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Rocktoberfest Half Marathon Race Recap: My Best Half Yet

I ran the Rocktoberfest Half Marathon in Charlotte yesterday and it was the best half marathon experience I have ever had. My great race had nothing to do with PRs or the course but rather about how I felt during and after the race…which was very strong and extremely grateful.

Half Marathon Race Recap

As I shared in my Fall Race Calendar post, I had a series of fall races lined up as part of my ambassadorship with the Charlotte Marathon. I originally registered to run the Rocktoberfest 5-Miler because I was going to save my half marathon race for the Novant Health Charlotte Half Marathon on November 12. I switched my registration to the Rocktoberfest Half Marathon last week since I’m now considering the Kiawah full and testing some longer runs.

Let’s dive into my race recap!

Breakfast before half marathon

I was able to sleep until around 6:15 a.m. since it was a local race that started just a few miles from my house at 7:40. I was not hungry and my stomach was a little off when I woke up but I made myself eat some toast with cashew butter, honey and banana and drank a cup of coffee.

Charlotte Marathon Ambassadors


I hopped in my car around 7:15 and drove to the race where I easily found a parking spot not even a quarter of a mile from the start. I arrived just in time to line up with some of my fellow ambassadors for a pre-race photo.

Rocktoberfest Half Marathon

There were around 755 runners for the half and 340 for the 5 mile but we had separate start times. I lined up for the start of the half with a view of the Charlotte skyline behind me and then we were off!

As I crossed the starting line, I turned on my RunKeeper app and put the half marathon playlist I’d made the night before on shuffle. The playlist was awesome so here it is if you need some new running music in your life!


Rocktoberfest Half Marathon Recap

After that, I didn’t open my phone once until I reached mile 10. Miles 1-10 ticked by so quickly and I felt totally in the zone. I couldn’t believe how great I felt with just a 5K left to run. My goal going into the race was to run a pace that felt easy and sustainable if I were to run a full marathon. So I didn’t want to go as slow as a long run but I didn’t want to do a half marathon race effort. I definitely feel like I settled into a really comfortable in between spot with my pace.

I took water at every stop. I tried to run and drink for the first two but even with cup pinching, there was way too much water going up my nose so for the last four I grabbed water, stopped and chugged it before I took off again. I brought a Gu with me because I usually eat one around mile 8 during halfs but I just couldn’t do it yesterday. My stomach was still feeling kind of blah.

Rocktoberfefst Half Marathon Recap

Okay, let’s take a moment to talk about the course. It was brutal! First, it was extremely hilly. And not just short, quick hills but long, seemingly endless climbs. Miles 8, 11 and 12 were especially tough. Second, the course scenery left a lot to be desired. While we did go in and out of some neighborhoods, we spent a lot of time on roads like the one in the photo above.

The course conditions, on the other hand, were perfect. It was 55 at the start and stayed overcast and cool for the duration of the race.

Half Marathon Race Recap

Despite the hills, I was able to pick up my pace a bit for the last few miles of the race. My last mile was actually my fastest of the race. When the finish line came into my line of site, I had a big smile on my face and pushed hard until I crossed it.

Charlotte Marathon Ambassadors

Just after crossing the finish and collecting my medal, I caught up with ambassadors Theoden and Meredith to talk about the race. They both agreed the hills were insane. (Fun fact: Theoden paced the 1:45 group at my last half marathon in 2014 and I ran with him for a long time during that race!)

Greenapple Sports and Wellness Charlotte

I stopped by the Greenapple Sports & Wellness tent after the race to check in with Dr. Bradberry and to tell him how good my race felt and how good I was feeling after. They treated me twice last week leading up to the race with things like active release, adjustments, Graston, VooDoo flossing and KT tape and I definitely feel like it made a difference on race day. I’ll have another post with more detail on how and why I’m working with Greenapple next week.

Half Marathon Race Recap

My official finish time was 1:51:53 with an average pace of 8:33. While this is 7 minutes off my current PR, it was the best and smartest half I’ve ever run in my opinion. It was the first time I’ve ever run 100% based on feel and I didn’t look at my GPS or pace one single time during the race. I felt really great during and after the run and I’m feeling good this morning as well with no soreness or anything that’s talking to me.

Here are my splits:

Mile 1: 8:35
Mile 2: 8:33
Mile 3: 8:30
Mile 4: 8:23
Mile 5: 8:28
Mile 6: 8:35
Mile 7: 8:27
Mile 8: 8:33
Mile 9: 8:33
Mile 10: 8:23
Mile 11: 8:20
Mile 12: 8:25
Mile 13: 8:13
Mile 0.1: 7:40


And here is the pace/elevation/cadence chart. As you can see…THOSE HILLS! They definitely made me reconsider my hesitation on running a flat road at Kiawah.

Next up…a few weeks of regular long runs and trying to get distance up to around 15-16 before I run the Novant Health Charlotte Half Marathon on November 12. It’s not too late to join me for the race! It’s my favorite Charlotte race and while it is also hilly, the course is beautiful and the crowd is fun.

Please use code JENDEC at registration. CLICK HERE TO REGISTER. I’m asking you to use my code because the ambassador with the most sign ups gets $1,000 donated to the charity of their choice. If I win, my donation choice will be One-Breath.org. They are a local Charlotte organization that offers homeless and incarcerated men 8 yoga classes weekly in 5 different settings.

What was your favorite half marathon experience? Was it a PR or did it just feel really good?

Did you long run or race this weekend? Tell me how it went!


{ 38 comments… add one }
  • Danielle October 16, 2016, 10:41 am

    I’m so glad it was such a positive race experience for you! It sounds like a great day. Those race days are the best – and definitely keep me coming back for more! I ran my second marathon last weekend so today I am sitting in bed with coffee and then yoga, no running for me.

    • Jen DeCurtins October 18, 2016, 6:36 pm

      Your post-marathon recovery sounds perfect! CONGRATS!

  • Katie October 16, 2016, 10:49 am

    Congrats on such a good half!!

    What socks are you wearing, are the compression?

    • Shannon McKinney October 16, 2016, 3:19 pm

      Congrats on completing your half! I’m wondering the same thing, what socks are these and would you recommend them for Achilles Tendonitis? I’m competing in my first half (post twins!) in 2 weeks and am struggling with a bad case of Achilles Tendonitis that just doesn’t seem to want to let up. I wear compression socks, but they’re not cutting it.

      • Jen DeCurtins October 18, 2016, 6:34 pm

        Hi Shannon,

        I’m so sorry to hear about your Achilles tendonitis. I’ve also struggled with that in the past.

        These are the compression socks I’m wearing: http://bit.ly/2eiDJtB. They definitely help. I also swear by KT tape before long runs. It helps so much: http://bit.ly/2e5R1yD. There are tons of YouTube videos on how to do it.

        I hope that you make it through your half without pain.

    • Jen DeCurtins October 18, 2016, 6:35 pm

      Yes, I almost always run in compression because of a tendency for calf/achilles strain. These are new and I love them: http://bit.ly/2eiDJtB.

  • Rebecca Strength and Sunshine October 16, 2016, 10:58 am

    Awesome job and great splits!

    • Jen DeCurtins October 18, 2016, 6:35 pm

      Thank you Rebecca! It was a great day.

  • Nathaly October 16, 2016, 11:35 am

    Awesome half marathon! Congratulations:)

    • Jen DeCurtins October 18, 2016, 6:34 pm

      Thanks lady!

  • Amanda October 16, 2016, 4:34 pm

    Congrats on having such a healthy half Jen! Quick question: what do you do with your phone when you run? I recently started running (couch to 5k) and I’m not sure if I should just hold my phone or what! Thanks 🙂

    • Jen DeCurtins October 18, 2016, 6:27 pm

      Hi Amanda,

      I have the iPhone 6s plus and I just hold it. It’s so big, I don’t think there is any way that I could strap it onto me. A lot of people like Flip Belts for storing gear on the run.

  • Ashlee October 16, 2016, 8:44 pm

    I’m jealous!! I love races like that.. I had my half this morning and although it definitely went great and I’m very proud of myself.. I can’t say I felt great the whole race. Come mile 11 I DEFINITELY felt like I had been pushing a bit too hard… oh well.. I was happy with my finish time and didn’t get injured which is what matters!!

    • Jen DeCurtins October 18, 2016, 6:26 pm

      Hi Ashlee – congrats on your half finish! I’m glad that you are happy with your finish and that your body is feeling good after the race too!

  • Melizz October 17, 2016, 4:22 am

    Congrats for running a half marathon !! And it’s great that you had so much fun running it. It’s a much better experience when you feel good while running !

    • Jen DeCurtins October 18, 2016, 3:46 pm

      Thank you so much. It was definitely a much better experience to feel good on this day than to push for a PR!

  • Lauren C October 17, 2016, 9:09 am

    Congrats on running such a great race! It’s wonderful to enjoy the race itself and finish feeling strong.

    This was a litter mileage week on the training plan for the Charlotte half, so I did 8 on Sat and it felt pretty good. I’ve been having a lot of lower hip/glute soreness (not the hip flexor in the front) though, and have been stretching a good bit, but can’t quite shake it. Any good hip stretches you’d recommend? Thanks!

    • Jen DeCurtins October 18, 2016, 3:40 pm

      Hi Lauren –

      Thank you so much! It was a great day.

      Have you tried rolling out the side of your hip and your glutes with a lacrosse ball? I always find that’s helps so much in alleviating tightness.

  • Alyssa October 17, 2016, 9:27 am

    Congrats! Nothing better than a race that feels GOOD!

    • Jen DeCurtins October 18, 2016, 3:39 pm

      It’s so true! It seriously beat a PR any day!

  • Julie Running in a Skirt October 17, 2016, 9:36 am

    Hi Jen! So glad the race went well. It sounds like you ran a really smart and strong race. Sounds like you just might be ready to tackle Kiawah!!! 🙂 Congrats!

    • Jen DeCurtins October 18, 2016, 3:39 pm

      Thank you! And yes, I think I am!

  • Somer October 17, 2016, 10:10 am

    Hi! I was the one that said I was running my first half over the weekend. I survived! I ran the Detroit International half on Sunday. It was such an amazing accomplishment. The views were amazing. We got to run over the Ambassador bridge into Canada and along the river to view Detroit to the left. I got to experience what felt like never ending inclines to the bridge, and coming out of the tunnel (there is a tunnel that runs under the river from Windsor to Detroit) and those were really hard.

    Things I were worried about (breathing, side pain) never happened but I did not realize how bad my toes would hurt or my hips. I also really struggled between miles 9-11 where I just kept thinking that I wasn’t going to make it.

    Although I’m not turned off by this and I plan on running it next year (it will be the 40th year!) I am discouraged at my time and training. Both are my fault. I see runners who just look so graceful and gazelle like and I’m over here fighting to just finish. It’s discouraging but I’m also extremely hard on myself. I also trained alone. I think I will have to seek out a run group and friend who will help push me to be better.

    Anyways, thanks for providing such a great blog!

    • Jen DeCurtins October 18, 2016, 3:38 pm

      Hi Somer –

      Wow, this struck a cord with me so much that I’m going to write a post about it tomorrow.

      First, CONGRATULATIONS on your half marathon finish. That is incredible! Second, the course scenery sounds pretty special. How cool that you got to run into Canada.

      Do NOT be discouraged. It was your first and you finished. Each one will get easier and easier. Definitely seek out a running group. It’s fun to have the community and the support.

  • Rebecca October 17, 2016, 11:23 am

    Congrats! I love races like that, where the miles just fly by. Oh, I love active release therapy! I get it done about once a week and I swear it makes a difference. That reminds me that I need to make an appointment!

    I think my favorite half marathon was this past March, Rock & Roll Dallas. I’ve done it for the past 5 or 6 years and this year they changed the course up to be way hillier. I didn’t feel all that well-prepared (I’d been doing more cross-training than running), plus the weather was cold but really windy and so I just went into it thinking I’d run it for fun, probably not PR. I PR’d by about 4 minutes! I was really shocked when I looked at my watch and saw that. Plus one of my favorite 90’s bands (Blues Traveler) played the after-race concert. It was so fun! (Except that my husband had my post-race warm clothes and didn’t realize I would be done so soon, so I was *freezing* while I was waiting for him in the meet-up area!)

    I had 16 miles on the books this weekend but woke up feeling awful so I went to urgent care instead. Diagnosis: sinus and ear infection. 🙁 So I got lots of rest instead and am already feeling better!

    • Jen DeCurtins October 18, 2016, 3:37 pm

      Hey Rebecca,

      WOW, I’d definitely say that was an unexpected PR giving the course conditions. That’s awesome! I am also always FREEZING after races.

      So glad that you skipped your long run to take care of yourself. Sending you get well wishes!

  • Liz N. October 17, 2016, 11:32 am

    Congrats on your HUGE PR! In spite of your recent emotional upheavals, you’ve managed to keep your chin up and push on. You should be very proud of yourself. I’m sure you had some ‘wind beneath your wings’ (maybe your brother’s spirit or happy memories of him helped?), helping you cruise along. I’m so inspired by you and your progress. You’re a great ambassador! This weekend, I didn’t do a long run (5 miles for the beginner’s plan) because I competed in the Festivus Games (CrossFit competition in Mooresville). My partner and I took 1st place in the Master’s division! I’ve been sore Sunday and today, but I’m going to flush our the soreness with CrossFit WOD today and run tomorrow. Thanks for being an inspiration to me and so many of your readers!

    • Jen DeCurtins October 18, 2016, 3:35 pm

      Hi Liz! It wasn’t a time PR but it was definitely a “feel good” PR! 🙂 It’s been so much fun serving as an ambassador for the Charlotte Marathon. I’ll be sad when it’s over!

      OMG – CONGRATS on winning the CrossFit competition. That is amazing! I’m sure you are a little sore from that! 🙂

  • ACKTIVE LIFE October 17, 2016, 12:13 pm

    CONGRATS on a awesome half marathon! I love reading posts when friends have had a successful run…GO YOU! XOXO

    • Jen DeCurtins October 18, 2016, 3:34 pm

      Thank you so much! It was a great morning.

  • Lisa October 17, 2016, 3:50 pm

    Congrats on your race!! I agree, the way you feel really has a ton to do with if you feel the race was “successful” or not. It’s not always the clock! I ran a half this weekend and I was hoping to negative split, but I just didn’t have it in me! The temperature were a little too warm for my liking. Gotta say again, LOVE those ambassador shirts. They look great on all of you!

    • Jen DeCurtins October 18, 2016, 3:19 pm

      Hey Lisa – gosh, race day temps can make such a huge impact on performance. I hope you had a good race regardless. Yes, the shirts are fun! They’re New Balance.

  • Christin October 17, 2016, 4:22 pm

    Congratulations!!! What an awesome feeling. I’m sure this came at a good time for you and I’m so glad.

    ALSO… VooDoo flossing!? I thought surely that was something you were making up to see if anyone noticed. Then I googled it. Hahaha.

    • Jen DeCurtins October 18, 2016, 3:18 pm

      I love that you Googled VooDoo flossing! 😛

  • JennyV October 18, 2016, 11:45 am

    So glad to hear about your half — you are running healthy and strong!! It’s hard to step back knowing that you are a competitive person and realize every race does not have to be a PR in order for it to be a great experience. Racing smart and learning about how to finish strong will definitely help in future races.

    I have only run three 1/2 marathons and to really stick out for me. My PR was a 1:35 – Disney Princess 1/2. I went into it wanting to run hard and fast — and despite it being the fastest I have ever run it actually did not feel that painful! It was fun and the miles flew by. My second favorite was the Celebration (FL) 1/2. I ran the inaugural race as my friend was the race director and it was the place where I was challenged to become a long-distance runner. I ran that in 1:51 — so signicantly slower than my PR but so emotional and memorable for me. Running had been a beautiful outlet while I lived in Florida and it was so great to return to the roads that had help me so much!

    • Jen DeCurtins October 18, 2016, 2:28 pm

      It’s such a nice feeling to let go of always trying to PR. I decided that for my ambassadorship this fall I was going to make training about feeling good and fun and not push for a new PR. It’s been awesome.

      That’s so amazing about your PR half and how it felt for you. That is SUPER speedy!

  • Heidi October 18, 2016, 11:24 pm

    So glad to hear about your half – good for you!! That is fabulous Jen! 🙂

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