Good friends, good music and a 30-minute PR. It was certainly quite the weekend in our nation’s capital!
I headed to Washington D.C. for the 2014 Rock ‘n’ Roll USA half marathon with my friend Traci. Since her first-ever marathon last fall didn’t quite go as she had hoped, Traci spent months preparing for her redemption run.
And she nailed it.
On race morning, we took the Metro in from Virginia to Central D.C. We arrived bright and early – well ahead of the crowd of nearly 25,000 runners. We were able to drop our bags (to collect after the race) with ease and found an indoor restroom to use multiple times before we headed to the starting corrals along Constitution Avenue, adjacent to the National Mall.
We headed into our corral, right next to the Museum of National History, about 15 minutes before the 7:30 a.m. race start and chatted race strategy for a bit. Soon enough, we were underway.
Within the first mile, we ran past The White House and the Washington Monument. Our second mile brought the Lincoln Memorial and a run-by of the edge of Arlington National Cemetery. Our next few miles flew by – we hugged the Potomac River, we ran by the National Zoo and up one darn steep hill toward Calvert Street.
I ran the half to pace Traci for the first half of her full marathon. Our goal was to stay as close to 10-minute miles as possible, even building in a bit of a buffer as we ran. Every so often, I’d call out our pace — letting her know if were were going too fast or too slow.
Shortly after we passed the Mile 7 marker, Traci let me know she needed a bathroom. We spotted a gas station and veered off the course. Why not? It couldn’t hurt to ask.
Inside, we met an angel. The clerk waved Traci into the employee-only restroom as soon as it was vacated by another relieved runner. I stretched and thanked him repeatedly as she was otherwise occupied.
Two minutes later, we were again on the road and on a mission to make up at least half of the lost time. We sprinted by a hill on Harvard Street and zipped past Howard University before we pulled in the reigns.
Back on track.
We didn’t chat a whole lot those last few miles together. We were busy admiring the views – particularly those of The Capitol building as we ran south along North Capitol Street.
The half course boasted 12 live bands and the full course had twice as many on-stage performers. I loved the live music as I ran ran past each stage. Also on the course were thousands of DC residents and fans, many holding witty signs and offering beer to runners. No really, it’s beer, a few fine folks chanted as we ran by.
Traci and I split apart shortly after mile 12, and I cheered her along, knowing full well she was on track to meet her time goal of 4:30.
My last mile was my fastest of the race. I zipped past other runners and cheered as I bolted along those last few streets. Several last turns and I reached the finish line just outside RFK Stadium. 2:06:31. I’ll take it!
I was raised not far from DC and my family visited many times each year. But as an adult, I hadn’t spent much time in our nation’s capital. Running through DC – past monuments and neighborhoods – yielded a flood of childhood memories.
I bee-bopped my way around the post-race party for the next few hours and cheered a few friends to the finish. I enjoyed a post-race beer at the concert beer garden; included in your race entry!
I also caught the race awards and watched the men’s marathon winner, Adam Doherty, 23, of Charlottesville, VA, receive the race’s top prize. Doherty won his debut marathon finishing in 2:33:53. Congrats Adam!
A jammin’ post-race concert is always a large draw for the Rock n’ Roll Marathon races, and RnRUSA was no different. Indie-folk rock band The Head and the Heart headlined the post-race concert to a lively crowd.
And then – I got the text alert that Traci had finished her race! She surpassed her goal and bested her previous marathon time by 30 minutes! It took me another 30 minutes to locate her – but we connected at our prearranged meeting spot and together headed back into the beer garden for her celebratory drink!
We had a fabulous day and look forward to running again in 2015! To learn more about Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Marathon & 1/2 Marathon visit here.