Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Raleigh Rock 'n' Roll Race-cation Recap!

 Try saying THAT ten times fast!  Raleigh Rock 'n' Roll Race-cation Recap! Raleigh Rock 'n' Roll Race-cation Recap! Raleigh Rock 'n' Roll Race-cation Recap!........

This past weekend I traveled down to Raleigh to run the inaugural Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon with my best buddy from college, Rio.  In addition to the race, it was to be three glorious nights of kid-free girl time and relaxation.  Ok, Rio does have a baby, but she's so good and so cute that she didn't really count.  The weekend did not disappoint.

2 Days Before the Race:

First up, following a 2:30 am start to travel to the airport, was the Race Expo at the Raleigh Convention Center to pick up our bibs on Friday night.  I have never been to a race of this size before, ergo also never been to a race expo like this.

So... Many... Booths....

We grabbed our race packets, wandered around a bit, took lots of goofy pictures in front of various things like balloon sculptures and the "Potty Like a Rock Star" posters (if you missed why I was uber-excited about this, read this).  Rio and her husband bought matching Garmin Vivofits, I bought some Sweatybands, and then I got the surprise of my life!  I was wearing my Another Mother Runner's Boston Strong t-shirt.  I heard someone say, "Hey Another Mother Runner!"  I turned around and it was Dimity (of AMR)!!

Running Man!
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Suffice it to say I was just a little bit excited.  I threw my arms around her and blurted something along the lines of "I just sent cake pops to your house!"  Which is, of course, a very confusing thing to say to someone who's never met you before in your life and just more or less attacked you.  But we did sort it out - she took me over to their booth (I had no idea they were at the expo), and I met Sarah as well.  I showed them photos of the cake I made as my entry to their Ragnar Relay contest.  I told them all about myself, bragged about my children, and essentially babbled for at least ten minutes.  They were very nice, and even initially thought I was a college student.  Score!!  They even swapped out the shirt I was wearing for another size because it was too small.  Yes, I gave celebrities my dirty laundry.  Let no one ever say I'm not classy.  I must have stopped talking at some point and left them, floating away in a haze of exhilaration to have actually met these amazing women.  Now I know that if they don't pick me for the Ragnar team it is because I thoroughly scared them with my over-enthusiastic group-y schtick.  

SBS, me and Dimity of AMR!
We spent the rest of the warm, breezy evening at a pub for dinner, listening to street musicians, and wandering around enjoying the beautiful city and the feeling of spring finally sprung.  Raleigh is the City of Oaks, I learned, and the center is full of these gorgeous lighted statues of oak trees.

Awesome goodie bag of
stuff from AMR

Day Before the Race:

The next morning we went out for our race prep run on the Tobacco Trail.  Rio's husband is quite the running guru and had been working with me all the previous day on my form - on increasing my cadence, engaging my core, and avoiding the heel-striking over-reaching gait that has hurt my hips so badly.  Rio and I ran about 2 miles, joking about the vultures that were circling over the trail as we ran.  A bad sign??  My hip was painful but my cadence was higher than usual and I felt pretty good for the race.  Some rolling and some medicine right before should do the trick.
Vultures over the running trail

Rio's German shepherd puppy helps me roll out

 Race Day!!

Race day outfit was laid out the night before - my AMR Boston Strong shirt and Sweatyband, new Athleta skort I got during a shop-fest with Rio, and the orange Fellow Flower that Rio bought for the race (it means friendship).

The alarm went off at 4:30 and we were out the door by 5:15.  As a race day "extra" we had purchased a VIP package that not only included access to nice bathrooms, but also special parking (a huge help as we waited in bumper to bumper traffic for most of the drive) and a special convention room inside the Sheraton with a full catered breakfast where we could stay warm and relax before the race started.  It was so worth it.

Relaxing in the hotel.  
We wandered outside into our corral, which was 17 out of 26.  We were in the 2:30 pacer group, and each wave was let go about 3 minutes apart, so we had plenty of time to take photos, goof around, and move slowly like penned sheep towards the starting line.

Waiting in our corral

2:30 pace group

Finally it was our turn and away we went!!  I have to say, I learned so much at this race.  Rio was adamant prior to the race that she wanted to run negative splits, and that she was going to hold me back in the first half.  Moreover, she was cool with walking whenever necessary.  She is a veteran of 12 half marathons now and was going to teach me a lesson about how to enjoy a race and not finish feeling like I was completely trashed.

I had some trouble with her method at first.  I am not a patient person.  I was in a lot of pain because of my hip, and walking and then starting again hurt it more than continual running did.  I also was more used to running hills than many racers, so as most were walking up the hills, I wanted to run.  I was antsy and looking at my watch and generally feeling frustrated at the very calm Rio, who seemed to just be enjoying herself way more than anyone should during a race.

My goal for the race was to follow Rio's lead, though.  So I did, despite a couple of lapses in temper.

Brass band on the overpass at Mile 2

My favorite crowd sign!
The crowd support was epic.  So many folks were out with signs - many that said "Go Random Stranger!" and other encouraging and funny sayings.  It was a beautiful day - warm and sunny.  There was a band every mile.  I had my best friend with me.  It was lovely.  After mile 5 the pain in my hip was gone.  I focused on my new running form and enjoyed the day.

Around mile 7, Rio got sneaky.  Meaning that she picked up her pace and started leaving me chugging up the hills.  What was this??  I will admit that part of me did not believe that she was going to truly pick up her pace in the second half.  Well, she did.  She schooled me.  I was getting tired, and by Mile 12 I was taking more walking breaks than she was.  I even bowed to her at one point on the course - the Rio method works.  I would have crashed and burned if left to my own devices - if Rio had not been enduring my bad attitude and holding me back by my running skirt.

Around Mile 10 - flags for the downed soldiers
 We tried to kill Mile 12, but I didn't have it in me.  My splits overall were negative, but erratically so.  We sprinted the finish line and crossed hand in hand with a watch time of 2:28.  Only four minutes slower than New Bedford last month. 

I promise I will buy this photo....
Those four minutes bought me so much fun and so much less pain in my body.  After the race my quads and hips were sore, but also my calves and core, which tells me I did better on cadence and form.  I cannot tell you how much more FUN I had with this race.  This weekend has truly changed my running goals.  Going forward I am going to focus on form form form.  The next race I do I will cool it in the first half and save some juice for the second.  I'm adding in a nutrition stop at mile 11 (to my usual miles 4 & 8).

Happy and sweaty at the finish!

The day was not 100% fun, sadly.  After we left the race we heard on the news that two young men collapsed and died on the course.  We did not see the medical teams while we were running, so they must have been behind us.  It is truly terrible to have people's lives cut short, and it seems to be an increasing trend.  My heart goes out to the families of the men that died.  I hope that there is some consolation that they passed while chasing their dreams.

How do you run a half?  Do you take it easy in the first half, or gun it the whole way?


Courtney Fields said...

Great job on an excellent race!!

Patty said...

Congrats on your finish!! That's awesome. I have been wanting to do a RnR half for a while but have heard some negative things too. I also heard about the news...I can't believe it. 2people in one race. I can only imagine what their family is going through...

Running On Candy said...

I was there too!! :) I pushed super hard in my first half and hated myself after. Now I try to stick to a 4:1 or 3:1 run:walk ratio but if I really want to walk I do and if I want to run through a walk break I do. I am out there with a smile and a camera just finishing makes me happy. I am a turtle but I try to have fun.

Great recap BTW :)

Deborah Brooks said...

Looks like you had a great time! Rock n Roll races are awesome! You and your friend had the biggest smiles on as you crossed the finish. Nice job!

Rebecca Reynolds said...

Great race recap, Miranda! I absolutely love how many pictures you were able to take! I always seem to lag in the department. :) I've only ran 1 half so a bit inexperienced. I tried to keep an even pace the whole time but was also dealing with a calf injury 3 miles in. Now that you've got new areas to focus on, I can't wait to see how your next half turn out!

Anonymous said...

What a great recap and it sounds like an awesome race!! I especially love your outfit and the pic of you two crossing the finish line is amazing!! When I race a half, I try to always go slower in the first half so I have more to give in the second half. Great job!!

Sue @ This Mama Runs for Cupcakes said...

Awesome job and GREAT recap!!! You have totally got this Ragnar thing now that you met them in person, and THEY called YOU out...AWESOME! they are super nice, I met them last year at an event they held in Maryland! Congrats!

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