Hi friends – I’m currently flying back to DC from San Francisco after a fun long weekend adventure! I have so many photos and things I want to share with you guys (you can get a preview of what I was up to on my Instagram), but let’s start with the main reason I was there: to run the Nike Women’s Half Marathon! Hard to believe that this was my 15th half marathon! When did that happen?!
As you know, I was very lucky to be at this race courtesy of a sponsorship by ClassPass (<—all access pass to your city’s best boutique fitness studios). Thank you to them for covering my flight and hotel costs for this adventure, and for providing me with free ClassPass access for the past few months while I trained. And another big thank you to the Nike Women’s Half Marathon team for providing us with bibs for the race and outfitting us in cute race day (and training) outfits! (Race day outfit –> tank: Fit Cool Strappy Tank (white) and shorts: 4” Rival Printed in pink/black.)
Before I get into the race recap, I want to say how fun it was fun to spend time with my fellow sponsored #ClassPassRunner bloggers this weekend. Here we all are! From left to right: Sarah, me, Emily, Kristen, Jane, Jackelyn. Awesome group of ladies – proud of us all for rocking 13.1 miles!
And now: the race!
As you guys know, I wasn’t racing this race – as in I wasn’t trying to go for a new personal record because I knew how insanely hilly it would be. So instead, I made my goals to have fun, enjoy the views, and finish with a smile. 🙂 After racing so much earlier this year, it was really nice to take off the pressure for this one!
The race started at 6:30 a.m. on Sunday in downtown San Francisco – right by our hotel, the Westin St. Francis in Union Square, which was amazing because we were able to walk right out to the starting area. Highly recommend that hotel if you’re ever in the area – it was beautiful! And for the race, the packet pick up was also there so it was super convenient. Great restaurant, too (The Oak Room) – we were treated to a pre-race dinner there the night before the race and their menu was awesome. I went for the salmon with sweet potatoes, mushrooms, and spinach – yum!
Also, they have a nice spa – they treated us to pedicures this weekend that were incredible. The leg/foot massage is always my favorite part. 🙂
Anyway! Emily (my roomie this weekend) and I were up at 5:15 on Sunday morning to get ready. I ate a banana with some nut butter while getting ready, we quickly met up with the ClassPass group for a team photo, and then headed out into the darkness.
It was pitch black out and SUPER crowded, and I didn’t realize bag check was actually in our individual corrals, so I spent some time wandering around, but eventually found where I was supposed to be. The bag check line was long but thankfully moved pretty quickly, and the excitement around me was contagious.
I was seeded into Wave 1, the black corral (8 – 8:59 minute mile). Since I knew I wouldn’t be racing, I lined up near the very back. Didn’t want to get in anyone’s way!
Let’s do this! I love the minutes before a race starts when I’m waiting in a corral. So much nervous energy!
Right at 6:30 we were off! It was so dark it was hard to get a non-blurry photo as we started.
The first few miles of the race took us through downtown San Francisco heading towards Golden Gate Park. Again, it was dark and hard to get non-blurry photos – stick with me, the photos will get prettier, I promise. 🙂
We had some nice downhill right at the start so I went out of the gates a little fast, then eased into a really comfortable pace as the rolling hills started. It was pretty crowded but I felt like I was in the right area where the others around me were going roughly the same pace. I knew that there was a massive hill at mile 10 and I didn’t want to be trashed by the time I got there! There was also a pretty legit hill at mile 3 – oof.
- Mile 1: 8:20
- Mile 2: 9:40
- Mile 3: 9:59
- Mile 4: 9:20
Sidenote: even though I didn’t need to use them, I really appreciated that there were a TON of portapotties along the side of the course – a huge row every couple miles, and there were signs that said “next bathroom xx miles,” too. Water stops also seemed well organized, although I didn’t stop at them since I was wearing my trusty Nathan hydration vest.
Around mile 3.5, we entered Golden Gate Park, which was awesome because it was so beautiful to run through. The sun was rising and I loved the fresh smelling trees and nice views. Not much crowd support here, but that was okay. 🙂
We were in the park for the next 5 miles or so. I ate a Clif Margarita Shot Blok and a couple of my Nut Butter Stuffed Salty Dates (packed from home) when we first entered – I was feeling a bit hungry and didn’t want to crash and burn for lack of fuel. This part of the course kind of blurs together – I was nicely settled, taking it all in. You can tell which miles were hillier based on my splits, but it wasn’t too crazy.
- Mile 5: 9:27
- Mile 6: 9:19
- Mile 7: 9:04
- Mile 8: 9:42
- Mile 9: 9:55
Around mile 9.5, we left the park and the moment we had all been waiting for arrived: the massive hill. The day before, Emily and I were taking a Lyft (thank you to them for giving us credit to get around this weekend – love their service) and the driver was an awesome woman who also happened to be a marathoner/race addict. She said she had done this race last year and gave us a big tip: when it looks like you’re almost to the top because there’s a curve, you actually aren’t – you come around the curve and there’s more hill waiting. Knowing this/being ready for this made a big difference!
This hill was LEGIT, you guys – a mile/mile and a half long and steep – but I was ready for it, my legs were feeling strong, and I got an amazing endorphin boost when we got to it. Bring it, hill! I own you!
This shot really shows how steep it was – oof!!
I’m super proud of myself for powering up it and not walking or getting defeated! Two things made all the difference for me: 1) the crowd support. The spectators at this point in the race were awesome – so encouraging and lots of them, too. Thank you to all of them for coming out to support us!
And 2) The views were insane! Right when we got to the hill I was literally like “oh, wow” out loud. With views like this, I can tackle any hill. Worth it!
Look – the Golden Gate Bridge!
Once we got to the top of the hill I felt like a total rockstar. I got a big boost of energy and decided to pick up the pace for the rest of the race. I felt great, the sun was shining, I was out enjoying it on a run, and I was so unbelievably grateful to be out there. I remember thinking at this point: “Man, I’m so lucky to have such cool opportunities through my blog.” Thank you guys, as always, for sharing in my adventures. <3
By the time we came down the hill with more gorgeous views of the bridge I was flying and officially (as my friend Theodora would say) “endorphin wasted.” My mind was like “I love running!!! This is so pretty!!! Yay!!!” The runner’s high is real, y’all, and nothing brings it out in me more than nice views. 🙂
- Mile 10: 9:32
- Mile 11: 9:55
- Mile 12: 8:16
Also cool: Nike lets you download high resolution race photos totally for free. So awesome! Here are a couple good ones they snagged of me around this point:
And one bad one, just for laughs/because it’s good not to take yourself too seriously. 😉 Lol!
After coming down the hill, we were on a nice flat stretch for the last couple miles to the finish. I kept trying to turn back to check out the bridge. How pretty is this?!
We also had some fun crowd support. Loved this drum band!
Soon, I was entering the finisher’s chute! I felt awesome and was pushing it on pace because I like ending races in a blaze of glory, regardless of finish time. 🙂
- Mile 13: 8:23
- Last 0.48 mile nubbin (my watch said the course was long) pace: 7:52
Hizzah – the finish!!
Official finish time: 2:04:41. Not a fast time for me, but I’m super proud of that time regardless!
The finisher’s area was well organized – we quickly received water and a bag of goodies from Whole Foods (one of the race sponsors). Sweet – carrying all the food they hand out after a race is always awkward so I loved getting the bag – and the contents!
But of course the real excitement was the finisher’s necklaces from Tiffany and Co! I was disappointed that they weren’t handed out by guys wearing tuxes like at the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in DC two years ago, but I’ll take it either way. 🙂 They are beautiful – I’ve been wearing it ever since and it was fun to see others wearing them around the city the rest of the weekend, too. We earned it, ladies!
After finishing, I stretched out for awhile and grabbed my bag at packet pick up before going in search of my buddies! I briefly met up with my friend Ashley, who was in town from NYC for the race…
And then found Emily and Sarah, my fellow ClassPass runners! Sarah ran this race 6+ months pregnant – so impressive!
Then, it was time for brunch! I had a chocolate milk and some bread after the race, but I was officially ready to stuff my race. The ClassPass runner crew headed over to Greens Restaurant, which was right nearby on the water. Check out this view from our table!
Greens restaurant is really well known in San Francisco and always rated highly, so I was really excited to check it out. Thank you to them for treating us to this complimentary post-race meal! It’s all vegetarian and they are particularly known for pioneering the local, organic, fresh produce movement in San Francisco. The menu looked amazing!
I ended up getting some berries, an iced mocha, and the pupusas, which were filled with summer squash, spring onions, serrano chilies, pumpkin seeds, smoked cheddar, and cilantro. Topped with over easy eggs, salsa, and avocado. SO GOOD! And those are fried plantains on the side.
Highly recommend Greens if you’re ever in SF! It seriously hit the spot.
The grand finale to our great morning was an amazing in-room massage compliments of Zeel, a cool nationwide massage-on-demand service. All you have to do is provide 2 sheets and a pillowcase – they bring the massage table, pillows, and their magical hands. 🙂 It was incredible. Totally going to use this service again in the future!
I’ll be back soon to recap the rest of my San Francisco adventures. 🙂
What’s the most scenic race you’ve ever done? The hilliest?