This weekend, I completed the Rock n’ Roll DC Half Marathon, and it was absolutely amazing. I’ve never written a race recap before, so hopefully I’m doing it right!
Expo: The expo was really great, as there were so many booths and things to do. I never really had to wait for much of anything, though that might have been the time I went there (before 5 on Friday). It was easy to pick up my race bib, and just as easy to pick up my t-shirt and race bag. I didn’t really stop at many of the booths, though that was because I was starting to get anxious, so I didn’t have to deal with many lines. There were some booths that seemed to have lines that stretched forever, and I’m glad I wasn’t in them. The GU booth was super-easy to deal with, as I just picked up my 4 GU’s and handed over my money, and off I went. The RunDisney booth was mainly about ogling the medals, which I did plenty of, and signing up for their email blasts. I already have done so, but I did it again so I could get a RunDisney bag… no shame! My final stop was at the booth for the pace teams for in the morning, where they had a sign-up sheet for your name and email, as well as bibs to wear on your back with your goal time on them and corral changes to put you with your pacer. It made it so easy to spot others who were trying to run the same pace. After that booth, I peaced out because I was both tired and starting to get nervous.
Pre-Race: The Metro was so easy to use for getting to the race start, but it was a little crazy with the amount of people all at once. As someone who suffers from anxiety, it made me extremely nervous and unsettled to crowd in with that many people all trying to go the same place. I also wasn’t really a fan of not having signage whenever we got out of the Metro station. RnR specifically said to use Federal Triangle if you could, so a bunch of people did. But from there, I just had to follow the crowd of people. It was still dark and foggy and rainy, so my bearings were all thrown off. Had I arrived without the giant crush of people, I would’ve been clueless on where to go. I was just so thankful to have gotten out of the Metro that I didn’t really care about that navigational thing, but it would’ve been an issue had I not been freaking out. I wound up coming out with the big group of people right at the start line, which would have been great had I been in one of the first few corrals… I was in 28. So I had to walk down the long line of corrals to get to the correct one, which felt like a million miles away. We were having a good time in corral 28, once we found our pacer – they had all gotten discombobulated! There were several of us who grouped around our pacer (I didn’t get anybody’s name, sorry!) and we were chatting when the first few corrals got released. We were talking until we finally got to the start line (in the last corral, since a bunch of people left their corrals and passed us!) and then the race began.
Start of the Race: At first, I thought the pacer was going out way too fast, and I thought to myself There’s no way I can keep up with her for the next 13 miles. It was still raining, though I had ditched my garbage bag right at the start line so I could actually run with my usual form. We ran down the Mall and passed the Washington Monument, saw the White House, and ran around the back end of the Lincoln Memorial. We were going right on pace at about 12:35/mile, and I felt pretty great. We ran across a bridge and around a traffic circle for all of mile 2, and I briefly said hello to the state of Virginia but then immediately had to depart. We hit mile 3 and the 5k point right on schedule, and I was feeling awesome. We got to run past/under the Kennedy Center and it was beautiful to look at, and it was relaxing to just run along that nice stretch of road until…
The Hill of Hell (Halfway): Everyone was warning about this hill before the race started, and every recap I read talked about the hill. I had even told my mom as I left in the morning that she could watch for me from our hotel balcony and look for the one walking in blue and yellow. But our pacer had no intention of walking, she just dropped our pace down to about a 13-minute mile until we crested the hill. And I knew that if I let her escape me, there was no way that I could ever possibly catch back up to her. So I dug down deep and just went for it. It was really hard, not only because the hill itself is steep and icky but all the people in front of me began to walk. I had to dodge around all of them, and it was just something extra to be on the lookout for. But I RAN up that bitch, and I even managed to wave at my mom. She told me later that she was so surprised to see me running amongst a sea of walkers that she was almost too stunned to wave back right away. I was huffing and puffing by the end, but after all my dodge-work, I still kept up with my pace group leader, and we were about halfway done!
The Rest: After the hill, I still felt excited but about dead at the same time. Even though we had conquered the Hill, there was still about half the course to go. At this point, I wasn’t even looking at the clocks as we passed, since we had started so late and my pace group leader was giving us fairly consistent splits. We started running through neighborhoods, and it seemed like a fair amount of people were celebrating on the streets with all sorts of booze… and oddly, one canopy marked with MEAT. The roads were like pseudo-cobble stone, which made running really difficult. The amount of people who were starting to walk made it really hard to keep consistent, and I was dodging around and through people like crazy. Somewhere in there, I got to carry the pace sign for about thirty seconds as our leader took her fuel. I felt pretty badass. Around mile 11, one woman started peeling off because she felt awesome. I told myself in my head that I would start at mile 12, but I really started going ahead at about mile 11.5. I wasn’t going all that much faster, but I felt awesome and knew that I had a sub-2:45 in me; I really didn’t want to have to look at a 2:45:xx staring me in the face, so I pulled ahead. I was starting to get fatigued and tired after mile 12, and I just wanted to see the marker for 13. We ran into the park under the big inflatable guitar guy, and I couldn’t see the finish line. Everyone was screaming, “It’s right up there!” but I couldn’t see it until I went around the corner and under the bridge to see the 13-mile marker. It was only .1 mile away, so I tried to gun it. I didn’t even pose for the photographers or anything, just kept running. And I crossed the line feeling like I had definitely met my goal.
After the Race: I made it through the finisher’s chute and got my medal, space blanket, chocolate milk, PowerBar, pretzels, and other assorted goodness. I didn’t have enough hands to hold everything, and I didn’t even get my official picture taken but I didn’t even care. It was rainy and cold and drizzly, and I wanted nothing more than to get back to the hotel. I hobbled the distance to the Metro station, and there were so many runners waiting to get in. I couldn’t even get out of the cold, just all of us huddled close in space blankets. It was so cold and my legs were so tired. Finally got onto the train and back to Metro Center. The train back to the hotel was fairly empty, so I got to sit the whole time. Back to the hotel, changed into dry clothes, and we hopped in the car to head home (and make a Chipotle pit-stop!). On the way home, I looked at my mom’s phone (she’d been tracking me) to see my finish time: 2:43:58!!!
I’m so excited, and I’m feeling so good about myself. Can’t wait for my next race, whenever that may be!!