Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Race Recap: Rock n' Roll Half Marathon - Washington, D.C.

The Rock n' Roll half marathon kicked off a very intense 2 weeks of races for me.  The days leading up to it I was started getting nervous because I also signed up for a half marathon the following day so I could qualify for half fanatics.  It's a running club essentially and they have different levels you can attempt to complete to join the group.  I chose to complete 2 halfs in 2 days.  I knew going into RnR that I would be taking it somewhat "easy" so I had enough steam for the next day.  I say "easy" because in all honesty, ever single run I do is still hard.  I'm still waiting for the day when a few miles is actually easy!

Pre-Race Diet:
I'm not usually very good about dieting or watching what I eat before runs, but knowing I had so much coming up, I did try to do a proper carb loading.  I ate a lot of pasta and drank a lot of water.  I honestly think it made a huge difference in helping me get through these last 2 weeks.  This is one area I want to continue to focus on because what we eat before runs really makes or breaks the run.   I've learned this the hard way!

The expo was big because there were 30,000 runners divided into a full marathon and a half marathon. It was in the DC Armory, and was open Thursday and Friday until 7pm.  I left after work on Thursday to head into DC and after heavy traffic and a few wrong turns, I didn't arrive until 6:15.  I went with a friend who had never been to an expo before and it was nice to have company.  Plus, while I waited in line to get my number he waited in the shirt line so by the time I got my number I could cut near the front.  It worked out perfect.

Even though I knew the expo closed at 7pm, I kind of thought they would allow a slight extension because I thought that was so early to end.  That was not the case.  I felt like I barely had time to walk around and look at things, shop and try samples.  It kind of sucked.  We were totally pushed out.  I still managed to spend a good amount of money on gear and headbands (I almost always end up with a few headbands after an expo!).  The expo was nice, but my one complaint was the early closing time.  Anyone living near DC, which I do, knows the traffic is a beast so anyone who left work around 5pm would probably had a hard time getting there in a timely fashion and would have faced the same issue as me in terms of not having the time they wanted to walk around.

One thing I found odd was RnR used a timing chip you had to put on your shoes.  That's pretty old school and considering how large of a race series it is I was surprised they couldn't fork up the cash to get the timing chips directly on the bibs.  They did provide a nice tech shirt that fit just right and a nice race bag with their logo.  I love race loot!

Pre-Race Meet-up:

I rode in with Jeremy and Carrie, two fellow Red Felters.  Jeremy works in DC so we were able to come right into town, park where he parks for work and hang out in the L'Enfant Plaza hotel to stay warm and use their restrooms.  It was much nicer than the porta-potties!

There were several other Red Felters who were also running the race so we of course set up a location to meet and take a photo or two, say hello and wish each other good luck.  We didn't spend too much time together because some of us needed to drop off bags at the bag check (me included) and then use the restroom (yet again!).  Everyone runs at different paces so it's pretty normal to just say hello and then spread into our respective corrals.  For the time being, I'm in the back corrals with the other slow folks :)  We didn't have everyone in our picture, but this was a sample of the awesome members of RFRC!
As you can see from the start line, there were a lot of runners.  When I first went to my corral I was happy to see groups of porta-potties (about 8) for each corral.  That was great because you could just stand in line right there in the corrals.  However, once the race started I did not like it because we had to maneuver through people waiting in bathroom lines.  It was quite annoying. I didn't start the race until about 30 minutes after the official start.

Once I got started I did a run/walk combo with no particular interval.  I walked when I felt like walking and ran when I felt like running.  There was fairly decent crowd support here and there, but definitely not as good as the larger marathons like MCM or New York (I've been a NYC spectator and those crowds are amazing).

I still go back and forth before races with whether or not to carry a water belt.  Thankfully for this race I did because many of the early water stations were poorly manned and water was not at the ready. Since I had my own I could just keep on going.  It was one day I was so happy to have a fuel belt.

Along the race I noticed a good amount of Team in Training runners and since I'm doing a TNT race in April I made it a point to say hello.  In addition to that, I find large races like this are cool because you get to run into some interesting people and cool costumes.  I love reading people's race shirts.  I saw two girls running with pink shirts and on the back of one said, "I just finished treatment 3 days ago, nothing will stop me!" Her friend's shirt said "I'm running with Sarah."  They were a little ahead of me so I sprinted up to them and made sure I congratulated Sarah.  It was inspiring to see someone overcome cancer treatments and then be out running a half marathon right away.  I saw them at the end and thought it was so cool she did that.  I don't know if I'd have the guts to try a half marathon right after treatment.  She is a beast!

By far my favorite part of the race was our 6.6 mile pit crew.  A few local Felters who weren't running came out to cheer us on.  I ran into Liz, Larraine and a guy I didn't know.  It was great because they were just at the top of a brutal hill.  I gave them hugs and ran on.  I love the support my running club gives.  I don't think I'd be into it as much without them.  Even though everyone runs alone essentially, it  helps so much to have a group to support and encourage you.

All in all it was a nice course and a good race.  There were some funny signs here and there.  My favorite sign said, "Smile!  You're still faster than everyone behind you."  That made me smile because with so many runners, there were many people behind me.  That's not something I'm used to.  I'm definitely a back-of-the-pack kind of runner...for now!

Post Race:
I came in with a time of 3:00:04.  It's certainly not the fastest time ever and slower than my PR, but keep in mind I had a half the next day.  I anticipated being slower so I was happy with that.  I came through the race shoot, got my medal and grabbed some food.  Safeway was a sponsor for the race and they were handing out re-useable bags, which was perfect because after a race you pick up food and other random things so it was nice to have a bag to put them in.

I knew Jeremy finished well before me and was waiting for me back at the hotel to get back home so tried to hurry.  I checked a bag, which was stupid because I didn't need anything in it, and I had to wait in the long line to get it.  The RnR staff did not organize that very well.  They took way too long to get people's bags.  I brought one that was a different color so it was easy to find, however getting to my turn took at least 20 minutes.  After I got my bag I headed to the metro, which was packed.  I was going to walk to another station, but about a quarter mile down the road was another entrance to the station closest to the finish that had no wait.  It was a total score!  I was able to hop on and get back to the hotel.  I felt bad that Jeremy had to wait so long, but it sure was nice to catch a ride in with him.

All in all it was a pretty good race.  There were things about it that I would've have like to be a little different and slightly more organized, but it was fun and I would do it again.

No comments: