Sunday, October 20, 2013

Nike Women's Marathon: My Experience

Good afternoon from the San Francisco airport. Our flight doesn't take off until 3:10pm, but my mom and I are currently sitting at our terminal (and we have been since about 11:15am). We had to check out of our hotel by noon, and I figured I might actually look at my school work if I am forced to be in the same place for four hours, so here I am, avoiding said school work. But, I will get down to business once this post is up and running.


So, let's pick up where we left off. I went to sleep around 9:15pm last night, and I woke right up with my alarm, not even minding that it was currently 5:00 in the morning. I immediately ate my traditional race day breakfast of peanut butter and bananas on whole wheat bread, and it, once again, proved to be the perfect breakfast.

After I finished eating breakfast, I quickly got dressed and ready, pinning my race bib to my jacket, and I headed out the door for the quick 10-minute walk to Union Square. Because we got so lucky and our hotel was located so close to the start line, my mom was able to sleep in a little bit and stay back at the hotel until the transportation shuttle was scheduled to take her to the finish line at Golden Gate Park.

I somehow made my way to the very front of the pack, so I started very, very close to the beginning. The atmosphere was a lot of fun, and they even shot off fireworks for us prior to the start of the race. Everyone around me seemed very excited and friendly, but how could you be anything less than excited when you were just 13.1 (or 26.2) miles away from a Tiffany necklace? Plus, where better to run than through the streets of San Francisco?

View from above (Source)
When I checked my weather app this morning, it told me the current temperature was 54 degrees, and that it was only going to get up to 57 degrees by 9am. I made a game-time decision to wear a Nike running pullover with my black Lululemon shorts, and I am so glad I decided to wear long sleeves for this race. It was cold to start, and though I started to regret my decision between miles two to five, I was very happy for the extra coverage once we started running by the water. It was extremely foggy, and the sun never came out (until I was on the shuttle that would take me back to Union Square, of course), so I think I made a good decision.

The Race

Now, onto the race itself. The first couple miles were "downhill," but I considered them to just be flat road. In any case, they were a very pleasant first few miles, though it was still fairly dark outside. I ran a pretty quick (sub 8:00) first mile, but I knew to slow my pace down so that I would have enough energy to propel me up those later hills.

That being said, it took me about four and a half miles to get into my groove. First of all, I made a bathroom stop around mile three, which I normally don't do, but there is nothing worse than having to go to the bathroom during the middle of a tough run, so I sucked it up (and held my breath) and used a Porta Potty, before rejoining the pact. Second of all, I got a stitch in my side that I just couldn't shake for about a mile. I considered stopping and walking, but I knew I wouldn't want to start again, especially because I was about to approach that daunting mile six. I finally found my groove, just in the nick of time to tackle that very tough hill by the Golden Gate Bridge (at least, I assume it was by the Golden Gate Bridge, because I couldn't actually see it due to the extreme fog). It was very much an ongoing, gradual hill, and I was very excited to see the flat road, and eventually, the downhill. That being said, I think I covered more ground during the uphill, and the downhill was a lot harder for me (and there were a lot more people passing me). I'm not used to those kind of downhills, and I took it nice and easy so that it would have as little impact as possible on my knees. I discovered that I am very much a product of Houston, as those flat roads are definitely my favorite!

Other than that hill, and a couple others, the hills really weren't that bad. It also helped that the fog was so dense that I couldn't see the hills until I was already making my way up them, so I had no time to freak myself out about them!

Another thing about this half marathon is that the miles seemed to FLY by. I was shocked to pass mile marker 8, because I couldn't possibly believe I had been running for that long. I told myself that it was just an easy five miles, and the next thing I knew, I was at mile 11. I will say that the last two miles seemed to drag on a little bit, probably because my knees and feet were starting to hurt, but there were so many motivational signs lining the streets, that I knew stopping wasn't an option. I crossed the finish line just under two hours, which might be shocking to you, because it was definitely shocking to me. With the hills and a bathroom break, I was extremely surprised to see a time of 1:59 on the clock, but I certainly won't complain!

I immediately grabbed a Whole Foods water bottle, and headed back to the finisher's area, where I got my finisher's shirt, a goodie bag full of food, and of course, my little blue box. Like they said, the fireman were all jazzed up in their tuxedos and Nike's, handing out smiles, congratulations, and the best medal of all, a custom Tiffany Necklace.

I sat in the friends and family area so that I could catch up with my mom, and we took a few pictures by the water before catching the shuttle back to Union Square. I was still pretty cold from the race, but I warmed up very quickly after a hot shower and some food. Overall, I had a wonderful race experience. The extremely organized packet pick-up and expotique, seeing my name on the side of the Nike San Francisco store, the beautiful Tiffany blue Nike shoes (which I am currently wearing), the race route, and the way the race organizers made this feel like everything was a celebration of us was just wonderful. And I can't forget to give credit to the wonderful volunteers who made this race possible. Everyone did an incredible job, and I couldn't ask for much more in a race.

And now I am here at the airport, contemplating what I am going to get for lunch. I purchased a NuGoOrganic dark chocolate pomegranate protein bar from the airport bookstore, and I scarfed it down in approximately 30 seconds flat. If you know me at all, you know I love chocolate, and I was happy to see that this bar can be called "vegan." Though I am far from being a vegan, it means the bar is completely dairy-free, so I knew eating it would be a safe bet. I might purchase a few more before I board my flight, because I have a long day of traveling ahead of me.

Thanks for reading these San Francisco posts - I have had so much fun writing them, and more importantly, so much fun living them. I am so, so, so incredibly thankful for this trip - an opportunity to explore a wonderful city, a chance to get another half marathon in the books, and most importantly, a full weekend of time spent with my mom. We had an incredible time together, and I wouldn't change one thing about our trip. I will be sad to say bye to her in Phoenix, but I will be seeing her quite a bit in the month of November. I can't promise I'll be very active this week on the blog, as I have a fairly crazy school week ahead of me, but I'll do the best I can. Have a great Sunday!

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