Tidewater Striders Marathon Spring Edition Race Report

By Anna

Anna' Pix from Tidewater Marathon


We can all sit back and agree that 2020 was a big fat flaming bag of dog poop, right?  The whole time frame should have been sent down the garbage disposal in general but I especially know that so many of us had running goals that got postponed, rescheduled and eventually cancelled. My big goal for the fall of 2020 was to run a 50k. I felt so wonderful after my first marathon at Richmond in 2019, my head swelled with hubris and I was positive that I would be able to attain this goal. HA. As if.

When the lockdown began in March I started taking my toddler for a stroller run every day.  I needed to chip away at the time and burn off enough energy to be able to sleep at night. Unfortunately I got ahead of myself and wound up falling and spraining an ankle. My physical therapist later raised the obvious issue - I’d been exclusively running for years and completely ignoring any cross training or strength program and (surprise!) it finally caught up with me.  After a few weeks in a boot, and then weeks of PT before being allowed to run again I approached running with a gratitude, and a commitment to strength-training, that I’ve never had before.

I felt great and applied myself throughout the fall and winter.  Every few weeks I would scan local race calendars looking for small, local events but never found something to commit to. The snow and ice of February chased me back indoors. I was far too nervous that I would slip on the ice and sprain something new to run more than a few times those months.

Despite January & February’s minimal amount of miles logged I took the plunge and signed up for the Tidewater Striders Spring Marathon in Chesapeake, VA in the Dismal Swamp.  After a mere 8 weeks of following a training plan I showed up at the starting line. The course was so simple - an absolutely flat, straight 6.5 mile out & back. Half marathoners would go out once, marathoners would do it twice.

I was hoping to just finish given my choppy and incomplete training regimen but as Stephen

Gunderson mentioned in his report  “just finishing” as a goal was a lie. I wanted to PR from my Richmond time of 4:40. I figured if I were lucky I could beat it by about 10 seconds, and I would have been thrilled with that!

The course was so unbelievably forgiving that after my first 6.5 miles (at the first turn around point) I decided to just open it up and see what I could do. I shut off my podcast and pumped up my speedwork playlist. I felt incredible. Lizzo was personally in my ears believing in me and cranking up my cadence.  This joy lasted all the way until mile 23 when my quads and knees hit the wall.  I queued up a Peloton outdoor training run and used it for run/walk intervals. After those final 3 jello-legged, interminable miles I was ecstatic to see that I crossed the finish line at 4:19:58. A huge PR. After only 8 weeks of dedicated marathon training!

Unfortunately after a quick shower I had to drive back to Alexandria and I can truly say that the 5 hour (thanks, permanent traffic in Fredricksburg) car ride was unequivocally the worst part of the day.

All in all, I offer up a 5 star review to the Tidewater Striders. The event was lovely and so easy to get to. Parking was right at the start line! When does that happen at any DC event?! Check-in was easy, the course was so straightforward (HIGHLY recommend if you're chasing a tight PR!) And the shirt and medal are awesome. I look forward to a return to normal and am so grateful that we can all run together and celebrate each other's accomplishments once again. I’m going to keep chasing PRs, maybe I’ll pin down another one this November in Richmond after finishing a complete 20 week training plan. Keep running & I'll see you out there, Striders!