I injured myself over the summer, leaving only 7 weeks to train for this half marathon. I approached the race as a fun-run and didn’t feel overly anxious or any pressure to perform because I still felt like I was in the process of recovery. I set a goal to finish in 2:30, which would give me leeway to run easy and take walking breaks as needed.
I surprisingly underestimated myself!
Nike Women’s Marathon 2013
San Francisco, CA
October 20, 2013
Pricing: $175 half marathon, $200 full marathon (lottery entry); $150 college student
Expotique: Reviewed here.
The morning of the race I woke up at 4 AM. I had normal race-day excitement running through my veins, so I only slept about an hour. I’ve been late to almost every race prior, so the minute my alarm went off I
fell sprung out of bed, determined to arrive early to the starting line for once. I took a quick shower to wake myself up, threw on my clothes, downed a protein shake as I prepped my oatmeal (which I packed to-go..a brilliant new move for me), and jogged out the door to the MUNI bus stop.
The bus was packed already at 5:15 with runners. I met a really nice runner named Kiersten, who ended up walking with me to my pace corral. I ate my oatmeal, checked my sweats bag, visited the restroom and was in my corral with 40 minutes to warm up and stretch!
I was in the Mason St corral
The starting line was alive and festive. There was a lot of cheering, music, fireworks-it really was a celebration. I heard a woman on the microphone suggesting everyone look out for one another on the course; if you see someone struggling offer words of encouragement. Really a great vibe. It was a chilly morning but once we warmed up it was perfect running weather.
And we’re off!
Miles 1-3: The course wove through Union Square and headed toward the bay. These miles were flat and easy, but very crowded. I saw this as a blessing in disguise because I tend to start every race too fast and tire my legs out early.
Miles 3-4: It’s hard not to compare this course to the San Francisco Marathon (1st half) because I’ve run that race twice now. After glancing at the NWM map I thought we would follow the same course along the water and enjoy a flat first half.
At mile 3 they sent us right up in to the hills. I told myself to take it slow and easy, and that’s what I did. The inclines weren’t terrible here, and if you do your hillwork it’s totally manageable (I didn’t say I did, but if you do it’s not too bad). After going up, up a few small hills, we were treated to a nice downgrade so I was able to make up for lost time.
Miles 4-5: Once the course leveled again I spotted the 2:05 pacer. I decided to tag along behind her for awhile, but it was difficult because it was still pretty crowded. My Nike + app was way ahead of the mile markers by mile 5 so I tried as best as I could to stop weaving around people-I was adding so much unnecessary mileage!
Mile 5-8 Then we came to hill #2. Goodbye 2:05 pacer. I thought the uphill would never end. It just kept going, and going, and going. My legs were already spent and I was taking tiny, baby running steps. A power walker blew right by me.
I hit a really ugly wall at mile 7. I felt defeated by the hill, upset I injured myself over the summer, and fully expected to crash and burn with 6 whole miles left. And I needed restroom. During my last race I had to stop at a porta-john (potty..pshhh we’re grown-ups here) and it bummed me out. I was going to have to stop again. Waah!
Then I saw the shirt.
When your body fails you, run with your heart.
I don’t know if this is the exact quote as I haven’t been able to find the shirt online or the quote repeated. Perhaps it was a delirious hallucination brought on by my depleted glycogen supply, but this mantra saved me from defeat. My body was done, but my heart wanted to run. It wanted to race.
Miles 8-10: Mile 8 was a giant downhill. I found my strength and flew down the course for my fastest mile of the race. I decided against a bathroom break.
The last long uphill was somewhere before mile 10; it was tiring but my mind was in a much better place. We were also treated to some juicy little rays of sunshine (orange slices) on the last big hill. They tasted heavenly.
When I came to mile 10, I kept telling myself, “it’s only a 5K left.” We cruised down a long decline to the highway along Ocean Beach. The crowd support really picked up here, and I couldn’t slow down in front of all those people, right?
Miles 11-12: We turned on to JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park, a road I have run an uncountable number of times. I knew the course from here and what to expect. I knew we would gain a small amount of elevation (no amount of elevation is negligible on the 11th mile of a run) and then finish on a downhill.
I hit another small wall at mile 11 and allowed myself to walk for a brief moment to recollect my thoughts. I ran 26.2 miles earlier this year, I can finish 13.1! I picked up the pace, I wanted to finish strong!
Miles 12-13: There is a windmill right before the course turns along Ocean Beach again-right before the finish line. I could hear the crowd as we neared the end, and I frantically searched for it.
Finally! They even got a pic of me passing the windmill!
I turned the corner, and the highway was lined with people cheering! I was so happy when I saw the finish-I knew I had made it!
When I crossed the finish line, I mentally estimated a 2:20 finish time. A minute or so later I remember to stop my Nike + app:
13.4 miles in 2:07!!
Which meant I had to have broken my 2:08 record. I was ecstatic, but all I wanted was to get my Tiffany necklace and drink some chocolate milk.
Gracious firemen at the finish
Whole Foods provided us with a goodie bag of snacks and a water-bottle. I’m really happy they gave us everything in a small bag, because I’m always struggling to hold all of my post-race food.
Getting my sweats bag back was easy as there were no lines, at least not yet. There was a Finisher’s Boutique with NWM gear to purchase, but I opted out because I was more than happy with my swag.
Swag: The swag for this race is top-notch. Everyone knows about the Tiffany necklace at the end, and it did not disappoint.
I hardly own any jewelry, so this is actually really special to me.
I was pleasantly surprised by the finisher’s shirt. I loved the bright colors/design, and it fits perfectly-it’s so wearable! I’m really glad I passed on the NWM shirts at Niketown, because this one is WAY better.
Finish line festivities: I met up with my college friend, Jenny, and her friend for a champagne toast. We all exceeded our performance expectations!
Cheers to a PR!
(and to free chocolate on the course)
My official stats:
Finish Time: 2:06 (est. was 2:04 but this was the final #)
Category place W 30-34: 476/3545
Overall Place: 3662/26409
Post-race: We went out to brunch afterwards for more cheers-ing, and to make up for all of those lost calories!
It was great to have a girlfriend to celebrate with after a race that honors women!
I’ve read mixed reviews of the Nike Women’s Marathon, and this race gets a lot of flack for pandering to stereotypes about women (“shopping for jeggings ahead”- yes, this is a real sign), bad organization (which I personally didn’t see), but at the heart of the experience is the course and the race itself-which is beautifully done, challenging, and really fun. My experience was overwhelmingly positive, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.