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Monday, October 19, 2015

My First Half Marathon!

A year ago, I walked past Union Square in San Francisco and admired the huge tents and crowds celebrating the annual Nike Women's Half Marathon! I was in the middle of training for a few 5Ks and thought to myself, "Next year I am going to run that race!"

Sunday morning, I did just that! And I've never felt better in my life! It was such a huge accomplishment and I was really proud of myself. I think if you are capable of running any kind of race, any distance, any pace you definitely should because there is nothing like crossing a finish line!

The awesome thing about the Nike Half is that you're running with 25,000 other women from all over the world. All the training and planning builds up to this one weekend and you run the race all together. Seeing the crowd in front of you and behind you is really inspiring and even when you're tired and sweaty and gross you just keep going because everyone else is and you're in it together. 

I took part in all of the events that Nike hosts over the weekend. So, I'll give you a quick run through of each event!

Friday: Group Warm-Up 
On Friday night we took over Pier 35 and did a group workout together. At this point I was crazy nervous and wondering why I was doing this. My training didn't go as I planned so I felt super unprepared. Looking around everyone seemed so ready, everyone was with a friend and a bunch of them ran the race last year. I was alone, nervous and totally new, but once we started stretching and working the nerves started to subside. Then one of the Nike Run Club coaches got up and gave a motivational talk and I felt a lot better. For the first time that week I thought, "Hey! I can do this!" Then we got to see a video of the course we were going to conquer in two days and that really helped visualize what lay ahead! As we exited we were greeted by a grocery store set up by Whole Foods and got tons of samples. Chocolate truffles, fresh juice and protein bars for days!

Saturday: Shake Out Run!
Saturday morning was humid and rainy, and my nerves were back in full force! I checked in, got ushered into the green corral and waited until we took off on our two mile run through the city. I really enjoyed this event because it was basically just a two mile cheer-fest. The streets weren't closed so we ran on the sidewalks and stopped for traffic and stoplights. We ran 2 miles in 22 minutes, so it was pretty slow, but a ton of fun. Nike employees ran with us with music and they chanted and cheered us on while city dwellers looked on in amusement and disdain as the pack of spandex-clad women took over the sidewalks. Whole Foods was back in full force and the square was set up for tons of selfie opportunities (I'll take advantage of next year). Then I went to pick up my race bib, watched some college football and took a nap to prepare for the early morning ahead. I also ate a giant plate of pancakes and then had some amazing pasta for dinner because... carb loading. 

I also set out my outfit and pinned my bib on that night so I didn't forget anything. I recommend keeping your ID and insurance card in your arm band with your phone just in case! 

My alarm went off at 5:15 and I thought I was going to be sick. I was so nervous! I choked down half a bowl of oatmeal and headed down to the staging area. I was in wave two so once the horns blew and the race started we waited for about 15-30 minutes before we crossed the starting line. Then there was no turning back, my nerves went away and I just ran. 

The scenery was amazing! Running through Golden Gate Park was my favorite part. It almost makes me want to pack up and move to the city so I can make that a regular running route. The air was cool and smelled like eucalyptus and the crowds had thinned enough to really find my stride. 

The hill at mile 10 will haunt my dreams. Next year I will train on hills more because I want to be able to run up the whole thing (At that point my uphill walking speed was the same as my running speed). More training and I'll get it next time for sure! 

After that it was all downhill and flat roads to the finish!

I collected my bag of Whole Foods snacks, pink water bottle and my Tiffany and Co. finisher's "medal" and stood in line for my finisher's jacket! I wore the necklace and the jacket all over San Francisco for the rest of the day.

 I'm already looking up another half to run in! It was so much fun and I can't wait until next year! 

Make sure you spread some sunlight today! We'll be back with a Monday with Matt next week!

Love you lots, 

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