Monday, March 28, 2011

National Half Marathon (Race Recap)

Saturday, March 26
Half Marathon #26
Weather - Chilly, breezy, low 30s

I signed up for the National half marathon FOREVER ago. Literally. I was stalking the registration page and registered the night before I ran my THIRD half marathon on 4th of July last year. So much has happened since I registered for this race! Anyway, I was really excited about this race because I met new friends when I went to Greece last October that live near DC and were also planning on racing AND offered to let us stay with them. SCORE!!

We weren't able to get a great flight out of Denver, so we had an elaborate plan of flying into BWI and then taking a train from the airport to Union Station, meeting up with our friends, picking up packets. It all sounded great. Easy, even.

Our flights (we had a connection) luckily went very well. We were flying Southwest and had forgotten to check in at 24 hours, so on the first leg of the flight we weren't able to get seats together, which was a bummer. At least going to MCI (Kansas City) only takes an hour. We had a short time between connecting flights and we HAD to get food. FYI, if you are in a hurry, do NOT go to the Quiznos. Slowest.Moving.Humans.Ever. Literally did not even have time to use the bathroom, and walked right from Quiznos to board the plan. We were lucky enough to get seats together for the remainder of our trip.

We landed with plenty of time to figure out how to get to the train, took the shuttle, got to the train station with about an hour until the train was to depart... and then about 20 minutes before we were supposed to leave we found out the train was delayed. Asking how long the delay was going to be proved to be useless and we weren't even able to get a ballpark... 10 minutes? 4 hours? Since we were under a bit of a time crunch (the expo was closing at 8:00 pm and it was already almost 6:00, we had no choice but to take a cab from BWI to Union Station. Luckily there were two woman who were in a similar predicament, and we all shared a cab ($20 per person). Although neither of them was running the National, they were both runners. What a small world :D

We lucked out yet again with no real traffic and we were dropped off at Union Station roughly the same time we would have arrived if the train would have been on time. I called my friends and we found them easily. We walked to their car, and we got to the expo about 7:00. Nope. I don't like to cut things close at all...

We only had a few minutes, but I made sure to run over to the Razzy Roo booth to FINALLY meet Cheryl. I just love her products, I love the customer service, and of COURSE the price is right too. She had tons of stuff out that I hadn't seen on her website, and of course I walked away with some new bands (and new monkey socks!)

We left the expo and drove to my friend's house in Silver Spring (about 30 minutes away). We were cooked an AWESOME meal, and after a beer and some dinner conversation, it was 11:00 before we knew it. It had been a long day, and we were EXHAUSTED. The plan was to leave the house by 5:30ish, arriving around 6:00, which would give us time to check our bags and get to the start line.

I didn't fall asleep that easily, and 4:55 came FAST. We got ready and we were only out the door a few minutes late. There was no traffic until we got just a few miles from the Armory. And that's when it all started to unravel. Literally bumper to bumper traffic. Moving so slow the speedometer wasn't even registering. Finally after about 10 minutes (by now it was already 6:15), we decided to go off the main road to see if we could find another road to get to parking. Of course all the satellite roads were already blocked off. By 6:30 we knew there was no hope of driving all the way there. We were lucky enough to find a place to park about 1.5 miles from the start line and we had to walk. We came across the port-o-potties at the first aid station (around mile 1.2) and we used the bathrooms and then had to jog to the start line. That was a first! As soon as we had to park and run, we knew there would be no time to do bag drop. That was a major bummer.

We literally were walking up on the starting area when the national anthem was happening. I was in corral 8, which meant it would take us about 20 minutes to cross the start line. We had planned ahead (luckily) with our awesome $3 Wal Mart sweaters. It was COLD and had already been outside a while. Don't we look awesome??

Me and L
Corral 8
Starting Area
I was tempted to keep the sweater on for the first couple of miles, I was THAT cold. L did remind me that it might be tough to get off since I would have to pull it off over my head. So I decided I would wear it for as long as possible and then toss.

As I said, it took  more than 20 minutes to actually GET to the start line. I started out feeling pretty good, and I was able to keep L in my sights for about ten minutes :D

The first part of the course was the best part. Not that hilly, and we actually had some cool stuff to look at. I hadn't been to DC since I was a teenager, so it was neat to see some of the buildings up close.

Capitol - around mile 2
I hadn't really planned on taking that many pictures along the course, but I was already feeling a little more tired than usual, so I took quite a few in the first 4 miles.

Aid station somewhere between mile 3 & 4

Along with this last picture I took at the Washington Monument (about mile 4), that's about when things really started to go poorly for me. I had been pacing pretty well, and I was feeling... ok.

And then the course took a turn, and we were no longer running down the cool and historic part of DC. It was a hilly, dirty and scary part of DC. I have been lucky lately with not having any aches and pains, but my foot/ankle issue from last fall decided to come back somewhere around mile 5. I hadn't expected the course to be as hilly as it was. I hadn't expected to feel so fatigued. I hadn't expected my foot/ankle to start hurting.

I'm glad I was running with a watch because the miles weren't marked and it was hard to figured out where I was along the course. I saw the first relay exchange at mile 5, but my watch put me much further along. I think that's when I mentally started to fail at this race.

ONLY mile 5??? Damn. It was all I could do to keep going. The first of the really insane hills was around mile 6, and that's when I started walking here and there. I came across a group of people offering free beer and vodka shots. Yep. I took a cup of beer. Probably the best part of the race.

About that same time, I realized I needed to use the bathroom. There were only 3-4 port-o-potties at a time, and they were only at the water stations, which were few and far between. Each one I came across had a line of about a dozen people. I had to go, but not quite bad enough to wait so long to use one. So I kept going. I think it was the aid station around mile 8 where they first ran out of fluids. They did not have enough volunteers and hadn't pre-made enough cups. I had to wait to get my Powerade and water. Annoying, but I did enjoy the break.

I still always walk through the water stations, and during this race I did it even more than usual. I was so freakin tired!!! I honestly don't know how I kept moving. My hands felt like they had frostbite, so I was a bit distracted with shaking them to be sure my fingers were still functioning. Finally I came up on the mile 10 (more like 10.25) relay exchange. There were a half dozen bathrooms and a line, and I finally decided I just didn't care how long it would take to use the bathroom. The race was already completely miserable. I had to seriously wait almost 5 minutes to get in. And then (probably TMI), my fingers were SO freaking cold that I couldn't pull my shorts and skirt back up. I was seriously having a mild panic attack. Why weren't my fingers able to grab?? That is not good. I probably really WAS getting frostbite. Curse this race. Then I get out of there finally, and an old man stops me to tell me my skirt is tucked into my shorts. Great... too bad my fingers aren't able to pull it out. Blah.

The best part about my 5 or so minute break was that it lowered my heart rate to around 100... it was like starting completely over. Only, it still sucked. My foot still hurt, I was still tired, and I still just wanted to be done. Between mile 10 and 11 I had a lady stop me and tell me she LOVED my shirt and wanted to know where we got it (custom designed by L's boyfriend and printed by Cafe Press!) That was probably one of the best parts of the race :D

Just. Keep. Going. Man this sucks. Why. Why am I doing this.

The crowd support is the only good part about this race. They are REALLY into it! Lots of people out with music and signs. Still not really enough to motivate me. I just want to be done. I'm so cold and tired and miserable. Then I see that we are running toward the capital. That must mean we are getting close!!!

Just like around mile 8, the last two aid stations are NOT at all equipped to handle the amount of runners and I have to wait for my fluids. At this point? I just do not care.

Around mile 12... horrible horrible horrible side ache. Are you kidding me?? What next?? It's bad enough that I have to walk for a few minutes because just putting a fist of pressure on it is NOT enough. This hurts. I finally decide - I just have to be done. Just have to finish. I figure that even the slowest jog in the world will at least get me there THAT much quicker. I suck it up and am honestly surprised that Garmin claims I'm moving at a 10:30ish pace. Feels like I am barely moving and that people are sprinting past me. The last mile seems like it is going on forever. I recognize the road that we are on, and I am surprirsed to see the marathoners running back up where we started. I hated this course. Cannot imagine doing it twice!

I have absolutely NOTHING left. I know I'm almost to the finish and yet I can barely move my legs. I get passed by tons of people and can barely stomach a jog to get to the end. And just like that... it is FINALLY over.

The finish area was chaos. I had to pull my medal out of a box, because unlike at most races they didn't have one ready to hand out. I was funneled through a "food" area, and grabbed a granola bar and a water. I was way too cold to consider eating or drinking anything. I somehow found L, and then we were watiing for our friends to finish. We saw them not too long after I finished. We talked for a few and then decided it wasn't getting any warmer and that we should just head to the car. We didn't see anyone we knew in the finish area and spent the walk to the car complaining about how poorly organized the race was. L had even received the wrong medal (full instead of half) but luckily realized it before we left. I would NOT do this race again.

Official Gun Time - 2:34:10
Official Net Time - 2:16:33
Official Pace - 10:25
Official 10K Split - 1:00:52 (pace 9:48)
Overall Place - 7234
Division Place - 761/1070
Gender Place - 3795/5231
Garmin Time - 2:16:30
Garmin Distance - 13.39 miles
Garmin Pace - 10:11
Mile 1 - 9:08
Mile 2 - 9:35
Mile 3 - 8:56
Mile 4 - 9:20
Mile 5 - 9:53
Mile 6 - 10:01
Mile 7 -11:07
Mile 8 - 10:14
Mile 9 - 9:38
Mile 10 - 10:25
Mile 11 - 12:59 (bathroom)
Mile 12 - 10:58
Mile 13 - 10:15
Mile 13.1ish - 10:09

It was seriously freezing outside but we decieed that we had to do at least ONE picture of us in our Colorado tanks and our awesome Sparkle Skirts (thanks Leah!)

Happy to be done!
We headed back to the house, took a quick shower, and then enjoyed a tasty homemade brunch of quiche and champagne. I was surprised when we had a visitor, another friend from Greece!!

Toly, Rose, Me (apparently I'm a midget??) and John
About 3:00 and we had to pack up and head back to Union Station. I had such a great visit with friends, it was a bummer to have to leave so soon. Our awesome friends then drove us BACK to DC to catch our train. Yep, I will forever remember Union Station:

We didn't have too long before our train left, so L quickly got a Starbucks, I got a diet coke and a new book. Quick trip to the bathroom, and a last minute splurge purchase of this AWESOME cupcake. At least we had the sense to split one instead of EACH get one. Doesn't it look delicious??

Our train left on time, and off we went... headed to Wilmington, DE for the second half marathon of the weekend.


  1. i'm freezing reading this- if you come across any more cold races, i can speak from experience that its not really a pain to take off a shirt during the race (as long as you dont have your bib or anything else attached to the outside shirt)
    NOT a bad time for a 5 min bathroom break + injury and walk breaks. LOVE this cupcake- nom nom nom

  2. Your time is really good for everything you went through! You are not the first blogger I've come across today with a scary report of part of the race course.

  3. Wow! That sounded rough. Hope Sunday was better. Until I saw your pictures, I forgot that all of that stuff was on the route. Doesn't change the fact that I hated it though ...

  4. Erg, that sounds miserable! But if anybody can pull through and finish a race, it's you! Congrats!! The medal is nice, so that's a win! And that is the fanciest cupcake I have ever seen!!

    I got cold just reading this. I can't wait to hear about the next race!

  5. Great pics! Thanks for taking us along!

  6. Congrats on surviving. After reading all these race recaps I'm not as sad that I missed this one :)


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