Packet pick up was offered at a local running store in the couple days leading up to the race and it was very well organized and super easy. We were in and out of there in a couple minutes with my bib and shirt. I was able to pick up my friend's stuff too with no problems.
Festive start and finish area, complete with live music
The race starts and ends in the Rockville Town Center area. This is fun because it makes logistics pretty easy. There is plenty of parking in the nearby garages. There are real bathrooms in the public library that can be used before the race. There is also a fun celebratory area set up for the start and finish of the race. This is especially important since it's a night race :) The race is run by the Montgomery County Road Runners so it is very well organized, just like all of their races.
The course starts behind the town center and runs through neighborhoods, as well as past a local college. I really enjoy the course. It's kind of shaped like a capital "B" so not a straight out and back or even a loop. The neighbors sit out and cheer you on so it felt like a nice amount of support, especially given that this is an 8k. There were lots of little kids offering high 5's :) It was a little hilly, just enough to make it fun and keep it from being too boring.
This is a July race, so hot and humid. Last year we got lucky with really mild weather but not so much this year. The good news is that the race is well prepared for this. There were plenty of water/gatorade stops. There were also multiple spots on the race where a sprinkler system was set up so that you could run under the cool water and this really helped with cooling us down. Some of the neighbors also had their hoses out and running to spray runners, which was much appreciated.
After the neighborhood portion, the last mile or so is on Rockville Pike, a major road, which was shut down for runners. Last year, I felt like they were trying to open the road back up early but this year was much better from that perspective. The road closures were still in place even though I was slower than last year. I'm not happy about that but I think it's just the difference in temperature from last year to this year that caused it. I know I'm a stronger runner than last year and I have to stop letting the heat make me feel like a failure.
How can it not feel like a party with all that free beer?
The finish area feels like a big party and everyone was happy to be done with running in the heat! I love finishing near the town center because there are so many bars and restaurants around to get into the air condition and celebrate inside. We went for delicious tapas and sangria and ended the night on a high note.
Smiling cause the finish line is in sight!
Overall, I love this race and will probably do it again. It's really well run, it's fun to do a night race, I like the course and the support from the neighborhood as well as the water sprinklers set up to cool us down, and the overall fun atmosphere. The only downside is the heat but there's nothing that anyone can do about that in a July race. Also, free photos just like with all MCRRC races. All photos in this post are courtesy of the MCRRC photographers.
So my new tactic to deal with the heat is to just avoid thinking about the time at all. I'm going to force myself to get out there and do my runs, knowing that they're just going to be slower. I'm going to just have to have faith that putting in the work will result in speed gains when the weather cools down. And for now, I'm going to concentrate on enjoying my time running. Last Sunday, I met up with friends, explored a new trail, and enjoyed being goofy together. Yesterday, I met an old running group on the track and had interesting conversations while we did our track work. I feel like if I concentrate on these types of incentives for now instead of the heat or the slow times, that's going to work out better for me.