Raleigh is about 70 miles east from where I live so I stayed with a friend for the whole weekend rather than driving back and forth. The 5k took place on Saturday April 9th and hosted approximately 2,000 runners. The 5k was the only event in Raleigh that was sold out before the expo. Although packet pickup was available at the expo, I didn't make it before closing at 7pm on Friday night so I had to pick up my bib on Saturday morning.
I attended both races with a friend and we parked at the parking deck across from the Raleigh Convention Center. It was approximately a half mile walk to the start of the 5k race. We had to rush to get there early in order to pick up our bib. The volunteers at the table were very organized and efficient. We got our bibs quickly and were able to start just a few corrals back from my assigned #1 corral. There were too many runners to push through to get all the way to the front.
I was aware of the hills in the Raleigh course and of course the 5k started out with some small hills. The scenery of the 5k was gorgeous, though. I also loved running past the bands. The weather was a little chilly for April but it was also especially windy.
This was actually my first timed 5k since running cross country. How is that possible? RunDisney 5ks are not chip-timed. The only other 5k race I've participated in is The Running of the Balls 5k. It's considered The Greatest 5k(ish) on Earth at approximately 3.5 miles so it's also not chip-timed. I've done two RunDisney 5ks and two Running of the Balls 5ks. Other than those four races, all my other races have been longer distances. The RNR Raleigh 5k would be a PR for me regardless so I took it easy and enjoyed the course.
After crossing the finish line, I headed straight to the beer tents. I was a little annoyed because even after showing my ID when picking up my bib in the morning, they failed to give me a wristband to drink. I had to walk all the way over to bag check for my ID and back to the beer tent before I could drink. I ended up getting six beers though so I couldn't complain. It blows my mind how many people don't drink alcohol and were just giving away their tickets! Michelob Ultra is my favorite light beer so I couldn't turn any of them down! It took me a little while to finish my beers so I was able to stay long enough to cheer the last runner to the finish line. There was also a band playing at the finish line and I was elated to hear "Wagon Wheel" while drinking my beers!
After leaving the 5k, we headed to the expo at The Raleigh Convention Center. The expo was really organized and well put together. I walked in and was able to pick up my Half Marathon bib right away. They also gave me the wristband for my Remix Challenge medal. Unlike other race series that offer a challenge medal for completing multiple races, RNR requires runners to register for challenge races individually. I like this process because I know I'm not paying extra money for a challenge medal. Some races require you to sign up for a challenge which costs more than te combined cost of each individual race registration. I stopped at a few booths in the expo but didn't spend too much time there.
I went to bed on Saturday knowing that we would have colder than average temperatures on Sunday morning but that forecast changed overnight and it was 30 degrees when we got to the race. Since I was from out of town, I hadn't even packed clothes for such a cold race! The weather was definitely making me nervous because it was also very windy again. Neither the wind nor the below freezing temperatures are representative of April weather in North Carolina.
Due to road closures, we got to the race about an hour and a half early to park. We stayed in the car for about half an hour to stay warm then eventually braved the cold to make our way to the starting line. The lobby of The Marriott was open for runners so we stayed in there for a while. I've actually stayed at this hotel before for business and loved it. Had I not had a free place to stay, I would've stayed here and I recommend anyone traveling for RNR Raleigh stay here. It has close proximity to the race and was very comfortable. It's also walking distance to downtown bars. My personal favorite is Raleigh Times.
The energy at the starting line was high. I was dancing and shivering as corrals were taking off and we were moving up. I was in corral 15 but they were taking off about 1-2 minutes apart. I started off the race at a great pace and was able to keep that pace for the first few miles.
Raleigh definitely earns its reputation for being a hilly city. The entire course was rolling hills. I'm thinking the 30 degree weather made my muscles so numb I couldn't even feel the burn because I just kept running through them. The steepest hills were between mile 7 and 8 on Peace Street. After making it through the toughest part of the race, there was a nice spectator handing out mimosas at mile 8. I'm either incredibly brave or incredibly dumb for taking one, but how often do you get to drink a mimosa during a half marathon? This girl doesn't turn down mimosas!
About a mile of the course went through the campus of North Carolina State University. Being a graduate of East Carolina University, I am by no means a Wolfpack fan. It's easy to say this was my least favorite part of the race. The rest of the course was beautiful, though. I loved the parks and being able to run through downtown.
I miraculously managed to shave almost three minutes off my Half Marathon PR which completely surprised me. I crossed the finish line jamming out to a Demi Lovato song and that's my girl!
After crossing the finish line I was given my finisher medal and chocolate milk. In order to get my challenge medal, I had to walk about half a mile down to Red Hat Ampitheatre. It was too cold for a beer (yes, those words just came out of my mouth) so I just sat and watched the awards ceremony. Like many other runners, I had to capture a picture of my medals in front of the Sir Walter Raleigh statue.
I had a really great time at RNR Raleigh. I've grown up close to Raleigh so it's a city I'm familiar with. The race itself was a lot of fun. It was my first RNR event and I had no idea what to expect. I'm sure Raleigh has a smaller crowd than some or their larger cities (Las Vegas, Nashville, Savannah, etc) but that didn't change anything. I will be doing one more RNR race this year in Virginia Beach. That race is a two day event offering a challenge medal on Labor Day weekend. I can't wait for another RNR experience!
I'll definitely participate in RNR Raleigh next year. I think I can handle the hills in the full marathon but I haven't definitely decided which distance I'll run. If I run the half again and beat my time I'll receive a cool koozie and that's a pretty strong determinant. I'll let you know in the next few months which distance I'll run!
See you next year in Raleigh!