Happy St. Patrick’s Day! This past weekend I ran my 12th half marathon!
I originally did not have this race on my 2014 schedule because there was a chance I would be out of town and RNR races tend to be on the pricier side (I ran RNR Philly in 2011). It ended up I would not go on vacation (had to stay in the area for my project) and Rock ‘n’ Roll USA had a $99 sale during President’s Day. I could not resist!
Race organizers offered packet pick up on Thursday and Friday at the Stadium Armory in Washington, DC. I picked up my packet Thursday after work to avoid the Friday lines. It took about 5 minutes to get into the door (they searched your bags and screened you).
You had to bring your original signed confirmation sheet (no electronic copies) and photo ID in order to pick up your bib.
After picking up your bib you were directed to the bag and shirt area. Luckily they had a t-shirt exchange area as I accidentally chose a men’s shirt when registering.
Brooks racing store.
Rock On! They had the usual expo vendors.
I was in and out in less than one hour.
Race Goals (“A” least probable and “C” most probable)
I heard the course could be challenging (particularly the elevation in the first half of the race), so I was a bit conservative with my goals:
- A – Break 2:40:00 (12:13 min/mile)
- B – Break 2:45:00 (12:36 min/mile)
- C – Break 2:49:11 (my Annapolis PR)
Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Half Marathon
I woke up around 5:00AM and had two glasses of water and a banana with peanut butter. I put on my capris, vest, long sleeved shirt, tank top, headband, and throwaway gloves. I did not plan on checking a bag, so I was torn if I was overdressed (forecast called for 60-70 degrees).
I walked the 2 miles to the start for my warmup and was treated with these views! So stunning! I got to my corral around 6:30-45AM.
View of Constitution Avenue from Corral 23.
Thirty minutes later…. packed start!
When I registered I entered 2:30 as my predicted finish time, this put me in Corral 23. I am unsure how corral assignments are made or the algorithm that goes into it, but I talked with people who also entered 2:30 and they ranged from Corrals 20-24. I was lucky and happened to stand right next to the 2:30 pace leader.
And we start! The first half of the course took us towards the Memorial Bridge, pass the Kennedy Center, and up Rock Creek Park – familiar route of most DC races. What attracted me to this race was the second half of the course – we headed north towards Adams Morgan, Howard University, H Street, and RFK Stadium, streets of DC I’ve never run.
My plan was to stay with the 2:30 pace group through the first half of the race – and drop back if need be (my long runs have been 12:00 min/miles, 2:30 finish is a 11:26 min/mile). This was the first time I ran with a pace group and our leader, Amy, was fantastic. I did not listen to my music for the first third of the run.
- Mile 1 – 11:13 a tad fast for me, but saving time for mile 6
- Mile 2 – 11:50 feeling good
- Mile 3 – 11:45 still feeling good
- Mile 4 – 11:30 spot on
Entering the Memorial Bridge, miles 2 and 3 of the course.
- Mile 5 – 11:31 in Rock Creek at this point
- Mile 6 – 12:13 the dreaded Calvert Hill… I lost my pace group
- Mile 7 – 11:48 getting back on track, solo
- Mile 8 – 11:57 a few small hills
Pretty D.C neighborhoods! I also used my heart rate to adjust my pace. Whenever it went above 185, I slowed it down a bit.
- Mile 9 – 11:52 still feeling okay, net elevation is downhill
- Mile 10 – 12:04 at my usual training pace
- Mile 11 – 12:10 why did I sign up again?
- Mile 12 – 12:34 there was a small hill between 11 and 12
- Mile 13 – 12:31 a tiny negative split!
As we approached RFK Stadium, I could see the finish line in the distance. I saw that 2:35 was within my reach! I picked it up (as much as I could) and finished in 2:35:03, 11:51min/mile average. It was a 14 minute PR! Winter training paid off 🙂
- Loved that the course took you through the northern part of Washington D.C (despite Calvert Hill).
- This is a large race (half and marathoners start at the same line), and very half centric. I was weaving in and out for a large part of the race. I thought it was nice they added a 5K option.
- I did not pay much attention to the bands, but I liked the Brazilian drum band (miles 8, I remember them from Nike).
- I thought the finish line was organized in terms of post race drink and food distribution, however it was a bit congested as people were hanging out there for friends instead of heading to the meet up area / post race festival.
- Beautiful day for a race (and yes I was overdressed) and pretty medal!
- A bit annoying to bring our signed confirmation sheet for packet pickup, hopefully they move to electronic means in the future.. and maybe even to Convention Center vs. the Armory.
- Thank you to the volunteers and DC police!
And I leave you with my post race brunch, we walked to Eastern Market.
Did you run this weekend? If so, what race/distance?
Have you ever run with a pace group?