Brooklyn and I took advantage of being on Spring Break from work and decided to take part in an event weekend that neither of us have experienced before, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Dallas Half Marathon. After the Mississippi Blues was cancelled due to weather in January we were given the option by the race director to defer to a select number of RnR events and we decided to choose Dallas. It was a new city that we have not visited and new race weekend for both of us. We were staying with a friend in Allen, Texas, about a 25 minute drive from downtown which proved to be a very doable commute for race mornings. Brooklyn was running Sunday’s half marathon and thanks to my RnR Tour Pass I was able to register for both Sunday’s half and also Saturday’s 5k.
We arrived on Thursday and spent the evening visiting with our friends over dinner and a few drinks. We mapped out a game plan for the weekend travel with them. Being from small town Mississippi, my working knowledge of public transportation is very limited to weekends that I am travelling. On Friday morning we took the train into the city to take in a few sights and visit the expo. We made it downtown just before noon and went to visit the JFK memorial area. The gravity of what happened there in 1963 still hangs heavy in the air. We had planned to visit the museum located downtown along with a few others, but time ran short on us so we decided to opt out. After lunch we visited the expo to pick up bibs, VIP parking passes, and visit with vendors.
I’ve noticed fewer and fewer booths setup at RnR events by other big races. A booth and info table for a local half doesn’t appeal to me when it’s an 8 hour drive to get there. I would love to see races within driving distance to be present at these expo, not just DFW area events. It would be a good place to have a few of the Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma races visible. After the expo we made our way back to the house, but not before stopping at In – N- Out Burger for a protein style double double for dinner. Yummmm
Saturday morning was very humid with a thick fog in the air as we made our way down to the Cotton Bowl for the 5k. The race was crowded at the start but thinned out pretty quickly. The entire event took place around the fairgrounds. This was my first Rock ‘n’ Roll 5k (and my first 5k of any kind since Dopey 2015). It was a nice reminder of why I enjoy the marathon distance so much. I knew that I wanted to run pretty hard during tomorrow’s half marathon so I had no interest in burning out the legs. I took it easy and became bored. The course didn’t allow much to look at, just a big out and back section; I didn’t see many friends or people I knew. I was purely running this race to pick up an extra medal for the weekend. I love a good finisher medal, but running and racing are about so much more to me than a medal. I came to the finish and saw Brooklyn cheering (she’s the best cheer captain) and crossed the finish line in 28:13, finishing 325 overall of the 1,972 runners.
After the race we stopped downtown for breakfast and mimosas before heading back to the expo to meet up with the rootinest, tootinest crowd in the wild, wild west. Of course that is the WeRunSocial meetup. Brooklyn & I met up with a friends old and new and talked running and travel and socks for an hour or so. After a few pictures we were off and heading back to Allen for the night to prepare for the next day’s Dallas Half Marathon.
Race morning came early and flowed very smoothly. Thanks to the Rock ‘n’ Blog program we had a VIP parking pass and quickly found a spot located roughly 20 feet from the finish line. We made our way to the corral areas and filed in to our spots around 7:15 for the 8:00 start. Brooklyn was running with VK from WeRunSocial fame. I was starting in Corral 1 because I really wanted to push myself and see where I was at physically. I don’t run half marathons often and lately have only been running marathons as a pacer or pushing for sub 4, so I had this opportunity to really evaluate my fitness level. This is also the reason I didn’t carry my GoPro with me during the race as normal. Luckily Brooklyn snapped a few shots along the course.
The race kicked off and I had a little trouble getting my legs up to speed. They felt heavy for the first mile and change, but started to loosen up. I guess there was too much standing in the corrals waiting for the race to start. The course looped through the downtown area for about 4 miles before moving the south side of the city. On our way out of town we passed the Six Floor Museum and ran through the stretch of road where the assassination of JFK took place. We made the climb up an interstate ramp and crossed the iconic Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge. This was the toughest part of the course and came just before Mile 6.
After the bridge we travelled through several small communities and parks south of Dallas before heading back to the final stretch and into the finish zone. Coming back into town was the first time that my legs were burning out. The sun had come out strong and was really heating up. Fortunately, for most of the course I was able to steal little bits of shade; but the final mile was all down a bridge without shade. This was the first time my pace dropped below a 7:30 pace. As I came around the final 400 meters I saw the time on my watch pass 1:40:00 so I decided to enjoy the last few steps. I took my phone out and snagged a couple selfies with the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders and the finish line crossing the line with a time of 1:41:46 and finishing 267th overall of the 8,303 runners.
After finishing I had a little over an hour until Brooklyn and VK would come through so I took advantage of the VIP pass and had a massage and breakfast, maybe a mimosa or two then dawned my cowboy hat to head back to see Brooklyn finish. She came through & never saw me. Apparently seeing the DCC was more exciting 😉
Overall, I have to say that this race was really great. The course was well supported, the finish zone was great and the medals look fantastic (albeit a little small scale). If the opportunity was there to do this race regularly it might become a staple on my RnR tour each year.