Rock 'n' Roll DC Half Marathon Recap

After planning it for over 4 months, a big race weekend has come and gone. Isn't that the way it always goes? This weekend I ran the Rock 'n' Roll DC half marathon (half #11 for me) and it was...interesting to say the least. This race seemed to be best recapped in superlative format (maybe my brain is throwing it back to high school senior superlatives since I've been getting 100 Facebook notifications a day from people posting to the page for my class's 10-year reunion, coming up this later this year...*shudder*). I wish I had been able to take more/better photos but nonstop rain proved to be quite a deterrent!

Best Sign:
I love reading the signs people hold up along the course, and I especially love a good themed signed. DC didn't disappoint as there was a lot of crowd support along most of the course, with lots of DC-appropriate puns, but my favorite had to be "Hillary hasn't committed to running, but you have!" I might have even laughed out loud a bit. Not sure if that was because it really was that funny, or because I had spent the previous 5 minutes climbing a truly MASSIVE hill, I mean it was a mountain really...I can't say for sure that I was rocking 100% mental capacity at the point.

Biggest Motivator:
Right as we made our way to said mountain hill, there were pictures of soldiers killed in action lining the course. They continued for the first half of the hill and then after that there were people with the same organization standing on the side holding American flags, telling us good job and giving high fives.  I don't know whose idea it was to have those photos and flags at that point in the course, but they knew exactly what they were doing. All I could think about was that, looking at photos of fallen soldiers and my gosh, seeing ages underneath them that were lower than mine, that hill really didn't seem like such a hard feat in comparison. I'm not generally a person who gets really moved by patriotism, but I don't know that I would have made it up that hill without that encouragement.

Best Spectator Setup:
The DC tri club was set up somewhere around mile 9 or 10. They had a tent set up and were doing a workout on spin bikes as we ran by! There were a lot of spectators out (<3), especially for such a rainy day, but seeing those triathletes spinning away was definitely my favorite. 

Best Thing That Happened Upon Leaving the Finisher's Chute:
Seeing and meeting Becky and Erin! Crazy Awesome ladies waited for over an hour in the cold rain at the finish line waiting to see all their friends finish. They were still mostly dry and completely adorable under their pink umbrella when Alyssa and I came up to them looking like drowned rats, but they were nice enough to not look the other way and pretend not to know us (we wouldn't have blamed them if they had).

Worst Thing That Happened Upon Leaving the Finisher's Chute:
Everything that wasn't meeting Becky and Erin. Let me set the scene for you: it's been alternating between drizzling and steadily raining for the last 2.5 hours. We've just spent a little over 2 of those hours running and are completely, utterly, soaked-to-the bone drenched. We leave the finisher's area only to realize...there is absolutely nowhere inviting for us to go. No building of any kind to duck into, no giant tent, no nothing. We could change into the dry clothes we put in gear check, but there's nowhere to change and even if there were, there's no refuge from the rain so we'd be soaked again in approximately 7 seconds anyway. We were given space blankets, although we put them on backwards because I convinced Alyssa that Ben had told me to put them on that way and it turns out that he had, in fact, told me the opposite...meaning the literally thousands of other people wearing them logo side out were correct. My bad. Is race brain a thing? Not that it mattered a whole lot because there was no way that blanket could have undone the fact that we were already sopping wet and it was only getting colder. We huddled up under a metro overpass with nearly almost all of the other finishers while we waited for Kristen since that was the only covering of any kind in the immediate area. When we went to leave, we followed the masses to the metro station we knew was close by, but apparently wasn't that close, and when we finally finished that odyssey, the line just to get into the metro station was a block long. Then we waited for a taxi and were either ignored, shunned, or cut in front of by other people who apparently thought that neither the fact that we were in wet running clothes nor that we had been standing and waiting the longest trumped the fact that they too needed a cab. Then we had an Uber driver cancel on us and were nearly convinced we were going to die from hypothermia on that street corner when finally our second Uber driver showed up and rescued us. So, that was that. Thanks for the post-race accommodations, RnR! 

Weirdest Moment:
During said miserable trek to the metro station, a random guy standing on the street next to his pickup truck very obviously raised his phone to take a picture of us for no apparent reason whatsoever. So now he has a photo of the 3 of us shivering and giving him our best, "WTF?!" faces.

Favorite Part of the Course:
Despite the rain and the fact that we felt like Rock n Roll left us to shiver to death after we finished, I really enjoyed the course. The parts I could make out through the rain and clouds, at least. We ran by a lot of monuments, alongside the Potomac, and through pretty neighborhoods that I can't name but my favorite part was an out-and-back across Arlington Memorial Bridge. Anytime I get to run across a bridge is usually a win for me, but I especially liked coming back and being able to see the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument in the distance.

Overall I wasn't terribly impressed with the Rock 'n' Roll brand. Everything leading up to and during the race was well-organized, but I really felt like they dropped the ball at the end by apparently not preparing at all for the rainy day that had been forecasted all week. I know they couldn't help the weather, and I do think it would have been a much better experience from start to finish if it had been nicer outside, but it was disappointing to finish and have nowhere to go except under the metro overpass huddled with all the other cold and confused finishers. I would run RnR DC again just because I liked the course a lot and would like to see more of it on a better day, but I'm not exactly counting down the days until next year's race. Maybe I'm just spoiled because the races I run locally, although just as expensive as RnR, are truly top-notch and brilliantly organized in every possible way. My experience at RnR just made me look forward to a great Shamrock weekend even more!

Have you ever run a Rock 'n' Roll brand race? Was the finish line poorly organized, or is it just me?


  1. A Half Marathon is an accomplishment in itself. But to do it in the pouring and unforgiving rain? Nuh uh. Rainy runs were always my favorite but more of the 4-6 mile variety. Wishing you the complete opposite conditions and post-race accommodations at Shamrock. And may you not be derp-face when the next stranger takes a photo. :)

  2. I've never run a Rock N Roll race. Running a long race in the rain sounds terrible. I've been lucky so far that they long races I've trained for haven't rained.
    Sorry the post race experience took away from the day! You should still be proud!

  3. Hubs did the Vegas RnR and said basically the same thing... "Meh. It was too crowded and terribly organized."

    I'm shocked they didn't have any tents for y'all at the finish line!! I'm trying to think of a race I've run that DIDN'T have tents of some sort. What a bummer! I always get the shakes if I stay in my wet running clothes post race (it could even be 65 degrees out and I'm shaking) so I can't even imagine being drenched to the bone like that. Woof. Well, it's done and you did it!!

  4. how did I already forget the guy taking the photo?!
    I loved reading your recap - the worst thing paragraph made me laugh, especially the hypothermia bit and race brain is totally a thing, regardless those space blankets didn't do a damn thing anyway!!
    i loved the guys on the bikes, it made me feel less alone, lol. I totally cried seeing all those photos of the people who had died - like you, i'm not moved by patriotism normally, especially because you know.. this isn't my country, but how can you not get moved by that? it definitely motivated me and i had to stop looking at the faces of the 21 year olds after awhile because I was getting far too emotional. I would absolutely do RnR DC again purely for the course - if only we could guarantee nice weather!

  5. I ran RnR St. Louis last year. While it was organized ok, but I wasn't overly impressed. It just felt like a big race. We were lucky that the weather was really nice, but now that I think of it there were not any tents at the end if it had rained. Glad you survived ok!

  6. I'm so sad for you guys that the post race events were kinda crummy! At least you got to meet Becky & Erin! Aren't they great?! ;) way to go on finishing half #11!!!!

  7. Agreed on the veterans hill. I wouldn't have made it up without them. And you, probably. And race brain is totally a thing, because I don't think I spoke a coherent sentence until after my shower. And how did I forget to mention that guy taking our picture?? I really would love to see the photo he got, hah. My race recap is all ready to go for tomorrow and of course we have basically the same assessment of RnR and their organization. Sigh. I think I'd do RnR DC again—or just any other race through the district, maybe?—but I'm also in no hurry.

  8. I just got a reminder message on FB about a planning meeting for my 10 year reunion this summer - I refuse to believe I've been out of school that long!

    I ran an Illuminight 5K in the pouring rain at the end of last summer - my shoes were filled with water at the end!- so I can't imagine powering through it to finish a 1/2 - props to you! My cousin and I are planning on doing the Rock N Roll 1/2 in Vegas in November so I reallly hope they are more organized!

    Also, I can't believe you ran a 1/2 the weekend before you run a full!! You are my running inspiration!

  9. That really bites that they weren't prepared for the rain.... how hard would it have been to put up a tent?!?!?!
    Ewww for creepers who snap pictures for no reason. You should have flipped him off.

  10. The rain and the whole after race experience sound horrible....but I love that you, and Alyssa and Kristen all got to meet up!! That part sounds fabulous! Kudos for finishing that race under not so great circumstances! You guys rock!!!!

  11. for the rest of the day Becky and i just laughed about how everything that could have gone wrong Saturday.. did. the weather, the lines, the overall unorganized feeling. i agree that the ending was pretty terrible- it was bad enough walking to the metro when we hadn't run 13 miles! the ending seemed anti climatic and the people were bossy- but i quickly learned that is just a DC thing and i am clearly from the midwest.

    it was so fun to meet you even though it was brief. :) i will be back out there soon i am sure and it would be swell to get together with you AND becky. we mentioned on friday when we were at a winery that you could have easily plopped down with us and we could have spent the whole day there. you kicked butt and i hope we get to hang out for real some time!

  12. You're the second blog I read today that sounds like a horror story, especially the end. Kudos for making it through!

  13. Ditto with Erin - we all need to get together someday soon! :) I was surprised they didn't even rent tents for the race because like you said they knew it was going to rain like 10 days ahead of time! When I got the email about the 2016 race presale and saw that it was in March again, I was like eh I'm good! Maybe a different location but it was disappointing how disorganized they seemed! I'm so so glad I got to meet you though and we'll just have to have a fun, dry, sunny weekend at Tech next :)

  14. That sounds like a miserable race, just with the bad weather and then the finish line. I cannot remember ever hearing ONE good thing about RnR. Not one!
    That's so cool that the tri club was out spinning! And the guy taking yall's pic... really strange!

  15. Ugh, that doesn't sound ideal! What a bummer about the weather! The pictures of the soldiers sounds inspiring though!

  16. That must have been incredibly moving and motivating to see all those images. When you put into perspective the sacrifices other people have made, it's a real boot in the ass! That's nuts that they didn't have a tent or anywhere for you to go. It can't be that hard to plan for a rain day! Congrats to you ladies though. You all kick ass!

  17. I'm still so baffled that there was no shelter or better organization at the end of the race. I will say when I was researching races I came across one from a few years ago (I think it was a hot chocolate 5k or whatever those are called) and everyone was saying how awful it was here as far as organization went- hopefully it's not a DC race thing :( I'm glad you guys still had a good weekend despite the less than ideal race day.

  18. You guys rocked the rainy course lets start with that positive..... but wtf with the no shelter thing? So you ran and then had to shiver home? That is really poor organization! Its funny about the guy taking the pic though. Funny and kinda very weird haha. I dont know if I could run in the rain so I give you guys huge props for perseverance! You will do great at Shamrock!

    PS the Hilary hasn't committed to run sign would have had me in stitches!

  19. Congrats! That was one cold, wet race! Added your link to our list of race recaps, too. :-)

  20. Congrats on the half! Sorry to hear about your finish line experience. I've always just been disappointed with the actual lack of Rock n Roll during the race. That is funny about the DC Tri Club cheer station!