Very long story short: I had every intention on completing the RnR DC Marathon on Saturday, and to help Chris to finish his first 26.2. However, due to exceptional logistical ignorance and lack of proper course preparation from race officials, our attempt at the distance was soured and resulted in us finishing the half marathon instead.
But you all know that all my racing adventures have a story to tell, so let us begin this journey starting at the expo on a blustery cold Friday morning…
Chris and I journeyed to the expo at the DC Armory on Friday morning and stayed about two hours. The weather was projected to be in the mid to upper 20’s with wind on race day. This was colder than the WDW Marathon, by the way!
The highlight of the day was getting to meet Olympian and NYC/Boston winner Meb Keflezighi!
The Rock ‘n’ Roll series had a huge banner, which would be one of 21 to line the course at their season finale in San Antonio to celebrate their 20 Years Running campaign. Of course, we had to sign it.
After the expo, Chris and I walked around the city a little bit, and ended up at Shake Shack at Union Station. So good!!
We ended up in bed around 10pm and readied ourselves for the bitter cold that would accompany our marathon the next day…
Race morning comes around and we bundle up in layers (I wore three, plus two sets of gloves) and walk the mile or so to the staging area. It was 26 degrees outside with a real feel of 16 degrees. Coldness aside, we were greeted by a beautiful sunrise as we gathered into the corrals. I had projected a 4:30 time finish when I signed up last year–which was a tad too ambitious–and I ended up in Corral 5. I had studied the map and saw that there were 26 corrals total. Okay! That’s cool! I thought. With a 2-3 minute launch between corrals, we should have no problem staying ahead of the pacing vehicle.
Slightly after 7:00am, we started. Chris and I agreed on a :45/:45 interval pace, which served us well for the majority of the race overall. All we had to be concerned about was making it to the half/full split at 10:40am (according to the website). The first 5k was relatively decent, coming in around a 41:00-ish split. But one thing we noticed very quickly, was…where were all the runners? Were there really 26 corrals for marathoners or were there 26 corrals for the half marathoners? Was our math wrong?
The second 5K took us through Rock Creek Park. Sticking with our intervals, we suddenly found ourselves in No Man’s Land. Seriously…where was everyone? With all those corrals on that staging map, you’d think there would have been more people in the back.
Around mile 5.75, the Wear Blue to Remember mile started, and with it came The Hill. Chris and I agreed to walk this hill, and I’m glad we did. Future runners: It is at a 10% incline for .10 of a mile. Nevertheless, we persisted: it was lined with American flags and the best course support of the whole race (IMO):
It snaked up like an “S” and all we could do was keep pushing forward. I got many compliments on my Sparkle Athletic skirt, which made me really happy. We got to the top and the 10K split timer was there. Woot!
We were halfway through the first half of this race, and suddenly we found ourselves running through neighborhoods…with hardly anyone lining the streets. This was rather sketchy and kind of scary. We felt like we were in another world…I mean, were we even on the right course? When were the half marathoners going to catch up to us? Where were all the runners?!
I was getting very frustrated around Mile 11, and contemplated just skipping the full route and finishing with the half. I felt pathetic and slow, and even though we were sticking with our intervals, being lonely at the very back of the field with no direction or little support was mentally draining. I had researched the average finish time of the marathoners from past races, and it averaged around 4:15, 4:30-ish. This race clearly wasn’t made for turtles, and it was beginning to show.
However, after petting some very adorable puppies on the course, I changed my mind and started looking for that half/full split, which should have been coming up at 12.3. There were signs…
…and we stayed to the right of the road as loads of faster half marathoners breezed on past us (which we were cheering along, of course). We reasoned that there would be arrows or signs or cones or actual course officials directing this split. We ran along and couldn’t find it. Did we pass it? Where was this marked?
We ran over to a couple of police officers who, unfortunately, gave us no answer. (I guess they weren’t briefed on this.) We kept following the course, staying to the right, and saw that the finish line was just over the hill.
What the actual hell. WHERE WAS THE SPLIT? Did we miss it? Did they close it? It was 10am, and the website said that full runners would be diverted at 10:40am:
We crested the hill, and saw the full/5k finish and the half finish. I pulled myself off the course and started crying out of panic and frustration. I couldn’t believe it. We were going to be forced to finish this on the WRONG DISTANCE that we didn’t sign up for, of no fault of our own because someone somewhere screwed up. No signs, no officials, no nothing. We had a 40-minute advantage, and yet, we were still going to be penalized for logistical ignorance by the race directors.
Chris hugged me and said, “Let’s go finish the half.” (“There could be Hamilton tickets at the finish!”…which I will forever quote him for.) Angrily, I walked back across the course and took off toward the finish line, finishing in 3:02.
This ended up being a PR for me (finally, after three years!) by four minutes, but I was so wrecked with emotion I didn’t even think about that until waaaay after the fact. When we took our medals from the medal ladies, we explained what had happened, that it wasn’t our intent to do the half but we really had no other choice because we had no clue what was going on. They were sweet to give us the full marathon medals in addition to the half medals.
I walked to the Mylar station and got a blanket from our friend Lauren (whom you may remember from last year running the RnR 5K together), and I started sobbing again, blanketed with confusion and anger and frustration. We walked through the rest of the recovery stations, and rang the PR bell because, after all, we did technically PR the half distance…
While we were over there, I got my marathon jacket, and then we slowly walked back to the Metro…dejected, upset, and very, very cold.
Christina’s Post-Race Thoughts:
*This was the coldest race I’ve ever done. It took me roughly a day to thaw out. I know the weather was a big deterrent of spectators cheering us on along the course (or maybe this just isn’t that popular of a DC race for people to do so?), so it was a lonely run.
*So…no signage right at the half/full split and not adhering to your own time standards? Rock ‘n’ Roll, get your shit together. You would think that a race series that has been established for 20 years they would have these sorts of things down to a T. I have never participated in a race with such a poor execution of direction and communication. I will, unfortunately, never again sign up for the DC version of this race.
*Also, a word of caution for those of you that aren’t pulling BQs with every marathon you run: don’t sign up for this race in DC. It doesn’t cater well to the slower runners. With a 5:30 finish time, that would equate to a 2:15 half split, essentially (12:30-something pace). I would highly recommend the Marine Corps Marathon series or something similar.
In the end, I’m glad I got a PR (albeit a small one), and am very very grateful that I had Chris there to maintain the intervals. I am really looking forward to seeing Chris come back in October and crush the Marine Corps Marathon (which he’s wanted to make his first marathon for quite some time now).
I was also relatively okay-ish with my splits, which included a couple potty stops:
What will I do with the marathon medal and jacket? That remains to be seen.
Did you run RnR DC? Did you experience any types of issues like mine?
Next race: Cherry Blossom 10 Miler!