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This was my third year running the Nike Women’s Half Marathon, my first half marathon of the year and my 18th half marathon overall.

All of the Finish Line girls (me, Andy, Evann and Angela) stayed at the Hilton located on O’Farrell St. so we were a little over a block away from Union Square. I had set alarms for 5:00, 5:10 and 5:15 and finally got out of bed around 5:30 (actually I just sat in bed and ate my larabar and banana breakfast). By 6:00 I was finally dressed, and by 6:15 Fit Andy and I headed out the door. We arrived to the start of the race around 6:23, with about 7 minutes to spare. Andy and I were seated in the first wave, however, the entry to our area was for both the 7-7:59 and 8-8:59 waves which made lining up a little bit hectic.

With the sound of the first alarm, we were off! However, we spent the first 2 miles bobbing and weaving through the crowds. We were off to a slow start and even had to walk a few steps within the first tenth of a mile because it was so congested.

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One of the eerie things about this race is running in the dark for around 50 minutes.  By the time we entered Golden Gate Park (around mile 4/5) it was starting to get lighter. If you followed the @finishlineusa Snapchat account, you would have seen that I tried to take a picture of the waterfall. But because I was running (and the fact I hadn’t mastered the art of taking pics while running yet — something I finally got the hang of around mile 8/9) it was blurry 😛

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We entered the Richmond District around mile 8, which had a fairly steep hill lined by typical SF style homes. But the sky was so pretty with a flurry of pinks and blues, and clouds resting on the horizon.

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Around mile 9 we reached the Presidio, and somewhere around here I lost Andy.  At mile 10 we were faced with the biggest and longest hill of the race.  This hill lasts around 1/2 a mile to 3/4 of a mile. However, at this point I felt like I began to experience a runner’s high. I started to get chills from the excitement, the breeze and the view of the Golden Gate Bridge.

The one thing I couldn’t wait for was the downhill. At one point I looked down at my watch and I was running sub 6….I remembered that last year I felt like I should have excelled during this part of the race, but had issues with my knee. Unlike last year, I didn’t run a marathon the week before and felt fairly energized through this part of the race. I paid extra attention to my form, and just kind of let my legs roll. It helped to pick up speed during the downhill and return to a normal stride that ended up being faster than normal pace just because of the momentum of the downhill.

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I think one of my specialities is pacing myself and leaving some reserves in the tank. For the last 2 miles I felt like I killed it. These miles felt effortless and like I had so much left in the tank to sustain a fast and exerted effort. It was so much fun to run pass people that were trudging through the last couple of miles. Usually I feel like I’m really forcing the pace, but this time I felt smooth and mentally strong knowing that I could do and hold anything/pace for ~1 mile.

One of the most deceptive parts of this race is the finish line. You can’t really see it as you’re approaching the end. It’s a straightaway followed by a left turn and a right turn immediately into the finish line. This was something I learned from running the course last year.

I would summarize the course as a mix of street and greenery, with an equal number of hills to downhills.  The scenery is always changing which makes the course seem to fly by quickly. I wouldn’t recommend it as a first-timers course (unless you’re properly trained for it), but it seems to be a favorite amongst all walks of runners.

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Andy and I did not set any goals for ourselves. Our plan was to just have fun and run by feeling. I knew I wanted to run around a 1:45ish safely, and I ended up just doing that.
Towards the end of the race I thought I saw a 1:39 pacer (don’t know why this pacer would exist) but it was actually 1:50. I think my mind was just playing games, mixed with a little bit of wishful thinking.

Although not a PR, I ended up getting a course PR for this Nike Women’s Half Marathon.

Mile splits recorded by my Garmin (1:44:25):
1 – 8:50
2 – 8:32
3 – 8:17
4 – 7:54
5 – 7:54
6 – 7:33
7 – 7:38
8 – 8:03
9 – 8:06
10 – 7:42
11 – 8:06
12 – 7:00
13 – 7:06
Last .28 – 1:37

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Thanks again to Finish Line for the opportunity to run the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in SF! #FNLrunsSF!!!

See last year’s recap // See 2013 recap