Have you ever run 13.1 miles with a camera? I did just that this past Sunday as I took the streets of downtown Raleigh with 12,500 other runners to race in Raleigh’s Inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon & Half Marathon. I was slightly under trained for the race and decided to just have fun with it. No worrying about personal records or stressing over finishing times. I was simply excited to be a part of it all and enjoy the rare opportunity to have my camera with me to capture scenes along the 13.1 mile course.
I started out in Corral #2 because I had optimistically predicted a 1:45 finish time. This of course was before the bleak winter and I didn’t get nearly as many training runs in as I had hoped. Come race day I knew I would likely finish somewhere closer to the 2 hour mark, but wasn’t concerned about it. It was actually kind of refreshing to not worry about the finish time. It was a beautiful day for the race with morning temps in the low 60’s and expected to reach the low 80’s by the afternoon. We set out around 7:10 just in time to catch the sunrise as it basked downtown Raleigh in it’s warm orange glow.
The postcard race course winded us through Oakwood, Chavis Park, Cameron Village, Dorothea Dix, and several other picturesque portions of downtown. Along the way there were local bands playing every few miles and pumping up the runners with their music. One of my favorites was the Shaw University Marching Band with brass players blasting from a bridge as runners ran below. Another favorite was a band out of Chapel Hill called Ellis Dyson & the Shambles. I loved their upright bass, fiddle, and horn section! I actually stopped to listen to them play for a minute while I snapped a few pictures. It was still early on in the race, but it was a welcome break!
As I made my way through the 13.1 miles I stopped a few times to take pictures of the bands, friends and fellow runners. It was great running into so many familiar faces out on the course. I also enjoyed seeing so many spectators and a few rouge musicians playing along the the route. My favorite was a little girl playing her violin for the runners. While having my camera out I couldn’t resist trying to take a running “selfie” to capture the experience. The photo above was taken somewhere between mile 8 and 9 on Western Boulevard as we made our way back to downtown Raleigh.
As I mentioned earlier I wasn’t as prepared for this race as I had hoped. It was also a fairly hilly course (Raleigh is not as flat as some people think). I was definitely feeling fatigued as I entered the last 3 miles of the course. I got a huge boost of energy however as we ran through Dorothea Dix Park and saw Tribute to Fallen Soldiers lining the course. Everyone I have spoken to was very moved by this tribute. Seeing pictures honoring the fallen soldiers and the numerous American flags waving in the wind with the Raleigh Skyline in the background gave me goosebumps and the rush of power I needed to push through the final miles.
Soon after the course entered back into the core of downtown for the home stretch to the finish line. I was nice to see so many spectators cheering runners on along Fayetteville Street. I took my camera out for one last shot as I approached the finish line. I crossed the finish at 2 hours and 5 seconds. Not a PR but I was very pleased with the time considering the hilly course and the fact I had stopped so many times to take pictures.
As I crossed the finish I grabbed my medal and ran into Anj and Jill, two of my running friends from the River Run Club, an awesome run club filled with runners of all levels that meets each Thursday to run at 7pm in North Raleigh. They both had a great race and Jill even pulled off a PR finishing in under two hours on what was definitely a challenging and hilly course. Way to go Jill!
As I made my way from the finish line I grabbed some water, chocolate milk and a banana to recharge and headed over to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh post race concert. Raleigh his well suited for this with the Red Hat Amphitheater situated just one block west of the finish line. I liked the idea of a post race event like a concert because it gives runners a chance to chill out, drink a beer and catch up with friends to share about the race while it is all still fresh in your mind. It was also simply just a beautiful day to be downtown.
I was very impressed with the inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh race. I thought it was well organized and I loved the route through the downtown street. If you missed the race this year because it sold out, don’t fret. The race is scheduled to return next year on April 12, 2015 and will be held in Raleigh for at least the next three years. Online Registration for the 2015 race in Raleigh will open up in May. You can get additional information on the official race website here.
Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh – April 13, 2014
Finish Time for Half Marathon: 2 hours 0 minutes 5 seconds
You can view all of my pictures from the Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh Race in my flickr photo album. Happy racing!