Rock n Roll USA: Half Marathon Recap

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; running races, and even just thinking about it, makes me SO emotional that it makes it tough for me to figure out the right words to start to recap my experience with. I’ve been staring at this blank screen trying to find the words to say to do justice to the experience, but let me stop trying so hard and just start typing.

On Saturday, I completed my third half marathon and walked away feeling stronger and faster than ever before. But let’s rewind a bit.

As is my race tradition, Friday night I set out all my gear to make the next morning as seamless as possible.

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    • Sneakers
    • Socks
    • Vanilla Bean GUs
    • iPhone armband
    • Running Capris
    • Running Tank
    • Bib

I did something you are NOT supposed to do this time – – wore new-to-me socks and used a new armband to hold my iPhone for the first time ever on race morning. They both turned out ok, but it’s not recommended to experiment on race morning!

I set my alarm for a 6am wake-up call and actually woke up without a problem for once. I sleepily got myself geared up.

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And then made my go-to prerace breakfast of an English Muffin toasted with (chocolate) peanut butter and a banana.

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Plus coffee with frothed milk. Yum.

After eating that quickly, I ended up riding my bike to the metro so I wouldn’t have to switch lines and getting on the metro around 6:50am. I was really happy I got on where I decided to because the train was PACKED and I was barely able to squeeze on.

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I made it pretty effortlessly to the Stadium Armory station where the race was to start, but boy was the platform crowded.

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It took 10-15 minutes just to get out of the station once I got there. But finally I made it out and into the Armory, which was SO nice to be able to be somewhere inside before the race started.

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Runners, runners, everywhere.

I got in line for the bathrooms immediately, and was glad I did because I had to wait for about 20 minutes, and by the time I got in and out, it was just before 8am and time to head for the corrals.

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I pushed my way through the crowds and finally made it into my corral – lucky number 13. I stood around for only about 5 or 10 minutes and get overwhelmed with emotion as I thought about the fact that I was about to start running my THIRD half marathon. I’m not sure it will ever feel “normal” for me to run a long-distance race – my body still amazes me every single time.

I tried to keep it together and remind myself that before the race started was not the time to get worked up, so I just took some pictures to distract myself.

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Before long, it was time to get going. The weather was absolutely perfect – about 55º and clear – I was psyched and ready to go!

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Since I was in Corral #13, it took about 15 minutes of walking before we were actually approaching the start line, but soon enough, there it was!

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And we were off!

The first few miles were a blur. Lots of winding in and out of people on a pretty flat part of the course.

    • Mile 1: 9:48
    • Mile 2: 8:46
    • Mile 3: 8:44
    • Mile 4: 9:09

After those first couple miles, I was still feeling good but starting to dread Connecticut Avenue – the hill that got the best of me when I ran this race last year. I ate a GU somewhere between mile 4 and 5, and then got a view of THE hill. Though I was going into the race feeling less prepared than I would have liked, I think making hilly runs a focus of my training was the best decision I made training-wise. Connecticut Avenue wasn’t quite as bad as I remembered, and I was able to tackle it much better than last year.

    • Mile 5: 9:20
    • Mile 6: 9:26 (the hill!)
    • Mile 7: 8:17 (!!!!!)
    • Mile 8: 9:35

After that Connecticut Ave hill came and went, the rest of the course was filled with rolling hills. After passing Mile 8, it felt good to know I only had 5 and then some left, but I was starting to feel a bit tired, so I had another GU somewhere between mile 8 and 9. Each time I approached a hill, I kept saying “You got this. One step at a time. Just keep going. Don’t think about your pace. Just keep going.” Over and over and over, and one by one, I conquered those hills and got to enjoy the downhill part that came after each one.

    • Mile 9: 9:08
    • Mile 10: 9:46
    • Mile 11: 9:27

Around Mile 11 is where things got really hard. The last part of the course is quite dull and not very scenic. That, coupled with the fact that I was running further than I’d ever run in training for this race meant I really had to dig deep to make it through. “Just over 2 more miles” and focusing on the people on the sides of the race cheering and the other runners got me through.  Plus, a third GU around mile 11.5 to carry me through to the end.

    • Mile 12: 9:23
    • Mile 13: 9:57

Mile 13 was the hardest and practically torture. I was SO ready to be done with the race and I knew I was coming close on a PR, but I felt like I had nothing left to push me through to the end. I tried to distract myself, think about how much I appreciated my body for being strong enough to run, and think about anything other than the fact that I was running a half marathon.

There is a very cruel uphill portion at the very end of the half marathon where the finish line is not in sight at all and I was just about to fall down if I didn’t see the Mile 13 marker shortly. It took every ounce of determination not to stop and walk, but somehow I found a way to push through to the very end and run across that finish line with my hands held high in the air over my head in victory.

Half Marathon Finish

That sexy picture was immediately after crossing the finish line so I was in a bit of a goofy-sweaty-victory daze. But I earned this:

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I had done it. Completed a half marathon once again by giving it everything I had to take myself across that finish line. And the best part? Faster than ever before!

2 hours 8 minutes 52 seconds, or a 9:50 average pace.

That’s almost 2 minutes faster than this same course last year, and I couldn’t have been more pleased!

44 Comments on Rock n Roll USA: Half Marathon Recap

  1. Victoria
    March 19, 2012 at 8:45 am (9 years ago)

    Congrats on the PR!

  2. Liz
    March 19, 2012 at 8:46 am (9 years ago)

    Sweet course PR! I too get super emotional before a race, mainly because a few years ago I couldn’t even imagine a running a mile, much less 13.1 or 26.2!

  3. Brooke
    March 19, 2012 at 8:57 am (9 years ago)

    Congratulations! I am running my first half marathon in May. Recently I’ve started to become very nervous, even wondering if I can get through it (I usually only run 10K). Reading your post today has been inspiring!

  4. Sara
    March 19, 2012 at 9:18 am (9 years ago)

    Congrats on your pr!
    I’m looking at your splits and I just don’t get how your average pace is 9:50 when you only had one mile at over that pace and several a full minute under that.
    Is your garmin working right?

    • Beth
      March 19, 2012 at 9:25 am (9 years ago)

      Hi Sara! Thanks! And I’m thinking not. It did say I went 13.98 miles total instead of 13.1 like the course, so I’m not really sure!

      • Carly D. @ CarlyBananas
        March 20, 2012 at 10:47 pm (9 years ago)

        I ran an INSANE amount of extra distance. I came out at nearly 13.4 + what I lost in the tunnels.

    • Lindsey J.
      March 20, 2012 at 8:37 pm (9 years ago)

      Sara, I’m so glad I’m not the only one who geekily did the quick math in her head and saw it didn’t work out right. I think your garmin needs to be calibrated. None-the-less, Beth – AWESOME!!! A new PR! That feeling NEVER gets old! 🙂

  5. Jennifer
    March 19, 2012 at 9:29 am (9 years ago)

    YAY, congrats Beth!!!

  6. Heather @ Dietitian on the Run
    March 19, 2012 at 9:47 am (9 years ago)

    Congrats!! The pictures are another reminder of how gorgeous it was outside that day – hot for a race, but better than the 30* we had last year, in my opinion 😉

    Way to push through! These longer distances WILL feel normal (relative term, here) after a while, trust me on that one. But the race itself still garners the same excitement, time and again.

  7. Valerie @ CIty|Life|Eats
    March 19, 2012 at 9:57 am (9 years ago)

    Congrats congrats!!

    (sorry I have been quiet in commenting etc – it’s been a crazy few months on my end, but I am starting to get back in the groove of blogging/commenting etc)

  8. Mindy
    March 19, 2012 at 10:02 am (9 years ago)

    Congrats girl!! Great race!! 🙂

  9. Kelly @ No Sugar Sweet Life
    March 19, 2012 at 10:15 am (9 years ago)

    That’s so amazing!! Thanks for the play by play. I almost felt like I was there… except my legs don’t hurt as much as yours probably do 🙂 I completed run#3 this week, which for me is amazing. One step at a time! Thanks for being such an inspiration!!

  10. Tina @ Best Body Fitness
    March 19, 2012 at 10:20 am (9 years ago)

    Woo on the PR!!! Reading all the recaps makes me want to do this race next year. I think we both should so we can hang out together again! 😉

  11. samHOTmess
    March 19, 2012 at 10:39 am (9 years ago)

    HOLY PR!
    2 minutes off, no way! CONGRATS!
    awesome recap by the way!

    I’ve got my TENTH half marathon in NYC next month…

  12. Lauren @ Oatmeal after Spinning
    March 19, 2012 at 10:53 am (9 years ago)

    Yay! Congrats on a great race!! And what a PERFECT day for it- bet you didn’t think you’d be running in that kind of weather when you registered!
    I was down in DC Saturday too- but not running. 🙂 I DID see runners all over the place and thought of you though!

  13. Gwen
    March 19, 2012 at 11:26 am (9 years ago)

    CONGRATS! <3

  14. Lindsay
    March 19, 2012 at 11:54 am (9 years ago)

    Awesome job!! I did R&R too- my first half marathon/ the longest I’ve ever run. I finished ahead of my expected pace, too! I’m in DC and have loved reading your blog. Good luck as you stay on your journey 🙂

  15. Jamie
    March 19, 2012 at 12:02 pm (9 years ago)

    Awesome run Beth! You kicked ass

  16. Diandra
    March 19, 2012 at 12:12 pm (9 years ago)


  17. Samantha
    March 19, 2012 at 12:20 pm (9 years ago)

    Congrats Beth! I am so glad you had a great run! You are a running (and weight loss) inspiration to so many, including myself.

  18. Life's a Bowl
    March 19, 2012 at 2:01 pm (9 years ago)

    Congrats! Awesome job completing another half-marathon AND quicker… Great accomplishment 😀 From what I saw [on TV, hehe] and read, the race sounds like it was a blast!

  19. Ang
    March 19, 2012 at 2:37 pm (9 years ago)

    Congrats! 🙂

  20. Jenny
    March 19, 2012 at 4:47 pm (9 years ago)

    Congrats Beth! I did one half marathon in 2007 (PF Changs Rock N Roll 1/2) and I was really emotional about it too. It is amazing what our bodies can do!

  21. Hilary
    March 19, 2012 at 5:23 pm (9 years ago)

    Nicely done! And I think we have the same asics runners! 🙂

  22. cindylu
    March 19, 2012 at 5:59 pm (9 years ago)

    Congrats! Like you, I still feel pretty amazed when I run long distance races. I sometimes don’t know where the strength (or speed) comes from, but I know I have to trust in my training.

  23. Linda @ Lemons
    March 19, 2012 at 11:22 pm (9 years ago)

    Wow amazing! Love your recap, what an inspirational story. Can I ask a question? Why did you run the race with your phone? I would think it would be heavy and uncomfortable and that you wouldn’t really need it. Just curious! Congrats!

  24. Caitlin
    March 19, 2012 at 11:22 pm (9 years ago)

    Isn’t it amazing to see how far your body has come? It’s great that you are able to recognize it. So glad we got to spend time together this weekend! xo

  25. Corrie Anne
    March 20, 2012 at 1:09 am (9 years ago)

    Nice!! Congratulations. I’ve seen a few recaps on that race. Looks awesome!!!!!

  26. Amy @ conquering self
    March 20, 2012 at 6:30 am (9 years ago)

    Congrats! That is so awesome that you had a PR! You never fail to inspire me! And while I have no plans for another half, your story definitely gets me thinking about doing my second! Thanks for sharing your experience!

  27. Kerilyn
    March 20, 2012 at 7:35 am (9 years ago)

    Congrats Beth! Your emotion shines thru the screen. It’s like I was on that race with you. Yay you! How are you planning on celebrating?

  28. Deanna
    March 20, 2012 at 1:26 pm (9 years ago)

    Congrats on your race! Awesome job!

  29. Audrea
    March 21, 2012 at 1:10 am (9 years ago)

    Hi Beth–
    Thanks for the quick reply about beginning WW. I also have to say, I have learned so much from your blog! You’re such an inspiration and a wealth of information too! Congrats on your recent run. You go, girl!

  30. Sarah
    March 21, 2012 at 6:19 am (9 years ago)

    Congrats on the race 🙂 Yay for rocking those hills and running a PR!

  31. terri
    March 21, 2012 at 8:22 am (9 years ago)

    congrats! your post almost made me cry….i want to do a 1/2 so bad, but i just dont know if i can……this really inspired me! good job on finishing quicker then last time! you rocked it!

  32. Brittney
    March 21, 2012 at 4:34 pm (9 years ago)

    Great job Beth!! You rocked it!

  33. Janice
    June 20, 2012 at 12:28 pm (8 years ago)

    Beth, that was such an inspiring read!!! Great job on the PR as well! You are a great testament to what can be accomplished with perseverance! Also love your ideas for meals and recipes!


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