What: The Rock ‘n’ Roll Dallas Half Marathon
Where: Dallas, TX
Why: Raises money for Susan G. Komen Marathon for the cure.
Course: Through downtown Dallas, Highland Park and ending in Fair Park (site of Texas State Fair). One of the best courses we have ever run.
Weather: 48 Degrees (perfect day for a PR)
How Many: 14,000 Participants
Raul’s Finish Time: 1:49:27 (PR)
Rachel’s Finish Time: 1:51:45 (PR)
Expo: The expo was actually very enjoyable. Most expos are the same, but the Rock ‘n’ Roll expos always have a better vibe to them. I don’t know if it’s because there are just a lot of people or what, but it’s always a great time. We were able to snag a few free shirts and other fun things. Plus, we got to listen to Bradie James from the Dallas Cowboys give a nice talk about nutrition. In addition, we picked up our bibs and free race t-shirts.
Running with the devil: When I saw my actual race number it freaked me out. My number was 8666. Yes, that’s right…666! I was so freaked out when I saw this. That has always been a scary number to me…always! I just always attribute it to the devil’s number. Needless to say, it made me a little bit nervous to think I would be running with the number 8666.
Race Day: The race started at 8:00, so we figured we would be able to sleep in a bit. Of course everyone knows you usually don’t get much sleep before a race. I know I didn’t. We went to bed at 9:30 and woke up at 5:00 am. I am pretty sure I slept about 4 hours of that.
It took us an hour to get to the actual race site and park. The traffic was absolutely horrible with a capital HORRIBLE. The exit we were instructed to take to Fair Park was closed, causing more backups. We didn’t think we would even make it to the race in time to check our bags and go to the bathroom. We not only had to park at Fair Park, but also take a shuttle to downtown Dallas for the start of the race. Luckily, we were parked by 7:05 and at the starting area by 7:35. After standing in line to use the port-a-potty (there’s always a line) we only had about 10 minutes to check our bags. We literally got to our corral two minutes before the start of the race. We had no time to stretch and before we knew it we were running.
The Race: This has to be one of the greatest courses ever! We felt like we had so much room to run. In addition, the scenery was spectacular. We live very close to Dallas, but to see downtown Dallas in this way was amazing.
The thing about running the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathons and Half Marathons is the organization and the bands. There are bands about every mile and a half throughout the run playing live. They definitely help your energy go up-way up. We both highly suggest running a Rock ‘n’ Roll series Marathon or Half Marathon if it is your first race. You will love it.
With the aid of the bands and the scenery the run seemed to go by very quickly. It was especially beautiful when we ran through Highland Park. The homes are massive and awe-inspiring. It was nice to ooh and aah at all the houses because it helped distract us from our run. Before we knew it we were running at an 8 min and 30 second pace after 7 miles.
Another great thing about this course (which I can’t say enough about) was that it was a little bit hilly the first 7-8 miles, but after that it was all pretty much downhill! We never felt like we were dying to get up hills or struggling at all along the way. It seemed to be a fairly flat course with minimal strain on our joints.
Me and Rachel stayed together for about 10 miles before I broke away, expecting that she would finish about 5 minutes behind me. Throughout the run we knew we were running faster than normal and that a PR was definitely possible. However, we had no idea how strong we would finish!
The race ended at Fair Park in Dallas. This was a perfect place to end the race with the giant Texas Star Ferris Wheel (biggest ferris wheel in North America) as the backdrop. Fair Park is the site of the Texas State Fair, which we both love to go to every year. Plus, it’s the site of the Cotton Bowl where Texas and OU meet once a year (Hook’em Horns). I could see the ferris wheel in the distance about two miles out and it gave me so much energy to finish strong. There were so many fans and cheerleaders throughout the run that it was impossible to ever feel a lack of motivation. Plus, with the bands adding that extra energy I never once felt tired.
When I realized I was about a mile out I started running hard. I could smell the finish line and I knew the faster I ran the faster I would get there. As I was making the last turn I went into an all out sprint. I could hear the guy on the loud speaker say Troy Aikman the great QB from the Dallas Cowboys was just ahead of me! I was like, “Are you kidding me. Are you freakin’ kidding me with that?” So, naturally I ran harder. When I crossed that finish line and headed directly for the water guess who was digging around in the bucket with me for water…Troy freakin’ Aikman!! I kept thinking that there was no way I just ran a race alongside Troy Aikman. I remembered passing him during the race and then him passing me, but I just thought it was a strong tall guy passing me and I thought, “Man I wish I had longer legs.” I never once thought it was Troy Aikman. He was a lot taller and stronger than I expected. He didn’t even look tired after he was done. He finished 9 seconds ahead of me and a minute overall faster. I wanted to say I beat Troy Aikman, but the guy was fast!
After getting my medal placed around my neck (always a great feeling) I turned back and waited for Rachel to finish. I had just finished in 1:49:27, which was a new PR and way better than I ever expected. I ran at an 8:21 mile pace, which I was ecstatic about. I expected Rachel to finish about 1:54:00, but boy did I underestimate her! I saw a pink cap crossing the finish line and I thought, “No way did she finish already!” Indeed she did. She had finished in 1:51:45!! I was so proud of her. She ran at an 8:32 mile pace! I knew she was going fast, but I had no idea she was going that fast. She got herself a new PR and a huge smile!
The medals we received were perfect. If you look closely it is actually designed to look like the Texas Star Ferris Wheel! It was the last race of the season for us, at least in terms of half marathons, although we kind of want to run another soon. However, we are in Texas and the weather is about to change.
The Future: We signed up for the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio Marathon that will be run on 11/13/2011. We are going back to the place it all started, but this time we are running the full marathon. After three half marathons we figure it’s time to take on a new challenge. I suppose that’s the point of setting goals…when you accomplish them it means you get to set new ones. It seems like a long time away but we know it will be here before we know it.