I found out that I got into this race via lottery in early July and decided to take the plunge. I wanted at least one fall half (and was still planning on running the Richmond Half). This was my first destination race and my first that wasn’t NYRR or NYC Runs. I asked around and everyone who had run the race before said it was an amazing course and that they had a great time. I felt overdue for a trip to the Bay Area, so I decided to make it a full 4-day trip, from Friday morning to the last red-eye out Monday night. I’ll make this post focus on the race and other activities (and swag), then make a separate “what I ate” post because y’all know I went HAM out there before and after the race.
The pre-race activities were fun and helped instill a bit of the ‘community’ feel for such a big race. I enjoyed the Friday Get Focused workout and bonded with my Airbnb housemates who were also running. I ended up skipping the Saturday morning shakeout run because I had walked over 5 miles Friday and close to that on Saturday.
Posing after packet pick-up during the swag purchasing point #1 at Niketown. I needed a Dri-fit hat anyway.
I found my name on the Niketown store window pretty quickly as well as a friend’s who I didn’t know was running the race.
Stretching to Hotline Bling with my housemates during the Get Focused workout.
My goal for this half was just to finish without Achilles pain, since I knew a PR was out of the question and my eventual goal for sub-2 will have to wait a little longer. I ended up going even slower than I planned on and after the first few miles and hills, decided to not have qualms about stopping for pictures or walking through water and snack stops. I don’t usually race with my phone (just my Garmin Forerunner 220), but used both so I could enjoy some tunes and snap some shots. I ran my running club’s singlet with Lululemon Top Speed Crops because they have a zippered pocket as well as smaller waistband pockets. I wanted to bring shot-blocks with caffeine and keep the free gel along the course in there in case I didn’t need it.
I was at the front of Wave 2 because my housemate was going for a 9:10 pace, but I wisely decided to step to the side and drink more Nuun (cup #2 of 3 pictured below), so I ended up more in the middle of the pack. The first wave took off right at 6:30, and I crossed the start line around 6:41am.
The first few miles had some uphills and I was trying to reconcile the course map in my head with the neighborhoods I had already visited Friday and Saturday. This was a pleasant distraction for the first 5K or so.
We entered Golden Gate Park, which was my favorite part of the run. I had hung out there before when visiting and loved the waterfalls and bison, so I actually did take some quick shots this time. There was some crowd support and bands, along with ample enough water/Nuun stops. I grabbed a small peanut butter bar close to the 10K mark but didn’t eat it because I was a smidge thirsty. As seen below, I was clearly grooving to my tunes.
I felt pretty strong exiting the park and took a Vanilla Gu I had grabbed, but definitely slowed on the first of the 2 hills out. The crowds were picking up a bit as we headed to the Presidio. I remember passing the 10K mark back in the park, but not the 15K mark. There were lots of twists and turns through the neighborhood; if I had been really racing this, I would have tried to run the tangents better.
I tried to focus more on making it past THE hill and enjoying the downhills, along with admiring the scenery. I’m not good at running selfies and didn’t want to mess up a high-five or pass my sweat to a stranger, so I kept my arms to myself but grabbed a few shots at good pause points.
After the hill, I knew there were only 2 miles to go and that they would be a mix of downhill and flat. What joy! I felt strong during these, took my final 2 shot blocks, and shoved the chocolate truffle into my zippered pocket for later. I definitely wasn’t flying by the water by any means, but I had a pretty good pace going here. There were a few music groups out, including taiko drums and a Chinese dragon dance.
The finish was around a corner and snuck up on me a bit because my watch was over 0.2 miles ahead. I went for the flat-out sprint for the finish but moved myself into the middle so I could have a good finish photo (not usually my strong suit).
Nailed it (but please do not look at the knees of the poor guy behind me). I finished in 2:25:34, which is over a minute per mile slower than my previous two halfs (NYC and Brooklyn, both this year). But I guess I did stop for a picture of the bison paddock in Golden Gate Park. And I did shuffle slowly up those hills. So, my sub-2 hour half might have to wait until 2016.
The exit went really smoothly in part because they handed us large reusable grocery bags from Whole Foods (with lots of goodies inside), so I could throw everything else into there. Tiffany’s necklace in a box? Throw it in the bag. Hot pink water bottle full of cold water? Drank a lot of it, then threw it in the bag. There was no wait for the Portapotties, so I headed there first. I then got into what would be closer to a 1-hour line for Finisher gear, not knowing everything would be available back at Niketown or on the website. Fortunately, I befriended a couple of other ladies in line and they got the following picture of me. I did not want to wait in line for the official finish photos in front of the light teal backdrop. These motivational words would just have to do.
Then there was a long, slow, painful walk to the shuttles. I snacked on my banana, chocolate milk, and peanut butter bar before the bus, then was able to shower and nap and move on with my 3 post-race meals.
I would try another Nike Women’s event for sure, especially if running with friends. In fact, I might enter for their Toronto 15K next June. I’m planning to run the NYC full marathon next November, so I probably won’t be able to race SF next year at that point in my marathon training, but we’ll see.