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I THINK I was just in Washington D.C. – the whirlwind tour

Ever have one of those weekends that you were so on the go that you really don’t realize what all you did… until after everything is over?  That’s pretty much how last weekend went down.

This year’s 1st race of the year was the Rock n Roll Half Marathon in Washington D.C.!  13.1 miles around the nation’s capital.

I normally try to post my race recaps on Mondays, but this one had to wait.  Between the action packed weekend,  lots of travel, miles of walking and then a half marathon thrown into the mix, I was exhausted.  To add to the craziness… it was also time change weekend!  Combining all of that together made for a Monday that was made for sleep, relaxing and processing the whole adventure.

Now that I feel like I can think straight again, it’s time to sit down and relive the fun!

The weekend actually started on Thursday when I drove to Madison to meet up with a few of the other WI Skirt Sport Ambassadors at the  Girl Inc of Greater Madison celebration of International Women’s Day, where we had the opportunity to meet fellow Skirt SPort ambassador and total badass ultra runner/athlete/teacher/motivational speaker/Author Mirna Valerio. Since I have not been able to make it to Colorado for the Skirt Sport Ambassador Retreat in the last few years, this was the best opportunity I was going to have to meet Mirna.  The extra driving and lost hours of sleep was worth it!

It was the perfect night of inspiration and motivation to start off an unforgettable weekend.  Once the program concluded at about 8:30pm, I ended up driving to Milwaukee so that I could catch some sleep and be at the airport before the crack of down for an early morning flight to D.C..

I don’t mind an early morning alarm when it means heading out on an adventure!  Awake at 5, out the door to take the shuttle to the airport byt 5:45 and sitting at the gate by 6:30am. 4 hours later I walked out the door at Reagan International Airport – gotta love a direct flight!

As everyone knows, I live in my Skirt Sports gear and traveling is no different!  Since I was planning on warmer weather in D.C. than in Milwaukee, it was my Redemption Capri’s for the win… besides, the bright colors make any day bright and happy!

After a snafu with a Uber driver that couldn’t find me at the airport, even tho he was told exactly where I was at – right outside the Southwest Terminal.  I contacted a Lyft and within minutes I was on the way to the race expo!  Lyft, you have my business going forward!

The Expo is held at the DC Armory and I forgot that there would be extra security to get into the building (Yeah, I know, it’s Washington DC, there is security everywhere), so I ended up having to leave behind my half a bottle of water that I still had that I bought at the airport.  oops.

Since it was still early in the day, the expo was still pretty quiet and there was NO ONE downstairs at packet pickup!  No waiting in line AT ALL!  Race Bib in hand, it was time to head back upstairs to do some shopping!

First stop… The KT Tape booth to pick up some take and have them tape my foot!  I forgot to get some tape before I left, and didn’t have time to go get my foot taped, so I knew they boys there would help me out!  Now I have tape at home for my upcoming races so I can take care of the taping myself!

As I continued to wander through the expo, I picked up snacks to munch on later, info on a few other races and checked out some new options from Garmin.  Then I turned the corner and found Bart Yasso at the Philadelphia Marathon booth.  I stopped over to spin the wheel to win a prize and ended up landing on “ask Bart”.  So I asked him when he was coming back to Green Bay again!  LOL  I previously had met him when he came to the Cellcom Marathon Expo in January of last year – which was the kickoff to my training for me 1st full marathon!  Once he realized where I was from, he spent the next 5 minutes telling the others in the booth how it was -5 that week and we all were out there running in those “crazy conditions”.  That’s right Bart, a little cold doesn’t slow us Green Bay runners down!  Cold doesn’t scare us!

After the race expo, it was time to find the hotel and then find food… not necessarily in that order.  It was about 2 miles to the airport, why not walk?  A nice 2 mile walk would be enough to stretch out the legs after sitting at the airport or on a plane all morning.  What wasn’t anticipated was the brisk winds.   Yes winds… this was not a light spring breeze.  It was a chilly walk, but in the end, no complaints.  I even stopped to find a geocache along the way to the hotel!  Now I can cross another state off that list too!

After dumping bags off at the hotel, it was a short walk to dinner and the best BBQ place I’ve been to in a long time!  DC Smokehouse did not disappoint!  The brisket sandwich was amazing, the homemade house BBQ sauce had the perfect flavor and the brussels sprouts were to die for! Yes, the brussels sprouts were that good – they were like candy!  They are served with a chipotle mayo, but I didn’t even need the dipping sauce.

After walking back to the hotel, I was done.  It was still early, but when the alarm goes off at 5am, you travel all day and have a race the next morning, lights out comes early!  I sent a message to my friend Hannah back in Milwaukee about staying with her on my return trip and I fell asleep so hard and so fast that I didn’t even see her reply until many hours later!  LOL

Race day was finally here!

I did a quick check of the temperature and realized that I needed to make an adjustment to what I was going to wear for the race.  It was 35 degrees.  My Long Haul Skirt by itself was not going to cut it.  So I grabbed my Holiday Capri’s to put on underneath.  But this also means that I still have bare calves.  I had a 1 pair of compression socks with me that I was planning on wearing home on the plane, but I was going to have to wear them this morning!  I also needed more that just a t-shirt, so I grabbed my bright orange BibRave lightweight hoodie.  I was good to go!

The Rock n Roll Half Marathon did not start until 8:30am, a full hour and a half after the marathon started, so I was actually awake before my alarm and had time to relax and not feel rushed before heading to the start line.  Since the hotel was on the north side of town and the start line was down by the National Mall, a cab was necessary to get there.  I may be up for walking when I can, but a there is no way I am walking over 2 miles to get to the start line to run 13.1 miles.

I grabbed a few photos on the short walk to the start line, once the cab driver got as close as he could. (2 blocks away!)  Since the finish line was back over by the Armory, this was the only chance I had to get any photos in this areas so I had to get them while I could!

Because the trip to the start line didn’t take as long as I thought it would, there was still about 45 minutes before start of the race.  It gave me a chance to find and meet up with Sarah and her family who were at the race.  Her son AJ was running the half as part of his 16th birthday celebration, with Wear Blue to Remember

It just so happened that they were right across the road from me, so I headed over to say hi.  The group was just doing their circle time before the race so Sarah invited me to join them.  We spent the next few minutes honoring service members and their families.  I think it is amazing that this was AJ choice for what he wanted to do for his birthday this year.

Then it was time to start thinking about heading to start corrals and Sarah commented that I didn’t even have any gloves.  It was March… why would I have thought it was going to be cold enough to need gloves.  I told her I’d be fine, but her mom was on top of it.  Next thing I knew, she was handing me a pair of gloves.  The completely didn’t match what I was wearing, but that’s ok, I already looked like a 4 year old dressed me, so it was fitting that the gloves didn’t match either!

Time to run!

I started out my race strong, I had my game plan and I was ready to make it happen. After dealing with foot issues for the last several months, I knew that I couldn’t push it as hard as I would have liked.  This was actually my first run of more that 6 miles since the 1st weekend of November when I ran the Houdini 10k.  Everything since then has been 3-4 miles or shorter.  The goal was to finish without any foot setbacks.  Ultimately, I knew I wanted to finish in 2:45:00.  This would be a far cry from my half PR time of 2:25, but since I’m basically starting over, I’ll take what I can get.

The first several miles of the course take you past several of the monuments and historical buildings so it was easy to keep yourself distracted from watching how far you’ve run.  My 5k split was right about 37 minutes. I saw Sarah, Justin and crew and kept pushing on.

I knew that the biggest challenge of the course was at mile 6.  The steepest hill in DC!  But Mile 6 was also the Wear Blue to Remember mile.  The first part of the mile, the side of the course is lined with signs picturing service members who are being honored for their service.  The one thing that was just as moving as the names and faces along the course was the respect shown by the runners.  It was a windy day.  The signs that were set up with all the service members names and pictures on them kept blowing over.  There were volunteers along the route that kept running from sign to sign, propping them back up  Unfortunately, they kept blowing over faster than the volunteers could pick them up.  I lost count of how runners stopped their race to help prop signs back up.  Well done DC runners!

As we approached the hill, the signs came to an end, and the course was now lined with volunteers holding flags, cheering everyone on as they climbed the beast of a hill!  I didn’t even attempt to run the hill.  I knew that running the hill would have been too much for my foot, so I played it safe and hiked up that beast… just like almost everyone else around me!That hill was every bit as challenging as I was warned, but that was now behind me!  Best part, as soon as I made it to the top of the hill and turned the corner, my watch vibrated… I just hit my flights of stairs climbed goal for the day!  BONUS!  🙂

I was officially halfway done and was feeling good.  I kept going.  Walking when I needed to, running when I could.  I was determined to finish.  I will honestly say the last 5 miles were some of the most fun miles I’ve run in a while.  The other runners were fabulous and everyone was having a great time.   One of my other goals for this race was to remember to have fun.  This second half of the race went through several of the neighborhoods and the local were out in full force, cheering people on, providing snacks and even some beverages.

There were girls handing out donuts to runners, unofficial beer stops, whiskey shots and even Girl Scouts Selling cookies!  Right around mile 10, one of the runners near me even stopped to buy a box of cookies as he past one of the tables.  He spent the next half mile passing out cookies to other runners and police officers helping block streets.  I think that was the best tasting Samoa cookie I have EVER eaten!

I wasn’t able to get any picture after mile 11, as my phone battery was getting low and I didn’t want to completely kill my phone.  I kept pushing thru and before I knew it, I was passing mile 12. The finish line was down the hill and around the corner!

My official finish time was 2:47:52, just a few minutes shy of what I was hoping for me I am ok with that.  This was the 1st race of the year and technically I am still dealing with the foot.  I grabbed my water, some chocolate milk and headed to the med tent to grab some ice to use on my foot during the cab ride back to the hotel.

Next stop was the hotel for a shower and then a walk across the street for my usual post race treat.  Yes, Five Guys just happened to be right across the street from my hotel! Post half marathon (or longer) is pretty much the ONLY time I crave a big ol’ bacon cheeseburger.  I ordered that burger and enjoyed it without guilt.  I think I burned enough calories to make up for it!

By 3pm, it was back to the airport to catch my flight home.  Yup.  I was in DC for about 32 hours.  Stay long enough to get the job done and get out before anyone realized I was even there!  LOL

Overall, it was a good race for me.  I was happy with my finish time.  My foot didn’t give me too many issues (nothing a little ice, stretching and rest can’t take care of).  The course was good and just challenging enough to keep it interesting!  I was hoping for a few more aid stations along the course, but I may have just not payed attention to all of them since I had my Tailwind with me.  I grabbed water a few times along the course but for the most part had what I needed with me.  The entertainment along the course was good tho, with a nice variety of types of music at each spot!

I have officially completed 31 half marathons and 11 states out of 51 in my quest for all 50 states.  Washington DC is technically the bonus (the +1) of the challenge.  Next stop of the quest for 50 states is Nashville TN at the end of April, but I will be making a stop in Milwaukee for Brew City 2 weeks before that!

Thanks you D.C. for a memorable trip!  Not sure when I’ll be back again, but hopefully I will have time to stay longer and visit more!

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