Since my Chicago Marathon in October I decided to finish the year out on an easier note, a half marathon. Running a half marathon is pretty easy for me after completing marathons, training with coaches, and sticking to my regular workout schedule.

With that, I decided to run Richmond due to many things; its proximity to Washington, DC, the course layout, and the great reviews I received from previous runners and friends. The course takes you through the heart of Richmond, while running through rolling hills runners will be able to observe the beautiful scenery from the historic and surrounding neighborhoods. Since I’ve only ran larger races such as Marine Corps and Chicago to name a two, Richmond was very different. There of course were no long lines, no real security check-points, and the most important for me was there were not a ton of people trying to get to their corral. It made getting to the start line less stressful and more enjoyable, which for me was the best part of the race. Since I was not aware of how small the race was going to be from the beginning I arrived super early, I mean so early that I got front row parking and watched the crew set-up the start line and clock from my car due to the rain that was coming down pretty hard at the time.

The Richmond half and full marathon had staggered start times with the half starting at 7:30AM and the full starting at 8:00Am. This once again was the first time I had experienced anything like this, but thought it was a great idea. It helped make the start once again less stressful and more enjoyable since in the past the half marathon runners were trying to compete with full marathon runners for space in the corrals. Of course, don’t get me wrong there were still a lot of runners at the front trying to get out the fastest, even if they weren’t the fastest. Since I knew I was going to be pretty quick and needed to get out in front early I did get near the front of the start line but also to the side. I have found through my runs that if I stick to one side I won’t be surrounded by crowds and I can pass the people I need to at the beginning without any issues or injuries.

Once out, I did as I had planned, I stayed to the right side passing the runners that I needed until I fell into my grove and pace. Once in my grove and in open space I moved into the center and continued passing runners that had started slowing down. The first 6 miles were easy breezy due to the flat course and few runners around me. There were of course a few “rolling hills” but nothing I hadn’t trained or ran before so my legs felt great. Around mile 6 the course took us through one of Richmond’s State Parks which is were the hills and rough terrain started. The hardest part were not the hills but the rough, unstable terrain that they had us running through; there were potholes, uneven roads, and wet downhill surfaces due to the rain. It was through this part of the race that you began to see who the true runners were, who really trained, and who could handle any type of running condition. Following miles 6-8 in the State Park runners once again were directed back to the smooth flat course through many of the different Richmond historic neighborhoods and finally to the finish line which was a straight downhill sprint. This was the first race that I’d ran where the finish was a downhill sprint instead of an uphill climb. I was able to PR (Personal Record) the Richmond Half Marathon with a time of 1:24, placing 69 overall, 55 in my gender, and 14 in my age group.

Overall the Richmond Half Marathon was a great race. The city, crew, and spectators did a great job of making the event stress free, smooth, and enjoyable. I would highly suggest this race to any runner, new or experienced as a course to run. I look forward to going back and running the Full Marathon in 2014!