November 6, 2021, was when I ran the Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon. It was my fourth half marathon. However, it was my first half marathon since September 13, 2019, when I ran the now-defunct Philadelphia Rock N’ Roll Half Marathon. So why did it take over 2 years to run another half marathon?
After I ran my 3rd half marathon, I decided to focus on lowering my personal bests in shorter distances so that it can help lower my PRs in the half marathon and full marathon. I ran a negative split debut full marathon in 2:34:13 and followed that up with my first sub-16 minute 5k (15:52). I was excited about the 2020 track season. Then at the beginning of December 2019, I started training and a half-mile in, I felt a pain in my right hip. I thought it was nothing until I noticed that training runs have been slower and hamstring pain occurring while driving. Long story short, the 2020 track season didn’t go the way I wanted because of the hip and the pandemic. In October, the injury got worse and I had to stop running. After weeks of working on strengthening drills, the injury persisted, and it turned out that I needed a PRP injection in my hip because I had iliopsoas bursitis. It took me out another 6 weeks heading into 2021.
While the injury got better, it wasn’t fully healed. I live in California and my coach lives in Colorado. After talking to my coach about my injury, he referred me to his friend, who is a PT based in Colorado. During my zoom session with the PT, he told me that my injury is something that I can run and work through. That’s how my return to running started. In February 2021, I first started by running by time on feet, not focusing on mileage. While consulting with that PT, I saw a local PT and it turned out that I had tons of issues related to weak muscles and form. We spent the next few months working on them and as a result, I was able to run more thanks to a new running form.
By the end of March, I started training again and was still doing exercises for my hip. By the beginning of May, I was able to run 50 miles per week. Mid-May, I ran a 1600m time trial in 4:56. A couple of weeks later, I ran a 4:49 and then a 10:12 3200m time trial (on even 5:06 splits!). Near the end of June, I ran my first race since before the pandemic. It was a 4.5-mile race in San Francisco. I ended up winning the race in a time of 24:40, which was at 5:31 mile pace. Two weeks later, I ran my first big race, which was at Atlanta’s PeachTree 10K Road Race. I ended up running the hilly course at 34:56 (5:38 pace), but at the same time, I had a blast. I ended my summer season with a 9:27 3000m victory at an all-comers meet.
I decided to train for CIM and my half marathon tune-up was going to be at the Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon. While the times I ran during the summer were not too far away from my personal bests, I felt something needed to be done to get closer. I noticed that during the summer season, I ran low mileage ( 60 was the highest) and hit the weight room once per week. I decided that I needed to tack on higher mileage and work more on strengthening.
As time went on, I worked my way up to 80 miles per week. In September, I ran the San Francisco Giants 5k race in 16:42, while running on tired legs. A couple of weeks later, I ran the San Jose Rock N Roll 10k. I was feeling great, but disaster struck. My shoelaces came untied and I had to stop twice to tie them. I ended up getting 3rd place in 36 minutes. I redeemed myself a few weeks later by running a 10k time trial on the track. This took place a couple of weeks before the Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon. I ended up running 35:06 while running in Nike Zoom Dragonfly spikes. All I needed to do was get in great shape during the next few weeks before the Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon.
The highest mileage per week I ever ran was 86. Two weeks before the half marathon, I ran an 84-mile week. I thought getting to the start line at CIM wouldn’t be a problem. Just before the race, I was developing a calf issue, which limited my running. At the same time, workouts had been going well and because of that, my confidence was rising. The week of the race, I ran 4-mile repeats with 2 min recovery in between. I ran the mile repeats in 5:14, 5:11, 5:07, 5:07. That’s when I knew a personal record in the half marathon could happen.
I arrived in Indy on Thursday with my girlfriend. I went for a sports massage and she said that my calf injury was caused by overtraining. She massaged it and put on some rock tape. I also decided to run the race with a calf sleeve. While I was a bit worried, I remained poised and confident. I knew adrenaline would help the calf. I told myself, there’s nothing I can do, but run my best.
My personal best in the half marathon is 1:13:36 (5:37 pace) and that happened in the midst of the east coast humidity, which was brutal. I picked this race because the course was flat and fast. The race had tons of great competition and great weather. I made sure I took advantage of that. When the race started, there was a collision between a runner and a photographer, and I had to dodge to the right to avoid them. I slowly worked my way up and ended up running a 5:23 first mile. Throughout the early miles, I focused on moving up and during miles 4-7 I ran with a group of runners who were running the marathon. At mile 5, I was running at 5:30 pace. I thought I was going to fade during the next 5 miles. For the next few miles, I was running 5:28 paced miles and I didn’t think I was capable of doing that but it was happening. Miles 8-9 I was running alone since the marathoners went onto a different path and the half marathon runners ahead were far away from me. Somehow, I was able to catch up to them and pass them. At mile 10, my split was 55:03, and was another mile splitting a 5:30 mile pace. However, I had 3 miles to go…
In half marathons, it’s either run a slower first 10 miles and run the last 5k hard or run a PB at the 10 mile split and suffer in the last 5k. I chose the latter. As a result, I did pay the price in miles 11 and 12. Not only was I in pain, but I was also in no-man's land. As a result, I ran those two miles in 5:36 and 5:37. With 1.1 miles to go, I was able to pick it up and pass a runner ahead of me. I ended up running another 5:28 mile split. As I got closer to the finish line, I thought about the hardships I had to endure and because of that, I decided to scream at the finish line in joy. I did that when I crossed the line in 1:12:15 (5:31 pace), which was an 81 second personal best. This race meant so much to me not just because of all the injuries I had to go through, but because I ran a personal best in front of my girlfriend for the first time. This race was also a redemption race after what happened in the 10k.
I was ecstatic because my half marathon time puts me in contention for a sub 2:30 full marathon. What’s crazy was in June, I ran 4.5 miles at a 5:31 mile pace and four and a half months later, I was able to run 5:31 pace for a half marathon! My calf and shin didn’t hurt throughout the race, but after the race, it got worse, and unfortunately, I had to pull the plug and drop out of CIM. It was heartbreaking because when I ran the 4:49 1600m time trial, my plan was to keep improving my fitness throughout the year so that by the end of the year, I will be in marathon personal record shape. I was close to accomplishing that goal! However, I’m excited to see what I can do in 2022 because my half marathon time is equivalent to faster shorter distance times. I also look forward to running some very fast half marathons in 2022. It turns out that I have posterior tibialis and I’m working with a great PT to fix that and other issues, which will help me run faster. This was my journey from my 3rd half marathon to my 4th half marathon. Hopefully, I do not go through this type of journey again.