For the past few weeks, I’ve been basking in post-race glory, resting, recovering, and enjoying some time off from work.
On Saturday, November 10th, I took on the streets of Richmond for the second time. Last year, I ran my first marathon there and it was the ultimate test of both endurance and willpower. Everything that could have gone wrong did, but I prevailed with full intention of returning to the scene. For the past year, I’ve been preparing for that comeback.
I went into this race with the hopes of finishing strong, avoiding injury, and obtaining a personal record. I was also hoping to make it in under four hours, but knew realistically, with all the speed work I didn’t do during my training, it may not happen.
I couldn’t have asked for more perfect weather, and since Richmond still had all of their leaves, it was like Christmastime for me: a second fall! We know how much I love the fall. It was about 38 degrees when we started, and quickly warmed up to the high 50s. I went from this
to quickly losing that top layer, and in the process, unknowingly reattaching my loose bib crookedly.
I talked to a few displaced NYC marathoners in the first several miles, but mostly stayed quiet unless I heard a piece of conversation that struck my interest or required my two cents. I talked a woman who was wearing the same socks as me for a few minutes, who missed her sub-four in her last race by seconds. We encouraged one another, and then I pulled ahead.
The course had a few changes this year, but most of it was the same. I was surprised by how much I remembered, which brought on so many waves of nostalgia, and a little nagging fear that subsided once I passed mile 10.
My pace group passed me shortly after the halfway point, but they were never out of my sight until about mile 24. The mental game came into play momentarily, with thoughts of “I’m not going to catch them now,” and this was very frustrating. My hardheadedness quickly returned to “It isn’t over. Let’s do this.” On went my iPod, and my legs did the rest. While I lost a little steam between miles 13 and 19, I made up for some lost time between miles 20 and 26.2. I felt like a machine. I think playing Titanium on repeat helped a little, too. 😉 What an empowering song!
Then there it was. My last mile. What a perfect place for a nice downhill finish. I rounded the corner and saw the clock. My shoulders dropped for about a millisecond, and then I smiled, regained my composure, and continued my charge towards the finish line, beaming like the sun. I finished in 4:02. A P.R. of nearly 20 minutes off my Pittsburgh time! I felt great. I finished uninjured. I finished STRONG. I did what I came here to do. There wasn’t an ounce of disappointment to be found.
My post-race “what now” thoughts began as soon as we got in the car to head home. I pushed them away quickly as I collapsed in the backseat, barely able to hold my eyes open. It wasn’t long before those thoughts returned though, and soon I was pondering how soon I could run my next race without jacking myself up. How was I going to take a break now that I am so close to breaking four hours?
Now I ponder what’s next for me. I had every intention (even swore I couldn’t WAIT to) to take a break from training for at least a year, regardless of how I did this time around. Now I’m not so sure.
In the meantime, I’ll enjoy looking at this…