Race Recap – DC Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon

On Saturday I ran the DC Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon. I finished in a time of 1:51:58 and while not a PR, I was really pleased with my performance for the race.

I should start this recap by saying that I’m not a big fan of the RNR races in general. I think they are too expensive, poorly organized and promise things they don’t deliver based on past experience, so some of my critiques might be based on already having a negative view of them. I got a great discount for this one though, so I decided to give them another shot.

I stopped by the expo on Friday at the DC Convention Center during my lunch break and was pleasantly surprised by how quickly I was able to grab my bib, shirt and make my way through the expo. I made a quick stop at the honey stinger booth to grab a few waffles and bites!

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On Saturday morning I was up at 5am. I had a couple pieces of toast and a yogurt for breakfast and did some of my core routine. It was supposed to be high 40s and rainy. I could already hear the rain on the windows so I knew we weren’t likely to get any reprieve from that and we sure didn’t. I wore my Oiselle flyte long sleeve over my gwen tank with stride shorts and CEP tall compression socks along with my speedy Newton shoes.

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I drove to Rosslyn and took the metro in from there. I figured getting to the Federal Triangle stop an hour before the race start would give me plenty of time. I would be wrong. I really regret not getting off at the Smithsonian stop instead. It took probably 25+ minutes just to get out of the metro station.

The rain was coming down pretty good and in typical RNR fashion everything at the start seemed disorganized and a pain to get to. I ran my way past the race corrals and down the block to the street where the UPS trucks were waiting for bag drop. Signage for each truck was at ground level so it was blocked by the people waiting in line and I had no idea which truck my bag needed to go in. I finally found the right one and then sprinted back to the bathroom lines, but they were ridiculous. I knew there was no way I was getting through the line before the race started and was immediately regretting all the water I had the night before and with breakfast.

I took off running again down 12th street to find the other set of bathrooms. I made it to them 10 minutes before the race started but after 5 minutes in line I was still nowhere close so I made the decision to just wait until the first chance to stop along the course. The last RNR race I missed the start for because I was waiting in the bathroom line (they started the race early without making any announcement due to inclement weather on the way) I ended up getting diverted to the finish at mile 20 and having to give up on a BQ attempt.

I took off running again – probably put in close to 1.5 miles before the race even started – and found my way to my corral just as the National Anthem was finishing up. On the plus side, I was really well warmed up. On the downside, my shoes were already soaked through and the rain would not stop for the next 13.1 miles.

We took off on Constitution Ave and did an out and back over Memorial Bridge before turning up Rock Creek Parkway. My goal for the race was to run hard, but not stress over time, so I didn’t look at my watch the entire race (except to note how much time I lost making a pit stop for the bathroom just before mile 2 – about 80 seconds, err!). I actually managed to successfully do this and was pretty proud I never cheated and took a peak at the time.

I felt strong at the start and kept telling myself not to go out too hard. I didn’t feel like I was overdoing it and the miles just seemed to tick by, which is always a great feeling.

Mile 1 – 7:41
Mile 2 – 8:41 (including a pit stop!)
Mile 3 – 7:46
Mile 4 – 7:53

I continued along Rock Creek Parkway making my way towards the huge hill up to Calvert Street that spanned the end of mile 5 and beginning of mile 6. This hill is brutal and I wasn’t looking forward to it. There was not a ton of crowd support for this race, which I’m sure was down some cause of the rain and cold and it didn’t feel like there were as many bands as promised, but RNR certainly did this hill right. The Blue: Run to Remember crew was out strong with signs that had pictures of fallen military members and others holding American flags. It was really inspiring and definitely took your mind off the hill.

Mile 5 – 8:07
Mile 6 – 8:13

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I kept going through Adams Morgan with a few ups and downs, made my way past Howard University towards North Capitol Street and H Street. I don’t know this area of DC as well and don’t run here very often, so it was a nice change of scenery. My times definitely show that the hill hurt me for a little bit. I had brought a Gu with me, but didn’t feel like I could get it down, so decided to just push through with out it.

Mile 7 – 9:26
Mile 8 – 8:36
Mile 9 – 8:20
Mile 10 – 8:23

Miles 11 through 12 I dealt with some side stitches that slowed me a little, but my legs still felt strong.

Mile 11 – 8:53
Mile 12 – 9:00

Even though I could tell I had slowed down I was really pleased with how quickly the miles had passed. It felt like I got to 12 in no time and I never hit that stage where I was just praying for a mile marker to show up. I picked up the pace a bit again for the final mile and made my way past the DC armory to the finish.

Mile 13 – 8:35
Final .1 – 7:44 pace

I was so pumped to have completed the race feeling strong after having battled through the rain. According to my watch I ran 13.31 for an 8:25 pace – a result of either being really bad at running tangents or veering off course for my bathroom stop – either way, I’ll take it! Officially I ran 1:51:58 for an 8:33 average pace coming in 2,322 out of 15,216 overall, 179 out of 1,924 in my age group and 803 out of 9,462 women!

The finish line set up was beyond awful once you waked out of the finish chute. After collecting my medal, space blanket and snacks I had to walk all the way to the back of the lot to get my gear bag. We were about as far away from the metro as possible, which was pretty frustrating given how much they encouraged people to use the metro. I was almost convulsing I was shivering so hard as I made my way to the metro – I think that walk was seriously harder than any mile during my race.

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I finally feel like I’m making progress in getting back into PR shape and look forward to what the next couple months will be. The best part about this race for me was that despite the terrible conditions I caught myself breaking into a smile for no reason at certain points just because I was having fun out there! I was also so thankful for all the online support from my Oiselle teammates – several of whom were out there as well. A special shout-out to fellow bird Prianka who persevered through that rain for the full 26.2 and on top of that, set a PR! Amazing!

How did your weekend races go?

Next up for me is the B&A Trail half marathon in two weeks. I’m looking forward to what I expect will be a slightly easier course and what I hope will be better weather!

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Footprints: Monday Morning Recap

Sorry I was MIA last week. It’s been a busy few weeks at work and at home, but I’ve had a pretty successful last two weeks of training. I decided to switch to the half marathon for the B&A Trail race at the end of the month since I just wasn’t where I needed to be to attempt a BQ. That has allowed me to switch my focus to speed and strength and I already feel like it’s been making a difference. I’ve also had more fun running the last two weeks than I have in quite some time – which could also have something to do with the improving weather!

Anyway here’s the day-by-day breakdown from last week:

Monday: I put in 3 speedy miles along the Mt. Vernon Trail after work followed by my p90x core routine.

Tuesday: I taught a boot camp class in the morning and also got in my own full body strength work along with my p90x core routing.

Wednesday: Today was my birthday and also a late night at work so I took the day off from running, but did get my p90x core workout in for the third straight day this week.

New Oiselle hoodie - bday present from my husband!

New Oiselle hoodie – bday present from my husband!

Thursday: I taught another early morning boot camp, did my p90x routine first thing along with a full body strength workout and then got in 3 speedy miles after work along the W&OD Trail – such a beautiful night out for a run!

Friday: Rest day.

Saturday: I ran the DC Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon in the pouring rain, but came away pretty happy with my performance! I finished in 1:51:58 and will have a full recap up soon. All told, I put in closer to 15 miles Saturday and still managed to fit in my p90x routine.

Sunday: I started my morning off with p90x and 5 easy recovery miles along the W&OD. I felt a bit stiff at first, but loosened right up and was feeling great by mile three!

Footprints: Monday Morning Recap

Last week was a fall back week that turned into an even easier than planned week in part due to weather and also a bit of travel. I flew back from New Hampshire on Monday and then was off to Syracuse on Friday morning. Both very cold visits, but very fun also!

I put in 4 runs for a little over 20 miles. Here’s the day-by-day breakdown.

Monday: Travel day – did not make it to the gym after getting back.

Tuesday: Unplanned rest day. I ran out of energy to battle the cold by the end of today and decided to just head home after work.

Wednesday: I was up super early to teach a 6 a.m. boot camp in Bluemont Park. It was about 19 degrees, but 5 brave souls made it out for the morning workout so I had some fun with it and did my best to keep them moving and warm the whole time. I put in a 5-mile run at the gym after work plus a brief upper body workout and my P90X core routine before heading home and crawling into bed before eating dinner I was so tired. I do not know how I used to teach 6AM and 6PM boot camps every day on top of my regular 9-5 job!

Thursday: I put in a great 5 mile run along the Mt. Vernon trail after work. It had snowed that morning, but warmed up to the low-30s that evening and the trail had been cleared making for a great run followed by a fun happy hour with the Oiselle crew!

Friday: I had great intentions of getting up at 5 a.m. again and hitting the gym before my early flight to Syracuse, but it just didn’t happen!

Saturday: Facing a tempo run in single digits, my Mom saved the day and got me into the local Y with her where I got in a great 45-minute tempo run!

The crazy big snowbanks in the Y parking lot in Fayetteville near my parent's house.

The crazy big snowbanks in the Y parking lot in Fayetteville near my parent’s house.

Sunday: I decided to swap my long run out and put it off to early next week when I’m back in D.C., so Mom and I made another trip to the Y and I put in a tough, progressively faster five miler.

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Footprints: Monday Morning Recap

Last week was fairly successful. I really wanted to get back on track with my 6 runs a week, which did not happen, but I got 5 solid runs for about 37 miles in so I am pleased with that. After a really tough, cold long run on Monday I spent the rest of the week playing mind games with myself as I worked out in the indoor comfort of a treadmill!

Here’s the day by day breakdown:

Monday: I got my long run in on Monday knowing that I was heading to New Hampshire for the weekend and it just wasn’t going to happen then. These 16 miles were so epically cold this run got its own blog post.

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Tuesday: I hit the gym for some hill repeats. After a quick warm up on the treadmill I bumped up the incline and put in 7 quarter mile hill repeats. I also got in my P90X core workout.

Wednesday: Today was more core and an easy 5 miler at the gym after work.

Thursday: Unplanned Rest day. I wanted to get up early to get a run in since I had plans after work, but I finally shut the 6 a.m. alarm off once the clock hit 2:30 and I was still struggling to fall asleep.

Friday: Rest day.

Saturday: I got in a great 6-mile progression run at the gym at Plymouth State ending at a 7:47 per mile pace.

Sunday: It was back to the campus athletic center for another 6 miles (this time easy) on the treadmill. I was really pumped I was able to fit in these runs while up in New Hampshire!

Footprints: Monday Morning Recap

This week was another decent step in the right direction to getting on back on track with my training. I finished out with 30+ miles and even got a handful of social runs in! For someone who normally does almost all of their training on their own, this is a big deal! Here is the day-by-day breakdown:

Monday: With my Mom still in town, I was actually motivated to get up and get to the gym early. My gym happened to have free guest days on Monday & Tuesday too, so she was able to come with me. I put in five easy breezy miles on the treadmill to kick off the week.

Tuesday: We were back at the gym early and I attempted some speed work on the treadmill. As well as last week’s mile repeats went, this week’s did not. I got in just three and felt like I was going to die at what should have been an easy pace. I followed it up with a full body strength workout though, so that felt good. It also felt great to be done first thing in the morning. I wish I could do that more often.

Wednesday: Rest Day

Thursday: I met a friend and one of her friends in D.C. for an after work windy, chilly run! I decided to park in Rosslyn and run over Memorial Bridge in to meet them by the Washington Monument. The winds were unreal! It was fun to laugh and chat as we tried to battle them. I somehow made it back over the bridge to my car after the run putting in a total of 8.3 miles.

dcrunFriday: Unplanned rest day. It was so cold again and after a long day at work I threw in the towel on today’s outdoor run and just headed home for a lazy night.

Saturday: My friend Lindsay was in town and she joined me at my first group run with the Potomac River Run training group. I signed up with them for their Cherry Blossom training program and it seems like a great group! We put in an easy 6 miles. It was chilly, but also sunny and not that windy so it felt great and again was nice to have my run out of the way early! We met up later too for brunch at Match Box in Eastern Market – always a great spot!

Sunday: I planned to get close to 12 miles in with 9 at tempt on the treadmill today, but it just wasn’t in the cards. I ended up running 8 miles pretty hard and calling it a day.

 

Marathon Training Check-In

I’m 12 weeks in to my training plan for the B&A Trail Marathon in Annapolis with six weeks to go. The first seven weeks went really well in terms of mileage and workouts. My lowest mileage week was 35 miles up to my highest mileage week of 54 miles. With plans to run six days a week, I was very pleased that I had only missed a small handful of planned runs over those first seven weeks.

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I came into things after a bit of time off from consistent running though, so my base was not what it should be (read: mostly nonexistent). The lack of base really showed through in my speed workouts. They were all a struggle and off pace. I certainly started feeling better as the weeks went on and noticed some serious improvement, but I couldn’t seem to hit the marks I needed.

The next three weeks the wheels came off. I put in an 18 mile week, followed by a 27 mile one and then just 12. I missed most of my quality workouts and was eating great either as I was spending a lot of time on the road and eating out. It was really frustrating to watch that momentum slip and admittedly there were a few workouts I should have gotten in, but just didn’t because I wasn’t feeling it.

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I’ve done a good job at getting back on track the last two weeks and putting in some quality mileage with back-to-back 30 – 40 mile weeks. Still, if my speed was hurting before, it is definitely hurting now.

I’m completely confident in my ability to finish the B&A race barring something totally unexpected on race day, but I have had to reassess my goal or reaching a BQ on that day. I’m going to continue to work hard putting in the miles over the next six weeks, but don’t think I can get myself to the speed I need without risking injury in that amount of time.

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I hope to come away from this with a great base though and am on the hunt for a back up qualifying race sometime May or later. I love running in the heat, so summer marathons don’t bother me. I’m eyeing Steamtown as my fall marathon, but want to take one shot before then if possible. I’d love to hear your suggestions. My ideal would be something semi-local to DC or at least within a 5 or 6 hour drive tops.

I hope your spring race training is going better than mine has! Tell me about your goal races and how your training is coming along!

Footprints: Monday Morning Recap

This week had some highs and lows, but ended on a high note and I got in nearly 55 miles so all in all it was good stuff! I need to absolutely focus more on strength training as other than daily P90X core workouts (I won’t list them each day since I put it here!), I only got in one strength workout this week. After struggling with speed workouts during the week, I had probably my best run of the whole training cycle for my long run Sunday, so I’m hoping to carry that momentum into this week.

Here’s the day-by-day breakdown:

Monday: I kicked Monday off with a lunchtime run to the gym for an easy 6 on the treadmill.

We actually got a little snow on Monday!

We actually got a little snow on Monday!

Tuesday: Rest day!

Wednesday: I hit up the gym after work for a ladder speed session. After a 1.5 mile warm-up, I ran a 400, 800, 1200, 1600, 1200, 800, 400 ladder with a 400 recovery jog between each repeat. I started strong, but partway through the mile just could not keep up with the pace I wanted and had to dial it down a bit. I was able to finish strong with my last 400, but the second 1200 and 800 were a bit slower than I wanted leaving me a little discouraged.

Thursday: Today was an easy 7 miler on the treadmill that breezed by. I felt really good and followed it up with a short upper body workout.

Friday: I finally braved the cold temperatures for an easy-paced 8 miler after work along the Mt. Vernon trail. I finished at a good clip, but my legs felt really heavy and tired for the second half of the run. If it weren’t so cold out it probably would have taken me a lot longer to finish, but I wanted to get back inside! I somehow actually overdressed for this with a tank, my Oiselle wazzie wool baselayer and a jacket. I completely sweat through all three layers and that wind did not feel good for the last few miles!

Saturday: I put in 10 miles on the treadmill at the gym hoping to hit 7 of them at marathon pace. I could only get 5 in before a side stitch got the best of me and I had to go a bit slower than planned. I was a bit down about this after my previous speed workout hadn’t gone so well either and was not looking forward to Sunday’s long run at all.

Sunday: On paper I did everything wrong for this 14 mile run. I overslept so I didn’t have time to get my run in first thing. Ian and I had lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings so we could watch the Packers-Cowboys game, and I drank a giant soda and didn’t exactly eat lightly or healthily. After about an hour trying to let my stomach settle I headed for the gym, put the Broncos game (disappointing) on my little treadmill TV and hit play on Pandora on my phone. I started slow thinking I would just trudge it out. With the Hanson’s plan, my long runs are supposed to be a bit faster than easy pace, but of course slower than marathon pace. By a mile in I had gotten within a few seconds of my target pace and somehow I kept getting stronger as I went along! This was just what I needed and a big-time confidence booster.