|Don't let the smile fool you, my nerves were in full|
force before heading to the starting line!
|Spotted the Washington Monument en route|
to the starting line
Miles 4-6: During this stretch, we turned to run past the Kennedy Center (in the opposite direction of Marine Corps Marathon) and then out to Rock Creek Parkway. I knew we would start to encounter some rolling hills in this section, followed by the mac daddy hill at mile 6...and mac daddy hill it was! Sue told me that when she first ran this race, she cried when she saw the hill. I know why. It was very steep and long. There were volunteers holding American flags every few feet from Wear Blue to Remember and that kept me motivated. I kept telling myself to keep going...for all of those service members who fought the good fight but never came home. I also had the added incentive of Adam being somewhere along the course after the hill. I spotted him at the top of the hill and tossed my jacket to him. He ran with me for a moment and shared some encouraging words which made me feel good.
Miles 7-10: We headed out to Adams Morgan where there were more rolling hills. But thankfully the course was mostly flat for mile 7 which gave my legs a break after that miserable hill at mile 6. There were lots more spectators during this stretch and plenty of college students celebrating St. Patrick's Day. Most of them had great signs and were blasting some good tunes and made me smile. I regained my pace in this section and hoped to see Adam again at mile 9-ish. Unfortunately I didn't hear him as he called my name. The Clif shot stop was around mile 9 and was highly chaotic. There weren't any volunteers with gels when I ran by so I ran to a table and grabbed one myself (like lots of other runners around me).
Miles 11-12: The pain train begins. I'm soaking wet, my stomach is churning something fierce, and my pace slows. I gave myself a single walk break to settle my stomach and told myself to hang on and try to hit sub-2:00. My stomach never really settled. When I reached the turn off for the marathon around mile 12, I cheered to myself that I was nearing the finish and didn't have another soggy 14 miles ahead of me and I told myself to suck it up for one more mile. I realized that sub-2:00 was within reach but I was going to have to hoof it.
Mile 13: I picked up the pace to around 8:30. I could sense that the finish line was near as we made a turn onto an on-ramp (or at least it seemed like that at the time) and ran under the giant Rock 'n' Roll inflatable rocker man. I picked up my pace and was going as fast as my tired legs could go. I ignored the puddles and kept as straight of a path as possible to avoid extra time. I'm pretty sure I splashed some spectators or other runners around me but I really didn't care at this point. My sole focus was getting to the finish line as fast as possible.
Finish Line: In typical fashion, I smiled and threw my arms in my air as I crossed the finish line and then quickly clicked my Garmin to stop. 1:59.08. I did it! I finished under 2:00. My next order of business was to get through the finisher shoot quickly so I could find Adam and get some warm clothes. I found Sue again and we chatted about the race and our times. Soon enough, we were exiting the shoot and Adam was right there as I hoped he would be. I gave Sue a hug and we headed back to the metro, but not before a few finish line photos.
All in all, I enjoyed this race. The course had good support and was relatively scenic. The second half definitely takes you through a more residential area of DC that isn't as exciting as the mall and monuments. I'll be sharing some additional thoughts on racing in the rain in another post.
Disclaimer: As a Rock 'n' Blogger, I received my race entry into the DC half marathon as part of my complimentary tour pass. As always, all opinions are my own.