What better way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day than by running a half marathon?
On March 17th, Kevin and I ran the Rock & Roll USA Half Marathon. We ran this race last year when it was the National Marathon and we both had HUGE PRs (Me- 1:48:55, Kevin- 1:45:33). This year it was taken over by the Competitor Group that organizes all the Rock & Roll race events. I’ve run 2 other Rock & Roll races (Philly & Country Music), and we were excited to run another fun race close to where we live, and of course to dress up in St. Patty’s day attire!
When we signed up for this race I had high hopes of breaking my PR. I was running faster than ever and I knew I could do it. Then I got pregnant, and my PR dreams were put on hold for a little while. I knew I could still do the race, but at a much easier effort. I was actually excited to run without any pressure to meet a certain time goal for once in my life, and just enjoy running my first race with baby (at 12.5 weeks pregnant)!
Kevin and I had MAJOR traffic issues last year and actually got to the race after it started last year. This year we went a different way to RFK stadium and left super early (before 6 a.m.) and had absolutely no issues getting to the race and finding an amazing parking spot. We had some time to kill before the 8:00 a.m. start, so we relaxed in the warm car which wasn’t far from the start line. Around 7:15 we made our way over as the sun was rising.
It was around 50 degrees at this time, which was just a bit chilly for shorts and short sleeves, but I knew it would end up being perfect once we started running.
We made our way to our corrals, which took some time. I think there were 30 corrals and where I was standing in the picture above was right next to corral 27. Based on our times from last year, I was put in corral 3 and Kevin was in corral 2. While we walked over we looked for some of our friends that we knew were running this race too. But it was super crowded (24,000 runners- way more than last year!) so we didn’t see anyone we knew unfortunately!
I said goodbye and good luck to Kevin and got settled into corral 3. I felt like an impostor for a minute being so close to the start because I knew I wouldn’t be running quite as fast as I had originally planned.
But before I knew it they were counting down for the first wave to start, then the second, then mine. And we were off!
For the first time ever I ran with my (very old) camera. I stashed it in my sports bra (LOL) and didn’t actually touch it until mile 8. I was trying to focus on running and getting into the groove the first hour or so of the run. In one of the early miles I spotted Gia, who writes one of my favorite blogs Run Gia Run. This was very exciting to me and I ran up next to her and we chatted for a little bit. She recently had twins and has made an amazing comeback to running. I told her she was an inspiration to me post-pregnancy, wished her good luck in her race, and then we went our separate ways, me slowing down and her speeding up 🙂
Once the excitement of the first few miles wore away I realized that I definitely went out too fast. I reined it in a little bit to a more appropriate pace for a 12.5 week pregnant woman.
- Mile 1 – 8:41
- Mile 2 – 8:14
- Mile 3 – 8:34
- Mile 4 – 8:48
- Mile 5 – 9:18
- Mile 6 – 9:08
- Mile 7 – 9:14
- Mile 8 – 9:14
At this point I took out my camera and started doing some documentation.
I knew from last year that this course had quite a bit of rolling hills, so I was prepared. However, that doesn’t mean I loved them! They were challenging, especially as the day got warmer and warmer. I just kept drinking water/gatorade from my bottle and at the water stops once my bottle was empty, and stuck to my nutrition plan (1/2 a pack of Honey Stinger Chews every 25 minutes). This kept my energy level and hydration stable, which was good because I was sweating a lot.
We ran by the water, then through a bunch of neighborhoods and made our way back towards the Capitol Building.
For being a larger race, I never felt like the course was too crowded. I think it helped that I started in a front corral. Everyone was spaced out, there wasn’t any weaving or runners cutting one another off, or anything like that. I also saw that everyone had very good race etiquette. People stepped to the side to walk instead of stopping right in the middle, letting others crash into them. Also, people would look around them before throwing their water cups or Gu wrappers. I think that is a benefit of having a race in a city that has a LOT of active people. DC and the surrounding areas are full of runners and you could see that most of the runners were experienced and knew what and what not to do during a race.
- Mile 9 – 9:15
- Mile 10 – 9:00
Once I passed the 10 mile mark I started getting excited because I knew the end was near. I sped up a little bit at this point because I was feeling good. The only thing I felt was a little bit of tightness in my hip flexors, but nothing to worry about and probably a result of them spreading out a bit because of pregnancy. I started thinking about Kevin who would be done soon, and wondered if he was having a good race.
- Mile 11 – 8:58
- Mile 12 – 9:07
- Mile 13 – 8:40
I hit mile 13 and sped up to under an 8:30 pace. I LOVE the last mile or so of a race. So much excitement, so many people around you pushing themselves to meet their personal goals. It’s always a happy and emotional moment for me in any race. I saw the finish line and smiled as I crossed it! I had just finished my first half marathon while pregnant in 1:57:54, an average pace of 9:00/mile!
Kevin was waiting for me right behind the finish line. He told me he had pushed himself hard and finished in 1:43:28 … more than a two minute PR! I was so proud of him! He rocked this race and looked adorable while doing it 🙂
We went and got ourselves some food – banana and gatorade for me, bagel and chocolate milk for him… which he obviously loved.
Then we went to the finish line area to watch for our friends and other runners as they finished their races.
I LOVE watching runners at the finish line of races. It’s so inspiring to me to see people finishing races that they trained hard for. All of a sudden the male winner of the marathon came running down the other side of the finish chute, about to win the race with a time of 2:26! That is an average pace of 5:36 per mile. Amazing!
Then a little while later after some more men finished, we saw the first woman! She finished with a time of 3:01 … an average pace of 6:56!
Then we saw my friend Cynthia finish her race!
And we saw Sarah (a.k.a. Skinny Runner as she is famously known to the blog world). She actually finished as the 8th place woman overall with a time of 3:18, wearing that outfit too! She’s amazing!!!
We witnessed some other interesting things as well, like somebody puking, somebody collapsing at the end of the full because their legs just gave out, and a proposal! Never a dull moment.
After the race we went to my friend’s house in DC for a St. Patty’s Day brunch, then back to our town for more festivities. It was a long, fun, and exhausting day but I loved every minute!
I had a great experience at the Rock & Roll USA Half Marathon. Even though I ran it almost 10 minutes slower than last year, I couldn’t have been happier with my accomplishment. Running and racing while pregnant has made me appreciate my ability to run more than ever before. I am thankful for every day I am able to run throughout this pregnancy, and I am enjoying the journey as my body and my running change each week.