Saturday was Rock ‘n’ Roll USA here in DC. It was my first DC half, and my 20th half overall.
The day was a huge mess of highs and lows. Friday night, I got a phone call that my Aunt Cathy had taken a turn for the worse and her battle with terminal breast cancer was coming to an end. It’s not a surprise, but that doesn’t make it any easier. She’s not in pain, but isn’t feeling all that well due to the pain meds, so she doesn’t want to see anyone. So I’m not flying out to see her. Instead, I’m just sending good thoughts from home.
That news had me awake most of the night tossing and turning. But I was glad that the morning would bring my first race with Team Fight. Team Fight is about the fight against cancer and the strength and memories of those we know and love who are fighting or have fought cancer. So if anyone would understand, they would. It was great to have everyone in the dedication circle that morning.
Laura and I were both in corral 33, but once the race started, the corrals kind of fell apart. I’m not sure where we ultimately started. Maybe somewhere around 29? We just kept moving forward with the crowd. And then we were off. Laura and I didn’t plan to run together, so I lost her pretty early, but I think she could see me for a large chunk of the race.
I set off running 1:1s and also making a point to run down the hills. Might as well make gravity work for me. As always, it was tough in the beginning because of the crowds, but as things thinned out, it got much easier.
Some of my favorite sights on the course:
The guy at mile 0.25 yelling “You’re almost there! You can do this.” We all laughed. He gets runners.
The guy dressed in full Incredibles costume dancing near an overpass.
The sign with a giant raptor telling us that we were being chased. That was a new one for me.
The tiny child handing out beer, while the parents said “It’s not a setup, promise!” I did not take beer.
The still drunk college students out cheering. I wish I had been able to spectate a race while in college. I might have become a runner much earlier.
Laura saw some signs referencing sequestration. “Due to sequestration, the course is 10% shorter this year.” Only in DC.
Suffice it to say, the crowds were awesome, and this is why I love big city races. Also, I have to admit, as annoying as RNR’s corrals can be (we didn’t start for 45 minutes after the gun), they really do help with the overcrowding at the start. I very much enjoyed running this entire course.
But it wasn’t a perfect race. They had clearly struggled to get volunteers. The water stops were mostly undermanned (save for the Team in Training stop, and I hear some of the stops on the second half of the course were also good). Pickup at bag check was also ridiculous – I waited over half an hour to get my bag. I had only checked it because of the threat of rain, but thankfully, it wasn’t needed after all.
Personally, I had a pretty good race. I started out strong, maybe too strong. I had great mile times save for mile 6, where there was a giant, painful hill that I walked up and still had to slow down because my HR monitor was yelling at me. (Thanks to all the spectators at the top of the hill congratulating us on making it up.) Around mile 10 or so, I felt the wheels starting to come off. My hip flexors were just getting tired, which isn’t unusual for me, but something I haven’t experienced in a while. I’m going to have to research strengthening or something.
Admittedly, I’m wondering if some of the problems had to do with the shoes I was wearing. With my short stride, I can rarely eek out 300 miles on a pair of shoes, and the shoes I wore had were over 250 and had been relegated to short run status. I wore them only because of the threat of rain – I didn’t want to ruin my new shoes. But I can’t place all the blame there.
I kept pushing though, and even though I slowed down, I was still setting a decent (for me) pace. I kept thinking about my family and what my aunt and uncle and cousins were going through and I knew that this struggle was nothing. I could do this.
Final time? 2:56:41. Not a PR, but given that my training has been focused on triathlons, my main goal was to run a sub 3. Got it.