26.2 Magical Miles.. I know probably not the title of most marathon recaps, especially recaps that come with the finish time of 5:13 minutes but hey… it’s not always finish times that matter… more finish lines and that is exactly what was important to all 5 of us this past Saturday in Richmond, Virginia.
Saturday morning started off a little cool but knowing it would be mid 50’s by the time we finished the race made for perfect marathon weather conditions. The sun was shining and 4,000+ marathoners lined up to start America’s Friendliest Marathon. The 8k and half marathon runners had already started which left us to begin the race around 7:45.
Amy and I jumped into the 5th wave of the marathon start. We had planned to stick to our run/walk interval of 3:00 minutes run + 1:00 minute walk. With it being Amy’s first marathon we both just wanted to finish-no set time goal, just finish line. We had done the majority of our long runs this way and knew we needed to stick to what we knew and felt confident in. Shortly after crossing the starting line (like literally a few steps in) we saw Bart Yasso. We had snuck a picture with him the day before at the expo and thought we may see him during the actual marathon but had no idea we would see him so soon. We said hi and much to our surprise he said he was aiming for a similar finish time as us. After a few questions my Garmin beeped for our first walk interval. Amy and I explained what our plan was for the race (3:00/1:00) and even more to our surprise, Bart said that sounded good and he was sticking with us.
Within the first mile we met up with two other girls (Kerri & Diana) that were also from our area. It was Kerri’s first marathon as well. We also shared our running plan with them and they decided to stick with us as well. Our running party grew from just Amy and myself, to Bart and now Kerri and Diana. It was a few miles into the race that we came up with the group name of “Bart’s Girls” or the BeeGees. It really did not take long for us to start having fun, laughing and making more friends along the way. We met two brothers who wanted to “beat Bart” and were also using a walk/run plan of 5 minute run/ 1 minute walk, and a guy that has run 46 marathons so far this year! We saw the “Double Agent” who struck up a conversation each time we passed him or he passed us. As we stuck to our run/walk intervals we seemed to pass the same group of people, as well as the 5 hour pace group for the majority of the run. It was awesome to hear some of the people tell Bart how inspiring he was or something they loved at Runner’s World or a podcast that had recently aired.
Out of the five of us I was the only one that had actually run this race before. Bart said he had been to Richmond 20 twenty times to be a part of the event, but this was the first year he had ever run it. I remembered the majority of the course but it was just as amazingly beautiful as it was two years ago when I ran it with Lacee. Always something to look at and lots of people out on the course cheering and supporting the runners!
Even though Richmond threw some hills at us, our walk/run intervals kept us moving at a fairly consistent pace. It did seem like there was more downhill then uphill which was appreciated. The first half the race was absolutely amazing running through beautiful neighborhoods, down monumental avenue and then next to the James River. The scenic views, breath taking houses and the river were worth the price of admission. The Z dam and other parts of the river truly may be the most beautiful sights I have ever seen.
I know myself personally I struggled the most around mile 13-15 and that was because I could feel myself starting to get hungry. Luckily around that time a junk food station, mimosa/bloody Mary stop, a hug from Santa Claus and some soda did the trick for me. I felt like by the time I was gearing up to tackle the Robert E. Lee Bridge (miles 15-16) I was back in my happy place, enjoying the race. We stopped halfway on the bridge and took a picture. Sadly the bridge pictures do no justice on just how beautiful it really was.
After the bridge we were on the “right side” of Richmond, meaning the second half the race which ran us through downtown Richmond, and the side on which the glorious finish line is on. As we kept our happy-pace throughout our run we all seemed to slow down a bit with each mile. You could tell we were all getting tired, a bit sore and just holding tight to the idea that we would be crossing the finish line in the next hour.
We all did our fair share of laughing, motivating, high-fiving, thanking volunteers and police officers along the route. We had moments of no talking- just trying to get through that next interval even though it was getting more difficult. We pushed one another and encouraged each other when we needed it the most. Diana and I even went a little crazy and took a shot of Jim Beam around mile 22, we figured why not and kept on moving and laughing. Clearly I had plenty of energy in the tank as these course photos were taken around mile 20 and then around 24 or so.
As the last few miles were ahead of us the realization was starting to sink in for Amy and Kerri and that they would in fact be completing a marathon. They would be adding “marathoner” to their already impressive list of life accomplishments.
The last 5k was hard- we somewhat changed our intervals from 3/1 to a 2/2 to conserve energy. There were times when our group spread out a little but we stayed together- knowing we all needed each other. Once we reach mile 25 we knew we had done it. The downhill finish was SO close and emotions started to take over for the rest of the run.
That Mile 26 sign never looked so good! As our team crossed the finish line we finished the race “hand-in-hand-in-hand” as the race announcer said. We all exchanged hugs, congratulations to the first time marathoners and many thank-yous, knowing that magic happened because we stayed together as a team.
While running may seem like such an individual sport, it is SO not and especially for us in Richmond. Saturday there was nothing individual about that race for us- just a team of 5 all trying our very best to enjoy the journey and cross the finish line. A wise man once said “Running isn’t about how far you go, but how far you’ve come” we were lucky enough to run side-by-side with that wise man and learn that not every race is easy but the finish line is worth it- especially if you can enjoy the race and your company along the way.
I am still in shock that I completed another marathon AND I completed the marathon with Bart Yasso- how amazing is that?! The entire 5 hours and 13 minutes was amazing-even when it was hard, it was easy because I knew I had my team.
So as you now know, my marathon was magical and there will never be another race quite like that one for me. If you are interested in running the Richmond Marathon here is the breakdown of the important stuff:
Expo: Plenty of parking with quick and easy packet pick up. There were lots of vendors, other race booths, and plenty of Richmond Marathon gear to be bought. This year they had speaking session with Desi Linden (she actually ran the 8k) and our man Bart Yasso.
Race Day Logistics: The three race distances all start at different times on near by streets, making things easy to navigate in the morning. We saw plenty of porta-potties even though we did not use any. The nice wave start made the beginning of the race fairly easy run- no need to weave in and out of tons of people due to the waves.
We stayed walking distance from the start line which I highly recommend unless you have someone to drop you off. I have heard that there is plenty of parking race morning but walking to the start is just SO easy!
Marathon Course: The course is beautiful. It runs through different parts of Richmond keeping things interesting and never boring. The party stops, water stops, junk food stops and wet wash cloths are provided by the race but the community comes out strong with their own entertainment, signs and fuel (jim beam, bloody marys and mimosas) so make sure you visit them as well along the way! There is nothing better then the downhill finish of Richmond. When your legs need a break the most the downhill finish is there to help you sail to the finish line!
Race Swag: Richmond knows how to send you home in style. Along with your race shirt (long sleeve, gender specific) and medal you also receive a finishers hat and blanket! I must say these extra finisher items are a great bonus and a great memento of the training and hard work!
Post Race Festivities: The finishers area is loaded with pizza, beer, samples, yoga, massages and plenty of green grassy area to enjoy your post race accomplishments. With beautiful views all around Brown’s Island you can meet up with your family and friends and take in the sights of Richmond.
Registration: If you loved everything you read about Richmond and want to get in on the fun next year as they celebrate their 40th year they have a great intro rate of $70.00 for the marathon and $60.00 for the half! This price is available until November 17th. Visit www.richmondmarathon.com for more details or to sign up!
In case you were wondering I am still smiling about this race. It is going to take me a while to get over how wonderful and amazing the weekend was. This is what running is all about.