The Richmond Marathon is hands down my favorite marathon. It was my first (and third) and therefore it’ll always be special to me. This year marks the third year in a row I’m going to Richmond to race. However, this year since I already ran two marathons last month, I’m running the half marathon. I have a number of friends racing Richmond as well this weekend and I thought I’d offer up a few tips for running Richmond. These are all based on things I learned over the past couple years and while some tips are marathon specific, a few are more general. If you’ve raced Richmond before, add your tips for running Richmond in the comments!
- Plan for all weather scenarios. The weather has been different every year that I’ve run Richmond. In 2013, it poured (I mean POURED) at the start despite the forecast saying it would be clear skies. That resulted in me running the race with wet socks (I don’t recommend that). Last year, it was unexpectedly chilly. I haven’t even looked at the weather for this year’s race because I’m just bringing a few different options. It’s November on the East Coast. Be prepared!
- Plan your fueling based on the stops provided by the course. The Richmond Marathon is great because there is water and Powerade every two miles up until mile 20. At mile 20, you get a water stop every mile. I always carry my own water because that’s how I train, but knowing that in the later miles, there is water every single mile is a great motivation to just “get to the next water stop.” Also, there is junk food at miles 16 and 22 (I have never taken food there but the small sips of coke always are perfectly timed!) and wet washcloths to get the salt off your face and miles 17 and 23. Definitely things to look forward to!
- Remember your relative position to the river. The marathon course crosses the James River twice – first during mile 7 (right after the first party zone with lots of music and TONS of spectators) and then again during mile 15, right before the mile 16 junk food stop. I’ve always looked forward to getting over the river that second time because you are finally back on the “right” side of the river. And it means you’ve crossed the only significant bridge of the race. There is something about bridges that makes them so tough to run in races. Getting over that one is a good thing!
- Be on the lookout for running celebrities! Last year I saw Bart Yasso twice during the race – and got to hi five him both times. I’m not sure if he’s planning on coming back this year, but it’s always fun to see running celebs during races!
- Take in your surroundings. The crowd support during the race is fantastic! The only real “dead” zones are after that first time you cross the river. However, what that section lacks in spectators in makes up for it in natural beauty. You are running with the river to your left and it’s simply gorgeous. Take it all in. I remember very vividly how much I enjoyed all the course support. Maybe consider only using your music during the quiet miles by the water.
- Remember to save a bit for the downhill finish. All of the Richmond races (8k, half and full) finish on a steep downhill. I’m looking forward to experiencing this after 13 miles because after 26.1 miles that final .1 downhill hurt. I remember feeling like I was going to just roll down the hill to the finish line. I think it’ll feel way more awesome after just running the half, rather than the full. Regardless of the race you are running, save a bit of energy to really fly down that hill. Just try to protect your quads – if you are anything like me, downhills can shred your quads so be careful!
- Enjoy the afterparty. One of my favorite parts of running Richmond is hanging out after the race and enjoying the day. Take your finisher’s blanket (also known as your new favorite race premium), spread it out and chill. Grab a beer and a slice of pizza and you’ll be good to go!
I am so excited to head back to Richmond! If you’ve raced Richmond before, share your tips in the comments!
Who will I see in Richmond this weekend? Check back this week for my goals for the half marathon!