Thursday, November 15, 2012

i came. i saw. i marathoned.

Well, damn. I ran another marathon.

I'm not great at writing race recaps - mostly because I have a terrible memory and I usually just don't pay all that much attention to things. Good trait to have, right? But here's what I remember about the (very whirlwind) weekend. 

I woke up at the crack of ass (my favorite time of morning!) to make it to the airport for an 8:20 flight on Friday morning. After arriving in DC I drove down to Richmond with Lauren, Allison, and Jenn. After a quick stop at a Subway in Ladysmith, Virginia (which I have officially dubbed as "our special place")  we made our way to the race expo. I purchased a couple of things - a marathon pullover and a magnet, but I was feeling pretty blah about the entire thing.

It's probably important to mention that I was pretty much in denial that I was running this race. I mean, obviously I knew it was happening. I'd registered, bought a plan ticket and all that jazz. But somehow I didn't think I was actually going to have to run 26.2 miles. Physically I felt fine after extending my taper for another week. But the NYC cancellation was so tough on me mentally. I had built it up to be such an amazing event, and it was really difficult to come to grips with the fact that it wouldn't happen - at least not this year.

I really did have a wonderful time on Friday evening. There was an impromptu wine tasting as we waited for our table to be ready for dinner. I had a few sips of red wine. I hear it's good for the heart, and mine needed to be in peak condition for the next day. You know, for the race that I had convinced myself I wouldn't actually have to run. We had a great dinner where I stuffed myself full of carbs, cheese (oh what's what? cheese-loading is not actually a thing? pshhh) and water, of course!

yes, i am indeed sitting on a children's bike in a liquor store. 'sup virginia?
And then, just like that, it was race morning. And I was all "Oh shiiiiit. I'm running a marathon today! WHAT?! Whose stupid idea was that?! Oh wait, mine? Crap." I was clearly a little panicked, seeing as how I freaked out over losing my socks, which were actually just on the bed under my folded shirt. Apologies to Lauren, Allison and Jenn - who had to stand there as I stomped around the room, yelling about socks. I managed to calm myself down a little bit as I lined up at the start. I set myself right behind the 4:45 pace group and honestly had no idea what to expect from myself. My goal going into the marathon was pretty much just survival, especially after all that had happened the week prior.

I had heard that there were approximately a thousand displaced NYC marathon runners who had made their way down to Richmond and we definitely made our presence known. There were banners and signs welcoming us to the race, as well as people wearing their NYC bibs. I had my own little piece of New York with me in the form of my dad's marathon singlet. It was definitely a bit of a conversation starter - and it spent the first ten miles chatting and probably running a little faster than I should have. I just felt so energized! Before and following the cancellation of NYC there had been so much negativity aimed at runners. It felt really wonderful to be surrounded by people who totally understood and didn't judge me for being really disappointed about how things turned out.

look! happy!
I hit the halfway mark in 2:23 and was feeling pretty damn good.  But, I did get really emotional around mile 15. I knew that would have been the point in the NYC marathon where my family and friends would have been and the tears started to flow. I got myself together pretty quickly and decided to spend some time thinking about each of my family members and friends who were planning to cheer for me. It made me smile and also helped to pass some time. However, by mile 17-18 I was starting to regret going out that fast. The temperature had also been creeping up and it was warm - way warmer than I'm used to at this time of year. Around mile 19 I got a little dizzy, lost my footing and fell (I know, right?). (Un)Lucky for me, it happened right near a race official who pulled me off to the side and made me drink some water. He asked if I thought it might be a good idea for me to stop running, to which I replied something along the lines of having to drag my cold, dead body off the course. I did promise that I'd pull myself if I didn't feel well in the next few miles.

clearly not amused by this whole marathon business

And how did I feel after mile 20? Pretty shitty, if I'm being honest. And miles 23-25 were beyond miserable. All of the downhills (what happened to a pancake flat course, eh? EH?!) were exhausting and I was feeling a lot of tension all throughout my calves and into the backs of my knees. When I saw that mile 25 marker I started to pick up. I was so close to the damn finish line that I could taste it. And then, with about half a mile left, there was a steep decline. I saw the finish line at the bottom of a hill and I just KNEW that it was going to be painful. I was afraid that my legs would give out on me because I was moving so fast as I made my way to the finish line. I finished! I survived!

I crossed the finish line exhausted but with so much love in my heart from all of the people who have supported me through training and the race cancellation. It's been a long, hard four months. I went from being totally out of running shape, throwing up on the side of the Charles River, to running my second marathon. My Garmin time was 4:55:10 -- a 4 minute 20 second PR from the Disney marathon.

that's me trying to make a heart with my hands and failing. LAY OF ME, I WAS RUNNING A MARATHON!

The Richmond Marathon isn't the NYC race that I had been hoping to run. But, it was a damn good consolation prize. The race is well organized with lots of crowd support along the way. I really do think that this race lives up to the hype of the "country's friendliest marathon". It is NOT super flat as I was lead to believe, but definitely manageable - especially coming from New England where even the flattest race course is still fairly hilly. Not that any of them will read it - but I want to say thank you to the race organizers and spectators who welcomed us with open arms to this race.

Also, a very special thank you to the lady pictured above. Lauren and I started marathon training around the same time and she has been a tremendous source of motivation and support throughout it all. We went from being total strangers on the Twitters, to running pals, to pretty damn good friends. She was the one I called, crying on the bathroom floor, after the marathon was cancelled. She is also the reason why I ran Richmond. So, thank you friend, for being amazing, wonderful and just.. you.

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