Rock N' Roll DC 2016 : Race Recap ( I did everything I could to mess this up)

  • Half Marathon Number 7: March 12, 2016 at 7:30am.
  • Finish Time:  1:53.25
  • Start Location: Washington, DC - Constitution Avenue
  • Finish: RFK Stadium/DC Armory

   With Every race that I complete, I feel like I'm learning more about myself as a runner  and the cities that I run in. Chefs and foodies say you only know a city by its food. Musicians and artists say it's the music and art that defines a city. But I think you can connect with a city by running: smelling the restaurants, hearing the music, seeing the art. Then again,... Maybe Running isn't THAT deep or profound. Either way, I saw a lot more of Washington DC, this past weekend than I ever have as a tourist. 
   I made a lot of mistakes this weekend... but I still managed to PR,... running this race about 25 seconds faster than my last Half Marathon in Wilmington, NC. 
    Plan A: Get to the Health and Fitness Expo one hour before a planned meet-up with the Rock N Bloggers then link up with a college buddy. 
      So traffic happened. Friday evening traffic. I don't know if skipping lunch would've helped, but I was sitting on the highway somewhere between the Pentagon and the MLK monument when that was supposed to happen. On the bright side, I still made it to the Expo before everyone got out of work and created a line that stretched around the block at the DC Armory. 

    Note to self: For the Next Rock N Roll DC Health Expo, arrive early. leave plenty of time to hang out before it closes. Anyway the health expo was a good time for me to track down some Nuun... because (mistake number two and three) I left by Nuun Plus mix for distance runs at home... and I forgot to buy Nuun gel packs before I left. I didn't find any, but I did get my first preview of this new product called Glukos. More on that later.

     Skip to race morning and mistake number Four. Rock n Roll DC has a start and finish line that are nowhere near each other. Many races are like this and it's fine.  The solution: park at the finish line and take the metro to the start line along with dozens of other runners. So, why didn't I follow my plan to do this? I guess I couldn't pass up the opportunity to get dropped off at the start line and save a couple of dollars. In exchange for saving cash, I lost accessibility to my phone charger, Camera, extra battery for the GoPro and a place to have my backup clothes just in case the start line is a little chillier than first thought. 

   See, all of these reasons to do the right thing.. and I still took the wrong path. 
     So, I'm dropped off with plenty of time to sightsee.      
I stop to get my picture taken by one of the race photographers who was obviously warming up for the day. I didn't know it then, but that's where I dropped my headphones. Yes, My headphones. I didn't notice until about a half hour later. I returned to the scene of the crime to find a group of runners had found them and placed them to the side. I love people sometimes.... especially Rock N Roll runners. 

     Alright so, with about 45 minutes before race time,.. I drop my stuff off at gear check and head to the porto potty line. WOW. 30 minutes later I'm ready to race. 
       The Plan: find the front of my coral, start in the front and run my pace. 
      What actually happened: The guy holding my coral sign didn't really understand that you're supposed to move toward the start line after each coral starts. I wound up starting in the middle of the coral 8 pack and didn't start my GoPro, Nike+ app or MapMyRun app on time. Actually, I didn't start MapmyRun at all. Nike+ eventually started working. Same with the GoPro. But Wow. At this point I'm thinking: "Why do I keep making so many mistakes?"
    Anyway, No more mistakes. Focus and execute the plan. Run smart, Run Hard,... Don't give up!
    I know almost nothing about Washington, DC outside of the the touristy areas. So, most of my knowledge about this course came from the elevation chart and course map.
     What I do know is the first 3 or four miles is very scenic. Passing the White House, the Washington Monument, The Lincoln Memorial, The national Mall and the Bridge to Arlington National Cemetery. The Start line on Constitution Avenue was amazing in itself. You're surrounded by big beautiful museums. After that, It's all business. 
     Just before mile six is the Blue mile. I paused mentally for a moment to notice the two young children - probably aged 3 and 6 - posing by a picture of their father. Very cute, Very sad. 

     But I didn't have too much time to reflect because that's where the toughest hill on the course is located. A 200+ foot elevation change. But I ain't scared of hills. 
    If you take short quick steps, pump your arms, lean forward and keep your head down,.. eventually.. you'll get to the top. 
      After that... It's all downhill- kind of. I just have to manage my energy because -reminder- I forgot to buy Gel packs. After miles and miles of weaving through the crowd, I start to notice that I'm running with the same group of people. So, I settle into a grove while still trying to push my pace.  I stop for a few aid stations and keep pushing. The goal is to get to mile 10 and assess how I feel. At that point, I only have a 5K left, so I pick it up -- and I find it hard to pick up my pace. One mile to go and it's time to give it my all. I focus on running form, cadence, relaxing my shoulders and staying up on my toes (as much as I can.)
     I didn't turn my camera on at the very end of the race to catch the final push for the finish line (another mistake) but it's cool because I successfully got my best race finish picture. 

     Finger high in the air and I actually look like I'm running... not like I'm fast-walking or about to fall on my face!
      So, a PR finish even though everything else went wrong. 
      Training is everything!
      There was great race support. The volunteers were friendly. There was plenty of hydration along the course. I think the race course was a perfect mix of Washington DC scenery and good challenging street running. I haven't done too many races, but I think it's good that the scenery was mostly in the beginning, because once you get past a certain point you're not thinking about looking for the important buildings and locations,... you just want to finish. I did note that I had made it to Howard University. 
      Seconds after finishing, I checked my phone and it said 20% and then turned itself off. So, no post race selfies at the finish line. My battery was drained because I left the Nike+ app screen on (the one that tells you how far you've run.) I should have turned that off at the start line... but you know -- everything but the race went wrong. 
     The post race party was cool as usual. I didn't realize there are changing rooms set up for runners in the post race area. I'll remember that. You don't want to know what I did to get out of my cold wet clothes.
    Anyway, after getting something to eat at one of the food trucks I was on my way home. I couldn't help but notice the tent for the marathon finishers. I want that jacket so bad that I am now training for my first marathon on April 10th! That's right, I'll be running the full marathon for Rock N' Roll Raleigh race this year!
      I hope to be back in DC next year!
     I've been fighting the marathon bug for a while. I wanted to make sure my body was ready for the task. I'm still not completely sure. But we'll see.    


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