Not only accepting the “C” goal, but being proud of it!

Well, here it is. Not the race re-cap that I had hoped or expected to be writing, but here it is regardless.

This was marathon #7 for me and my 2nd time running the Richmond Marathon. I absolutely love the Richmond Marathon! Here is why:

– It is a beautiful course that is not too flat and not too hilly. I like a little elevation change, but not crazy steep hills.

– I love the fact that there is a water stop every mile from miles 20-26. This is more of a mental thing than a hydration thing. Something about just telling myself to get to the next mile helped during those last hard miles.

– The race swag is awesome! You get a “free” 🙂 blanket, shirt, and hat. The blanket, in my opinion, is the best idea ever! The medals are really nice too.


-The race is very well run with great volunteers!!! Even the guy at the McDonald’s that I stopped at after the race was great (I just really needed an iced coffee). He asked me if I ran, which race and how it went. He was just really nice.

– It is not so big that it is overwhelming (like a Boston or Chicago), but it is not so small that you feel like you are out there alone.

I headed to Richmond on Friday. It takes about 3 hours to get there as long as I leave my house at the right time. I was super excited to not only run this race, but to also get to spend some time with Emma and her family.


My husband and I ran this race last year as an anniversary gift to each other, but this year he was on a mission trip to the Philippines. He actually just got home Tuesday and had an amazing trip!!! Now he is trying to adjust back to US time!


I got to Emma’s about 3:30 and we went to the expo and then stopped at the grocery store to pick up a few things before heading home for the night. It was a nice low key night…perfect for the night before a marathon!

I slept like I sleep the night before any marathon…not great. Is there anyone who sleeps good the night before a marathon?!

I got up about 5:30, had a bagel and coffee and we were out the door at 6:30 for a 7:45 race start.

It was basically perfect as far as weather goes. 40 degrees at the start and sunny. It was a tad bit windy, but really not bad. On the way to the race I decided to change out of the long sleeve shirt that I had on (after changing my mind about 5 times) and into a short sleeve shirt that I decided to bring just on case I changed my mind. I am SO glad that I did!

Quite honestly I don’t know where exactly it completely fell apart for me. It more or less came in waves that really started at mile 13-14.

There are so many “what if’s” and it can be so easy to go there, but there is basically no point. Maybe I could have started out a tad slower, but I don’t think that was the problem. One thing that is definitely an issue that I need to work on is mid race nutrition. I feel like a broken record saying this, but I just don’t have it figured out. For my 22 miler I did 1 gel, water and Body Armour and that worked perfect. I have one gel that I have been able to use without too much trouble. With this race my plan was to do 2 gels. 1 at mile 10, 1 at mile 20 and water whenever I felt like I needed it. It was a total flop for me this time. I really want to make gels work for me, but I am just not sure I am going to be able to. I like that they are quick, convenient and not cumbersome to carry, but if I can’t stomach them I need to quit forcing it.

For this race I had my first gel just before mile 10 and that was also my first water stop. It just did not agree with me and the thought of having another was more than I could handle. My stomach was delicate for the whole rest of the race. I knew that I needed more fuel, but I just couldn’t do it.

Mile 1-10- I felt amazing and confident. I started not quite as slow as I wanted but was very comfortable. Around mile 7-8 I had caught up to and tucked in behind the 3:15 pace group and was thinking how great it would be if I could stay there!!! I was really loving how easy the 7:15ish pace was feeling!

11-17- These miles made me nervous, but I was trying really hard to calm myself down and just run. The gel didn’t sit right and my pace was slowing. These miles were up and down as far as pace goes. I was really trying hard to stay in it and hoping my body would just come around. I knew pretty early here I was going to have to let that 3:15 group go, but I had a little cushion if I could just hang on maybe I would snap out of it (this is WAY earlier than I was planning to be thinking about hanging on).

There is a bridge around mile 15 that is wide open so it was pretty windy and was just really hard for me this year. I really didn’t think it was that bad last year , but my husband did, so I think it has a lot to with how you are doing at that point!

18-26.36- Mile 18 was my first 9 minute mile and it was here that I knew there was no chance this was going to be my day. I had a “C” plan….enjoy the race and forget about my pace. I knew that there was a possibility that this could happen. I really just did not think it would, and I was pretty frustrated with myself during these miles at how upset it was making me.

Here are my splits:

Mile 1- 7:35

2- 7:12

3- 7:16

4- 7:22

5- 7:11

6- 7:14

7- 7:03

8- 7:30

9- 7:11

10- 7:19

11- 7:42

12- 7:27

13- 7:51

14- 8:09

15- 7:44

16- 8:11

17- 7:52

18- 9:00

19- 8:44

20- 10:11

21- 10:24

22- 9:33

23- 9:46

24- 9:05

25- 8:54

26- 8:36

.37- 2:14

Trying enjoying the race while you watch your goal slips away is harder than I thought it would be (at least it was for me). I have had slower races, but never on such an amazing training cycle.

As I have been thinking about it more though I have come to the conclusion….so what? So what if I didn’t hit my goal on that particular day. I worked hard in my training and it was a great day for a beautiful run! I ran a 1 mile, 5k and 10k PR in my training. I have been able to enjoy some great runs with my husband and time with my girls on my runs while they biked. I got to share my training with others, meet some great friends and learn a lot from some amazing runners.

I got to thinking what if I was told by someone who knew the future (not that I believe there is such a thing, but just to make a point) that I would never get that 3:15? Would I keep trying?

My answer is yes!!! Right now I am at a place in my life where I like challenging myself in my training. I like pushing myself. Is that time on the clock the only reason I trained for and ran Richmond? No way! I am telling myself and anyone reading this who has missed a goal time to forget about the time. Be proud of the hard work you put in and the race that you ran. Recover and then get back out there and train and run again. I am pretty much already working on trying to plan another race!

I may have been disappointed with my time, but there are FAR more important things in life, and there is SO much more about running that is inspirational and it has nothing to do with a clock! I am choosing to not only accept my C goal, but be proud of it.

This story is amazing and one of my favorites! She has such determination and a great perspective.


It comes down to this, everyone has good runs and bad runs, great races and horrible races. Enjoy the good ones and accept the bad ones.

Choose to focus on and be grateful for what there is instead of what there isn’t!


Hope you have an amazing weekend!!!!


How do you work through a bad race?

Anyone else struggle with mid run fueling?

What is your favorite marathon?


  1. says

    I’m so glad you were able to write this. Obviously I know firsthand how hard it is to deal with disappointment in the marathon. Those are LONG miles at the end when you are struggling and I’m proud of you for making it to the finish. I also love that you have gained perspective about finishing times, as I have. I think we both TRULY love running and racing which is why we will never stop reaching for big goals – getting them is obviously amazing but not getting them is ok too because there is so much joy in the journey. Keep running my friend and someday I hope we can do what we love together!! xoxo

    • Jen says

      Thanks Allie!!! Your support means a lot and I really enjoyed following your journey too! Racing together would be a blast :)! I didn’t get my goal, but that’s life and it just means I get to try again. :). It can be easy to just see the negative, but is super important to remember and focus on all the positive!!!! Hope you had a great Thanksgiving!!!

  2. Claire says

    Great re-cap, Jen. I feel your pain. I had trained so well about a year and a half ago for the Pittsburgh marathon. I was right on track to easily get a BQ. Race day started out great, then I fell apart about mile 15. Too early for that to happen! It is so hard to keep running with a good attitude after that. Then, I started training for a “redemption” marathon – again, it was going great! – and ended up with a stress fracture. Ugh. I’m back at it. I took a full 12 weeks to recover, and have been coming back slowly, and hopefully wisely. I’ve been using this fall and early winter to try to really build back a strong base so I can be ready to train again in Jan. for a spring marathon. I know you will figure things out, and will be right back at it! Your post was encouraging – thanks!

    p.s. My favorite marathon was Boston! That’s why I’m trying to get back! It was one of those disappointing race performances (I ran in 2012 – the year it was 90 degrees), but the whole experience was awesome! You have your BQ, right? In my opinion, it is worth the monetary investment to get to experience it at least once.

    • Jen says

      Thanks Claire. It sounds like you are being super smart about your training! I would love to hear how your training goes for a spring marathon!!!! I did a “redemption” marathon 2 years ago and it went great. I was trained for a 3:20-3:25 and my race didn’t go as planned and it ended up being a 3:45. I really wanted a 2nd try and so I ran another one 2 weeks later in 3:30. I thought about doing something similar this time, but I just don’t feel like I have it in me to go for a 3:15. I want to be smart about it too. I am thinking about a spring one though :). I know winter training can be rough though, so we’ll see :).

  3. says

    Girl I feel the disappointment because it’s exactly what I felt when I felt it slipping away at mile 12 for MCM. It’s hard to stay positive when you come to that realization! The marathon is such a beast and a true testament that there is no sure thing when it comes to it despite how kick butt training went. It keeps you humbled, but I think we all learn things from each marathon that make us a better racer for next time. There are more marathons in the future, they will never go away and that many more opportunities to keep on trying.

    • Jen says

      Totally agree!!! It is hard, but I think it is really important not to get too obsessed over a time. 🙂 I hope you had a great Thanksgiving!!!!

  4. Lindsey says

    I totally understand your fueling issues – I did an entire marathon training cycle using Gu, but the last few long runs before the race, I noticed having trouble with more of the flavors. By the actual race, there were only 2 flavors I could tolerate. When I finally built back up to longer runs afterward, the 1st time I tried to use a Gu I actually threw it all back up on the side of the road! 🙁 I have started using fruit drops by skratchlabs and I LOVE them! Natural ingredients and they aren’t slimy like a lot of the other chews! If you’ve ever had gummies made out of real fruit, that’s what they taste like! 🙂

    • Jen says

      I have never tried those and I am definitely going to look into it!!! That sounds like something I would like! Do they come in small packages…I am going to search for them!

  5. Nina says

    What a good perspective you have when a race didn’t go as you had hoped! I also had a disappointing race at MCM this year. Even though I ran a 5-minute PR, I was frustrated because I started struggling far earlier than I “should have”. I appreciate your reminder that running is so much more than just the race itself and to be grateful for the good AND the bad runs!
    Have you ever tried Huma gels? I never liked any gels before I tried them. They’re more like a fruit purée than a gel.

    • Jen says

      Thanks Nina :). I have tried Huma gel, but it has been awhile and I might have only tried one flavor so it might be worth another shot :). Hope you had a great Thanksgiving!!!

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