Nike Women’s Half Marathon San Francisco Re-Cap Part 2

We left off right after the shakeout run and brunch at Dirty Habit. See Part 1 for the full beginning of the weekend recap.

The rest of the day was full of eating, sight-seeing and eating again.

alcatraz
That’s Alcratraz, also known as “The Rock” – a Rotten Tomato-worthy action movie starring Nicholas Cage
And and I at Fisherman's Wharf
Love him.
Just call me squinty...I really could've used some sunglasses
Just call me squinty…I really could’ve used some sunglasses

Then it was off to bed before our 5:15 AM wake-up. The race started at 6:30 AM, which is the earliest I’ve ever started a race before. It felt like about 5 minutes after my head hit the pillow, my alarm was going off.

I debated what to wear forever for this race. I ended up selecting the Nike Women’s Half tank, black Nike shorts and Nike women’s half compression socks. I had just bought the shorts the day before, but I figured they would be fine. Rule number one of racing: Don’t do anything new or wear anything new on race day. Breaking this runner’s commandment was NOT a good idea. More on that later.

Andy and I headed down to the race area around 6:00. It was PACKED! In the still dark early morning hours, the Union Square area was an explosion of color, light and women. So many women. It was awesome and overwhelming all at the same time.

The Nike Women's Half Marathon San Francisco 2014. Photo courtesy of Nike
The Nike Women’s Half Marathon San Francisco 2014. Photo courtesy of Nike

We met up with some of my Finish Line ladies near our corrals. There were so many people in the corral that we had to stand off to the side. Once the race began, we squeezed onto the course and we were off.

Crazy eyes pre-race
Crazy eyes pre-race

The first few miles were, like most races, bursting with people. It was hard for our little group to stay together. My plan for this race was to take it easy, because I had the Monumental Marathon coming up in just two weeks, but this plan was hard to stick to. I was so energized by all of the racers around me that I just wanted to RACE. I tried to focus on holding back and sticking to the plan; plus, I knew that killer hills loomed on the horizon.

Around mile 2, the first of the real hills began. Our group quickly fell apart and I didn’t see anyone else until after the race. As the rolling hills continued, I focused on pumping my arms. A local runner had told me the day before that the key to the hills was to pump your arms. She also said that walking the hills can be harder on your body and take more energy that running. With that in mind, I had a plan to not walk at all.

I kept on chugging. For the next six miles, the rollers kept, um rolling. I tried to focus, but all I could really think about were my damn shorts. It became very clear that they were way too big. They were slipping down and probably showing my butt crack. I would hike ‘em up, only for the to slip down a few minutes later. Note to self: NEVER WEAR ANYTHING YOU HAVEN’T TRAINED IN ON RACE DAY. Duh.

Waving in between hiking my shorts up
Waving in between hiking my shorts up

Around mile 10, I completely forgot about my shorts. And everything else for that matter, because I was staring down a hill so steep, I thought I might fall over. It just kept going and going and going. I felt like I was barely moving. I’m not sure I was. Just when I thought that beast was over, the road curved and more hill loomed before us. My legs were in agony. My heart was thudding. I was convinced I wouldn’t make it to the top.

After an eternity or so, I made it to the top. There were tons of fans there, screaming and cheering us on. Telling us it was all downhill from here. I had never heard more beautiful words than those. THANK GOD.

Ecstatic to no longer be running uphill!
Woohoo! I’m NOT running uphill anymore!

At this point, I was so ecstatic to be done with the MFing hill that I just started running as fast as I could. Up until that point I had been running somewhere around 8:45 – 9 minute miles. Now I was clocking in the 7:00s. I didn’t care about holding back anymore. I only cared about being free from the hills.

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy! And yes, that is a Ren and Stimpy reference #90skid
Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy! And yes, that is a Ren and Stimpy reference #90skid

We ran through a gorgeous park area. I was told afterwards that we could see the Golden Gate Bridge, but I never saw it. I was too focused on finishing.

The last few miles ticked by until finally, I crossed the finish line. I got my Tiffany necklace (!) and made my way out of the finishers chute.

So. Worth. It.
So. Worth. It.

I called Andy to find out where he was and he was PISSED. He had ridden the spectators’ bus to see me at the finish line, but they were stuck a few miles back, so he had not seen me finish. He wasn’t sure if he should stay on the bus or not and before we could make some kind of plan, his phone died. Fabulous.

Sometime later, Marissa and I found each other! Then we miraculously found Shelby and Heather. And then, Andy found us! He had gotten off the bus and walked the 2 or so miles to where we were.

Finishers!
Finishers! A little sweatier, a lot more tired, but no more crazy eyes.

It turns out that the bus drivers were not given special routes to get around road closures, so they kept getting stuck as they transported the spectators. Andy was tracking me on his phone, so he knew where I was and had ridden one bus to see me at mile 7. He missed me and got on another bus to take him to the finish. This bus drove him around for awhile and then took him back to mile 10. He boarded another bus, which took him in circles and back to mile 10. That’s right around the time I finished. He gave up on the bus and ended up getting to us long before anyone else from the spectator’s bus made it.

The bus debacle was really the only not so good part about this race. Hopefully, they will work this out next year. I’m guessing a lot of people complained.

Other than that, this race kicked ass. The course was beautiful. It wound us through Downtown San Francisco and took us through Golden Gate Park. There were lots of cool photo ops on the course if you wanted to stop and take pics (things like giant WE RUN SF signs) and there was great entertainment. There was one point on the course where we ran by a big sign with our names on it. Just as you ran by, your name came up on the screen and an announcer called it out. Very cool.

The tracking was also amazing. My father-in-law said he got to watch my dot move through the course, which was sweet. Most races just give you a time update at certain checkpoints on the course, but he actually got to feel like he was watching me race the course.

Even the results page looks cool. Well done Nike, well done
Even the results page looks cool. Well done Nike, well done

And probably one of the best things about the race was that we got all of our pictures for free afterwards. That’s right, FREE. Most of the time, you have to pay your arm and your leg for one measly race pic. I got to keep all my limbs and got all of my pictures for free 🙂

Anyway, we took the shuttle back to our hotel—even though Andy was not happy to get on another bus!—and spent the rest of the day eating and relaxing. We headed out at the crack of dawn the next day and after a long day of traveling, made it home to Max around 5 PM.

Reunited and it feels so good!
Reunited and it feels so good!

I have such great memories of this race and I highly recommend it. Grab a group of friends and make it a girls’ weekend next year!

Are there any other fun races you would recommend?

Have you ever worn anything new on race day? Did you regret it?

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