Sunday, March 18, 2012

Rock N' Roll USA Half Marathon Race Report

First off I just want to say how amazing yesterday was. It was a tough day but also a great one. I woke up at 5:15, which is pretty early for a college student who start class at 10 every morning. I was pretty tired when I woke up but I was also really excited. I made two frozen waffles and a small bowl of oatmeal for breakfast and had a little bit of water to wash it all down. After eating I got dressed, grabbed all of my gear, and hit the road with my dad. We left my apartment around 5:50 and made it to the metro station by 6:30. We bought our metro tickets Friday when we went down to the expo and I have to say that was such a good move. The lines to buy tickets were all so long. I stopped at the bathroom at the metro and by 6:40 we were on the metro heading into DC.

There was so many people at the metro stop in DC that it took us about 15 minutes to just leave the building. Luckily the DC Armory is right next to the metro stop so that didn't slow us down too much. Friday night I was reading race reports from people who ran the race last year ans saw that the Armory was open on Saturday morning so I headed straight for the Armory to get in line for the bathroom and warm up a little bit. The line for the bathroom was pretty long, definitely longer than the lines for the porta-potties, but I will take a longer line and clean bathroom any day. While I was waiting in line I put my bib on when I discovered that I only had three safety pins. I started freaking out but luckily gear check had a bunch of extra pins. After that debacle I headed over to my corral right around 7:50. Little did I know that I wouldn't end up even crossing the start line until 8:45.

While I was waiting in my corral I realized I had to go to the bathroom again but I didn't think I would have enough time so I decided to just hope it would go away. Bad decision, I know. After waiting around for 40 minutes it was finally time for my corral to start. Before I knew it I was crossing the finish line and starting half marathon number two! I didn't really have a goal or plan for the race but in general I wanted to take it out pretty slowly and then try to pick it up later in the race. My first mile ended up being my slowest! I was happy to be running but those first few miles felt terrible. I just felt tired, heavy, and slow. I was a little worried about what this meant for the rest of the race but I kept telling myself to only focus on now.

this was my favorite view throughout the race

Even though I live in Baltimore, I have never been to DC so I was really enjoying the sights and just exploring a new city. Running is definitely my favorite way to check out new places. Around mile four, though, my stomach started hurting so badly I couldn't focus on anything except for where the nearest bathroom was. Around mile 5.5 I saw a runner dart into a Subway to use their bathroom so I did the same thing. I hated passing the on-course bathroom in the early miles and seeing such long lines. I needed to go to the bathroom but I didn't want 10-15 minutes added to my time because of waiting in line. Luckily I only added two minutes and five seconds to my time by stopping at Subway. Even though the stop added time, it was so worth it. I felt a million times better afterwards and I ran the entire rest of the race quicker because of it.

Not long after I stopped the hills began. There was one rather long climb but I was feeling so great from stopping that I powered up the entire hill! I felt so strong and ready to take on the rest of the race. But after that hill was more hills. I don't mind running hills but I was worried that the downhills would anger my IT Band like in Baltimore. Although I had a little bit of pain here or there it was nothing too bad. I saw my dad around mile 6.5 (I think) and I couldn't have been happier to see him. I wasn't expecting to see him along the course so that was a nice surprise that put a little pep in my step.

A few times during the last 5 miles of the race my legs would start to feel like dead weight. I was hoping to break 2:20 but with the bathroom stop I knew it would be close. I ended up giving my legs multiple pep talks throughout the race which actually seemed to really help. I am not sure why but the phrase summon the will to fight came to mind. I ended up repeating this phrase over and over in my head during the last few miles. I have always thought of myself as mentally weak when it comes to sports and pushing through pain but I proved to myself yesterday that I am a fighter.

During the last few miles of the race it started getting a lot warmer outside. I was looking for water everywhere and drinking 1-2 cups at each station. I had brought a water bottle with nuun in it as a backup but by this point it was pretty warm also. The last few miles are kind of a blur to me now honestly. I just remember my legs getting more and more tired and me pleading with them over and over to finish. We are almost done. I decided to try to pick up the pace as much as I could over the last mile and mile twelve was actually my fastest mile of the day! Once I only had about a quarter of a mile left I tried to sprint to the finish but this part was uphill and my legs wanted nothing to do with it. Once I could see the finish line I sprinted as best I could and raised my arms as I crossed the finish line.

My official time is 2:21:53. I was so happy to have set a PR, but I would have broken 2:20 if I didn't stop to go to the bathroom. My argument, though, is that if I hadn't stopped I would have run slower in general from the discomfort so it is nothing to get worked up about. After the race I grabbed all of the food that I could, found my dad and sat down and relaxed. I was surprised with how much better my legs felt compared to Baltimore. We stayed for a little after the race to watch Switchfoot perform and then headed back home. I am on spring break this week so he drove me back to our house in Pennsylvania. And because I was pretty tired last night, my boyfriend and I are celebrating St. Patty's day tonight!


  1. Congrats!! I agree it was a wonderful day but was tough! I think the course in this race is beautiful and a great way to see DC so I'm glad you enjoyed it. Did you take that picture of the flag, stage, capitol and washington monument? It is an awesome picture!!

    1. No, I stole them from the race website

  2. Great job at your race! And I think stopping at the bathroom was a must and was totally worth the little bit of extra time.

  3. CONGRATS ON YOUR PR!!!! i am so happy for you! it looks like this was a fun and exciting race :) you are definitely a fighter!