I've wanted to run this race for a while now, but the timing has never seemed to work out. This year, it fit in nicely as a post-marathon rust-buster. Admittedly an expensive rust-buster, since I'd have to drive down a day before and get a hotel (I prefer my rust-busters cheap and local). But what the heck - it would be fun to finally get to race it and then stay to cheer my teammates on as they ran the half and full marathons. And the Richmond 8K is a very fast course.
I ran the Richmond half-marathon several years ago, and one of my takeaways from that year was to leave early on Friday, lest I be caught in traffic. So I left DC around 9:30 am, which meant that I only hit two stop-and-go patches on I-95. I ended up in Richmond about 11:45. Longer than it should have taken in a perfect non-existent world, but not bad for the Friday of a long weekend.
I stayed at the Richmond Marriott downtown, right by the start line. I had reserved this hotel back in March of this year, when I had been considering running the Richmond Half. The Marriott was expensive, and so I debated switching to a cheaper hotel further out - the shorter the race, the less I care about being very close to the start. But I decided to stay with my hotel - the forecast was for frigid temperatures, and having the option of running back into my room to adjust clothing choices on race day would be nice.
Race morning dawned in the mid-20s, about 40 degrees colder than the finish of my last race. And it had been long enough since I had been faced with cold weather that I wasn't quite sure what to wear. After reading through my race reports from this past March, I decided to go with a long-sleeved t-shirt and tights, plus my running mittens with hand-warmers.
Though my race didn't start until 7 am, I stepped out at 6 am to start warming up - this would give me a chance to run back to my room and change my clothes if necessary. Which I did - about a mile into my warm-up I started feeling a little too comfortable in my longsleeve. So up I went to change into my singlet plus arm-warmers (being very careful to transfer my number, lest I leave it in my room). Then I placed my longsleeve in a bag for bag check, and also quickly customized a trash bag into a temporary throw-away shirt. Then back down to finish my warm-up.
After "warm"-ing up, I lined up in my corral. My trashbag was accomplishing very little, but another woman generously handed me the jacket she had been about to toss away. I gratefully took it, hanging onto it until 2 minutes before the start.
The Richmond 8K is a out-and back course, heading west for the first 2+ miles, and then rounding a block before heading back, with a major drop in the last half-mile. I knew that we'd be running into a slight headwind on the way out, and then a tailwind on the way back, so my plan was to stay controlled until the turnaround, and then chase people down. I also wanted to push as if the finish was at 4.5 miles, because with that steep a drop, there was no point saving anything for the end.
When the gun went off, I eased into my pace and then started building into what felt like a controlled effort, while looking for people to use as windblocks. Unfortunately, I picked the wrong group, because after a mile they started fading, and I had to duck out and run on my own. Fortunately, I only had another mile or so before the turnaround, so not a huge deal.
We hit the turnaround, and I started chasing. The road here was a bit odd - bricks with the occasional gap instead of asphalt. We were running east, facing the sun, and so I pulled my sunglasses down only to push them right back up. I couldn't see the road well with my glasses down, and I was fearful I'd trip on one of the gaps in the bricks. Squinting beats tripping and falling.
I kept pushing, and then my legs crapped out on me just after the 3 mile marker. This was not unexpected - the same thing had happened in my workout on Tuesday, and is normal for me when coming back (my leg-speed/bounce always comes back first, with my stamina following).
And the good news was that I could still run pretty fast on crapped-out-legs (especially with a tailwind assist). I just didn't have the next gear I had been saving.
So I hung on, reminding myself it was only two miles (actually a bit less).
Somewhere after the 4th mile marker, I passed another woman who looked like she might be my age. I used that thought as strength to keep going, even as I really wanted to back off. We took a few turns and then we were at the glorious downhill to the finish.
The downhill was really steep - had I had a kick left in me, I wouldn't have been able to use it. I found myself braking a bit, and then I put a stop to that. The other woman was possibly right behind me. If I kept pushing, I might trip and fall. But tripping and falling beats being passed.
I was pretty trashed when I crossed the finish line. Definitely not an easy race for me. But that's the point of getting out there - getting familiar again with race discomfort. It's like pulling a band-aid off.
Mile 1: 6:33
Mile 2: 6:39
Mile 3: 6:31
Mile 4: 6:15
last bit: 5:50 for .97 miles
So it looks like a hard negative split, but I think that speaks more to the course than to good pacing on my part. This is a course that rewards someone who likes to go out hard and hang on (not my preferred way of pacing). It's also a course that can save you if you're falling apart.
I ended up as third master overall and with a very small PR (my previous 8K PR was 31:51). (PR is asterisky since this course has so much drop - my blog, my rules.) Of course, I also split the second half of the Broad Street 10 Miler in this exact same time - 31:48 - this spring, so I should be able to lop more time off when I'm in better shape. But I'm pretty happy with this for where I am in my training right now. And I got that whole first-race-back monkey off my back.
- Staying at the Marriott was definitely the right call - it was so very nice to be able to run back to my room after for a hot shower.
- Checking my shirt for post-race was a mistake. In the time it took me to find bag check and get my bag, I could have been back in my hotel. Note for next time.
- I'm still not sure the arm-warmers were the right call - in these temps I think the longsleeve would have been better. (had I run in the longsleeve, I'd be commenting right now that I thought it was too hot.)
- After seeing the forecast, I debated swapping into the half-marathon. I'm glad I didn't. The way I fatigued in the 8K tells me I would have imploded in the half, perfect weather or not.
- No cool-down post race, except for shuffling back to my hotel. I just didn't see the point - I was trashed, and there's no need to be piling on mileage right now.
- I definitely need to get a few more races in between now and Houston. It always seems to take me a few races to find my groove, and then I start racing well (see this past spring for an example). Fortunately, there are plenty of races between now and then.
- Weather at race start: Temp 26, DP 15. The air was pretty dry, and a few people noted it, including me. I don't think it affected my time very much, though. I'll take that weather over 60s and humid any day.
- Debated whether to wear my flats (Takumi Sen) or the Adios 2 Boost for this race. I wear the Takumi Sens for 5K and under, and the Adios for 10K and longer. I went with the Adios partially because of the distance, and partially because of the cold. When it's this cold, I worry about the additional strain on my tendons from racing in a low drop shoe. If this had been an end of season goal race, I would have gone with the Takumi Sen. But better to play it safe here.