2017 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.

This was my third time running Rock ‘n’ Roll DC, so I knew what to expect in terms of the hilly course.  Just because I was familiar with the course did not automatically make for an easy race day experience.  In fact, I had quite the opposite during Saturday’s race, mainly driven by how cold and windy it was during the race.

Race weekend started out on Friday when I drove to the D.C. Armory where the expo was held.  After standing in the security line for about five minutes, I was inside the armory.  There were virtually no lines anywhere, and I walked right up to pick up my bib.  I browsed the official merchandise, wasn’t impressed with this year’s selection, and then walked the expo floor.  The only two things that caught my eye were the new lineup of new heavy medals and the large RnRDC medal backdrop.  I was in and out of the expo in less than an hour.

Because the start time of the half marathon was pushed back from previous years to 8:30 a.m. due to Metro Safetrack construction, I was able to sleep in until 5:30.  Yes, that is actually sleeping in for me, as my alarm goes off at 4:45 each morning for work.  I was on the road by 6:30, and drove to RFK Stadium since I had purchased a parking pass to park at the finish line.  After parking I took the Metro downtown to the Smithsonian station, quickly dropped off my gear bag, and found a set of porta potties with almost no line.  I then met up with Cynthia, and we chatted as we walked towards the corrals and the start line.  We parted ways as she headed to Corral 5, and I met up with Chelsea in our corral, Corral 10.  It was nice to be able to chat with her for a bit as we slowly made our way towards the start line.

Prerace with Chelsea and Cynthia

My plan for this race was to use 4:15/0:45 intervals, as that was the run/walk interval that I used for all of my long runs during this training cycle.  Despite how cold it was (the wind chill was in the teens), I tried my best to stay warm and keep moving forward.  I had done a good job of layering (I wore a short sleeve shirt, long sleeve half zip, and a thermal vest, in addition to a hat and gloves), but I’ve never been a fan of cold weather running, and absolutely hate being cold.  Between trying to warm up, and the thrill of the start of the race, I was able to maintain a strong pace early on in the race, and was quite pleased with the splits that I ran during the early miles of the race.  After running down Constitution Avenue, I was disappointed to see that the course had been slightly altered.  Instead of the usual out and back on Memorial Bridge, the course instead had a new out and back portion near the Watergate Complex before entering Rock Creek Park.  I much prefer the older version of this course.

Splits for Miles 1-4:
10:17, 10:15, 10:07, 10:33

I always love running through Rock Creek Park.  Even though I know that running up Calvert Hill to exit the park is anything but easy, there’s something so peaceful about running through the park.  During this portion of the race I was entertained by several fellow runners who were dressed in interesting costumes, including somebody dressed in a full on panda bear costume, as well as a spectator dressed as Mr. Incredible.  Then at the foot of Calvert Hill was the start of the “Wear Blue” memorial.  This lineup of photos of fallen soldiers as well as service men and women, and volunteers, holding American flags, was quite inspiring, especially while running the toughest part of this course.  I thanked as many of the members of the military as I could, and although their presence was inspiring, I had to start walking about halfway up Calvert Hill.  I resumed running at the top of the hill.

Splits for Miles 5-7:
10:17, 10:26, 11:42

As I entered Adams Morgan just before the mile 7 marker, “Don’t Stop Believin'” by Journey came up on my playlist.  Not only did running through Adams Morgan bring back memories from my college days at American University, but hearing Journey always does the same thing.  It was just what I needed to hear to help me regain some of my momentum after completing a tough part of the race.  During the 8th mile the course went through Howard University, and the all women drum line was out helping motivate runners.  They are always one of my favorite parts of this race, and hearing their music helped give me an extra pep in my step as I continued on.

Splits for Miles 8-11:
10:24, 10:13, 10:01, 10:12

The closer that I got to the finish line, the more difficulty that I started having.  Throughout the race, I knew that I was on track to PR and reach at least my B goal.  However, the further that I ran, the more that the cold really started to get to me.  At one point, I had trouble feeling my legs and my face.  But I kept pushing forward and did my best to maintain my 4:15/0:45 intervals.

After passing the mile 11 marker, I texted Jenny, who I knew would be out cheering on 13th Street with Courtney.  As I neared them, I did my best to keep running with a smile on my face, but deep down I knew that I had to start walking.  I was feeling slightly lightheaded, but being as close to the finish line as I was I did not want to give up.  I walked much more during the last two miles of the race than I would have liked, but I just kept telling myself that I needed to keep moving forward.

Splits for Miles 12-13.37:
10:56, 11:17, 4:20 (last 0.37)

I crossed the finish line at 2:20:57 (10:46 pace), just over 5 minutes slower than my current half marathon PR.  To say I was disappointed is an understatement.  After putting in a lot of hard work over the past 10 weeks, I was so hopeful and optimistic that I would have a different outcome on race day.  I know that I cannot control the weather, but it was still a difficult pill to swallow.  Looking at my Garmin data makes me feel slightly better (I ran 13.37 miles in 2:21:00, a 10:33 pace, which is substantially closer to my C goal).

Trying to warm up post race

While I had hoped to stick around and meet up with a couple of fellow bloggers post race, I was just too cold to do so.  I was so happy that I had oped to park at the finish line, and was able to warm up in the comfort of my car before driving home instead of having to deal with being cold on the Metro.

I’m still processing what went right vs. wrong on race day.  But one thing is for certain: since I didn’t get a PR on Saturday I’m very eager to run another race this Spring in hopes of accomplishing that goal.

QOTD: Do you prefer running in cold or hot weather?

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61 Responses to 2017 Rock ‘n’ Roll DC Half Marathon Recap

  1. Lisa says:

    I think it would be really tough to race in such cold weather. Sometimes when its really cold I feel like my muscles just don’t want to move! I still think you did great and I sure you have a much faster time in you. Hopefully you will get to run a redemption race soon! Congrats on pushing through and finishing strong!

  2. Steffany R. says:

    I’m proud of you! It was a rough day for sure. Build on your training, you will get it next time!

  3. laurenruns says:

    It’s hard to run a long race in cold weather!! I have done 5ks or 8k, but usually a half marathon in the cold I do not have high expectations on my performance. Good job on pushing through! It’s been challenging since we’ve had some warm weather in this winter and your training cycle!

  4. kookyrunner says:

    It’s so difficult to run a race in those conditions. I ran RnRDC in 2015 and it was cold and pouring rain the entire time. I had a miserable race because of the weather and just couldn’t enjoy the course. Kudos to you for still being able to enjoy the course, the spectators, the sights, etc eventhough the weather was brutal!

  5. I know what I’m capable of when I line up for a race. That’s if EVERYTHING falls into place. But stuff happens, and that’s why it’s good to have a backup goal. For me, it’s usually the weather that messes with my goals. Pretty sure the cold windy conditions messed with yours. Congrats on a great race in spite of tough conditions!

  6. I’m sorry the race didn’t go as planned for you. It was not an easy day to run. I think you did a great job with your race plan nonetheless – I’m happy to see someone else who’s doing intervals! Your hard work isn’t defined by that one day.

  7. HoHo Runs says:

    Great job persevering in those conditions! Ugh–to the wind and cold!! I hope you are proud of what you accomplished. You can always think of it as great training for the next one. LOL. My perfect running temp is upper 40s with no wind. Sadly, I rarely get it.

  8. Angela says:

    Massive Well Done, don’t let not hitting goals beat you up completing the half is an achievement in itself, especially in those weather conditions and it sounds like you still managed to enjoy it regardless!! The weather always plays a huge part in my runs, I have a half on Sunday and the forecast looks like heavy rain and high winds. UGH!!!

  9. Lesley says:

    If I had to choose hot or cold, I’d choose cold because I warm up pretty quickly when I run. I’d prefer no wind, but I can’t control that. You did a great job in those conditions!

  10. Considering the cold and wind, be glad that you were only 5 minutes off your goal instead of more. I know you’ll reach your goal if you do another half this spring in better conditions. Considering what you wore, the short sleeve, the zip up, the vest, we’re you warm enough? Too warm? Too cold? We’re any of your layers insulated? Did you she’d any layers? As you know i’m just trying to get a good feel as to what I should wear this weekend cus it looks like I’ll be running in similar conditions.

    • My vest was insulated, and I started the race also wearing a throw away sweatshirt. I definitely wasn’t too warm, though I did take my gloves off about halfway through the race because my hands started to feel sweaty. That’s the only layer I shed during the race though.

  11. I’m sorry it wasn’t the day you’d trained for. I look forward to seeing you rock it at another half soon – I know you’ll hit that PR!

  12. Karen :0) says:

    Congratulations on another half! The weather sounds brutal so don’t be too hard on yourself – I know you’ll reach that goal in better weather conditions! This sounds like an amazing half and is definitely on my list!!

  13. I definitely prefer warm weather running. I don’t mind a little cool (like 40s/50s) – but when it drops below that it makes longer races less fun for me. I’ll take the hot and sweaty 80 degree day over the cold 20 degree day!

  14. Rachel says:

    I’m sorry you had a disappointing race. I know how that goes. But you should be proud that you finished strong in such brutal conditions. Great job!

    Sidenote: I have so many memories of Adams Morgan. My brothers used to live a block from there and we spent many a happy hour over there. 😉

  15. Marcia says:

    I’ll take cold over extreme heat for running any day but a very cold half is no fun. I think you did great in the conditions you were dealt. RnR is so hot and cold on there expo merchandise. Seems like when I really wanna buy something, everything sort of sucks. Haha!

  16. MB Jackson says:

    Great recap! Sorry you did not hit your goal but you ran a tough race on a tough day! If it gets below 50 degrees it is cold for me so I cannot imagine! Way to stick it out and finish and a strong finish too- congrats!!!!

  17. Congratulations on finishing your race and sorry you were disappointed with the course change and your time. I run really well in colder weather meaning, I don’t get as tired as I do running in warmer, humid conditions. Anytime I sign up for a race down here, there is always a chance it will be a warm day. I finished my last half in 2:28:57 because it was so HOT. I had a really great 10k last weekend because the weather was in the 40’s and low humidity. I hope you have recovered well from your race and you can find another half to train for and get that PR!

  18. I am sorry that your race did not go as planned. We can put so much expectation into races where I have really come to believe that it’s the training that’s the tough part. You really did train so well this time and your day will come I am sure. The conditions were really tough out there with such cold temps. Congrats on finishing!

  19. I can handle both extremes of weather (and, believe me, we get them both in Iowa LOL), but I MUCH prefer the heat over the cold. Hands-down. I’ll take an upper 90’s day with humidity over sub-freezing temps, any day, with no arguments. 😉

  20. I am really sorry to hear that things didn’t go according to plan. 😦 It’s so disappointing when things don’t work out, especially when it’s through no fault of your own. However, this looks like such an amazing race, and considering the circumstances, you did great.

    I like cooler, but I have Raynaud’s so when it’s too cold, I can’t feel my fingers or toes, which makes it really difficult and painful to run. It’s better for my breathing, but that’s about it.

  21. Clarinda says:

    Weather can be such a B! I hate the cold so much that this would have likely been devastating for me, too. Congrats on your finish!!

  22. Coco says:

    It’s so hard when a race doesn’t go as planned but the cold wind is so difficult. I generally prefer cold, but wind sucks. Here’s to your next race!

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  24. Janelle @ Run With No Regrets says:

    The cold weather was really tough last Saturday. You did a great job even though the finish wasn’t what you hoped. I know that it was tough for me to breathe with the cold and wind and the hills seemed much harder. You captured some great pictures during the race – the drum line is definitely my favorite band!

    I hope you find another race this spring where the conditions will be better and you can really show all you’ve got!

  25. Cathy says:

    It really sucks to put in the training and then the weather doesn’t cooperate. I like running in the cold (but not too cold – like above 20) but I do not like racing in the cold.
    Great job! Thanks for sharing, I love reading race recaps!

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  27. Cindy B. says:

    I ran this race, as well, and at the exact same spot (mile 11), I hit my wall. I walked way more in the last 2 miles than I wanted to and was so discouraged. I finished 2:47 slower than my goal, but my Garmin said I ran 13.63 (!) (must’ve been all my weaving), so I was actually not too disappointed with my overall pace. The cold and wind was killer, so kudos to you for finishing so close to your goal!!

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