Last year, I had a really positive experience running a half marathon in Philly. Although my thoughts immediately following that race were anything but running another half marathon, I really, really enjoyed the distance and the event and wanted to come back to Philly to run it again.
Upon further thinking, I opted to run the Richmond Half Marathon instead. I love this city and wasn’t sure when I would ever get a chance to run it. State championships for high school typically falls on the same weekend but this year it was on a Friday!
Training the past few months has been non-existent. If I thought I was under prepared last year for last year’s race, this half was going to be a shock. I have started student-teaching for the entire semester and have struggled finding a balance between teaching, coaching, planning, grading, and remaining sick-free and not completely sleep deprived. I thought about backing out of the race but instead lowered my expectations and decided to focus on the experience and having fun running in the RVA.
Per usual, the pre-race excitement got me motivated. I love watching other runners warm-up and race and do strides. I love pre-race chatter. I love meeting new people, particularly for a larger race like this that brings in many new faces.
The race went off. It had rained earlier but thankfully stopped right before our race started. I felt good the first few miles and tried to focus on clicking off the miles steadily, as opposed to thinking about what specific mile I was at. The first time I realized how dead I was was at mile 6 where I saw the 10k marker and realized how much longer I had but already felt dead (these miles were also hilly..). The next hardest mile was mile 8, where I felt completely spent and actually thought about stopping. It wasn’t until I engaged the crowds and got them to really cheer while I passed or smiled as I read their signs that I began feeling a little better (or at least I distracted myself from the pain)…
Crowd support is really important to me. Although Richmond is nicknamed the “Friendliest Marathon” I certainly felt more love at Philly. The rainy, cold weather may have contributed to how spread out the fans were but those bare stretches certainly made the run lonely. I DO applaud everyone who came out though. The signs were indeed hilarious and the tents with music got me pumped up! Philly is just a whole different animal of race and it is unfair to compare the two.
The last hardest mile was the 12th mile. I hit a wall, just like I did in Philly. Thankfully, the last few miles are downhill so that at least allowed me to feel my legs back under me. Finished in 1:03:03…Was hoping to go sub 1:30 so it was close.
SPLITS: 6:30, 6:41, 6:45, 6:46, 6:43, 6:56 (41:59 at 10k), 6:54, 7:07, 6:58. 6:59, 7:03, 7:02, 6:48
Generally, I can’t complain. I averaged less than 13.1 miles a week and somehow expected to race all 13.1 miles in one day. I certainly wasn’t competitive but embraced a more relaxed attitude about running. Unlike last year where I burnt myself out after forcing myself to train when I was struggling, I still enjoy running and training and don’t plan on quitting. I think it is important to cut yourself some slack sometimes. This race got me motivated to train hard for next year and look for some more big races to schedule! There may even be a new project for 2014…but you’ll have to wait and see to find out more.