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Race Report: Rock N' Roll USA Marathon

The weather was almost perfect and my training had gone as well as I could hope, so I felt ready for a marathon PR on Saturday. But apparently my goals were too prosaic, lofty as they seemed before I crossed the finish line on Saturday morning: my 2:36:18 finishing time was almost 6 minutes under my original projected goal, almost 4 minutes under my revised projected goal, and almost 2 minutes under my "best day possible" goal; moreover, prior to the race, I had no thoughts at all about making the podium, nor did I ever, in my wildest dreams, expect to finish 2:06 behind Michael Wardian (granted, he had five pelvis fractures last year and has only recently returned to training).

So it's safe to say that I exceeded my expectations on Saturday; indeed, I had my best day of racing to date. My plan was to go through the half marathon averaging around 6:07 per mile, and then to start picking up the pace for a negative split on the second half of the course (the second half of the course had considerably less ascent, and so was considerably faster, in theory, so my goal was to take what the course was willing to give me. The total ascent was, for a road marathon course, a not-so-flat 1,000+ feet.). I executed that plan with precision. The proof, as the saying goes, is in the pudding. Here's what the pudding looked like:

0 - 5km:             18:48 (6:03/mile), 11th place
5km - 10km:      19:01 (6:08/mile), 10th place
10km - 10m:      22:45 (6:01/mile), 10th place
10m - 13.1m:     18:37 (6:01/mile), 5th place
First 13.1:          1:19:11 (6:03/mile)

13.1m - 20m:     40:22 (5:51/mile), 4th place
20m - 26.2m:     36:45 (5:56/mile), 3rd place
Second 13.1:      1:17:07 (5:53/mile)

Marathon:        2:36:18 (5:58/mile), 3rd place

A few points are worth mentioning: (1) My first 10km was in 37:49, my last 10km in 36:45 (-1:04); (2) my first 13.1m was in 1:19:11, my second 13.1m was in 1:17:07 (-2:04); (3) the second half of my marathon was 29 seconds faster than winner Peter Lawrence (-0:29) and was 2:14 faster than ultrarunning great, and second place finisher, Michael Wardian (-2:14). I had the distinct pleasure to talk with both for quite some time after the race, especially with Wardian, who was incredibly nice and willing to discuss all sorts of topics, and joked with both of them that if I had had five more miles to chase, I might have caught them (I was joking, but I think there's some truth to it!).

*A short write up by Charlie Ban at RunWashington is here.
*Final results can be found here.

Thanks, as usual, to the volunteers, spectators, race organizers, and my support crew for a wonderful race! Thanks, too, to RaceReady and Berkeley Running Company. Some photos and video from the race are below:
An introduction during the award ceremonies. 

And we're off!
Cruising through DC, around mile 14. 

The celebrations begin (with Cynthia).

A wonderful support crew (with Ileana and Werner).

The half-marathon finisher and I (with Danny).

More photos, more smiles (with Kari, Danny, Cynthia).

Award ceremonies. 

A nice piece of hardware.


  1. Congrats on your PR! That is a beautiful race you ran - perfectly executed those negative splits.

    1. Thanks, Travis! Let me know when you're in Madison next and we can get a run in.

  2. Way to go Eric; representing Wisconsin! You flew in the second half. I saw no lagging in your pace in the second half, that is not easy (for me anyway). Will we be seeing you on the WI trails this summer? If you are interested in a (short) car ride, we'd love to see you at the Afton Trail Run in July.

    1. Thanks, Dave! It had never been easy for me either until Saturday. My plan is to be out West in July, but if that changes I'd love to run the Afton Trail Run (it's on my radar as a future race).