This is my last post about this race, but I wanted to note some things that went well and did not go so well about it. This includes race logistics and my own personal race experience.
Rock N Roll Raleigh Marathon: The Pros
–Very organized! I thought everything went smoothly, from the expo to the start, throughout the race, the finish, and after party. I loved that the start and finish were close by but not in the same spot.
–The location of everything was awesome. As I said above, the start and finish line were close by but about one block apart. There were two hotels available within this vicinity (The Sheraton, where I stayed, and the Marriott). There were also plenty of places to eat right there. Just past the finish line there were places for people to sit and hang out outside. The area was never too crowded and with the sunny day we had many people took advantage and hung out outside.
–The start line was spread out really well. It actually looped around the block so some of the corrals were pretty far back. I started in the back of corral 4, and there was no bottlenecking or anything that I experienced. I can’t speak for anyone who started in the later corrals but I haven’t heard any complaints.
–The time of the year of the race was ideal for a marathon. Well it should be ideal but due to a rough winter I know many runners could not train how they would have liked. I wouldn’t want to plan a race later than April because by then it is usually really hot. Any earlier and you have to train through the holidays which is tough. So I feel like mid-April should be an ideal time, but as we have seen some years will just make it much harder to train.
-I loved the hotel that we stayed in: The Sheraton Raleigh. I’m sure we could have saved money by staying farther from the start line, but after staying a mile away from the start when we ran the Houston marathon we learned our lesson. (Walking a mile home soaking wet from running in the rain while it was freezing cold out was not fun!) It was so nice to be right there, close to the expo, start, and finish. I also mentioned before that we had access to the club lounge. This meant 24/7 access to bottled water. We didn’t have a fridge in our room, so this was perfect.
–Crowd support. I expected there to be good crowd support downtown, but I didn’t know what to expect when we ran the long out and back. I felt like there were people at every mile cheering. It helped to have the bands, too.
Doesn’t the course kind of look like a guitar?!
–As much as I was dreading the out and back, it was nice to be able to see others on the course. I think I saw the first elite males heading back when I was at mile 13 and they were at mile 19. So after that point, there were people going in the opposite direction of me most of the time I was running.
–Post race snacks- It was nice and spread out at the end! At the Baltimore Marathon, the full and half marathoners finished together (the half marathoners start 2 hours after the full and merge with them at mile 16 or so) so it was soooo crowded at the finish line. I didn’t even get free food because I stood in line for 30 minutes and gave up. At Raleigh I was able to take my time getting water, gatorade, chocolate milk, and a power bar. They also had pizza and cookies (and probably other stuff I didn’t see). Since my stomach was feeling funny from all the gel I ate I preferred liquid calories, but also munched on the power bar. It was also nice that the event staff let me wait at the finish line for Rob so I could take his picture! (They just asked that I stood to the side until I saw him coming).
Rock N Roll Raleigh Marathon: The Cons
-HILLS. You knew this was coming, right?
Honestly I don’t feel like this picture does the course justice, and some of you (Michael!)will probably laugh at all of my complaining after seeing this. This just wasn’t what I expected, and was certainly not what I was used to. I feel like I handled it better than I usually handle hills because I did make a point to include them in my training on some of my long runs. Running in the Rock N Roll USA half marathon in DC helped because there was a big hill in that race, and I was able to remember that mentally and tell myself none of these hills were as hard as that one!
–There was one part of the race that I think we went 3 miles without water, and this was a part when we really needed it. I think is was around mile 18 and by then it was so hot. I felt ok because I had my camelbak, but I heard many other runners wishing there was water during this part of the race.
–It was a long walk to the beer tent. I think it was like 3 blocks from the finish. It was nice that it was spread out from everything else, but I thought it was asking a lot of runners to walk that far after a race:)
My Personal Race Experience: What I Did Right:
–Pacing. For a hilly course, I felt like I did well with this. In the Baltimore Marathon, I ran the first half of the race wayyy faster than the second. I hit the wall at mile 16 and couldn’t recover. In this race I was able to keep about the same pace consistently, and even got a little faster at the end.
–Fluid and fuel intake. I think I made the right choice to bring my camelbak (which held 50 oz of water and 2 nuun tablets). I also took advantage of the cold water along the course, and drank a little bit of water frequently, so I never felt dehydrated. I also ended up taking a gel every 3.5-4 miles (way more often than in past races) but I think this worked well for me.
-Positive self-talk. I was able to keep a positive mindset throughout this race even when it got really hard. In several of my past races recently I have really struggled with the mental side of racing, so I was really happy that I was able to do this.
My Personal Race Experience: What I Did Wrong:
–If I was better at math, maybe I would have known what I actually needed to get a sub-4. I don’t know if I would have been able to do it, but I was frustrated that I thought I had it but was a minute off.
–Errors in training. If I could go back and re-do my training, there are a few things I would have done differently. I do want to post at some point about my experience using the Hanson’s Marathon method, but for now I’ll just say that while I thought hitting 60 miles/week was good in some ways, I should have taken more step-back weeks. I think I reached a point 3 weeks before the race when after a great long run, everything started to hurt. Even though it was time for my taper and I took a bunch of days off, I think it was too late. This just added more stress leading up to the race. I don’t think my “injuries” really affected my race, but I think I could have run better if that wasn’t a factor.
–Making a bathroom stop. This was the first time EVER that I have had to stop in a race. I usually go one last time right before I head out the door for a run, and never have to go while I am running. On race day I went right before we left the hotel room, but after standing around for 20 minutes I felt like I had to go before the race started, which is never good. I didn’t stop for long, but of course one of the things I thought to myself was that if I didn’t stop maybe I would have run under 4 hours. I don’t think I stopped for a minute and 6 seconds, but of course that sticks out in my mind as something that affected my race time.
As I was writing this post, I went to the Rock N Roll Raleigh website to look for a course map (instead I pulled it from my garmin) and it looks like they may be changing the course for 2015. I would be interested to see if it is less hilly. I don’t really feel the need to do this race again, because there are so many other places I would like to run. I do think it was a great race and if you are looking for a spring race on the east coast you should definitely consider this one! (But maybe check the new course map so you know what you’re getting into).
I don’t have any more races that I am signed up for at this point, so I am taking it easy and getting my leg healthy. (However, watching the Boston Marathon today was so inspiring and made me want to sign up for everything right now!)
What is the next race you will be running?
Thoughts/comments on the Boston Marathon?!
What is most important to you when you are looking to sign up for a race?