On Sunday I ran my fourth and final half marathon of the year. And let me tell you, I had a goal. Oh boy, did I have a goal. I was REALLY hoping to break 1:50 this time around – I missed that back in April when I ran the Nike Women’s Half here in DC and it has haunted me like a running ghost. For the Nike Women’s Marathon I finished in 1:52:42 (I think) so I was off by almost 3 minutes. I could make excuses (nerves, a crowded start and poor fueling strategy) but I’ll just say I wasn’t ready. It wasn’t my day. This is a lesson that’s hard to learn in running, and it’s hard to learn in life. You have to forgive yourself. You have to let go of the bad and brush your shoulders off … otherwise you will probably repeat your sad prophecy over and over.
Okay so let’s talk about Richmond shall we? Step 1: plan ahead.
In my training leading up to Richmond I changed things up a bit. I ran 5 days a week and most weekends my long run was 13 miles. About half of the time I was running 30+ miles a week. Adding mileage is key both in the mental aspect of running (you just FEEL more prepared) and in terms of the running on tired muscles.
I was worried at the start because right before the half started it was literally pouring rain. Let’s ignore the fact that of all of the half marathons I have run it hasn’t rained in only one of them. I still do not like the rain. It doesn’t make me feel invincible. It makes me feel wet and like a human blister. The rain let up for our start though – which was good. It rained a little bit in the middle of the race for me. That was it. The temp was in the low 50s at the start so I wore shorts, my DCRR singlet, arm warmers and some gloves (which I eventually tossed).
Like so many races Richmond has a wave start. I was in second wave and my pace group (the 1:50ers) was off to a great start for the first mile. I was chatting with our pace group leaders and other runners for the first mile so I missed clicking my garmin at mile 1! Oops! Our pace leaders were going to keep a consistent pace, and I think they did but they were a little faster than me so I dropped back by about halfway. That’s when I hit the only mini-hills Richmond had to offer in Bryan Park. Tiny rolling hills, but when you’re in the middle of the run and you’ve got 5 or 6 miles to go you’re thinking about how tough those hills are. So yeah, I kind of started to panic a bit, worried that I would lose my A goal (finish under 1:50). I tried to focus on B goal – finishing strong and PRing.
I won’t lie – miles 8, 10, and 11 showed some of the mental battles I was going through. They were my only miles that were above an 8:30 pace. I had to try not to listen to Bad Emily who wanted to quit, eat donuts and nap (in that order) Instead, I focused on running one more mile and trying to get it under that 8:23 pace. I got myself together though in time to see J who was waiting for me near the end.
By mile 12 I had a good feeling that I was going to be able to squeak by and get my A goal – if I hustled. And guess what? My 13th mile was actually one of my fastest. Way to go Good Emily! I convinced myself that I wanted that sub 1:50 so badly that I would ignore the blisters on my feet, ignore my aching back and push through it.
I’m so glad I did because this is what I got:
I was beyond elated and so emotional and so tired that I started to cry and almost fell over. Luckily I saw a fellow from our pace group who helped me over to the side and out of the chute.
MILE 1 & 2 (didn’t see the marker for mile 1) 16:44 – 8:21 per mile
MILE 3 8:09
MILE 4 8:14
MILE 5 8:27
MILE 6 8:10
MILE 7 8:10
MILE 8 8:33 (HILLY IN THE PARK)
MILE 9 8:26
MILE 10 8:32 (Started to worry a little bit about time here I think)
MILE 11 8:31
MILE 12 8:21
MILE 13 7:59 (downhill mostly)
LAST .1: 6:17 (very downhill)
Final time 1:49:26
Overall I was very impressed with Richmond’s half. It is a great course for a PR with minimal hills. The support on the course is amazing – some really dedicated volunteers (who again, were out there in the rain to make us all feel supported.) Race volunteers are the best. If you’re a runner, or an admirer of runners I would encourage you to volunteer for a race. You will see the awesomeness of humanity run before you.
After the race, J and I headed over to Buz and Ned’s for some BBQ. It’s probably one of my most favorite meals ever. I got the large meal – 2 sandwiches and 2 sides. I wasn’t able to demolish it all, but I came pretty darn close.
Later in the evening we headed to Carytown for tacos & obligatory celebratory margaritas at Don’t Look Back. (Seriously one of the most delicious margaritas I’ve ever had.)
I doubt this will be my last race in Richmond. J and I are already eyeing the Ukrops 10K in March. For now though, I’m going to bask in the glory of another PR!