- What? Richmond 8K and Marathon
- When? November 16, 2019
- How far? 50.2 Kilometers
- Where? Richmond, VA
- Website: https://www.richmondmarathon.org/
- Strava activity: https://www.strava.com/activities/2869399778/embed/2cadf15f2453532b0080b9d7ed08a797ce489149
- Finish time: 4:15:48
| Goal | Description | Completed? |
| A | | Run the 8K hard | Yes |
| B | | Finish the Marathon in under 3:45:00 | Yes |
| C | | Don’t Die | Yes |
| Benchmark | Time |
| 8K Finish Time | 32:09.8 |
| Marathon Finish Time | 3:33:18.7 |
| Total Time, start-to-finish | 4:15:48 |
I’ve been training for my ultimate goal of running the Devil Dog Ultras in December. My Run Club is big on the Richmond Races since they are close destination-races, so I reasoned that the best way to get my 30 miles in this weekend was to combine the 8K and the Marathon. That way I got to be around friends and grab a couple medals on the way.
My entire training to this point has been centered on a 100-miler on December 7th. While I have used a coach in the past, this time I have done nothing more than run according to this chart that I found on a random website. For me, Richmond completes week 23 of that training cycle.
The idea of running both races the same morning was suggested to me by a friend who ran it last year, but declined to run it again this year. I should have realized then that it was going to be a challenge. My idea starting off was that I’d go strong in the 8K, but still leave plenty of gas in the tank for the Marathon. I ran a good NYC this year, but my MCM 50K was just brutal and I bonked at mile 24.5 and never fully recovered on the race. I hoped to be able to push through and have a solid 50K without wearing myself out.
I have the benefit of a Race Sherpa. My wife drives me, holds my bags, and sits outside in all weather conditions to shuttle me from place to place. I am pretty sure she’ll make sainthood for all the support she provides to me and my silly antics. After about 6 hours of sleep, I was up at 2:00 a.m. (call it nerves) for a 4:00 a.m. departure from the DC area. We got to the area of the starting line just after 6:00 a.m. which was plenty of time for me to pick up my packets from a dear friend and walk to the 8K starting line. Race Sherpa was there at the start to take my snivel-gear and I fell-in roughly 200 people back from the front.
At the end of the 8K she was right where she was supposed to be, and I had to high-tail it from the finish line, through the finishing corral, against the 8Kers running towards me, and up to the Marathon start line, all 45 minutes after the 8K gun went off. I made it with roughly 6 minutes to spare, and was able to jump in my assigned wave 1, right before they shot the gun for the marathon.
Thanks to my wife’s hustling and enormous patience, I hit both start times comfortably.
I had enough sleep, and more than enough caffeine, so I felt good. I said I was going to try and run it smart, but even though I started in at least 200th place, I felt strong off the line. Like really strong. So I started pushing the pace almost immediately. I slowly started picking people off one-by-one, and began caring less and less that I was certainly going to pay for the pace on the marathon. The 8K is essentially running out for almost 2.5 miles, take a left, another left and then head to the finish line. There’s a bit of a rolling-hill effect, but that finish-line sprint downhill is really empowering. The crowd support was good for the 8K and the course was very well marked and easy to run.
My splits for this race were a personal best. My splits for those 4.99 miles (according to my Garmin) were 6:32, 6:46, 6:41, 6:21 and my last .99 miles were clocked at 5:50. The marathon folks have me officially at an overall pace of 6:28. That’s a personal best for me. I felt GREAT! Like unbelievably strong. No doubt my 75-mile training weeks are paying off here, but I really can’t describe what a boost that was!
And one post-race note – I ended up capturing 2nd in my Age Group for the 8K (73rd overall). I was ecstatic but not shocked, I felt great. They don’t recognize AG finishes that at the race, but at least it’s immortalized on their web page. I think…
And then there was work to be done. I left my Garmin running the whole time, and mile 6 of the day’s journey took me 12:43 to get from the finish line, to the start line, while changing bibs and getting settled in the marathon corral. Then we were off!
The first ten miles I ran at normal marathon pace for me, creeping up from 7:05 to 7:39 and while I felt strong, my mind started playing tricks on me, and I started to wonder how long I could really last given that I pretty much gave 99% on the 8K. I eased off the pace and fluctuated in the 8-minute range for the next several miles, and then that’s where I hit my personal wall. It was the 25th, 26th and 27th miles of the day. Anyone who ran the marathon will sympathize as this was the time I was approaching and running ‘the bridge’. It was high, it was windy, the wind-chill was brutal and the mental toll it takes is every-bit as severe as the physical one. If I was going to hang it up – it was in that stretch.
Once we got off the bridge, things started looking up. There was a bit of elevation drop at that point so that made it easier. My 32nd mile of the day was the fastest since my 14th, and my pace for the last 4/10 of a mile to the finish line was 6:10.
While nowhere near a PR, I felt great about the time. I would have loved to thank the 3:35 pace group as they gave me a boot those last couple of miles and ended up pushing me a little bit faster just as I was getting my legs back. It’s amazing what the power of talking to other people can do for you along the way.
Next Saturday I am doing the famous JFK 50-miler. It’s not ideal, only two weeks before my first hundred, but it will work. I’m in the right shape, at this point I think it’s all about training my mind. Clearly in those late miles it was my mind that started getting tired more than my body. I might also need to invest some time in creating a new playlist.
For Next Year
I think it would be great if the organizers at the Richmond Marathon recognized people who try and make it a 50K. I asked about it to the volunteers at the booths for a couple of recent races, and they acknowledged that people do it, but also admitted there’s really no way of tracking it – yet they are spaced out perfectly for knocking out an 8K followed by the 50K. Maybe next year!
Edit: 2nd paragraph in the 8k section to correct mileage.