It’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.
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:
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
I 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
I 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.
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?