Nike Women’s Half-Marathon Recap, Part II
At last, the long-awaited race report! Instead of prolonging the inevitable, let’s jump right into it, shall we?
My alarm sounded bright and early at 5:15am and I rolled out of bed, threw some sweats on and groggily stumbled down to breakfast in the hotel lobby. Without too much talking, I scarfed down my typical pre-run meal: a bagel with peanut butter, heavy on the pb. I’m not a coffee drinker, so I passed on all the wonderful-smelling caffeine and washed down my meal with some good old-fashioned water. Yum.
I wanted to stretch out and slowly get ready before leaving for the race. It helps the err, bathroom department, if I’m not rushing around nervously. With a little over an hour to kill, I changed, stretched, sipped water and enjoyed the cooking channel on TV, making mental notes of meals I want Dustin to make me 🙂
Finally, it was time to head to the race. After a quick photo-op, Jenna and I moved outside to what we thought would be a quick and painless bag drop-off.
Wrong. So, so wrong.
My only complaint about this race was the setup for the bag drop-off. It was so chaotic it wasn’t even funny! People were just standing still, herding themselves around the buses we needed to get to and drop off our bags. Instantly shifting into panic-mode, Jenna and I dipped and swerved through thousands of people (literally, thousands), cut a few lines, dropped off our bags and ran to the start.
We made it just in time.
Tells ya how long it took, huh?
After a big sigh of relief, I loaded up my Garmin and relaxed for a few minutes while the announcer did his thang. Before I knew it, the gun sounded and I was off!
Miles 1-3 were easy peasy, my legs got into a groove and I just enjoyed the course. It was still dark out when we started, which I enjoyed way more than I thought I would. It was fun taking various pictures and watching everything shift colors as I ran along. I sipped some water at the mile 2 marker and took my first Clif shot block at mile 4. Better to take it before you’re tired, right?
Miles 4-6 had some rolling hills, but nothing I couldn’t handle. Mile 7, however, sucked hardcore. It was all uphill. The whole thing. No leveling out or slight downhills here. Nadda. Just 100 percent incline on narrower roads that made my thighs scream.
But I survived. Obviously.
And then came the downhill. Because what comes up, must come down. Mile 8 was nearly all downhill and when I say downhill, I mean downhill. My legs were racing and I had to pay close attention to maintain proper form so my knees and shins didn’t curse me later. I made up the time I lost and then some though, which pumped me up for the second half of the race.
I popped another shot blok at the beginning of mile 8 and chugged right along. My knees were starting to give me a lot of pain, but thankfully my hip (where I had been having serious pain before) was doing just fine. My energy was high and I cruised right through miles 8, 9 and 10 without much thought.
The views constantly changed on this course, which is phenomenal. We literally ran through every region of San Francisco. Commercial, residential, coastal, woodland (that’s when I say it seemed like we were running through a more woodsy area 🙂 ). The constant change definitely kept me distracted and the time flew by.
I ate another shot block at mile 10 and ran through another really crappy hill, but not as bad as mile 7. But still, by then my legs were saying “Uh, what the hell, Sam?” I told them to shut the eff up and keep moving. Bam.
They listened and were rewarded with what? Another glorious downhill! At this point, it really registered in my brain that I could actually PR on this race, which I didn’t think would be possible when I toed the starting line. Why, you wonder?
- I was under-trained.
- I was having a lot of hip pain during race week.
- The mile 7 and mile 10 hills are killer.
So when I got through the second horrid hill and this new revelation dawned on me, I gunned it downhill. With only a little over 2 miles left to race, I just wanted to go all out and get the fastest time I possibly could. No more holding back, no saving it for later. Just run.
The final two miles were a lot of fun because of the crowds. There were cheerleading teams rooting for you, Nike had a bunch of fun signs up and the fans were really supportive. Volunteers handed out a square of Ghirardelli chocolate in the last mile, but I politely declined (meaning I vigorously shook my head and kept my mouth shut, because for some reason I was convinced they would try to shove it in my mouth?). Before I knew it, I was in the finish chute and could see the final timing mat up ahead!
As I neared, I just ran as fast as I thought I could. When I saw the handsomely dressed firemen holding a blue Tiffany’s box that I knew would be handed to me, I ran even faster. Talk about motivation, eh?
Finish time: 2:10:03
Six minutes shaved off of my old PR time! BAM!
My splits were a little all over the place, but I’ll show ’em anyway so I can reference them later:
- Mile 1: 9:21
- Mile 2 : 9:45
- Mile 3: 9:32
- Mile 4: 10:18 –> rolling hills start!
- Mile 5: 9:22
- Mile 6: 9:41
- Mile 7: 12:17 –> that nasty, never-ending hill.
- Mile 8: 8:52 –> The glorious downhill that followed.
- Mile 9: 9:56
- Mile 10: 10:05 –> The other big hill.
- Mile 11: 9:53
- Mile 12: 9:04
- Mile 13: 8:46
After snagging my necklace and finisher’s T-shirt, I immediately chugged chocolate milk, ate a banana and went to the stretching tent they had set up for us. A foam roller has never hurt so good. Afterward, I couldn’t wait another second, so I unwrapped my new race medal:
I love it! Now I can actually wear my race medal all day long and not get weird stares 🙂
Overall, I think this was a great race. Nike really did a fantastic job setting everything up and making sure you had an enjoyable experience. The course was gorgeous, the support was fantastic and there were plenty of hydration and fueling stations (Gatorade handed out stuff just like my shot bloks, but I didn’t take it). I would definitely consider racing this one again!
I’m really happy with my performance in this race as well. It became very clear how much stronger I’ve gotten since my last half because this course had much more difficult hills, and I still snagged a PR. I maintained a faster pace, learned more about myself as a runner and ended with a big goofy smile on my face 🙂
And there ya have it! I took pictures on a disposable camera (throwback!) throughout the course, but the photo center near my apartment has a broken machine right now so I still haven’t been able to get them developed. Once they are developed, I’ll make another post so you can check out the scenes I ran through!