Walking up and down the stairs is nearly impossible and my body is just plain exhausted but this past Saturday, on a cold but beautiful morning, I crossed the finish line of my third full marathon. After a series of stress fractures from 2012-2013 I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to complete the 26.2 again. I’m proud to say I’m back in the game.
Friday afternoon my parents picked me up from my apartment and we began the journey from Gaithersburg to Richmond in rush hour. My dad drove Just one of the many reasons I am grateful my parents decided to come along for the weekend.
We met up with my sister Molly at our hotel right outside of Richmond in Henrico County, VA. My dad’s all about some Richmond and knew where to stay when all the downtown hotels were booked because of the race. Molly drove up from her school, East Carolina, early Friday and stopped by the Race Expo to get our bibs and some Gu since my parents and I figured we’d hit a ton of traffic on the way down. Molly ran her first half marathon like a champ and thoroughly enjoyed herself at her first race expo. I really wish I could have been there with her at the expo but we’ll plan better next time.
Three hours after we left Gaithersburg we finally arrived at our hotel to meet Molly and head to Carrabbas to get our carb loading on.
Dinner before race night is tricky for me. It’s balance between splurging on carbs without over splurging on carbs. Not an easy task at Carrabbas. I played it safe and ordered grilled chicken and a small side of pasta.
Once we got back to the hotel after dinner Molly and I set out all of our race gear, collaborated on our workout playlists, and turned out the lights. Katie, my older sister, snuck in late at night because she had to work but wasn’t about to miss her opportunity to be a spectator (I may have also guilted her into coming)! When I say snuck in, I mean she was an overly energetic chatty Kathy we had to shut-up at 11:30 pm (love you Katie).
Our alarm went off around 5:00 am and the nerves began to kick in. I was happy to have my sisters around to distract me from my insecurities about the race. I had a plain blueberry bagel, banana, and two cups of coffee for breakfast. Molly opted for a half a banana, and an English muffin with peanut butter. Then we all headed to downtown Richmond at the intersection of 8th and West Broad street to start the race. The half marathon started 20 minutes before the full marathon on the opposite side of the street so I got to hang with Molly until she began!
Once the half marathon runners took off I was left to my own devices. I placed myself somewhere between the 3:45 pace and the 3:50 pace groups and waited nervously as the national anthem played and runners flocked in.
When I started running my fears left me and I knew early on it was going to be a good race. My legs felt strong and rested, the weather crisp and my breathing was on point. I made a promise to myself in the first mile to remain at a steady, comfortable pace. I reminded myself to run my own race and not overshoot too early.
Miles 1-12 were comfortable, I was taking it all in, the city, the runners, and the Fall colors at their finest. It wasn’t until around mile 15 I needed to calm the crazy in my head. However, miles 19-21 were by far the toughest for me. There was still a significant amount of the race to conquer, my quads were burning, and I needed to find a way to zone out for the next hour. I kept my thoughts positive, thinking about how grateful I was to be able to run, again, how happy I was to have my family waiting for me at the finish, and how much I wanted the hard cider I would order at brunch. These thoughts got me through and by mile 22 I knew I was at the home stretch and I was going to finish the race. There is always uncertainty with a full marathon and I think anyone who has run one would agree that there comes a point in the race where you know your going to seal the deal and cross the finish. From that point on your mind eases and you let the race happen.
Mile 25 was by far the best. My favorite aspect of the Richmond Marathon was the downhill finish. Once the finish line was in view I was like a child on a rollercoaster flying down. I took off for it. My dad teased me afterward about how I couldn’t hear them cheering because I was so focused on the finish…what can I say? I had a goal. My final time was 3 hours and 53 minutes. I’ll take it
I found my family, freezing, smiling, happy, proud, silly, exhausted. We headed straight for brunch after the race and you can bet I got my cider. Then we napped before hitting downtown Richmond to celebrate. It was amazing, probably one of the best weekends for the books.
Molly showing off her medal! She finished sub 2 hours like a champ!!
(because celebrating together is a must )
(Post-race victory meal)
(a little less sweaty)