It took me close to 2 months to right the review for this years Richmond Marathon. I should start off by saying that this year was the 25th anniversary for the race and I was hoping that there would be a bunch of goodies in the goody sack that you receive when you pick up your race number. I was disappointed that the goody bag was little leaner than in years past. This year there was no chapstick or other neat little tidbits, but I got over it. They did offer a hat with the “25th Anniversary” on it, but I have one just like it from a couple years ago. The other thing was the shirt, I was hoping that since it was an anniversary year, that the shirt design would be cool. Instead the design got about a 5 on my scale, it wasn’t bad, but past year’s shirts (1999, 2000) were much cooler.
The scene: Race day. Gray drives me up to Broad Street up to were the police blockades are posted. The walk to the starting line was not too bad, I got a little work out even though it was only a quarter mile away. The weather was a little chilly in the shade, but the forecast for the day was to be unseasonably warm in the upper 60s with plenty of sunshine, not good for Terry. I got up to where all the racers were standing, there was a record crowd on hand for this event and there was less than 10 minutes before the start. I looked for the posters that the pace group held up that predicts the pace and finishing time. Knowing that I wanted to finish in under 4 fours, I lined up behind the poster that read “4 hours”. The people who were the pacers for the race had a bib pinned on their back that listed which pace group they belonged to. I chatted with a guy for about two minutes until the playing on the national anthem and then we were off.
Miles 1 through 4. We started off pretty slow. There was a lot excitement at the start of the 26.2 stroll on the streets around Richmond. At about the first mile, I thought that I felt a little pressure on my bladder, ‘oh great I thought’ I have had problems with bathroom problems in the race. Anyway, I made it through the first mile without having to run to the side to pee. I probably should have gone when I first felt it and need to do that in the future. In mile two when we hop onto Monument Boulevard, there were people demonstrating for anti-abortion with HUGE sign with pictures of aborted babies. I don’t understand why they had to be at the race, they were very disturbing and think some of the the other runners expressed themselves. By mile three, I had not gotten into a grove, my urge to urinate had subsided some, but it was still there. I was now coming up to the mile 4 marker, where I would stop to get my first drink of Ultima. The turn on to Westmoreland Avenue had a ton of people cheering the runners on. I thought that I might see Jen P and the gang there since it was so close to Gray’s house, but I didn’t. I turned 4 miles around the time that I wanted being able to finish in under 4 hours. I still wasn’t mentally in the race, at this point I decided that I would go pee thinking that it would help me in getting “into” the race. Unfortunately for me, there were so many people that I could not get a chance.
Miles 5-11. I had a GU right before mile 6 and tried to say thank you to the volunteer handing me the water, but I think that I just said something unintelligent with GU all in my mouth. At mile 6.5 we came up to a Country Club and I thought ‘AHA a bathroom’. I ran behind one of the trees with my behind facing the golf course and I went to town… ahhhhhhhhhh. Mile 7 was pretty uneventful except for a runner almost tripping me by slowing down rapidly without moving to the side (faux pas). I was still on track to finish in under 4 hours, but was still not mentally in the race. I was feeling pains in my leg, but nothing serious enough that I needed to stop or worry me. Down by the river was okay. I had some more Ultima and was looking forward to the hill at mile 10 that would allow me to change my pace. Training in Knoxville makes me a custom to running hills and I find them refreshing. I made it up the hill without any problems and did feel pretty refreshed after getting to the water stop at the top of the hill.
Miles 12-16. Now that we were back on the traffic road, there were more things to look at with the cars passing by. This part of the course it gradually uphill and may be were my demise first start. At the halfway point, I ran through the timing pad at right under 2 hours. With it being this close, it I remained at this pace, I would finish right at my goal time. And if I finished in under 4:09 then it would still be a PR time. Mile 14 was the GU station and there has always been Boy Scouts handing out GU there for the runners. I think they ran out just as I was passing, I was able to get a GU but I heard complaints from other runners that they ran out. So I made it up to the bridge at mile 15. At this point, I was still not running consistently, but running okay for my time. By the time that I crossed the bridge and made the left hand turn towards mile 17, I felt like I had to stop to walk. In 3 out of my 4 marathons in Richmond, I have had to stop at this point to walk.
Miles 17-20 I suddenly got a hunger pain in my stomach. I needed food, in a bad way. I am thankful for the people that set up table that offered food like gummy bears, pretzels, cookies, etc. for the runners. I started to eat everything that was offered and I felt temporarily better. At mile 18 I was mentally finished. I was ready for the race to be over and I was ready to meet up with Jen and Gray and go HOME! I had never been mentally in the race and now physically, my body was done for the day. I was not sore, but I was out of energy… the tanks were depleted. I mustered my way to mile 19 where I met Jen and Gray. I told them I wanted to quit and that I wanted to go home. Jen P encouraged me that I had gotten this far and that I could make it to the finish line. Gray encouraged me by saying that it was his long run and he didn’t want to miss it. So with Jen P saying “yes, you can” and Gray saying “yes, you better”. I struggled a little farther. I knew there was a pretty big hill at mile 20, so for the last part to the hill, we ran to hill so that I could walk up it, I didn’t care. At the end of the hill were the abortion people again. Who cares… all I knew that there would be GU soon.
Miles 21-26.2 Gray and I meandered through the first part of course and there were a bunch of people cheering Gray. Go Gray! He’s so popular. At mile 21 they had a photographer around a corner and Gray and I came walking around the corner and snappy-snappy, they took my picture. With my head down and walking, I joked with Gray “oh, yeah, I going to want one of those pictures”. We both laughed and the picture is pretty pathetic. After mile 22 the course goes back onto the traffic roads and they have one lane coned off for the runners. Gray decided for me that I should run 8 cones (or something like that) and walk 2 cones. This seemed to work for a while, there was even a point at which I was able to run a little farther than 8 cones. Another part of the course it that at Mile 24 the course is no longer shaded from trees, the last 2 miles are essentially in full sunlight which can make things so much worse. And it did. The day was pretty warm anyway and the sun didn’t help. I struggled to the last mile were I walked the first quarter mile and even stopped to stretch my legs. I wasn’t concerned at my time, I didn’t care, but I thought that I would stop and give myself a little refresher before I finished. The last three quarters of a mile the course is entirely downhill, so once you get started there is no stopping. I finished in 4 hours 27 minutes and 06 seconds. I was met at the finish line to Jen P, Pete, Janet, Jason Turner, Troy Phelps, and Gray followed shortly. I was happy that was over and I have decided to run a different fall marathon in 2003.