My goal for Richmond Marathon was to do nothing other than run the day.

I would arrive to the start with the mindset of wanting to run under 3:30 and if my legs still had any speed in them I would try to drop down and run faster than MCM. Running the day meant that if I tried to drop my speed down and couldn’t, I would accept that what my legs were giving me was all they had and I would be happy.

The marathon is a perfectly imperfect race. You can train hard and not get the end result you expect. You can train what you consider to be half-a$$ed and PR. There are MANY variables you can not control. I knew at Marine Corps Marathon I was in shape to run a sub 3:10 marathon. My 1:06 10 miler weeks before had predicted a 3:07 finish at Marine Corps IF I ran a perfect race and all variables worked in my favor. It didn’t happen that way. Somewhere around the half way mark I knew that a PR had escaped me. I would have had to run 6:45 to 6:30 pace for many of the remaining miles to hit the time I wanted and I knew my legs and lungs did not have it in them that day. I decided from that point on to enjoy the day and celebrate the fact that even on an off day I was going to run sub 3:20 – something I would never have dreamed I could say.

  • Mile 1: 7:25
  • Mile 2: 7:25
  • Mile 3: 7:27
  • Mile 4: 7:21
  • Mile 5: 7:21
  • Mile 6: 7:28
  • Mile 7: 7:22
  • Mile 8: 7:28
  • Mile 9: 7:39

I ran the first 9 miles at what felt to be a comfortable pace. I couldn’t believe how beautiful the course was and really felt happy that I had chosen to run Richmond again. I ran Richmond in 2008 two weeks after a PR at MCM. The insane heat combined with running on dead legs made for a VERY miserable marathon.

It’s hard to say whether a course is good or if you liked a marathon when you personally didn’t have a great day. Your emotions are mixed up with true feelings on the course. This also works the opposite way – a great race for you might mean you think a course is awesome even though to others it might be a boring, lonely marathon – I think this is how I feel about B & A Marathon. The course and race is great to me because I have run well there.

Mile 10 I decided to see if my legs had it in them to pick up the pace and start to drop down into the 6’s.

  • Mile 10: 7:15

7:15 was as close as I could get to sub 7. My legs screamed out and my stomach started to cramp. My heart had to reason with my head. If I pushed my body at this pace I would crash and burn and possibly not finish sub 4. I had a choice. Run smart and hit my goal of sub 3:30 or run like a moron and have to walk a good portion of the last miles. My head won out over my heart.

  • Mile 11: 7:27
  • Mile 12: 7:59
  • Mile 13: 8:01
  • Mile 14: 7:49
  • Mile 15: 7:51
  • Mile 16: 7:49
  • Mile 17: 8:14
  • Mile 18: 8:18 { I loved for obvious reasons that mile 18 was an 8:18 pace – I can’t even make this stuff up – it’s CRAZY to me }
  • Mile 19: 8:31
  • Mile 20: 8:21

By mile 20 I wanted to walk. BADLY. I decided that I needed to keep running – not because of pride but because I needed to feel that pain. I needed to remind myself that I am STRONG that I am capable of what I put my mind to. I had put my mind to a sub 3:30 and I needed to run that – not because it was a crazy fast time – or because it was impressive in any way – but because I needed to run that for me – for my soul – for my heart.

  • Mile 21: 8:41
  • Mile 22: 8:31
  • Mile 23: 8:49

My mind started to waver. I wanted to walk. I wanted the pain to be over. Yet I knew if I walked I would feel more PAIN weeks later in my heart. Walking was not an option yet it seemed like a moment to moment battle between my brain that told me to walk and my heart that told me to run. There are so many thoughts, feelings, emotions that run through your head as you run 26.2 miles. It is something that you can not explain to others who haven’t run marathons. There is something wonderful, yet crazy, that happens to you during runs of this length – it is something I have not felt in any races shorter than 26.2 miles.

Somewhere around mile 22 I saw Neon Blonde Runner – she came up beside me and started chatting. She mentioned that I didn’t have to respond back to her because she was sure I was tired. I said yes, I was tired, and I was ready for the marathon to be over, but thank you for running with me because if I had not seen her at the exact moment I did – my head would have beat out my heart and I would have started walking.

When we said our good-byes I remembered a post I had written recently for Saucony. My posts always help ME most. I NEED to be reminded of my own words and thoughts.


I would run till mile 24 and at mile 24 I would re-evaluate if I could make it to 25. At 24 I decided it was ridiculous to give up now. I kept running

  • Mile 24: 8:49
  • Mile 25: 8:42

Something happened in the last mile that I will never forget. I felt happy. REALLY  freaking happy. You couldn’t see it on my face but I felt it in my heart. I felt like I had found myself. I felt that the questions in my heart and head no longer needed a new answer – I already knew what I felt. The answers to most of my questions in life are DREAM BIG or RUN LONG or both – DREAM BIG RUN LONG.

It is when I am dreaming or running that I KNOW myself – that I find out what I am made of. Every fiber of my body, my soul works – sometimes together – sometimes against each other – but in the end it always works out. ALWAYS.

  • Mile 26: 8:05

I was overjoyed by my pace. I knew that my heart was running my body. Not my legs – my heart.

I decided that I was going to sprint to the finish. I wanted to ensure that I ran under sub 3:30 and the only way to do that was to kick it in. The last .3 of the race took me 2:02.31 for an average pace of 6:40.

That is how I RUN THIS BODY.

#22 – I love you.


I’ll be back to run Richmond again. The course was beautiful. The spectators awesome. The city welcoming.

I want this marathon to be my focus one year. I want to run on fresh speedy for me legs and see what I can do.

Did you run Richmond 8K, Half Marathon or Marathon? How did it go? What did you think of the course?

Mile Posts Blog is on:

*photo credit – Cheryl Young –


  1. Congratulations!! I don’t know how I missed you at mile 25???? :) You looked great and HAPPY!!!

  2. :) :) :) I saw you :) but had no energy to yell to you – hehe. I don’t know how I always spot you at races!!! Thank you for the picture!!

  3. Smiling at the finish – that’s how to do it. Way to push through strong and enjoy a beautiful day on a wonderful course.

  4. Nice work DB! Way to maintain and keep moving forward one mile at a time!

  5. Great recap, and nice job on #22!

  6. I ran the Richmond full and loved it. My first marathon I actually enjoyed and I did get a 6 min PR. i’ve always hated the marathon….until last Saturday. I can’t believe I actually was happy to be running at mile 23 of a marathon. Crazy. Might even do a spring one…

  7. Congrats on marathon #22!

    Mile 26= 8:05, lI knew that my heart was running my body…….that just made my day.

    I am SO proud of you for sticking through those difficult miles. As I told my friend Brittany, running through that kind of pain is so so much more difficult than just doing a regular old marathon. My slowest marathon, by 30 minutes (RIchmond last year, a 3:56), was by far my most painful and traumatic race experiences and it inspired me to train to avoid that in the future.

    Richmond was my first marathon last year and I remember feeling so tired during those last few miles. I remember feeling so desolate. I’m glad that I could jump in at that point and run with you, during a stretch that I remember despising! You really did look good, your face hides pain well.

  8. Great job out there. My day fell apart like crazy, but the spectators really kept me going through the finish. Hope you come back to make it an “A” race one year!

  9. Hell yeah!!! Great attitude. I really love how you went into it with realistic expectations and you did the best you could with what was given. Super kudos to you for not walking when it felt tough. Congrats!

  10. Katie @ msfitrunner says:

    Great job:) that is the victory in the marathon, when your heart is strong and happy…times don’t matter as much. You rocked it just two weeks after mcm, way to go:)

  11. I really loved the Richmond Marathon!! I had some issues with my mind/body relationship during miles 22-25 so it definitely slowed me down when I could have pushed on. I ended up with a 1min PR so I cannot complain! You learn something about yourself and your ability each marathon, I will use it for the next one!! Congrats on your awesome finish!

  12. me too. Let’s discuss

  13. Congrats again! I can’t imagine running on tired legs like that… it would definitely strengthen your mental toughness! Richmond sounds like a great race. And what perfect timing to run into Katherine! She seems so sweet.

  14. Congrats on a great race and getting #22 in the books! I’ve never tried running back-to-back marathons so I can’t relate to asking my legs to run 26.2 miles AGAIN after just having done it!

    I love that your heart was running your body at the end of the race. I can’t wait to get my I RUN THIS BODY shirt in the mail. :)

  15. Way to go on #22! It’s very inspiring to read about other runners struggling through races and to see how they talk themselves through it. It helps to learn new coping strategies that I can use in my races. Thanks for the honesty!

  16. You rocked it!!! I love reading your post, fantastic!

  17. Wow. I really needed that! One week before my 2nd marathon and I am feeling not ready at all. We trained for NY and it was canceled, came home and decided to run a local marathon two weeks later (Nov 17t) but my so my taper was way too many weeks ago. So it was good to put it all into perspective. We did train hard. We were ready for NY. We will run this Charlotte race no matter what! Wanted to mention that we are all running to Honor victims of Sandy and will wear our NY shirts. Follow us at Charlotte Runners for Sandy Relief on FB! We could use all the support we can get! :)

  18. You make me want to train and run a full marathon! Great job! Pretty sure it won’t be sub 3:30 but completing would be a huge accomplishment. Can’t say great job to many times!

  19. Amazing Dorothy! Your passion shines through. You inspire me SO much!

  20. Hi Dorothy. Sorry to be a bit of a blog lurker but I thought I’d let you know that I happened to see you right around the Mile 25 marker and you were looking very strong and determined. I don’t think my running form has ever been that good in the last miles of a marathon! Congrats on a great race!

  21. Congratulations on a fantastic run – all the better for struggling through it. I bet the pride at the end was all the sweeter.

  22. The Richmond Marathon was a great course, but I had a horrible day. I’m so inspired by your attitude and strength throughout this race. I had some stomach issues that overtook me from mile 11-22, which blew out all my goals, but I learned a lot and am looking for my redemption race in the near future. I know that most importantly I need to work on my head game. Thank you for sharing your mental approach – I’ll try and learn from you!

  23. Congrats! You are really amazing, and the way you push yourself beyond what most would think is possible is totally inspiring!

  24. This makes me want to put on my running shoes right now! This is why I love running!

    (and I’ve already signed up to run Richmond next year as Marathon #2)

  25. And you need to update your Bio. You are now a marathoner x22 :)

  26. Thanks!! I do need to do that :)

  27. I love this race recap. You are so right about the marathon being the imperfect race. You can train hard, pace your various speed sessions, tempos, long runs and easy runs perfectly — and not get the results you are counting for. I actually PRed with an IT band issue last year and have never quite captured that feeling of race perfection since. I’m glad you enjoyed the race and listened to your body. As always, you are such an inspiration and I learn so much from your words.

  28. I ran the Richmond Marathon and I had a great race. I was anxious at the start because, like you said in your post, you never know how the cards are going to fall on race day. In your favor or not? The cards on marathon day fell in my favor. I shaved 25 minutes of my prior (1st) marathon time can came in at 4:27. I my goal is a sub-four marathon and it will take several attempts, but I will make it happen. Thanks for your great words of inspiration and advice in each post!

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