After almost two thousand miles of training, in the heat, in the rain, on a treadmill while underway onboard an aircraft carrier (including a treadmill PR of 22 miles!), my second marathon is in the books.
The Anthem Richmond Marathon was everything I was told it would be; great course, awesome crowd support, and a fast downhill finish (almost too fast, more to come on that later!).
This was my first travel race, and even though I didn’t have to travel far, anytime you’re not racing from home, the logistics can be daunting. I can’t give enough thanks to my dear wife, who made a checklist to make sure I wouldn’t forget anything I’d need on race day, and it worked flawlessly. We arrived at the expo around noon on Friday, I’m not big on expos anymore, but we wanted to check it out, I ended up grabbing a hat and shirt. Then it was off to the hotel, relax for a bit, grab some dinner and then early to bed.
Race day! After months of preparation, it’s finally here. The weather is absolutely perfect, cold, but perfect. Forecast was for around 30* at the start, only warming to about 40* by the time I was hoping to finish. I opted for shorts and a long sleeve shirt under my Running Etc Ambassador Team singlet, with a hat and gloves of course. Turned out to be perfectly comfortable, just a touch warm towards the end of the race, but not bad at all.
There was one glitch pre-race, which would end up haunting me later, even with my usual pre-race routine of oatmeal and coffee, I was unable to get the mail moving prior to the start of the race. Oh well, no choice but to race and hope for the best. After waiting in the longest port-a-potty line I’ve ever stood in, I barely made it up to my corral for the start. No warmup for me. Found my wife at the start, got a kiss for good luck, took off my throwaway sweats and did a lil dynamic warmup while waiting for the start. Oh, almost forgot to mention, the 12yo girl that sang the National Anthem, did one of the best live renditions that I have ever heard, it was amazing.
And we’re off! Who needs a warmup when you have race day adrenaline? Had no problems getting on pace. As I had been told by other runners familiar with Richmond, the first 10 miles are the easiest, I can definitely see how people get tricked into going out too fast. Pace felt great, scenery and crowd support were awesome. Love the neighborhoods and running along the James River. There was a fair amount of wind coming across the Lee bridge, luckily I was in a group of about 10 or so people at that point, and we tucked in tight going across the bridge to help minimize the effect of the wind. Unfortunately, I was on the wind side of the pack, but someone has to do it, right? Overall tho, the hills and the wind weren’t bad at all. I didn’t do any hill training and had no problems tackling Richmond’s rollers. Saw my wife again at the turn at mile 16.5, where she snapped this picture, I’m moving so fast I’m just a blur (that’s me with my arm up, waving and yelling, “I love you!”, to which a woman next to my wife asked, “Do you know him?”, nope, just some crazy runner yelling “I love you” to random women along the course). 🙂
Remember that pre-race glitch I mentioned earlier? Well, around mile 17 or 18 my body decided it was ready. My pace started to slow, another runner caught up to me around mile 18, and started giving me some encouragement. He helped keep me going and even blocked the wind for me at one point. He got me through the next two miles, and I wish I could have stayed with him to the end, but at mile 20 I had to make a pit stop. I knew at that point that my sub-3 was gone. I had held a 6:46/mile average pace to that point, so I have no doubts that without the pitstop (and subsequent slowing), that I would have gone sub-3 that day. After I got back on the course, it was difficult to get back on pace, but I was determined to finish strong. Around mile 24, I felt like I needed to stop again, but then the 3:05 pace group caught up to me. My B goal for this race was to go sub-3:05 for an open BQ. I did a lil assessment and determined that I wasn’t at risk for catastrophic GI failure and I could push through the last two miles. So I picked it up a lil and was determined to stay ahead of the 3:05 pacer.
I had been told that the finish was downhill. That’s an understatement. I spent the final stretch to the finish just trying not to fall down. As I was approaching the final turn to the downhill stretch, I see someone who looked vaguely familiar calling out my name and telling me that I’m doing great and to finish strong. I gave him a thumbs up and made the turn, then it hit me, that was Bart Yasso! Pretty cool way to finish out a great race. As I started down the hill and began to realize just how steep it was, I decided to let gravity do it’s thing; no braking for me. Just keep the feet moving as fast I can, short strides, like riding a bike (I think I read that in article about downhill running). Pretty sure I passed three or four people in that final stretch. Looking at my Garmin data, I see a 5:09 pace, yowza! That was mostly gravity, I definitely didn’t have that kind of kick in me. Coming down the hill, I see the clock click over to 3:04, I did it, open BQ, which would be around a 10 minute PR depending on what my official time ended up being.
Official finish time: 3:04:03, BQ-10:57 and a 10:04 PR from my first marathon just eight months ago. 15th in my age group and 135th out of 5,094 finishers.
While I had hoped to go sub-3, my overall goal for this race was to secure a solid BQ so that I can run Boston in 2016, mission accomplished! I do think that I’m in sub-3 shape, and will take another crack at it next fall. I’m going to spend the first half of next year focusing on shorter distances before starting marathon training again for a yet to be determined fall race. (Hoping for the Marine Corps Marathon if I can get in, if not then maybe Philly.) Right now it’s time to recover and get ready for the Seashore Nature Trail 50K next month!