I tried to come up a clever name for this post, but really just the name of the race is enough. Once I learned about the NWM, I knew I wanted to run the half marathon! I love San Francisco, I love that the race gives money to a good cause, and I loved the medal (more to come on that). This, however, is a very popular race and the largest women’s marathon. You enter an online raffle to participate. Unfortunately, I did not win the raffle and sadly resigned myself to the fact that I would not be running the race this year. However, I got a race registration code about a month ago thanks to the NWM’s Facebook page.
My weekend began with driving up to the city. My commute started off well. There had been a great deal of traffic going the normal way up so I decided to the take the coast. Great idea until I hit some major traffic (thanks Half Moon Bay fall festival! boo!). The traffic stressed me out. I had wanted to go up earlier in the week to pick up my race packet, but my school schedule conflicted with the expo’s times (I refuse to use the word expotique, sorry NWM). Anyway, I got into the city about an hour before the expo closed. I parked and joined a very long line… but it moved quickly and before I knew it I had my race bib, bag, and timing chip. Then I headed to my best friend’s sister’s house. She and her husband graciously let me stay with them. We had some pizza, watched part of a movie, and then I headed off to bed.
I woke up Sunday morning at 5:15am, I was excited to get to Union Square. I hurried off and joined thousands (and I mean thousands, there were almost 22,000 runners participating!) waiting to run the race. I dropped off my bag at the bag check (I had a runner’s jacket and pants in it to put on at the end of the race). By 6:45, people had settled into their corrals. The race officials led us in a giant group stretch and after the national anthem we were off!
The race made its way through Union Square and off to the Embarcadero, and then followed the coast up to Golden Gate Park. The views kept a smile on my face. I especially enjoyed seeing a very empty Fisherman’s Wharf. But the best view, by far, was the Golden Gate
Bridge. I happily ran along the coast, keeping my eyes focused on all these sites and then we started to climb the hills. Thankfully, we didn’t run up any of the cable hills. However, the hills we did run up lasted miles (literally) and really took their toll on my legs. I slowed down a great deal plugging up those hills. However, the cheering squads along with the inspiration signs from Kaiser Permanente and Safeway kept me going. Oh and I loved that Kaiser gave us orange wedges, just the right amount of sugar and no GU (I avoided the aid stations for the most of the run, just a few quick gulps of water).
I made it to mile 11, entered Golden Gate Park, and then my runner’s stomach hit. We runners tend to have GI issues and I’ve had them for years. So I had to make a pit stop at the bathroom. I stopped my watch and started it again when I rejoined the race. I wanted to see what my time would be without the pit stop (but I forgot to stop my watch after I crossed the finish line). I kept going but my legs ached… those hills had really worked me. I saw the split in the course (marathoners to the left, half marathoners to the right) and knew the end was near. Mile 12 (aka the chocolate mile thanks to Ghiradelli handing out its famous squares) felt like the longest mile, and then stomach cramps hit! I tried to power through but I had to take a few steps as I stretched my side. Then I heard the screams from the finish line and started up running again. I ran as fast as I could. I saw some of the people I had been around before my pit stop and felt good that I had made up a little time.
I crossed the finish line, received a high five from a race volunteer, and quickly received a foil blanket to warm up (yes, it was that cold!). Then I received the best race medal ever! Firefighters in tuxedos presented finishers with the most famous little blue box. Inside, I found a Tiffany’s necklace with the motto of the race, “I run to be.” and on the back, “NWM 2010″. I love that I can literally wear my medal anywhere! Along with that, the finishing area provided runners with plenty to drink and eat. I quickly headed to the bag check and put on my warm and dry clothes (it had begun to drizzle, soon rain by this point). I hopped on the shuttle and started my journey home.
My time was nowhere near the PR that has been eluding me (official time 1:52:44, without a potty break, probably closer to 1:50), but I knew that this would be a difficult course to beat my best half marathon. I decided that morning to just focus on having a good time, and I had a great time! I hope I make the raffle next year and get to run again!