I know you've all been waiting for it, so here's the long story of this year's 2012 Richmond Marathon. So grab some coffee because I'm sure I'll be long winded enough to make you want to fall asleep.
The weekend started with my in-laws arriving to keep an eye on the kids while my wife and I enjoyed a weekend in the bright lights of the big city of Richmond. Last year my wife did the 8k, nearly froze, and watched me finish my first marathon. This year my wife did the half marathon, stayed warm, and limped over to give me a hug after I finished my second marathon. Last year we stayed downtown while this year I was late in booking a hotel so we had to stay out by the airport. Still a nice hotel, just made parking on race morning a bit.....exciting.
My wife put about 5 miles or training into her debut half marathon and frankly, I was worried. Would she finish? Would she beat the cut-off time? Would she go out too fast? Would she have GI issues? Turns out she finished in about 4:15 and aside from the expected sore muscles only had a big blister to deal with. After some hot tub therapy and some TLC from the medical crew at the finish line, she's pretty much back to normal. She walked nearly the whole race and had no GI issues. I'm so happy, proud, excited, and more for her and what's she's done. I knew she'd do her best but I had no idea she would do this well.
Here she is about to embark on her first half marathon!
Now that I'm done bragging about her, let's start trash talking me. Race day morning and we got up, showered, dressed, and made it downtown by about 0630. Just in time. Or so we thought. We found a nice little gravel lot, parked, looked at the map, then decided to try to find something closer to the finish. What a mistake. We ended up stuck in gridlock for a good 20 minutes before finally, somehow, making it back to the exact same parking lot. Somehow, through magic or something, we even found one of the last parking spots. Holy shit was that a nerve-wracking drive. I thought we'd be stuck in traffic for hours. So for future reference, book a hotel EARLY and make it downtown. Second, if you stay at the airport, park at the lot on 3rd Street and Leigh. It's right off the interstate. Yes, it's a hike from the finish but you'll at least be able to park.
Once we parked, we followed the crowds of other runners to the start. We ducked into the Marriot since she needed a bathroom and I knew where that one was. Saw Royanna H. walk by with her husband twice. I thought it was her the first time I saw her but couldn't be sure. The second time I saw her I knew it was her but she never looked over so I never waved. The third time she came up and said hello. Unfortunately neither of us took a picture. Bummer.
From there we made our way to the start where I walked with her for a few minutes wishing her luck. I let her go and headed to the porta potty before finding a nice, warm, air vent to stand over before hopping into my corral. I felt a bit like Marilyn Monroe standing there but it was warm.
Why did I feel like Marilyn Monroe? Because I was wearing a kilt. This was my motivation for the entire race. Every few miles or so I'd get a comment about my kilt and it would help motivate me to keep going. The sad news is, there's a group of people that are smart enough to know the difference between a skirt and a dress but have no idea what a kilt is. Every 5 miles or so I'd get a "nice skirt" or "you're brave for wearing a skirt" comment. By the end of the race I wasn't mumbling under my breath when I'd respond "It's not a fucking skirt, it's a kilt!" Yeah. The good news is, I had plenty of positive comments about my kilt. Several people asked what was I wearing under it (men and women) to which I'd calmly shrug my shoulder and leave them guessing. One guy asked where my sporran was and another asked where my knife was. Got a few questions about my clan and a few drunk college frat guys yelled "FREEDOM!" from their balcony.
For those that have never worn a kilt in a race before, be prepared for those questions. Also, be prepared to be warm. At the start, this was great. It was way warmer than most of my other running clothes. I wore calf sleeves and shorts and my kilt and my legs were always warm. This was great at the start but got a little too warm by the finish. Also be prepared for wind. It wasn't too windy during the race but a few times my bib number flopped over and wasn't visible.
The race course itself changed a bit since last year due to construction. I had heard this but didn't really care much about it. We trucked down Broad and I was flying. I knew it was too fast and I tried to slow down but the kilt and the crowds kept me going. I'd walk a minute after every mile but still felt like I was going too fast.
We made a short little U-turn around Mile 4 and I saw Chatty Kathy pass me. I instantly sent Tab a message because I KNEW she'd want to know. It was also a reminder that this race was so low-key and low-pressure that I felt comfortable sending texts and Facebook messages during a race.
Mile 7 was the crazy long downhill that led to the bridge. I remember this hill from last year because it felt great to go so fast and the crowd at the bottom was awesome. I also remember last year that the bridge sucked because after that there were no crowds and your motivation leaked out of you like crazy. Because of the bridge construction we detoured through some hilly sections before hitting Riverside Drive which takes us along the James River. I loved this section last year and this year was just as nice.
From there we zig-zagged through various roads, neighborhoods, and sections that were a bit of a blur. Around Mile 10, near the end of the river section, I began slowing down and walking more. It felt crazy that my splits were so fast but I was getting tired and wanted to still have a smile on my face when I finished. So I added a walk break about ever 5 or 6 minutes to the routine or I'd walk a hill or an aid station. It slowed my pace some but I still felt good.
This is where things start to get a bit blurry. Somewhere around Mile 14 I managed to score an Accel Gel. It was vanilla. It tasted okay. Then, maybe a block later, a guy was offering Screwdrivers. I hadn't been looking for a stiff drink but I sure as hell wasn't going to turn one down. It tasted great! Until a mile later when the drink finally mixed with the gel and said "dude, what the hell is that?" After a bit of grumbling, I was back to normal. This was also around the time I used the bathroom to pee. The only time I'd pee during the entire race. It made me nervous towards the end but I felt good so I stuck it out.
After my drink at Mile 14, I began actively looking and asking for beer. I saw plenty of signs saying beer was ahead but I never saw any. It wasn't until about Mile 19 that I saw a mini-table set up with shots and a sign that said help yourself. The guy on the microphone there trying to amp up the runners was a bit annoying when he kept asking what was under my kilt but I easily drowned him out with three shots of something. I think it was Jack Daniels. Now that my tongue was numb and the aches were creeping away, I felt well enough to run a bit.
Oh wait, did I mention that I had pretty much resigned myself to walking at this point? yep. I was ready to walk the rest of the way in. Then the booze hit. I turned the corned and they had Natty Light at the table. I took two. The beer didn't like the liquor but it didn't make me sicker and instead made me quicker. I managed to shuffle off for another mile or so before completely crashing around Mile 21.
Here I am just before Mile 20 with the Stonewall Jackson statue behind me:
That stupid ass hill sucks balls. But I managed to make the climb over it and dealing with my pain. After all, it was only a few more miles to the finish and I'd survive. I was in full-on damage control mode. Not quite survival mode but I knew I'd finish I just didn't want to fuck things up too badly just to beat the cut-off. I knew I'd beat it if I walked so I just kept walking.
Then the magic happened. Mile 24. I don't know what it was or where it came from but I somehow found a running gear. It wasn't fast, that's for sure but it was faster than walking. So I ran when I could and walked when I wanted. Mile 25 came and I could smell the finish. Mile 26 took forever. I swear they stretched out that last mile just to play games with your head. I checked street names just to see how close I was to the end.
Then comes the finish. Downhill. Last year's finish was downhill and I swear I was going so fast I was flying. This year I was just trying not to hurt when I finished. Since I'm big, I knew my mass would help propel me faster but the hill was so damn steep. Easily twice the grade as last year's finish.
Once across the finish line, the announcer called my name, mentioned something about my kilt, and I did my best to wave and smile. The finish chute was a bit confusing as there was water, then walking, then your medal. Once on the island I had my picture taken, found some grub, and found my wife. We both hobbled back to the shuttle bus after I stretched for a few minutes. Somehow missed Danny W. when he got on the bus until he said my name. We chatted a bit on the way back up the hill a few blocks and then my wife and I hiked (hobbled) the several long blocks back to our car.
Recovery has been, in a word, amazing. I feel stiff and sore but it feel so much easier. I know I was hurting after my first 50k and my first marathon and even my first half marathon. But this marathon felt effortless now that I'm recovering. Yes, my legs hurt but the fact that I could run a 5k with one day of rest after this race makes me feel so much better about my training.
Oh, and I know somebody out there who knows me yelled at me. I have no idea who you are, where you were, or how you know me. But hello right back to you. And no, this person didn't say "good luck Lumberjack" like others did. I expected that. It was on my bib and on my back. But this person said my real name. I didn't expect it. So hello right back at you. Feel free to tell me who you are and where you were.
Temps started out around 45F and finished around 65F. Sun was out. Wind was light.
Fluids and Fuel:
Breakfast was half a bagel with honey and a small iced coffee. Usually the coffee wakes things up below deck but not on race day. Those doors were closed all day for some reason. During the race I had a bottle of Hammer Fizz that I refilled about six or seven times. I also had my Salomon hydration pack with plain water that I didn't refill at all. I had some of my cat barf casserole during the race but didn't finish it all. Mostly because it was too damn hard to eat. Seems to fall apart when it gets warm. I had two Accel Gels, one at Mile 14 (vanilla) and one at Mile 21 (chocolate). Both were offered on the course. I had one small screwdriver, three shots, and two small beers. These were simply awesome. Although the screwdriver didn't go well with vanilla and the beers made things a bit foamy in my gut. Recovery was half a green banana and half a Powerade at the finish, Hammer Recoverite at the hotel, then a super-high calorie dinner at the hotel (loaded fries, bacon mac and cheese, burger, and mashed potatoes).
Aches and Pains:
Not really any during the race. Just the usual sore muscles from a long run.
Wore my black Altra Instincts, Zensah calf sleeves, North Face shorts, Sport Kilt, thermal top (which I took off around Mile 17 since I was too damn hot), winter hat (which I ditched on the side of the road around Mile 10), Dailymile singlet (with THE LUMBERJACK spray painted on the back), gloves (which I kept on the whole race), and Salomon hydration pack. I also used my retro MP3 player and listened to four podcasts and a little bit of radio.
Codename - It's not a fucking skirt, it's a kilt!
I mean, seriously. I may look like a pregnant and ugly Catholic school girl in my kilt but I'm a man. In a fucking kilt. Maybe next time I'll wear nothing under there and then I can flash my ass when I hear somebody say skirt. Or maybe I'll spray paint "IT'S A FUCKING KILT" on the back of my shirt just to make it clear. Sheesh.
What I looked like before the race. Proof that it's not a fucking skirt.
Mile 1 - 10:36
Mile 2 - 11:56
Mile 3 - 11:45
Mile 4 - 11:55
Mile 5 - 11:47
Mile 6 - 12:22
Mile 7 - 11:20
Mile 8 - 12:00
Mile 9 - 12:00
Mile 10 - 11:53
Mile 11 - 13:13
Mile 12 - 13:36
Mile 13 - 13:06
Mile 14 - 12:58
Mile 15 - 12:37
Mile 16 - 12:57
Mile 17 - 14:05
Mile 18 - 14:18
Mile 19 - 14:21
Mile 20 - 15:46
Mile 21 - 17:53
Mile 22 - 16:34
Mile 23 - 17:09
Mile 24 - 15:40
Mile 25 - 15:30
Mile 26 - 14:39
Finish - 5:54:07