This morning I ran the Nike Women’s Half Marathon (NWM). It was an incredible experience I can only hope that I will get lucky enough to get in following years. I really enjoyed my run today and it was fun to run in a women’s race again!
Packet pick-up started on Thursday in Union Square. They setup a tent in the square and hold the “Expotique” there. I work just a few blocks from there so I headed over on Friday later afternoon to try to avoid the after work crowd and the Saturday rush. They had all kinds of things going on at the expo. You could get fitted for a bra, try on some of the NWM gear that they were selling and get free samples of everything from snacks to beauty products. I was on a tight timeline because I had to get back to work so I skipped that stuff and headed for packet pick-up. I got my bag and number and then headed across the street to Macy’s to look at the clothes they had for sale. I had to make a purchase, the clothes was so cute!
Niketown had a wall outside with all the runner’s names on it!
Bag given at packet pick-up!
My new running shirt/jacket!
Back of jacket!
Race bibs were round, very unique!
The race started at 7am from Union Square. I cut it a little close catching the bus at 6:15 but I ended up timing it just right! The buses weren’t going close to Union Square so I had to walk about 10 minutes to the start but I was with a bunch of women so it was easy and quick. I arrived at my starting corral at about 6:45am. The corrals were well-organized. Everyone was given colored bracelets based on pace and you were directed to a specific street. I was on Powell Street right next to Union Square also one of the cab car streets! Each street or corral had its only port-a-potty area which made things run very smoothly. I used the bathroom and headed for the start. It was incredible to see 25,000 women lined up for the race. It was actually quite moving. Way to go women!
25,000 women lines and ready to go! It goes on for blocks!
Union Square just before the stat form my corral.
My goal for this race was to just run and enjoy it. It wasn’t about PR’s or getting a good time, I just wanted to run and have fun. I am really behind on posting but I have run 3 half marathons since labor day (not counting this one) and did an olympic distance triathlon. It’s been a lot of racing and training and I’m a little burnt out at this point. I also ran the BAA Half last weekend so I just wanted to take this one easy. Sometimes you need to run just to run and remember why you love it and I often forget that.
The race started right on time at 7am! The corals moved well, I was over the starting line at 7:03am. The course starts by winding through the streets of the financial district. It was fun running through the city. I passed by the street my office is on and the Transmerica building (the pyramid building). I was thinking that must have been really neat for tourists. Eventually we headed to the Embaracadero and were greeted by a gospel choir group from Oakland. They were awesome! We headed towards Ghiradelli Square/Aquatic park and climbed the Fort Mason hill. It’s a tough hill, I had an advantage though because I run it a few times a week because it’s very close to my apartment.
Once we were through Fort Mason we headed down the Marina Green and Chrissy field. Their were a ton people along this area, along with the Safeway cheering section that had music. They also had cheerleaders along the side which I love as a former cheerleader and coach! It was nice little boost to have people cheering! Shortly after they had a “powersong” playing. The tough part was that I knew that the hills were ahead and I wasn’t looking forward to it.
We headed up into the Presidio about Mile 6. It was a very tough climb. It leveled off for maybe 1 to 2 tenths of a mile and the we were climbing again. They had a “bra exchange” at that point. If you brought an old bra you could swap it out for a new one. It was a cute idea but kind of annoying to have to carry a bra around for 13 or 26 miles.
After the bra exchange we hit a really tough and LONG hill. It just kept going and going. They had a water stop mid-way and I walked while I had my water for a few seconds, it was a nice break and running felt much easier when I started again. Mile 7 was mostly downhill which was awesome. It would have had a beautiful view of the bay but it was totally fogged in this morning! The only upside is that it kept the temps cool, yesterday was really hot in the sun so I’m actually glad we didn’t have a sun. Mile 8 we ran through a beautiful neighborhood. The houses were fun to look at! They had an area where they were handing out face wipes, it was so refreshing to wipe the sweat and salt off my face! Nice touch NWM! I made some friends in this area too and we chatted for a bit about races we had run so that passed the mile really quickly!
Mile 9 was back uphill (big hill) but then we had a nice downhill down to Ocean Beach! Verizon sponsored a mile and you ran “fast as LTE”. They had mats for the start and finish but I can’t find where to see my pace for that mile. They had more music around here and the best part was that all the music was “girl themed”. I head call me maybe, Single Ladies and other songs sung by female artists.
At Mile 10.5 we entered Golden Gate park. They had a drum line there which was awesome! They also had more cheerleaders in the park and more music. It was really exciting to run in this area. I also finally saw the buffalo that roam Golden Gate Park, they were to my left when I entered the park. Shortly after Mile 11 they had a jumbo-tron setup and you could see yourself running. It was all very “Disney” like to me! Mile 12 had a good amount of people around cheering and then I found 2 people from my running club. One guy from the club was just running the ladies in for the last half mile which was really nice of him. He ran me and another women in and I finished right under 2 hours which was where I wanted to be. Even better, I didn’t stress the whole run about my pace, I just ran at a comfortable pace and had fun!
When you cross the finish line you walk onto a red carpet and there are the firemen with the beautiful Tiffany’s boxes on a silver trays! I was so excited!!! They scan your bib and then hand you a necklace. I snapped a shot with my firemen!
Firemen with Necklaces!
Me and my firefighter with my necklace!
After that you head through the finishers shoot. The whole thing was super organized and very well done. After the necklace you collect your finishers shirt. It’s BRIGHT green. I love it, it will be perfect for future races! I got a couple of bottles of water and then they hand you a “safeway” reusable bag for your food. It’s NWM themed, super cute! They had bagels, bananas, fruit cups and all kinds of other goodies like Luna bar samples. They also had coconut water. The bag was awesome because I had so much stuff in my hands!
I then headed over to the “Neutrogena Freshen Up Area” They had face wipes again and mirrors so you could clean yourself up before a picture with one of the fire fighters! Another great touch!
After my picture I went to the apparel tent. They had a legit store set up with more stuff to buy. I couldn’t help myself, I bought a running hat. It’s time to retire my white one so it worked out perfectly!
The highlight of the race was the necklace. It’s so beautiful! I love the girl running with the bridge behind her, it’s very SF. It’s nice to have a “medal” that I can wear proudly all the time. I probably won’t be taking this off for some time! Of course, now I want another! Ladies in my running club who have run multiple races put them all one chain and have a collection of pendants!
The only thing that got my out of bed this AM and up those hills was knowing this was at the end!
My only complaint is that they have to shuttle you back to you Union Square and they were charging runners $20 to ride the shuttle. I can’t believe they charged runners! The race fee was $150, not cheap and transportation is always included in race fees. Not to mention $20 is really high, they had to be making a profit on the shuttles. Runners should be shuttled free of charge in my opinion. Needless to say, I rode the good old Muni home because I refused to pay that! They gave out space blankets, thank god because they get me warm while waiting for the bus!
Overall, it was a great race. It may be my favorite race to date. I want to do it again! I’m debating trying to get into the Washington, DC one in April and running with my friend Meredith. We were texting about doing the full marathon. I was all excited to do it until I realized it was on my 30th Birthday weekend. Do I really want to run a marathon on my Birthday again? I’m undecided but for now fingers crossed I get into SF next year and that I’ll have some friends fly out and run with me!