Tag Archives: Rock ‘n’ Roll USA

Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Half Marathon Recap and Reflections {3/15/14}

Hmmm, how to start this…

This was my 5th half marathon, and I did not have a good time at this race. I simply did not want to be there and it showed in my time. I think this race came too soon after B got back, and all I wanted was to be at home with everyone. It is also not my favorite course or race, and it was a logistical pain in the butt for me. I was so paranoid about it that I woke up at 3:45am and ended up at the starting line 2 hours (!) before race time because of my fear of the huge crowds (there were 25,000 runners!) and not getting there on time. That, paired with an additional 20-25 minute wait to cross the start line (wave start), just added to my desire to be anywhere but there. I was over it before it even started. I even texted Brian before the start that I wanted to come home and didn’t want to race at all!

I started off the race trying to shake off my bad attitude, and even paced myself well for the first half. I held back at the start and forced myself to slow down after starting at 8:10 min/miles, and up until mile 7-8, I was averaging around 8:40-8:45 min/miles which I would have been thrilled with at the end. My heart and head were not in it, though, and by mile 5, I was ready to be finished. The huge hill of this course comes at mile 6 (exiting Rock Creek & heading into Georgetown), and then there was another sizable hill in mile 7, and I think those were the catalysts to my complete loss of interest in the race. I started alternating between walking & running at mile 9 (?) – even considered texting Brian to tell him how miserable I was, but refused to stoop that low (ha). If I had really pushed myself at mile 10, I still could have finished sub-2, but I just didn’t care enough to fight for it. Knowing it wasn’t my goal race did not help my apathy, either.

And guys – I DIDN’T EVEN SMILE FOR THE CAMERAS (well, most of them). YOU KNOW THIS WAS A BAD RACE WHEN I COULDN’T EVEN MANAGE THAT! I ran a 7-miler with BRONCHITIS and still smiled for all of the cameras! This was clearly dire 😉 .

My final time was 2:03:34. Despite my bad race, I still finished in the top third(ish) of all competitors, top 30% of age division, and top 26% of women so there’s that, I guess…

Splits:

5K = 27:45, 10K = 56:59, 10 miles = 1:32:58.

Something that Brian reminded me of when I got home was the difference in treadmill training vs. actually pounding the pavement, simply from an impact perspective. He asked me if my legs felt tired/sore earlier, and when I thought about it, they had. I noticed it during the race but didn’t really connect the dots. I’m sure it was because my training over the past 2-3 months has almost exclusively been on the treadmill (thank you weather + military life). Honestly, when I was sprinting to the finish of this race, my legs felt like they were sprinting to the finish of MCM (and they felt like I had just run a marathon for the rest of the day, too). I haven’t gotten any hill training in, and this race is pretty hilly in the second half. At least my days of single parenthood are over for a while and I can get outside for runs again – gotta get used to the pavement impact and hills again!

Another more sobering feeling that has been running through my mind (even prior to this race) is burn-out. I went all out last year in terms of my race schedule, and while it was rewarding, it was also exhausting. I have a packed spring race schedule this year, too, but I’m not sure if my desire to push myself is there. I am prepared to run them, but I almost want to run them for FUN, not for time. At the same time, though, I know that my very competitive nature will be annoyed if I don’t meet time goals. UGH, such a catch-22. But isn’t running supposed to be fun?! I’ve lost that feeling lately. Waking up at 5am to squeeze runs in isn’t fun. Running on the treadmill isn’t fun. Feeling like I don’t have a spare minute in my day isn’t fun. Hopefully these feelings improve now that Brian is back and I have room to breathe again, but I guess time will tell. I’m not really sure what the solution is, but I’m trying to incorporate more cross-training just to give myself a break.

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And in HAPPY news, GO HOOS! It was so fun to watch the ACC Tournament this weekend, especially because we are not used to being on the winning side! Caroline wasn’t quite sure what was going on, but she cheered along saying, “GO, HOOS, GO! HURRY, HURRY, HURRY!” in her sweet little baby voice!

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Nike Women’s Half Marathon DC Re-Cap

The inaugural Nike Women’s Half Marathon in DC happened on a beautiful April morning, and before the race even started, I was already regretting my decision to wear arm-warmers. I knew I would end up yanking them down quickly because it was really nice outside, but then I also thought that maybe I’d need them to wipe my nose (gross, sorry). Anyway, the point of that was that it was a gorgeous day for a half marathon!

The race started at 7am in Freedom Square (a place I am very familiar with since Pacers does most of their 8Ks there), which meant my third Sunday in 4 weeks with a 4am hour wake-up call and Metro ride. I arrived around 6am, and was surprised by how short the bathroom lines were, so of course I had to take advantage. After that, it was all about killing time before the 6:45 pace corral call & warm-up. I decided a  little bit too late that I wanted another bathroom trip before the race, and wasn’t able to accommodate that because then I wouldn’t have made it to the start on time. I was hoping to avoid a mid-race bathroom stop, but alas, not this time.

Once we were all in our pace corrals, we had a fun dancing warm-up, some speakers, and some introductions of amazing people (like Olympic medal-winning runners). Also, Ellie Goulding, the singer, was running this race with us! Before the national anthem, we had a moment of silence for Boston where you could literally hear a pin drop. It was an emotionally charged moment (at least up in my pace corral), with some people crying. I couldn’t help but tear up, too. It was such a poignant moment to share with fellow runners, especially as you are staring at the Capitol building in the distance. Once we finished the national anthem, it was go time!

I was in the 7:30-8:59 pace corral which was really far up (the sub-6 min to 8:59 pace corrals were very small; the bulk of runners were in the corrals behind us), and I think being so far up allowed us to avoid most of the issues I’ve heard some others faced, like a long wait before crossing the start, walkers who didn’t know race etiquette, people tripping over each other, etc. I definitely felt like the first mile was crowded, though, but I ended up going faster than I thought (too fast, I think). One thing I think could have been improved was adding a stagger start instead of a waterfall start. While I didn’t feel like I had people at my heels, I felt like I was at other people’s heels.

Miles 1-4 took us through L’Enfant Plaza, Washington Monument, Memorial Bridge, & Lincoln Memorial. Kennedy Center was mile 5 (I swear, it is mile 5 in every race I do down there), and here is where I got the clue that I started off way too fast. Apparently, I was ahead of the 8:24 pace group for the entire first 5 miles, which is exciting, but also a lot faster than I should have been going (my goal pace was around 8:40ish), and not something I thought I could maintain for another 8 miles. I let them pass me, but still tried to keep them in my sight a little bit. Even though I started off way too fast, it made me feel like I could slow it down a little bit later on if needed because I “made up” so much time on the front end.

Miles 6-1o took us through George Mason Memorial, Hains Point, & Jefferson Memorial. The George Mason University band, the Green Machine, was playing around here! So fun to see people you “know.” Hains Point, though, is seriously never-ending. It was here that I was like, “I need a bathroom break or that’s all I’m thinking about for the rest of the race!” Hydration has its downfalls! Luckily, there was a park bathroom off to the side so I didn’t need to mess with Port-a-Potties. Also during this time, I was completely expecting my knee to act up (it usually happens around mile 7 or 8), but nothing happened. It was really bizarre. Getting to mile 10 was easy (except for a large hill around 9.5 that I don’t think people expected bc the course was said to be flat), and getting through mile 10 was easy-ish, but miles 11 and 12 were so hard. I remember seeing that the Lululemon cheer squad would be at mile 11.75, so I kept saying, “just look for them, then you are almost done!” but I never saw them, so that marker was nonexistent for me.

At that point, I was just ready to be done, but kept telling myself that I didn’t want to feel disappointed in myself at the end, I had brunch plans to make, and sweet little baby faces waiting for me at the finish line. What I did let myself do, though, was have a few quick walk & drink breaks since I hadn’t stopped at any of the previous hydration stations. Maybe 2-3 15 second breaks? Then it was back to it! At mile 11, they sent us back out past the finish for another 2 miles. Torture. Complete torture. Even though I knew this was coming, it was still awful. Once you rounded out the circle area in front of the Capitol Building, the rest of the course was a straight-away to the finish line, and you could see that bright green beacon of heaven as soon as you made the turn. I will say, though, that the straight-away was deceptively long. It just seemed like it was never getting closer! Usually when I see the finish, I don’t pick up my pace too much until I’m really close simply because of things like this. I definitely saw some people burn themselves out in that section BUT as one of the signs said, “You can’t walk now! You have people watching you!” so there was no walking for me 😉

Crossing the finish line was a great feeling, too, because I met the goal I had set, so no regrets! And of course, having a little blue Tiffany box handed to you by a handsome man in a tux was a perk, too. I think every post-race amenity was provided to us by handsome men, ha. I was able to speed through the finisher chute (not too many people were back there at that point), and met up with my favorite supporters. I have to say, nothing makes my heart melt more than hearing Audrey say (unprompted), “I am so proud of you, Mommy!” She does this after almost every race that she comes to, and I just love it. I also love that she and Caroline are seeing things like this because these environments are so good for them to witness.

Overall, I had a great run! Crowd support was good, logistics were great, weather was amazing.  There were tons of aid stations, including 2 Luna bar stations, and one other supplement-y station (can’t remember because, like I said, I just don’t tend to stop). There were some pretty entertaining signs, too, with my favorite being “Binders full of runners!” and a more x-rated “We know it’s long & hard…but when is that ever a problem?” (sign held up by a woman, so it’s not quite as wrong).  There were also tons of “Hey girl…Ryan Gosling/puppies/Channing Tatum/bling is waiting for you at mile 13!” signs, too. Even though my knee didn’t act up, currently I am dealing with pretty bad muscle pain between my upper thigh and pelvis (adductor muscle?). This is a completely new pain to me, and it is really painful. Icing & Bayer will be my new best friends for a while. If it’s not one thing, it’s the other…I’m getting so old over here 😉

I finished in 1:54:51 (watch time, not including potty break) which is about 8:40 min/mile. Official clock time was 1:55:52. My goal was to beat my disappointing Rock ‘n’ Roll performance and to come in under 2 hours, and under a 9 min/mile pace. Check, check, and check! My goal time was really somewhere around 1:54, and I hit that, so hooray!

Stats:

1844 out of 15,000+ total (12%)

523 out of 3744 in my age division (13%)

Split times:

5K – 26:07

10K – 52:37 (26:31)

15K – 1:21:13 (28:37)

20K – 1:50:09 (28:57)

Enjoy some photos from the beautiful day!

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A little more follow-up on Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon

So, the other day I had the chance to really sit down at look at the data on this race (as captured by Map My Run). I can’t decide if I am encouraged or frustrated by it…maybe a little bit of both. Aside from the two times I walked for a little bit and the potty break, my times were great and right on track for my “2 hours or less” goal. That’s the encouraging part. The frustrating part is now I am constantly thinking “WHYYYYY did I walk those two times? Couldn’t I have pushed through?! I am a wimp!” That’s what happens when you are super competitive with yourself…

Split times:

1 mile: 8:57

2 miles: 8:21

3 miles: 8:57

4 miles: 8:46

5 miles: 9:11

6 miles: 9:05

7 miles: 10:00 (big hill)

8 miles: 9:16

9 miles: 8:43

10 miles: 10:32 (bathroom stop)

11 miles: 8:46

12 miles: 10:41

13 miles: 10:14

last 0.1-0.7 miles (according to MMR, I ran 13.67 which I’m sure is not completely accurate): 8:55

So, you can totally see that I fell apart in the last 2 miles. It is so frustrating to see because other than that, I was right on track! Nothing left to do but learn from it, I guess. Also, my knees still haven’t recovered fully, so I am using this to introduce cross-training with yoga, strength, etc (which I know I should be doing anyway). The knees will feel fine through a run or two, but then by the next day will hurt so badly! Last week I had a great 6.5 mile run on Friday and went out to run on Saturday and had a miserable, painful run and only got through 4.5 slow miles. I really need to be sure to take care of them if I want to succeed in my April races and then go on to MCM in October. At least the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler course is flat as a pancake, hopefully that will help both my knees and my time!

By the way, total elevation gain for this race was 295 feet.

Enjoy some final RnR pictures with what I suppose is my standard “I’m running and see a photographer!” face:

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Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Half Marathon Re-cap

This past Saturday was the day I had been working towards for a while–my first half marathon! I went into it feeling sort of nervous, sort of excited, sort of anxious…basically all possible feelings all at once. I was happy to have my cousin, Nathan, as an RnR buddy since he was running the full marathon, and I know Brian and Kathy were happy to have each other there while they were waiting for the two of us.

I had a few goals for this half marathon. The first was simply to finish since it was my first one and the longest distance I’ve run ever (including long runs). The second was to finish around 2 hours, but no later than 2:15. I accomplished that goal with a time of 2:07:45 (official time), including the potty break. Excluding the potty break it was more like 2:06. Even though it was close to the low end of my goal, I feel like I could have done better. I couldn’t get into a groove (so much going on!), and I wasn’t as mentally tough as I wanted to be. I walked twice (I think?) for about 30 seconds each time, and of course, in retrospect I keep wondering what my time would have been if I hadn’t walked. Then again, I had a slightly tender knee and a huge blister (not enough glide!), so who knows. Anyway, I do feel a little bit disappointed in the time because I know I could have been faster had I kept my wits about me. I feel like I did great up to mile 10, and that’s when I started to really get physically & mentally tired. It’s hard to tell, though, because my chip never registered at the 10-mile mark, so I don’t know what my time was at that point, but I think I remember it being 1:30 or something. So basically, after mile 10 is when I lost my speed. It’s okay – time to learn from it and improve for next time! I mean, even with the last few miles of mental struggle, I still finished in 2:06, so that means my first 10 miles were good! Brian also put it into perspective for me by saying, “Hey! You still beat the fastest marathon runner by 15-20 minutes!” and since those people are craaaazy fast, it did make me feel better.

Nothing can compare to the feeling of crossing that finish line, though. It was amazing! Brian and Kathy were both able to watch (even though I didn’t see them), and I was still smiling when I crossed the finish line. Afterwards, it was a huge rush of emotion, especially because all I wanted to do was see Brian & Kathy, but I still had a long (and very crowded) finishers’ section to get through. I was exhausted, excited, overwhelmed, etc. I ended up sitting on a curb next to other runners for a few minutes while waiting for Brian and Kathy to find me (I said, “You find me, I moved enough this morning and am not moving anymore!”), and when they gave me huge hugs, I will admit that I teared up and started to cry a little. It was such a huge accomplishment, I couldn’t believe I did it, and I was just so happy I was done! It was incredibly touching to see just how proud they were of me…I felt like a superstar all night! And I swear it was like giving birth – the whole time you’re doing it, you are thinking about how you can’t wait for it to be over, and then when you have finished, you are overcome with emotion & eventually start looking forward to your next one.

Afterwards, Brian & I headed to the car so I could change into warm, dry clothes, and then went back up to the Finish Line Festival where I got my medal engraved (had to, first half marathon), got ice packs taped to my knees (both knees ended up bothering me), and waited for Nathan to finish his first ever full marathon (and race in general). He did AWESOME and finished in 3:48. I think I was just as excited to wait for and watch him cross the finish line as I was to cross my own finish line! As a sidenote, RnR did a great job of tracking runners for their followers, so Kathy and Brian knew almost exactly when Nathan would cross the finish line. Since my 10-mile time never registered, I was more of a guessing game for them. Anyway, I LOVED how everyone was so genuinely excited for every single runner to cross that line…so nice to be able to cheer on others as they accomplish their goals.

I loved the atmosphere of this race, too. There were so many fans cheering along the way, and everyone was so encouraging. Everyone from random frat boys to older couples were along the course, and some were passing out gummy bears at the top of a huge hill, others were passing out water and oranges (separately from the volunteer tables), and of course people were passing out a lot of free high fives! Oh, and there were LOTS of cowbells and sequestration-related race signs (only in DC!). One of my favorite moments came while we were waiting for Nathan to finish. This one marathon runner stopped right before the finish line to talk to his supporters. We thought he was just saying a quick hi, but he was there for a long time (well, “long” when you are anticipating that someone wants to cross the finish as fast as possible). One of the other observers and I asked each other, “What is he doing? Doesn’t he care about his time?” What he was doing, though, was pulling his two young sons over the barrier so they could run the last stretch of the marathon with him. Instant tears right there! So touching – what a special moment! Brian & Kathy witnessed someone crossing the finish line doing the Gangnam Style dance, and I also loved this story about one marathon runner stopping his own race to help another struggling runner cross the finish line. These are the stories that make me so happy to be part of the running community.

Next up for me is the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler on April 7, followed by the Parkway Classic 10-Miler on April 21, and THEN…NIKE WOMEN’S HALF MARATHON ON APRIL 28. This was a last minute decision because I am determined to beat my RnR time. This is actually a race I had wanted to run for a while, but when registration came along, I didn’t sign up because it was Foxfield weekend. Long story short, we are not going to Foxfield because I have class on that Saturday, so that means I will be around for NWM!

Here are official race stats! Not too bad for a first marathon. Can’t wait for Nike Women’s Half when the long-legged men aren’t going to be competition ;):

8,462 out of 19,945 total people (top 42%)

4,145 out of 12,525 women (top 33%)

1,316 out of 3,411 division (top 38%)

Here are some pictures of the day:

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