Half Marathon #4 in the books and tiffany bling to boot!
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
And then we were off!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
Soon it was and we got to run down past the Cliff House and down to the Great Highway. So close!
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.
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!
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!
At which point it was time for posing for pictures and changing out of sopping wet sports bras.
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.
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!
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.
And I got to “meet” Ellie!
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
Time for bed! Happy Monday all!
What was the highlight of your weekend?