This is the third year I’ve participated in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Dallas half marathon (you can read about my experience in 2015 here. Spoiler alert: It was a PR for me!). I wavered back and forth about running the 5K on Saturday for the Remix Challenge and extra medal, but I waited too long and the 5K sold out. I wasn’t yet in half marathon shape, so it was probably for the best that I sat Saturday’s 5K race out.
I visited the expo on Saturday morning at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center and was surprised and disappointed with the expo this year. The footprint was much smaller than the past years. There were still great vendors (like my favorite, Cryozone!), but it was much smaller than usual. I wasn’t digging the merchandise this year, so at least I saved some of the pressures typically put on my wallet at the Rock ‘n’ Roll expos.
The weather looked fairly chilly for the end of March, so I opted to be safe and mimicked what I had worn at Rock ’n’ Roll San Antonio in December. I went with my CW-X compression tights, a short sleeved shirt, and a Nike element half zip. I kept an earband on my ears until I checked my gear bag since my ears are very susceptible to the cold and tend to flare up my sinus issues. I decided to race with my gloves knowing I could take them off and tuck them in my Flipbelt if needed.
I utilized DART to get to and from race site since parking seemed like a bigger hassle than it was worth. I learned from fellow DART riders that it was just as quick to get off at the West End stop and walk to the Convention Center starting area, rather than trying to get on the blue or red line and walk to the Convention Center. The best part about the starting area was the multiple areas of porta potties! For such a large group of runners, porta potties can be at a premium, so it was a relief (see what I did there?) to have an ample amount to choose from.
One of the best parts of being a BibRave Pro is that I get to meet friends from other cities at races! Emily lives in Arizona and we’ve chatted on social media for about a year, and we got the chance to meet up before we lined up in our corrals. I love that she runs as a St. Jude Hero, which raises money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Rock ‘n’ Roll changed the course again this year. We started near the Convention Center and went through Deep Ellum, downtown, the West End, past Dealey Plaza, crossed the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge and passed Trinity Groves, headed down through Oak Cliff and Kessler Park, turned to tour the Bishop Arts District, and made our way around Lake Cliff Park and back across the Trinity River towards downtown to finish at Reunion Park. The elevation was much more difficult than I had been expecting. Last year, we ran down the ramp from the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge to Continental Avenue, but this year we ran the portion in the opposite direction and had to run up the circular on ramp! I also had no idea Sylvan Avenue, near mile 9 on the course, had such an incline! I’ve driven the street numerous times, but running it always brings a different perspective. The final turn from Reunion Blvd. to the finish line on Sports St. was actually uphill. I didn’t mind because it was a very short distance – maybe 0.1 miles – and I knew that as soon as I saw the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders at the corner, the finish line was very close. I’ve heard other people complaining about the course, but I loved it! I loved that it highlighted so many of the different neighborhoods in Dallas. And I actually loved the challenging course – courses don’t need to be flat to be enjoyed!
Goal: Maintain 11:30 – 12:00 min/mile pace. Not too strenuous.
Location: Dallas, TX
Date: March 20, 2016
Distance: 13.1 miles
Conditions: Around 36° F with 56% humidity and 6 mph winds at race start.
Total time: 2:38:38
Pace: 12:06 min/mile
Outcome: I held close to my goal pace, and with the hills and not being up to half marathon-shape I’m pretty pumped with the outcome.
Admittedly, I wasn’t in race shape for this race. I had been sick for so long between December and January, then had a lot of work and travel commitments, so I hadn’t been able to rebuild my endurance back up in time for this race. Not racing until the end of March felt like a late start to the season compared to my previous racing seasons. I felt really good the first 5 miles – in fact, I ran mile 5 at a 10:37 pace which was my fastest split of the race – then sluggish between miles 6 and 10, and then had to tap into my depleted reserves to finish the last 3 miles.
Most importantly, I had fun during this race. I had been struggling to find the fun in racing again after burning out over the winter, and my first race of 2016 brought that fun back. The crop-top wearing Mavs Maniacs were fun to engage with. I saw a lot of friends on the course, including my original Dallas Running Club pace leaders, Max and Denise, who paced and trained me to completing my first half marathon in 2011. It was so fun to see them around mile 11 and thank them again for their commitment and inspiration. I also got to high five Derek Mitchell at mile 9 and thank him for cheering on the half marathoners after he finished his race on Saturday.
And even though I didn’t complete the Remix Challenge, I received an extra medal at the end of the race. I earned the Lone Star heavy medal for completing Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio in December and Rock ‘n’ Roll Dallas in March. It was a great race to kick off 2016!