I Love Rock n Roll (Raleigh)

Before this weekend, I thought Rock n Roll was overrated. I hadn’t done one, but there was no way that a race series that puts on races in as many cities as they do can do a great job at all of them.

Oh boy, was I wrong.

Friday (Expo)

I took a half day from work and set out to drive to Raleigh. I somehow timed it to where I would arrive right when the expo was opening. I braced myself for bad traffic and crowds (I hate city driving) but was pleasantly surprised with a super easy drive. After handing over $7 to park in the Convention Center garage (ouch), I went inside.

Other than the extreme level of organization they had at number pickup and shirt distribution. I have to say at this point I wasn’t impressed. I had an expo of Marine Corps Marathon proportions in mind, especially since it was in a convention center. There were a few vendors, but a good portion of them were either local things, things I had no interest in (organic home delivered food?) or just plan random (the rice booth). I did enter to win a few free race entries (so far I haven’t won any of them). I had planned to kill an hour before my friend Meredith got off work, so I aimlessly wandered around picking up a few free things.

 

Saturday (5K)

We were instructed to park near the Convention Center, and walk or shuttle the 1ish miles to the start. I found a cheaper place to park this time (thank goodness) and set out to walk. I made it a block before finding the shuttles and since I couldn’t feel my fingers, I hopped in one.

I’m so glad I did because not only was it warm in there, the start line was further away than I thought and I’m pretty sure I would have gotten lost. Our bus driver actually missed a turn at one point and I thought we were going to be late but we made it.

There were over 2,000 people at the start line, which I think makes it the biggest 5K I have ever done. I somehow got seeded into Corral 2, which was good since I was not feeling standing around for very long in the cold.

We took off (up a hill) and began the twisty turny course through Dorothea Dix Park. There was a band at mile marker 1 and 2, and spectators on a good amount of the course. Nothing particularly jumped out at me as special about this race, other than the energy. I still hadn’t fallen for Rock n Roll yet.

I have no idea what my time was, because it turns out I completely didn’t understand the timing system. The bibs had a weird red piece on them when I got them, but I though it had something to do with bag check, so I didn’t bring it with me. My friend Allison (thankfully before the half) let me know that it was my timing chip and I should have put it on my shoe (I felt so dumb).

The medal for the 5K is gorgeous and heavy! I could probably knock someone out with it!

 

Sunday (Half)

Because of street closings, in order to guarantee parking we had to arrive by 5:30 (for a 7am start!). I woke up all excited, drove to my parking spot, and then I waited in my car. Had the weather been normal I might have walked around and explored a little, but it was 30 degrees outside and I was perfectly happy staying in my car. However, after about 30 minutes I started to get really sleepy, so I started to play games on my phone to keep myself awake. Around 6:15, I started to feel really nauseous for no apparent reason. By the time I walked to the start at 6:45, the feeling hadn’t gone away. I changed my goals to be

  1. Don’t throw up
  2. Finish
  3. PR (this was the dream goal at this point, but my main goal originally)
After lining up in my corral (10), I waited patiently to start. The start line was definitely the most fun start I’ve ever witnessed. There’s loud rock and roll music (duh) playing, an excited announcer, and so many people!
The first mile of the race was a little rough, but after it was over, I immediately started to feel better. I had no watch, the clock was completely off from my pace since I had started so far back, so I had no clue how I was running.
There was something about the entirety of the race- the crowd support, the on course entertainment, the rolling hills- that made me fall in love with running again. I ran at a pace that felt great, not pushing too hard but not stopping when going up any hills either. It was my definition of a perfect race.
Somehow, by a miracle, I managed to meet all 3 of my goals, finishing in 2:11:27, a full minute PR. If I had pushed myself a little harder, I could have probably done it by even more. But I accomplished something even better- having the most fun race of my life.
Running with no pressure every now and then is totally worth it. And although there is no particular one thing I can tell you that makes a Rock n Roll race special, it definitely was and I can’t wait to do another.

 

One of my favorite post race things is that you earn badges based on your accomplishments!

 

So, would I do another Rock n Roll race again? Absolutely!
In fact, I immediately signed up to run again at Virginia Beach in September (earning myself a Double Beat medal!).
I’m calling it now that a PR won’t happen here due to the heat!
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