Monday, March 28, 2011

National Half Marathon 2011

The weekend for the National Half arrived sooner than expected.  My training for this had been slim since the Princess (and we know what it was like before that.)  Don't get me wrong . . . I got a few runs in from time to time, but the week before the race was not made for running. This time, my professional and family life had to take precedent over my running.  In fact, even the day before the race, I wasn't sure if I would make it.  A girl's got obligations, you know - and these were biggies.  As a result, I went into this race a little less ready than I had hoped.  I knew I would finish but didn't think it would be pretty!

That morning, after much worry about whether or not to make the trek, I packed our bags and my race gear.  This time, the hubby and two kiddos made the drive and visit with me.

The car is packed and the kids are ready to go!

 Jake is at the wheel . . .

 and I am ready to roll!

 Washington DC, here we come!

 About 2.5 hours later, we arrived at our Nation's Capital!

Our first stop after upacking at the hotel, was the Expo.  We were three blocks from the Blue and Orange line, so we decided to take the Metro.  Once we figured out the ins and outs of the system, we became real pros.  Getting around town was pretty easy . . . unless you needed it at 5 am (like I did the next morning).  The Metro wasn't to open until 6 am, so I would need to take a cab to the start.  As it turned out, this was a great plan.  

The kids enjoyed the Expo and made a new friend!

The next morning, I got up at 4:45 to get ready.  Since no one was awake to take a pic of my race day outfit, I took one in the mirror to commemorate the morning.  I decided to go Red, White, and Blue and show some spirit.  After all, my last race was the Princess - where wearing costumes was the norm.  I thought this blue sparkle skirt would be perfect.  As it turned out, not many people got into the patriotic theme at all.  I was one of a few . . . in fact I don't recall any.  However, I got a lot of cheers for the "girl in the blue skirt"!  

A map of the race course, showed the route and the sights we would see.

 The race start was freezing - literally.  Luckily, we were able to wait out some of it indoors at the Armory . . . right up until the time we needed to enter our corrals.  We waited for what seemed like forever.  BRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

But once we got moving, the START came up quickly!  I pulled over to take this pic and forgot to set my Garmin until a tenth of a mile or so into the race.  Oh well!

For the first 1/4 or so of the race, I saw many people running the opposite way to the Start!  Many couldn't make it in time because of the train system and the traffic.  Thank goodness, I was not one of them and took a cab early in the morning!  Running BEFORE the start of a race is not my thing, for sure!

After running through the neighborhoods near the Armory and RFK stadium, our first "sight" was Union Station.  I have taken a few tours of the city that start at this point.  This area is usually so busy with traffic . . . and here we were - thousands of us - running through the streets.

Then, we got a our first great view of the Capitol.  I think I managed to see this building from every angle and side during the race.

A little later, I saw this building and thought it was apropo.  Here I was - running a race I wasn't really trained for.  This was certainly going to be a lot of work!

Here is one of the very many views I mentioned earlier.

We ran by some of my favorite Smithsonian buildings . . .

and the Washington Monument!

I live near the beach in Delaware where the land is flat.  I read that there were "a couple of hills" during this race, but I certainly wasn't prepared for what was in store . . . they weren't huge.  The hills were gradual - but there were MANY!

Another Hill

And Another

And Another

And Another

And Another 
Near Howard University

And Yet Another . . . were there downhills?  Yeah, there were some, but I was too busy cruising down them, trying to make up for some lost time, to take pics of those.

Finally, after all of that hill climbing, I was back in the neighborhoods near the Armory.

Back inside the warm Armory, I posed for a pic after getting my winter coat from bag check.  Believe it or not, I set a PR by two stinking seconds.  

Go figure  . . . little training + lots of hills + picture taking = a PR?  
And I walked a lot?  
(See future race thoughts at the end of this post.)
I certainly got in an AGGRESSION run and forgot about my professional and personal troubles for a couple of hours.

After warming up a little, it was time to hit the Finish Line Festival to meet the family.  The kids joined the children's races, and it was to be DS's first race ever.  

He was so excited for his debut!  Mom Mom even bought him new running kicks!  Although you can't see this in this picture, these Nikes have hot green trim to match . . . 

his running gear!

DD was all set to run her second race as well!

The kids had a blast and got their first running medals.  

We set off, back to the hotel, via the Metro so Mommy could get a hot shower - and we could all get some lunch.

Me and My Racing Man

We lunched at our favorite DC hangout . . . Clyde's.  YUM!

We had a wonderful time in Washington DC.  I absolutely NEVER planned to PR.  Now, I really have to wonder what I am capable of doing with proper training and little walking breaks.  I am guessing I would easily be able to break 2:10 - and maybe one day even 2:00.  Hey, a girl can dream!
  The truth is, I don't know if I will ever have the time to dedicate myself to running like that anytime soon.  My job and family responsibilities require much balance.  I am glad and appreciative to have some time for myself and "get lost" in running - even for just a couple of hours.

My next scheduled race is the Island 2 Island Half in Ocean City, MD to Assateague Island.  I think most of that route is flat until the bridge at the end.  I have a lot going on right now that probably won't let me train (health issues with my beloved family members), but I am now hoping to break 2:20.  Seems like a reasonable goal . . . the 2:00 finish will have to wait.  Until then - I will continue to run on!


  1. Congrats on the PR - that is awesome...I've been chasing 2:30 for a half for four years and I keep getting slower instead of faster, but I'm working on it.

    There's a lot to be said about the run/walk method. I've started using it seriously this last few months and I have seen a marked improvement in my times as well as feeling better at the end...You may want to check it out too :)!

    Glad your kids had fun with their races! That's awesome!

  2. What a great report! Congrats on your PR!