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?