First Attempt at a Race Recap: Nike Women's (Half) Marathon

9:41 AM

I ate some hills for breakfast!

I can barely remember what I did a few hours ago, let alone every single mile of my race on Sunday. However, I will try to attempt to “recap” my first experience with one of the Nike Women’s Running series races.

The drive to SF was smooth sailing. Up until about .3 miles from our hotel, did we experience the worst traffic EVER. Securing a hotel right near Union Square was awesome, yet everyone else had that idea…so needless to say it felt that all 30,000 women were trying to get to our hotel at the same time as us. I may exaggerate a bit, but it took us about 1.5 hours to get from the freeway exit to get our car parked at the hotel. Thank goodness the usual suspects were there with me – Dad, Mom, and Lil. Momma and I went to check in, while the other two literally sat in the car, not moving, in the same spot for a good 30 minutes. Just as crowded as the street, was the lobby of the hotel. Women everywhere…if you are a single male, this is the race to be at – tons of women, all shapes and sizes, and all wearing tight running clothes, I image this is an ideal situation, right?!?

Excited to be in our room.

Always silly, no need to be serious!

Once settled in, it does pay to be very nice to a lady who looks stressed out, we sought out for food and to checkout the “Expotique”. Although the double beds were on the smaller side, it was still better than sleeping on a cot before a race. Since we were a short 3 blocks from the FUNstivities, it didn’t take us long to get there. Nike took over Union Square. Literally, everything was for the race. I’ve seen this before, a couple of years ago, but it is different when you are a part of it.

An evening view of the backside of the Expotique.

They had a huge #werunsf sign outside that had a line to take pictures. They had a section for packet pick-up; windows to sell transportation tickets, goody bag pick-up stations, and then the actual “Expotique”. This thing was pretty cool, it was a picture takers, social media maven’s heaven. Just look up the hash tag “werunsf” on IG, you’ll see more pictures than there were runners, I bet! All the sponsors had booths and were giving away something or another. I didn’t really take much, other than a Luna bar – which I ate today, because I found it in my purse, it was good. I’d buy another one. Paul Mitchell was doing hair – braids and beachy waves. Nike was everywhere – their shoes on display, their new line of clothes on display, giving away shoelaces depending on your status on their Nike Plus app, a Dj, and chaos.

The parentals aren't the best at picture taking!

The Expotique in an IG post :)

Love the signage!

Picture paradise...

Damn, $20 bucks to shuttle my sweaty booty back to the start – or at least we thought that’s where it would drop us off – and on a bus stuffed with sweaty ladies! Well, thanks to Papa Bear he funded our ride – since him and Momma Bear were not going to attempt to be spectators to the madness. We were okay with this and him funding our transport ticket. Funny thing is, they didn’t even check when we got on the bus. We were just filing in and not once did they ask to see our bracelet. Oh well, at least we know we are good citizens and didn’t try to cheat the system, even if it is super easy too ;)

As much as I still try to pretend to despise Nike, I had to go see my name on the wall at Nike Town. And then while we were there, we had to see what race swag they were selling, it was only right. Tons of women, tons of shoes, tons of clothes – if you don’t like crowds, you would have hated it all! I wanted a bunch of things, but most if it was all logo’d out with the NWM logo. I finally found a hoodie that had it discreetly placed on it; both the Lil and I bought the same thing. I was in love with a bunch of things, but I was a baller-on-a-budget, so I kept it simple. That and we’d already spent $175 for the race and $400 for the hotel room. This race doesn’t come cheap at all!

29,999 of my close friends ready to RUN!

Ahhh! I couldn't help it!
I’ve only done a few destination runs and I know my morning ritual can get slightly skewed. My main concern is always coffee. I NEED it. No if’s and’s or but’s. A coffee shop connected to our hotel was supposed to open at 5:30AM, there was no sign of any employees at 5:27AM. Room service doesn’t start until 6AM. Luckily my cousin came in clutch with a VIA. My first experience with one, but it did the job. Ate my bagel, had some coffee, went poop (TMI), outfit prepped, chub rub stuff applied, bib attached, obligatory pre-race pic taken, and we were ready to get this run going…at 6AM!!

Pre-During-Post Fuel and the Fit!

Lil. Cousin. Me.
There were 4 corrals, not including the professional athletes and sub 6-minute runners – they are just too awesome to count as a corral. Luckily the Lil and I were in the first one (8-8:59). Sine they were fairly strict about the timing bracelets, we had to part ways with my cousin at Powell Street. Race photographers were sprinkled all over and they took our picture right as we entered the barricades. We stretched a little and then walked as close as we could get to the front. We heard someone talking, but couldn’t decipher what was being said. We did hear the count down and then BOOM – fireworks went off and we were off to a slow start. By the time we reached the “Start” approximately 3.5 minutes had passed…and we were off:

Hills on hills on hills.
Mi 1: 8:51 – bobbing and weaving, so many women who I know did not even fit in this corral. Some were even walking before a quarter of the first mile. Normally I shoot off like a crazy person, but here, no-go! It kept me slow, but slower than I would have liked. It was really dark and we were running through the streets of the city.
Mi 2: 8:33 – still tons of congestion. Not as bad, but definitely wasting energy to get around people. Even running on the cobblestone dividers, praying I didn’t twist my ankle.

Mi 3: 8:24 – I’m pretty sure most of this was running past the warfs, which was fun sights – all the different stores were colorful. Also the beginning of the first of the few hills, attacked this one with gusto.

Mi 4: 8:17 – downhill is lovely, tough on the feet, but great.

Mi 5: 8:20 – I knew a big hill was coming, so I kept anticipating.

Mi 6: 8:34 – Pretty view, just very foggy. Statues in the grass were cool, then we started the hill.

Mi 7: 9:44 – It wasn’t just a hill, it teased us mercilessly. You’d climb, you’d level out a bit, you’d climb, and repeat this about 5 times. This was rough and as you can see by my time, I was gassing. It was at this time that the 1:55 pacer passed me on the first part of the hill :/ I was pissed! But I had to remember to enjoy this run, have fun, this isn’t my goal race. I kept focusing on my form for hills – head and chest up and pump my arms.

Mi 8: 8:01 – this downhill was fast, working on my form again. In training runs I tend to get a bad cramp when I go down hill. I tightened my core, slightly bent forward, kept my arms loose, and just let it flow – I didn’t try to hold it back.

Mi 9: 9:29 – then we climb again, literally had some mental issues on this one. I talked myself out of walking, even though I wasn’t running very fast. Looking for funny signs of encouragement and also to the spectators to cheer me on.
Mi 10: 8:12 – more extreme downhill, thus the negative split. My feet were starting to burn on the bottom, due to the hard pounding of the downhill running, which was fast. However, I really honed it on my form and tried to stay consistent for injury sake. I didn’t want a cramp with 5k to go!

 Mi 11: 8:22 – a little leveling out again, but still on an accent up. At this point, it felt that all I was doing was going uphill, with one minute of downhill. My spirits were being tested but I knew the end was near.

Mi 12: 8:38 – This one was a mental tough one again. There was some climbing here too, but I knew I was close. I knew I only had one more mile, but I was feeling a little exhausted, so I decided to eat a half a Clif Shot Blok. I think it was a great choice to finish strong.

Mi 13: 7:45 – since I wasn’t looking at my watch much, so I could try to enjoy the run and not get too mental, I had no idea I ran this mile so fast. I’m sure there was some downhill involved, but wow – I smashed mile 13!

 Mi 14: 8:17 – I didn’t have much to make a final sprint like I normally do, but after reading some online stuff about that, I am glad I didn’t attempt it. I apparently pushed it really hard that last mile, so I’m okay with this pace for 0.1 of a mile.

Looking like a burrito in our foil wraps!
Done! According to the Garmin I PR’d at 1:53, but according to the timing clock, I got 1:55 accounting for the late start. I wouldn’t know the final results until Monday. As I finished I wanted water and my necklace! First you get a Whole Foods water bottle filled with water, then your shirt, THEN your necklace from a fire fighter in a tux. Hello, handsomes! Then there are a sea of other fire fighters who are there to take pictures with you. I was exhausted and boring, so I just stood next to my firefighter, but I did make sure to fine one that was decent looking. After I saw some pics, I was jealous – I saw some where a couple were holding the runner or just one was holding the runner, they were super cute. After this you get a goodie bag of food and then a foil wrap thing. So I literally looked like homeless chipotle burrito! Carrying all this crap, including my running water bottle, and wrapped in foil. I’m sure it was a sight to see.

Running swag and Mr. Garmin!
I knew the Lil would finish before me so we had a designated meeting space…yet she wasn’t there. I wandered around, tried to call Papa Bear from the free Verizon tent and even looked in the Finisher Boutique. Then I walked back to the area and she still wasn’t there, then alas, I found her at the Verizon booth. We both were freezing so we just wanted to get on the shuttle and get to the hotel for a shower and some coffee.

So that was my run. I’m still on a runner’s high from this event. I was being a worrywart and the traffic made me cranky, but after we got our hotel room it was all good. Everything went great and I’m happy I was a part of the 10th anniversary of this run. It’s great to be a part of something so big, 30,000 mostly women big!

Oh la la!
Gotta see the other side too!

Reflections: I wanted to document my run with my phone, but I also didn’t want to carry my phone now that I have a Garmin watch. Once I heard that Verizon had phones to make calls, the deal was sealed, no phone for the run. I’m such a picture taker that this killed me, but it made me take in the experience that much more. I’m glad I didn’t have to carry it, but I wish I could have captured some of the cool experience. Have FUN. Although it’s hard to comprehend, beating times and passing people isn’t what it’s really about – its about enjoying the run that you worked hard to train for. Not everything is under your control, so try to have a positive attitude and get running. Destination runs are now something I’m looking into – already asked a friend if she wanted to do the San Diego Rock-n-Roll half marathon next year. Trying new things and running in new cities can be fun! I’m scared shitless of the CIM. I only did half of what I will run in a little over a month and I was exhausted after pushing, can I do it another 13.1 miles? I’m only half crazy, not full crazy yet…

Fire Fighter in Tux: Check. Tiffany's: Check. PR: Check.
I know you’re dying to know what my final time was, right? Well guess what, I did in fact PR for my half marathon time. My official time was 1:53:02, which was almost exactly what Mr. Garmin, had told me the day of the race. I was on a second runner’s high today after I heard this! I’m proud of myself. Not bragging. I PR’d on a tough course. It had mentally gotten to me, but I overcame it and enjoyed the race and ended up accomplishing what I really wanted.

I left SF with a Tiffany’s necklace and a PR, not sure which is better…

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