I LIVED! I really am the happiest now that I have this last race out of the way and can continue the recovery/start actually training. Contrary to popular belief, after a tough marathon, three back-to-back races probably isn't the best idea. In the last 5 weeks, I have done 77.4 race miles... TOO MANY. Instead of FOMO (Fear of missing out), I usually suffer from EFNMO (Exhausted from NOT missing out). So my goal for this race was really to do better than Rosarito Half Marathon- which was after I took almost 2 weeks off after the marathon and a really tough race in heat- so unless someone literally physically restrained me during the race, I thought I would probably do better than Rosarito.
This was my third time going to SF for this race- mostly because Nike always does an incredible job with their races. Even though the race didn't really fit into my schedule, I couldn't imagine NOT doing it. I headed up to SF with my cuz and my sis on Saturday morning and got to the expo around 4.
The expo was awesome this year. The first year we went, the line wrapped around Union Square... TWICE. Such a long, long line. They corrected that last year and we came at same time as year before (Saturday late afternoon) and we popped in and out within minutes. It was that quick service again this year. Took basically no time at all- just how I like it to be. I'm sure the expo itself was pretty cool- but really, if you've seen one expo, you've seen them all. And it was after 4 pm and we hadn't eaten breakfast or lunch in an attempt to really soldier through and get up to SF in time to grab our bibs from the expo. (We did have a bar/snack in the car- just no real meal except for dinner.) Not completely ideal.
We grabbed dinner at Cheesecake Factory (aka my favorite pre-race meal- I'm so predictable). And then went to our hotel to chill and get ready for the race. We stayed in San Bruno at the Villa Montes- a super cute boutique hotel.
The next morning we may have cut it a BIT close. We didn't get out the door quick enough so luckily the girls were nice enough to let me get out of the car and walk to the start instead of dealing with parking and walking, etc. The first corral starts right on time so they didn't want to mess up my race for me.
I hustled to get to the race start and my corral and dropping off my stuff at bag check- was a little freaked out I wasn't going to make it on time- but luckily I got to the first corral with like 10 minutes to spare. So NWM is HUGE- 25,000 women running SF HUGE. But the first corral - for 6-7:59 min/mile pace is surprisingly small (whereas other corrals can take up a city block). Because it was so small, I somehow ended up within a couple feet of the actual start line. The announcers let us know that Shalane Flanagan and Joan Benoit Samuelson were also running and were in the corral with me- just never saw them. Totally bummed me out. But just enough that I was breathing same air as them. (Kidding, not kidding.)
- race is down to a science- expo is a BREEZE
- largest group of women running- feels really empowering and special
- SF is a sick place to run
- race shirts were awesome this year- longer nike tank= perfection
- pretty simple corrals- everything is well-marked
- bag drop is super easy- you can do that and be to your corral within minutes- picking it up was just as easy breezy
- tons of hydration on course
- THEY HAD NUUN! such a treat to get the electrolytes I train with on the course
- the volunteers were INCREDIBLE- soooo supportive and wonderful (I teared up so many times because I was so grateful for their support and how kind they all were)
- a TIFFANY'S NECKLACE
- tons of Neutrogena full-size samples
- a $20 GC to Nike.com
- it's SF- there are hills- don't think there is a way around this
- last mile was gradual uphill- it felt like Mt. Kili
- honestly- I can't think of any other cons.... it's THAT good of a race
The race started a couple minutes late- nothing too wild. We started and I had taken some caffeinated fuel right before we did and it literally felt like I was trying to calm myself down in the beginning because it was really amping me up. Ha. My secret goal was to run 7:35s for the race- though I wasn't really sure how realistic that was in light of the beating that I've taken over the last several weeks. We took off and it was still REALLY dark and foggy. I ALWAYS run with sunglasses- but accidentally left them in my drop bag, but was so thankful not to have them because I would have been Stevie Wonder-ing the race if I had worn them. I was already concerned about tripping over potholes and things - and it was so foggy and overcast later in the race, so they really weren't necessary.
My first two miles were quicker than goal pace- but I figured that I would eat that time banked up in the climbs later. Around mile two, a girl passed me on the left and I noticed her once she was completely in front of me. I never saw her face... but from the back of her she looked like Jordan Hasay. I was SLIGHTLY freaking out. Is that Jordan Hasay? Why would she be running this race? Well- she IS a Nike athlete and this is a Nike race. That HAS to be Jordan Hasay. Should I say hi? What if it's not? Should I catch up and try to see if it's her face. WHAT WERE YOU DOING IN FRONT OF JORDAN HASAY FOR ALMOST TWO MILES OF ANY RACE?! (That last question was pretty much when I realized I may have started a bit quick and that no- chasing her down and trying to see if it was her would probably be a bad idea.) Definitely the coolest moment of the race- and I was SO annoyed I ran without my phone this time. (PS I confirmed it on her Twitter- it definitely was her running - and passing me during the race.)
I kept pretty consistent for most of the race, thankfully. I wasn't really sure how much control I would have over my pace considering how dead my legs were. This definitely wasn't my quickest race- but when you're driving and your car is down to zero miles- and you're able to squeeze some extra miles in on your way to the nearest gas station- you're just thankful you get there without having to push your car the rest of the way- you're not worried about speed. That's pretty much how I felt about this race. Ha.
The last hill was prettyyyy brutal. A good majority of my compatriots were walking up it- so I considered it a small victory that I was still "running" it (didn't look at my Garmin... felt like that would be looking a gift horse in the mouth). I pushed through the last miles even though my feet were hurting (why were my feet so sore so early in the race? maybe racing with my lightest shoes when my body is OVER racing wasn't the best idea??!). I sprinted in to the finish to stay in 1:40 zone. I wanted to get in at 1:39 but 1. the course was a bit long, 2. I dropped my iPod shuffle and had to run back for the dumb thing (seriously, I've replaced the thing 4 times this year. Such a POS. It probably wasn't worth saving.), 3. I ran too slow.
Guys! This race was no PR. For sure. But I did PR in the 15K by almost 4 minutes during the race. And I'm thankful that on a non-racing day I could pull off something that would have been my dream last year. Last year at the peak of my health stuff- I wasn't able to run and train really. Last year, I ran this race untrained and without being able to eat carbs/sugar all year cause of the health issues I was working through. It was SUCH a tough time. I felt like something I really loved was taken from me. My 2:05 last year was a 1:40 this year. Such a difference a year makes. If you're going through things with your health or an injury- don't give up. Your breakthrough is around the corner. ;-)
It was great to get to come back for this race and run with some amazing girls. A huge shout out to my lovely Sai Sai who completed her first half marathon! She's amazing- and she also fundraised for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Love her.
The Tiffany's necklaces, the amazing race Nike puts on, and the great girls I got to run with made this an amazing weekend.
No doubt in my mind- I'll be back for Nike Women's next year- and most likely will do whatever race they are set to announce as their spring race. They are replacing their DC race with a new location. Not sure why since that course was PERFECTION and everything else about that race was amazing. I'm guessing the location they'll announce is Philly- can't wait to see though.
There are easier ways to get a Tiffany's necklaces and meet firemen than running 13.1 SF miles... still happy to do it every year. See you next year, Nike Women's Marathon. You're the best.