Richmond Marathon 2017 Race Report

Ok, finally. I think many of you already knew from Strava or other forms of social media, but I had a great race on Saturday 11/11/17. This post will be a little light on the images because my parents were so busy cheering (and it was cold before and after) that they didn’t take any photos and I didn’t run with my phone.

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Start: It had dropped below freezing the night before and was still in the low to mid 30’s for the 7:45am start. I wore a longsleeve cotton shirt and pajama pants as my throwaway clothes over my PPTC tech t-shirt, Lululemon shorts (same outfit as last year’s NYC Marathon), makeshift arm warmers, DarnTough socks, and Lululemon gloves (a Christmas gift from a friend last year). I ended up choosing my Brooks Launch 4s as my shoe since I did most of my marathon miles in them, especially the last 8 weeks.

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Flatlay from the night before sans cold weather accessories

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Miles 0-7: My corral (#4) was pretty crowded, but we got off to a decent start 6 minutes after the first wave did. We turned a corner and then we were running west on Broad street. And boom, at mile 0.5, there were my parents cheering in the median. Nice! I took the first several miles faster than I meant to, closer to a 10:00 pace than the 10:15-10:30 I meant to do.

I meant to take a gel at 45:00 but due to the spacing of the water stations (every 2 miles, I believe), I held off until closer to 1 hour on the clock. I started with a Salted Watermelon Gu, one of my favorites. We were climbing up a hill at Mile 6 but I didn’t notice too much, as I was chatting on and off with other runners, I had started behind the 4:30 pace group, then I passed them, they passed me, and I passed again. At Mile 7, there is a significant downhill after crossing the James River to go from the West End to the South Side. This felt great. I spent the next couple of miles along the river taking in the beautiful views and sunshine. I chatted up a woman wearing a JMU long-sleeve (my alma mater) and took in some of her cheers as my own. If I do another Richmond race, I’m definitely rocking the purple and gold.

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Miles 8-15: South Side was fairly uneventful, as I was mainly trying to not overdo the pace. After we climbed out from the River, I still felt pretty strong. I chatted with a runner from Chicago who was shocked at my choice of shorts and a NYRR employee. I had my second gel of the day, Toasted Marshmallow and it was AMAZING. I hadn’t tried it before (I know, nothing new on race day) but it was delicious. Around the half mark, I took some mini gummi bears from one of the candy stops. We ran alongside traffic for several miles of Forest Hill Ave and Semmes Ave, which I didn’t love, but some of them lended us cheers or music. Right as we turned to take the bridge back north across the James River, my parents surprised me at the 15 Mile marker. The bridge is fairly windy and an incline, but the boost from my parents helped so much. I had also latched on/decided to draft a couple who was also shooting for under 4:30 but wasn’t with the pace group. On the bridge, the pace group caught up to us, then we peeled away and I never saw them again (spoiler alert).

Miles 16-20: I still felt good but tentative, as I expected things to get harder in the 20’s. I slowly ate my mini gummi bears and had another gel, plus water every couple miles. We ran through some more familiar territory of West Main Street, then past the Diamond on Boulevard. I remember still feeling strong and passing people who were starting to fade. The stupid grin hadn’t left my face yet.

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Miles 21-25: These miles turned out to be both well-populated by great spectator groups and the ones where I felt great and realized I was going to surpass not only my A goal of 4:29:xx, but my A+ goal of 4:26:03 (a 30 minute PR from NYCM last year). I believe that in lieu of a 4th gel, I just had a single Salted Margarita ShotBlock and increased the blue Powerade consumption since the frequency of the tables increased. I supplemented this with a banana from a nice lady around Mile 22. I turned down the beer and other junk food on offer, as well as the pickle juice. I had told myself to hold off the pace from miles 21-24, then up the gas if I was still feeling good. My parents showed up for the 3rd time at Mile 23.5 and I yelled to them “See you at the beer truck! Hurry, I’m picking up speed!”. It was true! See my splits above after Mile 21; I knew the end was near and almost nothing could stop me.

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Extra gels in my pocket can’t slow me down

Mile 25-26.2: There were a few small bumps/hills before the big finish. At 25.5, I was passing people left and right and really turning on the juice when a woman told us the finish was “around the corner”. Well, we knew it wasn’t. I heard a girl comment on this and despite running at my half marathon pace now, I agreed with her and we talked about how we hate when people shout stuff like that about the finish when we just want to SEE the finish. I turn to look at her better and boom, she’s an internet running group friend! I managed to choke out my name and we both screamed. What are the odds? I knew we would get the final half mile in together, and boy did we ever. The downhill was ours. All of the pictures are of me talking to her (lol) and flying down faster than my 5K pace. We hit the finish, threw up our moose ears, and were done.

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Final: I hit the clock at 4:21:34.2, which apparently rounds up to :35. I beat my A+ goal by 4 and a half minutes, which still seems unreal. And I had the best time doing it! Everyone I talked to on the course was sweet and beyond pleasant. The crowd support was impressive for a marathon of this size. We were handed our medal, the blanket, and the mug, plus a bottle of water.

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Then I went off to find my parents at the Beer Truck. Sure enough, I beat them there. I grabbed a slice of pizza and some blue Powerade. I didn’t have my ID, only a sweaty $20 bill, so I couldn’t even get a beer. By the time they arrived, I was able to change then requested that we skip the beer and get straight to Bottoms Up Pizza, the source of my favorite pizzas from my Sweet 16 to my high school graduation. They actually had a table open and I had a Southern Tier Imperial Pumpking, a huge slice, and some Oreo pie to go.

A million thanks to everyone who has commented here, on my Strava, or out in the ‘real world’ plus my parents who cheered and cowbelled so hard. Y’all the best.

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Until next time, Richmond! 50 weeks until NYC Marathon!

 

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Week 10 of Richmond Marathon Training, 9/25-10/1

Week 2 (of 2) of increased work hours and missing more weekday runs. Fortunately, this was a cutback week.

9/25: Rest day. Felt a little beat up after 17 on Sunday, but felt pretty good. I’m hoping to do more recovery runs the day after my next super long runs.

9/26: Easy 4 in the morning.

9/27: After bowling with coworkers for an event I had planned, I took off for a runcommute to meet with the Brooklyn Beer Runners. I made it over 3 miles the less-pretty way (aka not along Kent Avenue and the Greenpoint/Williamsburg waterfront, but along McGuinness then Nassau then Union) then hopped in the G. Ran home, grabbed cash and sour patch kids and a protein bar, then made it to the bar for a delicious W3 (wheat beer with hibiscus) from Transmitter Brewery (which I had just run over an hour before when along the Pulaski Bridge).

9/28: I woke up early to go on a run but skipped it then had a 14 hour day at work, hopefully for the last time. Ouch.

9/29: Rest day

9/30: 11 beautiful miles, mostly on trails in Richmond. I did all of the Buttermilk Trail and loved it. Falling leaves, mountain bikers, and water. Also hit up Belle Isle and Brown’s Island and some pedestrian bridges.


Went to Publix after for a sub and was not disappointed in it or their sweet tea or their raspberry lemonade. Then ate a lot of Italian food and drank a lot of Pinot Grigio at my Dad’s retirement party.

10/1: Rest day. Stopped by Richmond Running Company, which is a JackRabbit affiliate, and used $45 of my $60 store credit to get some Brooks Chaser 5″ shorts. Excited to try these bad boys out this week! Long sleeve and shorts running weather is finally here.

Total: 19 miles out of a planned 28. If this is my lowest mileage week of 16, so be it.

Fall Racing Schedule

I’m already many weeks into my latest Half training cycle but feeling fairly unprepared. I’ve cut a few long runs short (did I learn nothing from Brooklyn this May?) and tended toward cross-training in lieu of some of those mid-week 3-milers. After battling and beating plantar fasciitis this spring in my left foot, I’ve had some Achilles pain the last few weeks. But I am feeling way better this week after increased mileage and cross-training. My next 2 races are:

The Bronx 10 Mile

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The Nike Women’s San Francisco Half

Nike Womens Half 2015 Course Map

I registered for the Bronx 10 Mile back in June along with the Mile, knowing it would sell out. I then entered the late-June lottery for Nike SF and got in early July. The timing is great other than a busy wedding weekend in between the two, leaving me wondering when to squeeze in another 10+ mile long run. But I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it, either before I depart DC, the day before the wedding, or after I come back.

I’m considering adding on the Staten Island 5K plus some extra miles SI around that day (October 11), which is exactly one week before Nike. I’m not even trying to hit a personal record in SF, due to those killer hills, shown in red above. Instead, I just want to enjoy my time and consume all that race swag. Assuming I’m relatively injury free after the Bronx, I plan to sign up for the following races:

  • NYC Runs Haunted Island Halloween 10K. I ran the 5K version last year and while I got a 5K PR earlier this year on a similar Roosevelt Island course, I am overdue for a 10K PR. I hated life and the humidity during both the UAE Healthy Kidney 10K and the Queens 10K and walked through the water stops. I think late October weather might be perfect to best myself on either of those runs. I’ll be cheering on many of my friends in the NYC Marathon the day after, so hopefully a race the day before will get rid of my marathon FOMO. Plus I’ll be going out for Halloween that night before waking up Sunday to cheer on my marathon running friends. I live right along the course then will probably take the subway to the finish.
  • The Staten Island 5K on 10/11 OR the Race to Deliver 4M on 11/22. Either one will be my 9th NYRR race this year and thus my final race in the 9+1 series. I could of course do both and hope to improve on my NYRR best mile pace. I’m also considering the Jingle Bell Jog for this reason because it’s near me in Brooklyn. I did my volunteer time back in April at the Japan Run and had a great time but am also glad to have it out of the way now that everyone is trying to squeeze in their races and volunteer credit.
  • Richmond Half Marathon on 11/14. Why yes, I would love a hometown race with the option of getting both Dixie Donuts and Sugar Shack Donuts after. This would be the Half I want to PR on this year. There are hills, but I’m pretty sure they’re more gentle than those in San Francisco. A friend who ran it last year told me there’s great crowd support, plus my family is pretty much obligated to attend and cheer me on. It would have been even more reasonably priced earlier in the summer, but I’m glad I’ve waited to register so I can watch for injuries.

So, after a fairly slow summer, it looks like fall will be pretty busy. Let’s hope I stay injury-free and that the weather cooperates.