Friday, March 15th, my friend Amy and I headed out from central PA for Washington D.C. We arrived around 4:15pm and checked into our hotel in Arlington. After dropping out stuff, we headed over to the metro to make our way over to the expo. This is my first experience with the Rock N Roll Series and overall I was pretty impressed from start to finish. I quickly collected my bib and picked up my race swag bag (FYI – this is the first big race I have done where there was ACTUAL SWAG in the swag bag – think gu, chapstick, a sample of a brand of glide, etc.). Since Brooks was a sponser of this race, they had some amazing gear. I bought a tech shirt and a tech pullover. We then started to wonder around the expo, which I thought was pretty small compared to others, especially considering the fact there was 33,000 plus spectators. I bought a few headbands and got taped up at KT TAPE (if you have never used this stuff before, make sure to check it out, you won’t regret it). By the time we left the expo and made it back to Arlington, it was nearing 7:30 and we were starving. We set off in search of the perfect carbo loading meal for both spectator and racer and found it at the Cheesecake Factory. After a quick walk back to our hotel room, I laid out my stuff for tomorrow and stretched before hopping into bed.
5:30 came pretty quickly and I got up and started to prepare for the race. After a quick metro ride, we found gear check and waited in the never ending porta potty line. There were still a lot of people in front of us in line when the race started at 7:30. I wasn’t too worried about it, since I was in corral 33 which wasn’t slated to start until after 8:20. By the time, I cycled through the line, I walked towards the start and joined by corral. Maybe five minutes later and I was off.
The neat thing about the Rock N Roll events is they have bands about every mile which helps to break things up and keep it interesting. I was feeling pretty good at the start of the race – even though the first mile I went out a little to fast. I quickly settled into a nice rhythem and began to start taking several sport beans every 2 miles. For me, I find it better to keep putting a little in my stomach at a time instead of a whole pack at once. We were winding our way through DC, and around mile 6.5, I came across this beauty (the picture doesn’t begin to describe this hill – check out the course elevation here). It seemed to go on forever. Luckily once we got up the hill, we had some downhill portions so I was able to make up some time.
By about mile 10, I realized I was within shot of my A goal (finish under 3 hours) but knew I could not let up. I was struggling to keep going and starting to get really tired (I haven’t been very good about getting in long training runs – the last time I ran anything over 6 miles was at the Tinkerbell Half Marathon in January). I kept plugging away and got a text from Amy letting me know she was in front of the Geico banners by the finishers chute. Knowing where she was gave me a push to keep moving forward. As I came up to the Geico banners, I saw the sign she made for me and made me feel great to know there was someone here personally cheering for me. I rounded the corner into the finishers chute and as soon as I crossed the finish line, I realized I missed by goal by 36 seconds!!! I was so mad at myself because I stopped at around mile 7.5 to use the restroom because only one person was in line. After standing around for 3+ minutes, the person in the porta potty was still not out so I decided to head back out because my muscles were stiffening up. If I would not have stopped here, I would have easily broken the 3 hr mark. Even though I was disappointed, I was still happy that with 3 hours 36 seconds, I PR’d my Hershey half time by 10+ minutes!
After I collected my medal, I was greeted my a ton of food in the finishers chute. There was so much to choose from – bagels, frozen chocolate milk, jamba juice, water, gatorade, apples, bananas, power bars, and potato chips. I grabbed some food and headed over to gear check to get my bag. After meeting up with Amy in the family reunion area, we headed back to metro to go back to our hotel. After a quick lunch, we headed over to Sprinkles cupcakes and Georgetown Cupcake in the Georgetown area of D.C. Thus, concluded a fun weekend in DC and we headed back home to central PA. This was great race and I am considering adding Rock N Roll Pittsburgh and Rock N Roll Philadelphia so I can participate in the Heavy Medals series and earn extra bling : )