One of the perks of my new job is that it allows me a spring break. How awesome is that? As it turned out, spring break happened to fall the week before the Rock N Roll USA half marathon in DC, which I had sign up for before I knew I was moving. So, I capitalized (Capitolized? hehehe) on my time off and spent the first half of break relaxing in Tampa, and then I spent the second half hanging out in my dear old DC!
I was so glad to go back to visit so many of my friends, and hang out in the city I called home for nearly 7 years. I filled my schedule and my belly for the few days I was there. I hit up happy hour with an old coworker at Guapos, enjoyed some Vietnamese with Chloe, fueled up for the half marathon with some pasta at Sette Osteria (great meal, terrible service!), replaced all the calories I had burned off (and then some) with brunch at Los Tios, and spent some time catching up with my friend Steph at Busboys and Poets. Man, I miss the food scene in DC! There were so many more places I wanted to go, but not enough time to eat at them all.
As I mentioned, I didn’t only go back to visit friends, I had a race to run too! I didn’t put a lot of pressure on myself for this race because I had a pretty tough week of workouts, and lately, my training runs haven’t been so stellar. I also had heard bad things about RnR races and knew there would be a ton of people, so I just wanted to go out there, have fun, and get some miles logged.
Well, I surprised myself, and ended up having a stellar race. I don’t knowing it was just the fun and familiarity of being back in my old stomping grounds, the incredible crowd support all over the course, or the sheer excitement of racing, but I felt great throughout the entire race, and walked away with a new PR!
But let me back up a little.
I spent the night at my friend Sue Ellen’s house, and we got up bright and early to fuel up and head out to the metro. I knew there’d be a lot of people, so we gave ourselves a little bit of extra time to get to the start, use the porta potty, and get to the right corrals on time. The first train pulled up, and it was already crowded. Ugh. We moved towards the door, and I was reluctant to get on the train since it was so crowded already. Sue Ellen grabbed me and her friend Andrea and said we could fit. So, we squeezed in like sardines with the hundreds of other runners.
I’m sure glad that we crammed into this mess, because I later heard from several different people that their experience on the metro was MISERABLE. 2 hour waits? Off loading? ICK! That would have completely stressed me out. Thanks Sue Ellen for still being a city-dweller and forcing us on the train:-)
Anyhow, we made it to the start with enough time to check our back, stand in the incredibly slow moving porta-potty line, and get to the starting corrals. We parted ways because Sue Ellen and Andrea were in a different corral than I was, but planned to meet up at the finish line.
I was supposed to be in corral 10 (I had estimated a 2 hour finish when I had signed up), and I moved up to corral 9 before starting. I spotted a 3:55 marathon pacer, and figured I should try to stay near him. That didn’t work out so well, and I quickly lost sight of him. I don’t think he was really well marked, and I guess I could have STOOD next to him at the start instead of 20 yards away. Oh well. I figured I’d just watch my Garmin, and try to run a comparable race to Gasparilla.
As we ran up and down and across DC, I’m pretty sure I had a smile on my face. I LOVE THIS CITY. It was so fun to run by the Capitol, by the mall, through Dupont, Columbia Heights, H Street, and other neighborhoods, passing so many familiar sights, and running along streets I knew like the back of my hand. After this race, I really realized the benefit of knowing the course. Though I had never run this course exactly, I knew the streets well and was prepared for hills and straightaways.
I occasionally checked my Garmin, and I seemed to be pacing myself alright. I felt really strong, so I decided to push a little harder. The hill in Dupont? It was not going to get me down. I heard the cheering crowd, saw some familiar faces, and I told myself that I was going to dominate it! I was shocked at how good I was feeling, and just let myself run free. As I passed mile marker 12, I checked my watch and saw that I was on track to beat my Gasparilla time. Heck, if I push myself really hard, I may even be able to break 1:50!
Well, I kept running strong and, though I didn’t break 1:50, I crossed the finish line in (officially) 1:51.40. Booyah!
Here’s my splits:
They’re certainly interesting…I really need to figure out pacing. I think that will come with more experience (this is my 3rd half ever), but in the meantime, any tips people? How do you pace yourself in a half marathon?
After the race, I found Sue Ellen and Andrea (who both also PRed!)
We met up with a few others, then decided to head home. Unfortunately the thousands of other runners were doing exactly the same thing, so we decided to walk a bit and then catch a cab. After nearly a mile (!!!) trek, we finally found a cab. It felt So. Good. to sit down! We got home, and hauled our smelly selves to brunch. Ahh. Perfect way to end a racing morning.
I had a fantastic time in DC and was completely stoked about my race. Did you race? How’d it go? Leave a link to your race report in the comment section!