2013 Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Half-Marathon
|March 17, 2013||Posted by Katy under 2013 RnR USA Half-Marathon Training, DC, GOTR, Race Photographs, Race recap|
Yesterday I ran my eighth half-marathon and it was one for the books, but not in a good way.
Short story: I did not PR.
Medium story: I did not PR and the race was an organizational nightmare.
Long story: The morning started with a wake-up call at 4:45 in the morning. Since I live so far away from DC, I stayed with Sierra for a couple of days, which was very appreciated. We got up, dressed, ate, and headed to the Metro to get to the race start by 6:30.
We REALLY lucked out with the weather yesterday. All week they were calling for cold, rain, and wind all day on Saturday but it was perfect running weather. It was cool, but the rain held off (except for a few drops during mile 12) and there was barely any wind. In my mind, it was perfect PR weather and I was going to take advantage of it.
Once we arrived at the start area, we gear checked our bags and then went our separate ways to get into our corrals.
I was in corral 6 and had about 45 minutes to the start so I hopped in a long line for the porta potty. I also did a quick warm up jog to get my legs moving and ready to race. I felt good and I had a lot of energy for this race. I had been sick during the beginning of the week with a nasty cold and yesterday was the first day where I felt 100%.
About 5 minutes until the official start, I got situated in my corral, ditched my trash bag and throwaway sweatshirt and mentally prepped. Before I knew it, the first corral was on their way and a few minutes later I was starting my eighth half-marathon.
In looking at the course elevation map during training, I knew that there was a hill during mile 6, so I planned to conserve some energy for the hill. I have the tendency to go too hard in the beginning so I made a concerted effort to hold back a little. However, the first mile was downhill so it was more difficult than I thought.
The first three-ish miles were basically part of the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile course (but in reverse) and took us from the Washington Monument, over the Arlington Memorial Bridge, past the side of the Lincoln Memorial, and along Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway. I enjoyed this part of the course. The spectators and bands were awesome and I was in great spirits! I also saw Anne run past me at around 2.5. I was going to try to keep pace with her but she was going way too fast for me and got away quickly.
I crossed the 5K mat at 27:53, keeping me on pace for my goal time.
- Mile 1- 8:54
- Mile 2- 8:53
- Mile 3- 8:48
The next three miles were pretty uneventful. We were no longer around the Mall and monuments so it was a lot of open road with nothing to see. At least the spectators along the course were entertaining and run to interact with.
While the first water stop just after the 5K mark was ok, the second one between miles 5 and 6 (and the rest on the half-marathon course) was ridiculous. I know that I may sound like a brat when I say this but all of the water stops were POORLY staffed. There were hardly any volunteers (maybe they failed to show up because of the weather prediction?) and runners were forced to grab their own water and in some cases, pour their own cups. I heard that some stops even ran out of water! The few volunteers that were at the water stations were doing their best and I made sure to thank them.
- Mile 4- 8:55
- Mile 5- 9:09
- Mile 6- 8:57
I hit the 10K mat at 57:13, a little slower than I wanted, but still ok.
Just after mile 6, I finally hit the dreaded hill. I still had plenty of gas in the tank so I gradually started to run up the hill. While it was not ridiculously steep, it was long! Despite the hill work I had been doing, I did have to walk for about 30 seconds to catch my breath and continue up the hill. This sign pretty much sums up the hill.
I have to point out that, while there was a LOT that went wrong with this race, the spectators were awesome! At least on the half-marathon course, there was always at least one spectator within sight, cheering the runners on. It was a great morale boost and I know that I greatly appreciated it!
After reaching the top of the hill, there were so many spectators with a lot of funny signs. Some of my favorites included the “Run like Ryan Gosling is at the finish” and this one…
However my FAVORITE sign (which I unfortunately did not get a picture of) was a guy holding a “Play Like A Champion Today” sign which I slapped as I ran by. Apparently I was the first person (so far) who got the reference and he let out a huge cheer and let me know! It gave me a little boost as I continued on.
From here on out, I found the course reeeeaaallllyyyy boring. Actually, I found the entire course boring and I was disappointed. I wish that we would have ran more by more of the monuments and prettier parts of the city verses a lot of residential streets with not a lot to see. Again, I have to reiterate how much I appreciated spectators out on the course because it really pulled me through. You can see by my splits that I was starting to lose a little gas at this point.
Miles 7-9 were filled with some rolling hills (a little more “rolling” than I expected but nothing awful), boring houses to look at, another chaotic water stop, and a fuel station that had mounds of GU piled on tables with no one to hand them out. There were also a few F-bombs being thrown out by other runners due to the lack of organization. You could feel the frustration in the air.
I took my GU at mile 7 and felt a bit jittery for a mile or two. I took in a Jet Blackberry GU which has caffeine so I am not sure if it was that (although I have trained with it/ used that flavor in races many times and never had a problem) but I felt a little weird. Nothing crazy that would make me stop, but annoying.
- Mile 7- 10:07
- Mile 8- 9:27
- Mile 9- 9:05
Despite slowing down a bit during miles 7-9, I was still in the mindset of going for a PR. Up until this point, I was not really focusing on my Garmin so when I looked down to see my elapsed time, I realized that I was going slower than I thought. I picked it up for a little and crossed the 10- mile mat at 1:33:10.
- Mile 10- 9:29
After hitting the mat, I crashed… HARD. For whatever reason, my legs decided to just give up on me and become lead. I was bored, tired, and annoyed at this point, and was ready to be done. The spectators did help me laugh a little but otherwise, I was ready for the finish. I ended up walking a bit during the next two miles, which I was not happy about.
- Mile 11- 10:08
- Mile 12- 10:45
When we hit the half/ full marathon split just after mile 12, I just laid the hammer down and pushed to the finish. I was not fast by any means, but I made it over the final hill and across the finish.
- Mile 13- 9:55
- .30- 2:48 (9:19 pace)
- Garmin Time- 2:05:25 (9:26 pace)
- Official Time- 2:05:21 (9:34 pace)
The finish line was a chaotic experience. There were only a couple of volunteers handing out medals and a lot of the medals were still in baggies. Due to all the people coming across the line at the point, the volunteers were basically throwing the medals at runners. I cannot blame them though!
After I herded through the finish and gathered up all the food in the finishers “village” I made my way to medical to get ice for my legs and then to the charity tents to meet up at the Girls on the Run- SoleMates tent. I stayed there for a little before going to pick up my bag at the buses.
While I did not have a bad experience with gear pick-up, I know that a LOT of people did. Some runners waited for over an hour to retrieve their bags and two runners ahead of me in line had their bags misplaced. Again, another example of too little volunteers for such a big event.
I then stretched, and went back over to the finish area to cheer on Sierra who ran a great race (but you will have to check her blog to see how she did)! We reunited, took pictures, and went to eat with some of her friends.
All in all, I was NOT impressed with this race. This was my second Rock ‘n’ Roll event and while it may be unfair to base a race series on only two of their events, I have no plans to ever do this race, or any Rock ‘n’ Roll race again. I gave them the benefit of the doubt with Savannah in 2011 (because it was an inaugural race) but this race yesterday left a poor taste in my mouth.
I am very thankful that I did not pay for a bib for this race and did it as a charity runner. In a nutshell, this race was a clusterf*@&. There are so many races in this area that are run much more efficiently, have better courses, and offer a more enjoyable runner experience. I think this race has the potential of being a great event, but a lot of work needs to be done to do so. Competitor Group fell short yesterday in a major way.
I am not going to lie, when I crossed the finish, I was pissed. Not so much over the organization of the race, but more at myself. I am an extremely competitive person, especially with myself. I know that I could have done much better yesterday. I am not saying that 2:05 is a bad time (it is actually my best time in over a year so there’s that) but I know that I am capable of better. I have been consistently hitting my training paces since my Disney training cycle (and even faster ones during this one) and all signs point that I can hit my target pace but I have been unable to do it.
I am 100% to blame for this. The weather was perfect yesterday and while I may have been forced to slow down and/or walk to pour myself water at water stops, it was not enough to slow me down as much as I did. I mentally gave up and while I was in the mindset to PR, there was still a little doubt in my head that I could maintain my target pace and actually do it. I let that little voice get louder and louder in my head as the miles went on.
I know that this was “just a race” and hey I finished, but I really wanted this PR. There is a lot going on in my life right now that I cannot control, and running is about the only thing I do feel like I have control over. I have been working my butt off to make the miles that I can run count so I am sort of frustrated with myself. I just need to tell myself to trust in my training and not let my mind and doubts get the best of me.
I am debating finding another half-marathon to run and try to PR one more time or to just call it quits for a half-marathon PR during the winter/ spring road racing season. I have the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler in a few weeks so I can try to hit a new PR for that distance and then shift my focus to triathlon base building. I am going back and forth because I do have some “speed” right now that I know I am going to lose as it gets warmer and I don’t want all of my training to be a waste.
But for now, another race is in the books… onto the next, whatever that may be.