My second marathon was definitely one to remember and an experience I am tremendously grateful for.
The Richmond Marathon is a really amazing race – the course, the support, the logistics organization were all phenomenal.
I couldn’t ask for a better support team. Jeremy, Juneau, my mom, my dad, Ross, Melissa, my sister Allyson, my niece Alayna, and Allyson’s boyfriend Scott were all cheering me on all over the course. Ross and Melissa made us feel right at home in Richmond and were such perfect hosts that I never felt like I needed to plan or think about anything but the race.
The race itself was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I am not entirely sure how to recount the whole thing so I will just share random bits and pieces from throughout the course of the race.
I accidentally donated my arm sleeves to charity. I got to the starting area in plenty of time to use the bathroom, warm-up, etc. But somehow the start still crept up on me. Before I knew it or was even fully prepared the national anthem was playing and they were counting down to the starting gun. I was able to find the correct wave start group and shed my throw-away clothes but my Garmin took forever to find a signal. So I let my wave and the following one pass me by while my watch caught up and then I finally crossed the start. Luckily, the road was plenty wide enough for the mass of people and I didn’t have to weave around other runners in the later waves. About 3/4 of a mile in, I realized that I had never put on my arm sleeves like I intended but instead left them in my sweatpants pocket… at the start line… where all the throw-away clothes were getting donated to a local charity.
A 10% chance of rain should not make you feel reassured. The forecast all week showed an extremely low chance of rain. But, of course, I woke up to hear rain on the roof of my brother’s apartment. It subsided a lot around the time the race was supposed to start, but picked up again during mile 1, and again pretty hard during mile 13. Luckily it was nice and warm out so the rain wasn’t accompanied by freezing temperatures.
My iPod died. At mile 1. It had some problems weeks ago but they seemed to be resolved and, of course, like clockwork, my iPod started glitching again just minutes into the marathon. I have never run much more than 5 miles at a time without some music or a similar distraction. And suddenly I had to run over 25 miles that way? Not cool.
Bart Yasso and I are basically BFF’s. Bart Yasso, the Chief Running Officer of Runner’s World looked right into my eyes and cheered me on. Not once, but twice. I’m pretty sure this means we’re best friends. The first time I saw him was around mile 16 as we finished crossing the bridge over the James River. I was just starting to feel a little worn down at this point. I was hugging the left side of the road and as we ran past a group of spectators I made eye contact with an older man in a blue Runner’s World shirt. He looked right at me and said, “Go girl, go!” I immediately knew it was Bart and got embarrassingly giddy about it. I saw him again as I crossed the finish line and he, yet again, looked right at me and said, “Great job! Strong finish!”. Now I am just waiting to get a personal phone call from Bart inviting me to have coffee with him while we talk about running and my future career as a writer at Runner’s World. The end.
Mile 19 was my wall. And I hit it pretty damn hard. I maintained my goal pace until just about this point. I was comfortably running a very steady 8:08 average pace for the first 14 or 15 miles. I slowed down slightly to around 8:11 average by mile 18. I saw my cheering squad around this time and remember my brother asking if I was still on pace. All I could get out was, “barely”. Not long after that, the seconds on my average pace started creeping up faster and it was clear I was slowing down. My butt was hurting and the soreness was starting to move into my right hip and quad. Up to this point, I had been paying obsessive attention to my Piriformis and it wasn’t until now that it really became obvious it was not as strong as the rest of my body. It wasn’t the type of pain where I needed to stop and quit, but it was the type of pain where I needed to mentally assess. At mile 19 my average pace was reading 8:13 – 1 second per mile slower than my goal pace. I thought carefully about whether it was realistic to hold a pace faster than what I was running for another 7 miles. The answer was no. And I knew that, if I kept my current pace and hovered so close to my goal, my stubbornness might take hold during later miles and lead me to push harder than I had any business pushing and potentially legitimately injure my Piriformis.
So I consciously decided to let my BQ goal go. I pulled off to the curb, did a few quick stretches, and then walked through a water station. I picked it back up to a run but kept my pace comfortable. I stopped for a bathroom break at mile 22. I didn’t give up by any means but I came to terms with not finishing under 3:35 and just made it through the remaining miles the best that I could. I don’t regret it at all because I don’t think I went out too fast or planned the race poorly. The fact that I held my goal pace for 19 miles makes me think that my goal time was totally realistic if my body had been at 100% in the weeks leading up to the race and if I wasn’t forced to run without music when I wasn’t used to it. I am glad that I gave that goal pace a real shot because now I know, in better circumstances, it would have been attainable.
I finished the race in 3:39:55. I may have missed my A goal, but I crushed both my B and C goals. I beat Sarah Palin’s time (aka the sub-4 hour mark) and I PR’d my first marathon time by around 50 minutes. This race was a mental and physical test for me. Despite missing out on a Boston qualifying time by under 5 minutes, I don’t feel remotely disappointed. I only feel more motivated to go after the goal again (more on that in another post).
A million thanks to my family and everyone else who gave me their words of support through this blog or otherwise. I truly couldn’t have done this without all of you!
What did you do this weekend? When is your next race?