Sunday, November 15, 2015

2015 Richmond Marathon

I was thinking yesterday after the marathon how hard it was to put into words how I was feeling, because I was feeling so many different things: tired, sore, thankful, blessed, accomplished, proud...it was an incredible day of love, support, and the strength of the human spirit.

I finished the marathon under my top goal of under 4 hours at a new 11 minute PR of 3:57:49.

This marathon was special to me because it ran in my city. I ran by my condo, my friends' houses, where I used to work, where I used to babysit, where I go to school (VCU), where I met for training team every Saturday for the last 5 months, and it ended in the heart of this city I have called home since I was 7 years old. I saw so many friends and family along the way, those I knew would be there and those I didn't, and I even had a friend run me in from miles 21-25...it was a very special day.

Thumbs up when I saw my parents right before mile 13.
That is not to say this race was easy by any means:) The weather WAS perfect (low-40's at the start and low-50's at the finish-> both my races have had the best weather). But I kept thinking along the route how HARD running is, even when you do all the training for it. I did two 20 milers this time around which I think helped me, but my pace the whole way was a solid 20 seconds faster than any of my longest training runs, so that was hard to keep. I went through many ups and downs in terms of how I was feeling during the race-> miles 10-12 were tough due to hills and running directly into the sun, miles 17-19 were another tough group due to an incline and fatigue, and then after mile 21 I was mentally not in a great place and felt I could not run any faster or my legs would fall off. I had to keep reminding myself that it SHOULDN'T feel good at this point, but to not let me not accomplish my goal when I was so close to the finish. Pain is temporary. The last 5-6 miles really are when you have to accept the discomfort and tough it up. All the training in the world can't make those miles easy. I was lucky in that I didn't have any serious pains- my hips were tight but everything else felt good (even my feet remained unscathed- no blisters or any shoe pain)!

All that being said, this race was FUN and went by SO FAST. I thought multiple times along the route how quickly it was all going by. I blinked and we were at mile 7...and then 17! That could be because I knew the route so well, but I also think because I was more relaxed and thankful this time. I knew I would finish (I just didn't know if I would get my top goal) and with everything happening in the world on Friday night, running a marathon really took perspective. I GET to do this. I don't HAVE to do it. It is a privilege to have the time and energy to train and run races. That mindset made me really enjoy the time even when it was hard.

The marathon training team coaches that I had worked with all training season were all over the course and would always cheer me on or give me worlds of encouragement when I needed it (shout out to a coach that motivated me at mile 18 and another at mile 25). I also had ZERO stomach issues which is always something that concerns me (I sometimes had to go during training runs), and my fueling went great- I took water or gatorade at every stop (mostly water) and took gatorade chews at miles 6 and 11 and gu that was available on the course at miles 16 and 21. I didn't walk through the water stops until after the halfway point, but if I did it again that is one thing I would start during the first half because I don't think I was getting enough water by running through, which may be why I had rough few miles before the halfway point.

My pace was very consistent- I averaged 9:02-9:05 the entire time via the various splits they gave me (10k, half, 20 miles and finish). I could see the 4 hour pace group the entire marathon- sometimes I was behind them and sometimes ahead of them, but they were always close. I also never used music because of the great crowd support and music along the course. I also met some great people that stayed with me for a big part of the race (it was cool to meet out-of-towners and hear their comments on how beautiful the course was!). My group thinned out closer to the end, though. The last mile was downhill, which was a very welcome situation. It was like you didn't have to try to run anymore (ha)! My quads did not like HOW downhill the last .3 was, but it made for one of the best finishes because you can see the river and Brown's Island as you come down from the city. I knew I had PRed and beat my goal, so I enjoyed it!

This was me seeing my dad right before I crossed the finish line telling him I PRed!
I felt surprisingly good after the race at the post-race party and got to reunite with friends and family. Hunger didn't kick in until a few hours later and all I wanted was SALTY FOOD. I was done with sugar due to all the gatorade and gu:)

Literally 1 minute after I finished!!!
Friends at the finish!
My parents!
We celebrated with dinner later Saturday night at Mellow Mushroom (pizza!) and I had a slightly rough night of sleep due to the soreness kicking in but I went to be early so I got a decent amount of sleep:). I know I will be sore for a few days and I am looking forward to training for shorter races! I have a Turkey Trot 10k coming up on Thanksgiving that my whole family is doing and then a half marathon on December 6th in Fredericksburg (I have never run a half there before). I do not have a strong desire to do another marathon any time soon, but I loved this course and training experience, so I may think about doing Richmond next year...we'll see how I feel once all the soreness has worn off:). I honestly don't think I can go much faster, and I am spoiled that my first 2 races were both under my goals for each and the weather was perfect...I know I can't keep that up! Maybe running a race with a friend who needs support would be fun, or in a new city...we'll see:) I am also so lucky not to have been injured either of these training seasons. Our bodies are incredible things!

Thank you again to friends and family for all your support and listening to be talk about training for so long:) And a big shout out to all my friends that ran the full and those that did the half!!! Runners are AWESOME!
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