Grab a warm beverage, especially if you live near me in the northeast, as this recap will be long. I have spent the last week trying to figure how/why the wheels came off last Saturday in Richmond.
Last year, the week after the Richmond Marathon had taken place, I told my sister that I would love to run Richmond this year. She was looking for a Christmas gift for me and the race price was reduced until Thursday of that week so I sent her the link. She quickly signed me up and let me know I would be going south in November of 2013.
As the months seemed to disappear in 2013, the training began and other races came and went. Richmond would be my fall goal race. After the Ragnar Adirondacks Relay at the end of September, I started having some serious doubts. My last leg there had not gone as I thought it would. I was worried about being able to run a full marathon. I gave myself a deadline and decided I was going to be fine. My last 10 mile run even gave me a predictable chance at a PR. I signed up for the 5:30 pace group. Just prior to signing up for the pace group, I booked a seat on a bus tour of the race route. I would have no car with me in Richmond so figured this was a great way to see the course.
The weather, being a weather freak and having started stalking the Richmond weather at the beginning of November, had been hit and miss. I got into town about 10 pm on Thursday evening, having left Binghamton at 8 am that morning on a Greyhound bus. Thursday was warm when I got to Richmond but probably anything would have been considered warm since it was in the 20’s when I left home.
Friday was a great day. I did not need anything but a warm up jacket. I woke up fairly early Friday and managed to get breakfast at the hotel. Then, David picked me up to go on the shake out run with Bart Yasso. This three miles was great as I had been cramped in a bus all day on Thursday. After being dropped back at the hotel, I showered and decided to walk to the expo. I had mapped out the distance from my hotel to the expo while still in NY. It was just over a mile and I didn’t think twice about walking that distance. Not sure the total of slightly over 5 miles for the day before the marathon was necessarily the best idea but I did it.
I walked down North Boulevard and passed Buz and Ned’s BBQ. I was excited to see where it was as this place had been recommended to me from someone at home as a place to eat. I decided I would stop for lunch after the expo and, possibly – depending on a lot of variables, for dinner after the marathon. It was, after all, only a half mile from the hotel.
I managed to get to the expo about a half hour before the doors were supposed to open. I was not the only early bird. Eventually, the organizers opened the doors a bit early and in we all went. Volunteers directed people to a location to look up their bib numbers or to where to pick up the bib if one knew the number. I got in line to get my bib and pulled up the email with the number in it as I did. I did not print this out but showed my phone to the volunteer with my ID.
After getting my bib, I wandered through some very cool marathon merchandise. I seldom buy additional merchandise but I found a pint glass. It was only $10 so reasonably priced and it was mine. The cashier packed it in several plastic bags for me and I was pretty sure I would be able to get it home in one piece. (Just in case you are worried, it made it in my luggage with no issues.) In the back of the expo, I picked up my Anthem bag and my shirt – women’s sizing, long sleeve, v-neck tech shirt. Then, I had about 25 minutes to wander around before the 11:30 bus tour.
The bus tour started at the expo which was between miles 19 and 20 on the race course. We drove through the neighborhoods that would lead us back to downtown Richmond and the downhill finish first. Then, we headed to the start area and drove the start of the race. There were a few areas where streets were one way and we couldn’t be on them in a vehicle, like runners can when a street is closed. The bus tour was fantastic. Tour leader John was a marathon training coach. I saw him several times on Saturday. He not only told us little details that the training groups had learned running every mile of the race in training but he also pointed out historical items and told us pieces of the city’s history. All I can say is I would love to go back to Richmond for a week and go to some museums and do other touristy things.
After the tour, I went back through the expo for a while. I left and headed to Buz and Ned’s to have lunch at about 3 pm. I had been, all this time, trying to get together with my best friend from high school who lives outside the city. She and I finally made a connection and would head out to dinner together. I really felt like this day was a weekend. I figured I could watch football while waiting for dinner time but it was a Friday and no football.
Stay tuned for part two – the actual race – tomorrow.