March 13, 2015

Rock and Roll DC Half Marathon & Shamrock 5K Weekend 2014 Recap

Just yet another reason I'm an awful blogger (but still a super awesome person) is that I get super behind on race recaps, etc. and have a bunch of posts just sitting in the drafts folder. Since I'm running the Rock 'n' Roll DC Half Marathon and KELLY Shamrock 5K back-to-back again this weekend, I thought I'd finally publish last year's weekend recap! 

Spoiler alert: it involves lots of sore legs and cold beers. 


 I had run the KELLY Shamrock 5K in Baltimore 2012 & 2013 and actually have my 5K PR from that race.  My winter running cabin fever got the best of me, and I signed up for the RNR USA half months earlier because there was a really cheap price deal on it.  Then I realized that the Charm City Run B3 Race Package which included two other races I wanted to run, included the Shamrock 5K so I was running it again!  That's how it happened that St. Patrick's Day weekend I'd be running races back-to-back. Talk about a way to jump-start spring running! 

The Friday before the race after work I took the train from Baltimore to the metro to another metro and hiked down to the expo at the Armory-yes it was really out of my way and no fun lugging all my bags with me. There was a line to get in because of Armory security which was added to my stress. It was nice to peruse the expo by myself and look at all the fun gear plus grab free samples of all the snacks I could find. I stocked up on salted caramel Gu and was really tempted to buy some of the cute St. Patrick's Day-themed running shirts for sale.  

This was one from Brooks Running almost made it home with me: 

So true, Brooks Running.

On race morning after crashing at a friend's, I took the metro in to the start area. I hate arriving super early to races so I was cutting it close as usual. I skipped going to the port-a-potty because it seemed there were some long lines. I met up with a bunch of friends I convinced to run with me in one the first corrals along Constitution Avenue right by the Washington Monument. RNR-DC-Half-Marathon-recap-1

It's a huge event with big half marathon and smaller marathon fields.  The bag drop was easy, and I had plenty of time to get settled before the 7:30 AM start. 


The weather was cloudy and cool, but warm enough for me to rock a tank-top and arm sleeves. The first couple of miles is scenic, passing the White House and Lincoln Memorial. You hug the Potomac River and then get to the dreaded steep hill toward Calvert Street around mile 6. That hill was no joke, especially for someone who hadn't really trained for this all the winter.   Since I was just running this without training and for fun, I tried to stay around 8 minute miles.  

After that big hill it wasn't a flat race persay, but felt more like rolling hills to me.  I ran with one friend from around miles 7 to 10 passing around the Howard University area.  The second half of the race wasn't particularly scenic.  However, it was really cool coming up a slight incline those last few miles along North Capital Street and seeing the Capitol building in the distance.  In true fashion, I decided to pick up the pace at the end and zip right to the finish ahead of my friends. I was pretty out of breathe, which was a good reminder to run longer distances before another big race!  I zipped right through the finish line by RFK Stadium in 1:42:28, which is pretty great for no expectations. 1:42-1:44 is my sweet spot for half marathons.  


I'm not a big fan of the live bands on the Rock 'n' Roll courses. Usually they are just okay, and jamming to Beyonce on my iPod is a better boost for me.  I did love all the DC residents and spectators cheering and offering beer to runners.  

Around mile 12 (don't quote me) I think the full marathoners split off, and apparently go through a less-scenic remainder of the course.  

The finish area was pretty smooth, and it didn't take long to get my dropped bag.


I met up with my friends at the post-race party and grabbed a chocolate milk, snacks, and my free beer.  I was feeling pretty great about a race that I thought might go horribly.  
Good thing my Bad Ass socks weren't a lie today.  
You can find all the information about RNR DC here!

After hanging out post-race, I started my trek alone back towards my friend's house on the other side of the city, stopping for food on the way. A big Starbucks iced coffee and Sticky Fingers vegan chocolate chip cookie first, later followed by a big salad for lunch. 


Overall, it was a pretty solid race day. The organization of the race was smooth and the whole event turned out to be great. I wasn't crazy about the course and wasn't planning on running it again (or so I thought). 

mirror pic, clearly.
The next day I was back in Baltimore feeling pretty sore. I wore compression sleeves the post-race the day before but had not really stretched or rolled out like I should have.  Luckily, the race start is only a few blocks from my apartment so I didn't have to plan ahead.  This race is huge and always sells out-it's a Baltimore staple of spring running in my mind.  It makes for getting anywhere near the front awful with lots of families and runners not really following the self-seeding directions. 

The KELLY Shamrock 5K is right before the Baltimore St. Patrick's Day Parade so there is always a big crowd waiting for the parade to cheer you on as you run. This is also the one race where many people wear the race shirt. 

It's awesome to see a sea of bright neon green runners coming down Charles Street!


This race was pretty much a blur. 3.1 miles went by super fast after running 13.1 the previous day. I was kind of caught in a crowd of people at the start so my first mile was slower, and then I pushed it on the second mile. It's a pretty fast course. and legs were definitely hurting as I tried to push it on the last mile toward the finish line at Power Plant Live.  I ended up finishing in 22:41 which surprised me. It's only 20 seconds slower than the year before and less than two minutes from my 5K PR time.  I think I was definitely running for the free beer at the finish line party.  Lucky for me, I snagged two free beers. 


After this the parade starts and ends so the whole area of the city is really crowded. At this point I was tired, hungry, and a little cranky. My boyfriend and I found a spot to grab another cold beer and some food before I took a nice long afternoon nap.  

Overall a solid weekend of racing and great way to kickoff spring! 

It looks like I've got another long weekend ahead of me with some running fun. I just keep hoping the all-day rain tomorrow is not too heavy at the start of RNR DC.  Luckily, the weather will be great on Sunday for the Shamrock 5K in Baltimore.


Have you ever done back-to-back races? What are your St. Patrick's Day weekend plans? 


  1. Oh man you're a Rockstar! 2 races in 1 weekend just might kill me! Good luck this weekend!!! I've actually never done the Shamrock 5k and I have no excuses as to why?!?

  2. Awesome job!!! I wanted to do DC...but I decided to do a 5k in my town...and now it looks like it is going to be in the rain!

  3. Congratulations on your back to back races. We did the Goofy challenge in January and the Glass slipper last month. I don't listen to the banday along the way either Bc I hat my I port on. But I do like the bands in VA beach when they are that evening. -L

  4. I was confused when I saw the title of your post until I realized it was last year's recap! I was there last year too, and supposed to be going this year but Im not doing it because I've sort of been hurt and not really ready for racing. My husband's doing it though, and I made the trek last night to pick up our packets. Going to DC on a weeknight is no fun! Good luck this weekend!

  5. Good luck at both races this weekend!! I can't wait to read about them.
    I was really hoping to get to Baltimore for the 5K this weekend, but seeing as I'm stuck in NY, it didn't happen...hopefully next year!

  6. Back-to-back races, especially when one of them is a hilly half marathon, is tough! Very impressive times on both races and it sounds like you had a blast. I agree with you on the RnR bands during the course- I only like them if they are playing songs I know and like!