Nike Women’s (Half…) Marathon Race Recap!

Half Marathon #4 in the books and tiffany bling to boot!

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Yesterday I woke up at 4:30AM to run the Nike Women’s Marathon. I had a fun sleepover at Alyssa’s house with RadRunner and a bunch of cute cats and when the alarm went off a bit too early we were out of bed and rarin’ to go.

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Our outfit for the day was inspired by Audrey—makeshift LBDs (lulu running skirts for the win!), pearls, sparkly headband, sunglasses… and we totally rocked it.

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We hopped on the 38 bus at 5:45ish to head down to Union Square (who knew it ran around the clock? Not me!) The bus was chock full of runners and we arrived downtown around 6:20…

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To UTTER CHAOS. Words cannot describe the ridiculousness that was Union Square at 6AM on a Sunday morning. How many people were there? 25,000? 30,000? Lord knows but think mosh pit at a concert. Ohhhhh my gosh. I chose not to let my friends know that I am an extremely claustrophobic person and occasionally panic.

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Somehow I survived but we could not even get CLOSE to the start of the race! I can say unequivocally that if I ever run this race again I will start right behind the elites. The bag check was in horrible spots so people were trying to get to those while others were trying to get to their corrals (which are self-selected and no one seems to know where they should be). We gave up and hung out in the 10 or 11 minute corral and occupied ourselves with “helping” our Garmins find signal.

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And then we were off!

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And by off I mean, it took us ELEVEN MINUTES to cross the start line. And THAT is how you know it might be a rough run! It was simply madness. The first few miles we were mostly running on sidewalks because there was simply no room to go. I clocked .13 over on the first mile or something like that from all the ridiculous weaving.

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We had this goal of around 2 hours for the race. Alyssa was down for whatever (the speedster would have no prob!), Erica wanted to go for it and I was pretty ambivalent about the pace. I think we realized pretty quickly though that it wasn’t going to happen OR, more likely, a goal time would only happen at the expense of having fun. Trying to run this course fast would be a really frustrating and angering experience. Luckily, we were having a great time.

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The course headed out of union square, along the Embarcadero, up to Ghiradelli Square, back down and over Fort Mason, and then through the Marina a la SFM. The Fort Mason hill didn’t even seem hard because we couldn’t even run it! I felt like I was in a permanent state of hot-stepping around people or wanting to play Red Rover (or maybe human bowling…) with all the walkers in front of us. Oops.

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Finally we got to the real thing: the hill up to the base of the Golden Gate. I don’t think we walked at all on this hill, or if we did I forgot. But again, we were going super slow due to the crowds. It was still a HARD hill though!

Around this time (about mile 6) I started getting a little dizzy. I never seem to drink enough in the first 5 miles of races (oh there’s an aid station, it’s crowded, don’t wanna stop, peace!) and then I spend the rest of the race trying to get out of dehydration. Happened here but then I started stopping at the aid stations for water or Gatorade.

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After we got up to the top of the first big hill we got to bomb down Lincoln with a great downhill. And by bomb I mean, “run way slower than we could have because there are too many people in the way.”

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Somewhere in there around mile 8 I got to see Katie (with poster AND cowbell!), Dennis, Page and Jess which was rad! It was something to look forward to for a few miles before that.

Following that we had another big uphill in Seacliff, then downhill to the avenues. And then we took a right up Clement Street.

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Oh my lord. I was so angry on this hill. Well, angry isn’t the right word. I just had no idea it was there and it was SO HARD! I couldn’t even tell when it was going to end. I vaguely remember turning to Alyssa or just nodding and whimpering, “is it almost over?” Apparently hills are not my strongest suit.

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Soon it was and we got to run down past the Cliff House and down to the Great Highway. So close!

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We took a left onto JFK for our last hill. I was sick of the hills at this point and my knees were tired from running downhill (haven’t done a lot of that lately). I felt pretty winded running up that one but so glad that we were almost done.

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I felt better hydration wise considering the last few stops I was taking 2 cups of Gatorade and 2 cups of water and downing all 4 in the 30 seconds ish we were in the water stop areas. Seriously. I was SO HAPPY they served Gatorade on the course and also gave out a few chews (like fruit snacks) that were great! I had two of those gummies (30 calories each) and a bunch of Gatorade and I was fine. I got in more than enough calories with the Gatorade and didn’t need to Gu which I was happy about. I always get a side stitch when I take gels.

Finally we turned right to make the half turnaround. I WAS SO HAPPY. I never would want to run this full marathon, I don’t think. Ow!

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Then we had a nice downhill on MLK and soon we were back on the Great Highway and crossing the finish line in 2:10. NECKLACE TIME!

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At which point it was time for posing for pictures and changing out of sopping wet sports bras.

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This was an interesting race! I will say the following things about it:

1) First and most importantly, I had a GREAT TIME. I didn’t listen to my iPod at all the whole day, the pace was slow enough that I could talk easily (except for up a few of those hills!), and the energy was awesome! Way better than any of the other races I have done. And the race went by SO FAST!!! I was hardly ever looking at my Garmin and every time I did I was surprised we were almost done.

2) This course is no joke! Holy moly. Those hills in the Presidio and the Richmond are NOT messing around. We ran a 2:10 as a “fun” pace—not killing ourselves trying to cut people off, not being able to run at all at some points because of crowds, walking through water stops to rehydrate… but honestly, I don’t think I could sub-2 on this course!!! I have to work for my sub-2s and this course means business.

3) This is not a race for people who don’t like crowds. The whole start, finish, and a lot of the actual race in the middle is a big cluster.

4) This is not a runner’s race. If you show up here looking for a manageable group of fellow runners who understand course etiquette and how to behave in a race, from walking on the side to starting in correct corrals, you will HATE this race.

5) With that being said… this race is an amazing experience in terms of just soaking in the joy of being part of something with a bajillion other people. Seeing so many people’s excitement over finishing their first half or full marathon, and especially the thousands of people who raised money for an amazing cause (Team in Training), was really inspiring to me.

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Afterwards, I got to meet up with some fellow runners and enjoy swapping Nike war stories over a $16 veggie burger at the Beach Chalet. Good thing it was freaking delicious but damn!

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It was great to see so many amazing runners who were also out there, especially Jana who did the full (and Karin who was very much missed). Full marathon! Amazing.

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And I got to “meet” Ellie!

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Sure, the crowds were stressful, sure, the organization was bad, sure, people stop walking right in front of you, etc. But I think it’s also clear to me that this is a pretty special event and despite the ridiculousness I had a great time. Thanks to A and E for being my running buddies and putting up with me, and for everyone else who I am so blessed to call a running friend Smile

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Time for bed! Happy Monday all!

Courtney

What was the highlight of your weekend?

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    1. I just realized… you all have Tiffany Box Blue nails. Awesome.

      So I was at Point Lobos and 40whatever. And I missed you all! And you three were so cute in your LBD’s!
      XLMIC recently posted..A Day Full of Promise…My Profile

    2. Congrats, friend! :)
      I’m so jealous you met Ellie – what a precious little girl!
      Courtney @ The Granola Chronicles recently posted..Joe’s HalloweenMy Profile

    3. A bunch of cute cats? Other than us, I only counted one. :)

      Thanks for letting us be a part of such an awesome weekend and all that jazz! I seriously truthfully had a rocking good time running with you & Rad, and I wouldn’t change doing that for THE WORLD. Seriously. I would rather not run that race if I can’t run with you guys.

      Great recap. :) (And thanks in advance for some of the pics I’m about to steal.)
      Alyssa recently posted..It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!My Profile

    4. First of all, those outfits are amazing.

      I totally agree that this is a special event, and I *loved* the crowd support. I’d never run in a race that was such a big Team in Training event before, and it was so awesome seeing everyone going nuts on the sidelines. And can’t argue with the bling.

      Also, that veggie burger may be crazy overpriced, but the bread with the butter up there is making me hungry right now.
      Kimra recently posted..Orzo with White Beans and TunaMy Profile

    5. Could you guys be any cuter?! I love the Audrey theme-such a good idea. This race looks like so much fun-mayyybe next year.
      Danielle recently posted..Pumpkin ManiaMy Profile

    6. Yay! Congrats! You guys looked so cute!
      Christine @ BookishlyB recently posted..Blog Hop- Judge by the CoverMy Profile

    7. Super cute outfits!!! It looks like you gals had a lot of fun despite the crowds (which I despise too)!
      Would you mind terribly if I grabbed that picture of Katie holding the sign from you? Love it!!!
      I wish our paths had crossed once again!

    8. LOVE the Lulu running skirts! I did that 1/2 last year and I definitely agree with you – the amount of people and the amount of walkers was insane! That being said it’s SO much fun – especially the chocolate mile! Sounds like a great Sunday!

    9. Thanks for the honest review of the race- I’ve always been interested in it but now I think it sounds a little too chaotic for me! Awesome that you had such a great time though! I love the outfits you guys had- so cute!
      hippierunner recently posted..Forest Lawn 5K- Run Forest RunMy Profile

    10. Great recap, Courtney! So fun seeing you at the race :D Love our little running group!
      Audrey recently posted..Off on the Wrong Foot!My Profile

    11. Nice recap and seriously, you guys are the cutest!!! I was trying to do a sub2 in this race and left with the greatest dissapointment ever. I PRed though.. But still. :(
      I know exactly how you feel at those hills neighborhood one…seriously??? I seriously LOVE your outfits!!!!!
      Lazy chick recently posted..New Themes: Modern News and Dusk to DawnMy Profile

    12. Glad you had fun with it & finished strong! I think it would probably not be “my” race for all the reasons you mentioned, but I love that it happens. :)

    13. Very nice recap. What a fun, fun race! And I love the outfits! I’ll see if I can run it next year :)
      Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic recently posted..Delightful Pasta at CatalystMy Profile

    14. 1- LOVE that you channedl Audrey for your running outfits- I’m so gonna copy that next race! ;)
      2- I was there (but 40 min behind you!) and agree that those hills were tough. I trained for them- but they were exhausting!! It was a struggle to finish. We EARNED those Tiffany necklaces.
      3- It is an experience and you summed it up nicely- it’s not a “Runner’s race”. Nope, it’s a “People’s Run” AND an obstacle course! We did the first 6miles as a walk/run and moved to the right to walk, even though it sucked to try to get back in the running “lanes”. Most people did not do that. Wish that was more enforced.
      4- The bag check buses were indeed Mosh Pits. That was nutz.
      5- Next SF race for me will be the SF Marathon next July- I’ll look for you Audrey Girls there!
      denise:) recently posted..Nike Women’s Marathon “Fun Run” Race ReportMy Profile

    15. It’s definitely a race to go into with no expectations and just to have fun. Once you guys got through all the madness sounds like you did just that! Great seeing you again after and love all the pics!
      Aron recently posted..Weekly Recap: Loving ItMy Profile

    16. Great recap!

      This definitely sounds like a perfect race for a first half marathon. Doing your first marathon at NWM would seem like a tough one.

      Gotta love the 38 bus, I’ve only taken it a couple time, but one time I took it I saw a guy wearing snowboard goggles inside the bus, lol

      The race sounded pretty chaotic, seems like going into it with no time expectations is the best plan. You did it right with just trying to have fun and take it easy.

      That course sounds tough! I mean it sounds harder than the first half of SF marathon!

      Even though I’m a guy, I do like that yellow finishers t-shirt, that is a great one.
      Nelly recently posted..Handshake GateMy Profile

      • You have to be a special kind of pesorn to be able to run a daycare. To have to take care of others peoples children, dealing with different pesornalities and different parents day in and out. Not just anyone can do what you do and I think you will be right at home with your career choice.

    17. good job! i had a chance to run this race, but couldn’t so my husband & i ran the columbus marathon instead. after hearing more about it, i’m kinda glad i couldn’t go because i hate crowds and had no idea it was so chaotic!
      Sarah K. @ The Pajama Chef recently posted..Pumpkin BrowniesMy Profile

    18. Great recap! This looks like such a fun race, though I totally know what you mean by not a “runners race”. But definitely an experience! I love that they guys wearing suits necklaces and the sign that says, “I run to be..” – awesome. The Chicago marathon I just ran was crowded like that, it also took me 11 minutes to cross the start line and I wasn’t even in the back half of the crowd. A lot of my time was spent weaving, but I found that this kept my mind busy.
      Caroline recently posted..Love what you doMy Profile

    19. What a fantastic recap!! Sorry to hear the race was not as great as you wanted it to be!

      Who doesn’t LOVE a box from Tiffany’s waiting for you at the finish line??? ;)

      Congrats!
      Katie@Real Food Katie’s Way recently posted..You Might Be a Food Blogger If…My Profile

    20. Looks like it was a great race! I was in SF last weekend and a friend of mine ran it too. She said it was crazy hilly with a ton of walkers but even still, a race I want to run at some point.
      Katherine recently posted..San Francisco TreatsMy Profile

    21. Nice job out there. Until I ran Moo Cow, I always said the Nike Half as the hardest half course I’ve ever done. You ladies are so cute with your outfits and nails :) Glad I got to see you and I didn’t know about the history of this race for your mom. So special.

    22. I love this. LOVE IT. every bit of truth! and I totally love you for helping me again!-pass that finish line (and not going insane and wanting to knock someone out!) we made the best of the situation at hand, and looked sweet the whole time. LETS DO IT AGAIN!-perhaps a diffrent race? :)xoxo
      Erica “Rad Runner” recently posted..Nike Women’s Half Marathon 10.16.11My Profile

      • - I cant wait for all these upcoming marhoatns!!! Also, to the above comment by Christa, I don’t know if Kat got back to you but if you click on the details’ tab at the top of this page, all the Boudoir information is there for you

    23. Even though it was tough, you still demolished a tough course. Congrats on the finish and glad you got your bling blang!
      Page recently posted..Happy Birthday Chicken Face!My Profile

    24. I LOVE your outfits! It was fun seeing you at lunch.

      Ellie totally knows how to bring the party :)
      Cate recently posted..Broccoli Cheddar PizzaMy Profile

    25. NWM scares me — the course and the crowds. But you guys handled it well, looked cute and had fun! Sounds like a winner.
      Tricia recently posted..Wine Country Marathon and Half part 1, the lead inMy Profile

    26. I am doing this race someday. No joke I want a Tiffany necklace for running that is amazing! You guys looks so darn cute, too!

    27. ” This is not a runner’s race.” Yep, that is the key summary sentence. I ran the half once and got my necklace, and I have no plans to run it again (unless someone gives me a free entry). I really wish all those charity coaches would give some lessons about race etiquette, because the “let’s start in the 8-minute-mile corral and walk four abreast” people give their charities a really bad name.

      But you guys looked so cute, and hooray for Tiffany’s!
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      • Great issues alotgether, you just received a new reader. What might you recommend in regards to your post that you simply made a few days ago? Any positive?

    28. This race looks like the worst race ever for me to do – I’m too competitive to deal with crowds that don’t let me run! That being said, the necklace at the end might very well convince me to give it a shot ;)

      So glad you had fun and you ran a great time!
      Kathryn @ Flopoodle recently posted..A Mid-Week FeastMy Profile

    29. Hahahaha, I did the full (my first) and it took me 30 minutes to get to the starting line! CRAZY! It was all for the necklace. I totally remember seeing that You Are All Rockstars sign! I thought, “Oh, she must mean me.” :p
      Laura recently posted..Race Recap: Muddy BuddyMy Profile

    30. I barely consider myself a runner. NWM, was only my 2nd half, and it took me 3 hours to finish it. Reading your post gave me some good perspective. The NWM is NOT a runner’s race. I loved loved loved running with so many women, but it was so crowded and people would randomly just stop in front of me. Still, it was a great experience!
      Jamie recently posted..Harder/Better/Faster/StrongerMy Profile

    31. That is the CUTEST running costume ever! I absolutely love it – so perfect for a race with Tiffany’s medals :)
      Laura recently posted..Race Report: Grand Rapids Half MarathonMy Profile

    32. I think you describe this race the best – “not a runner’s race”, but at least you had fun running it and looked cute too! congrats on another finish and i’m so glad we all got to meet up for brunch after!

    33. I love everything about this: awesome necklace, friends, and sweet running outfits. Great job on the run. :)
      Tiff @ Love Sweat and Beers recently posted..Foodie Friday: Cheese Please!My Profile

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