Race Recap: 2024 Rock ‘n’ Roll DC Half

By | March 25, 2024

There’s always something magic, there’s always something new. And when you really, really need it the most that’s when rock and roll dreams come through

I HAM therefore I AM

Fun fact, Meat Loaf was my first concert, 30 years ago this June!  Linking up with Deborah and Kim to talk about my first (but not last!) Rock’n’Roll race. Spoiler: I finished smiling.


  • Running with my friend
  • The crowd support, the music on the course, the runners having fun. Our ridiculous outfits got some fun attention and if you’re not having fun, you’re probably doing it wrong.
  • I love running DC, and this was a new to me part of the city so it really was a tour.
  • Shirt sizing and fit was good
  • Plenty of water on the course for an unseasonably warm day


  • That stupid hill in Rock Creek Park.
  • Expo was underwhelming
  • They ran out of bananas. I don’t actually like bananas much but how?!?!

Overall a good race and one I’d recommend even if I’m not sure I’d do it again (see Con 1).

Lead Up

My friend Jess has run this race a number of times and we’re usually commiserating the training in Jan/Feb as it’s the same weekend as NYC. I was 0% feeling NYC this year and decided why not do something different. Plus, twist my arm to go to DC. Somehow despite signing up for and generally following Matt Wilpers’ training plan, March snuck up on me and I came into my last long run really thinking I had one more week. Oops. I knew this was hilly but life got in the way of weekday workouts and I found myself mostly squeezing in 400s on the treadmill as better than nothing. To be honest, while I would have been stronger on the rolling hills later in the race, I’m not sure anything would have saved me on Rock Creek Park. While ideally I wouldn’t skip any workouts, we know we live in reality.

Other than my standard of finish smiling, I had no goals for this race. I knew I wasn’t in Half shape and just wanted to finish the distance without injury. It made for a fun and stress free weekend.

This was a hard one to pack for since shorts is not usually part of the equation for March in the mid-Atlantic/north east. I’d bought the green skirt assuming I’d wear it over leggings like CUCB last year, and enter a warm day. I brought the shorts I’d run BOLDER Boulder in, but I’d never run a Half in shorts and was worried about that. I was curious how ridiculous it would look over a skirt and the answer was not at all, or at least no more ridiculous than anything else I’ve worn.  I had a minor freak out Friday night when I thought I’d left my chews behind in changing bags due to all the outfits, but I found them buried in a smaller bag within the bag. Exhale.

We’re silly and we know it

Vanna Cari


It was close to my hotel so super easy to drop off my bag before heading out to explore. I came in early Friday so we were at the expo before noon, a crowd hater’s paradise. I loved that the finisher’s tee had our names printed on them and the women’s cut shirt actually acknowledged that women have shoulders and boobs. As far as large race expos, this one was underwhelming. Cherry Blossom and the Fort Lauderdale Half’s are much better. I did appreciate the photo opps and the signage for other RnR races. This is/was a travel blog at its roots after all. I chuckled when I saw the standard expo booth of discount clothes/shoes/no brand hats including the pink race hat that I bought at the NYC Tri Half when the race was cancelled for heat. The hat is in some ways better than all my branded ones since it’s so light.

Flat-ish Cari

I thought these were first ever disposable pajamas!

it’s go time!

my favorite on course entertainment

what a finish

loved the capitol, didn’t think abut the UPS trucks

Race Day

Opted to stay in Chinatown which made for a super easy walk to the start. Room was one king, hence flat-ish Cari on the console.

Appreciated that the hotel opened breakfast a few minutes early for those of us wanting grab and go and I went with a peanut butter bagel which I ate on the walk. Odd in that I don’t usually do that before a Half, but it was more appealing than my breakfast bar. The sunrise over the capitol was absolutely gorgeous, and have you even raced if you don’t look like a ragamuffin at one point? I probably didn’t need the disposable pajamas but had them with me in case I needed or wanted to sit on the damp ground.  Jess and I found one another fairly quickly and headed into the back of the corrals. This was a large race with 15,929 finishers and it took a while for us to cross the start. The people watching was good and the time passed quickly, but I was glad to have the windbreaker. I hope it went on to a good home after it has served me well for more than five years. A life well lived. Until I reread my post from the BOLDER Boulder (and realized I didn’t wear the shorts I thought I had!) I thought this was my first go’around with disposable PJs, but this isn’t the first time I didn’t have sweat pants. I don’t wear them so don’t own them. I 100% own too many pairs of pajamas though, so they’re an easy choice.

We went out at an 11/12 mile pace which I knew wasn’t sustainable, but I also knew we weren’t planning to run the whole thing, so it was fine. I recognized the early course, including the bridge halfway to Arlington and under the Kennedy Center, but then it was all sightseeing. We were on I-66 at one point and the road had a decided slope, but other than the f#%(*@*)g hill, that was my only course complaint. Abe and Uncle Sam on stilts were fun, I loved the all female drum corps and the music selection throughout was on point. Highway to Hell was perfect for the tunnel on I-66. Our race plan was: run when you can, walk when you want to. I enjoyed the people watching, especially the folks closer to the Howard campus with cases of water as the water bottle from my hotel was a little too  wide to comfortably hold. On course gels were SIS which I can tolerate, and I appreciated the chance to try the cherry flavor. I only had two of my salted lime chews which. Oops? We were talking and it was easy to lose track since the second half was a walk with strides rather than a run.

I’ve run a lot of fun races, but I think this is the best finish line especially for someone who doesn’t see the capitol daily.

The post-race festival is great, but neither one of us was in the mood for alcohol and we had brunch reservations so we made our way out and up to the hotel to change and meander to Founding Farmers, which has become a wonderful post race habit.

Race Recovery

Stanton Park

the other DC race tradition

Stumpy <3

Ham is not limited to race day

I don’t usually get the Cherry Blossom medal, so this was my first time since 2018? to run around DC with a medal. After brunch, I walked Jess part of the way home as she told me Stanton Park was in bloom and was it ever.  Motion is lotion and combined with not racing, the legs felt three days on your feet tired, not half marathon tired. I made the mistake of sitting down on the way to Shake Shack and ouch, getting up wasn’t nice. There are two Shake Shacks in my daily view at home but they’re 0% tempting. After a race in DC? Hello cookies & cream!

Even before I heard about Stumpy’s last hurrah, I knew what my Sunday morning would be. I cannot resist the tidal basin ever, but especially not in near-peak bloom.  Schedule didn’t work out to run Cherry Blossom this year, but in a way I did since the blooms will be long gone by the delayed due to Easter race. I joked that it wasn’t a legal DC visit since I didn’t do a single museum, but it was just too nice out to want to be inside.


Having run cherry blossom three times, this (and Parkway coming up – where Coco and I will finally remember to take a photo!) was a great excuse for a different race. I don’t know that I’d run it again — 2025 may be time to pivot back to a February Half ala 2020 and 2022 but we’ll see.  I’m glad I did this, and I’d absolutely do another RnR. Madrid probably tops the list because I so love the city, but Vegas and Arizona also appeal.

10 thoughts on “Race Recap: 2024 Rock ‘n’ Roll DC Half

  1. Deborah Brooks

    That race and the hills! I am so glad you had such a fun weekend in DC and our weather was perfect for you. Sorry I missed you! See you in NYC soon

    1. cari Post author

      That hill is really my only complaint. The rest are just meh. As we said — there is absolutely no reason for that hill.

  2. Wendy

    I had no idea there was an RnR DC race! I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I have never been to DC and I hope to remedy that this year!


    1. cari Post author

      You HAVE to. It’s such an amazing city.
      I think there may still be one in Philly but DC is either the closest or 2nd closest to here since they pulled out of Brooklyn. I’ve always heard so much good about the series that this was the perfect opportunity to see my favorite city and do a race.

  3. Debbie

    Congrats on running the Rock ‘n’ Roll DC Half! And yay, you got to see Stumpy and the other cherry blossom trees while you were here. Sadly, I was registered for the Rock ‘n’ Roll DC Marathon in 2012 when I hurt my back and had to skip the race while my husband and friend ran it without me. I haven’t been able to run a full marathon since.

    1. cari Post author

      I have to introduce you to my friend Jess at some point. Besides the fact that you two would probably generally get along, you can reverse the RnR curse — she was supposed to run the marathon in 2020.
      It was a wonderful accidental cherry blossom race

  4. Liz Dexter

    Was the crowd support good? When I did the Liverpool RnR Marathon, the bands were still determinedly playing as us back folk came through but there was no support apart from club friends and a few at the end.

    I’d almost come and do Vegas with you but I bet it starts at 4am or something!

    Anyway well done and lovely blossoms! Makes me feel I can manage my half in a month and a bit!

  5. Kimberly Hatting

    I have beard mixed reviews about the DC RNR (in the past), but it sounds like you gave it the thumbs-up! I’ve done several RNR’s, including Vegas (highly recommend!!!), and the swag is always killer. What’s not to love about a DC race, though, especially when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom 🙂

  6. Jenn

    Hey, stranger! It’s so good to see you!

    Interesting about the expo! RNR usually puts on quite the event. But good to know.

    I have yet to run DC, and you know Cherry Blossom is on my list but I struggle with timing. Getting away can be hard in this season.

    It’s so hard prepping outfits for racecations. I always bring way more than I’ll need just in case I have to switch things up. I wear shorts all the time, so I support the decision.

    Love that you got to see the blossoms in bloom. One day I will get there.

  7. Darlene S. Cardillo

    I love everything about this except that I missed you in NYC.

    And it’s DC, cherry blossoms and you ran with a friend. Perfect.

    Only one stupid hill? lol.

    Love those socks. Wait. Are you matching?


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