Rock ‘n Roll DC Half Marathon Recap

By Janelle @ Run With No Regrets | race recap

Mar 17

Sometimes you just have to take what Mother Nature gives you.  It was another fine lesson learned when running the Rock ‘N Roll DC Half Marathon last weekend!

This race was not a goal race, but as my first half marathon of the year, I looked to it as my kickoff to racing in 2017!  I definitely had high hopes for this race and can only wonder how things would have gone if the temperature was about 20 degrees warmer.  Regardless, I’m excited to share my full recap with you!

I’m linking up with Susie, Debbie, Lora, and Rachel for the Running Coaches Corner and Annmarie, Nicole, and Jen for Wild Workout Wednesday!  I’m also joining Ilka and Angela for the Fitness and Food linkup!

Check out my recap of the @runrocknroll DC half marathon! It was such a COLD race! #runchat #rnrdc Share on XCheck out my recap of the Rock 'N Roll DC Half Marathon - it's a great race, but definitely a challenging course! Find more race recaps at!

Rock ‘N Roll DC Half Marathon Recap

I’m excited to finally share my recap of the RNR DC half!  I completely fell in love with this race last year and it was a no-brainer that I would participate again.  Last year, my sister joined in the weekend fun by running the 5K, but this year, I was on my own.  I was able to stay at my brother’s place, but unfortunately, he was busy out of town so we didn’t get to hang out.  On the bright side, I met up with a dear friend and had a great time!

Race Expo

The race was on Saturday so on Friday morning, I drove through a “snow storm” from Philly down to the DC Armory to pick up my race packet at the Expo.  Luckily I didn’t get stuck in horrible DC traffic!  After making a wrong turn, I found my way to the correct parking lot at RFK Stadium and made the long, familiar walk to the Expo.  It was about 2 pm and there were long lines to get in, but thankfully the lines moved quickly.

I left my signed confirmation form at home so I had to fill out a new one when I arrived.  The process was quick and easy and I picked up my bib and T-shirt with no issues.  I spent a little bit of time circling the Expo, but I wasn’t too impressed.  I did buy some super cute Brooks/RNR stuff, including another beer glass (of course), but otherwise, the gear options were pretty limited.

The Night Before

I was staying at my brother’s place and had the place to myself.  I have to admit that it was a little bit weird being on my own!  I picked up some dinner from Whole Foods and watched several hours of The Simpsons.  Even some of the newer episodes are funny, who knew?

I had some pasta for dinner, keeping it simple.  For some reason, I bought Vitamin Water for “hydration”.  The stuff is pure sugar so I have no idea why I thought drinking it the night before the race would be wise.  Oh well…

Dinner…it got the job done!

Apparently, I wasn’t interested in getting a lot of sleep because I was even up late watching old clips from One Life to Live on Youtube!  PS – You should really watch the “Two Todds” story, one of the last storylines before the soap opera was cancelled…a lot of it doesn’t make sense, but the good acting makes up for it!

Race Morning

I got a few hours of sleep, waking up before 6 am.  I wanted to get the “morning ritual” out of the way before heading to the race.  I had a simple cereal bar and a banana for breakfast.  Regretting the Vitamin Water, I tried to drink as much water as possible!

Since the Metro didn’t start running until 7 am and I wanted to get to the race by 7:30, I ended up taking a Lyft.  Unfortunately, I forgot how to use a Lyft so I had some issues figuring out where to get picked up and dropped off…plus I was running a little late.  Thankfully, the ride was smooth (and about $18) and I got to the National Mall area around 7:40.  From there was able to take pictures in the FREEZING COLD, drop off my bag at the UPS truck, use the bathroom twice (yes, I took my own advice!), and warm up before getting into Corral 14.

I mentioned last year that the bathroom lines were ridiculously long last year.  This year they made some changes and there were plenty available.  All I had to do was walk further down the street and find a dozen potties with no line at all!  What a relief (no pun intended)!

The Starting Line

At least it was sunny!

It was nice to not feel rushed, and I made my way to the corral just as they were performing the National Anthem before 8:30 am.  The weather was just SO cold.  My hands and feet were freezing and I was just trying not think about it too much.  I decided to go with my Marathon Motivation running playlist on Spotify to carry me through the race.  The energy in the corrals was pretty low so I didn’t get too hyped up before starting…but before you knew it, we were off!

Miles 1-5

Since I, like many runners, tend to start out too fast in a crowded race, I made sure to pull back and not go too fast.  Fortunately, there was plenty of space on the roads so I didn’t have to bob and weave through runners.  But I have to admit that breathing was a struggle!  It really took me by surprise…and mixing that with the adrenaline of the race, it made for an interesting time.  The first couple of miles went quickly and it all seemed to be a blur.  The novelty of this race was gone and I wasn’t admiring the sights like I did last year.  Eventually, I started to feel really good and then saw that 10:12 split – too fast!  The course was a little bit different from last year, but I didn’t really notice.  Running along Rock Creek Highway was nice, but it definitely seemed to drag on this year.  Still, I pushed on!

Splits:  10:52, 10:55, 10:24, 10:12, 10:40.

Miles 6-10

This race is HILLY.  And the biggest, scariest hill is known as the Blue Mile around mile 6.  It is long, steep, and it gets emotional as you run past photos of fallen soldiers and veterans carrying American flags.  I was in full anticipation for this hill and yet, it was still much harder than I expected it to be.  I did run up the entire way, and I’m proud of that, no matter how slow I felt!

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That hill really tired me out, and it made it that much more difficult as the rolling hills continued on the course.  I really enjoyed running through the DC neighborhoods, and despite the freezing cold, there were still tons of spectators providing some much-needed entertainment and support!  I didn’t take any of the free food or drinks, but I appreciate the gesture!  My watch was off by a few tenths of a mile so I would always miss my splits on my watch.  I was just hoping for the best because I was NOT feeling like a rock star!

Splits:  10:42, 11:21, 10:48, 10:30, 10:22.

Miles 11-13.1

The last few miles were really tough.  The cold, windy weather and rolling hills just took such a toll on me physically and mentally and I even started to experience side stitches!  This has never happened to me during a race!  I drank my water from my Orange Mud Hydraquiver, but I also grabbed water or Gatorade a few times along the course, which is something I never do.  I know that that helped with my dehydration, but I really needed my Honey Stinger chews along the way.  I won’t make that mistake again.

Laura’s plan was to do a progressive run in the last 3 miles, but it felt impossible to accomplish.  Of course the last few miles are always the longest!  I did my best as I pushed and pushed to get to the finish line!  It’s always frustrating when you’re so close yet so far…but finally, I made it through!

Splits:  10:23, 10:48, 10:11.

Race Results

My official race time was 2:21:09.  My Nike+ watch clocked 2:21:16.  Was I happy with the final result?  Not really…but at the same time, this weather was ridiculous!  I couldn’t tell you the last time I ran in such cold weather!  My lungs were so angry with me!

More than anything, I was disappointed with how challenging the hills felt.  Most of my training since moving to my new neighborhood is on hilly terrain, so I was surprised that I found the hills so tough in DC – especially since I ran this exact same race last year!

But the good news is that Coach Laura is pleased with how I performed on this tough race, and again, this was NOT a goal race, but a tuneup race!  I learned a lot during those 13.3 miles that I will use to make sure that my next half marathon goes much better, no matter the weather!

And hey, my last mile was my fastest…that always makes me happy!

After the Race

I planned to meet up with my friend Maureen after the race.  She completed the marathon that morning, her very first!  We figured that we would be finished around the same time (the marathon started at 7 am), so we met up after getting our medals.  I retrieved my bag of WARM clothes and changed my top layers before hitting the potty and meeting up with Maureen.  We didn’t stay for the concert or the beer…it was just too darn cold!  We ended up having brunch at Vermilion in Old Town, Alexandria.  The food was fantastic and we had a great time, talking about our respective races and catching up on life!  I was so glad that we had each other for mutual support.

Eventually, I needed to get home to Philly!  So I went to my brother’s place, showered, and didn’t even take a nap before getting back in the car and driving the 3 hours back home.  I got back just after 8:00 that evening.  Mischief managed!


Post-race drinks!

The Rock ‘n Roll DC Half Marathon is a great race!  While I didn’t have as great of a performance as I did in 2016, I have nothing but good things to say about this race!  If you’re looking for a March race that will challenge you but provide a fun experience, this is where you should be!


  • Well organized.  Everything went smoothly from what I can see.  I appreciated that the information on cold weather running that was sent out before the race.  The Runner Guide was also very helpful and had some tips that I made sure to review in advance of the race.
  • Great swag.  The Rock ‘N Roll brand always has great swag that is almost impossible to resist!  I’ll have to take some pictures of all the stuff I got!
  • Awesome spectators.  They were passing out jelly beans, beer, tequila…so much fun!
  • Great bands.  There was a great variety of performers along the course and I enjoyed them all!


  • The hills!  If you don’t like running hills, this isn’t the race for you…you’ve been warned!
  • Not much at the expo.  Again, the expo isn’t really important to me, but this one is small and pretty simple.
  • Rough pavement.  I mentioned this last year.  You have to watch your step while running the DC streets!  I was lucky not to trip a couple of times!


Congrats to everyone who ran RNR DC!  There were a few blogger friends that were there but I didn’t get to see them, so special shoutout to Kathryn, Steff, Mar, and anyone else I’ve forgotten!

And of course, I have to thank my big bro for his hospitality and giving me a place to crash for the race.  I just wish we could’ve had some QT in the process, but I’ll be back again soon!

Thanks to everyone for your well wishes and support!  2017 is turning into the year of the half marathon…I can’t wait to share all that I have planned for the year!  Next race on tap, the Love Run Half Marathon!  Fingers crossed that the weather will be a little bit warmer!

Have you had any races yet this winter?  How do you handle racing in the cold? 

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