“I can’t tell if I’m being courageous or stupid right now” – me around mile 11 on holding a 7:40 pace
I’m not going to bury the lead here. It was the former.
Here’s my Richmond Marathon 2021 recap:
I beat my personal record (PR) set earlier this year in Myrtle Beach by four minutes at the Richmond marathon!
My 3:22:38 punched a ticket to Boston 2023 with a 17 minute spread (3:40 is my age group qualifying time) and earned me top 5% of the female field.
In this recap, let’s first discuss the race itself and, second, training inputs this cycle that yielded these results.
What’s Richmond like?
This race is referred to as “America’s friendliest marathon” and I’m here to tell you that is 100% accurate.
It’s actually true for the city of Richmond as well- friendly.
The race is held on a Saturday and Richmond is a location that’s easy to access, as it is off I-95 and accessible by multiple airports, including one right in city limits.
We stayed downtown in the host hotel, but had friends who registered last minute and still found lodging just outside the central area.
Richmond is definitely a place you’ll want a vehicle (in theory you could Uber downtown and park it there for the weekend) but you may run into dining and general availability issues. Don’t forget some change for tolls!
With a vehicle and willingness to drive 10 or so minutes out, you won’t run into dinner reservation issues, crowds, or access to groceries, supplies, etc.
It’s a city that’s grown out more so than up!
There are a lot of great restaurants in Richmond, so do some research beforehand or ask locals where you should go. We loved Crafted for burgers post race!
Tell me about the race!
If you’re looking for a bottom line on this race, this is all you need to know:
It’s a friendly, picturesque Fall race with mild rolling hills and amazing crowd support.
Packet pick up was at Richmond Raceway, a new outdoor location largely related to the pandemic.
This race has a virtual goodie bag, so while the expo had vendors and shopping, it is relatively easy to get in and out.
Our medals for race day weren’t in due to shipping delays, so even with adding standing in line to change my address with the organizers the total expo time was about 45 minutes.
Half marathoners began at 7:30, full at 7:45.
I wake up daily at 4:30 in the morning, so that’s kind of late. I didn’t mind sleeping in!
We began downtown and then did a sizable loop throughout the city, through greenways and parks, along the water, through residential areas, business districts, universities, and back to the downtown area via a downhill finish (no, seriously!).
Here’s a really cool video of the course:
The spectators. Y’all, the spectators understood the assignment.
They were out in full force, tailgating, offering shots of liquor, gatorade, pickle juice, and oranges.
Dressed up, giant signs, bands playing, kid-lined streets with hands out….and I slapped every one of ’em!
I’ve done a number of races post-pandemic, but this was the first that felt truly “normal” and that was largely due to the energy from the crowd.
Thank you, Richmond spectators- it was the running gift I didn’t know I so deseprately wanted!
Strong training, strong outcome
I’ve personally been mixing the Peloton training schedule with my Flexible Training plan (do not buy this, just message me for a discount code) with great results.
I had back to back personal records in Holden Beach and Ocean Isle for the half marathon and had hoped this race would yield a Boston qualification back when I set Fall racing goals.
Real talk: I have worked hard over the past few months.
I’ve commit fully to things I usually let slide- sleep, the amount of stress I take on, warm ups prior to workouts, and balance work.
You might be reading this and thinking, “haven’t you run over 60 marathons? Don’t you have a Pinterest board full of articles that suggest as much? Why would you let those things slip?!”
And to you I say: LIFE.
Life gets in the way and plans go array.
Except this time, they didn’t and the results reflect the consistent, holistic work I put in.
Choose your attitude
I never stop my Strava GPS at the finish line, so I usually rely on the results posted on the race website or, in this case, the text messages my friends and family were getting.
When my pals told me I ran a 3:20, my gut knew that wasn’t right because I didn’t even pass the 3:25 pacer until mile 24.
Who was I to argue with the chip on my bib, though?
This was a massive PR (3:26 was set earlier this year in Myrtle Beach) and Boston qualifier by a lot!
So, I merrily rang the PR bell and posted about my 3:20 all over social media.
Jokes on me.
I got the below email, which listed the official race results, the next morning:
Do you see what I see? Two minutes and change more?
Regardless of the many Reddit users who insisted I got too close to the mat at the end as I weaved through to find my pals, I honestly think the 3:22 is accurate. It is consistent with Strava and the pacer I passed late in the game.
I had my fastest mile in the final downhill (sub 7!), but the math still doesn’t add up to 3:20.
Am I mad?
This is still a PR by 4 minutes, BQ with 17 minutes to spare, and an effort I am proud of!
Sure, my ego took a hit when I went back and changed my social posts but let’s be honest- in recreational circles, does anyone really care about the time except the runner themselves?
Quite honestly, it makes me wonder if I could actually get below 3:20 and I haven’t had a running related shoot for the stars pull on my heart in a really long time.
So, win. Even with the extra!
This post doesn’t even scratch the surface of the amazing weekend I had with my old colleagues from University Directories: Jen, Emily, Matt, Amanda, and Ashley.
Emily was actually the one who laid this out there and with a fair amount of encouragement from Jen (and excuse to celebrate our 17th friend-a-versary), I registered 9 months early.
Which is absolutely a record. I stopped planning things in general when the triplets came!
Back when we sold yellow pages almost 20 years ago, this crew taught me:
- strong work ethic
- how to show up daily
- the value of consistency over a single win
- what it means to fail forward
These are all important lessons for a Mommy marathoner like me and I’m blessed to have learned them early on!
These golden friendships are everything and I’m so grateful a handful of these crusty ol’ yellow pagers enjoy running.
Side note: if you were born in the last 20 years, learn about yellow pages here or visit your local dinosaur museum.
Do this race!
Seriously, if you’re considering this one, go ahead and register. It’s been on my race bucket list for awhile and fulfilled every high expectation!
Let’s hang out
When I’m not running, lifting, and momming, I work full time in the wellness space.
Instagram (and this podcast!) are my creative outlets to share the passion. Let’s connect and support one another!