3rd Place at the Rock ‘n’ Roll DC Half Marathon Race Recap

Racing Tips

One of the downsides of only posting Monday, Wednesday, Friday, is that I do not get to recap my weekends as well as I would like…..probably a good thing for your sake, as you do not have to listen to me ramble on about my weekend. Instead you can hear read my ramble today! It feels like it was a long time ago that I raced, I think traveling can do that to you; its hard to remember that you were in a completely different place just a short time ago!

Last weekend, I raced in the Rock ‘n’ Roll DC Half Marathon. I have always wanted to do a Rock ‘n’ Roll race, and this seemed like a good one to do, especially as DC is traditionally flat, and the flight was not that expensive for us to pay for. Thankfully Competitor Group were kind enough to pay for my hotel room close to the course; one huge perk of being an elite, which allowed me to go to the race, and relax a little.

I was not really sure what to expect going into this race. To be honest, the last few weeks had been very humbling. With some bad treadmill workouts, and just everything around race pace feeling like a sprint, I was not in a great place mentally.

It was not looking good…..

However, this actually meant that I finally was able to take the pressure off myself, especially with so many other races going on this weekend. I also got to the point where I just didn’t care anymore. I felt like my dedication to my running was really being tested, and I had reached a snapping point where in the words of Elsa from Frozen, I “let it go”.

I decided I was just going to have fun, and my breakthrough would happen when I was ready. It was time to stop forcing it, and asking for “my turn”, but instead just go with it, and let my time come when I amView from Washington DC ready….I am only 26!!

IMG_8341Steve drove me to Louisville on Friday morning for my flight to DC, I checked into my hotel (The Donovan), and wandered down to the expo. I met the elite coordinator, and given my number (and VIP wristband).

Then I met Deborah (check out Monday’s Chickpea Blondie post for that picture), and did my second easy run of the day (3 miles around the mall).

I relaxed for a little while, and then went to dinner at Posto. I have not gone to a fancy restaurant by myself, but I have to say, I actually enjoyed it, and the pasta was incredible; all homemade, with a fresh made sauce. I would recommend that restaurant to anyone in the DC area.

After a calm evening, I went to bed, and actually slept reasonably well….for a pre race nights sleep.

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Race Day

I woke up just before my alarm, around 4am, and had my pre-race breakfast of Oatmeal with 1/2 milk, 1/2 water, and a banana. I talked to Hirut; my roommate from Ethopia for a little while before we jogged down to the hotel right next to the start to relax for a few minutes. During our warmup, Hirut told me about how much she missed her children, and what life is like in Ethopia. Even though she did not speak too much English, I really enjoyed talking to her.

After waiting in line to use the bathroom and changing shoes, we did not have much time, so we ran to the start line. I probably only stood on the start line for about 2 minutes….during which I met a really nice Georgetown grad; Rachel Schneider. We talked about possibly running together, but did not set a full plan.

It was already pouring with rain when we started, but I was thankful I chose to wear a cap, which kept the rain out of my eyes. Of course I have gotten used to feeling like I am sprinting whenever I try to run fast with my “new form”, but I tried to stay calm, and just settle into what felt comfortable. I went through the mile in 6:01, feeling good. That was the last time I looked at my watch.

For the next few miles, I tried to stay positive, and start to pick people off who had gone too fast. I had heard there was a big hill around mile 6, but I kind of laughed at the idea….I live in Kentucky! Don’t talk to me about hills, BUT it was a long steep hill, and it definitely slowed me down (that mile was my slowest at 6:12). There were a good amount of hills after that too. It was definitely not a pancake flat course, even if you remove the big hill.

I took my gel out of my pocket at 7 miles and had it with water from the station (as well as mile 3). This was a great opportunity to practice taking a drink and gel at speed, and especially as I choked on it (which happens 2/3 times), its good to practice getting your breath back.

After a while, I did not notice the rain anymore, it was still coming down hard, and I really had to watch the corners as it was slippery where the white lines were, but I wished I had worn capris, as I was having a hard time getting my legs to move any faster in the 40 degree (F) rain. I kept picking people off, and charging forward. I felt strong, and powerful. Gaining confidence as I went that I not only could complete the marathon, which believe it or not, I had wondered at times these past few weeks, but that I could hold a decent pace.

Oh, and I had spiderman behind me for probably 3-4 miles…..Michael Wardian, who was trying to break the world record (2:33 I think) for a marathon in a costume (so I heard afterwards), but he provided our group with some entertaining shout outs! He ended up running 2:45, which is still incredibly impressive!

I crossed the finish line in 1:17:12 in 3rd place, and 29th overall (M&W). I was pretty bummed initially, as that is almost 3 minutes off my PR, but when I looked at my Garmin and saw my average pace was 5:44, I felt a lot better about it. I am confident I could have run 30 seconds faster (overall, not per mile!!), even given the day, as I did not go to 100%, but definitely ran harder than I have been able to in quite a few weeks. I think my toughness is coming back! I also won $300….minor detail 😉

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After spending a good 10 minutes trying to find the VIP tent to get my bags, Frances (Koons) and I (my dear bridesmaid who came to watch) cooled down back along the course to her car to go to my hotel and change out of our wet clothes. It was fun seeing the other runners making their way along, we cheered as much as we could.

First post race photo, once we were back to the hotel and had warmed up a little!
First post race photo, once we were back to the hotel and had warmed up a little!

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This race was a huge step in the right direction, both physically, and mostly emotionally. One more month of training under my belt is enough time to get ready for the London Marathon, and maybe run a little faster than I expect. I learned for the 15th time that I run better when I just go out there and enjoy it, no pressure, no expectations, just running as best I can on the day.

I feel stronger, and I look stronger, now to just let my path unfold before me as it was always meant to.

2015 Rock n Roll Washington DC
I LOVE this photo from the Competitor Magazine website, that photo run took for them!

It is under one month till I fly back to England, and I am determined to enjoy it! The conditions at the RnR DC were a very real possibility for London, and it was a great practice race. A few more weeks at 85-90 miles per week, then its taper time!

Do you ever reach a point where you just let things happen? How would you have handled running in the rain?

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50 Comments.

  • YES!!!! Congratulations!!!! You look so strong and determined in that photo and I’m just so glad you enjoyed yourself and got some confidence back. 5:44 is simply amazing. You are amazing! Keep it up!!

  • So awesome Tina!! I loved reading this recap, especially cause you can off the run so encouraged:) It’s cool you ran in D.C. too…it’s right by where I grew up! Keep up the great work!

  • So proud of you! Terrific race, especially in the pouring rain. I know what you mean about after a while, not noticing the rain, but still, it was an added variable that you didn’t need yet did amazing anyway!

  • You did amazing!! Congrats! I know I was frozen the entire time, I can’t imagine being in a tank and shorts!! I wish I had know you were eating dinner alone, I would have come and met you! Congrats on 3rd place, I am in such awe of you. Thinking you ran 3 min/mil faster than me is totally insane and absolutely incredible!! Congrats!!

  • You inspire me to do great things Tina. I read your posts and feel like the sky is the limit! Congratulations on the awesome race! Yes, I often get to a point where I have to trust my training and trust that I’m ready. It’s not always easy to do but it feels wonderful when you do.

  • and you sound mentally stronger, which makes it all complete! way to push through friend

  • Heather @fitncookies
    March 18, 2015 7:32 am

    Awesome job!! That’s a fantastic mood booster. You will rock it at London!

  • Congrats! I was driving back to DC that morning and thinking about all of you racing in the pouring rain!

  • Congrats! that photo is seriously SO awesome! It sounds like you had fun AND did great!

  • Fantastic job–even though it was slower than your PR, I think that it shows major progress–more consistency, overcoming adversity, and just all around gumption. We need those races and runs etc that test us and make us decide to keep going. Otherwise? we never have to question or fight back. Seriously, it is science!

  • Michele Rosen
    March 18, 2015 8:06 am

    Big congrats! This is so inspiring, and I love the “let it go” theme because I think about that all the time. Sometimes that’s when the magic can happen, or at least we can breathe a sigh of relief. 5:44 pace is no joke!

  • It is really exciting to read about your race thinking and experience. I was surprised that you don’t look at your watch throughout the race. The conditions were not ideal to say the least and it’s super impressive how well you did. I hope this gives you the confidence you were looking for for London. Great to see you!

  • Julie Wunder
    March 18, 2015 8:26 am

    Amazing! Congratulations on such an amazing race. I love reading the recap– I was just imagining your legs going so fast as I was reading. So inspiring. Can’t wait to see you finish this training cycle with such power!

  • Michelle@Running with Attitude
    March 18, 2015 8:35 am

    Awesome Tina! Congrats!! Love reading your re-cap. Keep believing in yourself!!

  • Congratulations! Super impressive given the conditions last weekend.

  • You look focused, strong, and confident! Congrats – that is fantastic news! When I go to DC next month, I might just have to check out Posto. It sounds really fun. 🙂

  • Congratulations on a great race! I’m really impressed that you didn’t look at your watch after the first mile. You are absolutely right about the conditions being a possibility for London. I love that you gained such confidence from this race and you’ve still got some time to get just a little more from your training. So happy for you!

  • Way to go, Tina! So glad it was a confidence booster, too–that’s the best part of it. And I really do think that letting go works sometimes. The pressure release allows you to enjoy and really tap into what your body needs on that day. You are one tough chick!

  • Karla Bruning
    March 18, 2015 9:29 am

    Congratulations!! Looks like a huge step in the right direction for our no pressure goals! Definitely sounds like your toughness is coming back, and I’m glad you’re happy after further reflection.You look strong in that photo! Keep on riding it right into London!

  • Woohoo!! Awesome race, Tina! And it’s somehow comforting to hear that even elites can be a bit disappointed after coming in 3rd place with a 5:44 average pace. 🙂 Glad the disappointment didn’t last long- you’re in a great place for London!!

  • Wow well done! Great that you were relaxed about it and didn’t stress. Congratulations on a brilliant result.

  • Congratulations Tina! I’m glad you placed but also you held it together and had a great race. It’s gotta be really exciting to place so highly in a big half marathon, too, and in the rain. I love all the pictures- you just look so strong and determined!

    I love your attitude about just waiting and letting things fall into place. I’m not 100% right now either and dealing with a wonky hip, and it’s something I also have to remember. The fun of running is in the journey of reaching a goal, and not always the destination of a certain time.

  • Living in the Pacific Northwest, I am quite accustomed to the rain. Constant, relentless rain. Boooo. I’m really glad you were able to run hard and boost your confidence and gain back that mental edge. Congratulations on third place. All three hundred of those bucks are well-deserved! Great photo, too.

  • Way to go-that’s amazing! I ran the half too-much slower than you. I had a crappy race due to inconsistent winter training. The cold and rain kind of got to me too. VIP sounds great-I had a long walk & metro wait before I could get really warm!

  • Jen@milesandblessings.com
    March 18, 2015 11:00 am

    Just AWESOME!!! You are so amazing!!!! Great job! I had a 5k in the rain on Sat (I live in MD about 75 min from DC). That was the first race I have run in the rain and I am SO glad it was only a 5k!!!! It was freezing too which didn’t help. I am so excited for you for London!!!!

  • Jen@milesandblessings.com
    March 18, 2015 11:08 am

    PS….are those Saucony socks?! I didn’t know they made compression socks?!!! Is that only an elite thing? 🙂

  • Lauren Ashley Lodge Floris
    March 18, 2015 11:17 am

    Congrats on a great race Tina!!! Half marathon results can really mess with your head – I was 2 minutes off my PR in my last race but when you spread that out it’s only 9 seconds per mile which makes it a lot easier to swallow. You look really really strong in that picture – all that hard work you’re putting it is definitely paying off!

    Oh – and I just had to share that at the half I ran in October there was a guy near me for a while that was JUGGLING for the entire race! Talk about crazy!

  • Sam @ The Running Graduate
    March 18, 2015 12:14 pm

    Congratulations on the awesome race! It’s perfect timing to get your confidence back up before London. You’re so strong and an inspiration! Best of luck during your last few weeks of training before London!

  • I was so excited to hear the news. This race has a very special place in my heart. You see, before it was RnR it was owned and run by Suntrust Bank. It was my first full marathon- I had no idea how hard 26.2 was going to be, but I ended up finishing in 3:57. I don’t know if you knew this, but I lived in Northern VA/DC area for four years, before moving to SoCal. I started my blog back there, and I consider it the birth place of my running. I love the community there, I met my best friend Alison on the trails of NoVA. I ran my first marathon, ultra marathon, won my first race there, 10 mile, half marathon PR’s… all there! and now you have fond memories too! I love it there… the streets of DC are running magic. A huge Congratulations!

  • So happy for you!! So impressed with how you went in feeling a little discouraged and you were able to pull it off!! Congrats on a well deserved placing!

  • Jenn @ www.foxrunsfast.com
    March 18, 2015 1:18 pm

    I love that photo too! You look strong and very focused. Well done on the race, Tina!! That’s a great time – especially given the conditions of the day. I’m glad you were able to “let it go” a bit and just roll with it. Keep up the great work – excited to see what London brings for you!

  • Chaitali Shah
    March 18, 2015 1:29 pm

    Great recap! I’m glad you had a good race that day. The rain was really oppressive at times and it wasn’t a flat course at all, so it was a tough one.

  • WooHoo!! Great job! Love that you took some pressure off of yourself and still busted out such an incredible time and pace!

  • Congrats!!!

  • Martina Di Marco
    March 18, 2015 2:28 pm

    Thank you for yet another very detailed race recap and… congrats! A few friends of mine ran the full and they said it was truly miserable. The rain never stopped and it was freezing! Way to stay strong. Also, a 5:44 average with an opening mile of 6:01? You rock at pacing, Tina!

  • Laura Anderson
    March 18, 2015 3:44 pm

    Congrats on the race Tina, letting go clearly worked for you (it’s a great thing but can be tough to do, I know I have a hard time with it). Can’t wait to see how London goes- this was a great tuneup!

  • Congrats again!! Love this recap! I’m still so amazed at how fast you are. You’re going to kick London’s butt!

  • Congratulations, Tina!!!!

  • Heather Balogh
    March 18, 2015 6:11 pm

    Congrats! I can’t even fathom being able to move my legs that fast 🙂

  • Lisa@runningoutofwine
    March 18, 2015 8:26 pm

    Congrats on a great race! I find that i do my best when I don’t put any pressure on myself. Your training is going great and you are gonna be SO ready for London!

  • You rocked it Tina!!!! 5:44 pace is amazing!! The photo is fantastic and you are going to be so strong for London!
    Can’t wait!! 🙂
    Yes, I think there are times when you have to trust yourself and the hard work and let it happen – which is what you did!!!

  • Amber Finlay
    March 18, 2015 9:27 pm

    Love that you only looked at your first mile split then just ran the race – and ran well! I’m finding I run better than I expect when I don’t put pressure on myself pre-race either – but dang it’s hard not to when your goal race comes up!
    That’s pretty cool that your roommate was from Ethiopia, I imagine hearing about her life over there was pretty interesting.
    I saw a link to that pic on the Competitor Magazine website on Twitter – fantastic picture, you look strong!
    PS that rain was miserable. Hopefully if it does rain in London, it’s not quite so cold, nor for the full race 🙂

  • Ellie Berman
    March 18, 2015 9:39 pm

    Love the last picture you posted of yourself! You look truly attractive with your strong runners body and No Makeup!!

  • fuelingforfitness
    March 19, 2015 8:45 am

    Congratulations on a really strong race, Tina! I have run a few 5k and 10k races without looking at my watch, but I admit that I’m still too nervous to try it for a half-marathon. Whenever I do tempo runs, I try not to look at my watch and I always find myself much slower than I thought. Only recently, I’ve been glancing every so often and it’s been really helpful in keeping me on track. I’m a big fan of running by feel, but I guess I’m still figuring out what that means to me! Also, that picture of you is amazing! You look incredibly strong and focused. Love it!

  • Congrats! I’m glad you enjoyed the race and did so well! You are going to have an amazing race in London!

  • Congrats, Tina! It was great to meet you for a quick second. I’m glad you had a great race and am excited for what you’ll do in London. I hope it’s better weather that day, but even if not, you are prepared for it!

  • Many congratulations!

    I’m definitely not that great at the “let it go” approach…I may be trying it soon though.

  • great job! i live half a block from the rock n roll course and was out there cheering but i didn’t get out there early enough to catch you (i cheered out there from 9-10:45). tough day and you had a fantastic race!

  • CONGRATULATIONS!!!! Rain can be such a race day hindrance, but clearly it didn’t’ slow you down (too much!) What an amazing pace!

  • Wow, you are amazing!!! Congratulations!!!

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