nation's half marathon
i ended up posting something on my facebook about the race (and my poor pacing) and my former cross-country and track coach astutely responded, "You always go out too fast." file this under: things i need to work on now that i'm getting into longer-course racing.
so here's the full recap:
i thought i had the perfect plan to avoid the metro lines and get in and out of the expo quickly: i would BIKE! so i rode to work and then left work a little early to make it to the expo in time to pick up my packet. what i hadn't planned for was the rain and the fact that 5-miles of city biking on a heavy mountain bike probably isn't the best idea within 14 hours of a half-marathon. en route:
after making it there and picking up my packet, i realized i really didn't want to bike the mostly-uphill route back to my apartment. so instead i decided to take the metro. turns out there is a bike restriction during rush hour so after arguing with the metro attendant for about 20-minutes (to be fair, a cop above ground had told me that there were not bike restrictions), i spent 6-7pm hanging out in the metro, waiting for the restriction to lift. probably not the best thing to do the day before a race but oh well. chalk this up to a learning experience.
back home with everything laid out and ready to go:
somehow i managed to make packing/prepping for a half-marathon as complicated as a triathlon. one thing to note: the unsung hero of the day truly was TRISLIDE. this was my first road race using it and despite the heat and pouring a few water cups on myself, i was 100% blister and chafe free—even with my rookie mistake of wearing new shorts, sports bra AND top untested to a race. the only downside (upside?) to my other mistake of trisliding myself up in my apartment entryway, is that there's been a whole lot of this going on.... OOPS!
the next day, i woke up at 6am, was fed and ready by 6:30 and then hopped on my bike to ride down to the start in SE D.C. (approximately 5 miles from my apartment). i was a little wary of the bike mostly because of the effect leading up to the race but also because it involved crossing through some of DC's less-than-serene neighborhoods. however, last year i did this race, the metro was an absolute show and a half, complete with delays, missing trains and a crowded metro station that left me sprinting to the start 30-minutes after my race corral got released. i was not going to let that happen this year.
some thirty minutes later i made it safely to the start and chained up my bike. the pre-start waiting was uneventful, although the bathroom lines were horrific. i think i spent about 35 minutes waiting in the porta-potty line and almost didn't make it to the start on time. but jogged to my corral at the start of the long line of 20-something corrals (some genius put me in corral 1... maybe my overzealous self when i logged "predicted time" over 6 months ago?) and waited for the gun to go off. in the purple in the lower right-hand corner. see, told you i was a little ambitious in my prediction:
running under the giant flag was pretty cool but otherwise the start was meh. i tried to stay conservative for the first mile but got a little excited and found myself knocking off a 7:15 first mile. i shrugged it off and tried to rein in the pace but found this guy in a RWB red shirt running an absolute perfect pace so i decided to hang off of him. i must have gotten too close because at one point he turned around and introduced himself and then i apologized for "drafting". turns out we were pacing each other so we made a little pack to keep pushing together and then continued to blow out miles two, three and four.
mile five was where things started to go downhill. or should i say UPHILL. the slog up toward adams morgan was what knocked both my pace and my confidence. my average 7:10ish pace up to now turned into high 7:30s as i struggled to keep an even effort up the hills. i lost my RWB running buddy and seriously considered turning off to head home since i was within 5 or 6 blocks of the apartment at my lowest part of the race (both mentally and pace-wise). all i kept telling myself was that it was all downhill from mile seven.
which it was. my pace started to drop through miles eight through ten until i was back around that 7:10ish happy pace. and then mile eleven was a very dark place. there was only a tiny uphill but i was struggling. i'll be honest, i got passed a lot. like a lot. at mile marker twelve i decided to put my big girl pants on and go all in. this was NOT pleasant, particularly because with about 400 (imagined) meters to go, i really started kicking it in, re-found my RWB running buddy, and tried to finish strong... only to look up and see the finish way off in the distance. i nearly crumbled but huffed and puffed until i made to the final turn and came into the chute. highlight of the finish was the personal shout out by the announcer with (per usual) a play on my last name: "here comes maggie 'rush', who certainly looks like she's in a rush to finish!" that push definitely helped and i gave a fist pump and big smile in acknowledgement as i came through the finish. final garmin connect data here (told ya it wasn't pretty).
HUGE thanks to powerbar for the amazing nutrition support throughout this race. in addition to the energy blasts i chewed on pre-race, i took vanilla gels at approximately miles 3, 7 and 10 and know the race would have been an absolute disaster without them. looking at my garmin feedback, my average heart rate for the race was 171, which means that i was almost purely relying on the carbs already in my system, compared to if i had been running in a zone more suitable for tapping into my own energy reserves. probably would have bonked hard and fast around mile 8 or 9 had i not come supplied!
biking home from the race, i got to cheer on the marathon runners who were looping back over the course, take some photos and enjoy the open roads:
i know this was supposed to be a rock-and-roll event but i'll be honest, i was a little underwhelmed. maybe it's because i didn't stay for the post-race party but the on-course music was, um, a little lacking. most of the music was pretty low-key (e.g. mile 1 where some runner actually commented on the whiny female acappella band: are they trying to pump us up or kill us? i hope it gets better...). the two shows i did love were the all-girl drum krewe and the teenage rappers who may or may not have been doing the show on their own initiative, as opposed to being RNR-sponsored:
finally, there were some good ones out there (e.g. "WORST parade ever." or "at least you're faster than DC metro", but...
overall best sign of the race goes to:
thanks to twitterer @AlexaTC for the AMAZING free pug photo! [ed note: for the life of me, i could NOT find the free pugs at the finish. i felt betrayed...]