Be sure to add your blog to my blog list -- Click HERE or blog list above to add your blog!

Nov 4, 2013

Indianapolis Monumental Marathon race review

Short Version
Finished in 3:56:12 (official time); no new PR
verall place: 1326/3499
AG(M40-44): 166/337
Men overall: 959/1994
Overall Pace: 9:01/mile
Marathon #5(State #3) and Race #58

Overall, a great marathon with one of the best marathon courses I've run.  While I didn't get the results I wanted, this race really showcases the Indianapolis area.   This was the first time I've visited Indianapolis and it's truly a very nice, clean city with a lot to offer its residents and visitors.  I'd love to come back to just visit the area and take in more of the sites.  It truly was a monumental race.

Long Version

Registration/packet pickup/City sites

I completed registration online at the race website.  It was a very simple process.  I paid $80 plus processing fee for the marathon which was a very reasonable price.  For 2014, the race is offering $20 off registration on January 1st and 2nd for only $60 or $50 for the half - now that's a great deal!  

Once you were registered, you received regular email updates up through the race week.  The website had all your answers to questions and they also have a Facebook and Twitter page that they frequently put new information on as well as answer runners questions. 

My running buddies, Kevin and Trieu, and I headed out to Indianapolis Friday morning.  The race offered two days, Thursday and Friday, to pick up race packets at the expo.   It's about a 5 hour drive from the Detroit area to get there so we ended up getting there around 2:30pm. 

This is the first time we all had been to Indianapolis and it did not disappoint.  The city is amazing!  As we came into town, we were greeted to a welcome sign.
Entering Downtown Indianapolis
The city was very easy to get around and everything is well contained in the downtown area.  You could walk everywhere!  I basically went with one of the hotels, Embassy Suites, that was very close to the finish line.  Once we parked, which was attached to the hotel in a parking garage and secure, we didn't need to use the car again due to the close proximity of everything.  The hotel also offered a free buffet breakfast and they opened early at 6am to accommodate the runners. You had various choices to pick from which was nice.  The race had discounts to local hotels which we took advantage of.

The hotel was located right in the thick of things.  There was a ton of hotels in the area that were also walking distance to the start/finish and expo.  I could not believe how many hotels there were within a few blocks.   I could see why it would be such a great place for a conference and it's especially a great place for a marathon.  We checked into the hotel when we got there.  Because there were three of us, I opted for a suite hotel so we each received a bed.  Of course, my buddy, Trieu was originally planning on the half marathon so he got the pull out but then he upgraded to the full at the last minute.  The room was clean and spacious and there were lots of runners staying at the hotel too so it was very quite after 10pm.
Embassy Suites - suite area
We were right next to the Artsgarden and this was even attached to the hotel so you didn't need to go outside to get to this.  It was further attached to a huge mall as well as another building and another hotel.  The Conrad hotel was right across the street which looked very nice as well.
View from room
We were also directly next to the Indiana Statehouse where the finish was and the start line was just two blocks away.  Our hotel was on Washington Street, the same street at the start.
Indiana Statehouse
After we got checked in, we made our way over to the convention center to pick up our packet and tour the expo.
Indiana Convention Center
The convention center was huge and not only had the expo going on but numerous other conventions going on as well.  I've never seen so many different conventions at one time.
Inside the convention center
The race had signs and floor directional signs set up so you could find your way to the expo area.  It was well organized and easy to find.

As we walked into the expo, there was an information booth.  You could also buy tickets for the pasta dinner as well but we decided to just go out ourselves.  We basically paid the same amount at the restaurant as the pasta party.
The expo had your typical vendors that are at an expo.  This included about 40 vendors selling their products or telling about their races.  There was also a local running store selling merchandise and race logo merchandise.  I was really disappointed in the selection of race merchandise.  It was an off brand and there were three types of choices - a long sleeve tech shirt, a sweatshirt and a race jacket.  Both the race jacket and sweatshirt were women's styles.  That's all they offered!  No magnets, glasses, bags - not even race hats!  They certainly missed the boat for this.  We all walked away without buying anything.  I would have liked something but there just was nothing worth buying.  The race also offered several presentations about various topics.
Presentations at Expo
When you got to packet pickup, you gave the volunteer your number and they pulled your bib, gave you a shirt(men's and women's specific) and some other miscellaneous items, including a race poster with everyone's name on it, in the packet including a clear gear bag to check if needed.  The race emailed a bib lookup to you but also offered it at the expo as well.
Packet pickup at expo
Bib lookup at expo
The race also had a huge poster that showed the start area and finish area in detail.  On the other side of it, they also showed the course map so I grabbed a quick picture there.  One nice thing the race did have is a shirt exchange so you could try on your shirt and exchange it right there if needed.  Trieu decided to change to a small.  That's a big plus when you are not from the area and can't come back later.
Start/finish area map
Course map
On our way out, the three of us got a picture with the marathon signs.
Expo - love
After the expo, which took maybe an hour, we dropped off our packets at the hotel.  As you can see, I believe I probably picked one of the hotel with the most stairs which we had to face after the race.  Actually, the car ramp was right next to this and we used that to get back up with a little less pain. Haha!
Hotel stairs
Kevin made reservations for 5:45pm at Buca di Beppo for dinner to get our fill of carbs.  Before we made our way to the restaurant, we toured the downtown area a little bit.  Since everything is so close, we didn't walk more than two miles which was not too much considering we wanted to keep that to a minimum with the race the next day.   I would say if you decided to not get the pasta dinner tickets, reservations are highly recommended.  People that walked in the restaurant when we were waiting for our table were told it was almost a two hour wait!  Some restaurants did not even offer reservations.  Kevin also talked to a couple runners at our hotel who went to the race pasta dinner and apparently they ran out of food.  Oops - we were happy we made reservations.  The hotel also offered a special pasta buffet which looked pretty good and was a good price too.
Buca di Beppo
Since we had a couple hours before dinner, we went to see the Statehouse building, the monument and the war memorial.
State House
Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument
The monument was the best part of what we saw.  We also thought that the monument was just something to look at but you could actually take an elevator or stairs up it to get a view of the city and the monument circle.  The stairs, all 330 of them, were free, however, the elevator option was only $2 per person and well worth not having to walk up all the stairs.  There was three flights of stairs after the elevator but it was not too bad.  The views from the top were incredible and being in the circle, you could just feel the history.  The monument also had a free museum you could walk around inside the base of it and a gift shop.  There was also an incredible church that we toured right in the circle.

We also walked over to the War Memorial but chose not to go up the stairs.  By the time we got there, the memorial had closed so there was no reason to go up and down that many stairs.  It would have been nice to see inside but we didn't have time.  On the way over we passed the post office and courthouse which also was an incredible building.
View from top of monument
View from monument - Lucus Oil stadium in the background
Inside stairwell of Monument
Not really - we took the elvator
Post office/courthouse building
Another view of the Monument down the street
Indiana War Memorial
After touring the buildings, we had dinner, which was right across the street from the hotel, and then went back to the hotel.  Kevin decided to go to the hot tub and Trieu and I went over to the Artsgarden to see the inside and we walked through the mall a little.  We met up at the hotel room for an early finish to the evening and went to bed early around 10pm.   Because the hotel was so close we didn't need to get up until 6am to get something to eat.  That's even later than some of the local races that we have to drive to.  It was very convenient.

Start area
The next morning we went down to the breakfast area to get some food and coffee.  After we went up to change and get ready for the race.  We made our way down to the lobby about 7:15am and walked over to the start at 7:30am.  The start of the race was at 8am and we had plenty of time when we got there.  We got a quick picture in front of the start and I split from Kevin and Trieu into my start area, Seeding area 3(which I ended up not even needing based on my terrible race performance)  It was actually pretty nice outside and nicer than I expected it to be based on the forecast.  They were predicting it to be windy and possible rain during the race.  It was not bad in the morning so I decided to go with shorts and long sleeves.  It was perfect out the entire race and the sun came out in the end!  The race did the National Anthem and before we knew it, it was time to race.
Hotel elevator going to race - I'm looking kind of tired!
Just before start
Start line
Start area
I originally chose this course because it was so flat.   There were a few rolling hills but really you could not get much flatter of a course.  My plan was to try and PR in this race.  I figured I had a good chance given all my training.   It was not my day!  While I started off with the 3:20 pace group and kept with them for the first half, it was way too fast for me.  I could not keep pace and should have probably started with the 3:30 pace group.  There was no 3:25 pace group which was my original goal.

As you can see from my splits, I crashed and burned big time!   I had an incredible first half and almost PR'd for that distance but I could not hold it together.  I started walking on mile 18 - yes 18!!!! Even though this was not my worst time for the marathon - in fact, it was my second best time - I was toast.  I've never walked so soon in a marathon and usually make it to mile 22 before I start slowing.  I watched as the 3:30 pace group passed me, then the 3:40 group, then the 3:50 group!  Near the end of the race, my only concern was to finish under 4 hours.  How could I not at least get under 4 hours with all this training?  It was a disaster!  I push myself the last couple miles to get that sub 4 finish.  My second half was 33 minute SLOWER!!!!! Holy crap!  Lots of run/walking in the last eight miles!

Now believe me, I understand that a sub four hour marathon is still respectable and many people have a hard time meeting that goal.  Don't get me wrong, while I was disappointed, I know it's still good.  It's just not what I hoped for.  Oh well, I had a feeling I was not ready for that time and my body surely showed me that today was not my day.  Regardless, this was a really fun course, I had a blast doing it and it didn't dampen my spirits in the least!
Map per Garmin
Splits per Garmin - UGLY!
Timing/elevation per Garmin
Note: When I take pictures during the race, I don't change my pace or stop in the interest of safety.   I just keep running and I get what I can get from the pictures.   Some come out better than others but they give you a great idea of what the course is like.

While I debated about taking my camera since I was going for such a long distance and wanted a good time, I'm really glad that I chose to bring it.  I came to realize that I really enjoy taking pictures of the course along the way and these race reviews give me some awesome memories.

As we got started, one of the first things I saw was the Hard Rock Cafe sign which was only a few blocks into the course.  The half and full runners all started at the same time and the half split just after the seven mile mark.
Hard Rock Downtown
The first area that we ran through was the Wholesale District that had some really cool buildings in the area.
Wholesale District
It also ran right past Lucas Oil stadium.  I've never been to a Colts game but it looked like an incredible stadium and it was cool to run past it at the start.
Lucas Oil Stadium
Mile 2
We made our way past the monument as well early in the race.  This was one of the best parts of the race.  I love running in downtown areas and also by things like this and this was certainly a unique experience.  The race also had several timing mats laid out at the 10k, half and 30k points.
Near the monument
Mile 4
10k split
Below is the State Fair building which, while not really exciting, but was fun to run past it.   It looked like a really nice place for events.
State Fair building
Mile 9
Mile 10 - a PR at this distance if just 10 miles.
At mile 11, there were some really nice homes in the area.  In fact, there was not really much of the race that was not in a nice area.  It really showcased the city's great parts and whoever designed the course did an excellent job.
Mile 11
Mile 12
Mile 13
We made our way out to Broad Ripple Village for the half way point and it was nice to be half done. I was already starting to feel tired which was unfortunate.
Half - Broad Ripple Village
Mile 14
Close to the Butler University area, the homes were enormous and gorgeous.  I had no idea how beautiful Indianapolis was.  It truly was a treat to run through.
Beautiful area of mansions
Mile 16 near Butler University
Even as I hit mile 16, I was pretty happy with where my time was.  To be around 2:07 in 16 miles was good for me.  We then made our way into the Art Museum area.  This is another attraction that would have been nice to see more of had we stayed in the city longer.  It was a really beautiful area to run through.  As you can see, the trees next to the front of the Art Museum were really popping with fall colors still!
Art Museum area
Beautiful bridge
Indianapolis Art Museum
Free basket abstract sculpture and basketball court
Mile 19
Mile 20
 Miles 20-24 were my absolute hardest I've ever run(I should say run/walk) in a race with all splits in the 11 minute pace!  After mile 20, we passed by the Navel Armory building which was another cool looking building.  After the race, Kevin was questioning why there would even be this given there is no bodies of water in the area but this is built on the White River and was used in WWII for generals and admirals seeking to avoid constant surveillance on the coasts.  You can read about the history of it HERE.
Heslar Naval Armory
Mile 21
Mile 22
Mile 23
Ivy Tech Community College
Mile 24
Mile 25
While the cathedral below is one of the more famous, there were several churches we passed on the course that were beautiful.
Scottish Rite Cathedral
It was a really treat to see the monument coming back into downtown.  It really helped keep my mind off of the hurt I was feeling at this point in the race.  There were spectators throughout the whole course but more so as you made your way back downtown.
Passing the monument again
Mile 26
After you passed the 26 mile marker, you had a little more to go and then made a last turn to the finish.  There were tons of people at the finish line and the race had barriers set up to keep spectators off the course.  The finish line was awesome and it was great to finish right by the Indiana Statehouse.  What a great background for a finish!
Rounding corner to finish
Finish line
Aid station
While I didn't get any pictures of the aid stations.  There were tons of them.  They had a ton of water and Gatorade stations and there were lots of volunteers cheering and helping out.  The races also had numerous gel stations and had Clif ShotBloks and Clif gels.   Since it's what I train with regularly, it was a great fit for me.  It's actually the first time I've seen Clif products at a race and it was quite welcome.  The race also offered some candy and pretzels at several aid stations as well.  Everything was quite organized with the aid stations.  They were a little crowded at the first several stations but got less crowded as the distance progressed.

Finish area
The finish area was fantastic!  The volunteers were very organized and had volunteers split between the half finishers and the full finishers.  As you finished, a volunteer gave you your medal which is one of the best I've received.  Then a volunteers asked if you wanted water and a Mylar blanket.  While it was not that cold, it was nice to keep warm since I was sweating at the finish but dried up quickly and then didn't need it.  It ended up being a beautiful day and the sun warmed you up.

After that, the race had bananas, cookies that were individually wrapped and mini bagel bites from Panera Bread.  I've never seen these mini bagels at races and they were nice to have at the finish.  The race also gave out marathon and half marathon finishers winter hats which will be nice to use this winter.  One of the other really nice things they had at the finish was an "Ask me" person.  He helped direct us back to the hotel.

Before we walked back, the race had a mini expo of vendors after the finish area.  Steak n Shake was also giving out chili to runners and you could sit in a warm tent.  Trieu tried the chili but said it was too salty.  Since Kevin finished up slightly later than us, we didn't see him at the finish line so we met him back at the hotel.  Fortunately, the hotel offered late check out at 2pm which was plenty of time to get a shower in before checking out.
Finish area
Water / finishers hats
Food area
Finish area
Awesome finish area
For your race entry, you received a chip timed, certified course that was partially closed to traffic.  While there was traffic allowed on the course, the race had lanes for runners and you felt safe running.  The police did an excellent job with all intersections keeping traffic cleared for the runners.

The race also offered runner tracking at the 10k, half, 30k and finish splits where you could get a text or e-mail of your times.  In addition, the race communicated well with their emails, Facebook and Twitter accounts.  The race had a moderate sized expo and you received a race tech shirt.  Everyone also received a race poster with everyone's name on it if you were registered by a certain time period.  The runners also received a custom race bib with your name on it.  The finishers received a medal and a winter hat too which was a nice bonus!
Shirt Front
Shirt Back
Finisher hat
Packet stuff
Medal front
Medal back
Medal with ribbon
The medal has a spinner function so I made a video of it so you could see it.  It's a really nice design.

Race poster with all names
My name on the poster - there's two of me!  Actually there was 3 Jeff Williams registered
The organization was good overall.  Communication was good through their website, Facebook and Twitter page.  The race helped with planning for out of town runners and offered hotel discounts.  All areas of the race including the expo, start, finish and course were well organized.  The information in your packet was exceptional including a great printed guide.  They offered a virtual packet as well.   I would have loved to see the same merchandise at the expo that was offered online but that was my only issue and I'm not sure if that was the race organizations issue or the running company selling it.   We never wondered where anything was and everything was clearly explained prior to even getting in town.  They did a great job!

Overall, all three of us felt the City of Indianapolis was an incredible city and all of us want to come back to visit.  It's clear the race has a great relationship with the city and the companies downtown as everyone made you feel very welcome to be there.  The course was one of the best marathons I've run and it showcased the city's monuments as promised.  Many times you don't get that with a city race so it was a real treat.  We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves from the time we got there to the time we left.  Probably our biggest mistake was deciding to leave after the race.  I guess it will give us an excuse to come back again in the future.   I highly recommend this marathon.  You will not be disappointed!
My running bud, Trieu and I
My buddies and I at the Rock Bottom Brewery having an after race beer before heading home.  Of special note, both my running buddies ran the Detroit full marathon two weeks before and were eligible for Marathon Maniac status for doing two marathons within 16 days - now that's impressive!
My running buddies, Kevin, Trieu and I
Have a great day and....Keep Running!!!!


  1. Looks like it was a great day for running & it does look like a nice course! Sorry it didn't go as you had hoped...still aces in my books!

  2. I love this race! I ran the first year in 2008 and I think the course is great, the size is right (although it looks a lot bigger now!) and it just a fun atmosphere. Love Indy too but I'm in and out of that area frequently so I know where to stay, eat and have fun. :o)

    Glad you had a good experience!

  3. Great recap! This was my first time running the IMM and I have to agree Indianapolis is a beautiful city! Great job on finishing strong!

  4. Great review! I did the half in 2011, and had a great experience. Indy is a fun city. I had no idea you could go up in the monument! We were just there for a concert, and that would have been awesome to do as well. We'll have to go back now!

  5. Glad you guys had a good time. I didn't know you could take an elevator up the monument. I haven't been to downtown Indy since college and I don't recall being able to go up it. Maybe it was closed or not in service back then.

    Your race seemed to go much like my Detroit race, albeit a bit faster. I know the time wasn't what you were looking for, but you had a great race regardless.

    I would consider doing a race there next year. Do you think you'll go again or try something different? I have family about an hour 15 minutes away, so it would be nice to do an Indy race sometime.

    1. Perhaps I'd go back for the race someday but I have a hard time doing the same race when it's a marathon and there are so many choices so while I liked it, it will likely be some time before I repeat a marathon.

  6. Wow, that course looks so fun! I love that you basically get a tour of the city! I am sorry you didn't PR, but you still ran a sub-4 hour marathon. Which is a great time!! You always stay to positive even when you don't have the race you had hoped for. love that!!

  7. Sorry you didn't get the time you wanted but your race reports always show how great the races you pick are great!

  8. Yet another great race report that leaves me with another race to consider running in the future. It sounds like a good one and I'm glad you guys had a good experience. I'm sorry the race didn't go as you hoped, but it's not so bad to still end up with a sub-4! Congrats on another marathon!

  9. Great race recap! Love the picture Jeff. You do such a great job at giving us a that race experience. Many times I wish I could capture the sites of a marathon to show others. You did not meet your goal, but t was still a strong finish. You live to run another day!

    Congrats Jeff!!

  10. Firstly, you have every right to be disappointed with your results. Your honesty is awesome, there is a better word however my brain can't come up with one. Sounds like a great experience overall. I can understand not wanting to run the same marathon twice. Great job finishing and getting through the tough times!! Your recaps are so detailed about the experience I feel like I am right there with you!

  11. I really enjoyed seeing all the photos of the race. My husband and I ran it as well, and I was googling and came across your blog. It was fun to relive the race sites through your photos and blog posts. I am also so impressed too by your before and after photo. Congratulations! It sounds like the race didn't go as planned but just pounding out all those miles is pretty incredible! Congrats!

  12. This kind of makes me wish I had done this race. I was considering it and absolutely loved the shirt. I didn't know there was a finishers beanie...that is awesome! But when we looked pretty much every hotel was sold out unless you went outside of the city..but being in the city and so close to everything is what makes this race so great. Jim has done Indy, and we've done a couple of other races there and always love it. It's a surprisingly nice city if you've never been.

    So sorry your race didn't go as planned. I can totally understand where you are coming from since I felt exactly the same way after Chicago. But you got out there and got it done! And still had a great overall time!

  13. Man, that report made me miss Indy. I love that town and love that race. I plan on running it again, because my marathon there went almost exactly like yours. The picture of the Naval Armory reminded me of that - ha, that's pretty much where I hit the wall. But just like you, I enjoyed the race and had a great time. You'll get your goal time soon enough, and great job on completing another one! Get some rest.

  14. Detroit Runner, thank you for the review. Extremely in-depth and has convinced me to run the 2014 version. Great work and great run. Stay at it.


  15. Thank you for such a thorough review of the race, and the kind words about Indianapolis!