Loss

feet
Projected
Finish Time

h:mm:ss
Differential
Goal Time

h:mm:ss
01 7:45 160 176 14 12 1.00 0:07:45 7:45 14 12 1:41:36 0:06:36
02 7:30 176 176 13 20 2.00 0:15:15 7:37 27 32 1:39:51 0:04:51
03 7:11 178 175 16 0 3.00 0:22:26 7:28 43 32 1:37:53 0:02:53
04 7:31 176 173 0 3 4.00 0:29:57 7:29 43 35 1:38:06 0:03:06
05 7:37 177 172 7 13 5.00 0:37:34 7:30 50 48 1:38:19 0:03:19
06 7:51 173 172 0 12 6.00 0:45:25 7:34 50 60 1:39:12 0:04:12
07 7:34 175 174 7 14 7.00 0:52:59 7:34 57 74 1:39:12 0:04:12
08 7:49 174 173 0 4 8.00 1:00:48 7:36 57 78 1:39:38 0:04:38
09 8:26 169 170 16 7 9.00 1:09:14 7:41 73 85 1:40:43 0:05:43
10 8:05 172 171 0 19 10.00 1:17:19 7:43 73 104 1:41:10 0:06:10
11 8:16 172 171 13 14 11.00 1:25:35 7:46 86 118 1:41:49 0:06:49
12 8:25 175 170 8 4 12.00 1:34:00 7:50 94 122 1:42:42 0:07:42
13 7:34 175 171 0 0 13.00 1:41:34 7:48 94 122 1:42:15 0:07:15
14 2:02 174 174 3 0 13.28 1:43:36 7:48 97 122 1:42:15 0:07:15
The final cumulative time, 1:43:36, may not match the actual time owing to rounding errors OR the Garmin starting a few seconds before the start or stopping a few seconds after the finish. The overall distance, 13.28 miles, may not match the designated event distance owing to idiosyncrasies associated with GPS data collection OR the aforementioned early start/late stop reasons, and in some rare cases, incorrectly measured courses. As a result, the cumulative pace and the projected finish time might not match the recorded values as well. The Garmin Tempe sensor doesn't work at times and as such, the recorded temperature could be that of my body ... shifted by prevailing ambient temperature (or no temperature at all). If the cadence matches the heart rate very closely, it's likely a result of cadence lock from Garmin's optical heart rate monitor.

Post-finish activities included changing into warmer clothes and driving down the course to cheer marathoning friends with Paige. My constant ringing of the cowbell might have been irritating (sorry, Paige!). We were looking for Kristin and found Anand and Becca as well – they all looked so strong and good on their way to excellent finish times! Soon after returning to my hotel, a long warm shower and a longer nap were in order. Evening activities included checking out Kaffeine Coffee, St. Joseph’s Brewery, grabbing a good bite to eat with Dawn, Derek, Kirstin, Kristin, Maija and Paige at The Garage, and ended shortly after 9 pm.

After another full night of sleep (thanks, Day Light Savings!), I checked out of the hotel bright dark and early (it wasn’t all that dark but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity). Roads were pretty empty and driving to the outskirts of Indianapolis was a breeze. Laura had graciously tweaked her own training plan and offered to run together on her rest day! The first few steps were a bit of struggle but the run on this crispy Autumn day went very smooth. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have run at all – let alone as long or as well as I did.

Punctuated with couple stops for food and several more along the way to stretch my legs, the journey back to da Yoop was uneventful as well. It was long enough to dissipate the raw emotions associated with what I thought was a less than capable (or desired) performance along the streets of Indianapolis and think/reflect on the last 16-20 weeks. While a 1:43:30 in this capstone event looked and felt slow in light of an offiicial 1:32:22 (2019 Marquette) or an unofficial 1:31:38 (2020 solo time trial), in the end I was quite happy with the progress made since the injury in early June – 1:45:55 (2021 Queen City Half Marathon), 1:41:51 (2021 Traverse City Half Marathon) and 0:21:07 (2021 Queen City Trick or Trot 5k). Plus, having friends and a training log that remind me where I started from (e.g., 2:38:43 in my first half marathon in 2013) and how long it took to get below 1:45 for this distance provided the perspective that I’d otherwise not see, and in turn, served as a really good exercise in grounding.

Reviewing the training log and chatting with friends further helped identify many of the little things I didn’t do (well) over the past 16-20 weeks. With major projects checked off and work/life returning to a sense of stable normalcy, I look forward to pick those little things back up and settle into a healthy routine.

Onward and upward we go!


Thanks be to

the rejections and opportunities life has brought my way, event folks (organizers, sponsors, volunteers, timers, law enforcement officials, photographers, fellow participants and spectators), and the family of good friends in and outside of my community for all the unexpected, undeserved and unrewarded acts of constant encouragement as well as offerings of constructive criticism to improve myself as an athlete and a person. I am eternally grateful to all those who let me train with them, who shared their invaluable tips with me, who helped keep my mind, body and soul in good health, who helped me stay the course during the training cycle, who continued to teach me the value of work-life balance, and who cheered me on from home or along the course.

6 Replies to “2021: Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon”

  1. I so enjoy these recaps. The challenges associated with training, unexpected obstacles, race day conditions , health, mental prep ,etc. seem to mirror our daily journey in life, I really value the lessons….see you on the trail soon??????

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