America’s Friendliest Half-Marathon

My running buddy, aka Hubby, has gone from a non-runner/exerciser to an occasional marathoner and frequent half-marathoner in the course of two years. It’s amazing. And when I say frequent, I mean frequent. The American Family Fitness Half-Marathon in Richmond, Va., a couple of weeks back was his 19th half of 2012. I think that deserves a guest post, don’t you? …

This is what happens when you don’t run with a camera! You get a logo.

When you run a race, you always want to do your best, and there are so many factors that come into play as to your results. Shoes, temperature, maladies, crowds, hills (so many hills) … or even if you’ve just made a bad choice on your playlist.

Sometimes, though, in spite of all these things, you are handed a race course that you just want to complement with your best possible run in spite of everything else. I found one of these in Richmond, Va., at the American Family Fitness Half-Marathon. It was a mostly flat course through wide, quiet streets and a scenic park, with a downhill finish – and not just a moderate downhill. No daredevil kid would ever take a go-kart down this without ending up with some part of him in a cast for all his friends to sign.

Speedy Richmond

Richmond is a running city. It is home to a group called Sports Backers, who put on a swag of great events. Among them is the Ukrop’s 10K. This is a race that everyone should run at least once. Given the wave start system – 46 in total – if you were absolutely keen on doing it twice, you could pull off the feat in the same day. You’d just have to pony up for the registration fee two times … or three if you were super keen.

The half-marathon was part of a trifecta of races put on for the Richmond Marathon (marketed as “America’s Friendliest Marathon,” and I will not argue with that). As well as the marathon and half-marathon, there was also an 8K. After the cancellation of the NY Marathon due to Hurricane Sandy, the numbers for the marathon rose by another 1,000. Folks determined to race after all their training. I am sure a few of them will choose Richmond over NYC next year.

Those running the 8K got the rough end of the stick with a starting time of 7am. The half-marathoners started at 7:30am and the marathoners didn’t have to toe the line till 8am. Guess they needed the extra sleep with all the miles they had to run.

The pre-run snooze ™

I took advantage of my insanely early arrival time at the start line to head back to the car for a bit of an extra kip. I have become a big fan of the pre-race snooze, though after a reprimand from Stride and Joy for arriving way too early (and she wasn’t even there), I am not sure how many of these there will be in my future. (Note from S&J: We always arrive way too early!)

There were waves with good intervals between them for each event, which makes the course much less crowded – something I cannot praise enough. I qualified for Wave A based on an expected finish time of under 1:45,  and as I mentioned earlier, this was a time I really wanted to beat, given the course.

The course deserved a PR

The great man Bart Yasso (after seeing him twice in two weeks, I am worried I have a very fast stalker) was our starter and at 7:30, we were on our way. Given how cool and still the air was, I decided to run my best ever half-marathon time. I started ahead of the 1:35 pace team, but I knew there would be pit stops. After my second comfort stop around mile 8, the pacers were just ahead of me, and unfortunately I never managed to catch up.

Still, when I rounded the last corner onto the breakneck hill, I opened it up and gave gravity a helping hand in propelling me to the finish. The clock had just ticked over 1:35 when it came into view and I didn’t want it to hit 1:36 after all that effort. American Family Fitness Half-Marathon, my final time was 1:35:27. I hope I earned the fine course you gave me.

The event: American Family Fitness Half-Marathon
The location:
Richmond, Va.
The date: November 10, 2012
Time: 1.35.27
The cause: Various charities
The T-shirt:
Blue long-sleeved tech
The aftermath: Bagels, fruit, pizza

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8 responses to “America’s Friendliest Half-Marathon

  1. Congrats! What a great time!

    • Thanks. It was a great time in more ways than one as I love running in Richmond. Time to move south maybe?!?

  2. As a Richmonder and a “novice runner” I was really excited to run the RVA Half this year after all the great recaps I’ve read over the year. It did not disappoint, and I’m so pleased that runners in all categories find it as great as I do! Hope you come back next year!

    • Thanks. Glad you had a good run and the race did not disappoint. Hope to be back for Ukrops 10K and have already signed up for the half next year. Am a sucker for an early bird discount.

      Are you running the Ukrops 10K?

  3. My 19-year-old daughter, who battles cystic fibrosis, made this her first marathon. We loved the support of the Richmond community! She placed third in her age group–and qualified for Boston. So cool to be a spectator, too!

    • Wow, that’s amazing! Huge congratulations to your daughter! I would have loved to have been there in the crowd. Sounds like it was such a fun event.

    • Wow. Your daughter put in a first class effort. Congratulations for such an excellent run and time.

      Is she going to run Boston?

  4. Pingback: So many half-marathons, so little time | Stride and Joy