Lookie, a recap that isn’t coming out 4 months after the race! I know those of you reading are just as excited as I am. This was supposed to be a goal race for me but a strained calf 4 weeks out from the race turned this into a training run instead. I’m honestly just so happy that I actually was able to run this race. I had fears that I either was going to have to drop down to the 5k or drop out of the race all together. I’ll always be thankful and appreciate the days that I can run.
Travel: I headed out on Friday morning for DC. It’s about a 6 1/2 hour drive for me and with added stops it took me closer to 7 1/2 hours. I left around 6 am while the snow was still piling down in Rochester. Once I got out of our area though, the snow stopped and the sun came out. It made for a beautiful drive through the hills of Pennsylvania. What I didn’t realize was that they had Chick-fil-a in DC. You better believe I took the extra 10 minute detour off an exit so I could get Chick-fil-a for lunch. I haven’t had it since the last time I was in Charleston, which is far too long.
The Expo: The first thing I did when I got into DC was head to the Expo. I will say this, I do not like driving in DC or even the outskirts of DC. I had to make a loop a few times before figuring out where to park for the event. Bobby left work and met me over there so we could get our bibs together and grab a bunch of freebies. The Expo was not nearly as big as I would have expected being the DC Rock N Roll. I did grab some hummus & crackers, greek yogurt, Chocolate milk, granola bars, and some ointment. They were some nice freebies for heading to the expo. Again, I give this expo like a 3/10 for excitement. 10/10 for ease of getting my bib/shirt etc.
Race Day: Since I knew this was a training run and not a race, my nerves took a back seat. The evening prior I even had two beers, which everyone knows I’ll never do the night before a race. Bobby and I got up early enough that we could walk down the street to grab a pre-race bagel. We grabbed an uber but it took a little longer than expected thanks to closed off streets. But have no fear, we made it in plenty of time. We hid in a building near by freezing our bums off until right before the race started. I knew I should have brought a throwaway hoodie with me but I figured, oh it will be 50, that”ll be fine. Yeah 50 at the end of the race, 20 at the start.
I jogged up to my starting corral right as they were counting down to let us go. It honestly was not that crowded at all and the start of the race had some of the most scenic views. We went near some water with views of the city in the back ground. I noticed my pace in the 7:30’s (normal half marathon pace.) and forced myself to let people pass me. Mentally this was extremely hard but I told myself to wait until the end when I had a boost of energy left and I could use that to finish strong. I was stopping to take pictures and taking video’s of each of the artists along the route.
If you’ve never done an R ‘n’ R event before, their thing is that they have music playing at every mile marker. Sometimes even at the half mile markers. Most of these are live musicians however there were a few miles that just had some speakers blasting tunes. I decided not to run with my headphones so that I could actually listen to the music, listen to the crowd, and really enjoy the race. So as I was running, I was popping on Instagram and uploading video at each of the miles of the music. I figured this was a good way for me not to get too wrapped up in pace and force myself to ease back.
My first few miles were right around an even 8:00 min/mile pace. Two thoughts went through my head at this point. 1. Either the two weeks I took off didn’t really hurt my fitness any and these miles feel easy because of all the hard work I put in, or 2. I’m going to crash and burn because my body was not ready for this pace for 13 miles after taking two weeks off and two weeks super easy.
I decided to truck on, holding that pace because it felt effortless. I was texting Christi who was trying to make sure she was at the finish to see me, singing, stopping to take selfies and my pace was still at an 8:00 without breathing very hard.
At mile 6.5 there was a pretty steep long hill for us to climb. But it was beautiful because people were lined the entire way up holding the American Flag. They were screaming and cheering, forming a beautiful patriot tunnel for us. I couldn’t let this go unseen, so I hopped on facebook live so people could see how truly touching this was. I ran up almost all the way before turning off facebook and walking up the hill because it made me nervous with my calf. I wasn’t about to risk everything just to run up a stupid hill. This ended up being my slowest mile of the race but I think if I had ran up it, I would have lost all steam for the remainder of the race.
By mile 9 I was still pushing out 8 min mile pace and I was feeling really well. I decided to put my phone away and see what I could do. I started amping up my pace little by little and letting the crowds and music push me. There was an almost 1.5 mile stretch where the capital building was straight ahead of us. It was a beautiful piece of the course and I loved having such a wonderful view of the city. We passed by a frat house around mile 11 where they had a “hydration station” set up with beer! I almost contemplated stopping but at this point I was in a good grove and was cranking out 7:30 min miles feeling strong so I decided to wait till my post race beer.
Mile 13, the final mile, was my strongest at 7:28. I passed the 1:45 pacer and thought to myself “uh oh… he’s not on time.” I also saw Christi who came to cheer me on! It was all i needed to finish off the race in a 1:44:57. I finished with no calf pain, which put me in a great mood. It was very far off from my PR but for me right now, a PR is anything where I finish uninjured.
I took literally, everything they give you at the finishers chute, took pictures, and then headed off to find Christi for the post race activities. Rock N Roll races have a live band at the finish party and Mich Ultra as the free beer. We each grabbed a beer and sat down while we waited for Bobby to finish up the race. We chatted, listened to music, and grabbed a second beer because, vacation y’all.
Overall thoughts: Minus the one big hill, this seems like a great PR course. I think next year I’ll be back to hopefully race it all out. Good music, good crowds, good weather, great city. It can’t get much better than that. Rock N Roll races can be pricey and I do prefer a better beer at the finish but we can’t always have everything we want. ha.