Like I mentioned in the past couple posts, this past Sunday, John and I ran the Rock N Roll Raleigh Half Marathon. It was a beautiful day for running (60 degree temperatures during the race). But, man, it was seriously the hilliest half marathon I’ve ever done. Not only were there a lot of hills, they were steep AND long. I even said under my breath (or, I should say, through my huffing breath) once, “Are you kidding me??” haha. I was convinced at each hill that it had to be the last hill but they kept coming until the very end.
So, I was especially proud of myself for beating my PR given the course! I beat my PR by nearly 4 minutes. I ran it in 1:35:50, average pace 7 minutes, 19 seconds. (My previous PR was 1:39 set at the 2013 Mistletoe Half Marathon.) I finished 115th overall, 30th overall for females, and 7th in my age group, which I’m really proud of considering there were more than 8,600 half marathoners total, more than 5,800 females, and more than 910 in my age group division.
John ran it in 1:27 and beat his PR by about 30 seconds and came in 2nd in his age group and 25th overall, which is awesome! Dude is fast.
(Um, can we please observe how massive this bib is? Rock and Roll bibs are enormous…they barely fit on my torso!!)
So, in the spirit of how I typically blog about half marathons, these are the reasons I loved Sunday’s race! (in no particular order I just like counting down from 10)
10 Reasons I Loved the Inaugural Raleigh Half Marathon
10. It was the inaugural…and it was extremely well organized. Most first year events have a number of glitches, but from my perspective, it went off without a hitch. Rock N Roll Events are nothing if not organized. (Although, they are a bit strict about packet pick-up. No one else can pick up your packet, even with written permission and ID. I’ve never experienced this with any other race series, including other very large races.)
9. The course was a good mix of city, neighborhoods and scenic parks. I don’t really know the Raleigh area that well but what I saw was really beautiful. The neighborhoods surrounding the city were charming. Many trees were in fluffy pink blooms too.
8. There was good crowd support, especially given it was the first year. I also really liked the RnR signs along the course, like “Someday you will not be able to do this. Today is not that day.” But, the crowd signs were the best. Some of my favorites, “Run like it’s the start of the Hunger Games” (this was hanging on a husky’s neck. Another pooch was dressed up as in a superman shirt and had a cape. Loved it.) I saw a few signs that cracked me up, “Run random stranger run!” and “If running a marathon were easy, it would be your mom.” LOL mom jokes… A new bride and groom were even on the course cheering people on with a sign, “Run faster! She caught me!”
7. The shirts! I love the design and the black color. (Although, that will get hot in the summer.)
6. The band at the finish line party. I don’t know who was playing when we finished and wandered over to the ampitheatre, but they were awesome. I had earbuds in during the race so I didn’t hear the bands along the course, but I appreciated the energy you could feel from them!
5. The cold, damp towels handed out at the finish line. It was warm (but not too hot) when we finished and the cold towel felt amazing. They handed them out right after you got your medal. I also loved Starbucks right by the finish line. An ice cold Americano had my name all over it. (Literally. )
4. The start line. The corrals wrapped around a block so it wasn’t too crowded or difficult to get into your corral.
3. Corrals assigned based on speed and wave start. Time-assigned corrals keeps a safe flow for everyone at the start. Runners that are newer to races probably don’t know the unspoken rule about lining up according to your speed, so I appreciate events that enforce this with corrals and waves and, in the process, educate on race etiquette.
2. Ample free parking. There were multiple parking garages near the start line. (Although, I did hear that some people had issues with a garage filling up.) Next year, I’d pre-purchase parking since they offered that option. (I wasn’t aware of that until it was too late and the pre-purchase spots were sold out.)
1. The moment of silence at the beginning for the victim of last year’s Boston Marathon bombing. I shared my thoughts on the bombing last year, but it still makes my heart hurt and brings tears to my eyes to think of that day especially as it’s been one year and it’s all over the news again. And hearing about the two people who died while running the Raleigh Half Marathon also stunned me and made my heart heavy. I love the running community, and despite “good” and “bad” and top 10 things at a race…the fact is, I have so much to be grateful for as a runner. Grateful for the community, grateful for the friends I’ve made, grateful for the bond we share, grateful for my health. And that’s really what running is all about.
There is one* thing I’d change about the race: The expo. It was a large space but felt very cramped, like they had too many vendors. We didn’t linger long.
(*And I could do without some of those wicked hills. )
After we cleaned up, we met Crystal for brunch and then wandered through downtown Raleigh. I was so happy I got to see her despite the quick trip!
We got some awesome coffee and tea before heading back to Winston-Salem. How cool is that clear mug?? I want.
Did you run the Raleigh half or full marathon? If so, what was your favorite or least favorite parts? Are you planning to run it next year? Despite all the hills, I really enjoyed this race and the course (a challenge is good, right?!) and hope to do it again!
If you didn’t run it, what makes a race “good” for you? The course? Shirts? Crowds?