My first 5K since October, and well… I’m disappointed. My PR time at that point was 30:50 for the Harvest Moon race, and I definitely felt I could finish in less than 30 minutes. While there were several elements out of my control (hello, weather), I’m mostly disappointed with the race experience overall, rather than my performance. Unfortunately for us 5K-er, I was left feeling like an after-thought, whereas my friends who ran the half really loved the race.
First off, there were no corrals for the 5K, and it felt as though everyone was an amateur — walkers crowded the front (yes, strollers too), so that when the race started there was a log-jam. At this point, I wasn’t sure it was the actual start of the race because everyone just STOPPED. When we walked a little further, I realized half the start “chute” was covered by a gigantic puddle and everyone stopped to walk around it. Had I known that going in, I would have stomped right through it. Instead, I stopped my watch and restarted after the puddle because I saw another inflatable ahead and though maybe THAT was the start line. THIS ADDED NEARLY A MINUTE TO MY TIME.
A minute that I desperately needed to PR this race. And the exit out of the parking lot was no better; people were already IN THE RAIN, but stopping in front of runners to track around puddles. Maddening!
Needless to say, my watch said 30 minutes when I crossed the finish line; RnR official results report 31:43. To top it off, I was shivering, wet, and miserable, and we decided to leave before Better Than Ezra played. There was nowhere nearby to hang out and dry off/warm up (or have a drink other than Michelob Ultra, blech). And seriously, why did we need at start at 7:30 a.m. when the post-concert entertainment headliner was at 11? I think it was a huge oversight on behalf of RnR to not have any large tents set up considering the weather, even if just to change clothes and stay dry for a minute. And, you know, stick around for other runners and the live music.
Registration and Cost: I registered late (don’t do that), and this race cost me, like, $50. This was a mini-vacation, so we also dropped a little dough on gas, hotel rooms, etc.
Bag Check: This was actually one of the highlights of the experience. Really easy to find and figure out, and the lines moved quickly. I liked the touch of the UPS trucks.
Course: Out-and-back that started in RFK Stadium parking lot, went out a freeway ramp and back down the freeway ramp. This race was the WORST. Nothing to see, and I kicked a dang hubcab trying to squeeze past walkers on the raised shoulder. I mean, there wasn’t even positioning for anyone to stand along the course. And bears repeating: that start line was a giant joke.
Weather: Total CRAP — wet, little chillier than what I planned. I really wanted my fleece jacket, but that would have been terrible to wear when wet.
Expo and Packet Pick-up: There was no day-of packet pick-up, so I had to send my friend with a copy of my ID and signed confirmation letter to pick up on my behalf. The expo closed at 7 p.m. Friday, so it was impossible to travel to DC in time to check it out (I need to remind myself of that when registering for Saturday morning races).
Fans and Experience: Nope. This race was boring and mostly uneventful for me.
Medals: Can’t lie, this was a big reason to select this race — I didn’t have a 5K medal. This one just so happens to be pretty sweet too.
Swag: RnR drawstring bag and a short-sleeve green Brooks shirt (definitely not ladies sizes and totally huge for a small). The merch booth had some great tops though — I picked myself up a gray pull-over hoodie with the RnR DC logo on the front.
Bonus: Having uniformed military members providing medals at the finish line was a beautiful touch to a crappy day. I appreciated this over everything that day.
Notable 30-somethings: the 30s were split in half for their respective 30-34 and 35-39 divisions. The top lady in my division ran the 5K in 22 minutes. NICE JOB!
After party: We took the Metro back into town near our hotel and had an amazing brunch — and MANY MIMOSAS! — at Old Ebbbitt. Cool place!
Overall: The experience was bad enough that I don’t think I’ll ever run a R n’ R 5K again. Good thing that I’m conditioning myself to run longer distances, since everyone seems to rave about their longer courses.