Never mind that it’s been over a month and a half since I ran this race.
I left the house on Saturday, the 19th of September to make the 4-hour drive to Blacksburg.
Okay, here’s where the really nerdy part of me comes out.
I’m the only person in my family who runs. I’m also the only person in my family who likes hunting for geocaches. I’ve found that any opportunity to combine the two lets me enjoy both without sacrificing too much time away from my family. SOOO….. I made a stop in the little town of Gordonsville in Orange county to find a two-stage geocache (called a multi-cache) outside the fire house. I had to gather a little bit of information once I got there in order to find the cache. Luckily it was easy enough to get what I needed and find it, so it was a fairly quick stop.
After picking up my race packet at the brand-spanking-new Blacksburg High School (and finding another geocache not far away) I called Matt and he met me at my parents’ house, where my mother served us her wonderful vegetable soup for dinner.
I like to arrive early for a race in order to have plenty of time to find parking, get my bearings, and (most importantly) use the port-a-potty AT LEAST once. A friend of mine from high school, Rhonda, who had been a classmate of my brother’s and had gone to church with us, was running the 5K. I hadn’t seen her in years and years, and it was great to catch up with her in the short amount of time we had before the race started.
I’ve been training for the Richmond Marathon since the summer, and I was treating this race as one of my training runs. I didn’t want to try and run it fast, and I used my Jeff Galloway style run/walk method for the entire race, which is the way I’ve been running to prepare for the marathon. When the race started I noticed lots of people passing me, and I felt a little sluggish. After a couple of miles I started to feel myself settling into a steady pace, and I noticed a few other people using a run/walk strategy. I didn’t push myself, and I focused on enjoying the race.
Back in June, I told you about how I ran a 10K with the run/walk method, and I ended up with a PR and placing first in my age group. That day I had been playing a game with myself, and counting how many people I passed while running versus the number of people who passed me during my walk phase. Right around Mile 6 of the Hokie Half, I decided I was ready to push myself a little bit more, and started picking off runners one by one. I ended up passing many more people than who passed me, but at about Mile 8 I realized I was already wearing myself out. I backed off and quit thinking about who was ahead of me and who was behind.
(On a side note: A lot of people who write about their races report their splits for every mile. I don’t turn on my GPS when I race, normally, so I had no way of knowing what my pace was. I’d rather not put that added pressure on myself. I did have MapMyRun on during the Father’s Day 10K, but I turned the voice feedback off and didn’t look at it until afterwards.)
I think it was around Mile 10 or 11 when I started to feel drained, and my legs were starting to protest. I began to question whether I would able to run 26 miles in less than two months. What was I thinking?? Suddenly I heard the opening notes of Virginia Tech’s fight song, “Tech Triumph” come through my Spotify. I cranked up the volume and picked up the pace. For about a minute and a half (it’s a short song) I felt like I was flying, and–this was the weird part–I also felt like crying. I wondered, Why in the heck am I getting weepy NOW?? I’m certainly not THAT worn out, it’s not like I haven’t run a half marathon before, and heck, this is the second time I’ve run this one! What gives?? Because you love this race, and you love this town. That’s it. Wow.
That was exactly what I needed to give me the energy to run the last couple of miles, and push through to the end. After I crossed the finish line, I spotted Rhonda cheering for me. I was so happy to see her and grateful that she had waited for me! She had run the 5K, so I knew she had to have waited around for a good 90 minutes at least. We chatted for a few more minutes, and then we had to say goodbye because she had a long drive home to North Carolina, and I was meeting Matt for the noon Mass on campus.
After a quick lunch with my parents, I headed home. I wasn’t even all that tired, surprisingly. And to find out I had gotten a PR at 2:18:33 was icing on the cake. Thank you, Jeff Galloway!
I know the Hokie Half course very well. I’ve walked and biked and run on the Huckleberry trail many times; heck, the race goes right through my old neighborhood and past my elementary school. I also know there are quite a few geocaches along the course. I’ve found several of them; although not during the race. That would be insane. Right?
There’s a guy out in the midwest–Minnesota, I think–named Joshua Johnson, who is an avid geocacher and posts some of his adventures on his vlog. He gets his whole family involved, which is great. Last month he ran his first marathon, found a geocache during the race, and posted it on his vlog.
I admit I get a little verklempt when I watch that. It’s not about geocaching at all, it’s about working hard to accomplish something you’ve never done before.
There are some geocaches along the Richmond Marathon course. I won’t likely be trying to find any of them. There is a nice virtual cache near the finish line, though; it’s a statue of Abraham Lincoln sitting with his son, Tad. Perhaps I’ll have Ray take my photo with my race medal next to Abe and Tad. That would be sweet.
(Thomas Jefferson and me in Williamsburg, August 2014. A virtual cache.)
At Mile 19, the course goes right past the Richmond Medical Center for Women, an abortion clinic where many a 40 Days for Life vigil has taken place. Lord willing, I’ll stop for a minute and say a prayer for the mothers and the babies and the workers inside. I’ll pray for my fellow Life Runners who will be running Rock-n-Roll Las Vegas on Sunday.
(After the Air Force Half Marathon, in September 2014. All in Christ for pro life!)
It’s not often I post here twice in one week, much less two days in a row! The next time you hear from me I’ll tell you about my marathon–the good, the bad, and the ugly. Hopefully mostly good. Wish me luck, and say a prayer for me!