Sunday, March 27, 2011

National HALF Marathon 3/26/11

This was originally going to be a full marathon run, but lingering IT band irritation from the last few months of racing was on the mend but still looming. My weekly mileage for the last 2 months hovered in the 3-20 range (except for the week of Holiday Lake 50k). So I did the "mature" thing and decided it would be smart to run the shorter race.  My running friend from Cville graciously waded through the crowds at the expo (1 day only) and got me officially changed from the full to the half marathon. As I had no desire to fight DC Friday night rush hour(s) traffic, I opted to hit the road at 3am and meet my friend at her hotel in DC. I had a pleasant traffic free drive up, found the hotel, and found the RFK Stadium and free parking with plenty of time to line up.

Meet up with the Marathon Maniacs in the Armory for the pre-race photo shoot and got caught up with a few Maniac friends, I had to repeat several times that I was "only" running the half, a few seem disappointed which I found mildly entertaining and I could certainly understand their perspective (it is "only" a marathon, you can do it!). I wandered outside and found it eerie how few people were lined up only 15 minutes from the start, especially after hearing there were 16,000 runners in the 2 distances combined. Not sure where to go I just headed for the first open corral, which ended up being #4 (no-one was checking bibs), this ended up being perfect for my pace. Race started a few minutes late and it took me another 7 minutes to cross the start line. Temps were at freezing at the start and warmed up 10 degrees in the next 2 hours, sun shining the entire time. For the first 10 min after crossing the start line there were dozens of people with race bibs on heading in the opposite direction, late for the race start. Sunshine was gorgeous, and it was interesting to see a normally very bustling DC, in a very quiet and empty state. Early morning is my favorite time of day. Very few spectators other than the few underpasses we went through, with people lined up on the streets above cheering.

I had no idea where the course went other than it was in DC and it was a loop, however I did not realize that the entire first half would be shared by the full and half marathoners. After the finish for the half, the full marathoners continued on, although I am not sure where, or if they had to repeat the loop we just did. This is a similar strategy to the Charlottesville Marathon and Half Marathon and for the marathoners it is very disheartening to run past the finish line with several miles still to complete. There were 2-3 mile markers total, 2 were chalk painted on the ground and 1 was on the back of a bathroom sign zip tied to a pole (really!!! no mileage markers?!really?). The finish line was chaos, with the half finishers trying to first get medals but we were told that they were for the relay folks. About 5 feet past them were for the half marathoners but you had to push your way up to them to get them. Several people ended up missing the medals all together. Then it was busy and chaotic trying to get water and the after race goodies, not very well organized for a large race.

I finished 1:56:14 with an average pace of about 8:50 min/mile.
Nice technical finisher shirt (although they handed them out at the expo and they said finisher on them) and neat finisher's medal. I would not recommend this run for next year, but I am glad I still went to have a nice run and to mark a turning point back into running longer distances, because I sure do love running.


  1. I actually hated this race -- for the price, it was lacking a lot (needed more porta-potties, needed MILE markers!!!). But I didn't like the finisher's shirt at all... So boring! And the medal... Last year it was so cool (I didn't run it then, but many friends did), but the supreme court building out of all the memorials in DC?

  2. We did a dif loop for the second half, with only a little bit of shared ground. Also, from where you guys turned off, it wasn't totally apparent that was the finish, so it wasn't THAT bad for us :)

    There were most (not all) of the mile markers in the second half, but some were wildly misplaced. Also, my watch was off by 0.25 miles right from the first few miles (wherever I saw that first mile marker). So disheartening to have your watch beep and then have the mile marker several minutes further down the road!

    Glad you had fun despite the poor organization - congrats on the great time!

  3. i'm not sure which i prefer - when i ran baltimore full we re-joined the half runners with a couple miles left to go (their race started later). they were the back of the pack halfers (i was running ~4hr marathon) so all of a sudden you had to dodge slow runners/walkers. but, it was nice to have more people around too. i've also done a few marathons where the half splits off ~mi12 or so and you're like OMG i still have 14 more miles and they are done. that part is depressing :)

    nevertheless, congrats on your half.