2015 Rock ‘n’ Roll DC 5K Race Recap

March 17, 2015

When I first shared my 2015 race schedule in January, I was only planning on running the St. Pat’s 5K and 10K (Double), Shamrock 8K and Half (Dolphin Challenge), and the Philadelphia LOVE Run Half Marathon.  I know…I know…. “only…you can roll your eyes šŸ™‚  After some catch up time on the Rock ‘n’ Roll DC Facebook page… I saw this:

Image: Rock ‘n’ Roll DC Facebook

Adorable…right!? I really dug this year’s 5K medal and timing-wise it was early enough so I could attend my cousin’s first birthday party.  I ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Half Marathon last year (they changed it to “DC” in 2015) and was curious what the 5K would be like.

Packet Pickup/Expo

This year the Health and Fitness Expo was held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.  The building is close to Chinatown and many of the downtown hotels.  I almost went to the Stadium Amory (last year’s packet pickup) but luckily I noticed the change in venue when I downloaded my confirmation form.


Whenever there is a post race survey for a large DC race… I usually put in “move to Convention Center” under suggestions.  I think it is a little more convenient than Stadium Armory, closer to different metro lines, and spacious!


I was able to make a quick stop during my lunch hour.  An aerial view of the expo.


Signage was spot on…hmmm…where do I go to check-in?


As you can see it was not too crowded on Thursday.  Picking up my bib was a breeze.


We were then ushered into the tee/gear bag area. 


The 5K technical tees were unisex, I grabbed a small.  I liked the design of the shirt, but the color combination was so so. 

 Brooks Running is a sponsor of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series so there was a huge setup and store.


I was pretty good and resisted, but I did score some 40% off deals at the Potomac River Running booth.

Race Goals (ā€œAā€ least probable and ā€œCā€ most probable)

Going into this 5K, I knew this would not be a PR race for me (yet).  Because I participated in the St. Pat’s 5K/10K a couple of weeks ago, I had a good idea of what my “C” goal would be.  My time from that race was 34:20 or 11:03/mile, so breaking 34:00 would be realistic.

  • A ā€“ Break 32:00 (10:17/min)
  • B ā€“ Break 33:00 (10:36/min)
  • C ā€“ Break 34:00 (10:56/min)

In addition, I wanted to negative split this race. 

Rock ‘n’ Roll DC 5K

On Saturday morning I woke up and peaked outside.  The forecast did not lie….it was raining.  I stepped outside momentarily and it was not that bad, but then again I only had 3.1 miles for the day.  I think I was not too phased by the rain due to the torrential downpour at last year’s LOVE Run Philadelphia Half Marathon.  I got dressed, ate a Honey Stringer, and gathered my rain gear (tips for running in the rain here).   Instead of a poncho or trash bag, I used an old heat sheet from another race (I save those for this very reason). 

The Metro opened at 5:00am for the race. I left my apartment around 6:00am and I arrived at the Stadium Armory station around 6:30am (I had to switch once at L’Enfant Plaza).  Then it was another 10-15 minute walk to RFK Stadium Lot 7 (the half and full courses started downtown at the Mall). 

I realized I could have left a little later in the morning, but I never want to chance it with Metro.  A few of us huddled under the merchandise tent (the 5K is located near the event finish line). 

Blurry pic of the start.  Like the half and full, the 5K started at 7:30am.  I jogged over to the starting line and was surprised there were no corral signs (uh…oh…)

The course begins at RFK Stadium and we run through the parking for the first quarter mile or so.  Then there is an out and back stretch on East Capitol Street, before returning to the stadium.  

There were some elevation changes…runners go under an overpass, but not too bad (I was pretty happy I did not have to conquer Calvert Hill). 

The organizers had the runners sing the anthem – which was very interesting.  There were some great singers, but for the most part we were all off tune (including me haha).  The race started after the anthem, and we were released in waves.  I bet you can imagine what happened with no corral guidance… a bottleneck of a start.  Faster runners were trying to weave through the crowds, and while I am certainly not a fast runner… I was doing the same. 

After a 100 feet or so there was finally some room to run, but the RFK parking lot was filled with potholes.  This meant it was a puddle-fest with the rain.  I did my best to go around them, but most of the time I ran through them.  Some of the runners stopped to tip top around it, which made it a bit unsafe. 

Luckily we were not in the parking lot for too long.  Once we were out of the parking lot the views were not very scenic, but I did like the course.  Here were my splits:

  • Mile 1 ā€“ 10:55min (my legs are soo heavy….how am I going to finish this)
  • Mile 2 ā€“ 10:39min (awesome…. negative split…..this isn’t too bad)
  • Mile 3 ā€“ 10:15min (yes….another negative split….the legs feel great)

I finished with a time of 32:44 or 10:33/min. I met my “B” goal and was very happy that I was able to negative split the race.  I think I may have been a little conservative during the 5K as my legs felt great the last 1-1.5 miles.  This was the confidence boost I needed and I have a better idea of what my 8K goal should be for Shamrock Weekend. 

I had a little fun with my medal on my way home on the Metro.

Final Thoughts

  • So happy that the expo was moved to Convention Center.
  • I hope next year the 5K there will be corrals or at least signs so people can self sort, it was a bit unsafe.
  • There were approximately 1,600 runners and I think for most people it was their first 5K (I guessed this because my time was in the top 25% and I am usually in the 50-75% range).
  • Maybe RFK will fill the potholes or organizers can tweak the course a bit to minimize the number of holes on the course.
  • I should have warmed up a bit more before the race.
  • The 5K is pretty flat with a couple of gradual inclines – I liked that.
  • Nice alternative to the half or full.
  • Metro accessible and easy access to the half and full course to cheer on the runners.
  • I saw a 40K sign on the course, so I think marathoners pass through this course at the end of their race. 
  • Congrats to all the runners who participated in Rock ‘n’ Roll DC this past weekend.

I think it should be an easy fix for race organizers to add corrals or signage to the 5K starting line.  I liked the course (minus the start/first quarter mile) and have signed up for the 2016 Rock ‘n’ Roll 5K already – there is a $25 special through the end of the month. 

Did you race this weekend?

Have you run the Rock ‘n’ Roll 5K before?


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      1. Run Jenny Run

        Thank you Lacey! I think the RnR organization has improved their medals in shirts the past couple of years.

    1. GREAT race, girl! Especially considering that the weather was terrible all weekend. I was thinking of you guys down there! I had no idea that there was a RnR DC 5K until this year, but I would be interested in running it in the future definitely! Cool medal!
      Salt recently posted…NJ Marathon Training Week 12 RecapMy Profile

      1. Run Jenny Run

        Thanks Lauren! I’m considering the B10, but I will definitely be running the Baltimore Women’s Classic in June. Will you be running those?

      1. Run Jenny Run

        Yes come run with me next year! Only $25 now šŸ™‚ Thanks!!

      1. Run Jenny Run

        Thank you! Loved that you consolidated all the recaps on your page! So much reading to do šŸ™‚

    1. Great job with the rain and the potholes! That’s surprising that they didn’t at least have signs at the start for people to self-sort. I already signed up for next year’s half given the great pricing they have going on this week šŸ™‚ I want the chance to try to enjoy the course without the rain!
      Chaitali recently posted…Weekly Review RnR DC – week 13My Profile

      1. Run Jenny Run

        The early bird deal was too good to resist! I will give the 5K another go next year and maybe the half again the following year šŸ™‚

      1. Run Jenny Run

        Good decision, I may have been lucky that I did not get sick or injured. Looking fwd to this weekend!

      1. Run Jenny Run

        Thanks Brittney! I have been able to negative split in shorter distances, but not consistently with longer distances (something I would like to work on too).

      1. Run Jenny Run

        Thanks Meredith! Ugh sorry to hear about the HM course as well. Glad we will have better weather for Shamrock!

    1. Potholes – UGH! I’m so glad you had a great run, Jenny, in spite of the potholes and horrible weather; you always have on a smile and look like you’re having a great time! I love the “Check-In” sign that you photographed; that is awesome! It’s always so nice when you can figure out (quickly!) where you’re going and get everything done. Great recap!
      Tara @ Running ‘N’ Reading recently posted…Training RecapMy Profile

      1. Run Jenny Run

        Thanks Tara! I was happy I came prepared with the visor and heat sheet šŸ™‚ I was pretty comfy prior to the race. It is nice when races are organized and have clear signs. I filled out their post race survey today, so I hope they incorporate some of the feedback for next years race.

    1. Yay! Congrats on your B goal and negative splitting the race. I know I would have struggled with the rain and road conditions, and I’m impressed with your ability to take everything from weather to potholes in stride. Sounds like a great race! (Though I agree, the shirt colors aren’t my fave.)
      Jess recently posted…Great ExpectationsMy Profile

      1. Run Jenny Run

        Thanks Jess! While I am glad the shirt was nnot the usual red, white and blue… very Christmasy to me haha šŸ™‚ Hope the move is going well!

      1. Run Jenny Run

        Thank you for the encouragement! I am starting to like the 5K distance a little more, so I may be adding a few more 5K races to the schedule this year.

      1. Run Jenny Run

        Thanks Kristina šŸ™‚ Hope I have a good Virtual race tonight!

    1. Congrats on your race and meeting your B goal! That is a very cute medal and well deserved šŸ™‚

      Sounds like the weather conditions were really tough for this one! Way to push through and finish strong!
      Sun recently posted…Moroccan Chicken StewMy Profile

      1. Run Jenny Run

        Thank you Sun! These races definitely make you a bit tougher.

      1. Run Jenny Run

        Me too! I just submitted my post race survey, so I hope at a minimum pace signs are added to the starting chute so people can self sort. The medals have definitely gotten better over the years.

      1. Run Jenny Run

        Thanks Sharon! Glad that you had a good race as well šŸ™‚

      1. Run Jenny Run

        Spring and Fall will do that to me šŸ™‚ I ran the half last year as well. Will see you soon!

      1. Run Jenny Run

        Thanks Sue! Kudos to you for finishing the half. In hindsight, I prob should have stayed home to risk getting sick / injured before Shamrock. Glad it ended up well for me. Hope you are having a good week.

      1. Run Jenny Run

        They ended up releasing people in blocks, weird right? I ended up towards the front, so I think they stopped people at certain points.

      1. Run Jenny Run

        Thanks Mar! Looking fwd to this weekend ā€“ def better conditions for sure!

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