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New World Record – 2:57:34 at Zoom! Yah! Yah! indoor marathon

What a great experience, made not by the run itself (which was a little painful, imagine that), but completely by the crowd that assembled to help get me there.

I am truly blessed.

Race recap (don’t worry, I won’t do it lap-by-lap!)
I met Matt Eckberg, a 2:43 finisher at this fall’s Chicago marathon, and the rest of the crazy indoor marathoners the night before the race at packet pick-up and the pre-race meal.  Since my personal best is just a minute slower, we decided that we could help pace each other.  He found me through my blog so we communicated via email about our strategies before.  How cool is that?  This blog has brought me more contacts through the running world, more cool connections than I ever imagined when I started it.  We decided that we’d come through the half in about 2:55 pace (neither of us had any idea what an indoor marathon would feel like) and then pick it up from there if we felt good, slow it down from there if we needed to.

The pre-race meal was fabulous, btw.  All you can eat at Olaf’s cafeteria.  Although, not so much fun when you truly can’t eat all you want :).  I did sneak a bite or two of cream cheese carrot cake and a bite of chocolate chip cookie.  Yummm :).  I’m not shooting for the Olympic Trials standard yet, so totally legal on the cheating for the time being!

Dick did a great job going through the “you should knows”, introduced some of the runners/volunteers (including me, which was really nice of him, so that everyone knew I was shooting for the record).  Dick is so great.  If you haven’t met him, you must.  For those of you have, you know what I mean :).

On to race morning:  5:00 wake up call for a 6:30 race start.  I went for the single breakfast again.  Single breakfast, you’re asking?  I’ve typically been up twice for 2 rounds of breakfast – typically falling back asleep in between.  This is mostly because 1. I like to sleep as late as possible, and eating a lot close to the marathon start isn’t smart, and 2. Because I know I need to have quite a bit in me to keep me fueled (now I know why – I don’t burn any fat when I run/race).  At CIM, I decided to try eating just once, but was hungry early on as I didn’t have my first gel on the course until mile 7. This time, I wanted to try taking more gels earlier – and I definitely like this approach.  I took my first gel at mile 4 and I feel like that was perfect.  I also tried taking a caffeine pill before hand.  The elite marathon nutrition study forwarded to me via this blog mentioned 3 men’s typical caffeine regime and noted they take 60% of their caffeine before the race starts.  I figured today was as good of a day as any to try a few new things!

The rest of my routine was exactly the same:  1st warm up (slow) with 30 mins to go, bathroom stop, change into shoes/race stuff.  Eat part of banana, run second short warm up at a slightly faster pace and last bathroom stop.  Then off to grab my gel and secure my spot on the start line!  I have that system down pretty well :).  It pays to have a plan!

And surprise!  Jerry came!!

Jerry the genius 🙂

Then, the race:  Oh, my…  Luckily, I had Matt to run with for more than half way.  We had planned to switch off the lead every 15 minutes or so, but he had a 4ish second gap on me at 30 minutes.  I knew we were running slightly faster than the 3:00 pace I wanted to start at (then warm down to 2:55 pace) so was content to run in 3rd or 4th place.  It’s hard to know what to do in places like this… do you run a little faster than your goal so that you have company along the way?  After about an hour, whenever Matt would gap me by a bit Jerry would encourage me to try to close the gap.  “Company is a good thing!”, he’d cheer.  And in this case, I feel, more than most other instances, that was totally true.

Nate was so great in reminding me to eat and drink.  In a normal marathon you have water stops reminding you to take something.  Here there are 4 tables with your bottles on them but because they’re tucked in the corners it’s super easy to forget about them, even though there are technically SIX HUNDRED water stations.  Plus, you’re so concentrated on just zoning out and just RUNNING (and no mile markers to spark the reminder that: Oh! First gel at mile 4!) that I would have completely forgot to eat until it was way too late.  Pretty sure Matt thought my husband was a little crazy when he was pointing out my gels, telling me to take water now, etc, but oh, so necessary.

I’m not sure where Matt and I became separated – he dropped back at maybe 1:45 or so?  After that it was a little lonely.  I actually felt great that that point.  I remember thinking to myself, “Great!  You’re not even using your lungs yet!”.  I felt efficient, effortless, and fluid.  I love running and how free I feel doing it :).  But then, perhaps just to make me earn this marathon, I started to notice a large blood blister forming on the ball of my left foot.  You know, those ones where you can feel the liquid moving around when you step on it?  I looked down to see some blood on my shoe.  Super.

From about 2:00-2:30, the effortless feeling disappeared and was replaced by a “I’d SO like to stop” feeling.  Every turn (4 per lap, people – and they’re sharp!) hurt because you were pivoting hard on that blistered foot.  There will be some ugly grimace pictures during this portion of the marathon.  I also became a little dizzy.  I have had this problem a lot, although have controlled it better in previous marathons, and know I need to be careful when this comes on.  I wondered if it was due to the heat (heaters in the building came on at 8:00, and although just 60 degrees, it feels warm compared to the 10ish degrees I’ve been training in). I dumped a little water over my head.  I know it’s also likely energy related.  Because I was drinking more than I typically do, I purposefully skipped one of my gels and only ate a half of another (I have come to respect that full-but not sloshing around-stomach feel in a marathon and know when I need to curb the intake or risk stomach pain).  Maybe this was also partially the cause?  Or could have been the hundred plus laps I’d already run, ha!

At 2:30 the blister popped.  Ahh, bliss!  Anyone that’s experienced this knows what I’m talking about.  At that point, though, there was just 25 short minutes left.  Nate yelled at me that I was risking the 3 hour mark by my recent blister-slowed/dizzier laps.  At that point, blister-free and non-dizzy thanks to a recent gel, I was good to go.  No more of those 73-77 second laps (72 seconds = 3 hour pace) – I was back to my 70-71 second normal.  Nice.  I love that rhythm you can find in a marathon, how bad can turn to good.  Just remember that the next time you’re hurting.  It isn’t always permanent, don’t give up hope.

Oh, man – just finished.  Can you tell?

Jerry came into action with 12 laps to go.  At first, I had no idea what he was trying to tell me.  With 11 to go, the light bulb went off.  11 TO GO!  Anyone that’s never done a indoor marathon has no idea how wonderful of a phrase that is.  Just 2 miles!  Eeek!!!! I can DO this!  I can!  I looked forward to seeing him every lap – he was so excited to give me the latest countdown.

On lap 8 to go, a wonderful man named David hopped in and asked me if he could do a half lap at my speed just to see what it felt like.  I think at that point I was running around 70s (Jerry can confirm or call my bluff), so no small feat for someone that was running a 3:30 marathon and still had a good 45 mins to go.  I was SO happy for the proposal though!  At the half lap, I asked if he could carry me through two laps.  He thought for a minute and said, “Yeah – I think I can only do two, but I could do that!”.  So he generously took lane two and lead me through two laps.  Actually, now that I think about it, he may have been the pace change to sub-70s.  He made the world of difference – because he delivered me to the lap mark with just 6 to go.  Just over a mile.

Which leads me to an aside:  do you know how happy it makes me to meet so many selfless runners?  People willing to help me, pace me, aid me in my pursuits?  The men at CIM who formed the best wind block imaginable for those 35 mph headwinds (just tuck in!), David who worked his tail off to make that last portion more do-able, Chick (Northfield runner) who was the best at moving in/being aware of where I was at during the race to help give me the best line, Craig and Brian and Brendan who are willing to do whatever is on my crazy training plan?!?  To ALL of the people who came to cheer me on (probably at least 1/3 of the entire spectator field)?!?  I know I say this a lot, but it is completely true, and I tear up as I write this.  I means SO much to me, and has made this journey possible and that much more fun.  Honestly.  I can not thank each and every one of you enough.  I can not wait to repay each of your support 1000% (or more) as I start to mentor other runners, help others with their dreams, and eventually live through the lives, endeavors, and goals of others by coaching.  I hope you can feel the sincerity and power in what I’m writing.

But… there are still 6 laps to go!  They were glorious.  I thought about the 1000s that Slaine and I had done a week and a half ago.  You did that, and your lungs were working twice as hard as now!  You can pick it up!  At 3 to go, I went.  Just 1000m to go at that point.

The last lap was just awesome.  The entire crowd cheered my name, Slaine was leaned as far forward as possible, screaming :).  There is nothing like being cheered on like this!  Nate, smartly, reminded me to raise my hands as I passed (knowing me, I would have forgotten!).  I did, crossing the line in a new 11 minute indoor world record of 2:57:34.

*I must take the time for a brief aside to mention that I know this is an obsure world record, and I in NO way think that I am a world class runner.  I am just merely the fastest crazy woman to run an indoor marathon! 🙂

Now, the aftermath.  My foot is pretty torn up.  I’ve had my share of blisters and lost toenails, but this one takes the cake.  A world record size blister for a world record indoor time?  Seems fitting 🙂  Pictures below.  I really apologize.  What was most impressive was the flesh cells that worked themselves through my sock and shoe to form a glob on the outside of my flats (see the “B” on the shoes).  Sorry to have made you lose your lunch.

Nice, eh?
Note size in relation to my hand/rest of foot :).  Toes are swollen too, not sure what that’s about.


And I promise, these are the ONLY flats that I have found that I don’t blister in during a (normal) marathon!  So this is in NO way shape or form representative of the Brooks T7.  I promise.  It does represent how your feet respond to running 150 laps on a square-ish track :).

I have to admit that I broke out in a whole-body cold sweat when the medical doc at the race cut the dead skin away from my foot.  I am such a wimp when it comes to blood and medical things when it’s my own body!  Seriously, it’s just the thought of it… it doesn’t hurt an ounce.  Thank you to Slaine for telling me a story and distracting me so I wouldn’t pass out during the “procedure”.  Nate said I looked pretty green when the doc took out his scissors. [okay to shake your head at me, I know this is pathetic!]

Jerry and I talked afterwards.  I started by saying, “I’m going to have to work really, really hard for that 2:43 this fall”.  (Said with a big smile)  Because it’s true.  That’s 15 MINUTES faster than today.  Jerry reminds me that although this is a 2:57, it was a 6 minute win over a true 2:43 marathoner, and the third place runner (who I beat by 10 mins) is a 2:50 marathoner.  So even though the time was slow, it isn’t representative of the effort put in.
I know I am capable, but know that it’ll have to be an all-in effort like it was for the 2012 Trials standard and like I was for New York this fall.  We are going to have to be smarter, work my weaknesses, strengthen my strengths, etc.  Today was the perfect end to a rough fall racing season. It’ll force some true down time (I am not allowed to run on this foot until it is HEALED.  There is no way I want it to become infected, cause a limp, alter my stride, cause a string of other injuries, etc).  And I honestly need some mental downtime to help me get that fire back.  It’ll be a long journey from now until October, one that takes ultimate dedication and a mental attitude in love with giving it 100%.  I also need some physical downtime.

But, before I scheme about the next two cycles, what I’ll do better, more/less of, etc, I’ll end this (in the off-chance that you’ve made it this entire way through this novel of a post!).  Plus, I need to move on to a celebratory greasy cheeseburger, fries, and a drink!!

[More pictures added as they’re sent to me – we desperately need a new camera, all of ours are just a blur.  Advice on ones to look at?  Luckily Slaine’s dad is the BEST photographer and captured the race via his lens.  Can’t tell you how excited I am about that!]

Onward to 2013 (and really, the 2016 Trials :))!

Thank you all, again. 🙂

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  1. Congratulations!!! I wish I could have been there to support you but am glad you had a lot of great support there already! Let me know your spring schedule and hopefully I can come to the next race. I need a good, strong kick in the butt to get going and I think watching you race is just what I need. ENJOY your mental and physical down time!

  2. WOW!!! Congrats! I just started reading your blog – looking forward to following you on your journey to the trials:)
    What an impressive record, and an impressive race. Hope you enjoyed that cheeseburger!
    ps, I LOVE brooks sneakers as well:)

  3. Congrats. Those sliding turns sure do chew up feet! [I once broke the men's world record for the mile – on a negative 12% grade, ending up with a face-plant on gravel]

    1. Alright, you have my interest… negative 12% grade? And ending face planting in the gravel? I'm trying to picture how this would be possible – perhaps an unofficial mile on a 12% downhill gravel road? The only other way I was able to picture this was running downhill on a treadmill, but then the gravel part didn't make sense (unless there was a pile of gravel right in front of your treadmill, which makes for a funny visual).

  4. Amazing race recap! Sounds like quite a different experience from a regular marathon.

    Ouchies about your foot. Hopefully everything will be ok about that and congratz with your finish time!

  5. GREAT job Nichole – so proud of your accomplishment!!! Congratulations!!!!!!!!! Hope that your foot heals quickly.
    Steph R from RWSC

  6. Wow.

    I have run more than a few marathons in my life and some of them on 1 mile loops, but I could not imagine turning around and changing directions every half an hour. Did you really have to come to a stop and turn around?

    1. Ha! Guess it was a good thing I didn't think much about it before it happened. They set out a cone at 30 minutes and you turn directions at that point – you ran in lane 3 until everyone had turned. It caused a few back ups (a couple times I just walked around the cone because there were a lot of people approaching it/turning at the same time). Not a big deal, though.

      The two hardest things were that all the turning made it hard to fall into a rhythm (at least for me, I rely on pacing/getting into a rhythm to help the miles go by) and not having mile markers to focus on. I only had the 30 minute turn arounds to mark the passage of time (until 12 to go when I had a finite # to focus on).

      Where was your 1 mile loop indoor marathon??

  7. I have to repost from Facebook, because it still cracks me up!! This is from a college teammate/friend:
    My sister just wrote this to me in an email:

    "When I came into work today the front desk mgr, who’s wife runs, asked me if I had watched or seen the crazy record beaten…. He commented on how just this built little thing rocked it and her feet peeled off! Lol!"

    Pretty much sums it up, eh?

    1. Am I missing something here?….. First of all your joke isn't funny, doesn't make sense and the grammar is the standard of kindergarden kids

  8. Congratulations Nichole! What a great race! I help out at the Icebreaker Indoor Marathon in Milwaukee and we would love to have you run with us next year. Although our race does not qualify for an Indoor World Record, we have had a woman run a 2:52 back in 2010. Turns are no issue here either as the race is on a 443 Meter Oval (400 is the longest for world record) and the temperature is a perfect upper 40's to low 50's the entire race. Let me know if you would like more info. Enjoy!

    1. Hmmm… I'll have the think about this. I said "never again" after this… but I also said that after my first outdoor marathon and look where I went with that 🙂

  9. Nichole,
    Congratulations on your record! It was nice running with you the first few miles. When Matt and you dropped it to 2:50- 2:55 pace, I had to let you go. I had a hunch I would be lucky to break 3, turns out I was right! I'm happy not only that you got the record, but also that you got it at ZYY- it's good publicity and credential for a deserving event. Best of luck in your running goals, and enjoy your well-deserved rest!

    Nick Schnabel

    1. Thanks, Nick! It was fun to run with you – thanks for letting me follow & zone out for the first half an hour or so. And yes, very glad to do it at ZYY – Dick does such a great job that it deserves the press. Are you rested up? What's next for you?

    2. I'm recovering well, thanks. Easy runs this week, and expect to be back to normal next week. For spring season, I decided to focus on 1/2 marathon and below. It will be a first for me in the 8 years I've been running- I've always done shorter races as training for a marathon or ultra. So a 1/2 as my "A" race in the spring, then focus on ultra and my peak races will be Vermont 100 in July and JFK 50 in November.

      Glad to see the foot is healing- have you decided on the fall marathon? Twin Cities? It sounds like mentally you are already itching to get out there, and sometimes I think that's more than half the battle. Wherever you decide, I'll be rooting for a return to the Trials!

    3. oohhh.. an ultra runner! I was contemplating my first ultra (50k national championships this March in NY) just so see how competitive I'd be at that distance, since I seem to get stronger as the distance increases). But, I think the more immediate goal needs to be all-in for that Trials standard, so I'm sure my coach will recommend befriending the track this spring :). But – when I decide to make the leap upwards, I'll let you know (you should give me your email!).

      Good luck with the upcoming year! Keep me posted with how things go, even if it's a random note here or via email. I'd love to keep in touch.

      TCM or Chicago… we'll see how strong I am after this summer's training block. I would LOVE to qualify at TCM (nothing like having family and friends cheer you on!), but know it's a slower course… dilemma. But yes, definitely itching to start the next training block. This blister was probably the best thing that could have happened to me, forcing absolute downtime 🙂

  10. To use a finance term, were you sand bagging me with your potential? Wow, what a great run Nichole, I am very impressed. So much for Vasque sponsoring you, I don't think we can afford you any more!

    George Curleigh

    1. Ha, George! You should know that I (and Heritage) don't sandbag! 🙂 But a dual Vasque/Brooks sponsorship… being the financial minded person I am, I would be open to any/all proposals! 🙂

    you simply are amazing!
    I cannot believe how difficult it would be to race "blind" towards a nonexistent finish line. YOU killed it though!!!
    Enjoy the down time, you definitely earned it!
    and ouch, I am so sorry to see the pics of your foot, I bet all those turns are the reason for that large of a blister!
    HEAL ASAP!!!

    1. What a wonderful comment – THANK YOU! 🙂 You made me smile.

      Yeah, those turns aren't so kind to the feet. It seems to be healing fast, though, so I'm excited. Can't wait to start a long training block again!

      What's next for you?!?

  12. WOOW!!! Fantastic,
    Congratulation from the team of
    Wijsman Schoenherstellers (Cobblers) the Red Wing Repair-center in the Netherlands.

    we follow you up to the Olympics!

    Ger Wijsman

  13. Dear Nichole,

    Congratulations! I am your biggest fan from France!!

    Looking forward to seeing your Olympic gold medal…

    Yours truly,


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