Event: Maple Leaf Indoor Marathon Series
Goshen College (Goshen, IN)
Disclaimer: It’s taken me far too long to write this report. It’s been almost three weeks, and while I started a rough draft a little while ago, I’m afraid this report will be a little stale. With that fear in mind, I’m going to try a slightly different format. I hope you find this helpful and informative.
What did I do?
The Maple Leaf Indoor Marathon is an long distance running event that includes a full and a half marathon. It is run on an indoor track at the school’s fitness center. The full marathon is 204 laps! Surprisingly, the half is 102 laps (crazy, I know).
Registration options included Saturday, Sunday or both days. I chose to run both. That is 52.4 miles (408 laps) on an indoor track over a two day period.
Why did I do it?
I’m been training for the Indiana Trails 50 Mile race (April 2017), and my training goals are focused on that. Maple Leaf was something I chose to do to add a little variety to my training. I wanted something novel, different and fun. Basically, this was just a couple of training runs, but I could get a tech shirt and a couple of medals.
I wanted to run an indoor marathon earlier in the year, but registration for that specific event filled up before I could get in. Maple Leaf was plan B. When I went to register I saw it was $125 for both or $85 for one. I am a sucker for a good deal, so I took the plunge on the double.
So … I wanted something different to do, and I’m a sucker for a big discount.
Am I crazy?
Do I really need to answer this?
Did I run in the same direction the whole time?
Nope. The race director had us change direction every half hour. When we started, we ran counter-clockwise. Thirty minutes later, he placed a cone at the halfway point. When I got to the cone, I went around it, reversed course while moving to the outside lane until everyone else had also turned around. The cone is then removed from the track and we go back to the inside lanes. It’s not as confusing as it sounds.
What do I think about the people?
I was impressed with all of the people I met at the event. The staff was great. The race director was very personable (I’ve never ran another race where I had so much constant contact with the race director) and the timing coordinator was also very helpful.
The other runners formed a good group of nice folks. I knew some of them beforehand, and I made new friends as well. There were plenty of high fives, encouraging words and general helpfulness. Even the spectators were pretty cool.
Did I wear headphones?
I’ve never really been a headphones guy. Just not my thing. They did play music over the PA system, which was a mixed bag. Sometimes, you’re getting the Rolling Stones or Jethro Tull, but at other times, you’re getting a non-stop half hour of polka music. When you don’t control the playlist, every song was a surprise.
There was a moment when “Staying Alive” by the Bee Gees was playing. My first thought was “why are they playing the CPR song? Is everyone okay?” Fortunately, everyone was fine.
What about the aid stations and post-race goodies?
Tables were placed in the four corners of the gym on the outside of the track. Water and Gatorade was available, but otherwise you were responsible for your own aid station fare (they might have had Gu too, but I’m not sure). This was well publicized before the event, so I was prepared and brought my usual in-race fuel. Occasionally, I’d ask a spectator to refill a water bottle for me, but as the crowd thinned out, I had to do that on my own. It’s not a big deal, but if you’re used to more, then this might be a rough adjustment.
Post-race food was fine, I guess. They provided pizza, pretzels, fruit and some other assorted snacks. The pizza was ordered long before I finished, and I’m not a fan of cold pizza. I opted not to eat much of what was available. I'm glad that I had brought my own post-race food.
How did I know how many laps I’d ran?
It’s chip-timed, so there’s no manual counting. There was a large screen monitor that I passed with each lap, so I usually had a good idea of my progress.
The post-race online results includes a “splits report” that shows each one of the 204 laps. It takes four pages to print out! I don’t think you’ll ever get a more detailed race report anywhere else.
What was the bling like?
The “bling” is interesting. The long sleeve tech shirt is nice. I was hoping for two shirts, but you only get one even if you register for two days. I understand this policy and am not complaining.
You do get a medal for each race you complete. The medals are locally crafted from clay instead of metal, so they’re unique While I appreciate something other than a run-of-the-mill medal, I doubt these medals will please those who pick races specifically for awesome medals (such as the Little Rock Marathon). I think this event is likely to leave you disappointed if you're all about the bling.
How did I prepare for a double marathon?
Because this was not a “goal” race, but a couple of training runs, I didn’t really prepare for it. If this were a goal race, I would have done a proper taper. I did have a nice fallback week afterwards, but I didn’t do much of anything differently. I do have a pretty solid distance running base, so this was within my ability and level of conditioning.
What was the hardest part?
I went into day one with a specific plan for my pace (9:00/mi was my goal). I kept an eye on my Garmin, and felt really good about how I was running. As the race progressed, I noticed a creeping discrepancy between my Garmin and the lap counter, and it was not in my favor. When my Garmin said I was at 13.1 miles (at just under 2:00), the lap counter said I hadn’t yet got to mile 12! I expected some small discrepancy, but not that much. This revelation sucked the running mojo right out of me. My pace was way off and there was no way to make up the time. The mind games were strong, and I was clearly in a funk. I eventually said to myself, “you’ve got another one to run tomorrow. Just finish and come back tomorrow and give it another go.” Once I got in this frame of mind, I was less anxious and took it easier over the last half of day one. I even walked quite a bit, and I am fine with that.
For day two, my goal was to finish with a better time than day one. I knew what pace I would have to maintain, and chose the Galloway method with a 9:1 interval. I did improve by 59 seconds! I learned from the hardships and unexpected disappointments of day one, made some adjustments, and wound up much happier with my day two performance.
How far did I actually run?
While I am aware that my Garmin didn’t sync well with the official lap counter, I think it’s still possible to get a decent estimate of my actual distance.
On a standard marathon course, you “run the tangents” because it’s the shortest possible distance. When you pass people, or take a wide turn, then you add to your overall distance. I’ve finished road marathons with distances ranging from 26.4 to 26.7 miles. This is not unusual.
The indoor course distance is measured using the innermost lane. Unfortunately, you can’t run the whole race from that lane for several reasons: there is a lot of passing, getting water/fuel, checking the lap monitor, navigating the turnaround every thirty minutes, etc. After I finished on day one, I was chatting with a nine-time Maple Leaf finisher, and he estimated my finish time was about 30 minutes slower than it would have been outdoors. This was not initially intuitive, but when you consider these factors, it makes sense.
My best guess (based on the increased lengths of the outside lanes, my Garmin data and estimates from other runners) is that the final distance is closer to 28 miles (not a typo). I could be wrong, but I’m fairly certain it was closer to 28.0 than it was to 26.2.
How did I do?
Day one = 4:56:00, Day two = 4:55:01.
Would I do it again?
It wasn’t what I would call fun, but it was rewarding. I felt pretty beastly having completed such a difficult challenge. It actually allowed me to meet the criteria for the “Iridium Level” of the Marathon Maniacs (www.marathonmaniacs.com/maniac-criteria), which is something I really wanted to do.
Now that I’ve done it, the prospect of doing it again has lost much of its luster. It would no longer be new, interesting or novel. I could see perhaps doing another single indoor event, but I doubt I’d sign up again for a double… now, if they offer a triple next year, and the multi-event discount is steep, who knows what I’ll do?