Rock n Roll D.C. Marathon
March 12 2016
Wow what a race!!
I already discussed events leading up to the event, so here I’m only going to discuss the race weekend itself.
Packing is a crucial part of traveling for an away race. No one wants to show up far from home and be missing something. It's best to pack up early as possible.
Here's a quick look inside my bag:
- Race Day Wear - Sneakers, Garmin 920xt + HR strap, socks, 3 pairs of sunglasses, 6 sport bras (options!), tank, shorts, ipod, nail posish (yes thats a race day thing).
- Food - Honey Stingers (planned on needing 4 for race day), portioned packets of Cocoa Elite (recovery is crucial!), water bottle, coconut water, zucchini bread, trail mix, individual packets of Salba Chia to add to water (extra hydration!), B12 vitamin, sugar free RedBull (I know I know, but its a pre-race tradition).
- Casual Attire - jeans, top, flats... thats about it. I packed too many sports bras and forgot the rest. Oops.
- Other Items - Chargers, computer, Stick, yoga mat, compression socks, camera, lots of other less important things (I tend to over pack).
I woke up early feeling super groggy and sleepy. Went out for a 6 mile run. It was a nice run, but slower than my run the day before the Columbus Marathon. Post run I jumped in the shower, grabbed food, coffee, and my bag and jumped in the car. Off to D.C.! It’s a 6 hour drive into the city. I started off driving and then gave the wheel to Luke so I could nap a bit. I tried stretching my legs out as much as I could while sitting in the front seat. I sipped milk and cold pressed coffee and ate a chunk of zucchini bread. Once we got to the city it took roughly an extra hour to deal with DC traffic and get to the expo at the Armory. Once inside I made my way to the ‘Solutions Desk’ to get my bib. This is where things really set in. I was handed my elite bib ‘F-2’. I couldn’t help but smile. I mean there it was! Definitely an exciting moment for me!!! We did a relatively quick stroll through the expo booths before heading out to find the hotel. I love staying in hotels. Its super fun to just let your luggage explode and not need to clean up anything. Pizza was on my mind so we found a shop roughly 1 mile away and took a stroll through the city streets. The weather was warm and sunny and it felt great to be outside. We ordered 3 pizzas. They were small! And I wanted lots of pizza. &Pizza is a great little shop where you can get fun pizzas quickly. We walked back with our pizzas and holed up in the hotel room for the rest of the night. It was time to really get race ready. This includes: Eating pizza, drinking a glass of wine, making my playlist, laying out all race clothes, drinking water, stretching…
When all those things were done I got to bed at a pretty early time with my alarm set for 6am.
Who sleeps before a race!?! I mean really I was up on and off all night. Ugh. At 5:30 I decided to just get up for real. Showered, cracked open my sugar free red bull, started eating a rice crispy treat and listened to some music. I have realized that I can eat more before a race when I’m less nervous. Sounds crazy, but I was less nervous for this one. Mostly because I felt like I had already made it. I was just here to run in my hard earned F-2 bib. It’d be great to PR, but I didn’t think that was going to happen on this course. It’d be great to finish top 3, but in a race with thousands of entrants, could that really be possible? Shrug. So in the end, I was less nervous and just going out to run. Does this mean I was just going to run easy? No way! I was going to crash and burn. Not the best thing to plan on I know… but it was just in my head. I was convinced the only way to get through this race was to go out hard and hold it as long as I could.
Shoes laced, bib pinned, and I was out the door. The start was 1.2 miles from the hotel. I was getting super anxious because the Rock n Roll Marathons have a habit of starting whenever they want. 7:30am might really be 7:25 or 7:32. I was hoping I got there in time. I did, but barely! I squeezed through the gate into the corral and the gun sounded. I was OFF!
The run started fast. Really fast. I was in a sea of ½ marathoners. It was making me nervous that I was in the wrong race or something. Rock n Roll marathons should really be called ‘Rock n Roll ½ marathons with a full option’ as they tend to be stacked with halfers. I was feeling good about it but eased off the pace slightly. When mile 5-6 came so did the first real hill. I slowed way down. 7:30 pace. This was my plan: do not blow up on the hills. So I tried not to put extra energy into this climb and resumed a faster pace at the top. I was still feeling good. The really hard part was I was running alone. Totally alone. I might pass someone, lots of half marathoners were passing me… but there was no one running a pace that I could stick with comfortably. I was doing between 6:12-6:35 min miles and couldn’t speed up more than that, especially so early in the race. My half marathon time was 1:26, fast. I took a Honey Stinger at mile 12 and was happy to turn away from the half marathoners. Of course that meant I was even more alone. I had a cyclist with me which was also irritating. It signaled that I was first, lead female in the marathon. Not what I wanted to care about so early in the race. Also, the cyclist was not concerned with riding in a straight line. They went fast, slow, from side to side… it was messy riding. By mile 15 I was hurting. There was a short turn around stretch and I did not see another female right behind me, which I was very thankful for. The course is up and down, twisty, turny and filled with potholes and debris. Much harder than Florida or Columbus. My legs were aching. Around mile 17 there was another, longer out and back stretch. There were 2 girls coming up behind me. The second was maybe a minute off and the third maybe 3 minutes. I knew I couldn’t hold it. I was struggling to keep the pace sub 7 and still had a long way to go. The second place girl was looking strong, she also had a pacer the entire race and I was sure she wouldn’t slow up. Maybe I could get second place. Second is fine right?.... I was pushing as hard as I could to keep moving and not get third place. More hills, more twists… more legs on fire. Second place passed me (she was wearing the F-1 bib) at mile 22 to take first female position. I tried to stick behind her, but I couldn’t. I was done. I sighed and watched as she and her pacer ran off. At mile 24 I was still second and knew I’d have to work soooo hard to come in under 3 hours. I crossed the line in second place with a 2:59:55 time. Just made it!!!
There were 2 reporters in my face immediately after the race finish. F-1 had finished just under 2 minutes ahead of me. She played the negative split well. Disappointed a little I wobbled to find Luke and food. I was given an award plaque, flowers, and VIP wristband. We hung around the finish for a bit then jumped on the metro to get back to the hotel. As we had friends in DC and wanted to take advantage of the weekend away from home, I didn’t spend time recovering. After about 10 minutes laying on the bed, I rallied. We went out and had a fun time walking all over, checking out markets, having drinks, and eating lots of food.
Post Race Thoughts:
· I should have paced myself smarter.
· I should be more confident in my running.
· I should focus on recovery more than going out and having fun.
· I did 3 sub 3hr marathons in 6 months when I started the season not knowing if I could do one.
· I placed 2nd out of 11,000 females and 31st overall.
· I got my first real elite bib.
· I earned my first running payout.
· I am happy, proud of my accomplishments and ready to not race (marathons) until next fall.