Richmond Half Race Recap

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.

some of my racing essentials
Garmin charged, gu and snacks packed, outfit laid out, cowbell for my pit crew ready, bib ready

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.

At this point I can see the finish line!
At this point I can see the finish line!

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:

BAM! A new 13.1 PR
BAM! A new 13.1 PR

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.

I earned this medal
I earned this medal

My splits:

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 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!


Happy 2013!

I have been an unbelievably bad blogger in 2012. Let’s change that …

I am just finishing up my first official vacation of 2013 … I took 2 days off! The plan was for Josh and I to spend some time in Richmond and then head down to North Carolina for a little sand, seafood, and chilly salt air.

We actually ended up leaving early for Richmond because of threats of a wintry mix descending upon the DC area. That just gave us more time to spend in Richmond.

Virginia's Capitol
It was a rainy day in Richmond …

First we walked past Virginia’s capitol in Richmond on our way over to one of Richmond’s Museum of the Confederacy, and the “White House” of the Confederacy. I put that in quotation marks because that is what they called it, but I feel weird putting White House and Confederacy in the same sentence. The tour we got was really great, and I highly recommend stopping in at this museum if you’re ever in Richmond.

The White House of the Confederacy – which later became the Union Headquarters in Richmond

An impressive number of people have been in this house – including Abraham Lincoln, Margaret Thatcher, Steven Spielberg and Daniel Day Lewis (the latter two when they were filming Lincoln in Richmond).

After the history lesson and tour we were hungry. Josh knows me well – and he knows that my belly loves some BBQ. So we headed to Buz & Ned’s Real Barbecue. (Apologies for the subpar photo … I liked their handpainted sign and I am not a great photographer)

Buz & Ned's
Buz & Ned’s was seriously some of the best BBQ I’ve ever had. Program your GPS now.

I feel it’s only fair to disclose my BBQ allegiance. I grew up an Eastern North Carolina style girl. Then in college (with many friends hailing from Texas) I learned to respect and admire the artistry of Texas BBQ. It was during my years in Tennessee that I also fell in love with Memphis style BBQ. What I love about Buz and Ned’s was that it was what happened if all of the BBQ styles got together and made a super BBQ baby with their best traits. That’s a weird analogy, but stick with me here. This BBQ had it all – we’re talking smokiness, subtle sweet notes and that vinegar bite that I still love. Honestly Josh and I were both sad that we didn’t get two sandwiches. It was that good. I have a feeling we might be stopping here again in the future.

We made a few other stops including Hollywood Cemetery, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (amazing collection of art), Carytown (for a little shopping) Legend Brewing (across the river from downtown, but a great spot to catch the sunset and grab a beer) and a quick evening bite at Captial Ale House which we washed down with some local Virginia beers.

It was going to be hard to top all of our Richmond adventures…but we headed down to North Carolina on Sunday … and were greeted by our favorite familiar sights:

Duck, NC
who says east coast beaches aren’t beautiful?
Duck, NC

I love this beach. It’s my happy place. And I am so lucky that Josh loves it as much as I do.

Being back in North Carolina always gives me a new sense of purpose. I love being able to step away from email, twitter, texting and Facebook.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my goals for 2013, as I’m sure many of you have. I’d like to be a better runner this year. I’ve set the preliminary (and ambitious goal) of trying to PR in a few distances: half marathon, 10 miler, 10K, and 5K. I’d also like t be a happier runner this year. Last year my heart just wasn’t in it, and it showed in most of my race times. I look back and the races that were the most fun, were the ones where I felt like I had the least on the line. I want to get back to being able to just be present when I am running, to relish every single stride.

My first race of 2013 will probably be the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in DC. It’s the first year the race is being run in DC (it’s had a tremendous following in San Francisco). I’ll be keeping track of some of my progress here.  But mostly, I am looking forward to running a big race with a bunch of women. I think it will be inspiring and exciting. I can’t wait to cross the finish line a little stronger than I am now!

What are you goals for 2013?