Thursday, November 19, 2009

Richmond Marathon: the first half (pictures added later)

With Tristan and my father-in-law along the course. I was lucky enough to see Tristan and his dad 3 different times along the course including 2 party zones (which I am not sure they made use of) as well as this random street intersection in the southside.

Tristan and his dad have a distinct advantage spectating at the Richmond Marathon in that Tristan grew up there and his dad has lived in Richmond for over 40 years (I believe all of these years were on the Southside).

It was great to see both of them along the course cheering me on. And perhaps one year my father in law will decide he can run a marathon. I keep trying to recruit friends and family for marathons but am a little less than successful (although my friend Imelda suggested we are running Rock and Roll San Diego next June:-).

Arriving at the starting line with about 10 minutes to spare, I was dismayed to feel raindrops/mist on my head. I know at JJ100 I had wished for more humidity but what I really meant was 40% humidity, not 100% humidity complete with precipitation!

With my garbage bag “jacket” and “pants”, I was not going to get too wet, but I was distressed my head was getting wet. All I needed was: my father-in-law, or the channel 4 weather people to have said it was going to continue to rain until 9 a.m. (not that the rain was over) and I would have worn a detestable hat.

I knew my friend Joy was running the Richmond Marathon and I had her phone #, so decided to see if she was lurking around. She was, but she was up by the 4:15 pace group. To squeeze my way up to her was going to be more challenging than running a 4:15 marathon so we decided to exchange information on our outfits in case we ended up in the same cluster of runners. She totally rocked the marathon with a ~4:30 finish!

After hanging up I saw a few friends and chatted briefly. I looked for my friend Laurie, who I knew was running and kept my eyes peeled for Barry (the Joggler) who I expected to be at the back of the starters with me. I did not run into Barry or Laurie, but I did run into my friend Mama Jean who I think I saw most recently at the Self Transcendence Marathon. We chatted for a while which was nice.

The gun went off without me realizing it. The only clue I had was the swarm of people moving forward. Going with the flow I approached the start line. At the start line I had some nice spectators take my picture, then I continued my 26.2 mile jog through Richmond.

About one mile into the race I was shocked (but delighted) to see a dog-park friend and fellow Fleet Feet Gaithersburg runner, Sara. Sara was cheering on her husband who is typically a 3:30 marathoner. Because of the crowds she did not see Doug at this location, but she saw and cheered for me. I had not realized Doug was running Richmond although Tristan suggested Doug mentioned it during a Fleet Feet fun run. Alas I do not run with the 8 minute mile pace group so unless I have super hearing I am not sure how Tristan expected me to know this.

After a picture with Sara I trotted off and rejoined the race. Seeing Sara gave me some energy so I somehow unbeknownst to me moved my way up to the 4:30 pace group. The miles were passing by quickly. Although not as quickly as I wanted because I have to tie my shoes. For the second and third time since the race started!

At mile 2, I texted my friend Jamie (I did not want to text her at the start because she is in a different time zone but I figured by 6:30 a.m. her time I would not being waking her up). I also called Tristan’s dad to update them on my progress.

My Garmin kept reading 8 minute miles but I figured it was having fits because it was angry about JJ100 when I DNF’d before my Garmin (although it should be noted that at the end of 18 hours it was chirping at me warning me it was out of batteries). Behind me I heard a pair of runners discussing pace and how they were feeling. Somehow I got the impression the questioner was an experienced marathoner and the questionnee was running her first marathon. I slowed down and asked the question, “How many marathons have you done?” I was very surprised when the response was, “this is my first”. Although in further conversation I learned my friends from North Carolina were experienced Olympic and International length triathloners hence their knowledge of frequent assessments to ensure a successful performance. We chatted about lots of topics and the miles continued to fly by. In addition to chatting about tri’s, I suggested if they liked running they might want to consider dropping by Umstead NC next March to see and perhaps pace 100 milers.

The miles in the fan went by so quickly and pretty soon we were approaching the party zone at the Huguenot Bridge. I alerted my friends that I would likely be peeling off because my husband and father-in-law were supposed to be there at the same place as last year. I ran by all the spectators, the party zone, the shopping center, our “meeting place” and was getting concerned. I was about to cross the bridge and I had seen no family members. I pulled out my cell phone to give them a call to figure out what was going on. A few moments later while talking to them on the phone, I spotted them within a few feet of the bridge.

Tristan had brought me an Espresso Express (essentially a REALLY yummy coffee shake from Ukrops). Sadly he had not put in a straw and even tried to hand me a spoon. I am not sure even with my extensive eating prowress and determination to eat tasty snacks along a run that even I could manage a spoon eating treat during a race. Finally I was able to enjoy my Ukrops espresso express.

Tristan and his dad jogged with me for a bit. Tristan was better prepared with a pair of running shoes and having run regularly recently. But my 75+ year old father in law kept up with me pretty well for a while even in dress shoes and khaki’s! I was quite impressed.

On the bridge we lost Tristan’s dad because he had trained inadequately and was not dressed properly for this event, but Tristan made it all the way across with me taking pictures now and again. By the time we made it to the other side I had powered down 2/3rds of my espresso express. I was hopped up on caffeine and sugar and having a great time. Of course as with all great times, it was not to last.

After getting across the river we passed an aid station. I don’t think we had traveled that far from the party zone, but I was glad to get a few cup fulls of Gatorade. I would regret this later, but for the time being I was delusionally happy.

Running along the river we could see the massive rapids and minor flooding. Because Tristan and I went to school here, we had seen the river pretty high. It was probably in the top 3 floods we have seen but luckily not so bad that the course had to be rerouted. The water was a dirty brown and moving swiftly. Occasionally a big log or tree limb would float by. I was glad we were on the road at least 20 or 30 feet away from the river.

The trees along the river were very pretty. There were vibrant red, orange and yellow leaves; fall was in full force in Richmond. Sadly there were many leaves on the ground making footing a little sketchy at times. As we ran along the river I thought about the summer Tristan and I graduated from MCV. We taught Gilligan how to swim in the James River. This was an interesting experience because Gilligan was very lazy. Luckily at the time he was relatively small (60 lbs or so), thus we could carry him to the middle of the river then we all would swim back to shore.

As I approached Pony Pasture where we make a sharp right away from the river and start heading up a hill, a gentlemen mentioned how glad he was that the river had remained lower than the road. So was I, although I was a little worried about the river eating away at the ground below the river and the road washing away.

Once I got up the hill I breathed a sigh of relief. Halfway up the hill I get a phone call. It is Tristan and his dad. They are asking where I am. I indicate I am just getting up the hill past Pony Pasture but I am slowing down. I am experiencing all sorts of stomach cramps and am feeling pukey (ie like I am about to puke). Gatorade and Espresso express clearly do not mix. My sub-10 minute miles turn into 18 minute death march miles. I feel awful. I take some pepto from my fanny pack and hope for the best. I tell Tristan about this tragedy. He suggests he and his dad are just ahead. I am not sure if I am happy or dismayed. I may be about to have a stomach meltdown and am nearly doubled over in pain.

I continue jogging and a few undulating hills later I see Tristan and his dad. They are standing at a corner cheering me on. I try to run but have slowed considerable from when I saw them last. I decide to take off my pants because I am warm enough. Then I re-iterate my puke-iness feeling. I stick my tongue out because I feel so nauseous. Tristan takes the opportunity to instead of offering me kind and sympathetic words to take a picture. My tongue apparently is bright smurf blue because of the Gatorade. Subsequently Tristan posts this picture on facebook. Gotta love husbands with compromising pictures!

It is now time to get back to my race. I am a little worried that if I have many more sections when I am barely moving forward doubled over in pain I will be skirting the 7 hour time limit. But I try to think positive thoughts and believe my stomach will settle down with the Pepto.

As I run along the main road I am passed by a PT cruiser containing Tristan and his dad. They honk once or twice to catch my attention but do not try to honk some random tune. I am a little bummed out by this. But I get over it. Up and down a few hills and see the next party zone. I don’t spot Tristan and his dad immediately because they are pretty far along the course. I wave then try to gesture I am going to CVS.

I need a potty break and I really want something to help my stomach. I do not want to have to “Puke and Rally”. The line for the bathroom has 2 females in it and only one facility. But I am willing to wait having seen the nearby 2 porta potties have 5 runners in line. A man steps out of the mens room and I am encouraged to use this bathroom. I figure compared to a Ziploc, this will be a significant improvement so I go for it. I notice the men’s room is nearly identical to other CVS women’s room. I am a bit disappointed. Someday I am going to find a men’s room that has all sorts of great stuff that we women are missing out on.

After finishing my business, I get down the business of trying to find something for my stomach which is still rebelling. I really want some Emetrol (this stomach settler that has worked wonders for me the few times I have been participating in pukefests). I am unable to find any. I have more pepto tablets and do not think Tums would be any better. I am startled when I look up and see my father in law next to me looking at the eye care treatment shelf. He is apparently getting Tristan some eye stuff. But alas he is having no better luck than I. We walk to the front of the store and stumble on Tristan.

It is time for me to resume running the race. I can loiter for only so long before I get strange looks. Jogging along I realize I am nearly at the halfway mark. I need to tie my shoes. Again! I figure I might as well tie my shoes before the 13.1 miles mat so I do. Sadly a few steps after the mat I have to tie my shoes again. It is like shoe tying has become my primary job!


The Sean said...

Look forward to reading about the rest of the journey!!! I love seeing the raw power expressed in a river!!!

CTmarathoner said...

wish I lived closer to Richmond --this one seems like a great event!!
Hope you are planning some downtime for Dec...!!!
Also, wanted to tell you that my dog-owner friend told me that down at our beach every Sunday, a congregation of Burmese mtn. dogs come to play -- a club of 100 of them from around the friend's dog loves them. will have to go take some pix.

joyRuN said...

I loved this course, absolutely enjoyed it! My only regret is not taking more pics of my own of the beautiful homes, of the James River, & of the awesome foliage.

Next year.

And that Espresso Express shake sounds YUMMY.

Runner Tammy said...


Thank you...I will resume this after JFK50. But suffice it to say I had a GREAT time!


Richmond is lots of fun. You should think about heading to Richmond, staying in this area for a week, then doing JFK 50.

I would love to see a picture of the Berners. Occasionally Tristan and I get together with the Potomac Valley Bernese Mountain Dog. It is really amazing to see all the Berners.


The course is really beautiful. Even more so on a nice day. You should plan to run it in 2010. Hopefully it will be sunny and nice.