Monday, October 17, 2011

Race Review: Nike Women's Half Marathon 2011

The big race has come and gone so here's my review of the 2011 Nike Women's Half Marathon. 

We arrived early Friday morning (due to a flight that was delayed four hours due to weather!) and headed to the expo a few hours later. Luckily, our hotel was located really close to the expo in Union Square (which also happened to be the starting line of the race) so it wasn't that difficult to get there.

The expo was unlike most expos I have been to in the past. Typically, you check in and you get your number, finishers shirt, and swag bag. Here, you got your number and your swag bag, but you didn't get your finishers shirt. It was a bummer that you didn't get to see what the shirt looked like, but according to the check-in staff you would receive it upon crossing the finish line.

Another difference about this expo was that the focus was more on the race's sponsors, as opposed to getting the last minute items for your racing needs. We got to sample all different types of Gatorade products, Pom Lite juices, and various Safeway snacks. We also got to see the latest and greatest in Nike products; like the $350 reflective jacket seen on me and my sisters below. However, my sister wanted a hydration belt and my friend M., from LA, who was also running the race needed a knee brace. There was a tiny kiosk outside of the tent that sold overpriced energy gels and such, but we eneded up going to Niketown and the Sports Basement.

Now, for the review of the actual race!

The pre-race hysteria, lol
The start time for the race was a bright and early 7AM. I usually prefer earlier start times because it doesn't get so hot as the race progresses. As soon as we got to the start area it was chaos. There was a backup of people around the port-o-potties and the bag drop-off area. I typically try to go to the bathroom before and not have anything to drop off for this exact reason, however, my sister and M. both needed to drop of their bags and it was a madhouse trying to get the bags to the bus that would be dropping it off at the finish line. We found out after standing in the mob of people for about 15 minutes that we could have avoided the crowd by taking the side streets. Oh well, you live you learn.

Pre-race group shot!
Once we were in our corral we heard several female empowerment songs blasting (namely, Beyonce's "Who Run the World (Girls)") and then off we went. I'm not to clear on the geography of the race route but we started through downtown and then we headed toward Fisherman's Wharf then headed toward Presidio seeing all the sights along the way. It was funny because the night before Justin's cousins took us on this route in their car so it was nice to see all the sights we had seen the night before during the day. The not so funny part was that we were running, not driving. Lol, just kidding...but really, miles 7-10 were killer. All uphill. Now I did a bit of hill training before this race (Does the hill interval button on the treadmill count?), however, nothing could prepare me for the San Francisco hills. I don't even think hills like that exist in the DC metro area...maybe out in the boonies somewhere....

Here's the course map and the elevation guide:

Despite all the hills that I wasn't quite ready for, it was an enjoyable race. There were a lot of water and Gatorade stations along the way. Music blasting and a lot crowd encouragement (especially from Team in Training who sponsored this face). There were energy chew stations, a Neutrogena sunblock station, and of course the Ghiardelli Chocolate Mile (which I think came at mile 12?). I couldn't eat the chocolate right at that moment but I tucked it in my hydration belt for later.

The post-race party was pretty cool. Upon crossing the finish line you got handed a Tiffany's finisher's necklace (the whole reason why I ran this race ;) and a finishers shirt (a bright yellow tech shirt, perfect for night running). There were a lot of free goodies such as bananas, bagels, Gatorade recovery drink, and my favorite--chocolate milk!

Judy with cute fireman and Tiffany's box! 
One drawback I should point out is that the race starts and finishes in different places so getting back to your hotel is kind of tricky. Find a friend or hail a cab because with all the post-race traffic it'll take a while to get home!

To sum it up, I had a great time in San Francisco running the Nike Women's Half Marathon. I would definitely do it again, but I would maybe do more hill training next time!

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