I’m officially a marathoner! I’m absolutely loving the new title I can add to my resume!
I must say I learned a lot through the training and am glad that I challenged myself to do something I never thought I could do.
Overall the Richmond Marathon was an awesome race. From start to finish it went so smoothly and really made for a great first marathon experience!
We arrived into town on Friday afternoon and went to straight to the Expo at the Arthur Ashe Center. There were a lot of vendors and the packet pick up was very easy! We even were able to take a visit into the Mobile Vehicle for some photo booth fun! They had samples of the medals, blanket, hat and other race goodies which we could try on and then get our picture taken.
Once we did our fair share of shopping at the expo we headed back to our hotel. We ended up staying outside of the down town area, which was very convenient and inexpensive. There was an access road that we could take from the hotel that went directly down town so we did not have to get on the interstate at all!
We did head back into town for dinner. We bounced around to a few places but settled on the Tobacco Company for dinner. What an awesome choice! Our dinner was so delicious and service was fantastic! I was truly amazed at how big all the restaurants were in the downtown area! They all had such a unique feel I wish we could of seen more of the area!
We returned back to our hotel and settled in for the night. Thankfully we were all able to rest and fall asleep very easily.. it may have been the hours we sat in traffic that wore us out! We set our alarms for 6 a.m. – for both Lacee and I that was sleeping in! We took out time getting ready and ate our breakfast. We knew it was going to be pretty cold at the start (around 25-27 degrees) so we put our layers on, one-by-one.
We were lucky enough to have my husband with us. This made our race morning logistics SO easy! He drove us as close as he could get to the starting line so we were able to sit in the warm car until it was go time. We ended up heading over to the starting area around 7:30 for the 7:50 race start. We immediately headed for the porta potty lines. They were all very long but moved fast enough. During this time it was very cold. We were in the shadows of the building and there was no sunshine to provide even a little bit of warm. The porta-potty lines kinda helped us keep our mind off of being cold and we had lots of people to talk to while we were waiting. We did layer up with throw away items: sweat shirt, hat and gloves– all purchased at the dollar store. This was a no brainer for this race. It was SO cold at the start!
After what seemed like forever we finished up in the bathroom and we saw the 5:30 pace sign headed towards the starting line. This kind of confused us because we never really heard an official start for the marathon. We heard the 8k take off, as well as the half but nothing for the full. We ended up walking towards the starting line and boom- just like that we started our FULL MARATHON!! With such a non dramatic start I think I tricked myself into not being nervous. I literally had ZERO nerves going into this race. I contribute that to training hard and having my BRF ( best running friend) and training partner by my side.
Starting at the very back of the race was actually kind of nice. It helped us keep a slow and steady pace from the start. The race course was lined with spectators and family members and friends all cheering! By mile 2-3 I had my sweatshirt off and not shortly after I took my hat off. I did keep my gloves for a few miles longer and I eventually threw them down– of course miles later I wish I had them back!
We started the race heading through the town of Richmond after a short distance with the half marathoners we split- full participants took a left and the half runners rook a right. We ran through a very pretty residential area and eventually headed to a beautiful area that ran along the James river. I wish I would have taken pictures during the race but honestly I just wanted to run and really take it all in. The first half of the race had some up hills but had quite a few surprising down hill spurts which was really nice! The first half of the race was just so pretty!
We finished the first half around 2:15ish so we knew we were holding a consistent comfortable pace. We really had zero expectations for time, but figured anything around 5 hours would be great. The second half of the race took us back into Richmond. We did run a longish flat bridge around mile 15-16 and it was very COLD! It was at this point I wished I had my gloves again! As we were running the bridge you could see the finishers area and it was a glorious sight to see- even though we still had 10+ miles to go!
We pretty much stopped at every other water stop to either get some water or PowerAde. The last ten miles took us back through Richmond and around the VCU campus and some more residential areas. As we were reaching the 20 mile mark someone yelled you only have a 10k left! This was so encouraging to hear- and knew that in about an hour I would be a marathoner!!! t point the race was a mental game to me. I knew I could run 6.2 more miles but man I was ready to be finished! We kept up our 11:00 minute/mile pace and kept talking and NOT focusing on what we had left. There were so many great signs and people individually cheering for us since our names were on our bib it was a great distraction.
I really felt good until around mile 23. With only a 5k left I was tired and it was then a mental game. Thankfully I had my partner by my side and she encouraged me the entire way. I had texted my husband a few times throughout the race so he knew what time to expect us at the finish line since the runner tracking was not working. He told us he would be right at the finish line on the right side. As we had about a mile left the spectators really cheered us on! We knew we only had a few turns left and then the finish line would be in sight. As we inched towards the finish we saw the 26 mile marker– 26 miles! At this point the course was SO Downhill it was crazy and you almost had to slow yourself down! Thank goodness it was downhill because at this point I had nothing left in the tank! As we could see the finish the hubs was yelling for us and even got an awesome video of us crossing the finish line!
Once we got out of the way Lacee and I gave each other a huge hug! We had just accomplished something neither of us thought we would ever do! We left great and we could not wait to collect our bling, finishers blanket and hat!
We met up with Chad and decided we would just head home instead of walking around the finishers village. Even though we more than earned that pizza and beer at the finish we knew we still had 5 hours or so in the car and were ready to get home.
It is crazy to think we spent hours upon hours training for this event and then just like that it was over. Looking back it was the perfect 1st marathon experience and I would not change anything. This past weekend someone asked me if would do any one thing different what would it be and Lacee and I both agreed there was NOTHING. From start to finish it was perfect. The 4 hours and 40 minutes it took us to run those 26.2 miles will never be forgotten. Running a marathon is a true testament that you can do anything you put your mind to and that hard work pays off.
I personally do not think I will run another marathon but at least I know that I CAN!