Sunday, April 23, 2017

Rock N' Roll Raleigh Remix Challenge Recap

A few weeks ago I got to try something new in racing... my first Rock 'n' Roll series races.  I had originally signed up for just the half marathon, but after receiving an e-mail about the Remix Challenge (5K on Saturday plus the 1/2 or full marathon on Sunday) complete with an additional challenge medal, I decided to give it a try.  After all, I completed the Dark Side Challenge in Disney World last year so I could surely finish this one, right?!?  Well it wasn't without some difficulty, but given the support of the crowd and one very special person, I managed to finish both races running and smiling.

The race weekend began, as most do, with the Health and Fitness Expo.  This one took place at the Raleigh Convention Center right in the heart of downtown Raleigh.  The one downside to this location was that I had to pay for parking on all three days since there was no free parking available near the expo or either race start.  The expo itself was a pretty decent size and not too crowded.  Unlike Disney challenges, I had to pick up separate bibs for each race here.  I got my race shirts and bibs and headed into the vendor area of the expo.  There were plenty of booths to see and explore but I mostly just walked through and glanced at a few things this time.  One booth I really liked had some incredibly fancy tutus complete with lots of sparkle and pouf.  They were so cute and several of them were Disney even themed!

On Saturday morning, I drove to the parking garage (again) and took a race bus to the start area.  On the ride over I met a super sweet girl who is studying to be a teacher and we hit it off right away with a lot in common.  We ended up hanging out until we had to head to our corrals for the race start.  I always manage to make friends at races.  It's one of the things I love about running; runners are so friendly!!  

Throughout the morning I had been keeping tabs on Facebook via my phone since there were a few other women from the RunDisney Independent Princesses group there that morning.  One particular girl, whom I had not actually met in person before, was looking for a buddy to run with.  So I messaged her to meet me in my corral and we ran the 5K together.  

The race itself was really nice.  The temperature was perfect, the course wasn't too terribly hilly, the live entertainment was enjoyable, and there was plenty of crowd and race support.  As usual, I tried to thank every volunteer and police officer I passed.  I am always in awe of how many people volunteer their time to make sure runners have a safe and memorable experience at each race.  My knee held up pretty well through the 5K, but my legs were feeling the hills and the fact that I hadn't run much in the past week and a half.  At the end of the race, we met up with the other girls there from the Facebook group and got a pic together.  

On Sunday morning I got up with my alarm at about 4:15 am (the things runners will do for bling, right?!?) and headed out the door to park (for the 3rd time in a row) in downtown Raleigh.  The morning was much chillier than the previous one, but the Marriott Hotel right by the start line had kindly opened its lobby up to runners so we could stay warm and out of the wind.  Thanks Marriott!!  I met up with some people from both the RunDisney Independent Princesses and the Disney #Firsties Alumni Facebook groups and we hung out and chatted while waiting until the last second to check our bags and brave the chilly wind.  After getting a couple of group pics, we wished each other luck and headed to our corrals to await the start.

The half marathon and full marathon runners all started in the corrals together.  Each corral was released a couple of minutes after the last so runners wouldn't end up on top of each other.  The course was extremely hilly but really fun!  The entertainment included everything from several live singers, some cover bands, and even a group of fabulous women performing some impressive baton twirling!  We passed some great Raleigh landmarks including the Duke Energy Center for Performing Arts, some hills, Chavis Park, some more hills, Historic Oakwood Cemetery, oh look another hill!, William Peace University and NC State, and a few more hills for good measure.  This course is known for being hilly and my legs were NOT happy with me after a while.

I felt pretty good until about mile 7.  After that, my knee became very unhappy with me and my legs were so tired I kept wishing I was one of the spectators sitting with a cowbell in a folding chair along the road!  From that point to the end of the race, I couldn't have been more grateful for my 'Fairy Godmother'.   Someone in the Independent Princesses running group I'm in came up with the brilliant idea of people volunteering as Fairy Godmothers when other members are racing (whether in Disney or not).  Fairy Godmothers track runners and send messages or texts throughout the race to support and cheer them on.  My Fairy Godmother was an incredibly sweet woman who happens to also live in NC and she was an absolute lifesaver!!   She continually sent me GIFs, inspirational quotes, advice, prayers, and more throughout the entire 13.1 miles, especially when I was struggling toward the end.  Even though we've never met in person, I will never be able to thank her enough for her support.  She truly helped me get to the end of the race despite my legs' valiant protesting efforts over the last 6 miles.  THANK YOU RESA!!!

As I rounded the corner toward the finish line (and good grief... another hill?!?), I could hear the announcers and see the photographers and knew I was almost done.  There was a huge crowd at the end and I actually managed to pick up the pace and grab a fantastic finish line shot.  I am still debating whether to buy it since they are expensive but I really do like it.  After crossing the line, I received my half marathon medal, and grabbed a bottle of water (into which I dropped a nuun tab), some pretzels, and a banana.  In order to pick up my Remix Challenge medal, I walked into the rockin' outdoor post race party area and easily found the correct tent, which was well-labeled and close the entrance.  At the expo beforehand, they had given me a black band to wear during the race that signified I was running the challenge.  At the Remix Challenge tent, I traded my band for the giant guitar medal.  As I started heading back to my car later on, I noticed that there was a small chip in the medal.  I brought it back to the tent and they exchanged it for a new one immediately which I really appreciated.  

Despite my annoying leg issues, I had a good experience with my first Rock 'n' Roll race(s).  The courses were a little hilly for my taste, but they were scenic and well staffed with volunteers and aid.  There were plenty of water/fuel stops, porta-potties, and medics along the course and the after party was huge and fun.  I enjoyed the races and would definitely run them again.  In the meantime, I've already signed up the the Rock 'n' Roll Vegas half marathon in November and I'm debating adding the 5K for another Remix medal. :)  Here we go again! 

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