Friday, October 29, 2010

Race Report: Nike Women's Marathon 1/2 Marathon

Before I jump into my report of Nike, I wanted to show you something Samantha sent me:

Traditionally bike events don't give out medals and when we finished Foxy's there was not even a balloon arch or finish line.  We just finished.  Samantha had these made for us so we had something to show for our 105.7 miles.  I have it proudly hanging with my other medals.

So, Nike.  I did this race for the first time three years ago, admittedly because I wanted the Tiffany's necklace.  However, after that first time, it has become a race I can't wait to do each year.  The crowd support is amazing, the views are beautiful, the course is fun (yes, even the hills), it is all for a good cause and yes, because there are hot men giving out Tiffany's at the end.  I have been so lucky to win the lottery or an entry the last two years.

Last year I got to run it with my BFF Alisa, and I was excited we were going to get to do it again together this year.  Additionally, she had some friends coming down from Oregon with her to run and my sister was going to do it.  My sister was supposed to do it with me my first year but was injured so it was exciting that she was able to do it this year. 

My sister and I headed into San Francisco Thursday night the day the expo opened since that was most convenient for both of us.  It was a seamless process - we grabbed our packets, found our names on the wall of Nike Town (they list all the participant's names on the wall), dropped lots of money on Nike Women's Marathon gear at Nike town (seriously, I could have bought up the whole store) and headed back home.
Finding my name on the wall of Nike Town.
My name is in the middle on the pillar.  You can see the "risten Hi".
Fast forward two days, I finish my century (yes, I knew both events were the same weekend when I signed up for both of them - I am just crazy like that), high tail it back to the bay area, pick up my sister and we head into San Francisco.  Alisa and the gang had gotten take out pizzas for dinner so my sister and I had our pizzas waiting for us.  It tasted so good after a day of GU and gels.  To be honest my legs were feeling really stiff and I was (secretly) getting nervous about how in the heck I was going to run 13.1 miles the next day.  I was diligently icing my achy knees and slipped into my recovery socks hoping that both would recharge my legs for the next day.  After some catching up with everyone we set the alarms for 5:00 am and I am pretty sure I passed out before my head even hit the pillow.

5:00 am came nice and early.  Even though I wouldn't have it any other way, I think I spend the majority of my October waking up early for races.  As I stood up I prepared for stiff muscles, an achy back, anything that would remind me I just rode 105.7 miles the day before - nothing, I felt nothing.  My legs felt brand new!  Why had I not been wearing my recovery socks all this time??  I didn't get to excited though - I had only walked to the bathroom.  The true test would come out on the hills of San Francisco.

We all took our time getting ready.  Our hotel was only two blocks from the start line so we weren't in a huge rush.
We all still look half asleep and I am rocking an awesome bike short tan.
Alisa had gotten her friend, herself and I all matching Tiffany blue race outfits.  I LOVE having new outfits to race in.

We grabbed our stuff, secured a late checkout from the hotel and headed out onto the cold, dark streets of San Francisco.  I instantly regretted not buying the Nike Women's arm warmers I saw at Nike Town two days before.  There was a 90% chance of rain for the day so I knew that was inevitable.  I only hoped it would hold off until we were done.

Since this is a point to point course you have to take a bus from the end of the race back to Union Square where the race started.  Last year I made the mistake of not checking some warm clothes to wear on the trip back and I was freezing so this year I made sure not to make the same mistake.  After weaving in and out of people (this is the 3rd largest half marathon in the country) we settled into our position in our corral.  At this point I was actually thrilled there were so many people around me - more body heat!

We heard the race start and waited about 20 minutes for our turn to cross.

For a half marathon, this race is on the hard side due to all the hills.  Combine that with the crowds and I think it would be very hard to make this a PR course.  We have always gone into this race with the mentality that we are just out there to have fun.  We walk if we want, stop and take pictures, and not even think about time.

Mile one takes you through the financial district and out to the Embarcadero.  We spent the first mile dodging in and out of people.  When I saw the mile 1 marker I could believe it had already been a mile.  Additionally my legs felt GREAT!!  I knew we were in for a good day.

Miles 2 - 5 took us along the Embarcadero, past Pier 39, Ghiradelli Square and out towards Fort Mason.  Since there was no fog we got some beautiful views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz.  We were keeping a nice easy pace, talking and just having fun.

Climbing the hill past Fort Mason
Around mile 6 we stopped for a bathroom break and I chugged a POW Wonderful tea drink the POM people were handing out.  A totally uncharacteristic race move for me but anything goes at Nike.  The lines were long and we ended up waiting about 10 minutes to get through.

The next few miles were the "rolling hills" so we took a lot of walk breaks.  The race also indicated some great spots to take photos so we happily obliged. 

Around mile 9 we turned the corner and starting running through some of the beautiful San Francisco neighborhoods.  We passed the Kaiser mile where they were handing out oranges and still had about a mile left of the hills.  On our way up the last hill they were passing out shot blocks and realizing I hadn't eaten anything yet (besides 1/2 a cookie for breakfast and drank a POM tea - great nutrition plan I know - do not try at home) I grabbed half a pack.  Soon, we crested the hill and began the decent onto the Great Highway.

This is an awesome section of the course because you get to come down a long windy hill and are greeted with spectacular views of the ocean and beach.  This is also where I felt the first few sprinkles of rain.  They tease you because you see the finish line but you still have about 2.5 to go through Golden Gate park.  I was still feeling great and felt no signs that I had ridden a century the day before.

Once we entered Golden Gate park they were passing out quarters of bananas.  Still feeling hungry I took one.  Around mile 11.5 is where the courses split and the marathoners go out another 4 miles into the park and meet up again around mile 16 for them 12.5 for us.  12.5 is the chocolate mile and we got to see the lovely Audrey who was passing out chocolates, ringing her cow bell and cheering for us.

See Audrey - you made it in our race photos!
Once we grabbed the chocolate it was go time.  The rain was starting to fall and all I could think of was 1) my warm jacket in my checked bag, and 2) the poor marathoners who still had 10 miles to go!!  I think we all picked up the pace for the last .6.  The finish line was in sight (not that blurry in real life)!

Hands up crossing the finish line!
After we crossed we were ushered through the masses of people.  We got our necklaces, finishers shirts, space blankets and tons and tons of food samples.  Safeway is one of the main sponsors and they make sure you don't leave hungry!  I also love that they give you a bag - a very cute reusable grocery bags - to put all your stuff in.  I was so excited to see they were handing out chocolate milk again.  I rarely have it but it is one of my favorite recovery drinks!!

The SF Firemen handing out our necklaces
By now the rain was falling steadily so we rushed to get our dry clothes from the bag check.  I was so happy to have checked a bag this year and my warm, dry sweatshirt felt amazing.  They have such a cute finisher's area set up but because of the rain we were mainly concerned with getting back to the hotel and getting warm.  Our space blankets were a life saver in keeping us semi dry while waiting 45 minutes to get on the bus to take us back to Union Square.

Happy Finishers!

We finished in something like 2:50 (I guess a 10 minute bathroom line + multiple walk breaks will do that) but I was totally fine with that since this wasn't a race for time but to go out and have fun with the girls.  I highly highly recommend this race to everyone - it is an awesome experience!  I will definitely putting my name in the lottery for next year.  

Once we got back to the hotel, it was a quick change of clothes and then we said our goodbyes to the Portland bound clan, and hoped on Bart to go home.

All in all, I totaled 118.8 miles for the weekend and you know what?  I actually felt like I could have kept going!  Were they fast miles?  No, BUT I did them and finished strong.  If you had told me three years ago when I started running someday I would ride a century and run a 1/2 marathon in one weekend I would have looked at you like you had two heads.  At the time I could barely run a mile but I love seeing how far I have come and what I can push myself to accomplish.  I know this is only the beginning of weekends like this. 

So there you have it - I think I have finally caught you up on all my races reports.  Now I have to catch you up on all my training - the California International Marathon is in only 5 weeks!
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  1. Totally glad you got me hooked on this race! It's so fun to do this race with you. Next year, new outfits!

    The last few lines of this post say a lot---namely, you're in amazing shape and should be so proud of all the stuff you've done in the last 3 years.

  2. Wow what a weekend! Great job on both events!

  3. Wow Kristen, that's a lot of miles in one weekend. Congrats!

    I lOVED this race and hope to do it again next year.

  4. Congrats!!! That sounds like such a great race. I should sign up for next year.

    Will I see you at CIM???

  5. Congrats on another race!! Sounds like such a fun weekend! :)


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