It's a very slow process - two steps forward, one step back - but I'm inching in the right direction. - Rob Reiner

November 21, 2013

Richmond Half Marathon Review - A 2013 PR

Well this review is a little delayed because I have been out of I'll make this one pretty short and sweet.  Or as short and sweet as possible for me.
Photo bombing Lincoln.....funny or terrible????
After two marathons in 5 weeks, it was quite a relief to be "just" running a half marathon this past weekend.  It was only two weeks after my Bass Pro Marathon and I was feeling pretty worn down and tired.  I honestly wasn't expecting  much from this race.  Since about June I've been doing all of my long runs using a walk/run method and focusing mostly on endurance vs speed.  So *spoiler alert* I was pleasantly surprised when I ran my fastest half marathon of 2013 on Saturday - and only 3 minutes off of my not to shabby.

As many of you know, this past January, I was truly blessed with the opportunity to take a job that I love working from home - but technically for a company in Richmond, VA.  I have traveled there a few times for work.  I tend to either go there or Washington, DC.  So, when I heard about how awesome the Anthem Richmond Marathon was supposed to be, I thought it would fun to do a race/work trip and Jim could check off another State from his 50 States Marathon quest.  Win-Win.-Win.
Me & Jim along the James River - Virginia is for Lovers

So Jim and I headed to Richmond last Thursday to spend a few days exploring the City before race day.  Richmond is beautiful City full of rich history.  Honestly, if you want to read all about the City and some of the things we did.....go read Jim's Post here.  I know many of you read both of our blogs, so I won't bore you with the details again if you've already read them...and if you haven't, well really why "reinvent the wheel" as they say, when he's already done  a fine job.  I will say it was nice to explore the city as usually the only thing I see is the hotel or the building I work in.

So forward to race details.  We headed to the expo on Thursday when we arrived.  It was a pretty standard expo, however, I have to say for the size of the race, they had a lot of race specific apparel available which was a really nice touch.  There is a lot of civic pride in Richmond and there were tons of Richmond Running and VA specific running apparel.  Stay Classy Richmond.  The expo was very well organized and made it easy to get your bib & race swag.  We wandered around the expo and I left empty handed...which almost never happens, but Jim managed to score a few finds.  We ended up going to the expo again on Friday to meet up with "The" Miss Zippy.....she was really awesome!  It was great to meet her.  Her race didn't end up going as planned for her, but as always she had a great attitude about the whole thing.  I wouldn't have expected anything different.

Amanda "Miss Zippy", Me, and Jim

The next morning was race day.  We woke up to mild temps in the mid 50s and RAIN.  I soooo hate rain.  I know a lot of people don't mind it or even like it, but after having my worst ever running experience during a driving rain in Oklahoma City, well it's just stuck with me and now I panic every time it rains.  The rain was supposed to clear out around 5 am...but it was coming down pretty hard at 7am as the 8K kicked off.  We were fortunate that our hotel was literally a block away from the start line, so I waited it out as long as possible. 

In the end it was only light rain, but it was on and off throughout the day.  With the mild temperatures it actually helped keep you cool and really wasn't a factor in the race other than just being wet most of the race and having to dodge puddles throughout.  The main thing was post race.  I had to wait about an hour for Jim to finish and I was petty cold.  Luckily I had packed a dry shirt, jacket and pants.  I was just really wishing for some dry shoes and socks....oh well.

The Anthem Richmond Marathon consists of a marathon, half marathon (the American Family Half Marathon) and 8K.  Each race starts 30 minutes apart with the 8K starting first, then the half, then the marathon.  I thought this was kind of weird at first, but each race kind of stays on its own course, so you never run in to the other racers...which was kind of different, but if you started in the right pace group kept you from dodging and weaving in and out of other racers which was nice.  Overall there were almost 20,000 racers in all 3 events, so it's pretty large.
Wet & rainy start

I literally walked down from my hotel about 7:05 for the 7:30 start.  There was light rain, but it wasn't bad.  I found my corral and waited for the start.  I did notice a few people who had obliviously gotten down there who were soaked from head to toe and shivering violently.  I felt really bad for them and was so thankful to have had a hotel so close.

I was not in any way planning to try to PR this race.  I knew I didn't have that kind of speed in me  But I did want to try to run well and my goal was to try to finish around 2:30.  The race started and it was a nice flat stretch.  My first mile was a little too fast, as usual at a 10:30 pace.  I knew if I wanted to run strong throughout I'd need to slow it down - which I did and ran an 11:10 pace the 2nd mile.  Throughout the race I was pretty much between 11:00 and 11:15....very consistent, with the exception of mile 8 where I had an 11:57 mile.  I honestly can't figure out what happened there and don't remember having a particularly slow mile, but this was toward the end of a stretch of about 3 or 4 miles that had some pretty good rolling hills.  After mile 8 though, it was back to a pace around 11 - 11:10. 

The half marathon course is fairly flat overall, but definitely has some rolling hills, which is actually kind of nice.  The course isn't as pretty as the marathon course, but still took you through some pretty parts of town, and a really beautiful park.  The spectators were really awesome!  They weren't all along the route, but when there were spectators they were awesome.  They have "party zones" where groups of spectators gather and they really make it a lot of fun.  I thought it was great that they were all out there despite the rain.  The volunteers were awesome too!  They had plenty of aid stations and some "junk food" stations as well with gummy bears and other assorted things.  This was a fun touch, though I didn't take much other than a couple of gummy bears.

Michael-Zan Queen of the Jungle
I really felt great the entire race and I was pleased to be finishing as strong as I started.  My final full mile was 10:54 - my 2nd fastest mile of the race, and my last .23 on my Garmin was a 9:10 pace! 
During that last about half mile, you pretty much go straight down hill.  I can't decide whether this is good or bad.  By this point you are pretty tired, and it's nice to go downhill, but it was extremely steep and with the rain I definitely found myself using my legs to slow things down a bit.
Me & Jim recreating some great graffiti
 I ran across the finish line in 2:26 and was very happy!  My half marathon PR is 2:23.  I had just come within 3 minutes of my PR without a lot of effort.  I had started strong and finished strong.  I was very pleased with the overall race and my results.  It felt good to know I hadn't totally lost my speed.  Pretty much all year my half times have been around 2:30-2:35, so this was a very good race. 

I crossed the finish and got my medal and finishers fleece blanket and then picked up my gear bag.  I headed to the finisher area where they had PowerAde, Power Bars and Pizza!  Yes, pizza.  I wasn't feeling pizza at this point, but it was a nice touch.  I then made my way back to the finish line to wait for Jim.
Jim trying to replace some bricks at historic Tredegar Ironworks

It wasn't long before I saw him coming through and looked at the time and realized he was having an AMAZING day!!  He was going to set a huge new marathon PR!  I was so thrilled for him.  He crossed and I rushed to try to find him.  When I finally did, it was probably kind of like a movie moment.  Our eyes met from across the way and when I saw him, my face lit up in a huge smile and I literally ran to him and wrapped my arms around him and said you "FREAKING KILLED IT", but I don't think I said freaking....and it was at this point that a girl beside us said "Are you guys bloggers.  I read your blogs".  LOL, that was funny and I had to apologize for the cursing.  I always find it so crazy when we run into people we don't know who read our blogs.  She was super nice and had just ran what I would consider to be a AMAZING race time, but she hadn't met her goal, so no matter what your time is we all know how that feels.  But she still seemed to be happy and have a great attitude and it is always fun to meet someone who reads our blogs.

We grabbed Jim some food and then headed back up the UPHILL to our hotel.  But we were both happy.  We had both had great races, and once again we had a wonderful time to share together.  Virginia is for Lovers....and for Runners!!!!


  1. You guys need to go on tour!! Everyone knows who you guys are!

    I'm jealous you got to see a statue of Lincoln. I love Lincoln stuff so I'm staring at that picture wondering if that was Tad? But he was younger so maybe it was Robert? Anyway...hahaha

    You had a great race! Virginia looked awesome! Wish I could have been there. How awful is it that it's the next state over YET 8 hours away!? how is that possible??

    1. You would totally love all the history in Richmond. It's definitely your kind of place.

  2. Yea! What a great race! And every time I see the pictures you and Jim take I'm struck by how much FUN you have together. Love it!

    If you and Coy come back to St. Louis for the Cowbell Half (I know that's doubtful), I'll take you guys to Springfield and we can check out all kinds of Lincoln stuff. :)

  3. Yay for you! That's awesome that you were only 3 minutes off of your PR with very little effort.

    Also, you and the hubs are freaking adorable! You guys will have to come do a race in St. Louis at some point!

  4. Congrats on your really well ran race, Michael!! That is something you deserve! Pizza always sounds good to me , but post race? Not so much.. for an hour or so anyway!

    Love the pic of you and Jim in the "lovers" shot. :) You are a great couple♥

  5. lol you guys are hilarious. That pic of Jim replacing a brick is awesome haha. Sounds like your race went well. And you guys really are famous - any race that you don't get noticed at now? lol

  6. Sounded like a good weekend all round - stellar races and time to prove whether Virginia really is for lovers.

  7. You had me at "pizza". Great job on our races!

  8. I guess Virginia is for lovers, PRs and some great racing! Congrats! Photo bombing Lincoln? I vote for funny :)

  9. That sounds like a great run! Congrats. I wish more races had pizza at the end. I know I've spent many race miles thinking about pizza.
    I hate running through rain too - one day I'll do a flashback post to the soggiest race of my life, Sundown 2012, in a giant thunderstorm. :)

  10. Funny first picture for sure. Congrats on a great race!

  11. Nicely done! Still bummed we couldn't meet up. The next time you come to DC for work, let me know and maybe we could meet up. I live pretty close to the city.

  12. Congrats on a great race and it looks like you and Jim really enjoyed that trip. Very cool!

  13. You had a fun time at the race. I would love to meet Miss Zippy! You are running really well at the moment.
    To answer your question on my blog: my races are far from any record! Here in SA alone I barely make the top 20. We have runners with 5000 plus races. It is a big thing here to run as many races as possible. My one friend has done just over 3000 now. He has done 766 half marathons as part of that :)

  14. So glad you had a great run! The conditions were really perfect (although I felt for you half marathoners before the start w/ all that rain!). It was so nice to meet you guys. Love the picture of you two next to the James!

  15. Awww what a cute pic by the river!! Great job on a PR!!!!

  16. Famous or Infamous ;-D It is so awesome that your effort felt easy at that pace! You'll soon have a new PR, I think! Congratulations!

  17. congrats on a great race!! I absolutely love all the photos that you've shared. I hope some of them get printed & framed in your home. :)

  18. Congrats on your races! Don't worry, I'm a total sailor IRL- but I'm working on it!