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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Rock & Roll USA Half Marathon

The Rock & Roll USA Half marathon took place on March 17. If you recall, I was on the fence about running this one. I ended up signing up for it mostly because my high school friends were doing it and I wanted to hang with them. In the end, I think my big mistake was signing up for a race that I really didn't want to do in the first place.

I went down to DC on Friday afternoon. I hadn't really realized two HUGE problems with the race when I signed up: 1) I was going to be out of town the two weekends before the race, in Saba. I wouldn't be able to run those two weekends at all. and 2) The race took place on Saturday, so the Expo and packet pickup were on Friday evening, making it difficult for me to get down there from northern Baltimore where I work. I had originally planned to have a friend get my packet (only after Competitor allowed this, at first it was not allowed), but they extended the expo hours to 8pm, so I ended up being able to get there myself.
A view of RFK Stadium from the starting line

I took the train down from Baltimore in order to save myself a traffic headache, and I was oh so happy about it. I relaxed on the train while watching the traffic outside the window. The expo was just ok. I was very annoyed by the fact that they did not have a shirt in my size. I realize that I was at the expo during the last 2 hours that it was open. But - I ordered a Women's Large. Shouldn't I get a Women's Large? Even if someone else comes along before me and wants a Women's Large even though she hadn't ordered one - shouldn't they still keep MY women's large waiting for me?

So, I got my boxy men's shirt, and met my friend Steve. I checked into my hotel and then Steve and I had dinner in the restaurant in the hotel. Meanwhile, a whole ton of people that were also running the race came by - Misty and Rachel and Misty's large group that's she's training (16 ladies!), as well as Ming, who was sharing my room with me. Then, it was bedtime.

Ming and I were up bright and early and we met Misty and her group in the lobby of the hotel. We were very close to the metro station, and the metro was running slow and late and was packed (all of which we expected). We made it to the starting area with plenty of time, though. We checked our bags and then stood in line for 45 minutes for the potties. I was in a different corral from everyone else, so I headed off alone to the starting line. It was about 40 minutes between the start of the race and the time that I actually crossed the starting line. In all, it was about 2 1/2 hours or more of standing before I started the race, which is why I HATE large races.

The beginning of the race seemed like a slight uphill grade. There were spectators, and it was ok. I just wasn't feeling it. in fact, what I was feeling was tired. Tired, sore legs right from the start. Mile 1 was slow and miserable, and I felt like that didn't bode well for the rest of the race.

The course took us through some major sites in DC - we got up close and personal with (or at least got glimpses of) the Capitol, the White House, the Washington Memorial, the Supreme Court, the National Archives and the various museums of the Smithsonian. It was quite a scenic course, and one that I frankly preferred over the Marine Corps Marathon, my only other DC race. There was quite a hill around mile 6, which was quite brutal, but I cannot really complain about the course at all. My issues were really with my own body, which did not feel like running a race that day.

I had to stop for a potty break just before that hill. I absolutely hate potty breaks during races, but it couldn't be helped - I had been working too hard on hydrating. The weird thing was that the potties were often WAY off the course, and I ended up walking right into one (no line), but it was about a half a block away from the course. What was that about? At that point, I just felt like I didn't care anymore. I knew I'd blown any possibility of a fast time, and I was hot (it was a warm day) and unhappy. When you run races in March in the mid-Atlantic, you shouldn't be worried about heat. I was worried about heat.

There were times when I just wanted to quit running but I did not. My high school friends were meeting after the race and I couldn't think of meeting up with them with no medal. So, on I went. I finished in 2:49:36, not my best time, not my worst, but frighteningly close to the time that I did in January when I stopped to ride a roller coaster mid-race.

Macarons on display at The Sweet Lobby
After the race, I waited for no one. I went and picked up my bag and headed to the metro in the hopes of getting back to my hotel in time for a shower before I had to check out at 1pm. I made it, showered, and then sat in the lobby of my hotel trying to figure out what to do next. I knew I wanted to bring something to my friends house.. but what? I got on Yelp on my phone and found a bakery where I could buy macarons - my friend Elizabeth and I had spent about 4 runs discussing French Macarons (not to be confused with macaroons!!!!), and I wanted some. So, I headed to The Sweet Lobby (Cupcake Wars winners) and got myself a box of macarons to share with my friends. I also got a cupcake just for me. Both were AMAZING!

South River Alums
I had to take a MetroBus from the bakery to my friend's house, which was a bit out of my comfort zone. I'm used to the DC Metro, but MetroBus is new to me. Plus, I was carrying my heavy bag, which didn't help. I finally made it though, and caught up with friends that I hadn't seen since I graduated from high school 16 years ago. Some of them had done the full, and I was impressed.

Finally, it was time to head home, so I headed back to Baltimore via Union Station on the train.

I was not happy with this race, but I think it was more about the fact that this race wasn't one I wanted to do in the first place. It's just not my style, not to my taste. To each his own, but I'm looking forward to my race at the end of April that will be much smaller.

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Kitzzy said...

It's hard when your heart is not in it, but you soldiered on and finished. Congrats!

I hear you about big races. I too love smaller races for the same reasons. You really need to come down next year to run Ocala. I think you would love it! Or DeLeon Springs on New Year's weekend or the Orange Blossom Half in March. All are small local races but very well run.

Evolving Through Running said...

Ran the half for the same reason - running with and hanging out with high school friends after the race. Went into it treating it like a training run, with no expectations, which made it a lot of fun. Agree that it was a bit warm for a race day. Felt bad for the folks that did the full.

May be running a 50-miler in MD in November. Depends on if I can stay healthy and if I can get registered before it closes.

Black Knight said...

A half marathon is always a half marathon: tough and long. Well done!

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