Nike Women’s Half Marathon 10/14/2012
There were a few reasons why I was super excited to do this race…
1. It’s HARD to get in to. They draw people by a lottery. I didn’t get in through the lottery, but found a loophole since I am a student.
2. It is in San Francisco…the city of my birth…kind of my hometown. Although I grew up in Southern California I spent my early years and EVERY significant holiday in the Bay Area. I found the idea of “going back to my roots” intriguing.
Then onto “The City” as it’s called. (I know other places have “cities”, but for me and anyone else from Nor Cal “The City” will always be San Francisco.)
|Just a portion of the craziness!|
I actually had to text Ditto to “Find the Bagpipes” so we could meet in line!
Even with the crazy crowd there were a couple of cool things. The outside of Niketown had a wall and every single runner’s name was listed.
|Ditto was low enough for her to reach!|
|But it's there!!!|
We carb loaded at Cheesecake Factory and headed back to the hotel. Both Ditto and I were a bit nervous and opted for a 3rd glass of wine (to go with our standard 2 glasses with our pasta!) at the hotel bar.
The next morning we got up when our alarm went off at 5:30 and did what I like to call our “Morning Ballet” Ditto (aka Heather) and I have done a lot of out of town races where we shared a hotel room before and we both wake up in the morning and go about our business without speaking for probably 30 minutes.
At the end of the ballet, we headed the mile walk to the start line…It was incredible. Busses lined up for bag check. Thousands of people standing, stretching, laughing and hugging in the street.
Two gentlemen dressed as Tiffany Boxes (with marathon bibs on no less)…a group of girls dressed in all black running gear with large sunglasses, French twists, cigarette holders and tiaras ala Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
It was so fun and exciting. The National Anthem played and we waited patiently and walked slowly to the start line with our corral.
As we approached I put in my ear bud and looked over at Ditto and said, “I think I may cry” I’m not sure why this race was so emotional for me, but…
We hit the ground running.
The first 4-5 miles was easy. A couple of short downhills, mostly flat with some steep but very short uphills. People cheered all along the coast as we raced from Union Square through the Embarcadero and past all the piers. It was overcast and foggy so visibility of the Bridge and Alcatraz was nonexistent, but San Francisco is so beautiful it didn’t matter.
The first big hill was at mile 6. I took this opportunity by running the first half (albeit slowly) and walking the second half. I decided to make up my time on the downhills. I went FULL OUT. My average race pace is somewhere in the 12 minute zone, but I was running in the low 9 minutes down the hills.
We ran through the Presidio, past the bridge (I can see part of it in some of the pictures, but not when I ran) through the mansions of Pacific Heights past the famous Cliff House restaurant into Golden Gate Park and finished on the Great Highway.
The second and last hill was at mile 8 and there was a volunteer yelling, “Are you happy? You should be! Why? THAT’S THE LAST HILL!!!”
There are so many things I loved about this race. Nike is first class with amenities. There were plenty of water stations, porta-potties, shot blocks and volunteers. They found LITERALLY the greatest people in the city to volunteer. Everyone had personality PLUS. There were great places for people to cheer us on and it really helped fire me up.
The inspirational signs and stories throughout the course had me choking up more than once and I found myself having to calm down so I could breathe properly.
This race benefits the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society so Team in Training is in full effect. However, this is the first time I had seen their effect. Team in Training (TnT) is set up through the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. You commit to raising a specific amount of money and once you hit or exceeded your amount your entry fee, transportation to and from and room at the race are all taken care of. PLUS you have the opportunity to meet up with Team In Training coaches for runs in the months leading up to the race. This is awesome, but an added benefit for runners (especially first timers) is that the coaches don’t run the race. They run up and down the course cheering for anyone wearing a TnT shirt and looking out for their specific runners. When they see one, they run alongside the runner, asking them how they’re feeling, giving them tips and encouragement.
I saw this happen multiple times. It was so heartwarming and encouraging even if I wasn’t a part of the team.
But back to MY race…
I could see the finish line ahead and I put my arms up….this was one race where my finish line picture was going to signify VICTORY!
I got through and got fed through the stall to pick up my finisher’s necklace. I picked a tall dark and handsome firefighter with a beautiful smile and he told me I did a great job!
Then I went through the line to get my tee shirt. This is the only race I’ve ever done where you don’t get a shirt until you finish the race.
Then the whole line stopped. The only other thing I would change about this race is that there is no “runner only” area at the end. The families could come crawling under and into the area where they were handing out bagels, bananas, etc. And it was so crowded we were all coming to a dead stop. I started to get claustrophobic.
Pre-Race Index and Arm:
|Nothing says "class" like a porta-potty in the background|