Training for Richmond was great. I had four weeks over 80 miles, peaking at 86. I did four 20+ mile runs peaking at 24 miles for my long run which I did twice. One 24 was all easy with The Zap Fitness Team in Blowing Rock the day after racing a 5K with a tempo workout immediately after it. Surprisingly that long run with Joanna, Nicole, and Melanie clicked by and I felt better the longer I ran. I really appreciated having Joanna's company for all of it and Coach Pete having our bottles and gels setup as an aid station we could swing by as needed. My final 24 included surges the final 85 minutes at tempo pace towards 5K pace. The other two 20+ were 20 with 8 total miles at marathon pace and the other was a 22 miler with half marathon to marathon pace surges during the final 8.5 miles. I'm a big fan of running marathon pace or faster on tired legs at the end of long runs. It gets you used to running hard and fast while fatigued.
The primary goal for Richmond was to run a solid, consistent marathon. My second goal was to PR if conditions were good and I was feeling good with 10K to go. Kristin and I arrived in Richmond on Thursday evening and went ahead and went to the expo to get my number. The next morning I got up and did an easy shakeout run plus some strides on the nice James River Trail. It was a nice dirt and grass path perfect for an easy run. We met our friends Carrie and Amy for dinner the night before the marathon. They were both running the full as well at Richmond.
Race day arrived on Saturday and the weather was nice again for Richmond. The temperature was in the mid 40s and partly cloudy but the wind was getting stronger. I made it to the start line for the 7:45am start where I met up with my friends Carrie, Travis, and Coach Matt of Zap Fitness. Matt reminded me to run smart. Matt was making his debut in the marathon.
I was still feeling comfortable and enjoying the course and the crowd support. I kept clicking off the miles between 6:25-6:30. The course from 10K to the half marathon is rolling little hills but nothing bad. Just enough to mix it up the muscles. After mile 7, you cross your first bridge and make a hard left onto Riverside Drive. Riverside Drive was flat and pretty with the river on the left and the Fall Colors on the trees lining the river. I split the first half in 1:24:59.
I was still feeling good and knew I had more in me but wanted to maintain my current pace through 20 before making the decision on picking it up. I continued on at my pace until 15 where we crossed another bridge. This was one of the windier sections of the course. I'm used to running high rise bridges in the wind so a flat one, even in a headwind, wasn't that bad. The wind did slow my pace down though as there wasn't anyone close enough to draft behind. I ran mile 15-16 in 6:40.
It was time to get back to 6:30 and under pace. The wind was still tough at times but I kept gaining on people. There was a group of 3 guys I kept trying to catch to draft behind. It seemed every time I surged the headwind got worse. I was picking off runners though and back to my planned pace.
The final 10K of the full was great. It was flat and then a gradual downhill the final 4 miles if not more. After 20 I knew I was feeling good and needed to pick it up and chase my PR of 2:49:52 set at the 2014 Boston Marathon. Even though it was downhill the wind was still strong at times and the full sun made it feel warmer than it was. I ran miles 20-25 in 6:29-6:25. The last half mile is an 'oh shit, don't fall" kind of downhill. It's very steep. It wasn't horrible in the half last year but it was pretty brutal in the full this year. I landed once and my right squad shook and I feared I would fall down but I didn't. I closed the final 1.2 miles in 7:40, 6:11 min/mile pace. I finished in 2:50:20; 41st place overall out 4,000 and 5th age group (35-39) out of 278.
My friend John ran 2:37:27 at 49 years old! I've told him and Tim Meigs I wanna be fast like them when I grow up. It was great getting to train with John in the early morning hours. Travis finished in 2:58:50, Carrie in 2:59:24, and Matt broke 3 hours in his first marathon finishing in 2:59:36 after having 2 pit stops in the last half.
All my race gear and nutrition worked really well for Richmond. The Maurten gels were amazing. Those are so easy on the stomach and I was able to take one every 5 miles and get 4 in me whereas in past marathons I could stomach 3 at most of other brands. I wish they had more electrolytes in them as they only have 34mg of sodium and I'm a heavy salt sweater. I love the Rabbit FKT shorts! The side stash pockets hold a lot of gels comfortably and the middle zip pocket is big and holds a lot as well. The Reebok Floatride Run fast has been my go to racing shoe for awhile. That foam is great and my legs felt good start to finish in my first marathon in them. I've also been a huge fan Rudy Project sunglasses. The Tralyx are so light, at 0.99 ounces! I love the Photochromic lenses that got from clear to black. That is great for starting in the dark or just after sunrise and they darken fast as the sun rises. They're also polarized and don't fog because of the vents in the lens and design for airflow. They're the only performance sunglasses I've had that don't fog, even in our high humidity in North Carolina.
I would highly recommend Richmond has a half or full marathon. The course is great with enough rolling hills where you don't get beat up from running flat all the time. None of the hills are steep. The Richmond Marathon must have a deal with Mother Nature as they always seem to get ideal racing weather too. The logistics of hotels and parking are so easy as well. The race is called America's friendliest marathon and for a great reason. The crowd support is amazing!
Socks: Smartwool PhD Run Lite Elite low cut
Shoes: Reebok Floatride Run Fast
Shorts: Rabbit FKT 3" Race Short
Singlet: Zap Fitness singlet
Arm Warmers: Asics neon yellow arm warmers
Road ID Wrist ID Slim
Watch: Garmin 920XT
Sunglasses: Rudy Project Tralyx