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!
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!
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. ;)
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.
I love the moments just before a race starts – so much anticipation and nervous energy. Let’s do this, DC! Here we gooooo!
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.
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. ;)
This was the first of many fun bands – they were just before we crossed Memorial Bridge.
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).
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!
- 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)!
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!
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!
Yay – hi Jeremy!
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.
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)!
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
Aren’t the medals cool looking? Loved the strap, too!
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?!