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Rock ‘n’ Roll USA 2014 Half Marathon Race Recap

On Saturday, I ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll USA half marathon – less than a week after completing my second full marathon, the LA Marathon, on the previous Sunday. And apparently I’m insane, because I actually had fun doing it. :)

I did this race last year, too, and just love it too much to miss out!

rock 'n' roll usa

I was up bright and early on Saturday morning for the race, which started at 7:30. I knew it would be crowded so I decided not to bother checking a bag (one of the benefits of wearing a hydration pack – I could store my phone in it during the race). It also helped it wasn’t super cold!

I was on the metro with my friend Mary by 6:30 and we were downtown by 6:45. Metro was a zoo but we didn’t have any problems smushing on. A few minutes later and we found my college friend Sarah and got in line for the portapotties together!

minutes per mile

Brooks is one of the Rock ‘n’ Roll race sponsors, and as part of my Run Happy Ambassadorship with them they were kind enough to give me a VIP porta potty pass (running water = exciting stuff before a race). I asked for a few passes for my friends, too, because experiences like that are best shared. (Tip: if you’re running a Rock ‘n’ Roll race and need new Brooks gear, buy it at the expo – if you purchase $150 worth of Brooks gear at the expo you get the VIP porta potty access.) Also – hi to the two sweet blog readers who said hello to me in line! :)

After the bathroom, Mary headed off to her coral (and ended up setting an awesome new PR – she’s so speedy!), and Sarah and I met up with our friend Kathleen, who arrived in the nick of time, in our corral! I was going to crop the photo below but the girl’s face in the top right is too funny. Sorry, random girl – thanks for the photo bomb. ;)

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Sarah, Kathleen and I planned to run together and just have fun with the race – no pace worries and if we needed to slow down, we would. Perfect! Definitely wasn’t going for any world records in this race – just wanted to enjoy a run around my favorite city with two of my favorite ladies. Pretty much the perfect way to start the day, if you ask me. <3

We lined up around the 2 hour pace group and got ready to go.

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I love the moments just before a race starts – so much anticipation and nervous energy. Let’s do this, DC! Here we gooooo!

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We were off! Hello, Washington Monument – you’re looking well. Although I’m kind of over that weird construction you still have on your feet.

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The girls and I settled into a comfortable pace and started chatting nonstop (which continued for the whole race – sorry to everyone around us, lol). It made the time FLY by since it just felt like we were on a coffee date – and also happened to be moving our legs. ;)

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This was the first of many fun bands – they were just before we crossed Memorial Bridge.

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It was SUCH a nice morning for a run – in the 50s and the sky looked so cool. About 2 miles into the run I ditched my arm warmers (which were a pair of Matt’s old socks with the toes cut off).

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After leaving the National Mall area and crossing over Memorial Bridge and back, we headed up Rock Creek. I thought this water stop photo below came out cool – a big thank you, as always, to all the volunteers who were out there for us. We appreciate you so much!

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  • Mile 1: 9:27
  • Mile 2: 9:09
  • Mile 3: 9:14
  • Mile 4: 9:14
  • Mile 5: 9:25

At mile 6, we arrived at THE hill – the Calvert street hill we took to exit Rock Creek. Man, this is a steep one – but I was ready for it from last year. Nice and steady wins the race… or, you know, makes it up the hill. ;)

Loved the sign in the photo below (from later in the race, but I felt it made more sense here)!

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It was also nice to know that there wasn’t much in the way of hills (at least nothing this bad) from here on out!

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The girls and I huffed and puffed our way up, and I was excited to see my friend Karen’s boyfriend Jeremy at the top, who snagged a couple pictures of the action and of my extremely poor hair braiding skills. :) Sorry I totally spaced and didn’t see you, Karen!

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Yay – hi Jeremy!

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On we go!

  • Mile 6: 9:23
  • Mile 7: 9:58
  • Mile 8: 9:13
  • Mile 9: 9:01

Hey there, sunshine – you should have stayed out to play.

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The crowd support for this race is so great – since it’s all through the neighborhoods in DC vs. down on the national mall, all sorts of people are outside their houses cheering (and giving out treats – the people in the bottom right were handing out margaritas, I think)!

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I decided to stick with what I knew worked, though – I had one clif shot gel (mocha with caffeine) that I ate slowly from miles 5 to 9, as well as one random margarita shot blok near the end of the race that I had in my pack leftover from the marathon last weekend. My hydration pack pockets are basically a buffet at this point, apparently.

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My legs felt surprisingly good during the race – I mean, I certainly wouldn’t have been able to run any faster or set a new PR, but I felt comfortable at our pace, which was a nice surprise since I was worried I’d be totally wiped. Last year when I went running the weekend after the Richmond Marathon I felt MUCH more tired… guess my body is adapting! Either that or my legs have given up complaining. :)

That said, MAN was I glad when we saw the signs in the photo below that I was merging left.

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The girls and I continued chatting away and enjoying the views and crowds, and before we knew it we were at mile 13! That went by fast!

  • Mile 10: 9:11
  • Mile 11: 9:02
  • Mile 12: 9:26
  • Mile 13: 9:08

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Most awesome part of the race: when you see the finish line and start sprinting towards it. Our pace for the last nubbin of the race was 7:58! That felt FAST to my endurance trained legs – I can’t believe that last spring I maintained a 7:54 pace for a whole half marathon!

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Almost done!!

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The girls and I crossed together, arms up and with big smiles on our faces. <3

Official time: 2:03:54! Average pace: 9:27 minute miles.

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Aren’t the medals cool looking? Loved the strap, too!

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What a great race and fun morning with my girls. A big thank you to the Rock ‘n’ Roll team for providing me with a complimentary bib for this race in exchange for sharing my adventures! And ladies – thanks for the miles! They were a million times more fun with you both by my side.

I can’t even believe how far I’ve come with my endurance that I can run a marathon and a half marathon one weekend apart – that’s completely insane. If you’re reading this and thinking “oh, she’s always been a runner, I could never do that” – totally not true. 5 years ago I was just signing up for my first 10k and totally terrified at doing runs over 5 miles (check out this post for more on my journey to becoming a runner). If you’ve learned anything from my blog, I hope it’s to never sell yourself short and to not be scared to challenge yourself. Because that’s what I’ve learned from you guys, too. We are stronger than we think we are – both in running, and in life. <3

I’ll be back tomorrow to share what’s next on the running/fitness front… stay tuned and thank you, as always, for reading!

Who else ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll USA (or another race!) this weekend? How’d it go?!

Comments

  1. 1

    I didn’t run RnR DC, but I want to some day! My brother’s been doing this race for the past two years, but didn’t run this year.

  2. 2

    My fiancé ran the half marathon, and I enjoyed hopping from metro to metro to cheer him on whenever I could find him!

  3. 3

    Looks like you had a great time!! You would be such a motivational & fun running buddy… too bad I live a bit too far for that to happen ;)

  4. 5

    I ran also! I did 5 miles before to make a total of 18- marathon training! It is such a fun race and so much energy! Perfect weather too. Congrats!

    http://nyviewsnikeshoes.com

  5. 7

    Looks like a perfect race day — so lucky to enjoy it with the ladies! And the VIP pottie ;)

  6. 8

    I really love the final paragraph! It’s so true – you’ve come so far! So proud of you gorgeous gal! :) Also I love your matching black and pink outfits!

  7. 10

    I LOVED the marathon course! Such a fun race! The last three hilly miles in Anacostia were rough, but such a great day.

  8. 11

    Those medals are SO cool! It sounds like the race course was pretty great- I’d love to run a race in DC one day!

  9. 12
    Amber Schumann says:

    That last paragraph your wrote speaks serious truth!! Even in the best shape of my life (age 18-22), I couldn’t push past 2.5mi NO MATTER WHAT!! Now here I am, 29 and a mom to a toddler, and I just completed my FIRST half marathon on Sunday (Blue Diamond Shamrock’n 1/2 in Sacramento).

    I only was able to train to 8mi (too many schedule conflicts the last few weeks of my training program), so I went into Sunday with this mindset: who cares how fast…just keep going…enjoy the scenery and music…enjoy yourself and pride your hard work. Then afterwards…enjoy the free beer and live music! And I did all of that.

    Bring on the next!

  10. 14
    Kathleen says:

    Aww… Such a sweet post! I love running with you guys too! I’m so happy I signed up. :) Thanks for being such a wonderful friend on and off the pavement!

  11. 16

    Great job! Love the recap. And I have to ask about your running skirt. Super cute! What is the brand? I am in the market for a new one :)

  12. 18

    I absolutely loved this course! As you said, the crowd support was incredible and definitely helped make my race experience what it was. I wasn’t fully trained for this race, and was a bit worried about running on Saturday, but I’m so glad I didn’t chicken out because I not only pushed through my fears but managed to PR (despite that crazy Calvert Hill!).

  13. 20
    Lauren K says:

    Congrats! I also love the homemade arm sleeve idea, that is great!

  14. 21

    Aww I ran this race last year with my mom as my first full marathon and had an amazing day! Thanks for the recap, I love reading them, even if it makes me a little sad i wasnt there this year! lol :)

  15. 23

    Woo hoo! I did the half, too! I actually ended up walking it because I am injured but wanted to do the race so badly because I love it so much!! :)

    Random question…is that a Lulu running skirt? How do you like it?! I’m toying with getting one for hot summer runs but am skeptical of the while “skirt” thing….:)

  16. 25
    Katie Ragole says:

    thanks for the shout out!!! it was so nice to meet you and i hope you had a good race! :)

  17. 26
    Stephanie says:

    HI,
    I ran the RnR Half. I loved it!
    I ran with a random stranger, just someone I met in my corral. First time I’ve ever run with anyone and it really really helped. I ended up running the first 9 1/2 miles with her before some “issues” that required the porta potties. yuck!
    I can’t wait for my next 1/2 in April!
    AND thanks for the wardrobe help!

  18. 28

    That would be a fun race! We visited DC last summer and I ran up and down the National Mall. So much to see while you run! Congrats on finishing the half in a great time so soon after the marathon!

  19. 29

    Great job! What an amazing time a week after a marathon.

  20. 30
    Miranda Kibler says:

    Looks like you had an awesome time! I did the Cleveland half last fall but it doesn’t seem as cool as the DC one – maybe it’ll be a destination race! I ran the Shamrock 15k on Sunday – hills of death and 20 degrees! We recovered at a winery, though, so I can’t complain too much

  21. 32
    Jenny Paxton says:

    Almost all of my long runs end with that Calvert hill, but it didn’t feel any easier on Saturday :) It was my first time doing RnR and I loved it – great course, crowd support and so well organized!

  22. 33

    Hello Anne,,congratulation again,,you are now like “Forrest Gump”,,you never stop,,I gues you’ve seen the Frrest’shoes in Santa Monica Marina,soo funny.
    I am a fitness woman 5 training/week,,hard work but worth.
    Have a nice day/week,thanks to share,you bring me joy.

  23. 35

    I was talking to my brother (who lives in DC) on Saturday and he said he was walking home because his bus was stuck in traffic from “some race.” I laughed and told him it was the R&R half/full marathon.

    This was so fun to read! I loved your approach of just going out and doing it for fun. I also love your message at the end–that we are capable of so much, if we just give ourselves a chance. :-)

  24. 37

    Awesome job!! I love your race recaps, they are so detailed-races are always such a blur to me I don’t think I could give an elaborate breakdown! I did Rock N Roll Philly last year as my first half and I loved it!! DC one looks sweet too… I wish it was in the fall (I hate training in the cold months)… but maybe next year winter won’t be so brutal!

    • 38

      Here’s hoping next winter makes up for this one. :) I feel like races are a blur for me, too – but the photos help me to remember and piece it all together! I think knowing I’ll be writing about it helps me to be more present, too.

  25. 39

    You have my attention with the margarita shot blok. Is the flavor close to a real margarita?

  26. 41

    fun running the full this weekend, the only disappointment was there were no bagels towards the end of the race :(

  27. 42

    I had a few friends who ran and said it was a really fun race. I’ll be in DC in a few weeks so I hope the weather warms up :-)

  28. 43

    Just wanted to share that I made your Healthy Taco Salad from Health Mag last night, and it was FABULOUS! It would be a great prep-ahead and take-to-work lunch as well, since there’s no dressing to get soggy. Thanks for the recipe! Medi Pasta Salad is on tap for later this week…

  29. 45

    I also ran the RnR DC!! I didn’t realize you were running it until I saw your blog the night before about prepping for it. I looked for you, but like you said, it was insanely crowded. It’s fun to relive the race through your photos! I hadn’t run it in the past, but I was aware of the hill at mile 6 – nasty, nasty hill! Fun race though :)

  30. 46
    Rob Runs says:

    I ran it! My alarm went off at 4AM and I woke up with a super bad cold so I was fueled by Dayquil and caffeine. Both of which appeared to run out at mile 10 and I hit the wall HARD (like, almost stumbled over to the medic hard). I pushed and came in 30 seconds short of a PR though so I ain’t mad at it. It was my first time doing this one and even though my legs still hurt I’d totally do it again.

  31. 48

    Congrats! So sad that I had to miss this run but so excited for you ladies. Sounds like it was an amazing race morning!

  32. 49
    Roadrunner says:

    Very impressive! A full and then a half — and enjoyed them! Wow!

  33. 50

    So impressed with your accomplishments! I am a new reader to your blog. I am running my first half-marathon on Saturday and I am completely scared out of my mind, but reading this blog made me feel better. I sometimes forget that running should be fun!

  34. 52

    Great job on your half marathon, especially after finishing your a MARATHON last week. :) I agree its so crazy how much strong people are than they think. Last Feb/March I started picking up running. My first recorded run outside I ran 2.18 miles with a 14:21m pace. This past weekend I just ran an 10K with a 7:51m pace and have my first half in 3 weeks! Keep at it!!!

  35. 54

    Looks like you had a blast!

  36. 55

    So totally agree with you that “We are stronger than we think we are – both in running, and in life.”

  37. 56

    Well done, Anne!!! Glad it was a great race and overall experience! I tried one of the Mocha gels this weekend— awesome recommendation!!

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