Friday, November 29, 2013

This Girl's Recap of 2013 Richmond Marathon

In October 2012, I ran my first marathon at the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C.

This year I decided to run marathon #2 at the Anthem Richmond Marathon on November 16th.  I had heard great things about the city and the course from many folks and my friend Rebecca.  It was close to home and I discovered a bunch of my favorite people (who happen to be runners!) were going as well so choosing Richmond was a bit of a no-brainer.

Coach Sarah decided to take a different approach to this training cycle.  We concentrated on quality miles instead of quantity, only running three days and getting three rest days per week, throwing in a couple swims in there as well.  Not only did this approach give my body plenty of rest, but it gave my mind rest as well.  I was able to hit 90% of my training targets because my body was well rested for them and in turn, gave me confidence.  I went to Richmond with a healthy body and a quiet mind.

So, Jyl and Bonny picked me up and we were off!  GIRLS WEEKEND!!!!

The race was on Saturday, so we decided to hop in the car on Thursday night, after work.  It was a long tiring drive at night, but I'm glad we did it.  Being able to wake up all settled in Richmond kept all anxiety and chaos away.  We woke up, took our time getting ready, went on a Starbucks adventure and hit the race expo to get our numbers.  And I was able to find some pretty sexy compression socks.

The female version of the 3 Musketeers
Jyl, Bonny and yours truly
After the expo we did some race recon, checking out some of the course and seeing exactly how far our hotel was from the start and finish lines.  Shout out to one of the sweetest men I know, THANK YOU JACK!!!  That hotel was in a PRIME location!  I mean, think of rock star parking, and then translate it to hotel location.  And they had Gatorade in dispensers in the lobby.  Nice touch Crowne Plaza Richmond!!

Friday flew by, and before you knew it, it was time for the group pasta dinner at The Tobacco Company with quite a group of people.  (Holla to Jo, Marc, Rebecca, Jack and Molly!! They rounded out the group, making the trek to Richmond earlier that Friday) Dinner took a little longer than we all probably would have liked, but the food was fantastic and the building was exquisite.  Again, kudos to Jack!  The maestro of this orchestra :)  With our bellies full and our eyes heavy, we made our way back to the hotel to get ready for the morning.  Rebecca was staying with us that night, and with as much giggling as there was going on, I'm surprised we got any sleep at all!  GIRLS WEEKEND!!!
For Lisa

Now, I'll be honest.  I wasn't sure how smoothly the morning was going to go being that there were 4 women in one small hotel room.  Needless worry! We weren't even rushed for the Sharpie tradition.  This is where we write motivational things on our arms and hands.  I know it's hard to believe, but sometimes we need a little reminder of just how awesome we are and why we are there.
Mr. Weatherman on the
local was WRONG.
But did that dampen
our spirits?
Everything was timed perfectly and excitement was brewing even though it was raining outside.  But that was okay, because Mr. Weatherman on the local said it was going to stop well before race time.  Sure it is Mr. Weatherman....

Jyl, Bonny, Rebecca, Jack and Molly were running the 13.1 and started a half hour before Marc, Jo and I.  Regardless of the cold sprinkle that turned downpour, it was a lot of fun to see all my friends off to their start.

Once they were off, it was time for me to find my corral.  I had a goal of a sub 4 hour marathon which put me in the 2nd corral.  This was feasible when I first registered for Richmond eight months prior, but a lot can happen in eight months.  I decided that I would ultimately try to get that sub 4 (I REALLY want that sub 4...), but I would be pleased as punch if I could get at 4:10:00.  If you recall, this was my goal for Marine Corp last year that I completely missed by 9 minutes.  So.  There I was, in the back of the 2nd wave...Ready...........GO.

Folks. I really wish I could say I did it.  That against all odds and opposition I pulled it off.  I had 3:05:00 at the mile 20 mark but I just couldn't hang on.  Mile 16 the struggles began, 21 the wheels started coming off…I know, not an original tale.  Since this is supposed to be a race recap, I guess I should talk about my race :) Here is how it went:

I thought I had a good plan, to do a 9:15 for the first 8 miles, then decrease 5 seconds for a 9:10 for the next 8 and a 9:05 for the rest.  No rhyme or reason for what actually happened.  I did a good job ignoring the rains and clouds and handling an early equipment failure. I know I spent too much energy around mile 7.5 when I saw Jo ahead of me. I tried to make my way to her but finally decided I had to let her go.  She had an awesome race, by the way!

Mile 16 saw a bridge and a nasty highway and that is when I started hating the world.  I want to say around 18 my calf muscle felt like it was going to snap in two.  I tried so hard to hang on but I finally broke down and walked around 21.  I couldn't take any more gels so I skipped the 3:15:00 and 3:45:00 gel and instead took Powerade from the stations from miles 21 on in.  22 saw my longest walk and lowest point.  People asked me what I needed (so nice!) and I said “a bike”.  All their giggles helped me rally to run to the next stop.  Then I decided to try to run to each water stop and then walk through them.  I saw Jyl on the course around 22.5-23, and that helped for a moment. 

I remembered Coach Sarah telling me to smile, it helps get through those down points.  I looked down at my watch and saw that I was going to miss both goals.  I thought to myself, that sucks but I can’t change that now, so what can I do to make this better for me right this moment.  So, I walked off the course to my left to a DJ stand, broke out into some serious dance moves and then went on my way.  I know I must have looked like a complete nutball and everyone most likely thought I was having a seizure and needed medical attention, but it must have done the trick because I think I ran the last two miles all in.   

The last segment to the finish is down hill.  Let me tell you what.  I flew down that hill whooping, hooting and hollering the entire way!  And then I heard Jack and then spotted him, Rebecca and Molly...I started screeching with joy and I don't know how but I went even faster. That part was SO MUCH FUN!  I really did not care about time or goals at that point!  And this might be hard to believe, but I honestly had no idea what my finish time was.  I stopped my watch, but I never looked at it.

Bonny was there at the finish to "catch me".  She was so patient and took such good care of me :) We couldn't figure out what it was that I really needed.  I knew I needed something in my body; remember, I hadn't taken any fuel since 2 hours and 45 minutes into the marathon, which by this time was at least 1.5 hours ago.  So I tried multiple food options but as soon as I took a bite I threw it away.  The only thing I could take was my NUUN and forced down the protein recovery bar we all got in our race packets.  Of course, the race doesn't count unless you take the finish picture!
sexy compression

Bonny got me back to the hotel where we met Jyl.  I was able to get into the shower and warm up; and then I crawled on my bed and curled up with the sweet fleece blankets all the participants got.  I couldn't nap, I was way to wired.  So I propped up my feet, watched tv and spent a lot of time texting EVERYONE ON EARTH!!!

I have to say I was feeling pretty good considering what I just did.  I was slow moving, but I could still move!  No, I wouldn't be busting out dance moves anytime soon, but I could walk to our celebration dinner with Jo and Marc at the
Marc, Jyl, Me and Jo
Here's to our awesomeness!!
coolest British pub this side of the Atlantic.  Marc talked us into a shot of Fireball to kick off the celebration (named appropriately) and then I had the best beer, grilled cheese ever, some sweet potato fries and fried pickles.  And Coach Sarah, if you happen to be reading, just pretend you didn't read that part....

And that, my friends, was my experience during the 2013 Anthem Richmond Marathon.

Oh, and for inquiring minds that need to know, I ended up with a 4:09:40.  I'll be honest, it took me a few days to get over the stab of missing that sub 4, but the more I thought about it, the more pictures I saw, the more I realized that I did awesome.  And after seeing my race photos, it was proof that I really was having a blast.

Through this cycle,  I've learned a couple valuable lessons.
1) While it is important to have goals (I'm still shooting for that sub 4, people...), it doesn't mean anything if you can't share your experience with the people you care about and who care about you.
2) You are always stronger than you think you are.  In all things.

Who's having fun?  
This girl!

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