Flashback Race Recap: Richmond Half Marathon

The Anthem Richmond Marathon is this weekend! Once again, I am borrowing from Deb over at Deb Runs and doing a flash back recap because Richmond is a blast! (I promise it’s the last time, Deb!) Be sure to check out Deb’s blog as well. If she doesn’t already have a Richmond Marathon recap up, I’m sure she will by sometime this weekend! (I haven’t actually checked with her, but I’m pretty sure she’s planning to do one 🙂

I have run the half marathon twice and let me tell you, Richmond knows how to host a race. I’m excited to be headed to Charlotte this weekend for my first full, but I’m also a little sad we’re not heading back to Richmond this weekend. But I wanted to branch out and give another city and another race a try (plus Charlotte is only 2 hours away and Richmond is 4 hours away).

From the Richmond Marathon website

The first time I ran the half marathon in Richmond was in 2011, when it was called the McDonald’s Half Marathon. The second time I ran it was in 2012, and it was called the American Family Fitness Half Marathon. The race offers a full marathon, half marathon, and 8K option.

My first time running in Richmond was my official return from my running hiatus. Long story short, I took nearly a year off after going through some major life changes: graduating college, starting my first full-time job, getting a puppy, and getting married all in the span of a month. It took me nearly a year to adjust to all this and realize that a major component was missing in my life: running. So, I signed up for the McDonald’s Half Marathon on November 12, 2011. Training went smoothly and I arrived at the start line ready to run my fourth half. My dad, mom, and sister came down for the weekend to watch me run. Barry was running the full and his parents also came to Richmond for the weekend to cheer us on. My dad and sister biked around Richmond and I got to see them several times, including right at the start.

Running right past our hotel- I had a blissfully short walk to the start line

The weather was 35 degrees at the start, which I thought was perfect. I wore running capris and my favorite VT t-shirt (I hadn’t crossed over to technical gear yet and still wore cotton shirts for every run). I also purchased arm sleeves at the race expo to wear. I know- nothing new on race day, but these worked out! During the first few miles we made our way through the city towards Joseph Bryan Park. We ran through city streets and a beautiful neighborhood on our way.

There were a few inclines in the park, but they didn’t bother me too much. I saw my dad again as I excited the park around mile 8. I remember as I enthusiastically waved at my dad with a huge grin on my face (I was on cloud 9 to be racing!) another spectator yelled to him and me “she still looks so fresh!” That gave me an extra boost for sure.

We made our way back towards downtown and I became more fatigued, as these things go during a half marathon. After a few turns and many spectators yelling “you’re almost there!” I saw Barry’s parents and then made the final turn and went down the long, steep downhill down Cary Street to the finish. I crossed the finish line in 2:09:37. It was a bit of a struggle to meet back up with my dad and sister, but finally we connected.

My little sister headed back to the hotel and I borrowed her bike so my dad and I could bike back to cheer on Barry in the full. It actually felt pretty good to bike. We cheered him on to the finish, and then met up with him and his parents in the finish area. Barry ran a PR (4:06) but had cramped from mile 19 on and was not a happy camper. Luckily I always smile enough for the both of us.

I had such a blast in 2011 that it was a no brainer to sign up for 2012. Training went well and I had my sights set on a sub-2 hour half (which would be a PR) as I toed the line on November 10, 2012. My dad and Barry’s parents were back to cheer us on again. Barry had opted for the half this go around. It was 40 degrees at the start- once again perfect weather! My dad saw me off at the start line and got a picture of me in almost the same spot as 2011.

I was gunning for a PR and I decided to put it all on the line and go out at a 9:09/mile pace, which is what I would need to break 2 hours. My dad had made a plan on where he would see me along the course, which helped me break up the race into chunks. I think I saw him 5 or 6 times during those 13.1 miles. For some reason, I became strangely attached to my “throw away” gloves (freebies I had been given in a goody bag at a previous race) and felt the need to toss them to my dad 3 or 4 miles into the race.

I still have them. Thanks, Dad! The race course was pretty much the same as 2011, which greatly helped me mentally. The only thing that changed was they moved the finish to Brown’s Island, which allowed for a better finish line party and a sharper, longer descent to the finish (more on that in a second). This is one of the only pictures you will ever see of my backside, only because I think my running form looks pretty good even though I was getting tired.

Working hard for a PR

I hit a rough spot from miles 8-10 and fell off my pace a bit. Maybe I should have gone out conservatively and picked it up in the later miles. But I don’t regret going out at goal pace and trying to hang on to it. I did go from smiling and waving at my dad to giving him the thumbs down, though.

Thumbs down

But I guess my spirits couldn’t have been too low, since I was essentially cracking jokes. I gritted it out and pushed on to the finish line. This year, they had us finish on Brown’s Island, which was a large open grassy area where runners could celebrate. However, to get to Brown’s Island you had to run down a very steep, long descent. And let me tell you, it hurt. The race directors advertised it as a “downhill, fast finish” but if I had been running the full I think my legs probably would have cramped up. It was all I could do to not fall on my face on the way to the finish line. I hauled butt to the finish line and crossed in 2:01:00. So close to sub-2!

But I was still so happy, because I had just run a 6 minute PR! I met up with Barry, my dad, and Barry’s parents and we took advantage of the photo opportunity at the podium. McDonald’s was on-site handing out coffee (they may have had other stuff, too, I’m not sure) so I was able to feed my caffeine addiction. Barry had a great race as well and finished in 1:38:02, also a 5 minute PR! It was a great day for the both of us.

Overall, we have had great experiences at Richmond both years we have run the races there. Richmond totes itself as “America’s Friendliest Marathon” and I would have to agree. I know the weather is something out of the race director’s control, but it was perfect both years. The organization was great, and the finish line party on Brown’s Island is a blast (although it hurts to get there). We will be back to run this race again some day!

Have you ever run the Richmond Marathon/Half/8K?

What is your ideal race weather?

6 Comments

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  1. That looks like a great race! I love it when they are so much fun and well organized. It makes a huge difference!! Memories like this will help you get fired up for your marathon!

    1. It is a good one! Writing this post definitely pumped me up for this weekend. 🙂

  2. This makes me so excited to run the full in Richmond this weekend! It is supposed to be America’s Friendliest Marathon.

    Good luck in Charlotte!! So excited for you!

    1. Yay! I was hoping you, especially, would enjoy this post!

  3. Richmond was fun, and it is only two hours from me. Charlotte, six hours. Thankfully I received a reminder from the hotel in Richmond of my pending arrival and was able to cancel. Hate those missed room charges.

    Best part of Richmond was the crowd support. It didn’t seem to matter where you were, plenty of spectators to provide support. I found the trip through the VCU campus to be the most interesting. There was definitely a lack of adult supervision on Greek row.

    Best weather for me is anything without precipitation. A day with plenty of sunshine would be nice.

    And as the boss says:
    Oh-oh Thunder Road oh Thunder Road
    Lying out there like a killer in the sun
    Hey I know it’s late we can make it if we run
    Oh Thunder Road sit tight take hold
    Thunder Road

    See you in Charlotte!

    LUD.

    1. I will definitely be back to Richmond some time! It’s a blast!

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