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I can’t believe it’s almost October! That means a big month of racing coming up for me. Not only will I be running my first full marathon, but I’ll be running the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in SF the following weekend. Kind of crazy, but when I was offered the opportunity to run the sold out Nike Women’s Half, I knew I couldn’t pass it up. Last fall I ran my first Nike race and I was hooked. It’s amazing how they can take a race with soooo many participants and make it feel so special and personalized (goes for both SF and DC!).

In order to prepare for my busy racing month, I’ve been keeping up with my training. This usually includes 5 days of running, and at least 2 days of cross-training (recently I’ve been doing Pilates). I also make sure to take 1-2 days off a week to fully rest and recover.

A typical training week looks something like this:

Monday – cross-train + tempo run (~6 miles)
Tuesday – easy morning run (~4-6 miles)
Wednesday – cross-train + speed work
Thursday – easy morning run (~4-6 miles)
Friday – cross-train or rest
Saturday – long run
Sunday – rest

Since the Nike Women’s Half will be the week after my first full marathon, and I have nooooo idea how I’ll feel/recover, I’m planning to take the race super easy. I plan to listen to my body, take the hills as they come, walk through water stations, etc. The only goal I have set is to finish within the 3 hours and 17 minutes allotted for the course. AND to finish on my feet this year (and maybe get that Tiffany’s necklace…) 😉

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Saturday night, the night before the race, I barely got any sleep. Even after taking some Tylenol PM, I just laid next to Devon, in our King size plush, luxurious hotel bed, for several hours, in the dark.

Regardless of being restless, several alarms later, Devon and I left our hotel by 5:45am and made the 1.5 mile walk to the starting area.

At 7am, the race was on. 15,000 women (and a few select men) were running the streets of DC.  At the first quarter mile, my watch started to buzz. Oh great, I thought. I forgot to turn of my distance alerts from Wednesday’s workout. I contemplated trying to figure out how to turn these off while I ran, but figured it would be too much of a hassle. So every quarter mile I got a little buzz. However, I think this made me more conscientious of my pace.

Also, as the race began, I felt my need to go pee again. I debated around mile 1, but thought, no, I’ll just tough it out. Then by mile 2.5 I saw the bathrooms, and then a sign that said “next bathroom in 1 mile.” I thought, like Nike, I better “Just Do It.” I made it quick and was in and out within 30 seconds.

This was my first time running a half marathon (by myself, meaning no pacer) without music. However, it helped me to be more in-tune with my body. Plus there were tons of supporters, high school bands, cheerleaders, etc. that made it unnecessary. It was nice just to take everything in.

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Photo credit: Devon

Around mile 4.5, as we made our way out and around the Arlington Memorial bridge, I heard some girl talking about Shalane Flanagan running at the boston marathon. I turned around to see it was her, Joan Benoit Samuelson and a random girl running the half marathon. So that put a little extra pep in my step as we made a very subtle climb on our way back over the bridge.

The most boring miles were 7-9, running straight for what seemed like eternity in the West Potomac Park. Other than that, this was a great race, very flat, and even the hills I would consider “mild inclines” at best. The only thing that worried me was running through tunnels and under overpasses because my GPS lost connection.

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I felt like I barely broke a sweat because whenever it got warm, the wind would pick up, and then I would draft off any girl in front of me. It was the perfect day for a race!  I didn’t end up wearing my fuel pack, and instead grabbed water at almost all of the aid stations.

My mantras were “make it hurt,” “do you best with what you can,” and (stolen from Justin in my running club) “form is fast.”  My goal was to run around 7:45 pace. With my watch constantly buzzing, I just tried to keep it under 7:45. I was able to keep it sub-7:50, except for the anomaly that was my bathroom pit stop.

I felt strong the whole time, except for the last .25 when I started to drag but told myself, you made it this far, do not stop now. When I came in I saw the time clock approaching 1:41 and I thought to myself, not gunna happen! I want this 1:40.  I did not high-five anyone and ended this Nike Women’s half upright and vertical!  I walked through the finishers tent on my way out and spruced up with some dry shampoo (my new fave thing) and some faces wipes.

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After the race, I did an additional 3 miles of running/walking, going back to our hotel room to grab cell phones and wallets, and making it back to the finishers area to meet Devon.  Devon did a great job, starting out with a 10 minute pace and then picking it up after mile 8 to an 8:30/mile pace. She succeeded in 1. finishing, and 2. not walking. I told her that she would be on fire if she really trained for her next race, and didn’t just opt for the stair master all the time.

All-in-all, it was another great race put on by Nike.  From the personalization at the expo, to the gifts, goodies, memorabilia.  I felt so lucky to be running in the nation’s capital, surrounded by so many prominent historical landmarks.  Mixed with a beautiful day and a PR, it was perfection!  P.S. The necklaces for this race are super cute. I love them much more than the SF medals!

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Mile splits recorded by my Garmin (1:40:39):
1- 7:25
2 – 8:34
3 – 6:51
4 – 7:27
5 – 7:35
6 – 7:38
7 – 7:29
8 – 7:47
9 – 7:44
10 – 7:47
11 – 7:46
12 – 7:38
13 – 7:16
Last .25 – 1:36

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