It’s Only Rock N Roll (but I like it): Rock N Roll Raleigh Half Marathon

“I said I know it’s only rock ‘n roll but I like it
I said I know it’s only rock ‘n roll but I like it
I said I know it’s only rock ‘n roll but I like it, like it, yes, I do
Oh, well, I like it, I like it. I like it…” – It’s Only Rock N Roll – Rolling Stones 
IMG_2821 Corral selfies – Fellowship of the Ring
I ran the second annual Rock N Roll Raleigh Half Marathon with my Fleet Feet training group this past Sunday. I ran this race last year as my second half marathon, ever, and hated it. It was HOT and humid (82 balmy degrees). It was hilly (hello, miserable f-ing hill in Boylan Heights at mile 12). I was wearing the program shirt Fleet Feet gave us which was black and itchy. I hated that, too. I was stuffing ice down my sports bra at the aid station at mile 8 and seriously considering taking off the shirt, running in my sports bra and exposing myself to the good people of Raleigh. I mean, it is not like I knew any of those people and I was running by myself, at that point, so no one on the course knew me, either. Y’all know it must have been bad if I was going to expose my most hated body part (my stomach) to the world! I swore I would never run this race, again. Well, you know I went back on my word because I would not be writing this blog post if I had not! That Fleet Feet peer pressure is a powerful thing.
Sunday’s weather was perfect for what was my ninth half marathon. It was cool at the start and only warmed up to 64 by the time I crossed the finish line. I wore the neon green program shirt to the race. I hated it, too, but I was a mentor this time around so I felt like I should show some team spirit (there goes that peer pressure, again). Neon green is not flattering to pale, blonde Irish girls and the neckline on that shirt was like a turtleneck! Heather did not wear her shirt so, of course, Heather looks cute in all of our race pictures and I look like a big green blob. That is neither here nor there because this was an awesome race and none of that really matters. I had so much fun during this race.
I made Heather meet me in the parking deck at the Duke practice on Page Road at 5:00 AM (Heather likes to take a more leisurely approach to race start times than I do). We hit traffic as soon as we got off Capital Blvd and parked the car in the first private lot open and taking money. Heather ate her full breakfast buffet of Rice Krispies with milk and even sliced her banana in the car. I would much rather walk than sit in traffic before a race. Heather and I had both purchased new Brooks running shoes so we were given VIP passes to the Brooks Port-a-Potty. This portable trailer is a miracle of modern science. It was a portable bathroom with real flushing toilets, running water and soap. I am spoiled forever. One of the things I hate most about running so many races is having to use so many port-a-potties. I mean is there much else in this world that is as gross as a port-a-potty? They have a Brooks VIP Potty at the Marine Corps Marathon so Heather and I will be saving up our money to buy Brooks race gear to get that pass, too!
IMG_2819 Most awesome people in the world.
We met our training group in front of the performing arts center for a group picture, which turned out pretty well. I know I have said this before but I am going to say it, again – I LOVE MY FLEET FEET FAMILY! The people who run the programs, coach the programs, mentor the programs and participate in the programs are some of my favorite people in the world. If you have ever thought about joining a running group, PLEASE come down and join one at Fleet Feet. You will make the most wonderful friends and have the best time running with these groups. I can’t imagine a time when I am not going to be in one of the training groups. All my old friends keep coming back but, each season, I make new friends.
My pace group, Fellowship of the Ring, headed to Corral 17 to wait for our start time. I have to give the Rock N Roll race crew props. This is my third RNR event. They do a great job with the corrals and with making sure everything starts on time and is organized. The loud rock music pulsing through the speakers, the MC and the countdown for each corral makes for an exciting atmosphere. Before I knew it, we were crossing the starting line. We stuck together for most of the first 4 miles but Heather and I lost Sissy and Alison at one of the water stations. The race was pretty crowded so it was hard to keep track of everyone, even with the neon shirts!
IMG_2814 Sissy, me and Heather
Heather and I were fast. Just like in Quantico. Something about the two of us just makes us run fast! At one point, I looked down at my Garmin and we were running at an 8:40 pace. Too fast so we dialed it back. This run felt really good. Everything was syncing up and I had a feeling I was on my way to a PR. We started walking some of the hills towards the end but we brought it in strong. The course still sucks (I’m probably not going to run this race, again, next year). The terrain did not change but the cooler weather and Heather’s company made it better than last year. In RNR races, there are bands every couple of miles. For some reason, most of the bands were taking a break when Heather and I ran by so that part was not any fun. The Wear Blue Run to Remember veteran’s group was at mile 10, again, right after the nasty hills through Dorthea Dix. Heather and I teared up a bit, here. I just kept telling the folks who lost loved ones during the wars “thank you” as we ran by and they held American flags over our heads. I have heard that there is a lot more of this during the Marine Corps Marathon. Heather and I acknowledged that there might be some crying during that race.
With the last mile, I could tell Heather had a little more in the tank than me so I told her to run ahead. I kept her in my sights the entire time but ended up finishing about 30 seconds behind her. At first, I thought I had missed my Bull City Race Fest Half Marathon time, which was my prior PR, so I was bummed but still impressed with my time on a challenging course so soon after running Wrightsville and the 17.75K. It was only after I got home and looked at my official time that I realized I had set a new PR! My time was also 20 minutes faster than my very first half marathon! We stayed with Nora to cheer our full marathoners from our training group in to the finish. I love watching people finish a marathon. I could stay until the last person crosses.
IMG_2815 We skipped the lukewarm Michelob Ultra
My race results have been improving recently and I am trying to figure out what I am doing differently so I can keep doing it. Here are the three things I think are working for me right now:
1. Weight training – Heather and I started a pretty serious weight training program. We go to the Y on our lunch break three times per week (great people watching, btw) and lift for 45-60 minutes with some mat core work thrown in. After 8 weeks, I can say it is making a HUGE difference in my running form, which I think is letting me run faster. I am not hurting during races and my glutes hurt AFTER the race – I have finally learned to fire the right muscles to run. I am absolutely keeping this up through marathon training.
2. Eating – I called this “eating” instead of nutrition because I don’t want to imply that it is always healthy. When I first started training for a half marathon, I was doing Weight Watchers hard core. I lost 70 pounds, which is great, but I don’t think I was eating enough of the right stuff to fuel my running. I was living on spinach salads and shunning carbs and healthy fats. I also refused to take in nutrition on long runs, thinking I was torching calories so why add them back. Mistake. I have drastically changed my approach. I have not lost any more weight since I started marathon training (in fact, I’ve gained some but let’s pretend it is muscle) and decided to keep up high mileage after the marathon but I have fueled my running. I eat lots of eggs, avocados, nuts, protein, complex carbs and fruit. I also take in nutrition before and during a race. I have eaten a bagel before the last three races and have run my fastest times, yet! I have an 80/20 rule – I try to eat food I prepared myself with fresh, healthy ingredients 80% of the time and allow myself “cheats” 20% of the time. Most of you know one of my major cheats is nachos or tacos! I’ve never met Mexican food I did not like! Am I 100% happy with my weight? No. I am 100% happy with the progress I see in my running so I’ll take it! You can’t win them all with my crappy metabolism.
3. Weather – it is not hot yet. When it gets hot, it gets ugly. I suspect my times will slow down but I am going to try to remain positive and remind myself that running long distances during the hottest part of the year will make running a fall marathon that much easier when the temperature on race day at the MCM is in the high 50s to low 60s.
I am really happy with my running right now and I am so excited about my busy Spring race season. I run the Tarheel 10 Miler tomorrow, the Not So Normal Half on May 17 and the running leg of the Ironman 70.3 on May 31. MCM training starts on June 13. I’m not doing so many training runs during the week since I have so many races. The marathon training will be tough, at first, when I can’t just decide to bail on a run. I do best when I am diligent so the training plan will be good for me. In the meantime, I’m just enjoying running with the most awesome people I know!
IMG_2811 I found a crafter on Etsy who makes tote bags out of old race bibs for $20. Winning! I absolutely love this!

One thought on “It’s Only Rock N Roll (but I like it): Rock N Roll Raleigh Half Marathon

  1. Melody says:

    This is awesome!!! I love how positive you are….and that you love Mexican food as much as I do 🙂 see you tomorrow morning!!!


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