Have you checked out Part 1 and Part 2 of the series yet! Make sure you do before you read this one!

OMG this race! What an incredible experience! I can’t wait to tell you! This story requires a little bit of backstory, so I’m going to start by telling you that! But, if you’re just looking for a review of the race, some pictures of the Firemen at the Finish line or the Tiffany’s Finishers Medal/Necklace scroll down more toward the bottom! 🙂

TAKING THE PLUNGE…

Last spring, my friend Anna asked me if I’d be interested in doing the Nike Women’s Half Marathon with her. To say that I was resistant (and freaking out!) would be an understatement. I was intrigued – don’t get me wrong! Spur of the moment trip to San Francisco in the middle of the semester?! Ummm yes please!

But I caught myself freaking out about finances, oh, and let’s not forget the fact that I would have signed up for my second half marathon in two months having never run one before!

And then one of my absolute closest friends, Cullen, told me something that I’ll never forget…

You can always make more money. But opportunities don’t always come again. 

He was right. I’ve never wanted to be the person who worried about money. Who decided when and if to do things because of finances. Yes, I think you should be aware of and careful with your money, but I also don’t think that we shouldn’t live our lives and not do the things we want because we’re afraid of our savings dipping below a certain point.

I’ve never been one who likes the idea that I’m supposed to work through the best years of my life so that I can enjoy retirement. Why should I have to wait until I’m 60 to enjoy my life?

So I pretty much found myself saying “screw it!” and before I knew it I had paid the heftiest registration fee I had ever paid and probably will ever pay and was game planning my mid-semester trip to San Francisco! Pumped doesn’t even begin to explain it.

This race is typically a HIGHLY competitive race to get into. They do a lottery drawing about 5 months before the race for all those that register to determine if you’ll get in. However, Anna and I are students. So, we automatically get into the race if we register!

As the time for the race grew nearer, I was starting to get a little antsy and a little nervous. I mean, I was coming off of a hip injury from my training runs, and a tweaked knee from doing the Tough Mudder. Plus, at this point I had been doing distance running training for about 5 months…and needless to say I was a little sick of running! 

I was sick of two-a-days.

I was sick of the time-commitment.

I was of the nagging injuries.

I was a little stressed about the financial commitment of this trip.

But, by the time my trip actually came around…I was STOKED! I met up with my girl Anna, and the shenanigans began! We picked up our packets and bibs, and started our San Fran adventure.

  Clockwise from top left:  Union Square before the Saturday Shake Out run; Anna and I at Fisherman's wharf; More Fisherman's wharf; Wall of names at the Nike store; Claw chowder bread bowl and seafood at Fisherman's wharf; Cable car riding with Anna; the Nike SF WE RUN sign lit up in Union Square

SATURDAY: PRE-RACE SHENANIGANS

After settling in and getting our packets on Friday, Saturday was the day for some fun! We went on a training run in the AM, but ultimately decided to skip out on all the Nike-based activities and do some San Fran exploring! We wanted to get away from the centralized Nike events at Union square- which were absolutely insane – and actually explore SF a little bit. So, we took a cable car down to Fisherman’s wharf – the iconic water front of San Francisco. We got some seafood, and checked out some shops. There were an abundance of incredible live performers, a fun little museum, etc. We puttered around, and then eventually headed back to Union Square to check out the Nike store and maybe score/buy some Nike Women’s half swag. Probably my favorite thing that they did on behalf of the Nike Half Marathon was that they engraved the names of all 25,000 participants into the windows of the Nike store at Union Square! It was such an incredible thing and so special!

One of my favorite things that Nike had at the event, were the abundance of athletic trainers that were around. They had foam rolling stations and trainers to teach you how to foam roller, as well as PT and pre-PT students who were providing free taping and K-taping tutorials courtesy of, I believe, MuscleAidTape. That was amazing! I had a nagging knee and hip injury from training, and the people at the taping station not only taped up my knee, but they gave me tons of extra tape so that I could tape myself up before the race. This taping would become invaluable on race day…

SUNDAY: RACE DAY

Bright and early Sunday morning, we were up and ready to go run! If I recall correctly, the first wave left at 6:30am. We were in one of the later waves, so we hung around and enjoyed the starting line. There was music blaring and so many people – it was insane to think that we’d be running through the streets of SF with this many people! I mean, I don’t think any of my pictures can do it justice! But you can DEFINITELY see how insane it was in this overhead shot that was one of the official pics from Nike (left)!

We approached the starting line, and before we knew it the gun sounded and we were off! Since Anna and I were both battling injuries, neither of us had the intention of running to PR, so we planned on running it together and just enjoying ourselves. Well, that didn’t last long – Anna is kind of long legged and she just flat out runs faster than me! So we split up not quite 2 miles in and ran at our own speeds.

When I originally planned on running this race, one of my immediate concerns was for the hilliness of the course. I mean SF in-and-of-itself is known to be a hilly.

But there were some BEASTLY hills on this course, so I was definitely a little concerned about my ability to handle those hills. But, I was actually pleasantly surprised by this course! Yes, it was hilly, but it was such a beautiful course, that I personally didn’t find the hills insurmountable. There were actually stretches where we were running through Golden Gate park that actually felt incredibly easy and downhill. Btw – Golden Gate park is BEAUTIFUL!

There were big screens, photographers, people with signs, bands and cheerleaders from nearby schools dotted throughout the course!

It was definitely just plain fun and very motivating to run!

I’ve also mentioned that I had injuries during this race (more than once at this point ahaha). Prior to the race, I wasn’t able to run more than 3-4 consecutive miles without my hip acting up. I used the Muscle Aid Tape I’d mentioned above for the race today, and I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I didn’t have any hip issues until mile 8-9. So, though the Muscle Aid Tape didn’t make my injury go away, it did certainly help alleviate the pain for the majority of the race!

I remember vividly getting to the BIG hill in this race. As you can see in the map a couple images above (to the right), at mile 11 above, there is a HUGE hill. Not only is it long (about 1 mile), but it’s steep, at about 200-250 feet over the course of the hill. It was a beast. I wanted to run the whole thing, but I got about 2/3 of the way up it and didn’t know if I could! So, I stopped running…but, not for long. Up ahead of me, there was a man holding a sign. I don’t even remember exactly what it said, but it said something along the lines of:

You define who you are and who you will be with your actions right now.

Well shit…” was probably the first thing that went through my mind!

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