I am still on such. a. high. from this past weekend in San Francisco. Can I go back already and just run marathons galore? Last Sunday, I completed the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco. This was my second marathon and my second time with Nike in SF, and I had a great time! I headed up to the bay area early Thursday morning to make this trip more of a vacation, to visit some old friends and bond with my big brother who lives there, and to try new food (Janine eating … of course).
On Thursday night, after a day filled with food and friends, my brother and I headed over to Union Square’s Niketown to take a look at some of the shoes and other apparel that Nike sold to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the race. First thing we saw? The storefront had a huge window display that overall said “We Run SF,” but was created using the names of all of those participating in the race. So cool! After browsing through the store and making my purchase, we headed to sleep early for an early morning yoga wake-up call at Yoga to the People.
My brother, our friend Tony, my best friend Christine, and more friends and family headed over to Nike’s expotique on Saturday for packet pick-up and more goodies. First notice? Packet pickup was much more organized this year as compared to last year! The queues were clear, and I barely waited in line, when last year I remember the line curved around Union Square twice over. Kudos to Nike! Now Nike’s expotique is exactly that–an expotique. Not a typical expo. It’s much more fancy, more focused on presentation, rather than a handful of vendors simply at their booths. The race’s sponsors are featured, and there isn’t a whole lot being sold, but lines for people waiting for free services or perks. For example, Luna Bar–one of the race’s sponsors–had an area where supporters could create signs for whoever they were supporting for when they were cheering them along the course. I actually saw a good number of these signs while racing and it was such a nice addition. One other thing to point out that I really like about this race is that participants don’t receive their shirt when they pick up their bib, but actually right after they cross the finish line. I really love this idea of receiving an item or a perk like this only after you’ve earned it.
A display in the expotique of all the mile’s cross streets and elevation — loved this!
Nike truly knows how to recognize their participants and prove to them that they are important. One awesome display in the expotique (pictured below) listed participants names and some truly motivational words. Nike is so smart! After picking up your bib, you headed into the expotique, unknowingly crossing over a timing mat that registered your bib, only to walk a little bit further to see your name in bright lights on the screen. Genius. Nike also had a similar display during the marathon course (I think somewhere between miles 12-15, which I wish I could have gotten a picture of, but didn’t have my phone while running), which was also definitely helpful to help us marathoners push forward. Nike made connections with their runners; they instilled that “You can; you will” mindset and supported all of their participants, no matter what the goal was. Really, I love it (made me so emotional the whole weekend!).
Okay, so now on to the actual race. The marathoners start off with the half marathoners for about 12 miles, starting at Union Square, running along the water by Fisherman’s Wharf, Ghirardelli Square, by the Presidio, and into Golden Gate Park, where the marathoners head in for the next 5 miles. After the park, we headed to the Great Highway, ran to Lake Merced, turned around, and headed back through the Great Highway to finish at the end by the park. The course was beautiful, the weather was near perfect (a bit too cold for me), and my only complaint is that the Great Highway is just way too boring for me. Straight-aways are no fun, and the fact that you’re on mile 16 or 17 and can see runners to your right who are near finishing with only a mile or two to go can be a bummer. On the other hand, when you’re on mile 24 or 25 and can see people running in the opposite direction, I really felt for them, knowing they had still had a good 9 or 10 miles to go. Course-wise, that would be the only thing I would really like to change. After crossing the finish line, you got your finisher’s shirt, beautiful Tiffany & Co. necklace given to you by a bay area fireman, a must needed mylar blanket, and some munchies.
Tony, my brother, Christine, and I post-marathon!
Me with the firemen after receiving my Tiffany’s necklace!
I’m actually really pleased with the race. I didn’t actually have a set goal time for myself, other than “faster than last year” (my time in 2012 was 4:58:47), and I shaved off a little over 23 minutes with a final time of 4:35:09! It’s amazing what proper training does for you ;)
This marathon was actually a huge turning point for me. I have mentioned a number of times previously that I felt that marathons just aren’t my distance. “They’re too long,” I’ve said. “Half marathons are more my thing,” I’ve claimed. Well honestly? I felt pretty good the entire race. I only took 2 bathroom stops, and while I definitely felt pain in my knees and quads in the the 20’s miles, I never stopped to walk, other than to drink water and Nuun. Now I’m not saying it wasn’t challenging. The hills were a good time, to say the least (I definitely don’t remember them being that much of a challenge in 2012 as compared to this year). And I’m not saying that my spirits were up the entire 26.2. I specifically remember starting mile 22 and the intention I set in my mind with every step was the word “go.” I literally said “go” to myself each time my foot hit the ground. 26.2 isn’t easy! You have to want it and you have to train for it. But I left this race wanting more. Some race stats? There were 30,000 runners, only 4,369 of which ran the full marathon, while the remaining 26,000 ran the half. Marathons are not for everyone. But me? Now? I want more marathons. Last year, I would have laughed at myself if I said this! I told myself maybe once a year. MAYBE. But now? Bring it on! When’s the next 26.2?! Christine and I got shirts made for this race and on the back we had written, “Because I haven’t found my limits yet.” How incredibly true this is now! I ran my first marathon to test myself, and I honestly was a little defeated; but this time around? Even a marathon can’t stop me.
So much thanks to Nike for a great event. And more importantly! A big hug to all of my friends, family, and followers for all the support. The text messages, emails, phone calls, WordPress messages, presence, and overall well wishes really mean the world to me. I couldn’t have done it without you!