2017 Richmond Half Marathon
As I mentioned in this post last week, I've had a hankering for a finisher's blanket from one of the Richmond races for four years. Guess what?! Here it is!
After a tough summer of no running (okay, let's be honest...taking time off during the hottest months of the year is not that bad) and some crazy cycling adventures, I managed to safely work my way back into enough consistent running (thank you, Coach!) for Saturday's race to become possible.
Thanks to the hospitality of my dear friend Kelly (in actuality, Atticus makes all the rules and allowed me to stay in his castle), I arrived a couple of days before the race and traveled to Richmond on Friday to pick up packets and get settled.
Most folks, myself included, seemed rather preoccupied with the weather; an "arctic blast" was making its way into the area and the temperature at the start was forecast to be around 23F. We had plans to meet up before the race at a hotel and, as you can see, many had the same idea to stay warm as long as possible before heading outside.
When the moment arrived, Rose and I headed out toward the start line and were eager to get going; it's tough not to start out too fast when it's cold, but we did a great job of sticking to our plan to conserve energy and strength for the second half. By my Garmin, we completed miles 1-7 in a very even 11:02, 11:08, 11:08, 11:06, 11:23 (water stop), 11:15 and 11:07.
Just before hitting the mile 6 marker, the half marathon enters Joseph Bryan Park; it is beautiful, full of fall colors, but also a little hilly. There's actually a bit of downhill at around 6.5, but a couple of decent inclines at 7 and 7.5 miles into the race; I could feel that uncomfortable tug at the top of my left hamstring, which made me a little nervous, so I slowed my pace and took tiny, baby steps up the hills.
After that, I told Rose that when we cleared the park I'd stop for a quick stretch; she graciously hung back with me and then we got going again. By mile 9, I was feeling confident that my legs were okay and even felt a little pep in my step (that GU kicked in - ha!); I'm not even sure that I realized I'd picked up the pace, but I found a solid rhythm and stuck with it.
By the ten mile mark, I realized that I'd let Rose slide behind me and I decided to keep going rather than slow down; sometimes, pulling back makes for a tougher transition, for me, than continuing at my current pace. I turned my music on and got ready for "the big downhill" I'd heard everyone talk about.
The last three and half miles felt like a dream; my legs were chugging along, feeling solid and strong, and I began to reflect on the journey to this point; I thought about friends who are currently injured and not able to run and looked forward to seeing the Oiselle cowbell crew just before the 12 mile mark. I completed miles 8-12 in 12:01 (stretch break), 11:06, 10:46, 10:19 and 10:05.
The downhill is FOR REAL, y'all...wow! I can see why some runners do not like it; it would be easy to get going a little too fast and fall flat on your face, especially after running a full marathon when your quads have nothing left to support you. For me, it was super fun! I ran mile 13 in 9:29!
As soon as I crossed the finish line, I turned to watch for Rose; she came flying down, with a huge smile on her face, shortly after I did, and I'm so proud of her! We have both been "injured runners," but crossing that finish line took all of it away.
She may also have saved my life by suggesting that we stop at Chipotle on our walk back to meet up with our crew at the cowbell corner. It was so warm and toasty in there and, of course, they have burritos.
We cheered and cheered, so that we wouldn't freeze to death, as marathoners and half marathoners finished their races; what a treat. Cheering is my favorite; I love spectating at least as much as I love running.
All in all, the day could not have been better. I now know why the Richmond Marathon/Half Marathon is known as "America's Friendliest Race;" even in the cold, the local residents were out along the streets and in neighborhoods, cheering us on with fantastic signs and excellent support. I would love to return and run the full marathon. If you have an opportunity to participate in this event, don't hesitate!