Thursday, March 21, 2013

Rock and Roll Half Marathon - Race Report

This was a race that I had a mission.  Last year my goal was to get under 2 hours.  Well I did not make that goal.  In looking back I believe I was issue was my nutrition.  I took in too many calories and started to get side stitches.   I finished in 2:05.  Still respectful, but I was so disappointed, and pissed off,  that I believe I signed up for the 2013 race within a week of finishing the event in 2012.

Anyway,  I felt that I needed to redeem myself.  I was more then a little pumped.  I was, however,  concerned about the weather report as I felt that it was on that fine line of wearing too many layer or not enough.  So upon waking up that morning and looking at the weather report I went with calf sleeves, shorts, plodder T-shirt arm warmers, knit gloves and baseball running hat.  If this was a training run I probably would have worn long sleeves or even a jacket.  I will say that there were a couple of times where I felt a breeze and a chill ran through my body, but over all, I was just fine.  I think I made the right call, as opposed to long pants long sleeve shirt, skull cap, etc.  

So lets get to the meat of this post.

I hitched a ride down to the Metro with a close friend.  We crammed into Metro and made our way down.  Bob and I both had a bag to check so we said our peace and waited in our separate lines to drop off our bag to pick up after the race.  I will say that I don't think I will ever use bag check again if I don't have to.  It seemed extremely unorganized.  The lines were unbelievably long.  Anyway, I dropped my bag off and made my way to my corral.  Now in the past I have had an issue where I hydrated too much and had to use the bathroom many times before the start of the race.  Well my "big trick" this time (as I knew the lines would be long) was that I  brought with me a small Gatorade bottle so that I could use, for,  well,  you know.  Anyway, I ducked behind some bushes instead of waiting in the long portapotty lines.  TMI I know, but I used a bottle and threw it away when I was done.  moving on. 

 I made my way to my corral and I was getting pumped.  My legs were ready to go and I felt strong.   I heard the national anthem and I was ready. One by one the corrals before me were set loose.  Then came Corral 11.  the count down was made and then we were off.   Running down Constitution Ave, White House on the right, Washington Monument on the left.  I was feeling a bit patriotic as we ran underneath the huge American Flag.  My goal was to run as consistently as possible and while there were some 30,000 people running, I did not feel that I was weaving in and out of traffic too much.  I guess they had broken up the crowds in manageable corrals.  So with that, I was able to get into a groove early and was able to stay with it.  

We went out and back on the Arlington Memorial bridge and made our way up Rock Creek parkway.  (This is also part of the Cherry Blossom 10 miler which I have done before.) We make our way under the Kennedy Center and continue on Rock Creek Parkway.  I am feeling good, but I know that there is a hill coming up as I had looked at the elevation chart beforehand.  AND THERE SHE BLOWS!  So this hill brought us up to Calvert St.  Per my Garmin, at mile 6 we were at 19 feet, by mile 6.3 we were at 160 feet and by mile 7 we topped off at 198 feet.  Not that I am say my Garmin is gospel, but it can not be that far off.

Well I got up and over that and started to work on recovering. I knew that was the worst of it as the other hills were not as bad, so I started to get back into my groove. There were a couple more little bumps coming up but I knew I would make up some time.  I still felt great and knew that it was mostly down hill from here.  

Coming down mile 9 on N. Capitol I was able to focus on the Capitol Dome as I was starting to feel a little tired.  This was the first time, and before I knew it I saw the marker for Mile 11.  Where the heck did mile 10 go?  Never mind I told myself and started to focus more and picture what the finish should look like.   We came up to the split from the full and half and I knew it was coming, the finish.  I was glad too.  My legs, rather hips, were starting to feel it.  I saw RFK and knew it was right around the corner.  I started to see banners. I started to hear the crowds yelling.  I was trying to kick it in, but honestly I felt like I moving slower.  Finally I crossed the finish line and then looked at my Garmin for the first time the whole race.  1:56.  I did it.  Not only did I beat last years time but I came under 2 hours.  Mission accomplished!

Will I do this race next year?  Maybe.  Unlike last year, I don't have that feeling deep down that I have to.  This year I trained and I conquered!  However, if I do come back next year I will not use bag check.  I might pay someone to be my pack mule.  Any takers?  Also I was a little disappointed in the water stops. Most of the stops were short on water when I ran by.  they only had Gatorade at what seemed to be every other aide station.  Even though I did not use the aide stations that much I think it helped me in the long run.  I (We) tend to get caught up in making sure we take in enough calories and water when we are out there.  For this race I only hit 3 aide stations, 2 for water and 1 for Gatorade and unlike last year where I took 3 Gu packets during the race this year I only took 1 and that was at the very beginning.

Oh, and supposedly they had bands through out the course (insert sarcasm), but honestly there were only three groups that I could really remember.  One was a brass quintet but I have no idea how they sounded as they were not playing as I ran by.  Another was a group of people that were all dressed similar and just jumping all around like they had so much energy. Come to think of it I don't believe they were a Band at all, I believe they might have been considered a cheer group.  Any way they gave me some of their energy. The last group was Batala at mile 8 I believe.  There were a group of kids banging on drums.  That just got me going. I really was not focused on the bands, I was more focused on my task at hand.  I will say that I have run the Rock and Roll Half in Virginia Beach, VA  and I remember more about the bands down there then the ones in DC.

Anyway all that I have to say about my experience on Saturday is that I had a great time.