Sunday, March 18, 2012

Rock and Roll Half Marathon Recap

More than 2 minutes off from my Garmin time with no stops? Weird.
* Edited to add - 2 hours later my dumb brain figured out that the Garmin loses reception in tunnels. DUH.

Well, I got what I expected. A fun race only 50 miles from my front door that took me less than two hours to run, and cost me more than 8 hours in travel time.

Note: This isn't a criticism of the actual race, because I knew exactly what I was getting in to by signing up for a huge DC race. This is information that I need to look back on the next time I start saying "oh, that race looks fun! and they have one in DC!".

Friday Eric picked me up from work at 3:45 so we could get immediately on the road to DC to get our bibs from the expo. Since we didn't get to the expo until 7pm (remember, 50 miles, that's DC traffic during rush hour), they didn't have a single shirt left in the size Casi had requested when she signed up (note: this IS a criticism of the race, we paid a lot!). I was starving and somehow managed to ignore all the wonderful overpriced clothing and beeline for any place giving out free samples.

When we finally got back to our hotel in a nearby suburb it was almost 9pm so we got salads and sandwiches from Panera and ate in bed watching Friends. Wild night.

Casi and I had been super psyched for Hampton free cookies, but we got back too late and they'd run out for the day (wow, this post is turning out REALLY whiny). We couldn't live without our sugar fix, and the vending machine options were terrible. We took a tour of the different vending machines on all 14 floors of the hotel until we came up with a somewhat suitable dessert.

The Rice Krispie treat had non name brand M&Ms in it.
The next morning, my greatest race fear happened and my alarm never went off. Luckily, Casi's did, so we still managed to make the 6am metro.

When we got into DC and had to change trains to head to the race, the station was so packed that Eric didn't managed to make the same train as us. He needs to learn to push and shove better. We rode in with our bodies pressed against other random runners, being thankful that the race hadn't happened yet.

When we arrived at our station, there was a huge wait to ride the escalator up and exit the station. Somehow in the crowd a reader recognized me! It was my super exciting I feel like a celebrity moment. I'm sorry I wasn't more chatty, but I was freaking out about if Eric had got on the next train and trying to find him.

The crowd using this escalator was pretty frightening, although apparently the real threat was this guy
who was secretly the devil.
 We finally found Eric, arrived at the race, and checked our bags inside the armory. Just leaving the armory to go outside and wait in the porto-potty line took ten minutes, because we had to wait for the crowds to bottleneck out through the doors. At this point it was 7:30 and I had to make a choice if I wanted to start the race on time (8am) or use the bathroom first. In other words, which would hurt me more in the race - trying to hold it, or trying to weave in and out of crowds when I started way behind people at my pace?

Really though, there was no choice. Bathroom won out, so I stayed in the portopottie line until after the race started. It was tough, but I tried to make peace with it.

At least we had time for pictures.
 There were 27 corrals, and I was supposed to be in corral 5 (which sounds way off, I'm not super fast like that). After I finally got my turn, Casi and I jogged as far up as we could (there were still tons of corrals waiting to start) and ended up in corral 10, which wasn't too bad. Due to the staggered start, we were in the front of the pack at the start line. Since I was in a lower corral than I was supposed to be, I sprinted out in front and broke away from the pack at the beginning. It was super exciting and I am positive that will be the closest I get to feeling like an elite winning the race so I made the most of it and ran as fast as I could (for like a tenth of a mile).

During the race, I tried to just run by feel and aim for that "comfortably hard" pace. I couldn't resist and looked at my Garmin at mile 2 and of course freaked out and decided I was the slowest runner ever and got mad at myself, but I managed to avoid that the rest of the race. The course was fantastic, we got to see most of the monuments, a lot of cool neighborhoods in DC, and there was tons of crowd support. We went through a tunnel at one point and everyone was screaming to hear the echos which I found highly exciting. I knew going in that this was a fairly hilly course, but it was harder than I thought. The good news was that even with something like 20,000 runners AND with me starting late, the points where I had to dodge and weave through crowds were few and far between. The corral system had everyone so spread out that it never was overwhelmingly crowded.

The bands were fun and all, but you hear them for a second and then you're gone, so I'm not sure I really get why everyone goes crazy for the Rock and Roll thing. 

At the start I'd been borderline euphoric about only having to run 13.1 miles and then I was done. I know that's a total snobby marathoner thought, but it was true. Around mile 12.5 the race split and I just looked at all the marathoners who were only halfway done thinking "haha, SUCKERS" and happily pranced over to the half marathon side.

I finished, got my medal, and then took one look at the food and said "hell no". I got really nauseous just looking at it and I couldn't stomach the thought of even holding it for later (plus there were huge lines). At this point, I'd like to save everyone the time of writing "you're preggers!!" comments by promising to reread all the ones that were left the other day. I'd also like to point out that racing in "heat" after training all winter in the cold has left me and countless others (including my husband) sick in the past.

Anyway, I tried to wait for Casi in the finishers area but the smell of the bagels was making me sicker and sicker so I finally stumbled away and laid down in the grass wrapped in my space blanket. After she found me we hung out in the grass for awhile until we both felt ready to move and then went back to the armory to get our bags and wait for Eric to finish.

This guy was picking his blisters, and mumbling "I'm an athlete" into the phone.
He finally stumbled in, in even worse shape than I was.

"Next time I'm at least doing a few training runs"

Pulled it together for a victory pic - sort of.

 It took us awhile to metro back and get the car, and Eric immediately passed out again.

Here's something that (I think) is cool - 6 days after I completed my 6th marathon, I completed my 6th half marathon.


  1. I love this recap so much, especially how Eric's Facebook bragging about not needing to train worked out so well for him. :)

    That corral system sounds great, why don't more races like MCM do a staggered corral release?

  2. eric's plan sounds a lot like my husband's training plan - run the fewest miles as possible. my husband trained for a marathon by only doing long runs! yep, he was miserable on race day.

    i love hampton cookies too and get bummed when they run out :(

    so what marathon or half marathon are you doing next weekend?!?! ;)

  3. I hope you told Eric that he needs to learn to "push and shove harder." Men love hearing that.

    1. Especially since one of his job titles is "bouncer" hahaha

  4. Hearing about all those crowds makes me glad for all my small uncrowded Montana races :) Great job on your half!

  5. I get so annoyed when people automatically say, "You're pregnant!" just because you stomach feels a bit off.

  6. I see puffy paint! Nice job, Alyssa! I'm in total awe of your 6 marathons and 6 half marathons. I need to get off my butt and go train for something (well, once the abdominal wound heals anyways).

  7. Nice! I did a Rock & Roll Half in VA Beach and I'd agree - you don't hear the bands much. The post show bands were the best - I think it was REO Speedwagon or something totally 80s like and fun! Great job on the race. You are amazing!

  8. Great recap Alyssa, and congratulates on your six / six just six days apart ! The trips to the race (and back home no doubt) sounds like the worst part, if you don't count the food. Glad you had a nice weekend, and congrats to Eric for another great finish as well !

  9. Great job!! I'm a little surprised I didn't see you. We were in corral 7 and finished in 1:58. The metro post-race was insane. When we got there, they weren't even letting people on the escalator b/c it was so packed. No more DC races!

    Eric cracks me up...I can't believe he ran that race without training! It was hilly and hot. Tell him congrats!

  10. Great job!!! I had a few friends that ran this race also. It's on my list for next year!!

    the devil pic made me LOL....

  11. Fourteen floors of vending machine research -- this is sounding awesome already. I'm so proud of you. I like checking out all the floors, but even I'm impressed by this.

  12. I was one of the two pace leaders for the pace group in corral five. Wish you'd made it up to our corral. But, actually, I barely made it there in time myself. I used an inside, upstairs bathroom at the armory, which was fast, but it still took forever to go past ten bazillion corrals to get up to five. Then I was going to clamber over the fence, when a guy inside motioned me to climb through the little openings in the fence itself.

  13. I felt a bit of nausea myself - I think the heat affected me.

  14. Congrats on your 6th half - especially so soon after a full! On Saturday Tim and I lost $3 on the various vending machines in the hotel. So angry and finally just walked to a store nearby to buy candy. Next time I will come better prepared.

  15. I was the reader that recognized you! After I said hello, I felt a little like some kind of crazy stalker. :-/ In any case, it was great to meet you! I really enjoy your blog, especially your race reports. Congrats on your race! I did the full and was pleased with my time (only two minutes off my PR) considering the warm weather. Happy running (and biking and swimming)!

    Tiffany K.

  16. Loved this recap! 6 and 6! That's fabulous!

  17. Congrats!! 6th half 6 days after your 6th marathon must be why you saw the devil on the escalator :-p

    DC races are crazy, probably won't do that again. As much as I hate that competitor races are so expensive, both of the Philly RnR halfs I ran were well organized.

    I agree that the music part is overrated, especially when one of the 6 or 7 bands is taking a break while you run past them. I had just as much on-course entertainment at my cheaper ODDyssey half marathon in Philly last May.


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