Rock N Roll DC Recap

So, I can’t even begin to explain the crazy that is my work life right now! With that in my I got my lovely husband’s permission to use his Rock N Roll DC race recap (from another site) here!! Please keep in mind that my husband is much faster then me so will always give completely different views of a race (I didn’t run this one).

Rock and Roll DC as told by Jon:

Let me start by saying that the weather people on TV here really have been batting  around here. We were told to expect rain all morning and to stay indoors on Saturday. Well that really didn’t happen. So my wet weather preparations were all checked at gear check. But on to the race…

I am an alum of the National Half when this March DC race was not run by competitor. At the National, you had to qualify with at least a 2:30 half to register. This was to keep the field bunched and because DC is notoriously picky about street closures. They also limited registration at 15,000 total for full and half combined. Last year, RnR took over the race and essentially just expanded it by dropping the qualifying times and allowing over 20,000 runners. Same courses as the former race. For their second year, RnR changed the start of the course and a few parts of the beginning to accommodate an even larger crowd. I swore I wouldn’t do this because they changed the course. Instead of starting at RFK Stadium where there is ample parking and the DC Armory building to house gear check and an indoor holding area for cold March mornings, the course would start on the National Mall on Constitution near the White House and Ellipse. No cover or parking. A required Metro ride downtown. Needless to say I registered and would be doing it.

One of the complaints of last year was the use of highly chlorinated water for water stops. It was overpowering to many who are used to running with bottled water. Many races use jugs like you would get at the store for a neutral taste. I’m not sure if it was city water or not but it sure tasted like it. I was hoping they would change this for the second year.

Bob and I were running together for this race and we arrived at the starting area around 6:50. Yes, 6:50 for a 7:30 start. That was due to the surprise track work on the Orange line that was causing trains to be spaced 30 minutes apart. We will leave Metro’s problems to another post. When we got to the start area, we noticed very long lines for everything. Gear check had lines 10-15 deep at all of the busses and the limited number of port-o-johns had lines over 20 deep. There were very few toilets for the number of people. It was probably the minimum required by DC permits, which is not based on race utilization but other events like inauguration or Cherry Blossom festival. Let’s say that runners require significantly more toilets. After 10 minutes for gear and 25 minutes in line for the toilet, we sprinted 2 blocks to the start and made it with 20 seconds before our corral (3)was to go off.

Well that was fun. But we made it and we’re on our way around our nation’s capital. I was hoping to finish between a 1:40 and 1:50 with 1:51 being my PR. The first leg took us past the Lincoln Memorial and across the Potomac to Virginia. We started out at a comfortable pace of around 8min/mile. We spent all of one traffic circle in VA before heading back over the bridge to the District. Then we noticed the problems. Not with the course or with us, but with the race organization.

Gatorade was at every other stop (about 5 miles between Gatorade) with water in between. The water was again heavily chlorinated at every stop. The stops were also “self serve” for many. The stop at mile 3.5 had tables lined with filled cups stacked three high with cardboard separating each row. But there were no volunteers in sight to hand out the water. Runners were taking from the tables themselves. Well as you might guess, they knocked over a substantial amount of cups, spilling the water with it. This would be a trend for the rest of the race. The water stops had very few volunteers who struggled to keep up with demand. And we were in corral 3. Wait til the course really started brimming after all 33 corrals were released. I applaud those who were out there trying their best to keep up. They should be commended. RnR should know better than to leave short or unmanned stops.

So the course wound around the Kennedy Center, past the Watergate and up Rock Creek Parkway. This area is nearly completely flat so we were able to chat and keep a good pace. We met some people who had done Ironman Lake Placid and hung with them for a little but then pulled away as we were doing the half and they had to conserve for the full. About mile 6, the hills came a rollin’. I knew of the hills getting to Adams Morgan from the previous two years but this time they came from a different direction. On the plus side, it was completely flat til mile 6 whereas before the hills started around mile 4.5. But this ascent was steeper. The hill was about as steep as the entrance to the speedway at Disney but spanned over a quarter mile.

After getting to Adams Morgan, we took in the quaintness of some of the areas of DC and passed some more understaffed water stops. It was mostly rolling hills now with short uphills accompanied by downhills. We picked up the pace a bit to sub 8min/mile as a result of the varied terrain. The course the winds around Howard University before coming back down to the Capitol and out to RFK for the half finish and the marathon split. About mile 9, my shoe came untied and I had to stop to tie it. This was about the only time we stopped. But around mile 10, the ups and downs were starting to take their toll on my right knee. Bob went about 5 yards ahead of me to keep me moving forward. I knew my knee would loosen up once we got back on flat ground. Mile 10-12 were slightly uphill. Very slight, but enough for the body to notice. I knew from previous years that mile 12 was flat.

We got past the split off and started to pick it back up. The finish is uphill as seems to be the trend in DC (ahem MCM) but we pushed through anyway. After hitting mile13, I decided not to let Bob jog across the finish line in front of me so easily so I pushed it into sprint mode. I definitely caught him by surprise and we both started sprinting across the line, probably passing 20 people in the last .1. Time of 1:45:32. That 30 seconds to tie my shoe really counted.

The finish line “celebration” was again mostly self serve with volunteers handing out medals. Gear check pick up was a complete disaster. They used school buses to transport from the Mall to RFK. Trouble was they just threw bags in the buses and couldn’t find bags after. It took nearly 20 minutes for us to get our bags and the lines were already 15 deep at each of the alphabetical sections. They had 25 buses and organized by last name and then number within that.

I will say that most of the medical tents were empty of volunteers and there were very few ambulances on the course for an event of this size. The bands were lackluster at best and it seemed to be very disorganized. They also were sharing RFK with ShamrockFest so it was incredibly crowded both in the area and especially at the metro with people coming and going. I kept thinking “what have you done to my race?” the whole time. RnR seems to be destroying this race every year with it getting worse and worse. Don’t get me wrong, I am extremely happy with the course and I love running in DC. That’s why I do this. But it is a big question mark to pay RnR prices for a race that is run so poorly.

This is also the first time I used compression sleeves to race. I found them to be very helpful in reducing my calf tightness. I bought the 2XU sleeves so I could use them in my upcoming try for the swim portion. Not sure yet if it is in my head or actual physical improvement but I’ll keep trying.

Next up for me is Rocketman Florida Triathlon in May. Here goes nothing.

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