By Ashley Gardner
The Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon was my first half marathon a year ago. I enjoyed the musical aspect and the route throughout my stomping grounds so much, I immediately signed up for this year’s the day after (partly due to the cheapness).
Going into this year’s Rock ‘n’ Roll, I felt much more prepared. I had kept up my running throughout the winter, so I had confidence I would be able to run a good race. Of course, the week going up to the race, I saw the predicted temperature getting lower and lower, and felt more nervous. Well, there was nothing to do that Saturday morning but roll with the temperature and layer up.
That morning I woke up, put on my gear, and headed downtown. After quickly dropping my bag off, I found that I had a half hour to kill. The temperature was in the high 20s, and my fingers were already cold under gloves. Luck was on my side, and I grouped with others around a heater near the corrals. And, that half hour was soon gone.
Now, it was time to run. I had to tell myself to keep a calm pace until the hill at mile 6. In my mind, that was the only hill in the race, so I was a bit surprised later. I got up that hill without walking (unlike last year), and I was rewarded by the first large group of spectators. From there, it was enjoyment running the streets of DC neighborhoods with anticipation growing as I got closer to mile 11. Now, at various places during the race I did get to hear some rocking music by the bands, but often, they seemed to be between songs (still, I got to give them props for being out in the cold playing). That was not the case at mile 11. There was no doubt that the DRC cheer squad was on. If you look at my running tracker, my pace spikes amazingly at that point from the joy of seeing the squad and the encouragement they provided. After that, it was simply: Run two more miles to RFK.
What rocked: Conquering the hill, meeting my time goal of below two hours, DRC Cheer Squad being out in that cold, and Sly and the Family Stone on the stage at the end!
I started running with DRC spring of 2016 after about a year of running alone and seeing there was a running group in my area. I lucked out in that I choose a group based on proximity and got a group so encouraging and welcoming.
I #RUNDRC because of camaraderie and community. If you fall, there will always be someone there to help you.