Richmond is a city full of history and I made the trip down to Richmond looking to add to that rich history. OK, that is total BS, I made the trek south to run an 8K, then run the Richmond marathon.. No, I can’t even run a normal 50K. Fortunately I left at a time of day which made the trip fairly reasonable (traffic typically between DC and Richmond makes running quicker). So after flying down I-95, I arrived to packet pick up armed with my bib numbers. The parking for the expo is next to Flying Squirrel Stadium, home of Richmond’s minor league baseball team. Every time I come down to Richmond and see the stadium I think I should come down for a game. Come on, a flying squirrel? Right down my alley. So far a Flying Squirrel game has eluded me, and this time in Richmond I was here for bigger game (insert groan here).
I excel in this arena.
So I grabbed my bib numbers (OK, I took them from the volunteers) and went to find where I could test my plan of shielding my marathon bib with aluminum foil (and yes, I was the only one that the expo holding aluminum foil, but I suspect that probably wasn’t the oddest thing about me at the expo). The bad news is that they didn’t have a timing mat to test my shielding theory.
A quick review: I was running the 8K and the marathon and since they started 50 minutes (and 3/4 of a mile) apart. I needed to have all my marathon stuff with me for the 8K including my bib, so I had to come up with a way to keep it from registering at the 8K (spoiler alert: the aluminum foil worked).
So I picked up my shirts, walked around the expo and bought a beanie since the predicted temp at the start was 26 F. I then went off for my standard pre-race meal (Thai or Chinese, this time it was Thai). Then it was off to Whole Foods for some snacky stuff (yes, snacky is a word) and then off to the hotel which afforded a nice view of the Capitol:
It’s the white building in the back. Ok, nobody cared, but if I fill up the post with pictures, then you may not notice how my races go
My allergies had been acting up during the day and I was dead tired by 7:30. Finally I fell asleep around 9 with a very early alarm ready to wake me.
No, I am not going to include a picture of myself in bed, geeze.
Richmond 8 K
So it was up at 4:50. Straight away I made my pre-race peanut butter sandwich (PB for a PB?). Then I did some foam rolling, light stretching, and brushing my teeth since I am actually on an occasion an optimist (spoiler alert: I needn’t have bothered). Since it was going to be cold for the start (and for at least the first half of the marathon) I was wearing my beanie, arm warmers and gloves. I was not wearing tights since my monster knee brace has difficulty staying in place with tights. So at 6:15 it was off to the start of the race. Bag check was a breeze since none of the marathoners were there yet. I did some dynamic stretching, a few strides, and less dynamic porta potty activities. It was cold enough that the person in the one next to one I was using declared “It’s warmer in here, I am not coming out until the race starts”. That should give you an idea of what kind of day it was when camping out in a porta potty sounds like a good idea.
You know there really isn’t a caption that sufficiently describes this. I do like the umbrellas behind them #classy If I was really crass I would make a joke about the name of the company on the door.
I was in the first start wave (10 minutes average and under). I lined up in my corral about 5 minutes before the start. Gulped down a couple of gels and took a sip from my hydration pack (and yes I was the only person I saw in 8K with a hydration pack).
The course goes two miles away from downtown and then comes back three miles (with the last part being VERY downhill). I wanted to go out at slightly under my half marathon pace and hit the first mile around that (9:02). My legs were finally warming up and the next mile came in at 8:55. Then I started to get ahead of myself and felt good as I increased the turnover in my legs. We made the turn going back toward downtown and I got somewhat caught up in the race instead of doing it as a run. The street we were on had bricks instead of pavement and the sun was straight in our eyes (or at least my eyes). This made it hard to tell exactly where I was stepping or to check the Garmin to see what my pace was. Mile 3 was 8:49 and then mile 4 was 8:39. This was going in the wrong direction. Then was the big drop into the finish. I didn’t want to bomb the decent and tear my quads up for later but that being said I probably took it a bit fast. Finished in 43:45. Leave it to me to do negative splits the one time I shouldn’t be doing them. Later, my Garmin would tell me I ran my fastest 5K of the year. I placed in the top 20% overall. So I set my 5K PR for the year at the start of a 50+K (Spoiler alert: Bad idea).
Then I weaved in and out of the crowds since I needed to get to the marathon start. I grabbed my medal, a bottle of water and finally got out of the finish line area. With the clock still ticking, I found an area to unwrap my marathon bib. Turns out when you fingers are cold, safety pin use is not as easy as it looks. I chugged the water, took a gel and headed off to the marathon start. Unfortunately I took a wrong turn and had to back track a bit. When I got to the marathon start I could see that the final bit of the last wave was going through so I ran the long way down the block so I would hit the line at 6 miles over all and I happened to nail it. Mile 6 (including bib swap) was 13:30.
The Richmond Marathon
So my plan was to go out fairly hard in the first half, and then work on my 5/1 run/walk 24 hour plan in the 2nd half. This plan wasn’t the best in the world– I just wouldn’t figure that out for about 12 more miles. The first mile was great since I was basically running alone. But I was running too fast (9:33) which is closer to my half pace than marathon pace. BTW anyone who tells you Richmond is a flat course is lying to you. It isn’t a horrible course, but there are a couple of very noticeable ups and downs (like the finish line).
Flat my butt
Around mile 2 I started to run into the people who actually started the race on time and spent some time weaving in-and-out. This was probably a good thing since it slowed me down a bit (Mile 2, 9:55) but then I got some clear space and Mile 3 was 9:45. Well if my goal was to become tired, I was doing a bang up job. Miles 4 I started hitting traffic again (9:50) and then the next two miles was mostly uphill (9:56, 10:05). Then was a nice downhill (9:53). Although overall I noticed my half marathon time (including the 8K) was a better than my average half, I also notice I had more than a few miles left to go (like 19.1). To emphasis my the distance remaining my ankle on my left side had a sharp pain and I almost tripped. The downhill continued over the bridge but my hips were starting to have more issues with keeping a high cadence. Mile 8 came in at 10:19 and I was starting to worry I was fading.
The pretty part of the course was Riverside Drive, as we ran along the James River with the fall leaves in full color. It almost made me forget I was running. Just, kidding I was about to blow up and I could sense it.
One quick story. There was one place where I saw people go toward the river and then come out. Normally I would say it was runners taking a nature break, but since there were many women going down the path, I wasn’t really sure that was what was happening. When I got to the spot, I figured out what it was. People were stopping to take a picture of the river. I laughed at myself as I ran by (let’s ignore I was adding to the chorus).
This wasn’t on the course, but it gives you an idea of the pretty river.
I pushed to keep my pace and the next couple of miles (10:15, 10:18) and held the line as I rambled along the tree-lined road. Mentally I was started to fight myself. After coming out of the wooded area, I shed my arm warmers and gloves since we were in full sunlight and I was starting to get too warm (spoiler alert: big mistake).
I struggled a bit for the next three miles (all around 10:30) and when I hit the half marathon point, I thought it was a good time to practice my 5/1 run/walk ratio. The next couple of miles went fairly well and I was able to transition between walking and running fairly well. Then we hit the Lee Bridge and it was cold, and windy and I really started to wish I had my arm warmers and gloves back. I also switch from 5/1 to more of a run by feel (ie. start walking when you feel like crap). For a second that I thought about taking a right hand turn after the bridge and going back to my warm hotel with its cold beer, but I knew I was still on track to put in an OK time so I pushed (sorta, kinda) on.
I really don’t have a lot to say about the next 10 miles. Some miles were better than others. At some point we hit the part of the course that I remember from the half marathon I ran here back in 2011 so I knew what to expect (or more specifically, just how much longer I would be running).
About the only memorable moment was being passed during a walk interval by a woman in a neck brace who told me I was doing a good job and gave me a high-five. She was being nice, so I successfully didn’t laugh. When I started to run, I did dig a little deeper to make sure once I passed her, she stayed passed (I’m SO classy that way). Yes I have in two marathons managed to be passed by the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man and a woman in a neck brace. *sigh* Why am I the only blogger these things happen to?
In the end I finished the marathon part about 15 minutes slower than I finished Marine Corps Marathon. Under the circumstances, not too bad.
But there was one more thing to do
I still had time left on the clock to add additional mileage to my 6 HR PR, so once again I grabbed my medal (the guy seemed oddly disappointed I didn’t want him to hang it around my neck), grabbed a bottle of water and headed past the bag check area to get some additional mileage. In the end I hit 33.0 miles once I subtracted for the additional miles during the marathon (Garmin 26.4 vs 26.2). Better than three miles from 6 HR race in July.
Still thought I was a BAMF at this point. If only I had stayed in the hotel room. I do have the crazed eyes down pat.
OK, What am I going to Whine About?
I went into the race wanting to run a decent 8K (check),not have my marathon bib clock in at the 8K (check), get to the marathon start before they took up the timing mat (check),run a sub 5 marathon (check), set a 6 hour PR (along with a 50K PR) (check and check) but it still seemed somehow unsatisfactory.
Maybe I thought I was some sort of badass who could instantly recover from his first marathon in less than three weeks, crank out a quick 8K, turn in a solid marathon and then crank out a few miles afterward, just to drive home his badassry (or is it badassery?)
Guess who slept in