Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh Half Marathon 2015- Race Recap

The most beautiful of Spring days ushered in and welcomed thousands of runners to Raleigh for the second annual Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon and Half yesterday.  A bit of a chill and breeze in the air as I easily found a parking spot downtown.  The day had much promise!

I had made the decision to run the Half this time around, and I really was happy with my choice.  I arrived downtown about a hour and fifteen minutes before the race was to begin at 7am.  Stretching and hydrating, I felt pretty good.  I hadn’t gotten much sleep, but surprisingly felt some good energy.  I knew I wanted to take some photos of the starting area, so I made my way over to the start just before 6:30.

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The crew was furiously setting up the finisher village as I passed by the finish line.  Like a well oiled machine, the volunteers and folks with Rock n Roll had it under control.  Corrals, main stage, signs everywhere.  It was pretty impressive.  I didn’t use bag drop, but that was going in full swing.  Runners starting to gather in big crowds, they started filing into the corrals.  I was in Corral 1, so had a great view of the main stage where they were making announcements.  The National Anthem was sung by a guy who was there running something like his 65th marathon.  He did a fine job!

As the countdown clock was nearing zero, I snapped a few photos.

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Unlike my last race three weeks ago, I didn’t trip and fall prior to this run.  I wasn’t battered and bruised at the start, although my leg still isn’t fully healed.  All I really had to do was down my GU fifteen minutes prior, and tighten my shoe laces one last time.  I had decided to wear my RnR Las Vegas marathon shirt for this race, and snapped a picture right before the start.

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Promptly at 7am, the race began.  Unlike most races, this time I used both my Garmin and Runkeeper on my phone to track my run.  I wanted to track my splits at this race because of the unending hills.  Because this event is not homegrown, and draws in folks from all around the country, the course incorporates many of the iconic sights around the city.  Due to the nature of trying to include all of these sights, runners get the best of Raleigh’s hills right alone with it.  Local races typically try not to include every difficult hill in the city, as a course will draw more runners the flatter it is.  So, with that said, if you are looking for a flat Half or Full marathon, Raleigh is not the city to scout out for races.  It’s a perfect place though if you like to train on hills!  And I do!

The course this year was more well supported with aid stations than last year.  I never felt the least bit dehydrated, as water/Gatorade stops were aplenty.  I cruised along through the first few miles downtown.  I felt pretty good.  The first five miles, full of ups and downs, I maintained a pace under 8:00 per mile.  It wasn’t until mile 6 when my pace hit 8:20 that I knew the hills were taking a bit of a toll on me.  I felt good though, and really enjoyed all of the music and entertainment along the course.  I really think that there were a lot more spectators all along the course route this year.  The constant cheers were so appreciated, especially along some of the tougher uphill stretches.

Traversing Peace St. toward Cameron Village is certainly one of the toughest parts of this course.  I ran mile 7 in 8:26, and mile 8 in 8:57.  Yes, the hills played a big roll in those times.  My overall pace was now over 8:00 per mile, and that was my goal for this race.  I was shooting for a 1:45:00 finish, so if I wanted to achieve that, I would have to now make up some time.  Mile 9 brought us to the Bell Tower at N.C. State.  I had sort of pre-arranged seeing my older son here at the Bell Tower.  He wasn’t sure if he would be on campus that night since a couple of his buddies were in town for the weekend, and sure enough he wasn’t there.  Bummer!  We made the turn onto campus and down Pullen Rd.  I had found a bit more of a boost in energy here, but knew my miles running sub 8 were gone.  I was just trying to keep focused on running smoothly.  After that nearly 9 minute mile 8, mile 9 was 8:21, followed by an 8:06 mile 10.

The beauty of Spring in North Carolina was everywhere.  Azaleas are in bloom, dogwood trees full of whispy white and pink flowers.  Spring brings pollen, but the weather this year wasn’t as warm during the race, so it didn’t feel as bad this year.  Temperatures were probably about 55 to 58 degrees, and felt a bit warmer in the sunshine.  Heading toward the stretch on Dorthea Dix campus, I knew that the “Wear Blue to Remember” dedication was upcoming.  I looked forward to seeing it, and being inspired.  Right as I approached the flags, photos and inspiring folks on the side of the road, my race nearly ended.  It has never happened to me before, but my right knee completely gave out.  Out of nowhere!  It completely buckled and I almost fell.  I staggered over to the side of the road completely bewildered.  What was going on?  I didn’t know what to do, but to try to run again.  So, I did.  A few steps later it buckled again.  Almost fell again.  I tried to massage it, stretch it.  It wasn’t muscular though.  How do I fix this, I thought to myself.  All I could do was keep trying and see if it would stop.  Finally, after a few attempts, and some encouragement from the spectators I slowly began running again, careful, not wanting to fall.  I guess it worked, because it didn’t happen again.  Thinking back on it today, my only guess as to what the hell that was all about is that maybe it had something to do with my fall on that knee and leg a few weeks ago.

Anyway, I was finally running again.  Pretty confident that my knee wasn’t going to buckle again, I tried to pick up the pace.  My knee issue wrecked my pace though on mile 11 and 12.  9:02 and 9:21, despite the starts and stops.  I was determined to finish strong.  Boylan Ave. was approaching, a tough uphill run before dipping back down into the center of the city for the finish.  I managed a good showing on Boylan.  Ran it strong.  I really just tried to enjoy the last mile.  Clapping for spectators, saying thank you.  Winding my way to the finish mile 13 was completed in 8:32.  With the finish line in view, I gave it one final push.  I practically sprinted to the finish, not knowing if my knee would give out and send me flying through the finish line.

I managed to stay on my feet, passing about 8 runners in the final few hundred feet.  With a medal around my neck, my 26th Half marathon was over.  I came close to my goal, even with my knee hampering the later part of my race.  Finish time 1:47:46.  Overall pace 8:14.  Pretty happy with that!

Water, Gatorade, bananas, pretzels, chocolate milk, I took my time walking though the finisher chute.  Stopping now and then to rest in sunny spots.  A guy from Jersey Mike’s handed me a mini turkey sub sandwich that really hit the spot.  As I sat on the curb, I turned to snap a picture of the finish area looking back at the finish line.

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I decided to return to my car and grab a jacket before heading over to the Red Hat Amphitheater for the post race concert.  It was a good time.  It was nice to relax and take in some music before heading home.  “Hey now, you’re a Rock Star!”  Smash Mouth was the post race headliner.

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Results were posted last night.  5,599 finished the Half, and 952 finished the Full.

My results-  502/5599 overall, 378/2213 gender, and 62/359 on my last day in the 40-44 Age Group.

Pretty happy with my results!  Now that today is my birthday, and I am officially 45, let’s see what kind of impact I can have in my new AG.  Thanks again, Rock ‘n’ Roll, the Raleigh event is amazing!  Such a challenge, but so much fun!  Great swag, too!  Love the Cree Shimmer Wall on the medal.

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Rock ‘n’ Roll Dilemma. Half or Full?

A have a dilemma I need to share and discuss.  Hopefully my readers can give me some advice.

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I ran the inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh last April on my Birthday.  It was an amazing event, running a marathon on my birthday was such a huge treat!  I didn’t sign up to run the event again until about six months ago.  When I signed up I had a big decision to make, but at the time it seemed pretty simple.  Here were my considerations …..

-temperatures in mid-April can vary widely here.  Last year temps were too warm for a marathon.

-the full course was killer with hills.  Killer!

-aid stations were lacking on the full course.

I decided based on the above bullet points to sign up, but run the Half this time around.  I wanted to support a Rock ‘n’ Roll event here in my hometown, but the thought of trying to tackle the same full course again was something I just didn’t want to do.  I was happy with my decision to run the Half.

Then, about a month after I signed up, Rock ‘n’ Roll announced (I’m assuming based on runner feedback from last year) a new marathon course.  An easier/flatter course.  Taking all things with a grain of salt because regardless of a change in course, Raleigh is hilly everywhere.  The new elevation chart does look better.  They’ve also announced more water/aid stations.  After all that getting my mind whirling, they posted a challenge.

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For returning runners, if you run the course faster this year than last, you get a special shirt.  A challenge, my friend?  Have they issued a challenge?  Thrown down the gauntlet?  I believe they have.  Only one problem.  I signed up for the Half.

But now I want to run the Full!  I think that if I decide to run Full, I won’t make the change until at the expo.  I would have to pay the change fees, but with a new course it may be worth it.  Waiting until the expo to potentially change races would also let me make a last minute decision based on how the weather looks.

What do you think about my dilemma?  Have you ever changed races at the last minute?  Ever upgraded or downgraded races at an expo?

Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh Marathon Thoughts

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I have the day off today, and more than enough time to recap this event, but I don’t think it’s all soaked in quite yet.  With that said, a full recap will follow soon.  I did want to post today with some of the amazing high points, and some of the sad news as well.  This will probably appear to be a bit scattered, as my thoughts are still are over the place when it comes to the day, please stay with me.  😉

The weather- a help or a hindrance?  Temps at the start of 60 degrees.  A breeze.  A clear, sunny and beautiful day lay ahead as we toed the line at 7am.  Temperatures maxed out at 80 degrees yesterday later in the afternoon, so the longer you were on the course, the tougher the weather was to deal with.  Spring is here, and the pollen count (a pure cloud) hampered many, but I took a Claritin before the race, and did just fine.

Inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll Race – They did an amazing job!  Amazingly organized and planned for a first time event.  Yes, there can be improvements, as with any race, but for a first time event, it was so well coordinated.

The course – Not sure there are enough descriptive words to do this course justice, but I will try.  Both city and countryside views, this course had it all.  Many points of interest including the Raleigh Convention Center, both Nash and Moore Squares, Shaw University, Chavis Park, Historic Oakwood Cemetery, William Peace University, Cameron Village, PNC Arena, NC State and the Dorthea Dix campus.  Raleigh is full of hills, and this course took advantage of most of them.  Scenic, difficult, rolling, inspiring.

12,500 runners had registered for the event.  Looks like the normal 10% either didn’t show up, or didn’t finish.  The marathon was won by a first time marathoner, and the women’s winner ran a PR, and finished 3rd overall.  Congrats to both of them!  Amazing feats for a difficult course.  There were 1,615 finishers in the Full.  8,593 finished the Half.

Making the news all over the country, and certainly much more so in the running community was some sad news.  Two men both in their 30’s, collapsed and died while running the Half Marathon.  One man collapsed between miles 10 and 11.  The other collapsed and died a couple of hundred yards from the finish line.  The names have not been released as of right now, but both died of apparent pre-existing, undiagnosed heart conditions.  My family arrived at the finish line area as the younger man, was receiving chest compressions from paramedics.  Both men were transported to local hospitals, but were pronounced dead upon arrival.  My family told me that it was quite a scene.  I’ve read that one woman passed both runners down on the course, and it was very hard to handle emotionally.  My heart goes out to the runners’ families.  I hope both of these men passed away doing something they loved.  The running community is here to help, if you need to reach out to us.

Race day was also my Birthday, as well as my younger son.  Running a marathon was a great way to start my birthday.  Unique.  My son had a soccer game in the afternoon, so he got to do what he loves as well, on his special day.  We capped off the day with a great meal, and carrot cake and ice cream, presents and cards from family and friends.  It was a great day all around.  I collapsed on the couch and was dozing off before 10pm.

Not to ruin the surprise, but I did finish the marathon.  Rock ‘n’ Roll gave me a special Birthday present.  My bib # incorporated the age I turned yesterday on race day.  44!  My 12th marathon, Top 13% finish, on 4/13.

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The excitement is building

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Now just four short days away, Raleigh is all a buzz.  The talk of the town is Rock ‘n’ Roll.  The talk of the town is the marathon.  I kinda like when we runners get some attention.

Road closure signs, and no parking signs have been being set in place over the past few days, and since tomorrow is the final day before the Expo kicks off, I guess they are right on schedule.  I work downtown, and have seen road signs on both Hillsborough Rd. and 401 heading north before the city.  I’ve been asked countless times by people in the city this past week how to find information on parking.  How to find out what road will be closed.  Just Google Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh, or their title sponsor WRAL, and you will be directed to links with all of the race day information.

Temperatures this week have been on the rise.  I do believe that a Spring is finally here in Raleigh.  Well, I don’t think we are in for any more frost, or freezing temps, and that’s good, because trees are budding out, and flowering shrubs and trees are nearing full bloom.  The azaleas are even starting to open up.  With the nice daily temperatures over the next few days, the run this Sunday should be just beautiful and full of color.  Race day temps are supposed to reach as high as 78 degrees, with overnight lows in the mid 50’s.  Dress appropriately, hydrate and make sure your Body Glide is applied liberally when you head to the race on Sunday.

i’m really looking forward to it.  Now, time to get in another taper run.  Good luck to all those running this weekend, be it the race event here in Raleigh, or the other countless races across the globe.  Run smart, and run happy!

Snow in the forecast

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Can I just tell you that I hate snow?  I especially hate snow in the south!  Southerners don’t know how to drive in the white stuff.  We also don’t have the equipment here to deal with a significant snowfall.  A snowfall like is expected later this afternoon and evening will paralyze this area.  Lucky for me I have today and tomorrow off from work, by chance.

I live in the zone where 3-6 inches of snow is expected.  Although it will be pretty, I’m sure, it will be a complete travel nightmare.

My plan is as follows:

What do I want to eat today and tomorrow?  I will think about this as I get ready to head to the grocery store.  Shower and grab some groceries afterward.  Get back home, and then change and go for a quick run before the weather turns ugly this afternoon.  A run today before the storm will allow me to rest again tomorrow when the roads will be to slick for it anyway.  I won’t have to feel guilty that way if I get the run in today.

Then I will sit in the house and get some much needed chores done.  I will also get to watch the madness ensue on TV, watching all of the various broadcasts about the weather, the crazy drivers, and such.

It’s gonna be a mess.  Wish me luck.

Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure Raleigh

Tomorrow will be my first time running this 5k.  I have been more geared toward endurance running, so this will be interesting.  I haven’t competed in a 5k in over a year, so I am just going to do the best I can.  I am racing as part of Team RunRaleigh Racing, and I am lucky enough to be racing tomorrow with my 17 year old son Dylan.  I am sure he will step out in front of me at the line, and I will be chasing him down the whole race.  Actually, I am just hoping that I can keep him in my sights, as he will be my inspiration to move my feet faster.  As Tropical Storm Andrea approaches from the south, this may be the first race I may have to run in the rain.  I have been lucky so far.  I have been getting a lot of great advice, as I have been a bit concerned about my speed.  My goal for tomorrow?  Enjoy another race with my son, and be inspired by all the women and men wearing pink in support of breast cancer awareness.  Hopefully I will inspire, as well.

Do you run to inspire?  Do you run to be inspired?

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