Sunday, November 14, 2010

Richmond Marathon

I chose the Richmond marathon because I had heard good things about the race and because my mom’s side of the family lived there. It had been a long while since I had been to Richmond, and I thought it was a great reason to go. So, I put it on my list to do in 2010. It was a good choice.

We are staying at my Aunt Judy and Uncle Eric’s. They have an old home in Richmond – a bit drafty and cold, but very warm and welcoming in the heart. They have been terrific – opening up their home to us, making sure I ate correctly (for me) before the race and getting me to the race and helping Carlos get around – I saw Carlos and Eric 5 times during the race!

My parents arrived on Friday. They drove up from Michigan. Eric is my mom’s brother – so again – the Richmond Marathon was a good reason for a family gathering! They also made the rounds on the race course – but after mile 13.1 (where I saw them for the third time) they decided to wait at home. Spectating is a LONG day. I am always impressed when people make the rounds of the full course, and am grateful to Carlos for his continued support.

I slept well on Friday – heck – even slept in compared to almost any other day (woke up at 5:30 a.m.).

The weather forecast called for sunny skies with the race starting in the 30’s and ending in the 60;s: perfect.

I was there early – the 8k started at 7, half marathon at 7:30, and full at 8. They were pretty punctual all around. While waiting I chatted with a few people, but pretty much just waited quietly.

I was racing to my heart rate for the first time. It’s a pretty good strategy, but I think I still need to practice some more. Usually my heart rate rockets when I start, and then comes down somewhere between mile 1 and 3. So I was expecting 10-10:15 minute miles for the first 2-3 miles. Today this was not the case. It stayed low – even at the start. So I started with a sub 9 pace. Lesson learned – have to pay attention to my heart rate AND my pace. More about that later.

The course is mostly flat with a few hills along the way – most notably miles 9 – 16. The course is also very pretty. You are taken through some very scenic places along the river in Richmond, and the leaves are in their splendor. All in all – a great course. Even the ending is downhill – which is awesome!

For the first 13 miles or so I played tag with the 4 hour pace group. The leader was loud, motivating and did a great job. I preferred keeping ahead and/or behind as it was a bit crowded around him.

I was having a strong race, and then about mile 13.5 (right after seeing my family for the third time!) noticed that my quads were starting to burn – as in how they feel after a hard workout. Hmmm…not good. Luckily, I had this happen after mile 18 in Atlanta, and knew that I could run though it. Cycling and training for Augusta also taught me I can work through it. I slowed, but ran through it for the next 12.5+ miles.

I saw Carlos and Eric for the 4th time about mile 18 and let him know what was up – that I knew I would finish – it was just going to be slow. And on I went.

Richmond had terrific water stops – every 2 miles up through mile 20, and then every mile after that. I walked each – after mile 20 walking a little more at the stops, and a little more slowly for each. They had gels at two stops, and two junk food stops (including Coke). I was self sustaining for foods, and skipped it but it was well run.

After mile 20 I started running it one mile at a time. That was my goal – and I did. I kept the walking to just the water stops.

I even picked up my pace for the last 2 miles or so. The last half mile is down hill. I picked up my pace, but could not sprint. Bother. I saw Eric at mile 26, and Carlos right at the finish. I had never gotten to see Carlos so many times during a race. It meant a lot to see my family along the way. This was my first event without a gaggle of TNT family along the route. Blood family did a pretty good job, though!

I finished with a PR – 4:09:27. I wasn’t expecting that. In my mind I was thinking it was a good way to end marathoning for a year by not PR’ing as then I would not have the siren call in the back on my head, calling to try for another soon. Oh well – and so I will go in to triathlon training and get stronger throughout the year and come back in 2012. So much I want to do…it is funny that my running/event schedule is filling up through 2012. Of course, things are subject to change (injuries, life events, et cetera) but for now – I am fully booked for 2011 and working on 2012!

The real adventure was getting home. Carlos and Eric had agreed to meet on Franklin Street at some tower. However, Carlos forgot the second part of the directions. We walked a fair bit looking for Eric. Eric, apparently, walked quite a bit looking for us. We never met up, and Eric does not have a cell phone. Carlos had his, but I did not put mine in my post-race bag, so I was phoneless (and I have most of the family phone numbers). We ended up stopping at a Double Tree hotel and hanging out in the lounge for 3.5 hours waiting for traffic to die down. During that time we used a computer to get Eric’s home phone, called home and spoke to my parents. They offered to get us, but we told them traffic was horrible, and we should wait until the roads open after the race. I had warm clothes. We had food, drink and college football. We were good to wait. About 3:30 Eric and my mom picked us up – no worse for the wear.

We got home, I took an ice cold bath (their cold water is cold enough that there is no need for ice!), cleaned up, and relaxed. People who ran that day and are a part of Judy's church came over for dinner, as did family. I got to speak with new runners and a new group of people and loved it. The new runners said they would keep going! Yea! I got to meet my cousin Jason’s children for the first time (they are now 6). I got to meet my cousin Cameron’s girlfriend. I got to see my cousin Brice for the first time since my wedding (7 years ago).

Overall, I would say this has been a pretty fantastic weekend. Richmond marathon is a terrific course. I have gotten to spend time with my family which has been pretty special. I also got a lot of support from my TNT family as I trained for this event. Overall, I know I am a fortunate woman. I am grateful. Thanks to all who made this a special event.

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