Oh man alive how this race was everything I needed! I had planned on going out to visit QP for a nice break months ago, mom needed a vacation. Just after Halloween we found out that grandpa wasn't doing well, it was a lot of anxiety from day to day knowing if I would go or stay. No question that we would both be here for the funeral, but it was the NOT knowing that was the hard part. Thankfully Thursday morning I got up early and headed to the airport.
We left for Richmond (about 3.5 hr drive) Friday at noon and I really didn't think the car trip was that long. Time passes when you're having fun. A quick stop a Cici pizza to 'carb load' made it all that much more enjoyable. Checked into the hotel and went to the expo. For hosting 16,000 runners I was most certainly impressed with the organization and flow of it all. Picked up a couple of items there and got the bib and t-shirt (with NO ads on the back...wow!) and went back to the hotel to make our shirts.
Once we found out about grandpa we'd decided our t-shirts would honor him. Grandpa would always sit and 'hand wrestle' with us. When he'd get us kids in his vice grip hold he'd say "who's got who now?!?" So, we wrote that on our backs in sharpie on some killer buy t-shirts at the expo - bright green! We then added our names on the front for good measure. Then it was off to sleepy land.
The marathon had a GREAT start time 8:00 - and no bus! I got up at 6, had an omlet at the hotel breakfast with some milk and juice, then a drive to the start and we got out in the cold. It was a lot colder than I had expected it to be. Started around 34ish degrees, but once the sun got to the street things got better. Terri was with us at the hotel and at the start we met up with JT. We got to watch the many waves of the half marathon start, we didn't catch the 8K start at 7:00 - we were getting dropped off at that time. Seriously, the half took like 20+ minutes to get everyone through! Biggest 1/2 start I've EVER seen, it was crazy corrals from A-J!
QP and I at the start in the traditional pop pic :)
The nice thing about the half start was that after we dropped our bags and were freezing, waiting for OUR start there were lots of discarded (they donate them) warm clothes on the road. So, we picked up a few that we could discard later ourselves :) I found a pair of snow pants that were great arm warmers, QP had some breakaway pants and a scarf. We were totally styling!
QP, me and Terri at the start in our freebie pick-ups to stay warm:
JT at the start of his FIRST marathon!!
Me alone in my ski pants. The girl who discarded them appreciated my love of them most. She was right next to us! (sorry, I've tried and can't get it to flip! It is saved upright, but won't post upright).
We were literally at the back of the start. I honestly think we were THE last people to cross the start line. We didn't mind, and there really wasn't all that much weaving that far back either. We just took to the left shoulder of the road and we were off!!! It was great to constantly be passing people. I think we started a little slower than I had intended, but as always you never know what pace that secures you in the end. We were all comfortable and that was the best part - relaxed and feeling good at the beginning!
The city streets were packed with spectators, bands and lots of fun encouraging signs! The Chinese drummers were at the beginning and they were probably my favorite 'band'. Awesome! The first 10K just flew by and we crossed in 1:00 exactly. Again, a little slower than anticipated, but I must say I'm not used to short hills. Either you run downhill for 8 miles then up or something similar. This was 100 yds up, then a quick down, etc. Rolling hills aren't what I'm used to. At one point JT and QP were pushing the downhill pace and I was a ways behind them and thought "don't burn yourself out on the downhill, you'll pay for it!" But, it was over as soon as it began. I caught up to them and it was then I realized I needed to change my 'plan' of hills from what I normally do at races. It is just SO different.
I would stop at the aid stations and walk through to grab a drink and QP is an expert and can drink and run so I'd always get a good sprint in to catch up to her. Around mile 7 JT was feeling good and took off on an uphill to the bridge over the St James river. On that downhill I pushed the downhill and it was great to feel the push off on the back foot and to fly for a few yards :) The few miles after the bridge were simply amazing...seriously beautiful! I wish I had a picture. Tall trees and a beautiful little road right next to the river, glorious colors and leaves floating down slowly all around you. Picture perfect! We really did have perfect weather and perfect scenery during the race. Nothing to complain about!
The half split we hit at 2:04 even. I was hoping we could hit it at 2:00, but QP was feeling good and like she was in a comfortably hard zone, so I wasn't going to kill us over 4 minutes. I was amazed how wonderfully easy it was to breathe. Between running a comfortable pace and sea-level I was in HEAVEN as far as breathing was concerned. It was a perfectly beautiful long run. I'd run out to the sides and high-five all the kids and they had party stops with DJ's and treats and I'd give 'em a good dance show as we ran along as well. Good times! Our dad's train came by around mile 14 to say hello, it was nice to hear him there with us.
Mile 16-18ish was the long flat bridge back over the St James river and then a long, gentle uphill climb. I could feel that uphill. Just at the right time of the race to make you feel it and more uphill than we'd encountered so far. Blech. I really thought this race would be flat like OBX, but it certainly was not. Now, don't get me wrong. It was flat compared to nearly anything you can run in Utah, but just different from what I was expecting. Along here we were in the city area and there was a Fraternity out in front of their building chanting people's names as they came by. I got a "RAD, RAD, RAD..." while I went by, it was awesome. They get my vote for favorite support group!
We hit a pop stop at mile 17, but still managed to hit a 9:38 mile that split. I tell ya, we really picked it up after that stop. Mile 20 split was at 3:09:01 and I knew we were feeling good and keeping steady AND that there was downhill to come. I knew we'd hit at least a sub 4:10 at this point. Easy peasy. Around mile 21 I saw a photographer ahead and I knew I wanted to get a jumping shot with QP, so I asked if she thought she had it in her to do a jump "yeah, I think so" was her reply, so I got the photographer's attention and then "1,2,3 -go!" It was great, unfortunately, neither of us have it in our race pics :( bummer. Have to search lost and found, it better be in there! BECAUSE, some lady from the side of the road yelled "if you can do that at mile 21 you aren't trying hard enough!" Oh whatever lady! I mean really?!? C'mon, can't a couple girls just have some fun without you being a party pooper? We decided that, yes, we are just failures...Just another Olympic failure.
Mile 22 we hit another pop stop and it really surprised me that the 4:15 pacers came by while I was waiting. What the heck?!? My clock at that time said 3:30. I know we started back, but 4:15 couldn't be that much further in front of us. They must be going fast. I decided later, that they must have paced off clock time despite starting back in corral 4 (probably at least 4-5 min behind time). I don't think that is right. I think in a chip race, they should do chip pace. Those poor people that were trying to hit a 4:15 and couldn't because they had to really run a 4:10ish? Yeah, I think they should've done chip time. When we over took them again someone remarked "what? 4:15? already?" I told them I thought they were ahead of time - at least chip time so not to worry. It made them feel better. Here we also saw the best sign I'd seen at a marathon: "Worst Parade EVER!" loved it.
Around mile 23ish I had a thought, a not so good thought. Really. I was done. I was running a 4+ hour marathon and tired. I was done. I wanted to be done. How in the world can I ever run a sub 3:30?!? I must be out of my mind. If I can't comfortably run a 4+ hour without feeling like I'm dying what makes me think I can do it 30-40 minutes faster? Man, I hate those gremlins.
Shortly after that we hit the nice inclining downhill that we'd run up before. It was nice to have it on the finishing miles. We hit some good paces here. I think we were both ready to be done. I didn't know if QP was a push or pull runner, but I like to be pulled, so I stayed just in front of her. Giving her that pull to the finish. Then...my VERY favorite part of the race. The last 1/2 mile or so to the finish is a downhill push...like REAL downhill. Think of running down Veyo (with those familiar with SGM). Seriously, right into the finish line! I LOVED it. You get get a good strong, fast finish effortlessly. Totally effortlessly! I now wish every race ended like this. Made those uphill miles totally worth it.
Check out a VIDEO of our finish!
Official finish time was 4:08:12. Just after crossing I saw JT chatting with his wife. He'd finished just a couple minutes in front of us. If it weren't for our pop stops we totally would've caught him. Dang, oh well...next time :) What an amazing race! Everyone finished well and strong and it was just amazing! A perfect morning and a PR for JT and QP! This made it all worth for me. I had a wonderful morning and couldn't complain about a thing. Richmond really puts on a good race! Oh, well, they could've had oranges and chocolate milk at the finish - that is what I would change.
We grabbed our bag, which again was more organized on UPS trucks than I have EVER seen before -took about 2 seconds (literally) to get my bag and it was close to the finish and easy to find. Grabbed a couple smoothies and waited for Terri to come in. I think she came in around 5:20ish. Great time to say good byes to JT and his wife (who were heading right home) and stretch a little. Terri had a shoe full of blood when she finished and got taken to the med tent, but she finished!! You'll have to read her blog as to why/how this was SUCH a feat for her. I was SO proud of her!!
After the race we went to Hardees (Carls Jr here in UT) and QP had been training for and waiting for her Steakhouse Thickburger (fried onions, blue cheese, A1, bacon). Oh man, it was SO good!! I was still occasionally shivering uncontrollably from cooling down, so I had kept my silver cape on to stay warm. I didn't realize it until we'd already gotten inside the restaurant. So, I struck a super-hero pose for QP to take a picture of the crazy lady in the cape :)
again, sorry...can't figure out how to get it to flip. It really is saved the right way!
The hotel had kicked us out and wouldn't give us late check out or another day (without doubling the price) so we'd found a new hotel and after our burgers we enjoyed a tepid hot tub that helped us get a good stretch out, then some good Dairy Queen to top it all off. Slept very well that night! I was tired and stiff and was afraid of the next day, but when I did wake up to go down to breakfast I got about 3 or 4 stairs down before I realized it was supposed to hurt! YAY! I don't know what I did, but I really felt pretty good. Especially after SGM and Halloween Half!
We drove home and went on a nice evening walk before dinner. I was treated to the most beautiful sunset I have seen in a LONG time. It just kept changing and getting better. Man, it sure is beautiful back there. I did miss watching the sun set behind the mountains though :)
A perfect weekend with QP and family! It was nice to not be responsible for another human being (my kids) and to spend some good time with my sister. Grandpa was still doing well, so well, infact, that they were considering transferring him back to the rest home instead of keeping him at the hospital. We were just thankful for the tender mercy of being able to have our weekend together.
TT: 4:08:12 AP: 9:24 splits: 9:41, 9:41, 9:38, 9:20, 9:31, 9:47, 8:36, 9:05, 9:00, 9:19, 9:35, 9:29, 9:26, 8:57, 9:10, 9:25, 9:38, 9:24, 9:56, 9:13, 9:23, 9:18, 11:34 (3 min pop stop), 9:22, 9:11, 8:36, 7:10 (last .38 I recorded on the garmin) Awesome fast finish! yeah, we rock :)