Rise Up: Richmond Half Marathon Race Report 

“You’re broken down and tired
Of living life on a merry go round

And you can’t find the fighter

But I see it in you so we gonna walk it out

And move mountains

We gonna walk it out

And move mountains

And I’ll rise up

I’ll rise like the day

I’ll rise up

I’ll rise unafraid

I’ll rise up

And I’ll do it a thousand times again

And I’ll rise up

High like the waves

I’ll rise up

In spite of the ache

I’ll rise up

And I’ll do it a thousands times again” – Andra Day, Rise Up

I chose this song for a reason. Hillary used it during her rallies. When we saw her in Raleigh with the Mothers of the Movement, the mothers joined hands with Hillary at the end and raised their arms high. If there is anyone who rises 1000 times, again, it’s those women. The song resonates with me. Everyone is weary but not everyone rises up. I’ve been listening to it on repeat a lot in my car.
I felt raw this week. I’m not going to pretend a lot of it doesn’t have to do with the election but there are other things, too. If you don’t understand why I’m gutted about the outcome, I’m probably not going to be able to explain it to you. If you completely understand why I’m gutted, you’re my tribe. It goes so much farther than my candidate not winning. So many Americans rejected everything I stand for and voted for everything I don’t. Y’all voted against decency. Everyone always thinks their point of view is the right one but I just don’t understand how you can not think equal rights and acceptance for everyone is not a good thing. It isn’t even about Hillary losing it’s about what won. It’s about the fact that half the country voted for misogyny, racism, xenophobia- for a man who publicly stated you have to treat women like shit.
My life, much like my running, is about relentless forward motion. I feel like we’ve stagnated and that doesn’t sit well with me. A lot of people tell me I’m resilient as fuck. That I take things in stride. Make no mistake, I’m not resilient because I don’t feel or I don’t care. I’m resilient because I feel too much and I get hurt and I rise up and let myself feel again. When you come into my life, I love you. I love the people in my life with ferocity and I believe in so much good. Oftentimes, this leads to getting hurt but resilient people move in a relentless forward motion despite the risk of getting hurt, again. I never half ass anything. I whole ass it all. I go all in during the first couple of hands. Sometimes it really hurts and a lot of things hurt right now. There are a lot of things to be grateful for in life and I’m just going to have to focus on those. Nowhere is my gratitude greater than for my female friends. There is nowhere else in this world where I can turn for the strength, love and acceptance I get and give amongst these wonderful women. Women are the strongest and most resilient people I know. We don’t really have any other choice and this week reminded us of this in the most painful of ways. I’m also very grateful for my running family. I’ve met the best people through running.

Which brings me to Richmond. I came here because the Fleet Feet group was running this race and I love these people. We’ve run together all season (many of us have run together for years) and they’re achieving their goals. After the election and some serious issues with Colin this week and some other bullshit in my life, I wanted to run so hard I couldn’t feel anymore. Marathon training is winding down, getting closer to the big show, and I’m tired. I haven’t raced a half marathon this training season and I wanted to see what I can do. I wanted to put in my headphones, blast the music until I couldn’t feel a fucking thing and run free. 13 miles should feel easy after all the long runs. I wanted to PR but only told two people I was going for it before the race. You never know how it’s going to go until you get out there. My PR is 2 years old and I hadn’t been able to come close to it in well over a year.

Sleeping with kids

Apparently, this is what I look like when I’m really cold.

I brought my kids with me to the race. Carly is a great race spectator and she goes all in with the sign making and the cowbell. Colin has only been at the finish of one of my big races. I wanted my own cheering squad plus my Fleet Feet family knows my kids so I knew it would be okay. We woke up at 5 (after about 3 hours of sleep for me because sleeping with children sucks) and headed out into the cold. Damn, it was cold. I couldn’t make either the Fleet Feet group team picture or the Oiselle team picture because….well, kids. I situated them on a very populated corner surrounded by police and headed down to my corral. I ran into my Oiselle teammate, Michelle, which was such a much needed boast. Did I mention I was cold?

Soon enough the half started and my corral crossed the start. I saw the kids right at the start but it was still too crowded to be moving fast. I wore my watch for my intervals but I decided not to look at my pace during the race. I decided to run by feel. Once the crowd thinned a bit, I hit my stride. Judging by how many people I was passing (my corral had an estimated finish of 2:30) I was pretty sure I was running faster than the the folks in my corral. I flew past the 2:30 pace group. It was a harder than normal effort but I felt good so I kept going. By mile 4, I could feel my hands again so I ditched my gloves. I normally don’t race alone but it was just what I needed yesterday. Running felt wonderful and mentally, I didn’t doubt myself  once on that course.

This was a beautiful course. Richmond is a pretty city and the crowd support was great despite the cold. I smiled and laughed at the signs. I high fived all the kids. I thanked the volunteers. By about mile 5, I felt really happy and had a runner’s high. Maybe, things weren’t as bad as they seemed. Runners are the best people and everyone was so happy. The spectators were happy, the volunteers smiling. Many neighborhoods set up their own aid stations and were out on their lawns playing music and dancing. Mile 9 had beer so, of course, I took one! My pace started to hurt by mile 10 but I didn’t doubt I could do it so I kept pushing. Tom, a Fleet Feet friend, caught up to me and we ran a bit together. It was nice. I knew the Oiselle Cowbell Corner was at Mile 11 and that the kids were between Mile 12-13 and it was mentally great to have something to look forward to for pushing the pace. My pace fell a bit between miles 10-12. My Beats headphones decided to suddenly disconnect from the Bluetooth on my phone so I stopped to fix it. Apple, you really need to improve those damn things. I also stopped for hugs at the Oiselle Cowbell Corner. I saw the kids between 12-13. I tossed Carly my water bottle and said “I think I’m going to make it” she said “Yes, you are! Go, go!” because she had gotten my Mile splits via text and knew my pace.

The finish at Richmond is an epic quarter mile downhill. The streets were lined with spectators. People were yelling for the runners and music was blasting. I ran as fast as I could down that hill and it felt like flying. It was the best finish, ever. I saw the time on the finishing clock but I didn’t know what time I’d crossed the start mat. I stopped my watch and when I looked down, I saw 2:24:26. A PR of over 2 minutes. Sustained paces I haven’t been able to hit in over a year. So, yeah, I cried a little. Tom congratulated me and we got a photo. I headed back up that epic downhill (ouch) to reach the kids at the corner to cheer in the rest of our Fleet Feet crew.

I’m a terrible selfie taker

The kids and I were joined by Jill, Dana and Josh and we cowbelled for all of our Fleet Feet runners who were still out on the course. We saw all of our marathoners come by. Everyone had a great day (many of us PR’d) on an amazing course on a beautiful day. We rang the PR bell!

Carly is the best spectator

I ran my best race and I did everything right. I’m not going to get overly confident because I have the Kiawah Marathon in 27 days and the marathon can be a grueling death march. I have no idea how it’s going to go but I know Melody will be by my side and our Fleet Feet crew will cheer us in. All that is certain is yesterday went better than I expected. I struggled to come back after the Marine Corps Marathon and I didn’t know why. My spring race times were not what I hoped for and I feared I wouldn’t get it back. I needed yesterday. I feel renewed on so many levels. Is Trump still going to be President? Yes. Is my life still full of bullshit? Yes. But, for two and a half hours yesterday (and the rest of the day) none of that mattered. All that mattered was running and taking it all in. I feel better prepared to deal with all the crap. They say if you want to renew your faith in the human race, go out and watch a marathon. It’s true, and that, my friends, is why I run.

Sissy, ringing the PR bell

Only part of the crew


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