I didn’t give the race itself much thought because my mind was preoccupied with reconnecting with old friends that I haven’t seen in SIXTEEN years. (Yeah, exactly!) I thought about the fun we had in college, who we were then, who we are now, how much fun it would be to hear their journeys and share my own. I honestly didn’t think about how cool it would be to run in our nation’s capitol. I had no idea.
The original plan was to run together, just spend the time catching up. Julie had a really hard time training since she lives in New York and the winter has been more punishing to her than any of us. She decided since she wasn’t confident in her training that she’d rather run alone. Shelley was in a top corral (girl is fast!) so that left me in the middle of the pack, which is exactly where I needed to be. This was my first race in more than a year, something else I hadn’t considered.
Race day was chilly, and the start was 7:30 a.m., just after sunrise. You start next to the Smithsonian, but while you are waiting in line for the port-o-potty, you just have to glance left and right to see the Washington Monument and the White House. You might not know this, but the sun appears to rise right over the White House; it’s pretty amazing.
The first few meters take you past smaller monuments that you know are significant, but you might not recognize them. It’s at mile 2 and 3 — where you run past the Lincoln Memorial — that you start realizing how awesome this race really is. Your mind wonders to our country’s history, our noble leaders, and every spy movie you’ve ever seen. It’s a perfect distraction; the first 5 miles flew by.
Then, Mile 6. You bitch. I’ve run some hilly races — I live in Cincinnati! — but dang, this hill was a total beast. It was steep, it was long, and the climb continued after you turned the corner at the top. I would go out on a limb and say it was the hardest hill I’ve ever run in a race, but that’s because Heartbreak Hill is a distant memory. Bottom line, she was a pace-killer and I was grateful she was the only one. The rest of the race was rolling, but workable.
Miles 7-10 take you through some quaint D.C. neighborhoods like Adams Morgan. Lucky for us runners, it was the beginning of many people’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, and the Guinness was already flowing. Talk about a rowdy crowd. I stayed close to the fella in the green body suit who was getting huge cheers. It carried me to mile 11, which is where it got really hard.
Miles 11-13 are always hard. You are approaching the end of your goal, where you need to dig in and bring it home. Mentally I was prepared to run this race for fun, to remain comfortable the entire way, which is what I did, but I was still exhausted. I had to do a little pep talk, and remind myself that my pace so far had been reasonable, and I should have some gas left in the tank. And I did. My slowest mile, mile 6, was a 9:42, my fastest miles, 11-13, were 8:25. This is how I broke 2 hours, which honestly shocked the hell out of me! My fun run turned out to be a pretty good race after all. Shelley ran a great time, and Julie– who was afraid of not even finishing– PR’d! A huge shout-out to her, she killed it.
All things considered, I would totally do this race again. I might even make it into a family vacation next year. If you’re looking for a great half, with tons to see and do and crowds the whole way, then the D.C. Rock n’ Roll Half is the one for you. –Amie