Richmond Marathon- in photos

For those who prefer to look at photos (with brief captions), rather than read the entire post:

Early on in the race

We tried. Really hard. To get a good picture…

Allie and me, preparing to photo-bomb this “Lisa” girl

Lisa: You’ve been photo-bombed.

I did feel bad, because it looks like we ruined her photo. However, we were holding hands and running for a good 400 meters… And didn’t even get a picture of us doing so… Unless you include this-

“Oh no. Not those two- they look ready for a photo…Can’t have that… hmmm… I know! I’ll cut one of them out!”

I basically kept giving thumbs up.

Isn’t that vein that pops out on my forehead sexy? I’d also like to point out my good form running— look at those feet- pushing perfectly straight, and landing totally flat-foot (this I’m sure is not in all the pictures… )

Pondering life’s mysteries… Like why I am I still running? Where is the finish?

Just keep pushing… Don’t look down…

Somehow I still have good form? Awesome.

Me and my new friend, Meg. We ran the last 2 miles together… I ran with my eyes closed. Awesome.

Good thing that vein went away. But I definitely did not see the camera, and was just thinking ‘Please don’t let my blisters burst until after 26.2′

Mile 26.2– Can you see the elation on my face?!

Damnit! That vein is back… Luckily the last .25 miles is downhill… Oh wait, that means my feet will be pushed to the front of my shoes, and oh! blisters…

If no one is in front of me in the picture, it means I won, right?

Blisters, blisters, blister. Ow ow ow! You can see that those words on my face…

Also, I was 6 minutes behind the clock, so chip time= 4:30:39. Go me.

And, I found this picture, but have no idea when it was from- mile 17 to mile 24…

Not insane power walking. I was running…

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First marathon look-back

Okay, a few days after my first marathon. So what are my feelings about the race?

What worked well?

Well… There was a lot. Not to be cocky, it’s just I think this race ended up being the ideal first marathon for me.

I think carb-loading helped. Honestly, it alleviated my stress. Whenever I stressed about the marathon, I shoved a doughnut/slice of pizza/crackers/etc into my mouth. So that helped. A lot. Also a couple glasses of wine the night before helped.

The temperature was perfect. Since it was cold at the beginning, we were kind of forced to go slow, because we were cold/warming up.

Training up to 22 miles definitely helped. And training through tired legs. And training with Dan/Dave for my mid-week mid-distance runs, so I was used to comfortably hurting on a long-ish run. Still, nothing feels like that last 4-5 miles of pure pain. My best advice for training for a marathon is run hard, run often, and push yourself to stretch a further distance or speed when you just “don’t feel like it” for mental fortitude.

That being said, I also went into the marathon on fresh legs. I didn’t do any speed work the week before the race. I didn’t do any runs over 5 miles the week before the race. I even skipped out on the first tapering long run (16 miles) because I was sick. A significant taper, after the wear and tear on your legs is crucial. At 13.1 miles, I felt like I could begin to pick up the pace because my legs felt sooo rested.

Once Allison and I split, I was able to open up some (there was more space as I got closer and closer to the finish), and able to just concentrate on running my own race.

Getting water at every chance was also a good move. I never felt dehydrated. Putting Nuun in my fuel belt; I was chugging that like crazy mile 22-25. Bringing the Honey Stinger Chews (that way I could slowly eat the electrolytes throughout the race).

What would I do differently?

I would have liked to do some of the Junk Food stations (I think it would have loosened me up a bit), and maybe even a “shot” of beer at mile 22.

I would love to cross that 4:30 barrier, since I was so close, and think I could do that by actually paying attention to my pacing on my long runs, and teaching myself how to slowly negative split (I tend to do what I did in the race; run for 20 miles at a 10:30 pace, then drop down to 9:30 for the last 6 miles). It would be smarter to do 10 miles at a 10:30 pace, 10 miles at a 10:00 pace, then 6 miles a 9:30 pace, and would improve my time too 🙂

Honestly, I would have tried to pick up Allison’s spirits some. I was hurting by the time she told me to ‘go on’, and I didn’t have the (mental) energy to be positive. At some point, you have to run your own race (I get that). But I wish she had a more enjoyable race, and feel like I left her in the dust to fend off negative thoughts on her own. (Even though she said ‘go on’ and the golden rule with running partners is to trust them, and let go when they tell you to)

Oh, and I would have hobbled straight over to the medical aid tent to get my blisters checked out. …I’m pretty sure the one that burst in the last stretch is somewhat infected (yuck!) because it’s red and inflamed. My legs are fine, and I plan to run tonight (and tomorrow), but my toes may be in too much pain to get all the way through a 5-mile run. Might be an elliptical/ strength training night.

My goals

My goals had been to
1. Enjoy it <— Check! (smiles up to mile 22, and then again when I saw the 25)
2. Be able to walk after the marathon <—Check! (4 mile hike on Monday)
3. Finish in <4:40<—Check! (4:30:39)

So what’s in the future for me?

I have a Turkey Trot 8K next week (Thanksgiving morning).  I just hope to be able to run the whole way, without pain. Though, I always run with a goal in mind- so 45-something?

Organizing our next relay team (Palmetto200), which currently has 9 people. But I’m sure we will get more people interested. If not, more room for food/luggage 😀

And, I signed up for next year’s Richmond Marathon, while it is only $65 (for a 7,000-person and strongly community-supported race, that’s awesome price). It’s only $65 until Nov 15 at 11:59pm, then it jumps to $80, and slowly increases. Even if I drop to the half, $65 for a half marathon is a decent price. It really was a great course- pretty flat,  scenic at times, and crowded/loud at times (in a cheering/good way). It was well organized and a lot of fun!

Oh, and yoga at my friend’s studio. I kept saying I would go, and it’s now been two months since it opened. I will make my debut this Monday…

And Friday night Cheers! …At least until December. Also, winter running means you don’t have to get up early because it’s too f-ing hot outside by 9am, so I can casually run (some alone running might be nice again; get my head right) however long and whenever I want. GASP! People run 12 miles at 1pm?! I know! Insane!

Richmond Marathon weekend- recap (long)

There is so much to say about Richmond, and about my first marathon.

First things first, my training was amazing. Having Allison there every Saturday morning was one of the things that kept me going. And the week of the race, we kept reminding each other “it’s just another training run” to calm the nerves.

Second, the Richmond Marathon truly is America’s Friendliest Marathon. I have done several half marathons- small (~300 people) and large (20,000+ people), and no other race I’ve done had better crowd support. There were people the entire way. There may have been about 500 meters where I didn’t see a spectator cheering us on, handing out pretzels, or high five-ing the runners. It felt like the city opened its arms to runners for a day, and embraced us all and helped push us along. So that was great.

I knew it would be a good race when we got into and out of the expo in about 30 minutes, and the “long” time was mainly because Sarah, Allison and I decided to get shirts and go to the majority of the booths to check things out. Then, we grabbed food (which we ate insanely quickly, proving skinny girls can put away food too. Especially the night before a marathon). After getting food, we saw a Target and pulled over to check out the athletic apparel and Sarah and Allison got cheap “throw away” beanies for the start line. [Weather man said it would be 30 degrees at 7am, and 65 degrees by noon] We, of course grabbed a 12-pack of beer, and wine for each of us.

Just a quick recap- our pre-marathon priorities were: clothes, then alcohol. Yep, that’s why I love these girls.

We designated my room as the “party room”, and I loaded my fridge with the beer and a gallon jug of water.

How the “B Group” prepares…

RACE DAY!

I woke up at 5am (before my alarm), and decided to get up and get ready. I had already packed everything the night before (including headphones in my capris, socks in my shoes, to remember).

Flat Chandi!

We got on the shuttle, which was really more of a “pre-party bus” set up with empty champagne flutes. Everything about getting there and getting set up was stress-free. It felt eery how smoothly things went. Usually, you are running to the bag check, trying to find your corral, etc etc. Everything was so calm. We sent Sarah off to the half marathon start and cheered her on. Then went back to our marathon corral (the last one), and lined up just in front of the 5:00 pace group (we wanted to start off slow).

Anxiously waiting to start…

Before we knew it, people were throwing sweat shirts in the air, and we were walking to the start, and throwing our hoodies off to the side. We started out beautifully- in the low 11’s, which is where we wanted to “warm up” for the first couple miles. And even though we had gone to the portapotties twice, Allison and I both had to pee after about a mile. And decided to stop at mile 4 (since there was no line). And then, we felt much lighter and started shaving some time, until we were comfortably in the low 10’s (10:10s, 10:20s).

on Monument Ave

We turned down Monument Avenue, which has a lot of Victorian homes, and statues of famous people (though I wasn’t paying attention to who), and looped for turns. We got water at every water station (every 2 miles for the first 20, then every mile the last 6). Around mile 8, we started looping to a road that went along the James River, and we quietly zoned out. Just glancing over at the water occasionally. Then, by mile 10, we came back into some neighborhoods, and saw the next portapotty/ water station, and we stopped for about three minutes. We had been somewhat relying on Allison’s Garmin to keep our pace, but stopping kinda messed with it, and our next mile was like a 9:50 or something, so we slowed down some. And saw the 13.1 (Half) marker. YAY!

Allison and I were preparing to cheese and she said “do you want to hold hands?” ….Um yes! Heck yes I do! So, I hope that picture came out good. And we were at 2:24 according the clock. But I got a text, telling me Allie was at the half marker at 2:18, so we were about 6 minutes behind the clock. At mile 15, there was a Accel Gel station. We walked as I reached for a GU (had been munching on Honey Stinger chews every so often), and some water. After a couple minutes, we started running again.

We got to the Robert E Lee Bridge (mile 16 or 17?), and Allie seemed to be getting in her own head. I made idol conversation with a fellow Raleigh runner (thanks to his Raleigh Running Outfitters shirt), and we saw the beautiful view of downtown Richmond against the riverfront. Then, there was a junk food station with coke and gummy bears. I took the coke, thinking it was water. And realized quickly it was not. But I took a few sips anyway. Soon after Allison wanted to walk again, and I just couldn’t. My body was in so much pain, and walking hurt. That water/GU break to walk had mentally defeated me, and I couldn’t do it again. And I started to say “Okay, I can walk” and she said “go on”, so I did.

And zoned out to my music. Nikki Minaj, Lady Gaga, Lil Wayne, etc. I started cruising. I won’t say I felt great. But my legs knew what they were doing so, I had to let my mind get out of the way of my body. At mile 18, I felt the inner parts of my big toe and second toe blistering up with every step. But I pushed through. I was passing people left and right. And only 1 or 2 people passed me between mile 18 and 22. At mile 20, I saw the clock said 3:34, and I knew I was 6 minutes ahead, and I could taste 4:30. I knew I’d be in the 4:30s, even if I backed off a little.

My head kind of negotiated with my body to slow down, but my body knew better. It’s like my body knew that I could do it. And it just kept going. It hurt to pass people between mile 22 and 24. And I passed by the beer station (dixie cups of beer), and a guy in front of me took 4 shots of the beer back to back. And I was thinking this hurts. What is wrong with my body? Why won’t my body slow down? And instead, I started speeding up again. And I could feel the blisters multiplying on every step on uneven pavement.

And then, suddenly a girl appeared next to me. “You! We started at the same time. I remember your [neon] green sleeves. You’re gonna run me in.” As flattering as this was, I felt she must have mistaken me for the strongest runner in the crowd. Then, I looked around, the two of us were flying past everyone else. So I agreed. She kept telling me she was going to drop off, because I was going too fast, and I kept saying the same to her. And then at mile 25, I saw Sarah, and she laughed (I know she was thinking Of course Chandi found a friend. She’s a social runner. She always finds a friend”). She ran with me for about 100 meters or so, and it felt great, to know she was there. Sarah described the finish, wished me luck, and then went looking for Allie. My new friend, Meg, kept saying “I can do this. I can do anything for a mile. I can do this” and it kind of became our mantra.

I would love to have seen my actual mile splits for the last 10K. It felt like the last two miles were sub-9:00 pace. And I said “I haven’t seen the 4:30 pacer yet, but I know we’ve got to be getting close to it…” And a guy said “yeah, there’s no way- they’re way up there” but I just kept pushing with my new friend Meg. Every hill was like a challenge for me to dig in. And I just kept pushing, and I definitely felt like my last mile was my fastest.

The last .25 miles was a steep downhill. Did I mention my toes had blisters, beginning at mile 18? And any cracked pavement hurt to run on? Well, running downhill hurt. And then I felt the blisters split open. On the last downhill stretch. But, I literally didn’t have it in my quads to slow down, so I tried to turn my grimace into a smile for the photo finish. And looked up- 4:35:31. Sweet! 4:30s! And I bent over and thought I’d cry because I could barely walk on what I imagined were bloody feet. A medical aid ran over to me to try and catch me (she thought I was going to fall). And I said to Meg “my blisters split on the last downhill. I can hardly walk” and contemplated going to a first aid tent to have the professionals take care of them. But I also knew Allison was only a few minutes behind me. So, I thought, I’ll cheer her in first. I remembered to stop my watch and it said 4:31:57, so I thought to myself Did I do it in under 4:30?!?! Hell freaking yeah! (I texted Sarah to let her know I was done and around 4:30, so said “U had 4:30:39! Great job!” In looking back at my 10K splits, I can tell why the last 6 miles sucked. I dropped about a minute-per-mile pace for the last six. But, hey, it’s what my body wanted 🙂

Thank you, Meg, from DC, for choosing me. I’m sure I looked strong at the time, but was mentally and physically drained at that point, and wasn’t sure I could maintain the 10:00 pace I’d been hovering at. And you helped me get into the sub-10:00 to finish strong just as much as I helped you.

The Numbers:
10K- 1:05:33 (10:34 pace)
Half Mar- 2:18:25 (10:35 pace) <– Also stopped for 3 minute bathroom break (mile 10?). hehe.
20 mile- 3:29:31 (10:18 pace)
Finish- 4:30:39 (9:33 pace)
*Those “paces” are on my split times, so 9:33 was my average pace from 20 to 26.2, my overall pace was 10:20. But for my first time, I am so proud to finish, and to finish strong.

A little word of advice- if you’re ever struggling in a race, find someone who looks physically strong upright, and yell out “You! Run me in!” Because it will actually help you both finish strong.

Me and Allison. Beer and medals in hand.

Great experience. And I’ll probably post more at some point. Today (Monday) my plan is to do a 2 mile walk to start shaking things out some. I went to Dan’s last night, and he drove us to a bar that is about 0.5 miles away from his house. And this morning, I was able to go up and down stairs like a normal person (not granny- one step/two feet, holding onto the railing for life- style). It’s slow, but still moving 🙂

Marathon Prepping

It feels more real that I am running a marathon this weekend now that I am carb loading.

So here are my other “Week of” the marathon preparations that are necessary:

in order of importance

1. Call, text, email, facebook your running partner(s) every time you think about:
a) the marathon, b) travel plans/hotel/getting there, c) outfits, d) future races, e) food, f) your taper runs

2. Tell everyone you know you are running a marathon.
Even though they will likely still ask you Tuesday ‘What did you do this weekend?’ with a blank look on their face

3. Check the race website every 15 minutes to see if there are any updates.
Even though there aren’t any updates

4. Check the weather forecast at least daily.

5. Hydrate. Drink Nuun. Freak out that you have no voice.
And feel everyone around you’s relief about your loss of voice, since all you want to do is talk about your freaking marathon!

6. Go to Fleet Feet (or your local running store) several times this week, for several reasons-
a. Runners love to hear about your marathon
b. You might need gloves
c. You might need arm warmers
d. You might need some more GU
e. You forgot to get Nuun the last time you were there
f. You might want to look at buying an ENTIRE extra outfit, just in case the weather forecast suddenly changes

7. Pack your whole closet of running gear and clothes

8. Carb-load.
For me, that began with 3 sandwiches at lunch and crackers. I plan to grab donuts on the way home (thanks Dan and Dave for the gift cards!), Pizza tonight, then grabbing some French pastries.

9. Try to find time to squeeze in a few runs on the treadmill between running to the store, running out to get Pizza/Donuts, and checking all the aforementioned websites.
Pray that you don’t go too fast and mess up four months of training. And curse the treadmill.

10. Music Playlist.
Okay, that should be higher…

Oh yeah, and have fun. Relax. Go out on a date.

Okay, no seriously, I am not too stressed. It is just a 26 mile training run for Allison and I, to prepare for our upcoming Ultra. <— Which when I said to her (completely joking), she was like “you know, I’ve been thinking, maybe I could do an ultra…” But it’s just a training run. In cute clothes. And with a bunch of new friends. It’s our new running group 🙂

3 days…

Thoughts on Richmond Marathon (before)

I would like to set my goals out, so I can look back and reflect. When I first signed up for Richmond, I put in my pace as 4:45. Honestly, I’d like to be below that. We finished our 22 miler in 3:50, meaning if we slowed our pace to a 12-minute pace (which is pretty slow for Allison and I), we’d still finish our marathon in 4:36. I know I am capable of a 4:30s finishing time, so that’s been my goal in recent months.

When I first signed up, I didn’t think my body would hold up. In 2011, I tried training for a marathon, not knowing everything that goes into it (no training program, no buddies, no schedule), and ran my hip out of line. As in, my left side of my pelvis was tilted forward. (See below. Thanks creepy girl who also posted these images while wearing a thong…. Or creepy doctor. Either way- from http://orthoticsforyou.com.au/scoliosis). It was excruciating. I have scoliosis, so I guess that has something to do with this? My physical therapist told me to do keigels (no shitting!), which the guy I was dating at the time was like, uhhh yeah, good plan! Anyway! And took about 3-4 months before I was doing long runs again (though I could run on a treadmill for 30 minutes a few times per week).

Not me. But you can see the yellow line is straight, the red line is hip to hip, that’s how mine looked.

Then I trained for Nashville (spring 2012) without a hitch. I felt strong. Speedy. And Nashville- well the course was HARD. And I hurt my IT band. Like I was run/walking long runs for a few weeks. And went straight into training for the full. As I am tapering, I wonder how well I trained, and if I’ll be really ready for it. Will I be crying happy tears or painful tears during those last 4 miles. I’ve done 18 miles a few times, I’ve done 20 three times, and 22 once. So I’m worried about the last four.

Then, I remembered why I signed up for Richmond. Allison sent me a you tube video Tue night (Runner’s World Tour of Richmond Marathon, from 2009), and I got all teary eyed and emotional. It’s America’s Friendliest Marathon. I’m ready. I trained my butt off. And I’m not injured. And yes, I’m sick, but I’ll be better in a week. All the training, all the work I’ve put in since July; it’s all going to be put to the test soon. And really, it’s not even since July. Because before July, there was the ground work that got me ready for it all. I’m a bit of a sap. And I will probably cry after I finish. So, Sarah, Allison, if I disappear for 5 minutes, it might be because I found free beer… or it could be because I wanted to take it all in.

Confession- I cried after PR-ing in Nashville (I PR’ed by about 9-10 minutes). It wasn’t even the PR aspect. It was the whole training and feeling like I reached my goal, and ran the best race I could. I was on the verge of tears when I saw a friend of a friend. And then I just sat down, and it hit me. I did it! … I think it will be the same with Richmond. But, I might have to find Allison and cry with her. After all, I couldn’t have done it without her 🙂

There’s a quote I love, and I have it on my refrigerator:

Nothing teaches us to surpass our perceived limitations like running

And that’s the truth. After a great race, I just remember all that I am capable of, and feel it’s all out there- waiting for me to grab it. I never would have dreamed I’d be running a marathon. I’ve always been athletic, but running just isn’t my thing. I still say ‘I’m not a runner’ but I guess I am…

So- goals?

1. Enjoy it. I’m doing my first full marathon! (Who knows if I will ever do another one?) I want to just enjoy it. Not worry about the time or anything; just enjoy it.

2. On the other hand, mid-4:00 would be nice. Under 4:40? That’s my goal. Not my expectation, but my goal.

3. Be able to continue running afterward. Meaning, I don’t want to be one of those people who runs a marathon, and then can’t move for a week, and never runs again. Side note- I registered for our Turkey Trot 8K (12 days post-marathon… I didn’t do the math until after I registered…. It may not be a PR haha).