Thursday, April 2, 2015

Race Report: Rock 'n' Roll Dallas 5k and Half Marathon

My fourth Rock 'n' Roll half of 2015 started off poorly, with snow coming down on the first day of spring in New York, heralding a expected flight delay from 6:30pm to 7:40pm from LaGuardia at around noon on Friday.  And then to 8:25pm.  I got to LaGuardia after posting a full day at the office, and with snow still falling, was VERY worried about my flight taking off.  But thankfully, only delays were the issue between the LGA and DAL flights, and the inbound flight from Dallas had taken off when I was en route to the airport.  I sat in LaGuardia's gross Terminal B for a few hours, waiting for the inbound aircraft to come in, while biding time writing race reports for this blog, and Virgin was entertaining their passengers by staging a trivia contest, with a free movie/premium channels/drink, for correct answers... and I managed to win a free movie by answering that LaGuardia was their newest destination!

Rise and shine, pre 5K!
Finally, we got word that the inbound aircraft was hovering around New Jersey airspace, waiting for an all clear from LGA air traffic control to land.  They finally got in around 8:30, and we were slated to leave at 9:05.  We boarded quickly, and then sat on the tarmac for another TWO HOURS.  Apparently, a Frontier Airlines plane was blocking our way out and then the line and time it took to get deiced was doubled because of only one working deicing truck.  Ugh, whatever.  We finally landed at Dallas Love Field at 2am.  I grabbed a cab and made it to the hotel where my friend/roomie, Nicole, was already at, to quickly get my kit ready for the next morning's 5K and get some z's.

Posing for photos during the 5K
With hardly any sleep at all, I begrudgingly get up for the 5K with Nicole and head to Fair Park, where we would do the 3.1 mile trek, starting from Cotton Bowl Stadium, on the pathways around the nearly 80 year old complex that housed the Texas Centennial Exposition in 1936.  I knew from the start it was going to be a very rough 3.1 miles for me because of my lack of sleep, hydration, and nutrition from the day before -- and while posing for photo with Nicole and friends Hollie and John who joined up at the start, I exclaimed, "this is going to be a 40 minute 5K for me..." I managed to grab a photo pre-race with American record holder Deena Kastor, who was pacing a group of folks (7:30 miles I believe?  Too fast for me...) and then we were off.  I realized about a half mile in that my shins were not going to take it very well, and I started walking shortly after hitting the one mile mark, when we embarked on an out-and-back along a long stretch of asphalt between the 2k and 4k marks.  Somewhere along this way, I ran into my friend De Moe, and we did our ritual fireball shot, walked and chatted for about a mile, then returned to a casual jogging pace to the finish, stopping to take a quick photo here and there too.  I crossed the finish line in precisely the amount of time I had told my friends - at a mere 39:58.  Luckily the rain held off the entire time, and it began to sprinkle a tiny bit as we left the park to head back downtown.

With Deena Kastor
Nicole and I headed to the expo to pick up our bibs and schmooze around the convention center.  The expo was fairly large, with many of the booths housing Rock 'n' Roll's typical vendors.  I restocked on my KT Tape and Nip Guards, before heading to the RnR booth to say hello to Amy and Ryan, whom we chatted with for some time.  While there, I met another fellow Hall of Fame "seeker," Amy (from Chicago) and her friend Ainsley; as well as Deb and Jake, who I had originally met in Phoenix in January.  Shortly thereafter, Nicole and I parted ways, I grabbed a quick lunch, and then I returned to Fair Park to see a bunch of friends who were performing in their second preview of THE KING AND I, playing at Dallas Summer Musicals.

When the show was over, I headed back to Market Center and met up with Nicole, and we proceeded to Dallas Love Field to pick up Donna, who had run a local (NYC) half in Queens on Saturday morning and then flew out to do RnR for Sunday.  We made our way to a fantastic (albeit LOUD) restaurant, The Social House, in the Uptown neighborhood, where we ate to our heart's content and then re-met up with Hollie, Deb, and Jake.  It was a packed day and we were all tired, so we headed back to the room to rest up since the following morning we had to brace ourselves for another potentially wet race.

The crew for dinner, night before the race
Race kit for the half...
The forecast all week for Sunday was rain, rain, rain - and the air felt super saturated when we woke up.  We made our way to the DART, as we were going to take public transportation to the startline, and thankfully, there was no rain - but the ground was wet from the night before and overnight.  We took our time getting to gear check and then heading over to Union Station to do last minute bathroom breaks, and then posed for pictures with fellow members of the Fifty States Half Marathon Club, and then walked over to our corral to get ready.  Soon, we were off.  I was planning to run with Donna and Hollie on a 2:00/1:00 walk/run and help them pace, but yet again, my legs were feeling off.  We ran the first mile down Young Street, and I started to feel the pain again in my shins and calves.  Donna and Hollie pulled ahead and I kept to my own clip on the 2:00/1:00 before hitting the turnaround on Canton Street before mile 2, and the straightaway down Commerce Street, one of Dallas' main drags.  The crowds began to thicken as we approached the 3 mile mark, and Donna and Hollie were still far ahead of me, or so I thought.  We made a turn onto N. Market, and then found ourselves facing the "gates" to the historic West End neighborhood of Dallas, which had been turned into a "Selfie Station!"  Lo and behold, there's Donna and Hollie posing, and I had managed to catch up!

Selfie station before mile 4!

Team Fireball!!!!
The three of us continued down Elm Street and hit the mile 4 mark, which thankfully was the beginning of a slight downhill (minus a teeny uphill bridge across the Trinity River) for the next mile, as we passed the old Texas Book Depository where Lee Harvey Oswald had shot President Kennedy back in 1963.  Salt-n-Pepa's "Push It" came on my iPod mix at about that time, if I remember correctly! The three of us continued our 2:00/1:00 system as we hit a couple hills before turning right onto Sylvan Avenue and hitting mile 6.  This was where I remember the road being abhorrent and in really poor condition.  Thankfully by this time, my legs started to overcome the pain and soreness that I had experienced over the first three miles of the race, and we made another turn onto Singleton Boulevard, and approached mile 7 and the majesty of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, built by renowned architect Santiago Calatrava in 2012.  And like clockwork, we run into De Moe at this perfect picture taking spot!  Naturally, Team Fireball is reunited, and we take our ritual shots with the beautiful bridge in the background.

This stretch is unusual in the case that the race has shut down an entire stretch of working highway.  There are two harrowing looking "hills" along the highway ramp that runners have to ascend before the clover shaped offramp just before mile 8.  Here, the sky seemed to open up and the sun peeked out of the clouds for the first time in the day.  Hollie and I have continued, working our way through the uphills and running through the 2:00/1:00 just to take advantage of the momentum and speed heading down the ramp. Just before turning onto Continental Avenue, we hit another large group of spectators cheering us on!  I explain to Hollie that around mile 9 I'm going to just keep going and run through to the end.

Pioneer Plaza - Cattle Drive!
(photo by Donna Dullys)
Perfectly, we hit the mile 9 marker right after passing a DJ booth where I got to twerk (just a little) in the middle of the race.  I took some GU and then gave my love to Hollie before setting off for the last four miles of the race.  These last four miles went by pretty fast for me... making a slight right onto Oak Lawn Avenue, I made my way up a fairly significant uphill (for this race, at least), hit the 10 mile mark, and then made my way down Turtle Creek Boulevard and Olive Street for the last three miles of the race, hitting one more significant hill toward the end of the race.  I hit the finish in 2:26:32, sweating bullets, as the humidity definitely did a number on me, deflating me right up to the finish.  Hollie came in not too much further behind me, as did Donna, Nicole, and several other friends.  We happily collected our remix challenge medals, posed for more pictures, and then walked back to the start to do a highly necessary photoshoot with the cattle drive sculpture in Pioneer Plaza, just outside of Hollie's hotel.  We headed back to the hotel, packed up our things, and then headed to the airport for our flights home -- another successful weekend and yet another half done!

Victory Headstand, with a twist... (longhorn legs?)

Margs and medals.

The best sign I have EVER seen on a race course...

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