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Mar 18 / Jane

Rock ‘N’ Roll USA Half Marathon 2013

I didn’t go into this race with many expectations. I was preventing an injury the two weeks before the race so I scaled back my milage pretty significantly. But I was still hoping to break my first half time of 2:10. I spent a lot of time planning the logistics of racing in DC, not so much the actual racing.

I headed down to DC with my college roommate Jackie on Friday morning. We underestimated our travel time and arrived too late for our scheduled tour of the Capital, however we did grab the last walk-in tour later in the afternoon. It was very cool, informative and interesting. Only wish we’d gotten a glimpse of the Senate and House chambers themselves, but still a neat tour.

Capital Building

The Capital Building

Capital Dome

The inside of the Capital Building Dome

From there we headed to the race expo, picked up our packets, got some souvenirs and even purchased new sports bras. The sports bra experience was pretty unique. Apparently I’ve been wearing the wrong size for some time. It makes a world of difference, let me tell you! Jackie and I made our usual dash for all kinds of free goodies and were not disappointed. I know some people hate expos, and to those of you I say, get your packet and go, lol. I like giveaways, free samples, and discounted wares.

Expo silliness.

Expo silliness.

After the expo we headed back to Jackie’s cousin, Amanda and her husband, Dan’s place where they cooked a tasty carb-filled dinner for the four of us. We made our plan for the next morning and went to bed early.

It was an early start to the morning as we drove to the train station in the dark. The metro was filled with runners. We dropped our bags after lengthly bag check lines, and jumped into the corrals that already started moving after another long line at the port-o-potties. Good thing we all decided to race with our cell phones tucked into our SPIbelts or we’d never have started together.

The starting line

The starting line

In the starting chute, ready to race!

In the starting chute, ready to race!

The beginning of the race was nice, we ran around the backside of the White House and the backside of the Lincoln Memorial, over a bridge to Arlington and back, then into a park. There was a ridiculous hill out of the park, then we were in neighborhoods comprised of rolling hills. By mile 10 we were on main roads heading towards the finish, downhill mostly, until a slight uphill to the finish line. Overall, the course was terrible. For a race in DC we saw nothing of the DC sights. Just the back of some museums, the road into Arlington, a pretty park and then rolling residential hills. Boring.

And not fun for my un-cushioned feet. I was really hurting by mile 7, by mile 10 I was counting down to the finish. I did finish faster than my first half, in a time of 2:06:38, but I could have been better on a flatter course, or if I had transitioned to shoes with more padding.

Really, the pre-race was a blur. I suppose we could have given ourselves more time, but 45min seemed enough to drop off our gear, make one final pit stop, and find our starting time. It’s not. The gear drop (and pick-up) were a nightmare, the port-o-potty lines super long.

The race itself seemed to take forever with my aching feet. I had pain in-between the ball of my foot and my toes, it would shift right to left, foot to foot, depending on my gait, but wow it was pretty terrible.

I have one word for the finish: SARDINES! Omg, could they fit any more people into a smaller space? Getting a power bar and a banana never was so hazardous. It took a good 10minutes to get out of the finish chute and into another super long time to pick up your gear. By the time I had my pack, I realized I had no cell service and no way to contact my party. Heading to our designated spot, I did run into Dan, who was in contact with Amanda (Verizon users, Jackie and I were in the same no-service boat with AT&T). We had our celebratory free beer and fought the crowds back onto the metro and home for a nap!

Post Race Beer!

Post race beer!

30,000 people on a boring, hilly course with sardines at the finish really doesn’t make for a great race experience. The amount of people overall was daunting, the whole race I was weaving in and out of people. It was not as terrible as the Flemington Turkey Trot, but that was only a 5k. The gear check process was another annoying part of the race, it look ages to get your bag back. I have never had to check my bag before, so I don’t have anything to compare it to, but I can’t imagine they’re all this unorganized. And the only reason we checked bags was because the forecast called for cold rain, all day. And it barely drizzled, the sun even came out in spots. Really, the weather was fantastic.

I suppose I should be grateful for a PR on a beautiful day. And I am, for that. I’m also grateful for the company I had, it was a great road trip with Jackie and really fun hanging out with Amanda and Dan. It was great to see their home and surrounding area (we walked to a pub Saturday evening to celebrate St Patrick’s Day in an Irish bar with live non-Irish music). We had some awesome food and drinks and spent quality time catching up. I will absolutely be making another trip to DC soon, but I can’t say I’d put that race back on my schedule. Not until some major updates happen at least.

Irish Car Bombs

These were much deserved

Happy St. Patty's Day!!

Happy St. Patty’s Day!!

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