I had been lucky enough to have a great group of like-minded people around me who have encourage me to stay active and positive during some pretty dark times. My running pod and I were able to get vaccinated at the beginning of the year, we have continued to follow social distance, city mandates, and winter marathon training in Chicago. We decided to run Milwaukee marathon which was postponed a few weeks ago. After managing the disappointment, we came across the Carmel Marathon as our plan B (Thanks to my friend Jodi)
Carmel is a northern suburb of Indianapolis, 3.5hrs drive from Chicago. We adjusted our training, crossed our fingers, and signed up for the race 4 weeks ago. The race hosted a 5k, 10k, half marathon and a full marathon. I have not done a big race since last February when I ran the Miami Half marathon. Who would have thought that would be my last race?
The race organizer sent final week email which included a Covid-19 waiver and integrity policy. All participants were required to sign this document prior to race day. In order to enhance social distance the Fitness expo and packet pick up was held outdoors at Carter Green next to the Palladium (Center of the Performing Arts) If you never been to Carmel, it is a beautiful and affluent suburb of Indy (100,000 population) with stunning architecture and the Monon greenway trail. The race hosted a pasta party at a restaurant, we decided to bring our own food and stayed at our hotel. There were plenty of places to stay near the finish line at reasonable prices and with plenty of parking which made it easy on race day.
The course was mostly flat with a few inclines, but truly a fast course especially for those wanting to BQ. We had perfect weather conditions for a marathon with temps in the low 30’s at the start with sunny skies. I was personally very nervous on race day, had mixed emotions about racing and performance expectations. After all, I had trained for a marathon (And I have done this many times) but my focus had changed from speed to just finishing. I made the conscious decision to stay mindful and listen to my body, shifting expectation about time and PR’s. I was so happy and excited to be there, and I could see people around me were too. Everyone was smiling and laughing. There were pace groups which I very much appreciate in Marathons. I stayed with a pacer group with about 10-15 runners and listened to people’s stories about the pandemic and training challenges during the past year. There was a sense of community and familiarity that reinforced my love for running.
Congratulations to all finishers, it was so good to see so many familiar faces of runners from Chicago training groups including Fleet feet and CARA.
The bond that runners have with their training group and partners is stronger than I can describe. It’s not just about running it’s about friendships, motherhood, community, and motivation. My running pod and I have shared many inspiring, motivating, and heartbreaking stories over the course of many miles.
Keep on running!