Rock ‘n Roll Raleigh Half Marathon Recap

Sunday’s half marathon reminded me how much I love racing. I love digging deep and pushing myself hard. I love the energy, the running community, the excitement and the feeling of accomplishment. I’m excited with how the race went especially given the fact that I didn’t train that well. Honestly, I think I love running even more now after having a baby. I find it more relaxing and centering. For 13.1 miles, all I had to do was think about running. That’s it.

Rock ‘n Roll puts on a great race, and I went into this one knowing what to expect since Matt, Mike and I ran it two years ago. That helps – I knew where the hills were! There’s 521 feet of elevation gain – not an easy half marathon. The course changed slightly this year; I think just the first and last miles.
I had gotten one good run in the week before the race but didn’t get in yoga like I had wanted to. However, I did create a great playlist for race day!
Expo:
We went to the expo at the Convention Center downtown on Friday evening. It seemed smaller than the expo two years ago. It took up the same amount of space but the vendors seemed to be fewer and not as interesting. On, Altra and Skechers, for example, didn’t have booths this year. They did still have the fun balloon arch set up!IMG_5089
There were no lines on Friday evening for packet pick-up. I’m not a fan of the highlighter yellow shirt this year (color or design). Usually I love the RNR shirts! At least it’s Brooks (I always size up – seem to run small). My dad got a much cooler shirt, in my opinion, for the RNR 5K.IMG_5189
Day Before:
My dad ran the Rock ‘n Roll 5K in Dorothea Dix Park in Raleigh so we were up early spectating. Beautiful weather and beautiful location for the race. Though it was on a much smaller scale than the half or full, RNR still had three bands on the course and a finish line festival with a live band and beer garden.
I was concerned about my day before fueling which I’m usually vigilant about. I don’t think I had enough water during the day. And also opted for the french fries and frosted strawberry lemonade (lemonade and ice cream) with my grilled chicken sandwich from Chick-fil-A. Usually I avoid fried foods, fiber and dairy for a couple days before race day because I get stomach issues after running. Dinner was our usual baked pasta and grilled chicken.IMG_5100
I had a coughing attack around 1:30 a.m., right after William ate, and was up until close to 3 a.m., getting a total of 4.5 hours of sleep the night before the race. Not ideal!
Race Day:
Despite the rough night, I woke up excited. I love race day! I was still sick with a cold but feeling better than the day before. Mike had registered for the Not So Normal Half Marathon in Carrboro, NC, which is usually end of April and RNR has been in March, so when we signed up for our separate races (thinking the other would spectate with William), we didn’t think they would be on the same weekend — and the same day! Oops! So glad Grandma and Grandpa could come watch William 🙂
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Race day morning

I tried something new for breakfast. Usually I have a Picky Bar. I downed a cup of coffee, had a little water and Kodiak Cake Powercake pancakes. They’ve been my breakfast of choice during training. I’ve noticed increased energy and stamina.
My outfit was a game-time decision. I hate being cold. At the race start, the temps were in the 40s but it would warm up to low 60s with a high of 75 that day. I opted for Nike Rival 3″ shorts, Lululemon run swiftly scoopneck t-shirt, CEP calf sleeves, Brooks arm warmers. I could have gone without the arm warmers; I ended up tossing them to my dad at mile 6.
Mike dropped me off at my friend’s house down the street at 5:50 am. We picked up some more friends and parked at Seaboard Station, about a mile from the start line. We could have parked closer but wanted to avoid the garages and traffic and road closures of getting too close to the race start.
At 6:45 am, just 15 minutes before the race start, corrals seemed VERY empty. I wish I got a photo because I was shocked. Where were all the people? We looked for a portapotty for last minute bathroom break and couldn’t find them anywhere or find anyone to ask – odd – so we ended up going into the Sheraton. No line and a nice break from the cold!
I got into Corral 2 with about 3 minutes to spare. The corrals had filled up by this point and moved up closer to the start line. RNR employees were checking to be sure people were in their correct corral. I’d never seen that before. I like how the corral starts are staggered. It spaces the race out well and also builds some excitement.IMG_5121
I went into this race without any real expectations. Of course I wanted to push myself (without getting hurt!) but I didn’t expect to be that fast. I hadn’t gotten many of my training runs in; I was sick; I didn’t incorporate strength training or yoga. I was shooting for under 2 hours.
My first few miles were fast but I was okay slowing down if I needed to. But I was feeling pretty good. It’s amazing the energy you get from the spectators and other runners!
Mile 1: 7:44
Mile 2: 7:41
Mile 3: 7:48
Mile 4: 8:00
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Mile 5 was pretty uphill but I knew my dad would be watching at mile 6; that helped push me. I was also getting pretty warm at this point so planned to give him my arm warmers. I tossed my handwarmers around mile 5, as well.
Mile 5: 7:43
Mile 6: 7:52
Mile 7: 7:56
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I remembered from two years ago that the crowds thinned out after Cameron Village (mile 7ish). I started to slow down a bit so had my GU Caramel Macchiato gel for an extra boost. That did the trick. I hadn’t had a gel in years but this flavor tastes delicious and the caffeine is an added bonus. I ate it over about half a mile.
Mile 8: 8:13
Mile 9: 7:56
At mile 10, I felt really close to the finish. I had renewed energy and was surprised at my mile splits. I knew I could push it for just four more miles.
Mile 10: 7:43
Running through Dorothea Dix was TOUGH. I felt like, despite making turns, I was constantly running into a strong wind. And there weren’t any spectators. And the course had thinned out quite a bit so I only had a couple of runners right around me. But there was a nice downhill out of the park as a reward!
Mile 11: 8:08
I was prepared mentally for mile 12. I think it’s the hardest mile on the course. A tough uphill that feels like it will never end. At mile 13, I tried to give it everything I had to push to the finish. There were a lot of spectators and a great band along the last mile. Plus the new Adele song I’d been waiting to hear came on my playlist at this point!
Mile 12: 7:56
Mile 13: 7:29
Official Finish time: 1:43:20 — my second fastest half marathon!
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I coughed for probably two minutes straight after I finished. This isn’t all that unusual for me – the cold air really irritates my throat, especially if I have a cold!
The food spread was the usual RNR spread with pretzels, granola bars, bananas, water, gatorade and chocolate milk (which was cold! sometimes it’s warm – gross). IMG_5123
I met up with my friends, and since we were all pretty chilly, we decided to walk back to the car rather than stay for a beer and the concert. The walk back to the car seemed to take so long! But it was probably good for our muscles.
I missed running with Mike! Or at least having him at the finish line. He had a great race in Carrboro despite his cold and lack of sleep and training. We are re-energized for racing.
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Reunited!

Reflecting on this race, I think several factors led to my having a really good race day!
– the weather was perfect
– I had an awesome playlist with some new songs I’d just downloaded
– Fueling well with the Kodiak powercakes pre-race and the GU gel at mile 8
– Knowing what to expect as far as the race course
– I went into it very relaxed and positive, not worrying about hitting a PR
– I tried to stay in the moment during the race. Thinking about 13.1 miles to run as a whole is pretty intimidating. I tried to stay in and enjoy the present, without thinking about the miles left, the hills to still climb, etc. That mental shift helps tremendously and the race flew by!
I’m sad it’s over. All that build up and it’s over so quickly. So what’s next? I need something on the calendar to help motivate me. Mike and I are going to run the Running of the Bulls 8K in Durham in June. It’s a stroller-friendly race so William will be joining for his third “official” race.
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2 comments

  1. David Kruczlnicki · · Reply

    Great race…excellent times. Congratulations!

  2. […] I was debating whether I could even run it, my mom reminded me of how Mike and I both ran half marathons in Aprilran half marathons in April while sick. We could handle an 8K. Thanks, Mom 🙂 Plus, we were […]

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