Cost: I registered during a special online code they were having. I would have to look how much I paid, I think it was $85. I know my husband registered super early and only paid $45 for the half.
|My family: ready to rock|
|We made the cover! JK!|
Avery and I took the metro down to the DC Amory building and Jim met us there on his lunch break from work. We had a lot of fun. Jim also found a pair of his favorite running shorts for cheaper than we had seen at the stores, so that was a bonus too.
|Metro full of runners|
Parking/Transportation: Huge perk of DC racing is that a lot of races you can take the metro to and from the start/finish and not have to worry about parking. That was really nice. They opened the metro two hours early on Saturday just for the event. It was sort of cool to be on the metro at 5:45am and the whole thing was full of other runners. There was so much excitement and energy.
|start corrals before sunrise|
Start: The start was located right off the National Mall. It was slated for a 7:30am start and we arrived at 6:30am. I am glad we did because the bag check was so far from the start corrals. Since we are a "D" last name, ours was almost the furthest away! And the bathroom lines were very long as well. There were 30 corrals which each started in it's own wave. The entire start area spanned the width of the street and two entire blocks long. There were 30,000 runners in a sold out field so it was pretty crazy. I was in corral 14 and it took almost 20 mins for us to cross the finish line, so I didn't actually begin the race until 7:50 or so. While I like wave starts so that it isn't too crowded and so that you are starting with those with similar paces to yourself, runners actually have to start in the correct corral for it to work properly. Otherwise you are darting around people to keep pace and cutting around people who are walking four abreast....not ideal. Some races, they really police the corrals and make sure you are in the right one based on your bib, but this race there was nothing of the sort. There were a lot of people who just started wherever they felt like it. It made the first few miles very congested. Also, since it was about 20 mins of waiting in the corral before I crossed the start line, I had to go to the bathroom within the first mile. There were a few single porta potties lining the first few miles, but each had a padlock on them. Not sure why...but runners kept veering off and getting frustrated that they were locked. By the time everyone made it to the open set of bathrooms at mile 2, it was packed! There were 8 of them, but each line was 12 runners deep! I lost an entire 3 minutes waiting in line. It was such a bummer because the entire song "Thrift Shop" played while I was in line and I was looking forward to running to that for a boost! Afterwards, when I checked my pace it was confirmed it was a 3 min loss. Mile 1 was an 8:30 pace and Mile 2 was an 11:46. Yikes!
Course: The start line was on Constitution Ave. surrounded by the sights of the White House, Smithsonian Libraries and Washington Monument. We ran past the White House and Lincoln Memorial, across the river and back. Then we followed the river under the Kennedy Center and headed into Rock Creek Park. I ate a pack of my Jelly Belly sport beans here about mile 5. The biggest hill of the course came as we exited Rock Creek Park and entered into the Adams Morgan neighborhood. I pysched myself out for that hill a bit because when we drive it, it seems huge. But it all honesty, it wasn't bad and it was over before I knew it. I get a lot of hill practice as we live on a really big one that I run every time I go for a run. As I got to the top of the hill (about mile 7), my friend Anna was there cheering me on and hopped in to run along side of me and be my hydration sherpa for a while. For the next ten miles, I had a non-stop conversation while running with Anna. I definitely wasted some energy there, but it was a nice distraction too. I never usually talk during races, but I knew I was purposely trying to take the first 13 super easy. As part of the Rock and Roll format, there are live bands and cheer squads along the course at every mile. Since I run with headphones, I didn't really hear every band. As we continued through the Adams Morgan area, there were lots of young adults partying on their porches cheering us on in crazy costumes and offering up beer and mimosas to the runners. I will admit, the mimosas looked good! Since I was doing so much talking, I think I missed out on a lot of sights that I would have normally taken in. My husband asked me if I saw this or that after that race and I said "no". Next time around, I will be more in the moment!
The split off of the half marathoners and the full marathoners was well marked and we diverted just before mile 13. Originally I was worried because there were about 25,000 half marathoners and only 5,000 marathoners that it would be lonely after the split off but it was actually really nice to finally have a bit of space. It was crowded all the way to the split.
I knew once we hit mile 13, that the real fun was about to begin. I was now officially entering into the longest race I had ever run. Since Jim ran the half marathon, he was supposed to get his bag at bag check, hopped on a Capitol Bike Share bike and met me along the course to cheer me on just before the split. Getting his bag back at bag check was an absolute nightmare (more on that later) so he couldn't get to the course until much later. I saw him at about mile 15. He had my water bottle with Nuun in it and that tasted so good. I had my lemon Gu at this point. He rode ahead to meet us at another stop and then decided to just return the bike and run a long side me with his backpack on. What a guy!
|My favorite picture from the race.|
I saw a set of bathrooms at mile 19 and while I didn't really have to go, I stopped anyway since there was no line and didn't know when that would happen again. This part of the course got a bit weird. Anna asked if I wanted my picture taken and Jim said, "Um, not the best background"-we were running right past junk yards and scrap metal piles. Not the best scenery on that part of the course. Here, I had a Cliff shot block for some additional energy. Anna split off here to run the rest of her training run and Jim stayed with me.
Hitting mile 20 was symbolic because I knew that everything I ran after this was going to be the longest I had ever run in MY LIFE. It felt quite amazing actually and I felt so empowered. As we were crossing over the bridge, I felt my bib flapping in the wind so I turned my bib belt around so it could flap on my back and Jim noticed that my bib was only attached on one side. I had lost one of my bib clips. We had to stop and Jim ruffled through the backpack to find safety pins. I took off my bib belt and then safety pinned my bib to my chest. Once again, more lost time, but couldn't do anything about it. I can't believe I almost lost my bib number!
Mile 21, my stomach started to bother me a bit. Not the "I'm working out too hard I'm going to puke feeling" but the "My stomach is so acidic, I need Tums or I am going to puke" feeling. This is where I really started to crave that chocolate milk they kept advertising they would have at the finish. I needed something basic to even out my acidic stomach. I have always been someone whose stomach doesn't do well with sugar. If I eat candy on an empty stomach it makes me feel very sick, so I don't really eat sweets at all. I think that all the sugar from the Gu and sport beans was starting to catch up with me since the real food (oatmeal) that I had eaten at been at 5am and it was now about 11am. The feeling kept getting worse. I am not going to lie, tears were shed at mile 22. As I was running that mile, tears were streaming down my face. My stomach hurt so badly, I knew I was off my time goal and I just felt like it was all crashing in around me. I mentally told myself to suck it up because there was nothing I could do at this point, I was going to finish this thing whether or not I had to crawl across the finish line while throwing up. The downside was, I didn't eat anything else to fuel from this point forward and didn't drink any water because my stomach just hurt too badly.
I was eagerly awaiting the mile 23 mark so that I could tell myself that I only had a 5k left. But it still felt far! Once I knew I only had a mile and a half to go, I started to get really happy. I was about to finish A MARATHON. The last mile was almost a straight away with the stadium clearly visible. It felt like a very long mile, because the stadium never seemed to be getting that much closer. Once you got to the stadium, the finish line was still about a half mile to go, uphill and around a corner. You could see it but could also see the hill you had to complete to get there. It had never felt so far away. :-) As I came up that hill, I looked around and smiled. I saw Anna and Jim cheering me on and calling out my name. I started to pick it up the finish, and so did the girl next to me. So I ran harder and then so did she. Neither of us wanted to let the other get ahead on that final stretch to mat. We crossed the line in a perfect sprint to a perfect tie. I told her "good run" and headed off to find some real food to ward off the stomach pain. I was proud of myself that I still had that kick in me at the end.
|Enjoying my beer post race|
If I was to give this race a grade, as I have done the others it would be a C. Which is sad. It was my first marathon and I wanted to love it. In many ways I did, but there was a lot to be desired.
1. It was a great course, for most of it. The Marathon course did travel through some not so scenic areas, which I know it's hard to miss when you are trying to fit in 26 miles within the district.
2. Bag check retrieval was a nightmare! My husband said it took over an hour waiting in line to get his bag back. He said there was almost a riot. He said people were getting very angry. I think that they were very understaffed.
3. Out of chocolate milk at the finish! This made me so sad as I was really, really looking forward to it. They completely hyped this up at the expo and mentioned it multiple times at the starting line that it would be there waiting to rehydrate and replenish us....well it wasn't.
5. The finish line concert. This really was upsetting. RnR planned this big finish line concert because it is the Rock and Roll Marathon after all, except, the way that they plan it. Most marathoners (about 50%) don't even cross the finish line until after the headliner of the entire concert is finished with their set. This seems like poor planning to me. Have some more openers so that everyone can catch the headliner. That seems to make sense to me :-( I missed Cowboy Mouth and that makes me sad. I hope RnR learns from that....though probably not. It really seems that they cater to the half marathoners and the full marathoners are truly second fiddle.
Overall, I did enjoy running a marathon. Would I run another marathon? Heck yes! Would I run another Rock and Roll event again? No. I really don't like the way that they treat the full marathoners....they are running twice as far....don't discount them! Even if I was running a RnR half I wouldn't do it. The only one I may ever do is San Diego, only because it's the original (so hopefully they have that to a science) and because the City of San Diego will always have my heart, (it's where I met my hubby and we lived for our dating/early years of marriage)!
Recovery: That afternoon after the marathon, I was definitely tired. My hip flexors and quads were the most sore, but I really just wanted to go to bed. But with a two year old, I just had to count down the hours until she went to bed and then I crawled in to mine not long after! The next day the hip flexor pain was gone, the quads were still a little sore, but nothing too bad. We took my mother in law to Georgetown and walked all around the city and I was fine. The only thing that was acting up was my knee were a few weeks ago my knee bursitis had really been bothering me. And today, with two days of rest under my belt, I plan to head out there for an easy 3 miler with Avery in the stroller...if she will cooperate! :-)
I was beyond humbled by the amount of support that I received while training and after finishing. Fellow bloggers, family and friends (in person, through email, texts, phone calls, facebook), and even mail! (Thanks Sheri!) My neighbor who has completed two marathons herself stopping by that night to drop off a bottle of wine (Thanks Kristi!). You all are amazing!
I learned a lot running this first marathon and that's what I wanted it to be -A learning experience. That is how I approached my first half marathon and walked away loving it and craving for more. I really got a good gauge of how each mile feels. The second 13.1 really is a whole different ball game than any race I've ever run! The biggest thing I walked away from this race learning was that I NEED to find different ways to fuel. I am going to start looking into more natural fuel sources than the sugary Gu and Sport Beans. They just tear up my insides. (Even looking at them right now as I added these links made my stomach turn...ugh). I am going to try HumaGel which is more natural and contains Chia Seeds (my favorite!). I am also going to try and make my own fuel sources as well like ultra-marathoner Scott Jurek does. I plan on also trying to carry pit-less cherries or prunes as fuel. No Meat Athlete has a recipe for homemade gel that I plan on giving a whirl as well.
Mostly, I learned a lot about myself. I can do anything. That is truly how I feel right now, on top of the world! I never thought I could run a marathon, ever. But I did it. It scared me. Even as I signed up back in November, it terrified me. All through training, I had moments of self doubt...I asked myself why am I doing this? Could I actually run 26.2 miles? Everyone is stronger than they realize. They just have to not be afraid to put themselves to the test!