I Run To Be…Challenged (Nike Women’s Marathon)
Finally hit double digits baby-#10. Even though Nike Women’s wasn’t an “official” marathon, as I signed up for the Half and actually ran the full course. 2 weeks before this race, I decided to treat this as a “long training run”. I needed the miles to help me build up to my 50 Miler in December, so what better way to get in the miles than at a supported race? There sure won’t be water stations at every mile when I do my long training runs by myself! Unfortunately, Nike wouldn’t let me switch distances, so I just decided to bandit the 2nd half. Which also meant, a almost 4 hour half marathon time…but I’ll get to that later.
This was a super quick trip for me, like literally 24 hour turn-around. Left L.A Saturday at 2:30PM and boarded flight to come home Sunday 2:30PM, with an entire marathon, race pick-up, dinner with best friend, air travel in between. I was so stressed out going into this weekend because I had midterms all the following week and it just wasn’t the optimal time to go on a trip. I did a easy 5 mile run on Saturday in Santa Monica just to warm up the legs before heading off. I always like to do something before a big event, nothing too strenuous. Picked up my race stuff at the expo, which was more like a club in the middle of Union Square. Girl to guy ratio, 20:1, enough said.
The race started at 7AM and my hotel was within blocks of the start, so a “late-ish” wake-up for me, score! It was still a 5AM wake-up call, but I didn’t have to worry about parking and all that. Decked out in Nike gear, I walked the few blocks to the start line with my friend, Dennis (who by the way rocked this hilly course, must have been all the eye candy, eh?). We were stuck in the way back of corral 1 since we got there kinda late. All you could see was a wave of pink and purple from Team in Training. The start was situated in the middle of Union Square, right in front of Tiffany’s & Co and winded along Embarcadero to the Golden Gate. Unlike the SF Marathon, we didn’t run on the Golden Gate Bridge, instead we kept going toward the Great Hwy by the beach. Since this was a training run for me, I needed the miles more than a fast time, so I took it easy and actually enjoyed myself along the course.
I heard the full marathon course was horrible because of the out and back, you had to loop around the finish line twice before actually finishing. The first few miles actually flew by, it was all familiar territory from the SF Marathon. My only complaint would be that we had to literally run on the sidewalk, outside from the race barriers, because there were so many people and the road in Union Square was so narrow. Since anybody could go into any corral, we had walkers in the first mile and people who were obviously not the right pace to be up front. Although this did force me to slow down in the beginning. Once we started up towards Golden Gate at Mile 7, I braced myself for the big hill ahead. Before the race, I had written on my hand and bib all the points in the race where there would be some noticeable climbs. I think this helped me a lot in St. George when I knew how long the hill was. If it was less than a mile, I could plow through it without really having to “pace” myself (aka slow down considerably). I think my brain automatically shuts down when it sees a hill ahead, my pace drops so much like I should save myself now or I might die halfway up the hill. It’s pretty ridiculous when I look at my splits, but nothing some hill sprints can’t solve!
Up the hill and over, my legs were feeling great so far. I trucked along the course, they had entertainment, Lululemon girls, Nike people, and water stations every mile. They had this pretty cool thing where you could hook up your Nike+ to the race. I completely forgot about nutrition during the race until Mile 11 when I realized I hadn’t taken my gel yet. I’ve been on the fence about nutrition for marathons because I don’t know how much of an impact those gels/chomps really do for me. I “know” you’re supposed to take them ever hour of exercising, but for Nike and St. George, I only took 2 total throughout the entire marathon and felt perfectly fine. I drink Gatorade along the course which I feel helps me more than the gels. During this race, I ended up only taking one gel as Mile 11 and ate one Honey Stinger chomp at Mile 19. Back to the race…
Around Mile 12 was the split for the half and full marathon. I contemplated just going with the half runners, like I’m “supposed” to, but knew I flew all the way to SF to run 26 miles, so I stuck it out. The crowd thinned down considerably once we split off. There were more guy runners in the full marathon course. I thought volunteers would wave at me that I was going the wrong way or that I passed the finish line 5 miles ago since my bib was different from the full marathoners, but no one ever did. We passed the finish line again around Mile 17, where I contemplated dropping out and going with the half marathon finishers. Not sure why since I knew subconsciously that I would keep running, which I did obviously. We ended up along the beach which was a nice change of scenery. I don’t think I have ever seen the beach in SF. Although, the roads by the beach were paved really badly, like I was afraid I might twist my ankle if I wasn’t careful. Instead, I ran along the very very side of the road where it was somewhat smooth and flat. We made a big loop around Lake Merced and winded up on the other side of the Great Highway. The course was definitely challenging, probably as hilly as the SF Marathon, but I actually preferred this one more. I liked the change of scenery from the SF neighborhoods and running by the beach. I think the weather helped a lot during this race. Even though it started raining from Mile 20 on, the nice ocean breeze felt really good to run in. I can’t remember the last time I felt this relaxed at a race, yes I took it easy which is why I probably wasn’t so stressed out about my time. Since I was running at a comfortable pace throughout the marathon, I was able to pick up my pace the last 2-3 miles, unlike St. George. Official time: 3:56:40. Far from my PR, but it was exactly what I came to SF to do, a long training run. I didn’t push myself to the limit so I felt fine the next day and training ensued as usual. I was actually more sore from 90 minutes of yoga that following week than from the actual race. It was crazy how my legs didn’t even feel like they ran that much, guess that means it was a successful training run. Oh yeah, and since my chip wasn’t officially registered for a full marathon, it recorded this time as a half marathon time. So it says I ran the half marathon with a 18 min/mile pace, nice.
Right after crossing the finish line, the look of total exhaustion.
Oh yes, the best part about the Nike’s Women’ Marathon? The Tiffany’s bling of course…and the hot men at the finish 🙂
Next up, Santa Monica 50K trail race in November! This happens to fall one week before my Northface 50, which is probably the worst timing and the stupidest race decision I’ve ever made on an impulse.