My college BFF Turner and I crossed the finish line together at 1:43:44 for an average pace of 7:54 minute/miles, smashing my PR from the Rock ‘n’ Roll USA half marathon last month by nearly 5 minutes! I’m so proud.
The Nike Women’s Half Marathon has become infamous for the Tiffany’s necklaces they give out at the finish line instead of medals. Until this year, in the US the race has only been offered in San Francisco, so when my friends and I saw it was coming to DC we jumped on it. We played right into their genius marketing plan but whatever – those necklaces would be ours.
It was a beautiful day for racing yesterday! I gave myself PLENTY of time and arrived at the race a full hour before the start even though I wasn’t checking a bag. I’ve discovered by this point that peace of mind by getting to a race early > sleep.
I took a few pictures, found the porta potties (the line was short since it was so early!), and then headed over to my corral. I was in place by 6:25 a.m., ready to rock!
I was in the 7:30 to 8:59 pace corral and the only corral in front of us was 6:30 to 7:30. I’ve never been so close to the front of a race before – we were at the front of our corral and there weren’t that many people in the first corral! At first I was confused why there weren’t more people ahead of us, and then realized – duh! There were almost no guys running this race!
Loved the “red carpet”!
I found my friends Turner and Sarah and we hung out, waiting for the race to start.
See those sleeves on my arms? They’re actually an old pair of Matt’s dress socks! I simply cut off the toe of a pair he was going to get rid of anyway and used them as arm warmers before the race start, ditching them just before we began. Such a great idea – totally doing that again!
Like with the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler, Turner and I planned to run the race together. She’s faster than me but wasn’t looking for a new PR and wanted to help pace me to a new PR instead! You rock, Turner. When I finished the Rock ‘n’ Roll USA half last month my first thought was “Wow, that was fast!!” and then my second thought was: “But you know what? I could have gone faster.” I remember it feeling hard but not crazy, and then I surprised myself by being able to do sub 8 minute miles at the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler a few weeks ago. With that in mind, Turner and I decided our goal for the race was sub-8 minute miles – what we had done a few weeks ago for the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler, just for 3 extra miles!
While we waited, a couple really cool elite runners were introduced up on the stage right by us: Shalane Flanagan and Joan Benoit Samuelson. Click on their names to read more about them – so inspiring! Shalane just got 4th place in Boston this year.
The time waiting flew by and soon the corral tape was removed and we all crowded forward.
And then we were off!
Even though there were 15,000 runners out there, I didn’t find the course to be nearly as crowded as the Rock ‘n’ Roll USA or the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler. I heard some of the farther back corrals had overcrowding issues and would have benefited from a wave start approach, but up front it was a nice change from the other large races I’ve done recently, again probably due to the lack of speedy guys.
Turner and I settled in to a speedy start. Since we didn’t have to do a ton of jostling and passing like we normally would during the first mile of a race, our first mile popped up at an impressive clip! Off to a good start.
- Mile 1: 7:44
- Mile 2: 7:52
The pace felt fast to me but not insane. The weather was good, I had my best friend by my side, I knew the course would be pretty flat – I could do this. Just keep it up, Anne. Keep it up!
We crossed over Memorial Bridge around mile 3 and then looped back – I’ve done that loop in every race so far this season! Hello again, old friend. It was cool because we got to see the first few women running by, coming back the other way!
It also meant we got to see our friend Sarah and give her a cheer as she ran by a few minutes behind us going the other way!
Nike did a great job with having fun music groups out to lift our spirits – loved all the drum bands, they were awesome!
I knew that around mile 5, Matt and my brother Steve would be somewhere cheering us on, so that gave me something to look forward to! A big thank you to them for coming out so early. I wish I’d thought to give Matt my DSLR camera, but they got some fun camera phone pics of us racing by!
The band coming up on the left in the photo below was one of my favorites of the day:
The music and the atmosphere there were so fun and inspiring I decided to take a quick video to capture the action! It’s shaky (duh, since we were running!) but fun – check it out! And turn up your sound to hear the band.
In case you’re wondering how I got all these photos and the video, I was carrying my trusty point and shoot camera (the Canon PowerShot ELPH 300 HS 12.1 MP Digital Camera)! I’m so used to carrying it while running now it doesn’t bother me, and I just hold the camera up in the air and press the button to take pictures – no stopping or slowing down necessary! Occasionally they come out blurry but I’ve gotten pretty good at it. I think I need to work on my video while running skills though, lol.
- Mile 3: 7:59
- Mile 4: 7:48
- Mile 5: 7:50
At mile 6, we entered Hains Point.
Hains Point is kind of rough during races – even though it’s pretty (it’s by the water), it’s really long (we entered at mile 6 and exited at mile 10), there’s not much crowd support since it’s not near a metro, and it’s boring so it can be hard mentally. This was definitely the most challenging part of the course, although Nike did have some fun signs up and there were a few bands around to lift our spirits.
There was a lot of Boston Strong love out on the course, too, which was wonderful. Thinking of all those who have lost the chance to run certainly inspired me to go faster.
I also really liked the race sign on the left – “Run Harder Than Your Mascara”!
I ate a Clif Shot Gel around mile 7 and just focused on keeping up the speedy pace. Anytime I felt myself dip a little, I forced myself to keep it going. I was not going to give up now and regret it later! It really helped having Turner with me, too.
- Mile 6: 7:51
- Mile 7: 7:58
- Mile 8: 8:08
- Mile 9: 7:56
- Mile 10: 7:54
As you can see, pace dipped a little at mile 8, and the second I saw that split pop up on my watch I was like NO! My legs could do this, I just had to keep my mind in the game.
Finally at mile 10, we left Hains Point! I knew we still had 3 more miles to go, but I was happy to be on to the last part of the course and to double digits! We went through a cool tunnel during this mile where there were drummers at each end with strobe lights. We went through it early in the race, too – so cool! It was dim so the photo came out blurry but the drumming and lights were so inspiring. The sound reverberated through the whole tunnel!
The only problem with the tunnel was that it made my watch a little wonky on pace for the part of the mile we were in there. Oh well!
- Mile 11: 7:30 ish ?? It felt like we were going really fast – all those drums pumped me up!
After the tunnel, I was surprised and excited to see Matt and Steve again! Hello, energy boost! Matt yelled: “You’re kicking butt!”
My legs were definitely feeling tired by this point but knowing that we were nearing the end kept me going. We rounded a corner and had a beautiful view of the Capitol.
- Mile 12: 8:09
Time to start dialing it up a notch – we were so close! By this point I said to Turner: “We’re not only going to beat my old PR, we’re going to CRUSH it!”
We looped around the Capitol, made a turn, and then had a nice view of the finish line. It was funny because it looked MUCH closer than it really was! We started majorly speeding it up only to realize it was farther away than we thought. Oops! But… can’t slow down, now! Just finish it out strong! I couldn’t believe that we were on track to break 1:45!
I heard Matt and Steve yelling for us again near the finish. Adrenaline surging, we made our final sprint to the green arches!
- Mile 13: 7:38
- Last 0.1ish miles nubbin pace: 6:50 (!)
Woohoo!! The distance on my watch was off, but the time was spot on. 1:43:44!! Average pace: 7:54 minute miles. I even got a high five from Shalane Flanagan when I crossed the finish line. Turner got a high five from Joan Benoit!
According to the official results, I finished 492 out of the 15,000 people out there – wow! In my age group division (F 30-34), I came in 88th!
When we crossed the finish, our promised necklaces were waiting. They had guys in tuxedos with platters of Tiffany’s boxes handing them out – too funny! Best finish line ever.
Even tied up with a pretty bow.
We were given our finisher’s t-shirts, too, which are super cute (and functional – yay for tech tees)! Clearly I wore mine with pride the rest of the day, along with my necklace.
A big thank you to Matt and my brother Steve for coming out to cheer us on, to Turner for running with me and inspiring me to be a better and faster runner, to you guys for your social media good luck wishes (and congrats!), and to all the bands and volunteers out on the race course yesterday! What a great day. I’ll definitely be doing this race again if it returns to DC!
Who else raced this weekend? How did it go?