Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Getting There: The Richmond Marathon

Earlier this year, I decided that this would be the year I finish a full marathon. Half marathons are fun, but they stopped being a challenge when I was running ten miles every weekend just for fun. A full, however, was definitely a challenge I was ready to accept.

After doing some research, deciding on a reasonable time frame, and consulting with my former college roommate Sally, I registered for the Anthem Richmond Marathon, scheduled for November 10, 2012. The Richmond Marathon is "America's Friendliest Marathon," it was over a 4-day holiday weekend, I could stay with Sally, and plane tickets from Atlanta were less than $100 round trip. Excellent.

I began training in July, and, knowing that I would still have to work long days, decided on a relatively fool proof plan that focused on one day of sprints, one tempo run, and one long run a week. The other days were shorter runs, swimming, or biking. I was also planning on doing two triathlons, one in July and one in September, to help with crosstraining.

For the first few weeks, my plan worked great. I still went to regular PT with my unit every morning at 0630, swam at lunch every few days, and fit in long runs on the weekends. I ran a lot on the Greeneway in North Augusta, South Carolina, since it was shaded from the 100-degree days and had water fountains every few miles. By the time I started hitting 14 miles runs, though, is when my knee started hurting.

As I wrote before, I still am not entirely sure what's up with this bum knee of mine. I just know that running slow and long is fine, running short and fast results in pain and swelling, and the last few weeks of physical therapy, involving such fun exercises as standing one legged on a foam pad and doing lunges on a bosu ball, seem to be helping. My training topped out at about 16 miles, though, and runs of 8 miles or so replaced the sprint workouts I had planned.

The week before my race was pretty much the week from hell. I was working over time every day planning a number of events for my unit, including the annual Dining In, a formal dinner on Thursday, the night before I was supposed to leave. As if that weren't enough, I have also been busy packing and preparing to move into a new house my husband and I just bought here in Augusta. I was so busy, in fact, that on Thursday I almost forgot to check in for my flight until Sally texted me asking when I would arrive the next day. Thank you, phone.

Thursday night I didn't get home until after Midnight, after spending a good 8 hours in sensible heels and panty hose that left a nice little blister on my foot. I laid out most of what I planned on wearing for the race, threw it and a few sweaters in my handy dandy super large Vera Bradley duffel bag, set my alarm for 6:00am, and fell asleep. Thankfully I remembered to charge my ipod AND throw it in my bag the next morning as I was leaving.

Apparently I didn't learn anything from my Army Ten Miler packing, though, because, as I settled into the plane, I remembered things I had forgotten to pack. Such as my watch. And race belt. And an extra pair of socks. And my travel pillow. Good thing I had 8 pairs of underwear, though! And my bodyglide, which I had forgotten for the DC trip.

Thankfully, though, I was upgraded again (see?! Airtran!) and fell asleep all the way from Atlanta to Richmond. When Sally picked me up at noon, we headed straight to Can-Can in Carytown, for appropriate "carb-loading." You know, lobster macaroni and cheese:

Sally and I left her husband playing poker early that night, and headed to bed. Even with a 8:00am start (why don't all races start at such a reasonable hour?) we wanted to make sure to have plenty of time in the morning. I set my alarm for 4:00am to get up and eat something with time to digest before the starting line, but I think we all know that didn't work out. 

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