Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Rockin' It In the Nation's Capital

I am getting so close to finishing my 50 States Half Marathon goal that I can almost smell the finish line.  (pun intended).  Getting Washington DC as part of the 50 States completion is a bonus, and I sure didn't want to leave that one on the table!

The "must do" race for Washington DC is the Rock 'n' Roll DC event on Saturday, March 14.  Now that I've done a few Rock n Roll events, I'm well embedded in their email distribution list so when I received an email last fall offering a very limited time window to register for the DC race for a ridiculously low price, I jumped on it.

Rock n Roll Events does this for a number of their races.  Open the registration window months and months before the race - before most folks are able to make the time/money commitment - and offer a deeply discounted registration fee, often less than half price.  They keep this window open for only 24 hours or so, then close it until regular registration opens several months later.

With the race registration taken care of, I got to work making hotel reservations and looking at airfare.  Every time I've ever gone to Washington DC, I've always stayed at the Marriott Metro Center.  Its location relative to the metro station, the convention center, and the Mall, where the race will start, can't be beat!  A few months later, as I monitored air fares, I finally snagged a really good first class airfare into Washington National airport.  Now I was ready; all I had to do was sit back and wait for departure day to arrive in mid-March.

my race bib, event shirt, and bag

I learned that a running friend, Sandy, will be in nearby Tysons Corner on business the week leading up to the race, so I talked her into staying another day to run the race with me.  She got signed up and we worked out a plan to let her leave her things in my hotel room and then have a place to shower and clean up afterward before flying home to California after the race.

Packing light for the trip

Another friend Dan, who lives in MD, made plans to come into DC the day before the race and hang out with me and then join us all for dinner that evening.


He took the train down and we met at the hotel.  I'd already walked over to the Convention Center to pick up my race packet and my friend's, so my afternoon was free.  He'd been wanting to visit a museum in the city called the Newseum, a museum all about the news.  It was in a large, beautiful brand-new building and was overwhelmingly chock full of all kinds of displays: movies, videos, interactive displays, historical displays.  They had large glass cases which held that day's front page from all of the major newspapers in the U.S.  Incredible!

Piece of the radio tower atop one of the trade center buildings; pieces and sections of the Berlin Wall.  The displays just went on and on!  An afternoon was definitely not enough time to see and experience it all.

Great view of Pennsylvania Avenue from the Newseum balcony

view of Pennsylvania Avenue from Newseum balcony

view of Pennsylvania Ave from the Newseum balcony

Dan and I had won a bet made with a mutual friend, so it turned into a running joke involving ice cream.  So what else to do but go find ourselves some delicious gelato, take a selfie, and then send it to that friend!

Dan and I enjoying our gelato

I'd done a little research and found a very good restaurant to meet for dinner - Chef Geoff's.  Sandy had a surprise for me - she'd brought another running friend named Maureen along and didn't tell me.  It was a great surprise to see her sitting there next to Sandy at the restaurant!  Last time I saw Maureen was at the Rock 'n' Roll half marathon in San Antonio last November.  So a pleasant dinner then a walk back to the hotel, where I said goodbye to Dan as he headed down the escalator to the Metro Station.  Maureen and Sandy continued to the hotel with me so that they could see where it was relative to the metro station and so that I could give Sandy her race packet.

In the hotel, dreading the cold wet that awaits us

Race day morning was cold and wet!!  I was so thankful that I'd brought my running jacket!  Sandy and Maureen arrived at my hotel room at 7:30 AM and the three of us headed out the door and down 12th street toward the start line.  Our timing was perfect!  We stepped right into an appropriate corral and were just a few corrals away from the start line, as the partitioned groups of runners shuffled their way toward the start line.

Getting photo-bombed at the start line

We made it across the start line at just a little after 8 AM and I took off running; my two friends staying together so that Maureen, recovering from surgery, could walk.  The course was gorgeous!!  It ran past every major monument along the mall, ran across the river to the entrance to Arlington Cemetery, back across the river and along its bank going north through Howard University, past the Zoo.  It was spectacular!!  Before I knew it, I was within a mile of the finish line area.

the race route.  Data from my GPS watch

I was thankful that it was nearly over.  The last couple of miles I was starting to get very chilled.  The wind seemed to have picked up and it never warmed up above the mid 40's temperatures we had at the start.
finisher medal

As soon as I crossed the finish line I began to shiver uncontrollably.  I didn't care about any of the post finish snacks or drinks; I just wanted to get somewhere where it would be warm and dry.

I had a long walk from the parking lot next to RFK Stadium to the metro entrance on the other side of the Armory.  As I turned the corner, I groaned.  I could see the long lines, several-runners-deep that snaked off in the direction of the metro station entrance.  OMG!  I was so cold!

It took me over half an hour to creep along toward the metro entrance.  Police were keeping us in two lines as we neared the escalators, and kept the center clear for folks who were emerging from the station.  We were captive!!  There were no other options to getting back to the Mall area of downtown DC.
Thank goodness I had the presence of mind to buy this Metro fare card

Finally, I made it to the head of the escalators and started heading down into the station.  Huge crowds of runners were mobbing the ticket vending machines and the turnstile entrances to the platform.  Their soggy money and tickets weren't working in the machines!!   I was so thankful that I'd had the presence of mind to buy a Senior SmartTrip card the day before.  I had to elbow my way past all of the stymied runners to get through the turnstile.  A train pulled up just as I got through so I hurried as best I could with cold stiff leg muscles to jump onto the train before the doors closed.  Whew!

I was still cold, still very wet.  No heat down here in the metro station or the train cars.  But eventually the train pulled into Metro Center station, I got off, went up the escalator and walked the block to my hotel.   All I could think of was Hot Coffee Hot Shower.

It was close to 1:30 PM by the time I made it back to the hotel.  I stopped at the Starbucks in the hotel lobby, bought a vente cappuccino, then took the elevator to my room.  I'd gotten there ahead of my two friends, which was a surprise.  So I quickly brought my capppuccino and dry clothes into the bathroom and hopped into the shower.  Ahhhh.  that felt so good!!

As I was drying off, I heard my friend Sandy arrive.  She got into the shower and, shortly afterward, Maureen showed up with two Starbucks drinks in hand...definitely had the same idea as I had.

We did it!  We were so proud of ourselves for surviving what was by all accounts one of the most miserable races, weather-wise.

Everything was sopping wet, including my shoes but fortunately I'd had the foresight to bring running shoes that were at the end of their life, so all I had to do was toss them into the trash.  Later, I would spread my running clothes out to dry overnight.

We headed downstairs to the hotel restaurant and had a big, hot late lunch to celebrate!  Maureen brought cupcakes from Georgetown Bakery, a real treat!

Maureen carried these with her on the Metro
to get them safely to the hotel for post-race celebration

And then it was time for them to leave to catch their flights.  It was fun doing this race with them, definitely added a bright spot or two to an otherwise tough race.

Later that evening, I went back down to the restaurant to get a light dinner, then get a good night's sleep, head to the airport, and fly home.

apple walnut pie a la mode 

Next:  Go Girl Run half marathon in Oklahoma City next weekend...adding a third wine glass to my Go Girl set.


  1. What a whirlwind of a trip. And the race sounds so cold. Kudos to you all for finishing it. I bet that hot shower and coffee were so nice.

    Congrats to you!!

  2. Pretty much one of the most miserable races I've done. But yes, the hot shower and coffee helped did sharing the day with good running friends.