Richmond Markel Half Marathon RECAP

Ooooooh, this race was cold as ice. had time for a short run today. Even at the day’s start temperature in the high 30s°F, I’m glad that I didn’t need a full marathon this race. Because of Airbnb fiascos from three properties and three hours of sleep in the previous 48 hours (I know, the story of my racing life), it’s a wonder that I ran a solid race.

The course: from start to finish there was never really a dull moment. Hearing my new buddy, Bart Yasso, announcing the waves from the start line, distracted me from the fact that the wind was slicing life force from shivering bodies. That, and having to come in to downtown from further out because of the third Airbnb booking (keep reading) and becoming locked in slow traffic, I was five sections behind my wave group. No biggie, just run your race and you’ll be fine. Not having run Richmond before, I soaked in as much as I could visually from murals, landmarks and a restaurant that I went back to post race. Shout-out to Soul Taco. Even though the Broad Street segment seemed as if it would never end, I ran my race.

Finally met the Mayor of Running in person. Mr. Bart Yasso

Tagged every corner as close as I could/should without incident. Then the hills came. That rolling ish blended inside miles six and seven could have been left out. But, even though I’m complaining, I took down every hill as smooth as a hot knife through butter. Old Man Winter kept charging us with wind gusts. “Embrace the wind!” I tell myself just to stay relaxed. “Embrace the wind!” while getting sliced from another direction. After awhile, I’d had enough embracing and was cursing under my breath. Plantar fasciitis started up in my right foot which eventually started the hamstrings to humming. This forced me to drop my pace in the second half, but it kept me injury free for the most part. When we hit that long downhill in the last mile, I became concerned because I wasn’t braking like I normally do. I think that the grade was just about perfect to push here. Then finally the finish line. I finished strong and had all of these ideas of how I was going to have a dramatic photo opp, but there were too many bodies and I couldn’t find the cameras and said, Oh the hell with it. I was done. The blanket that we received was a great takeaway because the wind was not done with us. Shout-out to the Wakanda Running Warriors for winning largest team. Sorry I missed the team photo, but here is the reason why: the ugly part of my short weekend in Richmond.

Souvenir blanket received at finish line

I will start by saying all properties have a tie in to Airbnb and all monies have been reimbursed. Mind you, that’s all that they’ve done.

Reservation #1 of 3: Keisha!

After the expo, I made my way over to the south side of Richmond (via bus daypass). I called her as I was ten minutes away from the house. My call is answered, I announce who I am and I hear a click! Now I know this person didn’t just hang up on me and it’s cold outside, after 3pm with not much daylight left. I called again and was delivered to voicemail. One more try. Walk over to the house. Kid’s toys scattered out in front yard. I rang the bell, knocked on the door and window multiple times and left. Called Airbnb and was told they would try and also seek a new property for me in a 30 minute window. That’s a lifetime of time with cold and darkness creeping in. Self preservation said take the next bus back to downtown and process this out. Phone battery near dead, I dig into the bottom of my backpack for my backup battery charger. Frantic and thawing, I aggressively select a higher priced Airbnb utilizing the Instant Book feature in the app so that I don’t have to wait on a host response. P.S. you don’t want to know how many multiple syllabled derogatory names I attached to her soul. Take the money and run. I don’t think so!

Reservation #2 of 3: Andy

I get to where I thought was Andy’s place, but the pin on the map keeps landing on a strip island in the middle of the James River. I called him since I was confused. Left a voicemail. Time to get to my prepayed dinner with my fellow runners because now I don’t know what the hell is happening and I need to be someplace warm. I hadn’t eaten since breakfast. It’s now around 6pm, dark, windy and cold. Andy sent a message while I was at dinner to state that his listing is a campsite. What? That’s not going to work either. I’m back to start without a place for the night.

Reservation #3 of 3: Extended Stay America – North Chesterfield – Arboretum

It’s now past 8pm and here I am frantic! As much as I hope I was pleasant with everyone I talked with during the dinner, it was hard because I was homeless with an early AM race looming. Tick tock, tick tock, back into the Airbnb app I got. Alice in Wonderland had it better than I did. A warm rabbit hole would be better than what I had at that moment. This final reservation was at a hotel chain that Airbnb partners with. Further out and on the west end of Richmond, I didn’t have options. The only hotel listing available in downtown was for $346/night! Not!

So this place was not so pleasant. The only thing I wanted to Extended Stay in was my foot up the rear end of the housekeeping staff that did a trifling job of refreshing that room.

First thing was to unpack my things so I could get some sleep. I remembered that I needed to complete my daily Spanish lesson. I started the app and that was it. I passed out straddled across the bed. Awoke at 3am and laid out my race gear. Decided to lay down for one remaining hour. Pulling the blanket back, I notice a lump under the sheet. Pulled the top sheet down and found the plastic shield for a disposable razor. So now getting under the sheets is out. These sheets have probably not been changed since the Pilgrims landed. I kept my clothes on and covered up with the blanket. I’m showering when I get up anyway. After I did get up, I opted to take a pic of the little treasure under the sheet for reporting purposes. Wait, what are those??? The sheets had crumbs and old napkins underneath. Disgusting! I threw all the top covers onto the floor. The wenches will have to clean it now! Reported all of this at checkout around 6:30am. I submitted the pictures to Airbnb. The account manager called me three times over the two days apologizing. In four years, I’ve never had anything on this magnanimous of a scale erupt like this using their service. If I ever, and I mean eeeeeever, go back to Richmond, it’ll be in a rental car that I’ll sleep in with a ton of moist towelettes.

I wouldn’t mind a do-over on this race, but it won’t be in 2020 (we got goals. Cleaner goals).

Next race is, finally and finishing the year, the Valencia Marathon – 12/1/19.

Reconciliation Statue and
The Triangle, Dedicated 2007
Identical statues in Liverpool, England; Benin, West Africa; and Richmond, Virginia, memorialize the British, African and American triangular trade route, now identified as the Reconciliation Triangle.
Sculptor: Stephen Broadbent

The following pictures are from the Extended Stay America – North Chesterfield (Richmond, VA)

My running brother from Philadelphia, Kareem Lee.