Tamara’s Post – Rock ‘n Roll USA 1/2 Marathon Review!
I didn’t feel overly confident going into this race – my training had been really good speed and mileage wise, but for some reason the motivation wasn’t there. I was happy we decided to stay in DC, even though we only live 1 1/2 hours away – we arrived in DC Friday morning and hit the expo.
Parking was a bit hard to find – and I whined having to walk a long way into the expo because I was trying to save my legs (poor me!). The expo itself was in typical RnR fashion – organized, well laid out, and nicely marked! I got my Brooks “Potty like a Rock Star” sticker (which I never used) after spending my usual $150 on race merchandise. We found a little Italian restaurant in Dupont Circle a ways down from our hotel – it was good and I got my pasta fix (easy on the olive oil). I got to bed fairly early but still was not happy when Jeff woke me up at 5am – I could have slept until noon! We ended up taking a hotel shuttle over to the race start (about 5 miles) and avoided the metro. We arrived at the Armory at 6:30am – ugh…too early for me.
Having run two other RnR events recently, we knew it was smart to scope out our corrals. We easily found the corrals – I was in 3 and Jeff was in 2 – it was a loooonnnngggg way from the Armory so we decided to head up and check our bag. Inside it was very well organized – bag check was labeled and spread out nicely…and there was plenty of room to stretch. We went back down to the start line around 7:15am – hit the potties and even had time for a warm up run! I was happy to see the sun coming up right before we started – it wasn’t cold out, but I love to run in the sun! Jeff persuaded me move up from corral 3 to 2 – yeah, I know I’m not supposed to do that – but really with corrals that close and no crowds – it was fine and no one cared. We only had to wait a minute or so until corral 1 left before we were off! I was a bit excited, but nothing like I had been for the last two 1/2’s I’d done. I decided to run behind Jeff – but within a few hundred yards he was off and I couldn’t keep up. I thought it was for the better and he seemed to be going out really strong. My legs seemed heavy – my mind still wasn’t into it and I was nervous – of what…I don’t know. Around mile 2.5 I looked at my Garmin (which I typically don’t do) and noticed I was at a 7:11 pace – ugh…too fast! I slowed down and then noticed Jeff way up ahead – I couldn’t push…I needed to slow down. Around mile 3.5 I looked again…7:17 – huh…I thought I slowed down more than that!? None of that mattered – I looked up and soon saw the rolling hills, I thought I was in DC?! I’ve run a few races in DC in the past (Cherry Blossom, Race for the Cure, St. Paddy’s Day), but didn’t remember hills (or I blocked them out!). Tunnels – double ugh – as I ran down into each tunnel I dreaded the run up. My legs felt like bricks. I was hoping to beat my 1:45 PR, but with as crappy as I felt I was sure that was out of the question…but as the miles ticked away I kept doing my “8:00 pace times mileage completed” math in my head and was surprised that I was still under PR. When I noticed I was at an 8:47 pace around mile 5.5, I figured I just blew it – oh well…I can still finish this thing. My Dad was visiting from out of state, he was supposed to be around mile 6ish – somewhere near Dupont Circle – problem was I had no idea where I was, I couldn’t remember what the area even looked like – so I never saw him. I ran on and hoped he hadn’t seen how I was struggling. I couldn’t help but notice the swarm of people ahead of me running up the rolling hills – it made it that much worse as the hills seemed to go on and on and on…and my “potty” mouth took over as I complained to myself how horrible the course was. From mile 6.5 – 7.5 I took my Gu – it took until mile 8ish for it to kick in…I love Gu – love it…love the way it picks me up – Gu, you are the best – I love you! I noticed I was hitting a sub-8:00 pace and my mile calculations were still putting me at a sub-PR…hmmmm….I might be able to do this! Around mile 9, I spotted Jeff up ahead – huh?! I knew he must have not been feeling the greatest if I was catching him. I watched him weave in and out of the crowd. I pulled closer to him and then he pulled farther away – I couldn’t catch him – but I kept him in focus – I wanted to catch him so he could motivate me to the finish (because it’s obviously all about me!). When I got to mile 10 I nearly choked as I saw 1:17 on the clock – that beats my 10 miler PR by 4 minutes! That motivated me and I got closer and closer to Jeff – at one point I could almost touch him – then he pulled away again. It wasn’t until around mile 12 that I finally caught him, I was beat – I could only manage a wave to motion him to run with me. I could tell he was done. We ran together very briefly – then I pulled away. The last mile seemed to level off and then we went down a nice grade – ahhhh…I was so excited we were going to finish down a hill!!! I kept looking at my watch – so thrilled I was going to PR! Just before my Garmin flipped 13, we started up a hill – seemed like a mountain to me…UGH!!! I looked at my Garmin another 100 times until I crossed the finish line…in 1:42:33!!!
And for the record, my Garmin read 13.30 miles! I was sooooo darn happy! Jeff was right behind me happy that he was finally done…but not so happy that he didn’t PR (next time, I have confidence!). We posed for a few pictures before heading over to watch the marathon finish. I am still a bit in shock that I ran the pace I did – and I owe a huge thank you to Jeff. It is the fast, tough outside miles that he has pushed me through that have helped me get to this point, it is the motivation he gives me and the inspiration that he is to me. I ran my first 1/2 marathon in 1998 in 2 hours, and now 14 years later I have beat that time by 18 minutes!
This was by far the best RnR event out of the 3 we have done. The organization was outstanding! The only complaint I have is the hills – and my quads are still complaining! Another 1/2 marathon done…now time to focus on the Cherry Blossom 10 miler in two weeks! And…plan for our next RnR 1/2…which will it be?! Stay tuned!!