About 16 weeks ago my husband came up to me and said, "don't make a big deal about this, but how long would it take to train for a half marathon?" My follow-up question was, "can I run a half with you?" I honestly didn't know if he would prefer to be off on his own or if he would want my company. He said I could run with him. That's love.
For a self-identified "non-runner" who prefers running on the treadmill to running outside and doesn't really care for running more than 3 miles, this was kind of a big deal. We quickly settled on the Richmond Half Marathon for his first race. The timing was right on schedule to give him a month to start running and then 12 weeks to train. We loved the experience we had last year at the marathon and we hoped for a mid-November race we wouldn't have too major of weather issues.
Off he went on his training program that incorporated lots of cross training days and increased his long runs from a base of 3 miles all the way up to 12 miles. Most training plans for a half marathon only have people run 10 miles as their longest run, but the hubs really wanted the peace of mind knowing on race day that the last mile of Richmond is pretty much all down hill and it was only one more mile than his longest run.
And he logged a lot of 9:30 pace miles over the course of his training program. It actually became bit of an inside joke because it didn't matter if he was doing a 3 mile run or his 12 mile run - the man runs 9:30 miles like clockwork.
Come race day morning the weather was a chilly 26 degrees at the start of the race. That drop in temperature was a bit of a concern for both of us. The hubs hadn't run in such cold yet and was a bit worried overall. He threw on an extra short-sleeve shirt under his long-sleeve shirt to keep his core warm. I was worried that my lungs would take forever to warm up and I wouldn't be as "chatty" as needed during the race. My goal was to talk to the hubs, especially during the last few miles, to try to keep his mind off the distance. I was also worried that some lingering soreness in my legs would stay frozen solid during the race and I wouldn't warm up. With those fears in mind I tossed on a thick hat, which is not something I normally wear when racing. Then again, I wasn't racing. I was pacing.
The race was a lot more crowded than I remembered from last year and we actually missed the start of our wave because we were still lined up in a port-a-potty line. We hopped in with the tail end of wave HB, which was the 2:30 pace group. That actually worked out to be brilliant because we started out slow and steady, especially that first very crowded half mile.
Mile 1: 10:05
Mile 2: 9:32
Mile 3: 9:33
Mile 4: 9:33
Mile 5: 9:28
Mile 6: 9:34
Mile 7: 9:19
Mile 8: 9:50 (we got separated at a water stop)
Mile 9: 9:33
Mile 10: 9:34
Mile 11: 9:36
Mile 12: 8:45
Mile 13: 7:57
Mile .2: 7:28 (probably the best race I've ever had running the tangents and finishing so close to the actual distance!).
Total Time: 2:03:46 Garmin average: 9:23
Insert crazy high levels of pride here. The race was almost perfect. Seriously, starting a few waves late turned out to be the best thing because that kept both of us from starting out too fast. That's a major issue I have and since I was acting as the pacer for this race that was a really big concern of mine. The course itself was crowded. I kept trying to keep us on the sidelines so we could dart around people to pass as easily as possible. The night before the race the hubs saw on Facebook that one of his former co-workers was running the race and we actually ran into him around mile 7. He had started out too fast, but once we ran into him, we picked him up, and brought him into our little pack. He finished just behind us. The guys joked during the race that I was going to take off on them at some point, but I reminded them that I was there to get them across the finish line. I also knew that at some point the hubs was going to take off.
Man I was right about that one! He took off at right at the start of mile 12. I actually told him to calm down at one point and to hold it steady on the flat stretches and then increase the pace on the downhills. He loves downhills, especially ones that are really close to the finish line. I told him to keep it together until we got half a mile out because from there he could run as hard as he wanted to. I think that sub 8 mile summed it up perfectly.
Post race we hung out with our friend, grabbed beer and hard cider at the Capitol Ale House, relaxed, showered, napped, and then had an amazing night of bourbon at McCormack's Whiskey Grill. That game plan made sense because this is the same guy who drank a beer flight with lunch at Legend Brewery the day before his race and for his pre-race dinner ate fried chicken and mac n'cheese at the Bellytimber Tavern. The weekend was all about making sure the hubs had an amazing experience because I didn't want this to be his only half marathon.
I wanted this to be his first half marathon. Mission Accomplished.