Friday, March 23, 2012

Race Report: Rock & Roll Half - DC

Race: Rock & Roll Half Marathon - DC
Date: Saturday, March 17, 2012
Location: Washington, DC
Race Type: Half Marathon
Division: 45-49 yo
Overall Place: 7638 out of 16321 (top 46%)
Division Place: 225 out of 720 (top 31%)
Female Place: 4153 out of 10725 (top 38%)
Time: 2:10:54

Before the Race:

Okay, the day before this race I had to drive into DC, find a place to park at the DC Armory and get my race packet. I thought to myself "NO PROBLEM!" I've done this before (a la Marine Corps Marathon) I can do it again!

First things first - the drive into DC was horrific! My GPS drove me right through the middle of town and with our unseasonably warm weather many tourists were out looking at the Cherry Blossoms already and I had to wait...and wait...and wait. (FYI: I'm not the most patient person in the world...not even close!).

I get to the Armory and I'm looking around at the people walking in and out of the Armory. Some seem to be going across the street to get into their cars. And, like my MCM packet pickup, that made sense. So, I attempted to make a left-hand turn only to be IMMEDIATELY YELLED AT by DC Metro Police! The dude didn't even give me time to explain myself and when I asked where I needed to park for packet pickup he only continued to yell at me.

My day wasn't really going well already. Didn't this guy know that???

I drove around the Armory (because it was the only direction that seemingly didn't put me back on the Interstate) only to find myself in the same spot, by the same policeman. Another way more friendly gentleman motioned to me and I pulled up to him. He told me exactly where I needed to go - Lot 8. Now, for those who don't know - Lot 8 is about 1/2 mile away from where I needed to be so I thought for sure that couldn't be right. But, alas - Lot 8 was the parking area for packet pickup. For me it wasn't that big of a deal (except for the fact that it was just making my bad day worse) but for my 6 yr old who didn't really have on "walking shoes" it was quite a pain...which then became MY pain having to listen to "mom, my feet really hurt" a few hundred times!

As I approached the traffic signal I could tell the policeman (yes, the same one) was getting ready to let the cars have their turn so I slowed and then stopped at the crosswalk. Before I even had a chance to breathe the policeman yelled at me AGAIN saying "STOP, DON'T GO ACROSS THE CROSSWALK!" Seriously? I wasn't even PLANNING to go! Man, all I have to say is this man really needed a vacation!!! I just wanted to get in and out of this packet pickup and start heading back home!

Once I got inside I quickly got the race information and started to head out but my mini me saw shiny things, flashy things, things that spun around, things she wanted to do...all while her feet were hurting! So, I quickly bought a pair of (way overpriced) socks for my 6 yr old and we headed through the expo without her shoes on!

Just before leaving we were getting ready to head to the little girls room (knowing you must ALWAYS do this before a trip back home) when we were YELLED AT...AGAIN by someone saying "THIS ISN'T AN EXIT!" Of course, I wasn't going out the entrance but the bathrooms were in the same direction so I explained myself and was "allowed" to pass!

Anyway, suffice it to say packet pickup was a bust and I wasn't sure at this point if I even wanted to run the race. I had never had such a headache from packet pickup than I had at this race. But, at least Celeste got her picture taken in front of the finish line tape!

Race Morning:

I changed up my race-day nutrition a bit to see how things might go for future longer races. So, I had some yogurt with fresh fruit and some granola. It settled well during the race. 

I got up at the crack of dawn and met my friend Souk Rios at my house at 5:15 AM and headed to the metro. Once at East Falls Church I ran into some other running/triathlon friends and we all headed down to DC. Souk and I made a tactical error by not grabbing a seat on the metro. Little did we know we would end up as sardines within the first 4 stops! 

Once we made it to the Stadium-Armory metro stop, getting out of the station was a TON of fun:
 The Race

I couldn't believe how far up I was in the start corrals. I was in corral #8 and all my friends were in like #13, #20, etc. I mean, I obviously was delusional when I put down a finish time of 1:59 but even my friend Lisa put down a 2:00 finish time and was several corrals behind me. Oh well, it'll give me a head start on all my friends who'll probably pass me in the race. I'd rather be left behind than to have to come up FROM behind.

The gun went off for my corral and I started out strong. Maybe even too strong. I knew the first mile had a gradual uphill climb so having a 9:20 pace might have been a little too fast. The next couple of miles were somewhat downhill so keeping that pace didn't bother me. However, around mile 6'ish Rock & Roll DC happened to find one of the five hills in DC and insert it into this race! I couldn't help it - I had to walk. I figured my earlier faster pace would make up for the 20-30 seconds I was getting ready to walk so I just did it. I hadn't walked or stopped at any of the water stops throughout the entire race (and I wouldn't need to since I was carrying my fuel belt) so I just used this as my own personal "stop and walk at the water stop" moment. 

Here's a look at the course elevation:

I had looked at this elevation profile prior to the race but it didn't look near as bad as it felt. As a matter of fact, the two times I stopped to walk were the EXACT moment my friends decided to pass me. Lisa Mackem on the first hill and Cindy Revesman on the second. Believe me ladies, I did actually RUN this race!

Most of the race (even at mile 1) my Garmin seemed to be a little faster than the actual course so that was a concern of mine - particularly as I neared the end of the race. My goal was to run 13.1 miles in 2:06. Well, at the finish line my Garmin said I had run 13.44 miles in 2:10 but when I hit 13.1 miles I was at 2:07 so, either way I was close to my goal and it was still a PR since my last half marathon (Nov 2010) was 2:15!

Summary and Lessons Learned:

Like most Rock & Roll organized events this one had great bands, lots of crowd support and good post-race food. 

In the end I had no pain (to speak of) but I felt I had run hard and done a pretty decent job. Of course, I could have ran up those two hills and probably would have made my 2:06 time but, to be honest, this wasn't my "A" race so I didn't want to push it too much harder. I was proud of this accomplishment and hope the hills on this course (along with the hills in my training) will have prepared me for the Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati in May (my next big race of the year).

Next race up: Cherry Blossom 10 Miler - April 1