Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Rock 'n' Roll Mexico City Half Marathon

What an awesome weekend! Rock 'n' Roll Mexico City was sort of a "consolation race" after I realized I couldn't run the local marathon (Maratón Lala) this year, but it all worked out for the best because not only was it a super fun race, but I finally got to meet two of my fiancé's good friends who live there, one of whom is a groomsmen in our wedding. It also worked out perfectly that we had Monday off of school for Benito Juarez Day, so I didn't have to take a day off of work.

The race was on Sunday night at 6:30 pm. We arrived from Torreón late Friday night, as our flight was delayed several hours (normal for Viva Aerobus) so we had dinner at a little burger joint in the Condessa area and then went back to Miguel's apartment to crash.

On Saturday morning we went to the expo fairly early to avoid the crowds. We got our packets and T- shirts right away and went to look around, but to be perfectly honest, it wasn't the greatest expo I've been to. They had some cute gear, but imported brands like Asics and Saucony are so ridiculously expensive here. I did end up buying a Flip Belt and some Zensah Compression socks, but I decided I could wait for Spring Break if I needed anything else, since I'm going back to Minnesota for a week. Everything is so much cheaper in the States. 

Saturday night we had dinner with some of my fiancé's friends and I ended up drinking a fair amount of wine, but I had all day Sunday to hydrate, right? Normally I wouldn't drink at all the night before a race. 

It was a little odd planning around an evening start time. We weren't really sure what to do with ourselves Sunday. We ended up having a late lunch around 3pm, which worked out fine as we had 3+ hours to digest before running. Luis tried to talk Miguel and me out of running so we could relax and drink beers all afternoon, and I have to admit it was really tempting. It was a cold and rainy afternoon, and I have become such a wimp living in warm, sunny Torreón the past 3.5 years. But we stuck to our guns and split up with the group. 

Miguel and I headed to the Hipodromo around 4pm, were parked by 4:30 pm, and had 2 hours to change and bum around until the race started.

It was a little chilly when we arrived, but the sun was out at first, so it didn't feel that cold. As 6:30 approached, however, clouds covered the sun and the temp started to drop. After I dropped off my sweats, I had to keep moving to stay warm.
WiFi/Charging Station. Genius

We stayed in the Wi-Fi/Phone-charging area to juice up my phone (best idea ever, by the way) and chatted with a guy from San Diego who had flown down for the race. Wasn't he nervous about running at 7,000+ feet, we asked? He said no, but I was freaking out. I'd never run at high altitude (Torreón is 3,670 ft) and felt winded just going up the stairs to Miguel's 3rd floor apartment. I envisioned either walking a good portion of the race and/or passing out from the altitude.

I planned on taking it easy, as I had no idea how my body would react to the altitude, but I secretly hoped to finish in under 2:30. (My fastest time is 2:10, at low elevation.)

When it was time to line up in our corral, I was so cold that my teeth were chattering uncontrollably. I just wanted to start running so I could warm up, but we were in one of the later corrals and it was a wave start.

The muddy start line (and finish) 

Finally it was our turn, and I started to jog through the muck. As soon as I started running, I warmed up, but the Flip Belt I purchased at the expo was pretty tight and squeezing my bladder. All I could think about the first mile or so was going to the bathroom.

Luckily I spotted a Burger King around 2k and I decided to go for it rather than be miserable for the rest of the race. I normally wouldn't stop go to the bathroom during a half, but I had been hydrating all day and maybe overdid it a little.

I felt so much better afterwards and could finally start enjoying the race. The stretch along Reforma was really cool, especially the Angel Statue which was all lit up. I stopped to take a ton of pictures in this section.

There was a turn-around after the angel, and the course started to go uphill. I definitely felt more winded than I usually do while running, but not so much that I had to stop. I picked up the pace a little and was able to maintain it until the end (about 10:42 min/mile) in spite of a few hills. I was feeling good.

The race finished back at the Hipodromo where there was an after party with live bands and beer.  We got a lot stuff at the end; the pizza and mylar blanket were especially appreciated. Food at the finish line is the way to my heart, and the mylar blanket actually kept me toasty warm until I was able to pick up my sweats. 

Pretty stoked about finishing in 2:20 when I thought I might end up in a medical tent instead due to altitude sickness ;)

I skipped the beer & concert part (I was feeling pretty nauseated at this point, probably from the elevation) but I'm sure it was appreciated by the rest of the 10,000 fellow runners. Overall I was really impressed with how everything was run. It was well-organized and we got lots of good stuff, like not only a tech shirt but a finishers' Tee. The only thing that wasn't so great was the Rock 'n' Roll merchandise, or lack thereof. I guess for licensing/tax reasons they couldn't sell much of the official RNR gear. I kept seeing people walking around with sweet jackets from other RNR races like San Diego, but there wasn't much available for purchase at the expo.

Oh well, just another reason to sign up for a RNR event in the States, which I plan to do. It was an awesome "racecation" and I'd drop the cash for it all over again.

I have my sights set on RNR Merida in October and RNR San Antonio in December, but we'll see how the injury heals in the coming months. I've learned my lesson about signing up for races too far in advance.

P.S. On Monday, before we flew back home, we went to the Zócalo to get some artsy medal shots, and we ran into Bill and Justin, who had run the DC2MX Capital City Challenge, meaning they ran Rock 'n' Roll DC Saturday morning, then flew down to Mexico City to run the Rock 'n' Roll half the next evening. They were sight-seeing and chatting with us like it was nothing. Justin had run the 5k AND full marathon in DC before the Mexico City race. I was really impressed that he was still walking. Runners continually amaze me. I love meeting folks who are even more crazy about this sport than I am. Great job Bill & Justin and all the other #DC2MX runners! Maybe I'll take on a similar challenge someday :)
New Runner friends :) 

With our medals at Palacio Bellas Artes, which unfortunately we didn't have time to tour. Next time!


  1. Nice race recap! Rock n Roll races are fun arent't they?

  2. Very cool!! I had no idea the elevation was that high in Mexico City. I lived in Colorado for 4 years and we lived at 7,000 feet and I never adjusted to the altitude. I had to take a 4 year running hiatus because of it. LOVE the idea of the charging station!! I saw several of those challenge racers when I ran RnR DC, sound like fun!

  3. Very cool!! I had no idea the elevation was that high in Mexico City. I lived in Colorado for 4 years and we lived at 7,000 feet and I never adjusted to the altitude. I had to take a 4 year running hiatus because of it. LOVE the idea of the charging station!! I saw several of those challenge racers when I ran RnR DC, sound like fun!

  4. I just signed up for the 2016 race and am a little nervous about the altitude. It will be my 4th half marathon (and my friends first O_o), so I'm not concerned about the distance so much as the climate differences. Do you have any suggestions on things you wish you would've known? Would you recommend walking or at least driving the course to see what it's like? Your write up was super helpful!

    1. Hi Theresa,
      I'm so glad you found this helpful!

      I don't know that it's necessary to drive or walk the course, but when we picked up our packets at the Hipodromo, which is the same location as the start and finish, it was helpful to know there was a hill right at the end and to save some energy for that.

      As for the elevation, I followed the advice of a coworker who runs. He told me to just take it easy and see how I feel. I did that; I started really slow and picked up the pace as my body allowed. I felt fine until after I ran. I wolfed down two pieces of pizza and felt pretty nauseous afterwards. If I could do it all over, I would maybe skip the pizza.

      It was a really fun race overall and Mexico City has so much to explore. Enjoy!