Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Rock n Roll DC Half Marathon 2016: Race recap

This past Saturday was the Rock n Roll DC marathon in downtown Washington, DC. This is the second time I've run this half (I ran the full in 2014), and probably the last year for a while, since I'll be moving at the end of this year. I was marginally prepared for this race, made a few mistakes, and ended up with a less-than-great time.

Expo and packet pickup

The expo was back at the Armory this year, but the parking was a hot mess. I'm still not entirely sure where expo parking was, since the parking lot that is usually used was being set up as the new finish line. I drove in on Thursday, it wasn't crowded at all, and pickup was a breeze. We walked through the expo to get some swag (I got another Team Geico t shirt!), convinced one of my buddies to sign up for the full next year (he got a free t shirt!), and then we went out for dinner.

As I was laying my things out the night before (I wore my SOAS Sunset Cliffs tights and matching run tank, Asics DS trainers, and my Team SOAS hat), I briefly mourned the fact that my ipod was broken. It just up and died at some point this past weekend, and after my husband tried to "fix" it, by Friday it looked like this:
This ipod was a 21st birthday gift from my husband, and has been with me literally every race I've done since. While I'm glad it lasted this long, it does leave me in a lurch since 1) I wouldn't have music for the race and 2) I would have to track down 7 years' worth of computers to recompile my playlists.

Race day

My original plan was to drive down, park near the start line (in downtown DC), hand off the baby to a friend who was spectating, and then run with my husband. He, however, was sick overnight, so that combined with a recent twisted ankle was enough to make him stay home with Lilly while I ran the race myself.

Parking: I could have pre-purchased parking on parking panda anywhere downtown, or paid $20(!!) for parking at the finish line, but I decided to just risk it and park at the Reagan building. While there was plenty of parking there, getting there took much longer than anticipated because of road closures. I finally parked (note: if you park here, it is a federal building, and they do car inspections before you enter the garage) and made it to bag drop with just enough time to turn in my bag and run to the corral.

Bag check: Usually I don't check a bag, but I figured, why not. They have UPS trucks that transport bags from the start to the finish line, and there's enough that there usually isn't much of a wait at the end. I packed my metro card, keys, flip flops, a clean t shirt, an extra bottle of water, and ended up throwing my phone in there as well.

I lined up with my corral, 9, which started about 10 minutes off the clock. I started out at about a 9:30 pace, a little slower than my goal but it seemed reasonable. As I ran, I kind of remembered the two previous times I had run this course, and how much I've grown since then. I then decided that, since I didn't have music to keep me amused for the next two hours, I ought to play the alphabet game. It took me until MILE 8 to finish the entire alphabet, and that was with the easy rules! I was stuck on Q for quite a bit, until I saw Q Nails in adams-morgan. I decided to try to get through the whole alphabet again, and this time made it before mile 11, when I saw a New York Pizza next to an Exxon gas station. (WXYZ, FTW!)

Right around mile 8, I also got a sudden cramp in my left knee and foot, at the same time. This forced me to walk for a little bit, flex my foot out, and then keep running, but I could feel my MCL start to get more painful as the miles went on. My pace went from a 9:20 to about a 10:30, which seriously killed my time. Out the window went my goal of a 2 hour half, and I was just hoping to beat my Disney Princess time of 2:30. I did, with a final time of 2:19.

Fuel: Instead of having Gu on the course, RnR has a new partnership with Glukos, which provided "gel" and blocks at mile 8.5. The gel was more of a liquid, similar to Gatorade pre-game fuel, which hits much quicker than regular gels. The blocks were much harder to chew than most chews I've like, like Clif shot blocks, but the flavor was pretty good. I did bring a Gu with me, which I took at mile 5.

Finish: The finish line was moved from one of the lower parking lots being RFK stadium to the parking lot right next to the armory. This means there is a tiny bit of an uphill, rather than a downhill, coming into the finale. I think it was much easier for spectators to get to, though. The finishing chute was very crowded, and it was hard to find where everything was, but I did get several water bottles, a chocolate milk, and a protein bar. Just outside of the chute were the UPS trucks, so I was able to grab my flip flops right away, and wrap myself in a heat sheet, since it was a cloudy 55 degrees.

At the finish area there were also tents for changing, and the finish party, with a live band playing, several food trucks, and the usual vendors with RnR merchandise, medal engraving, and the tent to pick up marathon finishers jackets.

Since I had parked downtown, I took the metro from the Armory back, grabbed some Starbucks with a friend, and headed home.

Recovery

As soon as I got home I took a warm shower and threw on some compression socks, as well as my post-race uniform of race t shirt and sweatpants. I stretched out that night, and did some serious foamrolling the next morning. My glutes, lower calves, and hamstrings were a little sore but not too bad. My knee was also tender, but a little ice helped. I wasn't particularly proud of my time, and didn't indulge of my usual March post-race Shamrock shake, but I am still a little surprised that my body is still fine with the distance, despite not training more than 6 miles at a time since my last race. Hopefully in the next 29 days until my next race (Star Wars: The Dark Side at WDW!) I can add some more distance, some more speed, and break that 2:00 mark again! (unlikely, I've been on a quest for Leia Minnie and will wait in line for two hours to get a pic with her)

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