Washington Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon

I ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll Washington DC Marathon this morning. I woke around 5:30am, showered, put myself together, and hailed an Uber from my apartment in Georgetown to 14th and Constitution Avenue. It was overcast and chilly, but much better than yesterday’s intermittent snow and rain. As we were set to start, with a view from the corrals of the Washington Monument, we sang the national anthem, then started at 7am.

It was a much different marathon compared to Philadelphia, in terms of fellow runners. There were three Irishmen who ran near me for a while; I think diplomatic corps in some way. A younger guy with a “Run Tokyo” shirt. A woman with a Palantir baseball cap. There was what seemed like a high percentage of military runners. The variety evident amongst the runners was a reminder of the character of the place I now live.

I left my phone at my apartment like I did last time, because I don’t like to run with it on longer courses. I did have my Apple Watch, which proved to be great in terms of battery life. After finishing (with cellular/WiFi/heart rate monitor off), I checked my watch and it still had 56 percent battery life.

Overall, the run went alright. I registered for this on February 4th, and until yesterday wasn’t sure I would actually run it. I’m glad I did, because in the process I set two personal records: First, for my personal worst marathon time at 4 hours, 47 minutes. And second, for my personal best half marathon time of 1 hour, 57 minutes. It was a great way to see Washington on foot, and like any of these runs it’s simple enough encouragement to remind yourself, “What else would you be spending a Saturday morning doing, typically?”

While the first half went well, I could feel myself starting to flag at mile 15 or so, once we crossed east into Anacostia, across the bridge over Kingman Lake and the Anacostia River. You can see that reflected in the map below from my Apple Watch:

I think this morning was my first time in Anacostia, and it was good to see that on foot too. I kept along alright until near mile 18/19, when I had to start coaching myself mile by mile. I kept at least a jog up until mile 22, and then the fatigue really hit and I slowed to an old-man shuffle or sped-walked until the final mile when I was able to start picking up. I had also expected it to be a bit warmer than it was as morning got on; as we ran along the Anacostia River toward the end, I felt near-frigid (in shorts and long-sleeve shirt) for a long stretch.

It was surprising to me that the onlookers/family/friends cheering along the sides pretty much disappeared by about mile 16, and so from then until about the final half mile leading to the finish large stretches of those final miles were just empty—as empty on a sleepy, overcast Saturday morning as those miles were when I ran the Mount Nittany Marathon a few years ago.

We finished at the D.C. Armony/RFK Stadium, and I took Metro back to Foggy Bottom. I hailed a D.C. cab outside the Foggy Bottom station to get home, and the driver asked how the race went, shared that he ran marathons in the 1980s, and we talked for a while. As we neared my place, I had probably one of the rarest experiences: Henry, the driver, said casually, “Well look, you’ve got a free ride. From one runner to another: just keep running.”