Marathon Mama: Richmond 2013

Running MamaIt’s official! I signed up for the Richmond Marathon on November 16.

I’m equal parts excited, terrified, nervous, and freaked out! As soon as I submitted my online entry, the butterflies in my stomach morphed into scary, winged Nazgul from The Lord of the Rings. I immediately started questioning my sanity.

I’m always writing (complaining) about my struggle to work full time, spend quality time with my family, prevent the house from reaching biohazard status, AND find enough time for a run. Is marathon training really the solution to that dilemma?

Probably not, but since I’m committed, can I get a resounding Hell Yeah?!


All kidding aside, I’m really excited about running my third marathon, even if it means pushing my time management skills to the limit.

Unfinished Business

You see, I have some unfinished business when it comes to the marathon. Richmond will be the fourth time I’ve trained for a marathon and, knock on wood, the third time I cross the finish line.

In the tradition of runners everywhere, here’s my marathon history: - How can you tell if someone has ran a marathon? Don't worry, they'll tell you.

First Attempt: DNS

I trained for the 2006 Nashville Country Music Marathon. In classic, overzealous newbie style, I over trained and ended up with a nasty IT band injury the WEEK before the race. Two days before the race I couldn’t even hobble my way around the track once. There was no way I’d make it 26.2 miles. So instead of running my first marathon, I got my first DNS (Did Not Start).

I ended up at the orthopedic, tears streaming down my face, completely devastated about the race that wasn’t. After physical therapy and a hard lesson learned, I was ready to start running again.

ING Georgia Marathon

ING_MedalI ran the inaugural ING Georgia Marathon in 2007. The race organizers picked March because the average temperature is in the mid-50s. Perfect running conditions.

But it’s called Hotlanta for a reason, and on an unseasonably toasty spring day, the temps soared to near-record highs. It was 87 blistering degrees when I crossed the finish line.

I didn’t feel the effects of the heat until the second half of the race. Until mile 16, I was cruising along, running under 8-minute pace. Around mile 18, the course dumped us out of the shaded Atlanta neighborhoods onto exposed, open roads, and we started baking.

I was still on pace through mile 20, but then I started to feel the heat. As every marathoner knows, the marathon is really two races. The first 20 miles and the last 10K, which feels longer than the first 2o.

Thankfully my husband was by my side, pushing me to finish in BQ time (old standard). I finished in 3:38.

Because my husband was injured and ran with me, he didn’t get a Boston Qualifier until the next year. He crushed Rocket City in December 2008, but after finishing my first Half Ironman a few months prior, I opted not to run. It’s a good thing I didn’t. If I had, I might not have gotten pregnant with Bean.

Rocket City Marathon

RC_AwardI ran through my entire pregnancy with Bean, even running (waddling) 3 miles the day I went into labor. After Bean was born, I was excited to set my sights on another marathon, but my first priority was nursing her through her first birthday. After I weaned her, I started training in earnest for the 2010 Rocket City Marathon in Huntsville, Alabama.

Training for a marathon with a child was a horse of a different color. Bean tagged along on a lot of long runs, and my husband and I took turns pushing the jogger. I decided to follow the Furman Training plan because three quality runs a week fit my work schedule and no junk miles counterbalanced my tendency to over train.

On race day I felt prepared and ready to challenge the 3:30 mark. Once again I was right on track through mile 20, and then I started slowing down. Big time.

I fell into the time bank trap. I felt so good early in the race that I joined up with two other runners, and we left the 3:30 pace group behind. We reeled off 7:45-7:50 miles, and I felt great until mile 18. I started to slow down a bit but didn’t panic. I had plenty of time in the bank. Or so I thought.

The 3:30 pace group passed me around mile 22. I tried to go with them, but I’d hit the wall. I finished in 3:36. Still a PR & BQ, and, thanks to my husband’s sub-3 result, we took home the Husband-Wife award!

I still didn’t make it to Boston. Even though I was qualified through 2012, I found out I was pregnant in August 2011. Monkey was due in early May, so Boston wasn’t gonna happen. Once again, I put my BQ on the shelf and focused on the awesome marathon of motherhood.

Richmond 2013

Now that Monkey is a happy, healthy toddler and my nursing days are behind me, I’m excited to tackle the 26.2 monster again. I’ve got my sights set on the new BQ (3:35) and would love to break 3:30.


I AM capable of this! I’ve run a 1:32 half, so I think 3:30 is well within my potential. According to the marathon predictors/calculators, I should be able to run even faster. However, I don’t think those tools are entirely accurate, especially for the marathon. I don’t want to go out too fast and pay for it in the last 10K.

My strategy for Richmond is to run smarter. I’m shooting for even splits and plan to stick with the pace group. If by some miracle I feel great in the last few miles (bahahaha!), I can always pick up the pace. Not holding my breath on that one!

I’m so excited that my husband decided to sign up too. Hopefully we’ll both get a BQ, so we can realize our dream of running Boston together.

Do you have a fall marathon on the calendar? Anyone headed to Richmond? Any training/racing tips for avoiding the wall and finishing strong?

50 thoughts on “Marathon Mama: Richmond 2013

    • So glad you’ll be running Richmond too! That 1:32 was a long time ago (pre-babies), but I still think 3:30 is a realistic goal. I’ve heard that Richmond is a great course with lots of good support, so I’m excited to check out America’s Friendliest Marathon! Thanks for the vote of confidence and see you in November!

    • Richmond meet up for sure- although I’m only doing the half.. once we are done having kiddos I’ll set my eyes on a full! Nicole you’ve got it girl… just remember what you’ve learned from your last marathons and I’ll be out their screaming both your names once I cross the 13.1 finish line!
      Emma @ a mom runs this town recently posted…THAT runMy Profile

      • YAY, excited for a Richmond meet-up. We can all hobble our way to the closest FroYo establishment and devour massive quantities of frozen deliciousness post-race! Cheering on the sideline – great! Pacing me through last four miles when I’m crawling along – AWESOME! It can be your post-half cool-down!

        • YAY, you and Emma can cheer us on after you rock the half!! And then we can all celebrate together…after someone scrapes me off the ground!

  1. Helllls Yeahh!! Congrats on signing up!! Well, it sounds like a BQ is totally within your grasp, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned from this blog it’s that when you set your mind to something, it happens. (also I’ve learned that endurance and speed runs in the family, and bean will probably be out there marathoning in no time :) ) I have no doubt that you will BOTH make it boston, and I look forward to cheering you on from the sidelines!!
    Charlotte @ Commitness to Fitness recently posted…Sometimes You Just Gotta Show UpMy Profile

    • Thanks Charlotte! It’s a little scary to announce my race plans & goals to the world (AKA my 10 readers) because one thing I’ve learned is the marathon can chew you up and spit you out without a backward glance. But I’m excited to tackle 26.2 again, and, no matter what the end result, finishing a marathon is a huge accomplishment. Don’t get me wrong – I’m totally pumped about my goals, I just don’t want to be overly confident. One thing’s for sure – when I see Bean waiting for me at the finish line and think of all the times she’s courageously finished her mile races with a big kick and a bigger smile, you can bet it will inspire me to dig a little deeper and leave everything out on the course! See you in Boston, 2015!

    • I love racing with my husband! It’s a little harder to do with the girls, and sometimes we have to take turns, but we still manage to do our favorite races together. I think we’d both like to tackle an IM some day, but I don’t know if we’ll be able to do the same race. The training load is so intense (and time-intensive), and we’d bankrupt ourselves paying for babysitters for every long run/ride!

      I’m planning to follow the Furman plan again. It focuses on three key runs each week – speedwork, tempo, and long run. Because you’re only running three days a week, the paces are faster than some traditional plans. You can also add a 4th day of running, but it should be a low-intensity recovery run. There are also two days of cross-training, and I usually swim laps to go low impact. I really like this plan because some weeks are so crazy at work that three runs is all I can manage! Plus, junk miles pretty much guarantee injury for me! You should check it out. The plan was originally formulated by runners-turned-triathletes who couldn’t keep running 5-6 days a week while incorporating cycling & swimming.

  2. Proud of you, Nicole. You will do this because there seems to be NOTHING you can’t do when you put your mind to it. I have a great idea……Larry and I will be there to support you both, and to BABYSIT BEAN AND MONKEY! What do you think?

    • Thanks Diane! One of the reasons we picked Richmond is so we can stay with Jason’s cousin & family and take advantage of family babysitting services. But, the more the merrier! Of course, I’d rather you come visit our house so we can spend more time with you. You are ALWAYS welcome!

  3. You are my inspiration Nicole! One of my fears about having kids is 1. not being able to workout/run through pregnancy and 2. not being able to workout/run once I have kids. You did both – you’re seriously a rockstar!

    It’s so awesome that your husband runs with you and that you have each other to lean on. Bean and Monkey are two lucky kiddos! You’re going to rock the Richmond Marathon – can’t wait to hear all about it!
    Sara @ Fit.Fun.Femme. recently posted…“Wordless” Wednesday – Happy Birthday America!My Profile

  4. Trust yourself. Especially on race day, just run.

    I remember a few years back at Bull Run Run 50, the overall male winner had not trained consistently as his family was moving out to the west coast. There were lots of flights, 2 kids lives at stake, etc. etc.

    He PR’d and broke the course record. At the finish line he explained that due to his inconsistent training, he was just happy to run. He let his legs fly and trusted. He loved to run, and so he did.

    You’ll do what’s best. Trust and enjoy the journey!
    Wendy @ New Moms Talk recently posted…Why We’re Moving (Utah to Washington)My Profile

    • What an incredible story about Bull Run! I will definitely approach race day with LOTS of gratitude and happiness just to be running! Love the reminder to trust ourselves. Our minds often get in the way of our bodies because we let negative thoughts take over. We need to do a better job of shutting down our brains for a while and just letting our bodies do their amazing work!

  5. Ah, good for you! I’m not a runner – more of a lazyish, taking photos at every stop hiker, but I do get that this is a huge deal. I also know what it’s like to sign yourself for something HUGE when you already have too much on your plate!

    Isn’t that the way, though?
    Tamara recently posted…Another Year Gone, Holdin’ On.My Profile

    • My husband and I love to hike too, and we’re so excited to take our girls on their first backpacking trip a few years down the road. Yes, it’s a little terrifying to commit to another marathon, but I do love a challenge! I also love the healthy example it sets for our girls.

    • Thanks Christine! All of these encouraging comments are getting me fired up – and a little nervous too! Here’s to pouring that nervous energy into my long runs, which I’ll no doubt be less enthusiastic about!

    • If you figure out the secret to improving fitness & physique vicariously, be sure to share! Have to admit I’m excited about the mega calorie burn from my long runs. Long run in the morning, stuff my face the rest of the day!!

  6. LOVED this post….esp how you started out. As a soon to be mom (who plans to continue work full time [and then some], loves running, loves a clean house, and routine over-committer), I always ask myself how I’ll manage it all. Nice to see other people balancing it as well!

    Now, if only you lived closer so I had someone to train for a BQ with!
    Crystal@TheFastFitRunner recently posted…Easy Way to Eat Local & Organic! Go Co-OpMy Profile

    • Fear not, you can do it! Even if you’re efficient & organized before baby, you’ll be AMAZED at how uber efficient you’ll be post-baby!

  7. Train but be sensible. You have had two wonderful daughters and now need to pace yourself. I know you can succeed when you put your mind over matter. You go girl, you can do it! (oops hope I didn’t infringe on copyright material).

    • Exciting and terrifying all rolled up in one! Don’t worry – you’ll work your way up to 26.2. 5Ks are the gateway race to longer distances! Before you know it, you’ll be trying 10Ks, followed by 10-milers, then half-marathons, and next thing you know, you’ll be signed up for your first marathon!

    • Thanks Angela! I’ve heard awesome things about Richmond too. GUMMY BEARS at one of the aid stations! Madness or sheer genius? Yet to be determined!

  8. You’ll love the Richmond course! It’s a fast course… just wish I’d been feeling better that day in 2010. BTW, I ran the Atlanta Marathon in 2008. It was a lot colder than the year before! My hands were frozen after I tossed off my gloves after a mile or so (I thought it was warm enough). I finally found a pair of gloves tossed along the road and put them on! Eeeeeew!
    Debbie @ DebRuns recently posted…Firecracker 5K Race RecapMy Profile

    • Eeeeewwww, but I totally don’t blame you for borrowing those gloves! Cold fingers are the worst! I have very vivid memories of a wet, snowy, and VERY cold long run several years ago, and my cotton gloves got wet. My fingers have never been so cold in my life. Brrrrrrrrrr!

  9. I loved reading your marathoner-recap. It had to be a devastating blow not to be able to run the first one, but to BQ in BOTH of your following marathons is just awesome. You’re not crazy. There’s never a good time to train for a marathon. Right?
    I don’t have any pointers… I’ve only run one and it was to finish without walking (except in the aid stations). Secretly I doubled my half marathon time and added 20 – 30 minutes hoping that would be my marathon finishing time. It wasn’t.
    Oh, well!
    Maybe this time! recently posted…The Downtown MileMy Profile

  10. Anyone aiming for a 3:35 is a goddess as far as I’m concerned. Marathon training is grueling and each race is so unpredictable. I ran my first (and only) marathon injured and was much slower to finish that I had expected. Hopefully I will have another chance. I am excited for you to run Richmond. Can’t wait to see how it pans out for you!
    Ilene recently posted…Ordinary WorldMy Profile

    • Love your point that each race is so unpredictable! That’s one of the things about the marathon that is so scary. You can pour months of time and effort into training and then something totally out of your control, like the weather, can impact your race day! Fingers crossed we get a good fall day this year!

  11. Wow! I am so impressed with you! I have done a ton of 5Ks and one triathlon and have my eyes set on a half marathon this fall. I’ve looked at the Richmond Half in November…either that or I’ll head down to the Outer Banks…simply because it will be … FLAT! Ha! I’m excited for you and can’t wait to hear how it goes!

    Go…Run! <3

    • Congrats on tackling the half marathon! That’s my favorite race distance. I’ve heard great things about both the Richmond & Outer Banks, so don’t think you can go wrong either way! Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Off to check out your site!

  12. You are going to have a blast in Richmond! I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there is just something about that race and that city and the spectators. I ran the half in 2011 and 2012 and had a great time both years. The weather was perfect (in my humble opinion) both times- mid-40’s and partly cloudy. If they keep the finish the same as it was in 2012, you go down this long, sharp downhill to the finish line. It was all I could do to not fall on my face. Just a heads up to be ready!

    I am going to be running the Thunder Road Marathon in Charlotte on the same day as Richmond. It’s my first marathon. Ahhhh! I figured after 10 or so half marathons (I’ve lost count) it’s time to step up. I chose Charlotte over Richmond because it’s closer for us and we can camp, which means we can bring our dogs.
    Meagan recently posted…Weekend rodeo & bet you can’t guessMy Profile

    • Congrats on signing up for your first marathon! So excited to follow your journey. I’ve heard such great things about Richmond, and I love a good downhill finish!!

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