Rockin’ my first Rock ‘n’ Roll race in Washington, D.C.

I took this photo just after starting the Rock ‘n’ Roll Washington D.C. half marathon on Saturday, March 11. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Washington D.C. half marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review, find and write race reviews!

One of the signs I saw early on in the United Airlines Rock ‘n’ Roll Washington, D.C. half marathon read, “If Trump can run and win so can you.”

Here’s a snap I took before the start of the race with the event geofilter.

Spoiler alert — I didn’t win the race. Of course, I wasn’t trying to, and the top female finished just about exactly an hour ahead of me. I did have a fun time, reading all the signs — many of which were politically motivated — listening to the bands along the course as I ran past, taking some pictures and just enjoying the run.

This race, on Saturday, March 11, was the first race I ran for BibRave as a BibRave Pro. It was also my first Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series race.

But before the race came the expo. The Health & Fitness Expo was held at the D.C. Armory on the Thursday and Friday before the race. I took a personal day Friday and rode to the Armory on the Washington, D.C. Metro. I drove to the New Carrollton stop and the Armory was not too far down on the same line — the Orange line. The Stadium-Armory stop was very close to the Armory, where the race would finish the following day.

I was surprised upon arriving to the expo that there were lines to get in the building. I had never before encountered a line to get in an expo, and I was already behind on plans with my family. However, the line moved quickly and it turned out that the line was because security staff were checking people with a security wand and checking bags, so that’s understandable.

This was a fun photo op at the Health & Fitness Expo that I attended at the D.C. Armory on March 10.

Once inside, I was able to quickly get my bib downstairs, then head upstairs to get my shirt and go into the rest of the expo. My shirt, a women’s medium, seemed a little small, but there weren’t any women’s larges left to exchange it for. I just tried it on and it does fit, although it’s a little short. A large would probably be better, but I’m glad it doesn’t look bad. Marathon finishers received a jacket, which is a nice perk.

I used the #runhappydc hashtag with my Instagram post for this picture and had it printed out on the spot!

There were some fun photo opportunities, including a Brooks Running photo backdrop where you could have a photo taken, post to Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #runhappydc and have the picture printed on the spot. I also signed the banner for the race and added the hashtag #bibchat by my name.

I didn’t want to buy much, but I did realize before I left for the race that I was out of Clif Shot Bloks, so after locating those, I bought five packs because there was a deal, and I also got a Spibelt-like storage belt (it wasn’t that brand but looked similar) because I am not sure where mine is.

I rode the Metro back and spent some time with my family. (Bit of advice: If you ride the Metro, put enough money on your SmarTrip card to pay for parking on a weekday, because I paid with a credit card and paid more than $3 extra.) The next morning, I headed toward D.C. on the Red Line from Glenmont. The Metro opened at 7 a.m., so I had originally planned to get there at 7, but it was a little bit before 7:30 a.m. by the time I got on. However, there was another runner getting out of her car as I did, so I wasn’t worried. There were other runners on the Metro, too.

It was a cold day. A snap I took on Snapchat after getting on the Metro showed that it was just 23 degrees. I wore an Under Armour turtleneck, my Louisiana Marathon finisher 1/4 zip and running tights, along with my new BibRave Buff around my neck, a head wrap for my ears and my new BibRave trucker hat. I also wore the XX2i Optics France2 sunglasses I’ve been testing for BibRave and gloves. And of course, shoes and socks!

I knew I would have to go to the bathroom before the race. I followed the other runners in the direction of the start, then stopped into a nearby CVS. There was a line of runners waiting to use the bathroom, and I spent probably 15 minutes or so in line, getting to use the bathroom right as the race was beginning. I figured with all the corrals, it wouldn’t make a difference in my start time, and it didn’t.

Here’s a photo of runners heading toward the Lincoln Memorial. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

When I got to the crowd, I saw someone holding a sign for my corral — 11. It was easy to slip in and take my spot in the corral. I took a start-line Snapchat and posted to Twitter and Instagram. There was only a minute or so left as I was putting different hashtags onto my Instagram post, and I’m pretty sure I was still working on the post with 30 seconds to go.

We started near the Washington Monument, and although we didn’t get to see all the monuments, it was almost surreal to have so many people running on the closed Washington, D.C., streets. I usually do smaller races, and it was pretty crazy to think about the thousands of people all there for the same reason. It was also nice to have so many other people around at all times.

Despite the number of people, the corrals were spaced out enough that I didn’t feel blocked or like I had to swerve around people at all.

We could see the Lincoln Memorial from the side and ran along the waterfront in the beginning. I decided to take a few pictures during the race, since I wasn’t really going for time — I knew I was not in shape for a personal record. However, I did want to feel good about my time and finish well under 2 hours and 30 minutes, since I will be pacing that time at the OCMD Island to Island half marathon in April.

I had to show you all this hill!

There were some rolling hills, but I felt great during the race, and I do think the crowds helped the hills not be as noticeable. However, I had looked at the elevation and knew there was a huge hill coming around Mile 6.

It felt like I was climbing a vertical ascent. There were times I tried to run, but I pretty much walked up the hill because I felt like running wasn’t getting me anywhere. It was tough, but we had just seen signs with photos of members of the military who had been killed, along with their names and ages, in a wear blue: run to remember display. Thinking about the sacrifices of those people did put climbing the hill into perspective. There were also plenty of people there to give high fives.

The volunteers were awesome. It was a cold day, and I could tell that they were bundled up and cold. However, they were upbeat, friendly and helpful. I always thank volunteers when I take water from them, but I tried to make an extra effort to say things such as “Thanks for being out here today.” Although the cold wasn’t bothering me while I was running, I’m sure it must have been hard for those standing still. Some of the water had some ice in it.

I thought this was a creative outfit — that water cup design! (Vanessa Junkin photo)

I was also impressed by the amount of people who were out there cheering and holding signs — they must have also have been cold, but they were out there. There were also spectators wearing various costumes — full-out mascot costumes. I saw an Elvis running the race, too.

I made some notes in my phone of some of the unique signs I saw, which included:

  • At Mile 7: “Only 1 mile to finish #alternativefacts”
  • Make America Chafe Again
  • Run like Mitch McConnell is chasing you
  • Run like science funding depends on it

And there were also signs referring to nasty women, running better than the government or the Trump administration and running like Trump is chasing you. It kept it interesting to see what people would come up with on their signs.

Of course, having bands along the course was cool. The bands played in tents, but they were probably cold as well, and I appreciated them being out there.

Runners make their way past one of the stages on the course. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

Around Mile 9, we started heading down a stretch and could see the Capitol. I took a picture from somewhat far away and then decided to put my phone in my pouch for the rest of the race and run the end somewhat fast.

There were some ups and downs in the elevation, but much of the end of the race was downhill, before a small uphill portion at the end. There was no comparison to that steep hill at Mile 6.

As I mentioned, I felt fine during the race and I had even taken my gloves off early on. I stopped at the water stops and walked through those, but I also didn’t eat the Clif Shot Bloks I’d brought with me, because I didn’t really feel like I needed them and I thought of the previous weekend, when my Clif Shot Bloks were nearly as hard as rocks because of the cold weather.

Here I am with my bling after finishing the Rock ‘n’ Roll Washington, D.C. half marathon. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

I came in at 2:19:21, a time I was happy with — particularly given the fact that I took some pictures and made it up hills, that one at Mile 6 in particular — and received my finisher medal.

Once I finished the race, I was cold, and I only became colder. I didn’t grab one of the Mylar blankets because I wasn’t sure if I should just take one from the area where they were sort of piled up, but I should have. I didn’t stay too long at the after-party, but I might have stayed longer if I hadn’t been so cold.

I got a bottle of water and a chocolate milk, along with a banana (which I didn’t actually end up eating) and a granola bar (which was hard, possibly because of the cold). I have noticed that larger races don’t tend to have the widest array of food, which does make sense, because feeding a few hundred people is a lot easier than feeding thousands, I’m sure. There were some food trucks on-site, so I decided to buy a couple pieces of buffalo chicken pizza. Hot pizza sounded perfect on the cold day.

People enjoy the performance at the post-race party. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

There was also a band playing at the finish party, which was cool, and would have been even more perfect if it had been a little warmer out. My phone had also died, so I decided to head out on the Metro. One thing I didn’t account for was the fact that so many people would be trying to get on the Metro in the same location on the same time. There were lines for the machines to add fare (note to self/others: for a situation like this, add extra money to the SmarTrip card ahead of time), but I ended up going over to the other side and was able to find a shorter line.

I clearly need to improve my Metro skills, because from the Orange line, I also ran to catch a Red line train that only went to Rhode Island Avenue instead of Glenmont, which meant I ended up waiting outside in the cold at Rhode Island Avenue.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to connect in person with any of my fellow BibRave Pros. I hope there will be a chance to meet some fellow BRPs at a future race! I will also be running the Crystal City Twilighter 5K this July for BibRave.

Here’s the race shirt along with my finisher medal. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

Want to run another Rock ‘n’ Roll race? Use the code BIBRAVE15 to save. Here’s the full list of 2017 Rock ‘n’ Roll races. Some of the races are not in the United States, so to see the particular monetary amounts you will save, see my list of Race & Gear Discounts.

Get more information on the race at the race website, and follow the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Snapchat at @runrocknroll. Check out the BibRave reviews for the race at


Mile 1: 9:33

Mile 2: 10:36

Mile 3: 10:35

Mile 4: 9:48

Mile 5: 10:12

Mile 6: 10:29

Mile 7: 12:11

Mile 8: 11:13

Mile 9: 10:26

Mile 10: 10:50

Mile 11: 9:42

Mile 12: 10:18

Mile 13: 10:16

Last part (watch had 3.34): 3:15

Watch average pace: 10:27/mile

Race average pace: 10:38/mile

Updated 3/16: Check out my BibRave review for this race here. (I also made some other small changes to this blog post after its original posting.)

Like She Runs by the Seashore on Facebook here

13 thoughts on “Rockin’ my first Rock ‘n’ Roll race in Washington, D.C.

  1. well done Vanessa!! congrats on your first RnR Race! I’m a huge fan of the series and can’t wait for my first one this year, last weekend in May in Liverpool (which is missing from your list I noticed)!

    great recap too – I’m going to have to keep running for the rest of my life at this rate because now I want to do DC as well (I had Vegas and Philly already on my list and I can only do one US race a year!) haha!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Congrats on finishing your first rock n Roll half! It looks like you had a blast. 🙂 I love those rock n roll races. Their expos are one of the largest I’ve seen with the exception of Disney expos. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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