When I first started running in 2006 and learned of the Nike Women’s Marathon I thought, “WHAT A COOL RACE! But there is no way I will ever run a half marathon. 13 miles??? That’s crazy.” Little did I know then, that 5 years later I would run my first full marathon at Nike SF, then do the half in 2012, the inaugural Nike DC half earlier this year and this past Sunday, I ran Nike SF for the 3rd year in a row, completing my 16th half marathon to date. Wow!!!
Since I did my last race recap all in video, I’m going to do this recap mostly in photos as I took 74 pictures in total during the race- that’s close to 6 photos per mile, people, whoa! That’s a a PR in race-photography for me, definitely! (I’ve promised myself that I am leaving the camera behind for my next half though as I should probably stop taking so many freaking pictures and maybe possibly try to focus on the actual RUNNING here at some point… well… maybe.)
Just like the years before, NWM SF is always kicked off with a trip to Union Square for the expotique the Friday before the race where I grabbed my bib and took a few choice photos, of course!
After touring the expotique I went over to the Nike store to shop for some race schwag and get a look at this year’s name wall. This year, my name was waaaaaaaaay at the top, too far to reach, above the “F” in SF… of course I wanted the iconic NWM picture of me pointing at my name in 2 point font but less of asking to get on top of a strangers shoulders, I just had to be content with the fact that my name was there and spelled correctly! Yay!
Race Day Sunday finally arrived and here is how it all went down…
4:00am: Alarm goes off, I get up, make coffee, hop in the shower and shave my legs in order to be more aerodynamic. (Yeah. Right.)
4:30am: BRF (best running friend) Erica arrives and we hop in my car and drive out to San Francisco.
4:50am: We arrive to SF.
4:50-5:30am: We wait in a VERY LONG LINE to park the car- panic begins to set in… will we be late? Will the garage fill up? Where is the bag check? Where are the porta potties???
5:45am: Car miraculously, successfully and finally parked, we met up with a bunch of our Team in Training buddies for some pre-race hugs and motivational words from the amazing Coach Al.
6:10am: We say good-bye and walk off to our respective corrals, I check my bag and decide NOT to wait in line for the porta potty. (It was early, I was STUPID.)
6:25am: I ask a runner next to me what time it was as I REALLY HAD TO PEE but since the race started in 5 minutes and I was in the 2nd corral, I decided to hold it and just hit the first line of potties I saw along the course.
So I waited…
6:30am: Anthem is sung, race starts, fireworks shoot into the dark sky, corral number 1 is released, we move forward a bit, and wait…
6:45am: After waiting for about 15 minutes, we made it to the starting line and were FINALLY off!!!
MILE 1: “Yay running! Yay Nike! Yay San Francisco! Boo I have to pee.” First line of porta potties were right before the Embarcadero, so I stopped with about 2,000 other people and did my thing- woo, much better!
MILE 2: My nose was running all over the place (I woke Thursday morning with a head cold) and not wanting to wipe it on any articles of clothing, I stopped at the medical tent for a tissue. HONKED and was off again…
MILE 3: Fisherman’s Wharf to Ghiradelli Square and the first set of 2 hills which I was totally prepared for as I pretty much have this course memorized by now. Shortened my stride to get through the hills and kept on running (along with my nose)…
MILE 4: Into the Presidio for some nice flat pavement and a Netrogena table where they were handing out those make-up-remover wet-nap thingies. Took one and immediately blew my nose into the thing, took another and did the same, the volunteer looked grossed out and insulted. Oh well!
MILE 5: “It’s coming. The Hill is coming. Get ready. Get ready for the walkers. Get ready. Take a Gu. Time for The Climb.”
MILE 6: Up this hill, then another hill, and then yet another hill and WOO my butt was kicked so I walked a bit, stretched out my always-there-harassing-me-when-I-run side stitch and stopped to take more pictures and wait in the porta potty line to pee one more time.
MILE 7: “Are we still going uphill?!?!?!” Yes. Yes we are.
MILE 8: “Ohmigosh, is this another hill?!?!? I actually ran this marathon? That’s crazy. What was I thinking? Maybe I should do this full again next year… wow, Laura, you are seriously a glutton for punishment! What is wrong with you??? You may just have a serious mental problem.” (I’m really good at positive self-talk.) “AND WHERE ARE MY DAMNED ORANGE SLICES?!?!?!?!”
MILE 9: “Oh look, another hill, that makes me so very happy.”
MILE 10: “I paid how much for this “view”?!?!?!”
MILE 11: Spectators everywhere cheering and yelling and cow belling- one of my favorite parts of this race, definitely!
MILE 12: “It’s almost over???? Awwwwww….”
MILE 13: We turned right out of Golden Gate Park and there it was- the finish! Ran down the chute with thousands of others and victoriously crossed the finish line!
But my happiness was immediately replaced with annoyance as Nike had made the post-finish line area smaller this year due to some federal regulations and I was stuck within a mass of at least a few thousand people and we all duck-walked down the chute…
The first set of blue signs you see there was were they were giving out the water. Then the second canopy, MUCH farther down, was where you got the Tiffany necklace and beyond that was where you got the finishers shirt and then WAY AFTER THAT, you were handed a bag of food, and then WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY AFTER THAT was where they handed out the mylar heat sheets.
I guess it took me at least a half hour, if not longer to get all the finsher’s schwag then escape to freedom. I just took a deep breathe, channeled my patience, and got through…
Finally found Erica and we had some champagne and chatted then walked I’m guessing about 2 miles to get to and then wait through the HORRIBLY LONG shuttle line to get back to Union Square to get the car and head back to the East Bay.
2:00pm: I arrive home. 9 and a half hours later. WOW.
So I really took it way, way, WAY easy during this race and just had fun, didn’t really focus on the running, I enjoyed the course and stopped to pee, blow my nose, take pictures, chat with other runners, take their pictures, stretch and walk the hills a lot, a lot, a lot so my official finish time is 2:42, my second slowest half to date!
I’m honestly really proud of myself for that- I knew what to expect going into Nike as it was my 3rd so I knew that with 30,000 people and hill after mother loving hill that this is more of an event than an actual race. It’s a celebration of charity, running, girl power, and San Francisco and I am happy to take it just for that (and at least I was incredibly productive with the camera! LOL!). And, fingers crossed, will be able to take it again in 2014- YES I will be setting up another Group ID for NWM SF 2014 and I hope you will consider joining me!
Thank you and happy 10th anniversary, Nike Women’s Marathon- I’ll see you again next year!