Monday, December 22, 2014

Richmond Half Marathon Race Report

I’m behind on a couple of my race reports from November. It happens when I have other things going on. So, let me catch up by starting with November 15th, when I ran the Richmond Half Marathon. I was originally registered to run Richmond Marathon in 2012 but deferred my entry because I needed to save myself for other marathons in new states. Then in 2013 I deferred again because of injury. This year I decided to drop that deferred entry down to the half marathon because I was going to be coming off a few weeks of crazy marathoning, and I thought that I’d rather have somewhat of a break by running the half.

Thanks to Eddie, who picked up our packets, Scot and I were able to get up early and drive the almost 2 hour drive to Richmond without needing to book a hotel. We got in and parked with plenty of time to spare. It was COLD, in the 20s and 30s, but we dressed for it.

Here I am with some Marathon Maniacs before I had to get to the Half Marathon starting line: Eddie, Scot, me, Floyd, Alexis

My super-cold selfie before the half started

Scot, Eddie and other friends were running the full, so they had a while to wait before their start. The half marathon started 30 minutes earlier, so I was happy to get moving sooner. The minutes I spent huddled in the start corrals with the other runners were almost unbearable. I didn’t take any throw-away clothing, and even with my several layers of clothes, I was freezing cold.

Richmond was a nice course. We saw the downtown area, some residential neighborhoods, and a few parks. One park was extremely hilly and I saw a wheelchair athlete struggling to get up a particularly steep hill. I did what I’ve been doing lately and ran down but walked up most of the hills. With the discomfort from the cold, that was enough.

Near Mile 9 for the half (22 for the full), there was an unofficial beer station. It was just past a water station, so I was still walking and drinking my cup of water as I approached the beer. I dramatically tossed my water cup up into the air and said “Beer?!? Who needs water?!?” as I sped up and ran to the beer station. The folks giving out beer were very friendly and energetic.

Beer station!

I was so happy to get to the final turn of the race, where everyone said “it’s all downhill from here” and this time, it really was. I’d say that the last half mile was all downhill, and some of it pretty steep. But that meant I could see the finish line coming and I knew I would soon be able to put on some warmer clothes and eat and drink something. My finish was about average for my half marathons this year. Because I hadn’t been training, it wasn’t as fast as my best, but it was within my acceptable time range.

The Richmond Marathon gives out great swag. I got a finisher hat and a fleece blanket at the finish line. Most of us runners wrapped ourselves in the warmth of the fleece immediately. I made my way to the bag check and put on my hoodie, then I used the blanket to wrap around my legs. I found my way to the post-race party and got some cheese pizza, then sat in the sun near the beer tent. No one was sitting inside the shaded tent; we were all out in the sun. The temperature was still cold, in the 40s, but at least it was sunny and there was little to no wind. With all my warm gear and the sunshine, it felt good to sit there drinking my Blue Moon while the band played. It is the after party experience that I so often miss out on at the finish of a full marathon.
Enjoying my finish beer in the sun, all bundled up

I briefly ducked into the Marriott and ran into Fely, who had finished her marathon

After finishing my beer, I headed to the car to get reorganized before heading over to watch Scot and others finish the marathon. The woman who had parked next to us was already back at her car. I was surprised by this because she said she was running the full marathon. Turns out she’s a fastie and she BQ’d. I congratulated her, then started the car to sit inside and get warm. I probably sat there for 20 minutes drinking my protein drink and eating some snacks, and it really felt good to thaw out. Thank goodness for heated seats!

Then I walked toward the finish. I decided to hang out at the top of the long hill that leads to the finish line. That way I could watch for people I knew, and I could cheer the marathoners on and tell them that, yes, it really IS all downhill.
 
Frank and Larry approaching the finish

Paul and Eddie almost at Mile 26

The highlight of my spectating was watching Scot and Sid come by. Sid was carrying the American flag and running in honor of a fallen solider, as he usually does. Sid had been having a tough fall marathon season, and it was wonderful to see him finishing strong in Richmond. I ran down parts of the hill so I could get ahead of Sid and Scot and get a few pics.


Sid and Scot finishing

Scot and Sid after the marathon
Scot and I walked Sid to the shuttle bus back to his hotel, and while waiting for the bus we saw Jim from Thunder Bay, Ontario. It was nice to see Jim and say hello. After everyone else boarded that last shuttle, Scot and I waved goodbye and then went back to the finish area to see who else we could see. We found Eddie and sat in the sun a while longer to have another beer. We also ran into a photographer who works at Outer Banks Marathon each year.

With Eddie near the beer tent, wearing flamingo headbands that we picked up from some nice people
I enjoyed the opportunity to run a shorter race and to cheer in many of my friends, but this was a long day. Scot and I stopped for a photo op with the state capitol and then at Chipotle on our way home. It felt nice to get home, showered and into warm clothes. I would recommend Richmond Marathon or Half Marathon. This was a well-organized, fun event, in spite of the bitter cold.
We stopped at the Virginia Statehouse to get a pic with Magenta the Road Trip Flamingo
 

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