May 27, 2015

Rock 'n' Roll DC Half Marathon 2015 {Race Recap}

Disclaimer: I received a free 3-pack Tourpass through my Rock ‘n’ Blog ambassadorship. As always, all thoughts & opinions are my own.

I ran the DC Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon in 2014 and thought the race was just okay. I honestly wasn't planning on running it again this year until I found myself with a Rock 'n' Roll Tourpass (thanks to being a Rock 'n' Blogger) for 3 races with not much money to travel far. While I appreciated the course a lot more this time around, overall it was a crappy race for me.  

Mostly because of the cold, rainy weather. 

This is partially a pity party because I was not enjoying myself for most of the race so apologies if that's annoying. 


I'm pretty sure this race used to be the National marathon and 1/2 but officially is now the DC marathon and 1/2.  I'm luckily my best friend lives in D.C. so I always crash at her place the night before any races I run in the area.  



I headed down to DC after work Friday and just the trek was much less unpleasant this year since the expo was at the Convention Center not the Stadium Armory.  Brooks Running is a sponsor of the race series and had an awesome area called their Run Happy Island with a tiki bar to show off their shoes and some games. I was flying solo for this expo, so I had some time to walk around and check everything out.  

Of course I stopped at the Rock 'n' Roll Race Series booth as I dreamed of running a race abroad. 


Overall I found the expo not too crowded and very pleasant.  I didn't end up spending much time there at all. I walked around, but left empty handed except for my bib and race bag. I really appreciate how they had a shirt exchange station here too. I find Brooks Running shirts (especially the women's ones) run pretty small and tight so it's nice that you can size up if you need to!


I grabbed some dinner and few beers with my friend and probably went to bed later than I should have-oops. All week the weather forecast had been calling for cooler temperatures and rain, but I had tried to stay optimistic. The night before I thought maybe I'd be finished before the rain started, since I love that power of positive thinking. Well, I was totally wrong and wasn't the only one who decided to rock a trash bag to stay dry, after I took this photo of my gear the night before.  

Looking back, I should have packed pants and a long sleeve shirt as an option. I love that purple Under Armour rain coat but definitely needed something a bit heavier for this weather. 



Race morning I was actually feeling pretty good. I ate my peanut butter and banana toast along with some honeystinger chews. I even look kind of happy to be up at 6 AM on a Saturday in this photo! 

Eventually I geared up and put one of those clear bags that comes over your dry cleaning on so that my bib is still visible! I made it to the race area with not much time to spare before the start. I was having trouble going to the bathroom that morning so after waiting 10 minutes in the port-a-potty line in the  light rain I jogged over to the start.  It was in the upper 30s as far as temperature, which was unusually cold for March.  

As I waited for the start I wondered why on earth I thought waking up before 6 AM to stand in the cold rain was a fun hobby.  I was also feeling under-trained since this was my first race of the new year and this winter kinda kicked my butt. I wasn't planning on a PR or super fast race, but just wanted to run. I think I was so boohoo about the weather afterwards because at the end of the race I wasn't even having fun, I was just miserable. 

Also I don't know how people run in the rain without hats-mine is a lifesaver in keeping some water off my face!

From mile 1 I knew my legs were feeling pretty heavy and sluggish. Last year I didn't really like the course, but since I've become more knowledgeable about how DC is laid out I appreciated all the sights I saw along the way. The beginning miles are great as you run along the mall and in the heart of DC. 

You kind of head out towards Arlington National Cemetery and make your way back to the city and find yourself running by the Kennedy Center. Now I totally remembered that super steep hill by Rock Creek Park so I was mentally prepared.  I was looking for a couple people I knew would be spectating but didn't end up seeing them, which sucks when you could use a smiling face.  There are lots of small hills leading up to a big hill at Calvert Street around mile 6. I had been feeling okay for the first 6 miles, especially as the rain continued to fall.   

I tried to keep my pace steady as the course continued on.  I missed seeing my friend in the second half of the race which was disheartening. There isn't much crowd support int he second half, and it was obviously definitely thinner due to the crappy conditions.  

One really bright spot was getting high-fives from some November Project DC tribe members who were out there cheering around mile 8 or 9.  

There were long stretches of North Capitol and H Street where the rain picked up, especially around miles 9-10. I was completely drenched, freezing cold, and had to keep my poor legs moving enough to stay just over 8 minute miles.  I felt completely miserable. 

Those last few miles I was SO OVER IT. I felt so cold and sluggish that I wanted to get to the finish. I commend anyone who was running the full marathon that day! 
As I came across the finish line it was still pouring rain and the temperature was still hanging out in the low 40s. 

I just have to say THANK YOU so much to the volunteers. A race in crappy conditions is at least made better by people out there at water stops and handing out medals. A nice volunteer lady even pulled my rain jacket hood over my hat to try to keep my head drier.    

This was the finish line scene. Those heat blankets also double as rain ponchos. 


I even tried to fake a smile for the camera and look happy. 


Happy I was done at least because I actually felt like this-pretty miserable. 

This is my "Yikes! I'm cold and wet" face. 

I was pretty disappointed with my time at first because it's my second slowest half, but given the conditions and how I was feeling, I'll take it.


The WORST part of this race is finishing at Stadium Armory. Unless you're hanging out by there of course. 

I along with many others ventured over to an overpass to change under that was at least semi-dry. Now that was interesting. I was flying solo this race so I had to awkwardly try to change socks, pants,shoes and shirt while staying covered under my foil blanket.
Thank goodness I had lots of practice in middle school gym locker rooms with changing clothes. 

I had gear-checked a bag of dryer clothes, but unfortunately my boyfriend didn't make it down to the race finish with my heavier coat so I had to put on my soaking wet rain jacket that I had just ran in, over my dry shirt. 

Last year I remember it was such a hike to get back to my friend's place near Columbia Heights but this year it was worse. I didn't even stick around for anything, I just wanted to be warm.  Of course the metro stop there is jammed with runners trying to get in the station and on a train. I was literally shivering the whole walk to the metro station and then the whole metro ride. My friend is a life saver and brought me a big warm coat to wear as we walked to a place to get some food and beverages. 

After warming up a bit and enjoying a mimosa or two with brunch with friends, I was feeling much better. 

Kangaroo Boxing Club is awesome. 


Overall I think this race is a nice DC area race that takes you across the city, instead of some of the usual race routes.  There are lots of sights and Rock 'n' Roll puts on an organized race. If you have a car, getting a parking pass for the Stadium Armory might be a better bet, especially if you happen to get crappy weather. I like the bling and the race shirt, plus there are great volunteers. However hat Calvert Street hill is still killer, and there could be a less spread out race finish area. Sorry for my pity party of a race recap!


Have you ever run a cold, rainy race? What is your best rainy running tip? 


  1. I've read a few recaps of this race, and it sounds like the weather was a real factor for a lot of runners. Great job pushing through it, tho!

    1. Yes, quite big factor, but fortunately most runs don't have those kind of weather issues!

  2. I would just go for the free SHAWAG!LOL!

    And then I would WALK the 1/2 marathon ;)

  3. Congratulations on completing the half in such awful conditions. I have never had to run a race under those circumstances luckily. I bet those mimosas were delicious afterwards.

    1. Yes mimosas were a perfect way to end the morning!

  4. This race was definitely miserable! You aren't the only one that felt this way! I didn't even bring a change of clothes for after!! Fail!

  5. I have never ran a rainy race but I did run at half in like 5 degrees...that was rough. Sorry you had such a miserable time. DC Is beautiful, too bad it wasn't nice enough out to really appreciate!

    1. The cold is rough too. Hopefully I'll be back to run in DC soon when it's nice out!

  6. Malinda ran the marathon and the only thing that made her run fast was the motivation for a hot shower! ;-)