Hooray! I survived the Rock ‘N’ Roll USA Half Marathon!
After a colitis flare and running just 15 miles in the past month, I am absolutely thrilled to have crossed the finish line– with a smile on my face, no less!
[rewind to Friday afternoon]
When I landed in DC, my friend Katie picked me up from the airport. From there, we grabbed a quick beer at Matchbox and then headed to the race expo at the Armory.
It was just starting to get crowded when we arrived, so we grabbed our bibs and swag bags, and then wandered around to check out the vendors for a little bit.
I just had to take a picture of these fitting rooms. Haha!
After the expo, Katie and I ended up heading back to her condo for a low-key evening. We ate pasta for dinner and then headed to bed before 10:00 PM.
On race morning, I woke up bright and early to eat my usual pre-race breakfast: peanut butter and banana on whole wheat bread with an iced coffee. This meal never lets me down.
Katie only lives about a mile away from the race, so we jogged to the start together. She was also running the half marathon (her first!), but with some friends from Team Awesome, so split up when we headed to our corrals.
I planned to make a quick pit spot by the potta-potties for my usual “safety pee” before I got into the corrals, but the lines were out-of-control! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a race with such long, slow-moving lines. I was prepared to wait (I mean, there were 24,000 runners on race morning), but, eventually, I ran out of time and headed to the corrals without taking care of business. Grr.
I got to my corral with about 10 minutes to spare, and planned to meet Theodora there, so we could run together. I wandered around the corral looking for her, but the minutes passed with no sight of her. (Both of us had our cell phones, but they weren’t working properly because of the high service use in the area.)
At 8:00 AM, the National Anthem was sung and the first group of runners took off. Sadly, there was still no sight of Theodora, so I thought I’d be running the half alone, which definitely bummed me out since I was so unprepared for it. It would have been nice to have someone to run with. Plus, Theodora and I are good running buddies. We know how to pace and push one another, and we just have fun.
I mentally prepared myself to run the race alone and pulled out my headphones so I could listen to music. Just as I was about to plug them into my iPhone, I received a text message from Theodora saying she was standing right under the Corral 8 sign.
Hooray!!! Reunited! It was fun to see Meganerd, too!
Just a few minutes later, we were heading to the start line.
And off we went!
Theodora, Megan, and I didn’t have any sort of plan until we started running, so once we found a happy pace in the low 9:00s, we decided to keep that up. Surprisingly, our pace actually ended up being pretty inconsistent. We’d run one mile at 9:10 or so and then run the next at 8:48 and then back to 9:10 again. I didn’t realize we were running this way until after I looked at our splits. Kind of weird, right?
- Mile 1: 9:35
- Mile 2: 8:48
- Mile 3: 8:16
- Mile 4: 8:48
- Mile 5: 9:10
- Mile 6: 8:48
- Mile 7: 9:19
- Mile 8: 9:10
During the second half of the race, my quads started to get really tight and sore. On Thursday night, I did WOD 12.4, which included 150 Wall Balls with a 14-pound medicine ball, so my legs were letting me know they didn’t appreciate running a half marathon. I mentioned to Theodora that I might want to stop and walk, but she replied: “Oh, you’re not stopping.” She said it in such a way that I really didn’t think she’d let me stop, like she might actually drag me along with her, so I tried not to think about my legs and just kept trucking along. Thankfully, I started to feel better and kept up with her. (We lost Megan around Mile 6 or so when we were running through Dupont Circle, so it was just the two of us for these middle miles.)
This sign also made me feel a lot better:
Best race sign ever? Obviously! I looked EVERYWHERE for the free pugs at the end of the race, but I think other runners beat me to them.
I felt pretty good during Miles 9 – 11. I don’t know if it was the crowds or the bands along the course, but I was having a really great time. The sun came out too, so they whole scene was kind of a blast.
- Mile 9: 8:45
- Mile 10: 9:01
- Mile 11: 8:54
Around Mile 11, Megan caught up to us, so the three of us ran together for a little bit. At this point in the race, I really started to lose steam and began to trail behind Theodora and Megan. I started to get discouraged, but I didn’t want to stop and walk since I was so close to the end, so I made a deal with myself that I’d slow down a tiny bit, but pick up the pace as soon as I hit the final mile.
Mile 12 came, and I mustered up every ounce of energy to push it to the finish. My legs were on fire, but I gave it everything I had to finish strong. I didn’t want to have any regrets when I crossed the finish line. Even though my final mile wasn’t my fastest, I was more than happy to finish the way that I did.
- Mile 12: 8:53
- Mile 13: 8:54
I ended up crossing the finish line in 1:59:08, which is an average page of 9:06, a time that I am pretty darn happy about, especially considering the past month of my life. I’m honestly amazed my body could even run 13.1 miles after what it went through less than three weeks ago.
As for race itself, I absolutely loved the course. I said the exact same thing last year when I race the National Half Marathon. (FYI: The race is now organized by the Rock ‘N’ Roll/Competitor Group.) The course is beautiful and takes you alongside the National Mall, Capitol Building, and Washington Monument, and then through Adams Morgan and Howard University, and the last few miles head back toward the race start. I loved it. The course is mostly flat too, except for a pretty big hill at DuPont Circle and some rolling hills between Miles 6-10-ish. Oh, and I can’t forget the uphill finish where you can’t see the finish line until you’re almost done. That’s a mental challenge to say the least!
As for the Rock ‘N’ Roll part of the race, the bands were pretty good– definitely better than those at the Arizona Rock’ N’ Roll Marathon— but they seemed a little sparse throughout the course. I don’t remember how many bands we ran by, but there were a few instances where I wished music had been playing to pump me up. Even still, live music during a race is always a good time.
Katie rocked her first half marathon! And she said she felt great during it!
After the race, I headed back to Katie’s house for an amazing brunch with all sort of delicious eats.
And these cookies, which changed my life for the better.
There was also plenty of beer, which I took full advantage of.
I drank 5.5 beers and called it a night.
Good times in DC! Thanks for a fun weekend, Katie!