Monday, October 19, 2009

NIKE Women's Half Marathon

This past weekend was the NIKE Women’s Marathon and Half Marathon. I finally got picked in the lottery and was able to run this highly popular event. Why is this event SO popular that it requires a random lottery you ask? Because every person that crosses the finish line is handed a nice blue box which contains a Tiffany necklace inside. Oh yeah, and you are handed that box by a big hunking firefighter wearing a tuxedo!

I tried last year to get in and was unsuccessful. This year I was picked and jumped at the chance to stay in San Francisco solo for one whole night sans Peanut and sans Vans! Granted the entry fee for this race was an arm and leg but at least it wasn’t my first born child!

So I left Saturday morning with a big hug and a “good luck” from Vans. He was a bit concerned about my ankle status for the race but more so on how he and the Peanut would survive without Momma. For the record, he did a fantastic job and I have never been so proud of my family. Momma is now “chopped liver” in the eyes of the Peanut and Vans is “almighty.” I know by tomorrow that may change so I am letting Vans bask in it for a bit. 

I arrived in San Francisco and found my hotel pretty easily. Parked, checked in and then realized “mmm, what on Earth shall I do?” I immediately headed to the race expo to get my race packet and check things out. As it turns out a girlfriend of mine, who I will call Scrapbook, ended up getting a last minute FREE entry into the race and would be arriving in the city later and spending the night in my room. Ladies night!! Woot woot!

The race expo was insane. I am all for women and women power but good god 30,000 women in one tent is a bit much for me. I picked up all that I needed and then headed out to do some shopping around Union Square. The weather was hot. It is never hot in the city but I was boiling and my hotel room was without air conditioning. My solo shopping excursion was boring so I went back to my hotel and decided to do something I rarely get a chance to do and that was relax and read a book. It was heaven. By 3 pm Scrapbook arrived and we went back to the expo to get her race stuff and then more shopping. This time wandering much further than I had wandered before. We picked up some take out – Cheesecake Factory for Scrapbook and some Sushi like food for moi. Back in our hotel room we ate and shared a beer and a glass of wine and just talked and watched the Yankees play the Angels on television (I am the Yankee fan, not Scrapbook. Thank you Scrapbook for letting me be the tv hog). So what do two moms who are away from the kids for an entire night talk about? Their kids of course. Proud Mommas.

We woke up bright and early on Sunday, about 5:45 am. The race started at 7 am and we were only 2 blocks from the starting area. Perfect. When I first woke up I realized I felt fantastic. No tummy troubles. Then, I ate a banana and some almond butter and almost immediately my stomach started gurgling. It was not happy. I am notorious for my tummy troubles and the past few weeks have been no exception. I’ve been battling tummy troubles on all of my training runs leading up to the NIKE race. I took care of “business” before leaving the hotel but I could tell things were not settling down.

The starting area of the race was mayhem. It was cold but not unbearable. The crowds were so huddled together it was almost warming. Scrapbook said goodbye and got into her corral. The corral I was supposed to be in filled up so I had to start in a slower corral which was probably better.

Joan Benoit Samuelson and Kara Goucher were there as she was running the half. I wish I could have seen them. The gun went off and we all stood there for about 7 minutes before we were able to even start walking towards the official starting line. I started my Garmin when I crossed the start mat and was off. I had to bob and weave my way through the crowd for quite some time. I warmed up quickly too and took off my long sleeve and just tied it around my waist as I knew I would want it at the finish line.

Mile 2 I saw porta potties but refused to stop. My stomach was quite unhappy but I am too stubborn. I’ve never stopped at a porta potty in a race before and the lines were long! I figured if I had to stop, I’d do so later on when the lines would be smaller. Well, the pressure in my tummy was so much that combined with the crowded streets my pace was reduced quite a bit. But since I wasn’t planning on “racing” I went with it. Miles 6 through 9.5 were up hill. And not just a little hill, we’re talking MAJOR hills but I like hills and it woke up my legs a little bit and I didn’t mind. My stomach on the other hand, was not so happy.

Finally mile 10.2 I saw a set or porta potties without a line. I said “screw it” and headed over. I had to wait a little bit but was able to get in and take care of “business” and probably lost about 9 minutes total. You know that bugged me. BUT! I felt FANTASTIC. I really should have stopped way earlier but I now felt so much better I started really racing the last 2 miles or so. I was running sub 8s for miles 11 and 12 and it was wonderful. I crossed the finish and was handed my little blue box by a nice looking fire fighter wearing a tuxedo.

My time was definitely not a half marathon PR. Actually it might be the same time as my very first half marathon. The official results are not up yet. Guess it is hard to tabulate 30,000+ people! Ha

Scrapbook finished not long after I did and it took us an hour to find each other in the mess that was the finish area. We jumped on a charter bus which took us back to Union Square near out hotel. Hot coffee and a hot shower (in that order) followed.

Overall it was a great day. I enjoyed the event but have learned that I need to rethink my fueling issues when I have an upset tummy. Vans and the Peanut want to come next year if I get in again. He wants to stay in a nice hotel and for two nights not one. I am okay with that. I did miss my Vans and Peanut and had a wonderful welcome when I finally did get home on Sunday afternoon. They are really my best fans and I missed their cheers at the finish. Hopefully next year.


  1. Congrats on your half marathon! And glad you enjoyed San Fran. Stomach issues can definately occur, just keep experimenting!

  2. Good thing you saw a porta-potty without a line and got you relieved. Porta-potties without a line are rare and may appear once in a blue moon.