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March 16, 2015

DC Rock 'n' Roll Half-Marathon Recap

I had no idea what to expect going into my 13th half-marathon (14th if you count the Half I DNF because of knee pain last May). All I wanted was to finish strong, to be able to run pain-free and to be able to pick up the pace a little bit if I felt good.

My training has been great in the sense that I've put in the work and the miles, but none of my long runs left me feeling particularly strong. I had to take it too easy to allow myself to feel strong.

This weekend was totally different.

With a 7:30 start time, The Pilot, Abby and I headed to the Metro around 6:45 to make our way over. It was already raining pretty steadily by the time we got to the start and we waited in a covered bus stop before making our way to the corrals at 7:25. It was a long, cold, wet wait. By the time we crossed the starting line 45 minutes later (yes, 45 minutes), my feet were drenched and my legs were numb. It took about 3 miles for me to warm up after that.

Metro selfies are a must when racing in DC
Abby, The Pilot and I started together but The Pilot wasn't feeling too hot and dropped away pretty early on. He later picked up the pace and only finished a few minutes behind us but we never saw him on the course, which was a bummer. I would've loved for us to finish together.

I didn't know Abby was planning to run with me. It meant the world to have my training partner alongside me every step of the way. She helped me focus and kept me from siking myself out.

The first few miles, I felt so weird. My legs were numb and it was hard to pin down my gait and I just felt off. Once I started to warm up though, things got better.

The race went by quickly. I missed the mile marker for Mile 3 (and my watch was deeply buried under my layers of clothes) so when we hit Mile 4, I felt great! I had just thought that Mile 2 felt long!

My knee felt a little off around Mile 5, so I took a short walking break. I made sure I walked through all of the water stations. I wasn't out for a PR today, I was just out to finish. I thought that the Calvert St. Hill was at Mile 7 (this was my 3rd time running on this course), but it was at Mile 6, which I didn't know was called Military Mile (It must be new since I don't remember it from '12 and '13).

The hill is about 1/4 mile straight up and all along the hill were pictures of fallen soldiers and volunteers holding American flags. It was heart wrenching and the perfect place for it. How could you slow down or stop going up a hill when running alongside pictures of fallen soldiers. I teared up going the entire way up the hill but I ran that hill STRONG. It gave me such a greater appreciation for what I do at work every single day and I felt great coming off of that hill...so, so great.

The Hill brings you into Adams Morgan, which is full of drunk people singing and dancing on their front porches and is pretty amazing. I can't believe how awesome the spectator support was given how cold, miserable and wet it was. Adams Morgan was a BLAST to run through. Everyone was having so much fun and that energy was infectious.

Through Adams Morgan, my knee wasn't feeling great. It went from uncomfortable to somewhat painful. I took a few walking breaks and tried to switch up my gait and then I started to feel good again. There were a lot of up hills on this course (and not a lot of down hills) and it was great, because my knee always feels better going up hill.

Just before Mile 9, we caught up to a girl wearing a shirt that said "If you're behind me, you didn't train either." This shirt infuriated me. I trained really hard for this race, but I'm behind you because I have something else going on. I probably shouldn't have let her shirt bother me as much as I did, but I couldn't help it. Races are always so encouraging...complete strangers cheer you on and here, a fellow runner was proudly displaying a shirt that shut down every other runner behind her. Well, the competitive side of me kicked in and even though I was starting to struggle a little bit, we picked up the pace and ran past her. We didn't see her again on the course. Maybe that shirt was motivational after all?

When we got to Mile 10, I was so excited that we were at Mile 10 but my IT band started to tighten up. For two years I've been struggling with IT band issues but I've always felt them in my knee, never in my actual IT band. I pulled to the side of the road and massaged my leg, stretched out my calves and then carried on. Mile 10 was definitely a struggle but by the time we hit 11, I was feeling good...really good. I started to pick up the pace a little bit. I couldn't help it. I was 2 miles away from the finish line and I felt good. I was pleasantly sore and at this point, I knew that no matter what happened, I wasn't going to quit...I was too close and I was going to finish this thing...strong.

Mile 11 felt long, and when we got to Mile 12, I decided to walk it out just a little bit so that I could finish the rest of the race running. I only walked for a few seconds and then started to pick up the pace. At this point, all of the finishers were walking the course and it felt awesome. We were so close!

At 12.5, my knee flared up...badly...the kind of flare up that has plagued me for 2 years...and pulled me out of races But I didn't care. I couldn't care. We were so close. I stopped for a few seconds to stretch and walk it out and then I pushed. The race ends on a downhill (I seem to remember it ending uphill) and I just hauled it. Abby was alongside me and we just weaved in and out of runners (the finisher's chute was really narrow), blazing past them until we crossed.

The minute we crossed the finish line,  I stated crying. I did it. I didn't finish entirely pain free (so close) but I finished strong and I am so, so happy.

For those really curious, I finished in 2:34:21 which I'm really happy about. From this point forward, I have new PRs to set...poat-injury PRs and that's a good time to try to beat.


To everyone who has followed my training over these last few weeks and sent motivation, words of encouragement and well wishes, thank you. I could not have run this race without your support.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Next up, Cherry Blossom!


17 comments:

  1. Great race report!! Sounds like you ran a very smart, determined race! And seriously, what in the world is up with that shirt? That's not nice at all. It would have royally ticked me off, too. But glad it motivated you!! Hope the knee is feeling better.

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  2. I was SO happy to see that everything went well this weekend and you finished! The weather was absolutely the WORST for a run, so I give you even more props!!! So proud of you girl! You're a rockstar!!!

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  3. You know, I have so many girlfriends in my running club who train to walk/run races and are in the back third of the race pack; they might have seen that shirt and it would really have made me sad to think that they would see that message as they were trying to reach a goal or hit a new time in the race. I'm sure she meant it in jest, but it's not a very encouraging message, right? Whatever. I'm so glad you finished the race, but NOT glad about your knee pain. I experienced some of that in my last race (and the one before that) and it scares me; I know that it's related to another issue, but no one wants to feel stabbing knee pain in a race or during a run. Kudos for sticking it out, taking breaks and surviving the awful conditions; YOU DID IT! Thank you for linking up with the blog today and I hope you are reveling in post-race recovery and treats!

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    1. Do you know what your knee issue is related to? I'm happy to link up and look forward to doing so next week!

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  4. Ahhh I'm so happy!!!! So glad that you finished, you felt good about it, and that you're excited for what's next. Yay! Congrats, lady <3

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  5. Great report. That Military Mile sounds amazing. And that girl's shirt would have made me angry too ... there's no room for negativity in running!

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  6. WAY TO GO, LADY!!! I know you didn't have good conditions for running and I'm proud of your effort and that you finished. I would have been pissed about that lady's shirt too, what a biatch.

    Military mile sounds amazing, glad it gave you a pep in your step.

    CONGRATS on finishing the race! I knew you could do it and I know you will rock out the Cherry Blossom!

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  7. YOU ROCK!!!! Awesome recap! I loved reading about your race mile-by-mile. I had tears in my eyes! That Military Mile sounds amazing - what a special race. I am so proud of you!

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  8. So glad you were able to finish and it was mostly pain free!

    I am running Cherry Blossom as well -- my first ever long race. Pretty nervous. I still have never made it to 10 miles so I'm not sure it will go very well. :-/

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    1. That's exciting! Cherry Blossom is a great race! You'll have fun out there! Plus, you've still got 3 weeks to train!

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  9. Great race recap. Congrats on finishing and sorry to hear about your knee/IT band. Hope you are having a good few days of recovery. Jennifer @ Run Jenny Run

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  10. Nice work on the race. I am chuckling at your anger at that race shirt (not defending the shirt, I personally would never choose anything like that). Rather, because I have totally experienced that "irritated" moment in nearly every race I've ever competed in. Whether it is other runners or cyclists, a pothole in the road, the weather - I will turn the pain of my race into absolute loathing at something. And then usually forget about it as soon as I cross the finish line.

    Congrats to you for a strong finish in difficult conditions!

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    1. Haha I didn't even think about it that way! I agree...I always get irritated at some point during a race!

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  11. Good job on finishing this race and owning it! I hope your knee is not giving you trouble now.

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  12. Congrats!!! That mile 6 was NO JOKE!!! I ounked out and walked at least half of it :(. I feel your knee woes...going to the Dr on Wed-I hope he doesnt tell me I cant run Cherr Blossom....fingers crossed.

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