2017 Indianapolis Monumental Marathon Rogue Racers Summary Race Report

2017 Indianapolis Monumental Marathon
Rogue Racers Summary Race Report
Written By Megan Stansberry

Rogue Racers chose Indy Monumental as its fall target race shortly after the 2017 Boston Marathon. After a balmy Boston, our team was seeking a “flat and fast” course, but also one with a high likelihood of ideal racing weather (40-50°F and low humidity) – that is, the team was PR hungry! Indy fit the bill and was also conveniently located not far from our training base in Columbus, Ohio.

Amped and anxious, Rogue Racers began a grueling 22-week training plan in June. The formula was simple – 6 days a week, Tuesday speed, Saturday long runs, 70ish miles peak week. Oh, and with all that, maintain proper nutrition, juggle full-time jobs, and manage family and kids’ schedules. Rise and shine, y’all – welcome to the grind. #bemonumental could not have resonated more with our Rogue Racers. It is a mantra that we apply to anything we set our mind to. We “embraced the suck” from day 1 – it’s what we love!

I was an observer for this particular Rogue Racers plan, and I had a front row seat. My husband, Bryan Stansberry, had logged a 2:55 PR at Chicago 2015 but had come up short of PR attempts at Boston 2016 and Columbus 2016. I knew that his resolve for Indy training would be fierce, and that, especially with Rogue solidarity, this drive would be mirrored in the other Indy participants. I watched the miles add up, the adaptations happening, the mindset focusing. I saw it in him, and I saw it in my teammates, leading up to the big race day. I could not wait for the main event!

At the pre-race dinner, one of our Rogue Racers gifted a small rope bracelet to each Indy participant. The bracelet was paired with a special story. I am sharing this here because it captures the spirit of Rogue Racers and our team camaraderie, especially during this storybook 2017 season:

There are a handful of people in my life I would trust to hold my rope. If I were dangling from a cliff, and the only thing that would save me from my death was a rope and the people who were holding it…I would choose carefully.

Tomorrow morning as you line up, you will all have a piece of a rope in your right hand (help me out here and pretend). You are a team. Yet you are each running your individual race. As we know the marathon is a monster to be respected. Yes, you are ready. Yes, you have trained. You will all have highs and lows, all at different times… You will have highs after your lows even.

When you are at a point where you are mentally focused, feeling strong as your legs stride out effortlessly, think of those on your team that you are pulling along, that may be struggling. Think to yourself “I’m pulling my team, I’ve got you”.  Then when YOU have come to a place where you are mentally tired, or physically feeling worn, remember then… that there are teammates all around you pulling you along. Remember they are there, either in front of you or behind, telling you “HOLD ON TIGHT, I’VE GOT YOU!”

No matter what, you cannot let go, grip tightly, perhaps sometimes until your hands are raw. But at the end of the race, you will all have held the rope for someone.

You may find that when you are pulling others along it takes the focus off of yourself and onto the team. It empowers your team to step up and grab the rope at different times. You will find at times, it is harder to hold on. Having a team always makes it easier. It’s not one person’s job to hold on…it’s everyone’s.

Say these things before the start and during the race “I will hold the rope”. Say it to each other if it helps.

Holding on. Being a team. It is a beautiful sight.

You know how to hold the rope. Strong, and with no fear.

Life sometimes gives us opportunities to hold the rope for someone who has held the rope for us during training, injury, trials. I think of Steph Homorody. What a great honor.

I will hold the rope for all of you tomorrow morning.

Saturday morning in Indy began like all the summer weeks before. Early alarm clocks, carbs, and run prep. Except this time with a fire ready to burn. Everyone had the typical race excitement and jitters, but this was something special. It was palpable even to me, as an observer.

When the dust cleared, I think that the race performances astonished even the runners themselves. It was an epic day! Rogue Racers had 9 marathon finishers and 2 half-marathon finishers. Lauren Holtvoigt and Kelley Anderson (now Reichert!) were our half-marathon finishers. Their “just-for-fun” times were 1:38 and 1:41, respectively. Way to go, ladies!

Our marathoners ran their butts off! I cannot emphasize enough how proud I am of our Rogue marathoners – even one week later, their achievement still burns brightly. I think that, of all the stats associated with Indy 26.2, the most noteworthy for Rogue Racers is that all our runners were under 3:05 – I repeat, all Rogue Racers marathoners were faster than 3:05 – uh WHAT? This is amazing, to say the least. The final results:

2:47 – Ryan Arens
2:47 – Jake Reichert
2:48 – Bryan Stansberry
2:52 – Brian Kasten
2:53 – Brian Cook
2:57 – Rick Bruhn
2:57 – Erick Weis
3:03 – Kristina Zahniser
3:04 – Tim Butterfield

I’ll leave the rest to several of our own Rogue Racers… Here it is in their words! Congrats, Rogue Racers, and thanks Indy. We loved your race, and we can’t wait to return!

What did you like most about the Indy Marathon?

Tim Butterfield (TB): I liked how the course was flat, fast, and scenic. From upscale neighborhoods to Butler’s campus, the fairground, and some sort of public garden, the course was enjoyable and fast.

Ryan Arens (RA): The fast flat course.

Bryan Stansberry (BS): There really were so many things I liked about this race. However, if I had to narrow it down, I would have to say I liked that it is a race with a flat course, and it’s in November. Sometimes I like to run races for fun, but when I’m trying to PR my main concerns are temperature and elevation (in that order). The weather conditions were nearly perfect, and the course was very race-able.

Brian Kasten (BK): So many things: The weather, the perfect time of year, the flat course, plenty of aid stations, fast field, hotel locations, finish area, VIP tents for clubs.

Brian Cook (BC): I thought it was tremendously well run, location of the host hotels was great, it was wonderful to be able to walk out of the hotel onto the course in the morning! Aid stations were well staffed and plentiful.

Kristina Zahniser (KZ): Just about everything… I loved that the logistics were easy. The hotel was right there. I loved the course and the gradual decline from mile 19 on. I loved that it was in the 40s at the start. But by far the best thing was having so many from the Rogue team all together both on and off the course.

Would you recommend the Indy Marathon to friends? Why?

TB: Yes, for all the reasons listed above, in addition to how the November date means that weather will rarely be too warm. Saturday races are also the best, since they allow for a full day of recovery on Sunday. Also, there are so many hotels within walking distance of the start/finish.

RA: Yes, the weather tends to be ideal in November and the course is very flat and fast. Logistically the Westin is right by the start/finish and the expo is a short walk inside the Westin.

BS: Yes, I would. And not only because it’s a fast course and offers cool weather, but it’s also a very well organized race. One thing that stuck out to me was how they had the course separated with cones for when the half and full came back together around mile 23. This may seem insignificant, but I would actually consider NOT running a race that didn’t keep the runners separated (when trying to PR). In addition to those things, the crowd support on the course was better than expected, the expo was in a very convenient location, and I enjoyed the tour of the city.

BK: Without a doubt, for all the reasons I listed above.

BC: Without a doubt. Aside from all of the above, the course was considerably flat and extremely accurate. I measured it at 26.21 miles! There were a few stretches that weren’t great, with traffic on the other side of the road but overall it was a good course.

KZ: Absolutely. The course is a PR course and the logistics are easy.

Were you able to execute your initial race plan? What did you learn?

TB: My training was hampered by an injury leading up to the race, so I had taken several days off and limited my mileage quite a bit in the final two weeks. Because of this, I went into Indy with very fluid goals. I stuck to my plan of running with the 2:45 guys for the opening miles, but then I backed down. When I was already pretty gassed by mile 7, I knew I had to focus on just moving forward without worrying about the pace. I think this training cycle taught me that no matter how fit I am, I need to proactively practice injury-prevention by strength training. I was probably the fittest I’ve ever been on race day, but it really didn’t matter, given how my injuries–which probably could have been prevented with strength training–affected my training, which led to a high-stress lead-up to the race and a tough race day. I think if I want to really try for a fast marathon, I need to respect the distance and the magnitude of the task enough to prioritize strength training into my routine.

RA: Yes. The plan came together perfectly. I feel that I can run the course faster next time as I still feel like a had a lot left at the end.

BS: The short answer is yes. I was able to run a race that I was very happy with, executing my race plan nearly as planned on paper, and I was able to come away with a huge PR. However, upon digging deeper, I did learn some things. I learned that I need to continue working on avoiding such a big fade from miles 22 to 25. Even with all my preparation, and with adequate hydration and nutrition on the course, this fade still happened. It kept me from hitting my stretch goal. But overall, aside from those three miles, I executed the plan nearly to perfection.

BK: I threw my race plan out the window after a mile or so. I threw it out the window and just went for it. My initial race plan was way, way too conservative. I still went too conservative overall and had tons of energy left in the bank at the finish. I have learned a lot nutritionally leading up to this race, especially around carb intake and how much food I can consume race morning.

BC: I was, I executed it exactly to plan and couldn’t be more thrilled how it worked out. I was actually a little quicker than my A goal!

KZ: For the most part I did what I wanted to though there are a few things that I would have changed. I had a 6:40 mile at 3 which was a bit too soon for that. I think I may have done miles 3-9 a tad faster than pace and miles 10-18 a tad slower. I would have reversed this. It takes such discipline to hold back in the beginning when you feel good. Also, I wished I could have pushed harder the last two miles.

What was your reward meal or treat after the marathon?

TB: I almost never have an appetite for several hours after a marathon, and sometimes my hunger doesn’t even hit until the next day. Sarah forced me to eat a protein bar to help me recover quicker, but that was anything but a treat. We did treat ourselves to a pizza dinner and ice cream sundae dessert afterward, which was more like it.

RA: McDonald’s cheeseburger and fries and then Flyers Pizza with peppers later that day.

BS: On the way home, I told my wife, Megan, I really only wanted two things…donuts from Schuler’s in Springfield, and two good beers. I got two perfectly glazed donuts on the way home, and then later that night I had a CRC Bodhi and an excellent amber from a new (to me) brewer (the name is escaping me). I was quite satisfied.

BK: Firestone Walker 2014 Anniversary Ale, a 13% abv blend of barrel aged beers. I’ve had this aging in my basement for a long time. I put it in the fridge before I left and told myself that if I had a good race I would open it.

BC: Shepherd’s Pie and a beer at a local pub with a few other Rogues. Just wish I had ordered the dinner portion rather than the lunch!

KZ: I gave myself a lot of rewards 😊 My normal large coffee after a long run to start it off. Then that night a few drinks with fellow Rogues. And a rare treat that I was dreaming of during the carb depletion: a Heath bar blizzard. I promised myself that I would let myself have one if I PR’ed. It had been years since I had one. It was better than I remembered.

Other/Share anything you would like!

TB: I’ve never run a major road race as part of a team, and this was an experience like none other. Even though I was passed by every Rogue out there on the course, they each gave me an encouraging word in passing, and of course our support team on the sidelines was incredible, too. Being in a city as manageable as Indy allowed us all to eat dinner together, stay in nearby hotels, and connect both before and after the race. The experience was exactly what I had hoped it would be, as far as team involvement goes, and it was amazing to see so many Rogues shatter their PRs!

RA: Best marathon for running a fast time. I will be doing it again next year!!

BS: This marathon meant a lot to me, because it was the culmination of a lot of hard work over TWO years’ time. It was also the fruition of two years of patience (which was excruciating at times), just waiting for the race when all the stars aligned (weather, fitness, health, race plan execution). It finally happened. I now have a time that I can feel proud of, and the 2 year PR monkey is off my back!

BK: I really enjoyed the race and would love the opportunity to race it again. I’ve never felt so great during a race. I never felt fatigued, I never faded, I smiled the entire way, I had fun with the crowd and the aid stations, I never once thought about quitting (I always think about it at some point), I had an unreal experience. I think Tim Butterfield put it best about my race “you had the type of race that every runner dreams of, but very few ever, ever experience.”

KZ: I was just so very touched by all the love and support of the team. It was awesome to have a large group together both on and off the course.