I’m a Half Marathoner now y’all!!!
Yesterday marked the Inaugural Rock n Roll Half and Full Marathon in Washington, DC. Yesterday also marked my first journey into the land of Half Marathons. In the weeks and days leading up to the race, I didn’t really think too much about it. With the MCM a steady looming goal, everything else seemed secondary. But the closer I got to the big day, the more excited I became. It wasn’t nerves nor a fear of not being able to finish that occupied my mind, but rather my main concern was whether or not I would coast…or push myself.
Normally, with longer distances, I tend to take it slow and easy in order to preserve my energy and finish the run. I’ve noticed that in some of my shorter races though, that I’m a lot quicker if I just let loose and really run. Being that this was my first official 13.1 race I wanted to make sure that I didn’t go slow and easy…I really wanted to run it and get a proper gauge of what kind of a pace I could sustain at a longer distance. Mentally, I’ve been using a 15 min/mi as my gauge, however, I know I am faster than that…it’s just been my safety net I guess. Mentally, I’m still there. So, to make sure I really challenged myself, I signed up with a pace group that was being provided by the US Naval Academy Marathon Team and decided to set myself for a 3:00 finish.
I won’t bore you with the turn by turn of the run itself…and in truth I can vaguely remember parts of it…The main constant of the day was running…and running…*sigh* and running some more. Geez. The pace group was awesome though; they kept us motivated and made sure we took walk breaks (bless them!). While I wasn’t with them the entire race, I made sure that they were never out of my sight…unless I was in front of them, of course (which surprisingly happened a few times). I figured, while I didn’t need to be right there with them every step of the way, I at least wanted to be within eyesight of them, so I was never more than a few yards behind them when I slowed up.
I didn’t turn on my ipod until about Mile 5, as I wanted to take in some of the sights and sounds of the day. But by that 5th mile I felt like I was in need of some welcome distraction. Music can definitely be a motivator on a run. It gave me just a little more pep in my step at times, and I just kept on pushing through.
The course itself was…kinda flat…but there were some lovely hills sprinkled throughout. At a few points throughout the run I felt myself gaining speed while going up the hills. Anyone else ever experience something like this? It was truly a first for me, but it was as if I caught a second wind on my way up the hill and just kinda pushed my way through it. The miles just kept coming along though…it’s kinda funny how it never hit me how far a race can seem when you don’t know the course. I have a tendency to never look at a course map or the elevation map before a race. I just take it as it comes, and I think the element of surprise can sometimes turn into an “OH MY GAWD WHEN IS THIS OVER?!?!” moment.
Thankfully, the folks of R-n-R had the miles marked off very well, plus there were water stations every 1.5 miles or so with alternating stations offering gatorade. I made sure to hydrate myself pretty well throughout the race, and used the Clif Shot Bloks to help sustain my energy, and just as expected they worked perfectly. I didn’t feel any fatigue really until about mile 11 or 12. By 12 I was definitely kinda out of it…I was ready to be done, and didn’t really know what I had left in me. But when I saw the 20k marker and did the mental mathematical conversion (about 12.4 mi) I realized I was legitimately almost done! Right near the final turn I got a boost of energy from my Black Girls Run family as they cheered me and the other runners along and I just decided to go for broke. I gave what little I had and pushed myself up (yet another) hill towards the finish line. I broke away from my pace group and heard them cheering me on as I moved ahead, which was very encouraging.
In the end, I finished with an official time of 02:59:27, and of course according to mapmyrun I ran 13.72 mi in 02:59:56…either way, I’ll take that. Because I hit my goal, plus I was able to sustain a pace that I wasn’t sure I could handle for that long a time. Check out the splits (according to mapmyrun):
Altogether, it was such a wonderful experience, and a day later my legs feel good – not terribly sore, but just good. I credit that to the increased miles I’ve been putting on my legs as I train for MCM in addition to the 2xU compression tights I changed into later on that night as a part of my recovery routine. Since I had such a great time with the Rock N Roll race in DC, I’ve begun to look at a few more races in the series. I’d like to do Philly in September and maybe the 10k in NYC in October. Now that the 13.1 is officially on the record books however, I’m feeling quite excited about my next one that is slated for May. Let’s do it!!!
I’ll be posting more pictures from the RnR Half DC on my FaceBook page. Come check it out! 🙂