Monday, March 19, 2018

Rock 'n' Roll DC Half Marathon - The Race

On March 10th I ran my 48th half marathon in Washington, DC where my running journey began.  I actually got emotional before the start of the race as I realized that I have been running for nine years now and it all began on the streets and trails of DC.  Before this race was called Rock 'n' Roll Washington, DC it was called Rock 'n' Roll USA, which was my 14th half marathon in 2012.  Before Rock 'n' Roll took it over it was the National Half Marathon, which was my 2nd half marathon way back in 2010.  Regardless of the name or company running everything behind the scenes, I would highly recommend this race.

The Expo: 
Being right off a metro stop made it very easy to find and the signage inside the expo made it easy to pick up your bib and your shirt in no time at all.  As always, you are routed through the Rock 'n' Roll merchandise section after you pick up your shirt and prior to getting out to the rest of the expo. I went up and down every aisle but after more than 50 race expos (between half and full marathons), I feel like I have seen it all already. 

Why you should run this race:
  • Several distances available including a 5k, half marathon, and full marathon.
  • Medals for all distances.
  • Large expo right off Stadium/Armory metro station.
  • Emergency contact information printed on the back of your bib.
  • Half and full marathon start line is at the National Museum of American History.
  • Metro is available for the half marathon and 5k start (but not open early enough for the full marathon start at 7:00 a.m.).
  • Finish line is right by the Stadium/Armory metro station.
  • Full and half marathon courses run by the White House, National Mall, Lincoln Memorial, John F. Kennedy Center, Watergate Complex, Rock Creek, Adam's Morgan, Columbia Heights/U Street/Howard University (one of my old neighborhoods), Capitol Hill/H Street (my other old neighborhood), with a finish line adjacent to RFK Stadium. You just can't beat this race course!

  • Plenty of porta potties at the start and along the course.
  • Plenty of water and Gatorade on the course.
  • Plenty of room to warm up and stretch pre-race.  I suggest going on the National Mall to warm up with amazing scenery in the background.  Bag check was along the National Mall as was another cluster of porta potties. 

  • Gracious course time limits.
  • Over 10,000 runners in the half marathon and over 1,800 in the marathon, so you never feel alone even if you are slower like me. 
  • Amazing volunteers and crowd support.
  • Great bands and music to help keep you motivated.
  • Last but not least, great medals at the finish line!

I am completely biased, but this is probably my favorite Rock 'n' Roll race because I get to run through my old neighborhoods and on streets that are adjacent to my old running trails.  If you aren't from DC, this course will take you through a lot of great neighborhoods that you might not otherwise visit.  In areas where there isn't music or crowd support, the scenery is enough to keep you going.  It is just an amazing course and you will find plenty to do while you are in town. 

Because of my strong bias, I wanted to give you a couple other Rock 'n' Roll DC race recaps to read:
Read even more reviews on BibRave

Monday, February 5, 2018

Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Half Marathon - The Rest

Our weekend in Phoenix didn't go according to my original plan due to my bronchitis, but we still managed to do a lot and had an amazing time.

We arrived in Phoenix at 9:00 a.m. on Friday, January 12 and immediately picked up the rental car.  The race expo did not open until Noon, so we went to Papago Park and took a short hike up to Hole in the Rock.

Papago Park

On the hike up
Looking into Hole in the Rock
View of Hole in the Rock from parking lot
After our amazing hike, we went to In-N-Out Burger for lunch since we don't have any locations in the Midwest.  I had read that you could get their burgers in a lettuce wrap instead of a bread bun, so that is what I ordered while my husband opted for the regular bun.  I have had better burgers in the past, but the In-N-Out burger in a lettuce wrap was definitely delicious!

After lunch, we drove to downtown Phoenix for the expo.  I didn't really take pictures at the expo since we were in and out so quickly.  We walked up and down all the aisles, but I didn't stop at any of the booths.  I just felt like I had seen all the products at other expos and there wasn't anything new that caught my eye.  Since we could not check into our AirBnB until 3:00 p.m., we opted to sit outside the convention center in the sunshine and amazing temperature and just people watch.  What I love about races (especially large ones like Rock 'n' Roll races), is that you see runners of all shapes and sizes, ages, and ethnicities.  Everyone has a different story and a different reason for running.  You see a lot of shirts from other races being worn too, which resulted in me Googling a few and mentally adding some to my bucket list (The Lost Dutchman Half Marathon).

From the expo, we picked up groceries and checked into our AirBnb.  This was our first experience with AirBnB and we opted for the Private Room option which means that you share common spaces like the kitchen and living room with your hosts, but have your own bedroom and bathroom.  My boss has used AirBnB outside of the U.S. and she strongly encouraged us to read the reviews before selecting an AirBnb.  Not only was the location of this AirBnB perfect for everything we wanted to do, but the reviews were also stellar and the hosts just sounded like so much fun.  They also had two dogs, which my husband fell in love with.

Friday night we had dinner with my cousin who lives in Phoenix and would be running the half marathon with me.  We suggested a place called Rustler's Rooste, which had come up in a list of top 10 restaurants of Phoenix that I found. Surprisingly, my cousin hadn't ever been there before so she was up for trying something new.  The restaurant is western-themed, has large portions, and has amazing views from the top of a hill overlooking the Phoenix area.  Dan and I had decided in advance that we wanted to order the Cowboy Stuff, which would give us a sampling of nearly everything on the menu.

Cotton candy for dessert!

My original plans for Saturday included a hike that had to be cancelled due to my bronchitis.  Instead, we opted to be totally lazy and sleep in.  We lounged around until it was time to head to the Arizona State University vs. Oregon basketball game.  This event didn't really come onto my radar until they were suddenly ranked in the top 20 in the country.  Tickets were still available, so I snagged two at a good price through VividSeats.  Parking was a breeze and we arrived early in order to catch all the pre-game excitement.

The Beavers managed to pull ahead, but the Sun Devils fought until the very end and ended up winning.  It was a great game and I was so glad that we were able to fit it into our weekend.  After the game, we headed back to our AirBnB to make pasta and relax.

Our AirBnB was located in a neighborhood that would be affected by road closures on race day, so I got up extra early in order to get proper caffeination before the roads closed.  I found a drive-through coffee place that opened at 5 a.m. called Dutch Brothers.  I ordered my iced tea and they saw my race bib and asked me about the race, which would be running right by this location.  Because it was still dark out when I placed my order, I didn't realize it until after the race that they had written "good luck" on my cup.

The majority of the morning was spent at the Rock 'n' Roll - Arizona half marathon which I already posted about here.  This half marathon was my 47th and I also got to celebrate the last day of my z-pack!  Before I knew I would be sick on race day and be forced to walk most of the course, I had scheduled post-race recovery cryotherapy, cryo facial, and a Normatec session at Chillfit Cryo in Tempe.  I started with the Normatec session, which is basically compression therapy for your legs and feet.  There were tv's visible from anywhere you sat in the room, so the 30 minutes passed quickly and felt great!

Next up was a whole body cryotherapy session followed by a cryo facial (not pictured).  I have done cryotherapy sessions in St. Louis but you can't currently get cryo facials in St. Louis, so I had to try it even though it had absolutely nothing to do with post-race soreness.

Brrr, it gets cold in there!

From Chillfit Cryo, we went straight to the Phoenix Suns vs. Indianapolis Pacers game.  Downtown was quiet since it was a Sunday evening, but it was still beautiful with all the palm trees and well-manicured landscaping.  It also seemed really safe and was well-patrolled by the police.

I have only ever been to one NBA game in my life and I was bored out of my mind.  I just prefer college basketball, but my husband hadn't ever been to a game so we decided to see the Suns while we were in town.  As both teams were warming up on the courts, my husband made a friend with another Suns fan as he watched the NFL playoffs on his phone.  Multi-tasking he says....

Since we saved so much money with AirBnB, we opted for seats in the 15th row which were roughly $115 each.

The game wasn't sold out, but it was still loud and exciting right from the start.

The team mascot is a gorilla and it was his birthday that day, so there were a lot of fun activities during time outs and over half time that involved the mascot.  I don't think I have ever laughed that much at a basketball game, so it was obviously very entertaining.  They brought in the mascots for all of Phoenix's professional sports teams as well as the mascot for the Toronto Raptors and Milwaukee Bucks.  I was never bored during this game, so it must have just been the teams I was watching the last time I went to an NBA game.  Be sure to check out a Phoenix Suns game if you are ever in town!

Monday again was a day for lounging and sleeping in.  We ate lunch with some of my other Phoenix-area family members at a restaurant called Four Peaks Brewing Company.  It had outside seating, which was ideal for a glorious January day in Phoenix.  I'm not a beer drinker, but the food was really good.

Four Peaks Brewing Co.

Continuing our lazy day, we went saw a movie at the AMC movie theater in downtown Tempe followed by an ice cream sandwich from Slickables.

Pick 2 cookies + pick your ice cream = Yum!

Tuesday was the day the amazing temps and sunshine ended, because we flew back to St. Louis.  It was below freezing when we landed and I was so exhausted from bronchitis and the resulting lack of sleep, that I pretty much crashed as soon as we got home.  Although we didn't do everything I wanted to fit in over the weekend, we still had an amazing time and are already talking about when we should go back. There are so many other half marathons in Arizona that are now on my list that I know we will be back, specifically for another runcation.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Half Marathon - The Race

Last weekend I ran (technically mostly walked due to bronchitis) the Rock 'n' Roll Arizona half marathon.  This was my first race in Arizona, which became the 10th state that I have completed a half marathon in.  What drew me to this race was that my husband had never been to Arizona, I wanted to escape the cold in the Midwest, we were both off for the MLK holiday, I have family in the Phoenix-area, and I knew that I would be running at least one other Rock 'n' Roll race in 2018.

Why you should run this race:

  • The race expo was downtown and easy to get in and out of.
  • The race website had every detail that I needed for race weekend, especially since I was coming from out of town and was unfamiliar with the area.
  • Distances available include kids run, 1 mile run, ,5k, 10k, half marathon, full marathon
  • Downtown Tempe (start line for the half marathon and 10k and finish line for the 10k, half, and full marathon) is such an amazing place with restaurants and shops that appeal to anyone!
  • Scenic, and mostly flat course.  The couple hills I remember rewarded you with great views at the top!
  • Plenty of music along the course.
  • Large crowd leading into the finish line.
  • Post race food for the half marathon included Gatorade, bottled water, chocolate milk, Pringles, bananas, and granola bars.
  • New course signage debuted at this race.
  • Half marathon started in Tempe, ran into Scottsdale, then Phoenix, and back into Tempe for the finish.
  • Expo and the race were all accessible by car and public transportation and both were also close to the airport making this trip very easy for out-of-towners.
  • January temperatures in Phoenix are usually in the 50's and 60's and SUNNY!
  • There are plenty of things to do, see, and taste while you are in town.  We went to an ASU basketball game and a Phoenix Suns NBA game, hiked Hole in the Rock, and ate at In-n-Out Burger just to name a few things.

The only suggestion I had for next year was to make the corrals larger.  Although they were marked with the new signage, they were closer together than any race I had ever seen marked corrals at, and the start line area was a bit chaotic as a result.  I still found my running buddy/cousin in the chaos though, and we enjoyed our time on the course.

Here are a few photos from the expo and the race.

My cousin and I at the start line
The craziness in the corrals

Getting closer to the start line
Police on the rooftops overlooking the start line

Scenery along the course

View of downtown Phoenix from the top of the hill

My favorite entertainment group on the course

Nearing the finish line

Celebration area from the bridge
The medal!!!

I hope you will consider adding this race to your 2019 lineup!