I traveled, I ran and I came home with the signature Tiffany blue box. Yep, this past weekend I made a whirlwind trip from Mississippi to San Francisco to run in the 2011 Nike Women’s Marathon. For 5 years I’ve entered lottery only to be turned down till this year. In the meantime I’ve ran in 6 marathons with 1 DNF (did not finish) and since August 2010 I’ve been chasing #6 finishers medal. In August of 2010 I planned on running a marathon only to be plagued with injuries. Then in January 2011 I went to Georgia to get #6 finishers medal only to have to throw in the towel with three miles to go. Then in August of this year I had planned on running the race I wanted to do in August of 2010 but I backed out at the beginning of August so that I could concentrate on the Nike Marathon. So needless to say #6 was worth the wait.
Friday at 9 A.M. I flew out to San Francisco arriving at 1 p.m. busting with pure excitement. I couldn’t wait to see the pink Nike tent and all that awaited. I knew that if Nike was involved it was going to be an awesome event. And it was. The Nike Expo was located centrally in downtown San Francisco at Union Square. Fortunately it wasn’t far from my hotel, two blocks.
From the beginning Nike made it so easy and so much fun to be there. They had people from the start directing folks to the correct area that we needed to go and if there were any problems they handled them with great ease. Gatorade was a sponsor so there was nice little area set up so that you could sample what would be on the race course.
Next Neutrogena had an awesome booth that let you sample their products plus sent home some nice samples as well. It was like a mini facial.
Paul Mitchell staff was on sight to help style hair.
While all of this is going on there was a phenomenal DJ rocking the place. It was so much fun just hanging out. In addition there was a relaxation area where you could prop your feet up in massaging chairs.
In the back of the expo was Nike’s main area. In one area there was gait analysis, sport bra fittings and photo ops as well. They also had several laptops set up so that we could set up our Facebook to request automatic updates to out statuses while we were running. Outside the expo several other booths were set up as well. It was definitely a fun and upbeat place to be. They also had a small little booth set up outside (think porta potty small) with last minute race essentials.
Across the street was Niketown and of course, Tiffany’s!! Fun little thing is that Nike had a huge wall with all the participants names listed. It was exciting to see my name. It made it all a little more real that I was about to run 26.2 miles.
After cruising through Niketown and purchasing a few souvenoirs I headed back to the hotel to change clothes stretch my legs out and then we were headed to Alcatrez for a night tour.
I highly recommend it if you ever go. However before we could leave I realized that on our way there we had to go back to the Expo. Somehow I realized that I was given a half-marathon bib instead of a full marathon. Fortunately, the folks made it super easy to switch it out and we were on our merry way.
Saturday I wanted to see as much of San Francisco as possible with little walking as possible. The tour company Mr. Toad’s was just the way to go. I had to book our tour before going out there so in advance we knew to meet them at Fisherman’s Wharf. So after doing the tourist thing and taking the trolley down to Fisherman’s Wharf we spent the next 3 hours touring San Francisco from a 1922 Rambler.
We got out twice to see a few things and to stretch our legs. First stop was at China Town where we checked out the little shop where they make fortune cookies.It was actually interesting to watch since there was only three ladies doing these by hand. They make approximately 20,000 of these every year! Next door was fellow who played his violin outside his barbershop. Apparently his quit famous around there. He’s even starred in a movie or two. Pursuit of Happiness was his proudest appearance from what I gathered.
If your ever in the San Fran area and want to see a lot in a short amount of time I highly recommend Mr. Toads Tours. They really make it fun, enjoyable and you won’t kill your legs climbing hills trying to see everything.
Saturday night was pretty low key.I was pretty tired from the day before and actually fell asleep pretty early. I was relieved when I woke up Sunday morning knowing I had slept well. Sunday morning getting ready was easy. Had a decent little breakfast and then it was off to get my Tiffany necklace. From the moment I stepped out the hotel the streets were packed almost an hour before the race was scheduled to start. The city was booming with music, lights and videos being projected on to screens. Nike even had someone to help warm up the crowd. I personally just watched the warmup. That’s what the first 3 miles are for right?
So after a relaxed start I was off to complete my marathon. The first two miles were easy but mile number three introduced me to my first hill. Immediately I thought, “Oh crap!” I immediately knew that I had to walk the hills in order to make it. Miles three and four were rough but it was mile seven that really got me. It was the never ending uphill. It’s a hill I never want to see ever again! Then the downhill was just as hard. I felt certain that if someone bumped into me I was going to roll downhill!! It was pretty steep. Miles nine and ten were steady inclines as well. The whole first half was just brutal with hills.
The second half wasn’t as nearly as bad. My hips were feeling the effects of the hills but I feel like I went into the second half feeling pretty good. The only time I ever started feeling tired was when they took us around Lake Merced. A lot of people didn’t like the route I learned as I was chatting with folks while we were running. The didn’t like the traffic part but it gave me something to look at. It kept me entertained. The thing that was hardest for me was the fact that up until that point it had been cloudy most of the day but the sun started coming out and it was zapping some of my energy. However at some point it went away and after a much needed potty break I felt ready to go again. Also on the way to Lake Merced and to the finish line was a beautiful view of the beach. Yes it was a long stretch of it but it’s not something I personally get to see everyday. It was fun to watch the surfers and it gave me a mental break from what I was doing.
The whole race I had been running off of heart rate instead of pace. My goal was to keep it above 145 but I didn’t want it going pass 155. I think once it did but other than that I probably had a harder time pushing it up to 155. My hips were just fatigued and didn’t have the strength to push like I wish they would. Mentally I feel like I held up really well. I never questioned myself or doubted myself. I knew what I had to do and that was that.
The finish line was a sweet sweet sight. And the prize was just as phenomenal as I had hoped. My little blue box I’ve been wanting was just beautiful.
It’s definitely the best finisher’s medal I’ve gotten to date! It’ll be hard to top that one!
The post race set up was a little weak. They were out of fruit and the finishers tee didn’t have my size. Neutrogena did have a set up with face wipes that was much needed especially since I had my finishers photo taken with some hunky firefighters!
There was chocolate milk available and a really neat stretching area as well.
I also highly recommend purchasing the post race shuttle tickets because I was in no shape to try to figure out how to get back to my hotel. The shuttle took us back to Union Square which was plenty close enough since I was only two blocks away.
Monday I’m back in Mississippi with a little fatigue and some mild soreness. It was a very fast, fun and busy weekend. A lot of flying, and a lot running. Would I run NWM 26.2 again? Probably not. I can say I’ve been there, done that and got the blue box. A lot people have done that race repeatedly and just love it. I would give it an A- just because of the finisher’s t-shirt issue but overall I would recommend to a girl friend to run. It’s a fun race, it’s entertaining, it’s challenging and the course is well supported.
I’m so glad this race was my #6 finishing race. It was well worth the hard work and wait.