Richmond Marathon – You Can’t Always Get What you Want (The Blog I Don’t Want to Write)

Hello everyone! I hope you’ve had great weekends in whatever you’re doing. If you’ve been reading these, you might know that this weekend was the Richmond Marathon, which I trained hard for 16 weeks to prepare for with the hopes of a Boston Marathon Qualifier. Unfortunately, things just didn’t work out the way that I’d hoped or planned for. That’s the tough thing about marathons, really. You can do it all right up until race day and just not have it. I didn’t have it.

I was supposed to run with MC, but we never met up at the start. I ended up spotting her about 50 yards ahead of me, pacing like a metronome. When I spotted her, I decided that I needed to run my own race and didn’t want to expend the effort of chasing her down until later in the race. That time never came. She ended up running the goal time and doing an amazing job. I’m happy for her and proud of her.

As you can see above, I started out right on pace (a little fast, actually) and things seemed to be moving right along. The weather was just right (uncomfortably cold to start out). My watch wouldn’t get a GPS signal. Several of us had that problem. It could be because thousands of us were trying all at the same time. That led me to try to run my first few miles by feel. They were fast, and that led to a 10k time that was more aggressive than I wanted to be. Even with that, I felt fairly relaxed.

I don’t think I had quite the lung capacity that I normally have, which could have been the cold weather but it also was a bit of residual effect from being sick all week. Up until race day, I was popping Vitamin C like a crazy person while chugging tea and taking those little dissolving zinc cold therapy pills all in a last ditch effort to get well.

Around mile 11 is when I started to notice something bad. My left achilles tendon. It wasn’t a deal breaker, but it was noticeably unlike my right achilles tendon. Here’s the worst part…there were signs. For weeks, I’d been complaining about a tight left side from my calf down. It was nagging, but I ran through it. Basketball made it worse, but I kept playing anyway. I stretched it out every once in a while, but not enough. My wife even did her best to suggest that I do more to take care of it, but I just assumed everything would be fine just like it always is. I’ll bet I can look back at my training posts and I mentioned the issue at least once.

As I crossed the half-marathon marker, the discomfort became a stabbing pain. It was the kind of stabbing pain that a normal person can’t (and shouldn’t) run through. I had to stop. I rubbed it and stretched it. I got going again. The pain subsided for a bit and I was cautiously optimistic that maybe things would be ok. As I got back up to speed, I realized that I was going to have trouble getting any sort of push. I tried to change up my stride to more of a shuffle with less need for pushing off. I got that going for a bit, but I knew that eventually that wasn’t going to cut it.

For the first time in all of my running, I considered a DNF (Did Not Finish). The thoughts came before mile 18 where my brother in law and lovely wife were waiting for me. At that point, they knew something was wrong based on the time I came in. I tried not to cry when I told them that something had gone wrong with my achilles. I wanted a hug. I grabbed a drink and went on my way. I had decided to go ahead and finish.

I spent the next 8 miles shuffling when I could with lots of walking in between. I stopped caring. I had some beer at around mile 20. It was the WORST beer I’ve ever consumed. Some abomination called Sprint Light. It made me smile though. After that, I spent the next 6 miles feeling pain and shame. I tried to tell myself that this stuff happens, but that didn’t make it any easier to swallow it. Lots of people tried to encourage me onward and I appreciated it, but I hated it too.

As I came closer to the finish, I was talked into jogging it in to finish strong. As I jogged in and heard the crowd, I stopped being sad. I even managed to smile when running buddy and fellow Hill City Harrier Robbie took a pic of me coming in.

I wish I had a good story to tell about Richmond. They took some good pictures and if things had gone well, I’d buy them. Here are a couple that really show the optimism of the early race and the pain of the 2nd half. It’s all in the eyebrows.

This isn’t much of a race report, but I also want to say how much I love Richmond and the race. It truly is the friendliest marathon. I can’t blame anything about the race at all. They do an amazing job. Check out the awesome SWAG we got. I only wish I didn’t have to associate it with failure.

I want to say thank you to every single one of you that have read, or commented, or anything. So many of you have shared encouragement, or wisdom, or just a laugh. It’s all been appreciated, believe me. I tried to think of all of you as I struggled through. It makes me smile. It brings me inspiration and motivation.

I also want to say congrats to others who got their BQs, or their PRs, or whatever goals they had in mind. It takes courage to set goals (and tell people about them) and strength and determination to meet them. I’m proud of all of you.

Now if you’ll excuse me, Rehoboth is in 3 weeks. I need to get ready…


39 Replies to “Richmond Marathon – You Can’t Always Get What you Want (The Blog I Don’t Want to Write)”

  1. You may not have hit your goal but you still finished a marathon. You can try for that BQ at another race at another time; at least this is a goal you can try for again. You trained really hard and that’s really all you can do. You can control gettin sick or an unexpected injury. Be proud of finishing and don’t worry about who you think you may have let down. No one else matters. I know none of these words make anything better but just hoping it helps to see the bright side. Congrats on a 26.2 finish! On to the next!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You’ll get that BQ Randy, I know you will. Learn from each one and take that knowledge with you to the next, and take care of yourself. I’ve failed a lot in my life–I like to think it makes the successes SO much sweeter. You’re a big inspiration to many–hang on to that moving forward!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Congratulations on finishing the marathon!

    I don’t think you should consider this race a “failure” at all. Some days, everything seems to just go wrong and inevitably this will happen during a race at some point… and it sucks when that race is a goal race and a goal marathon. You didn’t have GPS signal, so you started too fast, it was chilly, and you had the Achilles issues during the race. You didn’t DNF and you still finished, earned your swag, and had an intra-race beer.

    Also, you’re really fit and remember, you did just PR in the 5K. So something good came out of all this training, as well as the lessons learned in the Richmond Marathon. Hopefully you can get the injury healed up soon and maybe try again without going through the whole training cycle, too.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I had a very similar experience at Marine Corps this year. Stabbing pain in my left foot starting around mile 8 that moved up my entire leg by mile 18. I am still breaking down every single thing that I could have done differently, but that is the way the cookie crumbled. Thank-you for sharing what happened, I know it is hard. You’ve had some PRs during training, so you know you are fit and you can still go for it!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m sorry to hear about your pain and not making the time that you wanted to. But, at least you pushed through and got an amazing time . . . at least for me. 😉 You’ll have plenty of opportunities to the BQ in the future. Hopefully, you achilles will heal very soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You did great out there. And you finished! I can definitely relate to the frustration (I ran a marathon injured and it sucked) — but it’s still a huge accomplishment! I hope recovery is going well. Take it easy and rest up! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Not the result you wanted, however, you finished and that alone is a huge accomplishment. There will be plenty of other opportunities to get that BQ. When it’s meant to be, it’ll happen. Listen to your body & take care of yourself. I still wish I could run even just half as fast as you!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The race shirt from my only DNF is one of my faves. I wear it all the time! I don’t associate it with failure either, even though that was my first try at a marathon and, well, I failed. OK, the IT bands in both of my legs failed. Eventually the race shirt/medal/sweet fleece blanket from Richmond will just be a reminder of that time your achilles dropped a bomb on your training in the middle of the race. What a jerky thing to do!
    I’m so sorry that race didn’t go the way you’d trained for, but the work is far from wasted. You’ll come back stronger in the next training cycle. Now get ready to party in Rehoboth!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve never run the full there, but I’ve run pretty much everything that makes up the course, and I think it’d be a great course for a BQ. Very flat except for a couple small rollers in Cape Henlopen State Park, the “trails” are all paved biking/walking paths or packed gravel and the weather is usually still decent here in early December (KNOCK ON WOOD.) If your achilles is feeling better, I say go for it!

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Congratulations Randy! I know it wasn’t the time you were hoping for, but you did an amazing job… from the beginning of your training cycle right on down to the finish line! Well done!!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Sorry, Randy. I was race stalking you and saw something had gone wrong.

    If it’s your right achilles that is bad my right one is good. I’d be willing to time share it as long as I can borrow your left at some point.

    See you at Rehoboth.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I am sorry that it didn’t go your way. Way to dig deep and finish the race.
    I don’t know why I thought your race was on Sunday, but Sunday morning I was all ready to cheer you on from Dallas. : /
    Rest up. Heal up. And onto the next.
    How is the achilles btw?

    Liked by 1 person

  12. You finished a marathon in less than stellar conditions- other people would have given up, so I’d say you should be proud of what you achieved. Really it just gives you another goal opportunity😜

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Aw man, I was wondering how you did. You had such a killer training–you (and we) know that you have a killer race inside of you that will come out when you’re better set up for success (no pain, strong gps signal, planned race strategy). Seriously, you’re going to THROW IT DOWN very, very soon!!! Can’t wait!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I’m sure you will have a better race at your next one!! Sorry you did not have the race you wanted. I know how that feels. It’s just the roller coaster of marathon training and racing and we ride the wave. I am super confident you will get that BQ very soon my friend!! That medal is super sweet though. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Hope you have an awesome race at Rehoboth! It is a great race and the course is so flat!! Hopefully you can use the awesome swag without having to associate it with failure – you still got through the race at what is still a great time!! (I know it wasn’t what you worked for, but I still look at it as fast.)

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Sorry it wasn’t the race you wanted! Glad you still had a good time. And I’m loving the blanket so far. I can’t believe you had some of the beer lol.

    Liked by 1 person

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