I actually ran the half marathon I’ve been talking about since August! It was a great experience – I had fun, met my goal and learned a lesson or two for next time. I hope the first of many races in my future.
The Nike Women Half Marathon took place in San Francisco on a Sunday morning. The timing worked out well considering my family and I were already in the Bay Area for my cousin’s wedding on Friday night. Nike planned some fun pre-race activities Friday and Saturday, which I wasn’t able to swing. It would have been fun to be a part of Friday night Nike Training Club Live workout, but instead I was wining, dancing and watching my brother and male cousins run naked through the reception. Ha, family is the best. The wedding was gorgeous and such a fun family memory. I wouldn’t have missed it for anything. Saturday we stuck around for a family brunch and then drove into the city just in time for me to check in and grab my race bib.
We checked into our motel (the smallest and most expensive motel in the West) and found there to be one bed for the four of us. I cannot think of a better way to prepare to run 13 miles than spending the previous night in a Family Bed. No thank you. Luckily, the Bodenettes think sleeping on the floor is a treat and they were stoked to sleep on their makeshift mattresses.
We headed back to the motel, I set out my clothes and snuggled into bed. The alarm went off at 5am and I caught a ride via Lyft to the starting line in Union Square. I grabbed a cup of coffee and oatmeal at Starbucks at Union Square and had plenty of time to jog around, use the bathroom and check my bag at the gear check.
Here’s a cool shot of the starting line from Nike Women.
I headed into my starting corral around 6am. I had designated my pace as a 9 minutes per mile, which was on the speedy end of the corral, so I found a place towards the front. The energy was great and racers friendly. The DJ and crew did an awesome job getting us all pumped up as we stood there anticipating the hard work ahead. The race started at 6:30am with the crazy fast gals heading out first. My corral was next at 6:40am. As we moved towards the starting line, I smiled, took a deep breath and shed a tear. I felt good and proud to be doing something that I set out to do – something challenging and new.
I was aiming for a 2 hour finish, but I didn’t really want to follow a pacer. I decided to trust my training and run at a comfortable pace, building speed mile after mile. With the most significant hill between miles 9 and 10, I didn’t want to really kick it into gear until after that last hill. So, I reminded myself to start slow, be consistent and have fun!
The course was cool – a mix of city streets and a tour through Golden Gate Park, The Presidio and finally the Marina. Along the course were bands, DJs, cheerleaders and even some Nike Training Club trainers. And of course, they had water and some food. I ran with my phone for two reasons: Spotify and Nike+ Running. The tunes kept me going and Nike+ was going to help me pace myself – although the app wasn’t calculating distance accurately, so that was a bust. The course had mile markers and a clock at each, so I was able to pace myself that way.
I felt good and strong. I grabbed water at every station, barely slowing my pace to take a sip. I didn’t eat anything (which I will come back to later), although I was tempted to grab a Perfect Bar for later. Those things are suh good.
The hills made me appreciate my long trail runs through the hills of Forest Park. I felt prepared and strong. The last hill was nearly a mile long and brutal. But, had a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge. And it was all downhill after that, literally. At the 11th mile marker I saw my time and realized I was going to come in ahead of my goal – I was super stoked. It made me even more excited to speed it up and finish strong. But, I found I had nothing left in the tank or the legs. Those 2 miles felt like a slodge – that might be a made up word, but I bet most runners know what I mean. My legs couldn’t go as fast as I was telling them too. My body was so tired. But, I kept a sub 9 minute pace for the last two miles. At mile 12 they were handing out dark chocolate and I was like, “Oh what a dream! But, I gotta keep running now. Thanks anyways! Why on earth would anyone stop and eat during a race?” #rookiemove
And I finished the race in 1 hour and 52 minutes! The finish line was exciting and full of people. I looked around for my family as I made the final approach and smiled knowing they were in the crowd somewhere.
Within yards of crossing the finish line, they handed me a little Tiffany’s box with my race necklace. And that was it. I ate the Perfect Bar from my swag bag and wandered around in a dazed state looking for my crew.
By the way, there were 25,000 people running that day. Which makes it nearly impossible for friends and family to see their runners cross the finish. But, Isaac was able to track my progress via Nike’s Tracking site so he knew when I was approaching the finish. It also allowed my dad to excitedly track my pace while drinking coffee at his kitchen table at home. Thanks technology.
We found each other, snapped a few photos and grabbed snacks in the Whole Food tent. And that was it. In some ways it was less ceremonial than I expected. Not that that’s a bad thing. Although, it wouldn’t have hurt to have JT at the finish line doing a little duet with Beyonce. You know, just a something low key like that? Maybe next year, huh Nike?
Now, for those lessons learned…
- Race Organizers hand out food along the course for a reason. It’s not just for the purpose of promotion. I should have eaten! I should have been eating during my training runs too. I feel like a bozo – I never even gave it a thought or asked anyone about eating during the race. It’s no wonder I had no gas left in the tank at mile 11.
- I felt like I was running stronger two weeks prior to the race. Now, this could have been because of the rather exhausting few days leading up to the race (what with a 10 hour drive, wedding festivities and 3 nights in a hotel room with my kids), but it also could have been the tapering I did. It was too much tapering and not enough running.
- The longest run I did during training was 11 miles. I think I would do this differently next time and include at least one 13 mile run.
- I really enjoyed the discipline of training for a single event. And the hard work leading up to the race made it feel like a true accomplishment. Although, I definitely had some pre-race anxiety and mind games going on. For another post. I want to do another! And another and another!
Did any of you run in San Francisco on October 18th? What did you think?