(#8) Rock ‘n’ Roll USA – Part 1 (Rushing To The Start)

Saturday, March 17th, 2012
Washington DC Metro packed during Rock 'n' Roll USA 2012

This gives you an idea of the fun crowd on the Metro.

As I mentioned yesterday, I knew that the lovely David Petrick was going to be waiting for me at the finish, so I was ready to do this thing!

My alarm went off this morning, and I realized that the phone I had thought I had been charging all night, actually had not been charging at all. I woke up with about 40% battery. Knowing I would want to use my runner app and listen to my iPod, I gave my phone every last second to charge as I got ready, until I had to book it down to the Metro.

I thought I was running a little bit late (which I guess I sort of was, sort of wasn’t, in that I wasn’t in my corral when the first start gun went off, but once I got there, I still had over 30 minutes before my corral started.

Being that I thought I was a little on the late side, I was shocked to see the incredibly packed Metro. I felt so bad for the two people who got off at other stops. They were probably just going about their Saturday, and then all of a sudden – “Where am I? What did I get myself into?”

Incredibly crowded DC Metro platform during Rock 'n' Roll USA Marathon 2012

This doesn’t even begin to show the size of the entire crowd. You should see how many people are behind us.

A bunch of us runners had some great bonding time before the race in the Metro. I met these cool girls Lily and Dawn. Dawn lives in New York and is looking for someone to go see more musicals with her, so I’m pretty sure that obviously means we’re going to be friends.

After all the runners finally made it to the stop, it took forever for our Metro car’s door to open. It was kind of hilarious. We were so close, but yet so far. Once we were able to exit the car, there was yet another crowd waiting to get up the escalator and out of the station. (One also have to insert one’s Metro card when leaving the station, so foot traffic got really backed up with a crowd this size.)

Somehow, we all did make it out of the Metro station, and then jogged over to the start. I love that RnR events have fruit around before the race. Recently, while I’ve been traveling, I’ve been awful about getting a banana the night before to eat on race morning. So, the bananas there waiting for me are lovely.

Sometime around 8:40am, I crossed the start line. By the end of mile 1, I was already sweating profusely. Dearest race directors throughout the universe, I am begging you not to ever start a race at 8am. At first it was exciting to read that I could “sleep in” (compared to waking up for other races). When I realized how much freakishly hotter it is to race later in the day, I was over the “late” start.

I feel as though I learn a lot as the year goes on. Two weeks ago in New Orleans, I learned how incredibly important it is to get some walking and stretching in right after you get off the bus. I implemented that this time around. I felt awesome, and not bus-lagged at all.  This race, I think the big lesson was to check the forecast and bring options for a lighter running outfit.

I have my basic “race outfit” that I’ve worn to pretty much every race – but it consists of this heavy hat, black pants, and cotton shirt (over a technical shirt). It’s an awesome outfit for racing when it’s a little chilly outside, but it was absolutely killing me today. Around mile 3, I was ready to start shedding layers until I’d run into the finish naked. (I did not do that.)

I really pushed myself during this race. I had 13.3 minute miles going during my first 5k. Slowly but surely, I slowed down throughout the race. (My 10k time was 1:30:06, 10 miles was 2:31:28.) People had been talking a lot at the expo yesterday about the hill that was going to bother everyone around mile 6/7.

Pssh! I thought. Silly. A hill. We’re all strong. We’ll all handle it. Toward the middle of the race, when I was mildly convinced that we were all going to die from the heat, I came upon this big-ol’ never-ending-seeming hill. And I realized, “Ah. This is what they were all talking about. Okay. It’s hard after all.”

Do I make it through the hill? Do I make it to the finish? Find out tomorrow.

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