2016 Rock ‘n’ Roll DC Half Marathon Recap

Disclaimer: As a Rock ‘n’ Blogger I received a complimentary global tour pass, which I used for entry into this race.  As always, all opinions are my own.

rnrdc recap

Last Saturday, I crossed the finish line of my seventh half marathon.  When I started planning out my race calendar for the year, the idea of running or running/walking a half marathon only two and a half months after giving birth had not once crossed my mind.  My original plan was to run my first postpartum half marathon at the beginning of June, which would allow myself to have five and a half months to recover and train for my first major race after giving birth.  But as my return to running went more smoothly than expected, and I realized I didn’t have to run the entire race, the idea of toeing the start line of Rock ‘n’ Roll DC developed.

My race weekend started off on Friday afternoon at the expo.  I had toyed with the idea of going to the expo on Thursday in order to avoid the expo crowds, which was held at the DC Armory, just under an hour from my house.  However, as plans developed for a joint Rock ‘n’ Blog/We Run Social meetup Friday afternoon, I started to think about whether taking little man with me into the city on a Friday afternoon during rush hour would be a good idea.  The armory isn’t stroller friendly (not only do you have to go through security, but bib pick up is downstairs in an area not elevator accessible).  Thankfully, my husband was able to come home from work early, which allowed me to go to the expo baby-free.

I arrived at the expo just before 4:00 p.m., about half an hour before the meetup.  I quickly acquired my race packet, and browsed the official merchandise and expo floor before heading to the meetup, which was at the Rock ‘n’ Roll series booth.  The Rock ‘n’ Blog/We Run Social meetup happened to occur at the same time as the Rock ‘n’ Roll legacy runners meetup, so we got the chance to mingle with some serious all star runners.  We found out that one guy has run over 120 Rock ‘n’ Roll races – wow!

Rock 'n' Bloggers and Rock 'n' Roll legacy runners

Rock ‘n’ Bloggers and Rock ‘n’ Roll legacy runners at the expo Photo Credit: Steff from Run Steff Run

At the meetup I got to meet several familiar faces.  After a long period of time of interacting online I finally got to meet Janelle and Steff, and it was great to see Cynthia and Lauren again.  We spent almost 45 minutes mingling, and the time just flew by as we all caught up with each other.

Rock 'n' Bloggers from left to right: Dorothy, Kat, myself, Steff, Cynthia, and Janelle Photo Credit: Steff from Run Steff Run

Rock ‘n’ Bloggers from left to right: Dorothy, Kat, myself, Steff, BrianaCynthia, and Janelle
Photo Credit: Steff from Run Steff Run

After the meetup, I headed home and later that evening set out my gear for the next morning.  Since my last race was back in October, I was panicked that I had forgotten to get something out, but thankfully I remembered everything.

Saturday morning, I got up at 4:00 a.m., and by 5:20 I had showered, fed little man, and was heading out the door.  In order to save time at the end of the race, I opted to purchase a parking pass for the lot at the finish line at RFK Stadium.  By just after 6:00, I had pulled into the parking lot and was walking towards the Metro, since the start line for the race was downtown on the National Mall.  Thankfully there weren’t any Metro issues that morning, and I arrived downtown with plenty of time to spare before the 7:30 a.m. start.  Just prior to getting on the Metro I was greeted with an absolutely beautiful sunrise.  It must have been a sign that I’d have a good race that morning.

What an absolutely beautiful view to have early in the morning!

What an absolutely beautiful view to have early in the morning!

Once I made it downtown I immediately headed for gear check, checked my bag, and then started heading for the porta potties.  Back in 2014 I learned that there are two sets of porta potties, and that the set furthest away from the start line is usually less crowded.  As I walked along the National Mall towards the further set, I ran into Steff and Lauren, who were standing on the steps of the Natural History Museum.  We said a quick hello, and then I ventured off to take care of my pre-race business.  After using the porta potties I texted Cynthia since we had planned to meet up before the start of the race.  We found each other, and headed for the start line where we found Mar.  Mar and I both wound up being in Corral 11, so it was nice to have a friend to chat with while waiting to start the race.

With Cynthia and Mar before the start of the race Photo Credit: Cynthia from You Signed Up for What

With Cynthia and Mar before the start of the race
Photo Credit: Cynthia from You Signed Up for What

At 7:30 a.m. sharp, the race started, and at 7:45 I crossed the start line.  The first 5k took runners along the mall, past the White House and Lincoln Memorial, and for a loop out and back across Memorial Bridge towards Arlington National Cemetery.  I often think of this first 5k as the typical DC race course, since it seems like nearly every major race includes all or most of this loop.  It was such a great way to start a half marathon before the course took you into other areas of the city that other races don’t.

I love the views while running on the mall!

I love the views while running on the mall!

My race plan was to run the first 7-8 miles, and then walk the rest.  During the run portion of the race I used run-walk intervals of 4:15 run followed by 45 seconds of walking.  I’d been using this run-walk interval set for all of my long runs up until this point in my half marathon training, and since I treated the first 7-8 miles of the race as my long run for the week, I wanted to stick with what had been working for me.

After the first 5k, the course took us towards the Kennedy Center and onto Rock Creek Parkway.  Even though it was a cloudy morning, with the occasional drops of drizzling rain, it was still one of the most peaceful and beautiful parts of the course.  I wish that we lived closer to DC so that I could run in Rock Creek Park more often.

Some of the sights while running through Rock Creek Park, which included a couple dressed as Jasmine and Aladdin

Some of the sights while running through Rock Creek Park, which included a couple dressed as Jasmine and Aladdin

In order to exit Rock Creek Park, you have to climb the dreaded Calvert Hill just before the mile 6 marker.  Its a total climb of close to 150 feet in a single hill, and often catches racers off guard that are unprepared for the hill.  This year just prior to the hill there were members of Wear Blue to Remember, an organization that recognizes and honors fallen soldiers.  The left side of the course was lined with pictures of fallen soldiers, and it was just the motivation that I needed as I pushed to the top of the hill.  I successfully ran up most of the hill, and only stopped to walk just short of the top of the hill since I had finished a run interval.

Running up Calvert Hill with Wear Blue to Remember encouraging and supporting runners along the course

Running up Calvert Hill with Wear Blue to Remember encouraging and supporting runners along the course

At the top of Calvert Hill I crossed the 10k mark at 1:1046 (11:24 pace), and then entered Woodley Park, where I was greeted with very heavy crowd support.  I was feeling great, and decided to push myself as hard as I could for the last two miles until I started walking the rest of the race.  Throughout Woodley Park, and then Adams Morgan and Columbia Heights, plenty of residents came out to support runners, offering runners beer, margaritas, and champagne.  I kindly passed on all the offers (you just never know what’s really in those cups), but still showed appreciation for all of the support that so many residents showed.

According to my Garmin, I reached mile 8 at 1:29:20 (11:10 pace), which I’m more than happy with for my longest run since last fall.  Although my legs felt good, I didn’t allow myself to get caught up in the excitement of the race, and enjoyed walking the rest of the race, which included walking through Howard University where the women’s drumline played alongside the course, as well as down North Capitol Street and through part of the H Street Corridor.  And just before the mile 12 marker I found Courtney along the course, and made sure to get a huge hug from her before I walked the last mile of the race.

Right after I received a hug from Courtney (you can see her hand on the right) Photo Credit: MarathonFoto

Right after I received a hug from Courtney (you can see her hand on the right)
Photo Credit: MarathonFoto

I walked until just before the mile 13 marker, and then decided to jog the last uphill and across the finish line, which I crossed at 2:46:37 (12:43 pace).  Not bad at all for having walked the last 5 miles of the race!  After I crossed the finish line I received my medal and walked through the long finisher’s chute, collecting water, Gatorade, and more than enough food.

post race rnrdc

Due to snow piles that still hadn’t melted after the blizzard back in January, Rock ‘n’ Roll had to slightly alter the course and move the finish line festival to a different parking lot than the festivities are usually held in.  This last minute change seemed to result in a lack of signage and some general confusion among runners and spectators.  The layout wasn’t ideal (gear pickup was down a hill and to the right from the finish line, while the concert stage and beer garden were to the left of the finish line), and maybe with some more planning the finish line festival could have been better organized.

DC Public Works dumped massive amounts of snow during and after January's blizzard in Lot 7 at RFK Stadium, which is where the finish line for RnRDC usually is

DC Public Works dumped massive amounts of snow during and after January’s blizzard in Lot 7 at RFK Stadium, which is where the finish line for RnRDC usually is

Other than confusion at the finish line, Rock ‘n’ Roll put on another fabulous DC event.  I have no doubt that I’ll run this race again in the future.

QOTD: What are your favorite neighborhoods in DC to run in?

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60 Responses to 2016 Rock ‘n’ Roll DC Half Marathon Recap

  1. Pam says:

    Congrats Kathryn on your return to running/racing. You look so happy in the photo with your race medal. It sounds like the course was interesting, especially as you were walking the last 5 miles. It also looks like you had pretty good weather for race day which is always a plus.

  2. Jennifer says:

    Congrats Kathryn! I’m glad the line drum was out there – I remember it being one of my friends from RnR two yard ago. Did they move the finish line as well? Or was it at the same place as years past?

    • They also moved the finish line. We finished on a slight uphill, which several people complained about, but with so many DC races finishing on the slight uphill just before the Washington Monument I’ve gotten kind of used to it.

  3. Linz says:

    congrats! i need to sign up for a half for this season! it’s my favorite distance!

  4. Awesome job! I enjoyed the collection of pics too!

  5. Congrats on your first long race back into running! It’s funny to imagine there are still snow piles left down there!

  6. Steffany R. says:

    It was so nice to finally meet you! I’m so happy you had such a wonderful return race. I will be back next year for sure!

  7. moorek17 says:

    Congratulations! That is a super time! And even walking the last 5 miles, that is great! I used to live in Cleveland Park in DC, so I loved running the rock creek park/adams morgan areas! They are so fun and scenic!

  8. Awesome job on your return to racing. You ran a smart race as your first postpartum race, and I have no doubt you will completely return to form quickly! I love that you got to meet all the DC Bloggers and Briana!

  9. Congratulations on your first post baby half! 2.5 months after, that’s incredible but sounds like you did it really smart.

  10. Looks like they managed to host a great event, and it’s awesome you were able to cross the finish line so soon after little man’s appearance. Congratulations!

  11. Lesley says:

    Great job, and good for you for sticking with your plan to walk. It’s hard to not get caught up in the moment. I do want to run in DC at some point, with all the monuments and parks.

  12. CONGRATS to you! You are such a rock star to do a half so soon after giving birth. I am in awe! I’m so glad you stuck to your plan and felt great throughout the whole race – and that is an AMAZING time – especially considering you walked the last chunk of it! WOOHOO!!

  13. Chaitali says:

    Congrats on the great job sticking to your plan! It’s so easy to get caught up in race day excitement otherwise. I had no idea the finish line change was because of the piles of snow. I was wondering about that.

  14. It’s pretty amazing that you are back it at so quickly! Really impressive . I was so jealous of all of your pics I signed up for next year already

  15. Janelle @ Run With No Regrets says:

    Congratulations on your race, you did a great job! I love the pictures during the race! It’s the funniest thing, I don’t even remember passing some of those monuments and I wasn’t even going that fast! Again, I’m glad I got to finally meet you 🙂

  16. Ana says:

    You are so amazing! Doing a Half marathon after giving birth! Amazing! And in such an amazing time!? Fantastic! Congratulations on your 7th Half Marathon!

    The finisher area seemed to me like a mess. This was my first time running RnR DC, and I was a little disappointed on how unorganized the finisher area appeared. But it makes sense with the snow mountains on the other parking lot. I think when I read that the race would finish in RFK, I thought I would be inside the stadium, not within close proximity. But other than that it was a great race!

    All the other recaps I’ve read for this race point out how awesome the blue mile (Wear Blue to Remember), and I only remember seeing it very briefly, because I was so focused on the hill.

    I’m going to tell you the same thing I told Janell… OMG! you have a picture with Dorothy Beal!!

    • It is definitely a shame that the finish area was as chaotic this year as it was, because it usually isn’t that way. I wonder if RnR will stick with the new finish line area, which is also closer to the Metro, or go back to the usual finish line and festival area next year.

  17. Congratulations on an awesome race, especially after giving birth! I wish I could have done this race this year. Maybe next year!

  18. Kim Hatting says:

    How awesome for you! YOU had a great race, and got to meet up with so many peeps (#jealous). I want to do DC race someday 😉

  19. Look at that smile in that photo, you could win one of those “she doesn’t even look like she is running” photo things, if this went viral. Seriously, cute photo, I never look that relaxed and happy in my race photos, even when I try, LOL
    Great job on your race and I think it is so fun you got to meet up with friends before and on the course!

  20. What a fun race! And you finished in a great time especially since you walked the last few miles! I would LOVE to run DC one day!

  21. Diana says:

    Great job on your race! I love the Rock ‘N’ Roll marathon series. The races are always so much fun and bring out some characters…literally (Aladdin haha).

  22. I have NEVER gotten to run in DC. That has to change.

    Congratulations on a great race! You’re doing awesome!

  23. Run Away With Me says:

    Nice job on your first half marathon back! That course looks awesome so I might have to do this race someday!

  24. Great recap and AMAZING only two and half months post baby?! You’re a rockstar momma! 🙂 DC is on my bucket list next year. We could afford the travel this year. But, Rock n Roll Nashville is right around the corner for me!!

  25. Sharon says:

    Congrats on your first half marathon post baby! Way to have a plan and stick with it. The course sounds great! I would love to head back East and do this course one year!

  26. Congrats on a fabulous race! I gotta get out to DC soon to get a race in!

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  28. 247viz says:

    That’s great. Congrats on your return!

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