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Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Marathon - RunMarathon

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Washingon, D.C., Washington, D.C.
United States
Competitor Group, Inc.
Total Time = 4h 15m 50s
Overall Rank = 1702/3552
Age Group = F 30-34
Age Group Rank = 106/280
Pre-race routine:

Got up at 5 and promptly ate my usual long run breakfast - peanut butter on a whole wheat english muffin, banana, vanilla soy milk, and coffee. Got on the Metro around 6 and to the Mall around 6:30. Decided to get in a porta potty line first, which turned out to be a great idea. Took a full 40 minutes to get through that, then another 10 to drop off our bags at the very poorly organized gear check. Only plus was that meant less time spent waiting in the corral! Ate half a pack of Honey Stinger chews while waiting in the gear check line.
Event warmup:

None, other than walking to/from the Metro and to the start line.
  • 4h 15m 50s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 09m 46s  min/mile

Decided to start off conservatively and then pick it up a little after I warmed up. As I was crossing Arlington Memorial Bridge (miles 2-3), I started to get a little mentally down about just how long a day it was going to be. Thankfully, that did not last long - once my legs started to get more into it, my mind followed. Just before the Kennedy Center, a teenage brass quartet was we passed, a guy next to me said what I was thinking: "So now it's the classical music marathon!" Had a good laugh about that. Soon thereafter we started heading up Rock Creek Parkway - long, gradual uphill. Ate my first Honey Stinger gel at mile 5 and decided to mentally break the race into 5-mile increments (since I planned to eat a gel or chews every 5 miles). That gave me something to look forward to (besides just the finish!).

Just after mile 6 came a nasty surprise - a very steep incline up an on-ramp to Calvert St. Most people around me walked up, but I reminded myself I didn't come out to WALK a marathon and kept running, albeit slowly. At the top came the reward - a band and a ton of spectators. The spectators continued to be pretty great through Adams Morgan. Other highlights during this section were a life-size cow statue in the front yard of a rowhome and a tree with cherry blossom blooms in another. The next few miles were a bit quiet, and I began looking forward to when we would split off from the half marathoners at mile 12, as the water stops were almost all a disaster (clearly way not enough volunteers) and I was forced to wait for a volunteer to fill a cup a couple times and wound up skipping the water stop at mile 9 altogether. Ate a package of Honey Stinger chews at mile 10.

I was a little bit concerned when my legs and feet started to hurt a little at mile 11 - knew I was going to have to keep my head in the game in the second half. Was both relieved and discouraged when the half marathoners split off at 12 - suddenly had a lot more open road, but the runners and spectators thinned out fairly dramatically at first. Nonetheless, it was a great mental checkpoint. Was very excited to see my time was 2:05:53 when I crossed the half marathon split - knew that if I didn't drop off pace too much in the second half, that my "good day" goal of 4:15 would be very possible. It was also at this point that I decided to start walking through the (well-staffed and stocked) water stops - but only until I was done drinking. This worked out well for the remainder of the race.

Passed the Capitol at mile 14, where the spectators picked up a bit until we turned and ran through a long tunnel underneath the Mall. As we entered the tunnel, we could hear loud music pumping. A guy behind me said, "Do they really have a band under here or is it just a guy with a boom box?" A little while later we had our answer: just a guy with a boom box. A guy dressed in a Mr. Incredible costume who had also been on Rock Creek Parkway dancing to music playing on a decent set of speakers on his bike. Definitely appreciated his efforts at keeping us entertained on what were otherwise fairly bleak sections of the course! Hit mile 15 soon thereafter and ate a caffeinated Honey Stinger gel. Was very excited to only have one pack of chews left in my pack then!

The next several miles were through some rather un-scenic areas with hardly any spectators. I was thrilled to see Kate and Gabriela (from the group that I trained with the last few months) during an out-and-back section between miles 18-19. Nice to see familiar faces and tell them they looked great. Also during this section, as I came up a hill from under an overpass, I saw a Competitor group photographer and smiled as I ran by. As I passed him, he said, "Ma'am, you're wearing a Brooks outfit and I do the pictures for the brochures. Can you run back 100 yards or so and do it again? I really want to get a picture of you running with your hands up with the Capitol behind you." Ooookay! Ran back and forward again and he asked if I could do it AGAIN as he didn't get quite the right shot. Not wanting to be the non-compliant Brooks ID member, I ran back and forth once again. This time he got the shot he wanted and I said as I passed, "You better use that!" haha

After that, we crossed the Frederick Douglass bridge to Anacostia. My feet definitely could have done without running that long on grates! Hit the long-awaited 20 mile mark soon thereafter (3:13:39), and was again pleased to see I was well on target for a 4:15 finish as long as I kept pushing. Ate my last package of (caffeinated) Honey Stinger chews. Decided at this point that it would be a good idea to stop at a porta potty if I didn't have to wait for one - COULD have made it to the finish without stopping but knew I'd be more comfortable (especially when pushing harder toward the end) if I stopped. Saw an open one soon after that and made a very quick stop.

Miles 21-23 were a bit rough - really started to feel like the wheels were falling off, everything (including breathing) hurt, and there were zero spectators (running a big loop through Anacostia Park). Allowed myself to walk for about 10 seconds to mentally re-group and then pressed on. Miles 23-24 were back in civilization, albeit in a rough section of SE DC. At one point, a cop at an intersection yelled, "This is the last big hill!" Chugged up that hill only to see another uphill section ahead. Lies!

Finally turned down an on-ramp to E Capitol St, which I knew was the home stretch. Began picking up the pace a bit, especially when I passed the mile 25 sign and saw the time on my watch was 4:05:xx. Thought to myself, "4:15 is in the bag but I'm going to have to hustle!" Dipped into the reserves I didn't know I had and pushed harder.

Needless to say, I was quite happy when I rounded the last corner and saw the finish line ahead. Caught up with a girl who then tried to race me to the line, but I'm happy to say I outkicked her by a hair. haha Was absolutely thrilled to see 4:15:52 when I stopped my watch a few steps after the finish line.

In addition to the gels/chews, I drank water at all but 1 or 2 of the water stops and also had Gatorade at a few in the second half. Was definitely thankful it never did rain and even saw the sun at times, but I also was just a tad overdressed since I was expecting rain and colder temperatures. Would've been more comfortable with a short sleeve shirt under my Brooks ID singlet (instead of a lightweight long sleeve) and arm warmers that I could have taken off once I warmed up. Oh well! Luckily, just as I started to overheat a tad, there was usually a section with a headwind that cooled me off. Also wore calf compression sleeves for the first time during a half or full marathon (I had started wearing them for long training runs when the on-again, off-again shin tightness/pain started in January). I know the science doesn't show any significant performance benefits so far, but I definitely felt better when I wore them. Yesterday, too, my lower legs felt great. Real or placebo effect, either way I'll take it.

Splits from my Garmin:

1 - 9:51
2 - 9:27
3 - 9:23
4 - 9:13
5 - 9:23
6 - 9:20
7 - 9:54
8 - 9:26
9 - 9:11
10 - 9:22
11 - 9:03
12 - 9:39
13 - 9:41
14 - 9:38
15 - 8:58
16 - 9:47
17 - 9:33
18 - 9:42
19 - 10:09 (running back and forth for the photographer)
20 - 9:46
21 - 9:45
22 - 10:41 (porta potty stop)
23 - 10:04
24 - 10:16
25 - 10:17
26 - 8:44
.65 - 5:25 (8:20 pace)
What would you do differently?:

Nothing, really. For the most part I kept a fairly even pace and didn't slow down a ton in the last few miles. Maybe if I hadn't run the 8 and 10 mile runs of the last 2 weekends quite so hard, my legs would have been just a bit more fresh and not started to hurt so early on...but maybe not!
Post race
Warm down:

Walked through the finisher's chute and met my mom and Travis (who were ecstatic) at the end of it. Walked with them over to the gear check area to pick up my bag, then sat down and stretched a bit while I put on recovery socks, pants, and a different pair of shoes (PureFlows, which felt like heavenly pillows for my aching feet). Pounded a bottle of water and ate a packet of squeezable applesauce and a banana. Changed into a dry bra and shirt in a porta potty and then we headed to the Metro. Stopped in Woodley Park for lunch at Noodles & Company and then continued on home.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

As mentioned earlier, possibly running the "long" taper runs the previous 2 weekends harder than planned/necessary (though I subsequently did not do the Wednesday speed workouts as prescribed on the training program, so that may have balanced out some).

Event comments:

Course was challenging, but many of my long training runs included rolling hills, so I felt like I was well prepared. Definitely not enough porta potties at the start area, nor enough volunteers at the water stops. The gear check was also a nightmare due to a lack of volunteers and organization - Travis waited a full hour for his bag after he finished the half.

Last updated: 2012-12-16 12:00 AM
04:15:50 | 26.2 miles | 09m 46s  min/mile
Age Group: 106/280
Overall: 1702/3552
Performance: Good
Course: Literally through all quadrants of DC
Keeping cool Average Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
Physical exertion [1-5] 5
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? No
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Average
Race evaluation [1-5] 3

2013-03-17 7:46 PM

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Extreme Veteran
Columbia, South Carolina
Subject: Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Marathon

2013-03-18 12:14 AM
in reply to: #4663641

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Extreme Veteran
Subject: RE: Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Marathon
Congrats, uh, Ms. Brooks Smile
2013-03-18 9:00 AM
in reply to: #4663641

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Subject: RE: Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Marathon

That's hilarious about the photographer.

You ran a great race! What a great way to cap off a strong training season. So glad you're feeling well post race. Very proud of you.

Interesting note about the calf sleeves. I keep reading about compression stuff on the blogs I read (mostly because certain companies give the bloggers free stuff), so it's good to know that you are feeling good, sleeves or not. I don't own any compression socks or sleeves but sometimes I think about picking up a pair.

2013-03-19 1:41 PM
in reply to: #4663641

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Evergreen, Colorado
Subject: RE: Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Marathon

You rock! :D

2013-03-19 3:55 PM
in reply to: #4663641

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Goodyear, AZ
Subject: RE: Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Marathon
Well done! That was such a great race for you and I am so happy that you ran a full marathon, uninjured! Awesome!
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