Thursday, October 22, 2015

Nike Women's Half Marathon San Francisco

Since I started running, the Nike Women's Run Series was on my Running Bucket List.  It is a lottery race and since I knew it was popular, I was pleasantly surprised that I was picked.  I had heard so many good things about this race and who doesn't like the idea of getting a Tiffany & Co. necklace at the end of a race.  

I arrived to San Francisco on Friday afternoon and after checking into the hotel, I was on my way to packet pick-up.  I was staying at the packet pick-up hotel and it was awesome to be close to the all the weekend activities.  I was a little disappointed with the pick-up-- although it was quick and easy, I was expecting more.  I had also planned to do the earring scavenger hunt that afternoon, but was quickly informed that all the locations were out of the earrings. I spent the rest of the day exploring San Francisco and did a little shopping.  

Packet Pick-Up at the Westin
The Nike Store posts the names of all the runners.  There were 4 of me! :) 
I love to shop!
Saturday morning started off with the Nike Run Club Shake-Out Run.  I signed up for the 7:30am run and headed over to check-in around 6:15am.  Being located across the street from the start, I arrived in a few minutes and the line had already started forming so I quickly made my way to the line.  We waited for about 20 minutes, then they began checking us in.  We were randomly assigned corrals-- I was in volt, so I found my way to the corral and waited for the run to start.  They had a running coach making introductions and announcing some of the pacers who would be running with us.  He was using a megaphone and if he wasn't facing your corral, you couldn't hear what he was saying.

I was lucky to be in the starting corral and running in the city was definitely a new experience for me.  I usually run in areas that are closed to car traffic, so I wasn't prepared for this-- I think we stopped hit every red light.  Slowest 2 miles I've ever run, but the coach and pacers in my corral were on point and kept us motivated.  

Once we found our way back to Union Square, it was a little chaotic.  I found myself standing in a line and had no idea what I was waiting for.  I ended up with a portable Verizon phone charger.  I then went to the food line-- I had a delicious fruit smoothie, an apple and a protein bar.  

After the Shake Out Run, I decided I want to try to get some earrings.  We had been told it would start at 10:00am-- I went to my hotel, changed and still had some time before it was going to start.  I decided to go check out the Nike Store again and once I got there, around 9:30am, I found myself in another random line.  That line turned out the be the line for the earring, which had started early.  I got lucky with this line, so I decided to try for a few more earrings.  I ended up with 4 of the 7-- I went to a 5th location, but after seeing the number of people in line, decided I'd rather explore SF then wait in a line.  
4 of the 7
The morning of the race, I woke up ready to go.  When I went to get dressed for the race, I discovered my tank had a huge stain on it (How did that happen?!)  Thank goodness I had a back-up outfit, so on to plan B.  With a 6:30am race start, I headed to the start line around 5:30am.  I like to be early so I get my bearings together before the race starts. Each corral had it's own entrance, gear check and restrooms.  This was definitely a plus.  

The race started on time-- I was towards the back of my corral, so we started a little before 7:00am.  I knew there were a lot of runners, so I expected a crowded race.  And I got it.  There were times they even changed the course for crowd control and traffic, directly runners in different ways before they merged back together.  I admit that there were times I was frustrated by runners who didn't appear to know race running etiquette-- coming to sudden stops,  weaving back in forth, groups running 4-5 wide.  I always expect this, but it seemed to be in abundance in this race.  The crowds also brought an abundance of chaos at the hydration stations-- each one was a mess.  I don't know if it was poor planning, poor training for the volunteers or lack of space, but each one was congested and unorganized. Eventually I stopped stopping for water.

This race was a mental battle for me.  I had some pain in my foot and I let it get to me.  I even turned my Garmin off so I could just run and try not to think about anything.  But there were definitely some high points in the race-- I loved the choir at mile 2-3, the waterfall, the park that smelled as some runners described, like "PineSol," and the view after mile 10.  This was probably one of the most beautiful courses I've run and I was not expecting that with this race. There wasn't that much crowd support but I loved seeing We Run Social at mile 8-- the Hi-Fives definitely helped me finish the last 5 miles.  I also loved the support at mile 10, which was all uphill-- I had been warned about the hill and it honestly wasn't as bad as I was anticipating.  

@PavementRunner and the We Run Social crew holding it down at mile 8

Mile 10
After the race was over, I proceed through the exit line.  The water in a reusable bottle and the post race snacks in a reusable bag were fantastic.  This was definitely a plus, as I had juggling my snacks after a run. I loved all the yummy goodies.  After the snacks I was off to get my necklace.  I had heard we get their from firemen-- mine was from a volunteer, however I could stand in line for 30 minutes for a picture with a fireman if I wanted.  No thank you.  I wanted a "Finisher's" item so I made my way to the Finisher's Boutique-- I waited in line for 2 hours!!! Yes, I know that's crazy, but I wanted a shirt and it was all part of the race experience.  Although Nike could have definitely had more people working this. Another poor planning moment on their part. 

Overall, I had a good experience, but I think this is a "one and done" race for me.  And that disappoints me a bit-- I wanted to love this race.  I wanted to be wowed by it.  And I wasn't.  

Has anyone else down this race?  What was your experience like?

Until next time, happy running.


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