To appropriately talk about my latest half marathon I really need to tell you about what led up to me signing up for the race and training for it to get a full picture of what race day was like.
So to start last year around this time I was seeing posts of Facebook (I’ve liked Nike’s page for awhile now) talking about the Nike Woman’s Run in San Francisco. I had just finished running my first half so I was intrigued by the Nike run. I decided that I would keep better tabs on what I would need to do to register for the race and run it the following year. So back in June the registration for the random draw opened up, I honestly wasn’t convinced I would get picked so I figured there’s no harm in registering. Well a couple of weeks later I got the email saying I had been selected. I knew this would probably be my last big race for awhile so I was really excited to start training and be really prepared (hopefully beat my previous record) and just overall go out with a bang. Apparently the universe had a different plan for me because my training time was plagued with problems. My first week of training was when we were visiting family in MO. I attempted my long run in the St. Louis heat and was apparently pretty dehydrated I made it about a mile before having to turn around and walk back home (well hobble really). After we got back to CA and I attempted running again I had so much pain in my legs I had to take a little time off to recover, but I wasn’t too worried I had plenty of time to get into shape for the race. Once again I started running again this time running around my neighborhood. While the weather here is perfect for running the hills pose a huge challenge. I figured if I just kept running these hills I would get comfortable with them. This also proved to not be the case, and I started really struggling with shin splints. I have struggled with shin splints a very long time ago but the only thing I can figure is that running the hills here put too much strain on my shins and calfs. So at this point I realized I would never be able to increase my milage enough running around my neighborhood I had to drive somewhere to get better run in. At this point I was about two months away from race day, and starting to freak out just a little that I wouldn’t be ready. After talking with Mike I realized the only way I would be able to get consistent runs in would be to get up early before Molly and run the beach trail here in town. For about two weeks I got up early and was able to get some serious miles under my belt. I was still struggling with pain, but it was getting better and the compression sleeves I bought were actually helping. I realized it would be a long two months but I was going to be prepared for my race, this would work. Then I was hit with the worst allergic reaction I have ever experience. I’m still not 100% sure what caused the reaction, but I think it was the Downy fragrance I added to the wash to de-stink my running clothes which were getting pretty funky after 5 runs a week for two weeks. The allergy caused me to break out in a blister rash which was one of the most painful things I’ve ever had to deal with. After multiple trips to the doctor and finally a dose of steroids the rash started to heal but it was a slow process. It took almost a month before I was healed enough to put on a sports bra and running clothes. At this point I was completely freaking out and so disappointed. My plan all along was to train hard and really push to make this a good run and that was completely out of the question. Now all of a sudden the goal was just to finish and not get picked up by the slow truck. This was the time that I should have been to 11 – 12 miles and start tapering in preparation of race day and I was still at 6 and dealing with shin pain. Once again I started running first thing in the morning and basically crammed as many miles as I could before the race. Not exactly what I wanted to do, but I didn’t really have another choice.
Before I knew it was race weekend, there is something absolutely wonderful about the days leading up to the race. Molly and I ventured into the city to take part in the race expo, and were able to get some fun free samples, make a cheering sign, and get some great pictures. Saturday Mike made me an awesome carb heavy dinner and I set out all of my race day essentials (and packed Molly’s bag for Daddy) and went to bed very early. 4:00 am I was up getting ready and headed into the city to find my corral and wait to start. Since I’m on the slow side of running I was in the last wave and unfortunately it took almost an hour from when the gun went off to when I finally started running, but eventually I saw the start line. Things were going good for a couple of minutes when I tripped on something maybe it was my own two feet I have no idea but I fell hard in the middle of the very crowded race. I’ll be completely honest it was horrible. The fell hurt and all I could think was get up you don’t want to get trampled. Some lovely runner picked up my sunglasses and made sure I was okay and I was. I got up and started running again luckily nothing was hurt too severely but I did want to shrink away and cry, but I had fought so hard to get to race day I couldn’t bow out. Also there was the Tiffany & Co finishers necklace that was waiting for me at the finish line. I had to cross that finish no matter how long it took or how hard it was.
The first four miles were on the city streets they came and went pretty quickly. I was keeping a good pace and dealing with the hills pretty well. My shins were hurting but it was manageable. Pretty quickly I got to Golden Gate Park and the next three miles were probably my favorite of the entire race. The course at this point was relatively flat, there was a good amount of cheering sections and support along this stretch as well. I was keeping track of my pace and realized that even though I was not at all prepared for the race I was currently on pace to beat my record, but I also knew that there was a pretty intense hill from around mile 9 to 11. Around mile 7 we left the park and I was just counting down to mile 11 at that point I knew the really hard part would be over. Miles 7 – 9 were pretty easy and then we were on the Presido (a section of road leading to the Golden Gate Bridge that I ran during the San Francisco Rock and Roll Half Marathon) and I knew the next two miles were going to be hard and they were. I had run the stretch of road before only it was the beginning of the race and this was towards the end. Those two miles killed my time and my energy. By the time I finally reached the top I didn’t feel like I had anything left to give, but I still have two miles before I would cross that finish line. I used the momentum of going down hill to get through the next half mile or so. Then I walked/jogged the next mile until I saw Mike and Molly cheering me on. Once again I started crying and was so excited to be so close to the end. I had blisters on my feet, my shins were on fire but the finish was so close and there were so many people there cheering all the runners on. All of a sudden it was over and I was crossing the finish line, and honestly I’ve never been more proud to finish a race. While my time was not my best I had such a hard time training, and then the fall at the beginning of the race so many things had been stacked against me but I overcame and got through it.
I met up with Mike and Molly in the marina park and enjoyed some food and water and then we started the long hike to the car. Unfortunately there was no parking near the finish line so Mike had to park about a mile away. Not a far distance but after running (and walking) 13.1 miles adding another mile to that was more than I wanted, but it was fun to see all the other runners and know that I was part of that group.
Nike put on an amazing race. Even though it was by far the hardest for me to finish it was the absolute best. From the amazing expo, the support along the course, the support at the finish and the beautiful Tiffany necklace it was a day and race I will never forget. I hope to do the Nike run again in the next couple of years, and maybe I’ll be able to beat my time.