I had no plans to run a marathon this year. Absolutely no desire. And then, some of my running friends ran the Marine Corp Marathon. It was an exhilarating experience for me and I wasn’t even running the race or even AT the race at all, for that matter. I was signed up to receive the updates though and it was SO exciting to cheer them on from home. I had decided to try a 17 mile run that morning so that I would kind-of-sorta feel like I was running part of it with them. Up until that point, the furthest I had ever run was 13.1 miles. I ran on base and felt pretty good about it. That was all it took. The excitement of my friends running a marathon and a somewhat successful 17 mile run had me convinced I should sign up for the Richmond Marathon about 3 weeks before the race!! I was never able to get in any training runs longer than the 17 miles, but did fit in a half marathon the weekend before as part of my training.
I spent a long time trying to “plan” my race. I knew I wouldn’t be able to run the entire race so I knew I needed to come up with a run/walk interval plan. I planned it out so that we would finish in just under 5 hours. I turned the plan into pace bracelets for Crystal and myself. Sam became interested in running during the weeks leading up to the marathon and decided to join us for the 8k. This was going to be her first official race – so exciting!
Since Crystal was leaving from work in DC, Sam and I decided to ride together. We left a little later than we had planned for the expo but we still made good timing. We did have to stop for a couple of bathroom breaks due to all the water intake. Or maybe because we are getting old. I noticed that most of the people at the rest stop we stopped at were senior citizens. Hmm. But I’m gonna go with the water intake excuse 😉 We made it to the expo and quickly received our bib and t-shirt. We saw the other Southern Maryland ladies at the expo as well. We browsed around for a bit. I picked up a 26.2 magnet for my van and Sam bought a few items and then we were ready to go.
We met up with Crystal, Kathryn, Lara, and Shannon for dinner at Chillis and it was SOOO good. I had the chicken pasta and it was delicious. The ladies gave me some great advice at dinner since Crystal, Kathryn, Lara, and Shannon have all run full marathons before. Most of the advice was not to focus on time and to just really enjoy the moment(s). After dinner, Sam and I headed over to Target to buy some breakfast for the morning and encountered a strange associate who was trying to sell us chocolate covered potato chips, large gummy bears, bacon wrapped chocolate, and other unusual items. We just wanted our yogurts! Lol! We also had to hit the grocery store next door for bananas. After our breakfast run, we checked into our hotel. We set out our race clothes and took pictures, of course!!
I decided to take my shower that night just in case we were running late in the morning. So after a shower, I went to bed around 10:00 and actually slept pretty well.
We set the alarm for 4:30 and got up relatively easily. We quickly got ready, ate breakfast, and I had Sam french braid my hair. We were ready to go around 5:30.
When we got in the car, we realized we had forgotten to look up directions – oops!! After pulling out all the race documentation and going through it all, we were finally able to find an address to use in the navigation system. We were on our way. It only took about 20 minutes to get to the parking lot and it was only a few blocks away from the start. It was SOOO cold outside. It was only 23 degrees at that time. We sat in the car for a little longer because we were pretty early. Sam’s race wasn’t set to start until 7a.m. and the marathon was scheduled for 7:50. Crystal had given me a tip that the Marriott Hotel right at the start allows runners to wait in the lobby so after a bit we decided to head to the hotel. I thought it was a little strange that there were not *that* many people on the streets. Usually the start of a race is extremely easy to find but I wasn’t sure if we were even walking in the right direction at first. I guess everyone was waiting inside as long as possible because of the cold. We found the Marriott and hit the restrooms (short line at that time)!
Next, we headed outside to check Sam’s bag. It was 6:40 after checking her bag and we considered heading back to the Marriott just for another 10 minutes because it was so cold but we decided not to.
Sam lined up around 6:50 and I waited to see her off. Go Sam, go!!
After Sam’s race started, I went and checked my bag, which left me FREEZING without my coat. I went back to the Marriott to meet up with Crystal and the gang. I decided to hit the bathroom one more time but the lines were ridiculously long at that point so I actually got out of line at first. Crystal reassured me that I’d have plenty of time so I went and waited with Shannon and her friend, Maria. I was really getting nervous about making it to the race start in time. I think I got back upstairs to Crystal around 7:45 and we headed straight to the marathon start. Of course Crystal and I stopped for a photo op along the way.
The marathon was starting so we found our spot as it began. It was still freezing! Crystal asked if I had eaten my GU, which I had completely forgotten about and ate right before the start. The start wasn’t very impressive. No countdown…no hype. I didn’t even realize we were starting until Crystal told me. Then my garmin couldn’t find my location until we were .5 mile in.
Mile 1-5 – Felt great other than some wardrobe issues. I hadn’t trained in long pants AT ALL this season and I couldn’t get my pants to stay up. I could tell they were sagging but I was so cold/numb that I was having trouble adjusting. I knew they were up around my waist and no “goods” were showing so I didn’t sweat it too much. Wish I would have after I saw the pics with my saggy crotch 😉 I fueled around mile 5 (waffle) and decided I had warmed up enough to ditch the gloves. I can’t remember exactly, but I think we passed an oldies band (was it Twist and Shout??), a jazz band, and 1 or 2 other musicians in the first 5 miles. Since I didn’t use my ear buds, I really enjoyed having the music and noticed that it always picked me up and energized me. We were able to stay with the 4:45 pace group for much of this time.
Mile 6 – 10 – Still felt really good. In fact, so good that I kept running ahead of pace. Luckily, I had Crystal and my GARMIN to yell at me to slow down :)Okay, so not really yell, but it’s like Crystal has a built-in GPS in her that I wish I had. Every time she would say “Kim, check your pace”, at that very moment, the GARMIN would beep and tell me I was “ahead of pace”. We crossed the bridge around mile 7.5 and began running along the river. BEAUTIFUL!! Crystal made the comment that it felt like a trail run and she was right. The leaves were falling and the river was stunningly gorgeous. We wanted a picture in front of it but decided to wait for a walk break to snap the shot. Unfortunately, the picture did not do it justice.
It was absolutely beautiful! There was a band playing Zombies by the Cranberries that I really enjoyed, along with a DJ a little later. I believe we might have also passed a rock band during those miles too, but for the life of me I can’t remember what they were playing. I *think* this may have been where we saw a sign that said “Go Kim and Christi”…not exactly us, but close enough!! I also heard someone yell “Go Kim”! Since I didn’t register early enough to have my name printed on my bib, I knew it was meant for someone else around me, but I still liked hearing someone cheer “me” on! Some of our other favorite signs were “You run better than the government” and the “Press HERE for power” signs. I took a GU around mile 10 and was still feeling strong. We were still holding strong with the 4:45 pace group.
Mile 11 – 15 – Still feeling pretty good. I can’t remember anything too significant during this portion of the run. Although this may have been where Crystal and I came up with the song “All about that pace, bout that pace, no sprinting”. Obviously, I was still having issues with pacing myself. I was also still having wardrobe issues. With each walk break, I tried to pull my pants up and pick my wedgie (gotta find a new solution before my next race). I do remember one mile (12, I think) feeling particularly long and wondering if this was the start of my demise, but then mile 13 felt GREAT! Our half marathon time was 2:13:xx, which was a PR for me for half marathons – woot woot!! When Crystal told me this, I was very surprised! We were ahead of schedule and we knew it. I started to think we just might smash our goal. I ate another waffle around mile 15. I think we passed a DJ and a funk band around these miles, but it might have been further up.
Mile 16 – 20 – This is where things started to fall apart for me. I heard a lot of people talk about the bridge back to the other side of the river. Surprisingly, I don’t think it hit me as hard during the bridge. Yes, it was windy and yes, my pace slowed, but I still felt strong. It was after the bridge, around mile 17, where I felt significantly “different” (i.e. worse). I suppose that is when I hit my wall. I remember having trouble running the full mile during our run portion. I would take more walk breaks, but then run fast again to catch up with Crystal, and then walk again. I remember telling her that I was starting to fall apart. She gave me some encouraging words and we kept trucking on together. It’s crazy how fast you go from feeling like a rock star to feeling very discouraged. I blame part of it on the stupid lady on the bridge who told us the hills were done and that we were heading back to the flat side of the race. Why did I believe her?? It was not flat, in fact mile 19 had a significant hill. Why would she mess with my spirits that way?? I did start to feel better after a bit, but was still struggling to run the entire duration of our run intervals. I knew we were ahead of schedule and told myself it was okay if I lost some time. During a race, I tend to zone out and don’t really notice a lot going on around me. For instance, I’ll notice we are passing stores, but won’t remember which stores. I’ll hear music, but won’t remember which songs I heard. But I do have a significant memory and I believe it was during this stretch of the race. There was one lone store (or maybe repair shop or some type of business) off to the right when we were headed up a bit of a hill. The front window of the store read “Bubbas” in large lettering. I couldn’t help but smile and think this was a sign from my sweet neighbor who is no longer with us. This helped me re-focus a bit. I ate another GU around mile 20.
Miles 21 – 25 – I wasn’t feeling wonderful by any means, but wasn’t feeling as bad as mile 17. We had moved on to the portion of our race where we planned to run .5 mile, walk .25 mile. In the beginning of the race, .5 seemed like such a short distance and was so easy to run. But now, .5 mile felt like 10 miles! I don’t remember a whole lot about this portion of the race either. We were trying to do some math to figure out if we would get to the finish line with a sub-5 time. It’s very hard to do math at the end of the marathon. My mind was way too exhausted. I was having trouble even remembering what mile I was on. I remember at mile 24, Crystal said we had about 25 minutes to finish 2.2 miles if we wanted to make our 5 hour goal. I knew her GARMIN was a bit ahead of the mile markers, so I thought it might be more like 2.3 miles. On an average day, this would be no problem, but I knew at that point that it would be extremely difficult to finish with a sub-5 time. My GARMIN died at some point during this time so I wasn’t able to see our current pace during our runs – bummer. I did tell myself that I was totally okay with any time I got as long as I finished. I was no longer worried about time…just finishing, which was really my ultimate and original goal anyway. The 5 hour pace group passed us along this stretch of the run. I think along this stretch is where we passed Christmas Town. The spectators had an entire Christmas theme going on…it was pretty neat! There was also a banana stand around mile 22. I had a few bites of a banana and threw out the rest. I can’t remember what bands we passed at this point. We passed a bar that was playing some 80’s music and I remember us singing to it, but I cannot remember what song it was. In hindsight, I wish I would have turned on my music during this section of the run. Sometimes, music can really get me through a run and I can’t help but wonder “what if” I would have turned on the music. Would it have given me that extra boost I needed? I did eat a shot bloc around mile 25, but ended up having to spit it out.
Mile 25-26.2 – We were supposed to walk from 25.25 to 25.5, but we decided to walk till 25.75, hoping that we would have the energy to run strong for the finish. Unfortunately, right before the downhill finish, there was a bit of an uphill and we had to stop to walk once more. Once we got to the top of that hill though, it was on. That downhill finish was glorious and we were all smiles. I wanted to finish hand in hand with Crystal, but I think I was so focused on not falling down the hill and my mind was not working right at that point. I totally forgot! We did get a couple of pics of us on the downhill holding hands. More like her holding my wrist, but still!
We crossed the finish line and Crystal gave me the biggest hug imaginable. I AM A MARATHONER!!! How awesome is that?!? I was fighting to hold back the tears! It was definitely very emotional for me. We moved to the bag pick up line and I was mentally and physically exhausted. We reunited with Shannon at the bag truck and then I saw Sam coming around the corner, who gave me another big hug and congratulated me! It was so great to have such awesome supporters there! It really made the race special!
The elated feeling really didn’t last as long as I imagined it would, but I think that was because of the exhaustion. I was just mentally and physically exhausted and didn’t really feel like I was functioning very well. We headed to the finishers area. I ate a bagel and had some Powerade and water. The finish area was not too impressive and I was beat. After meeting up with Kathryn, we all were ready to get out of there.
Finish time was 5:01:48! I’m very happy with that. That’s also a 20-ish minute PR for Crystal. I LOVE IT!! Here are my splits according to Crystal’s Garmin:
Mile 1: 10:12
Mile 2: 10:10
Mile 3: 10:53
Mile 4: 10:12
Mile 5: 11:18
Mile 6: 10:24
Mile 7: 10:44
Mile 8: 10:27
Mile 9: 11:17
Mile 10: 10:05
Mile 11: 11:44
Mile 12: 11:04
Mile 13: 11:17
Mile 14: 11:11
Mile 15: 10:29
Mile 16: 11:55
Mile 17: 12:00
Mile 18: 12:38
Mile 19: 11:58
Mile 20: 11:46
Mile 21: 13:11
Mile 22: 12:33
Mile 23: 12:05
Mile 24: 12:54
Mile 25: 12:28
Mile 26: 13:01
Mile 26.3 : 3:24
The walk to Sam’s car was
a bit very difficult. We had to walk up the huge hill I had just raced down. Then there were crosswalks and I felt like I might not be able to cross within the allotted time. I was waddling more than I was walking! Once we got to the car, we decided to head home. Sam and I started sharing our race experiences with each other and my race high was back!! I was feeling elated once again! We only stopped once to eat and I think we were both very anxious to get home. When we got home, the walk across the street from Sam’s garage to my house was very long and painful! It took me longer than it should have to get my suitcase and myself up my porch steps. I came home to an empty house (Steven had to DJ and the girls were with their grandparents), but was so thrilled that my girls had made me signs and left them up for me to see. They were so thoughtful! The signs brought me to tears.
After unpacking, I took a nice long Epsom salt bath and assessed my injuries. The only areas of pain were my toes/toenails, a little bit of chaffing in my thighs, and some hip/butt pain on my right side. I also took a nice long shower and stretched and rolled my legs with my foam roller afterwards. It had been a long and emotional day! It’s too early to tell if I’ll ever do a marathon again. I am super glad I did it, but would like to stick to half marathons for a while. But you just never know what the future holds. Never say never…