Last year I ran the Nike Women’s Half Marathon (NWM) for the first time (read about my experiences at that race here). I loved running the 2010 NWM and couldn’t wait to run it again this year. The NWM is a lottery race but they opened several thousand spots for college students, so I was able to secure my spot in the half marathon through that opportunity. Despite all my excitement, I’m sad to say this is not a race experience I enjoyed as much as 2010.
For those who follow me on dailymile, you know that coming up to this race I had been disappointed with my training. I had run the San Jose Rock n Roll Half two weeks before (with my father-in-law) and had hoped to amp up my runs between the two so I could improve my time. (Somehow with the wedding and school, my training for the SJ RnR had also suffered and I ran a slower half.) But life continues to get in the way and I was too busy to get many runs in and also got sick (I found yesterday I have bronchitis).
But did I let this get me down? No! I drove up to San Francisco three days before the race to pick up my race packet and pick up my goodies. My experience at the expo was better than last year, no lines and not many people – one of the perks of going in the afternoon on a Thursday. I was a little disappointed in the lack of goodies and samples, but nothing to complain about. What I have learned since then is that when I picked up my bib, the volunteer didn’t scan it and therefore I currently have no official race results (more on that later).
At 4am on Sunday morning I somehow rolled out of bed. I put on my Big Sur tech shirt (I thought a little mental reminder that I ran a marathon would help me power through the NWM). I had a little bowl of oatmeal and a bit of coffee and headed out to the city. I arrived around 6:20am, just what I wanted and parked on the street easily. I stopped in the Union Square Hilton for a potty break (much better than a port-o-potty) and headed out to Union Square. I brought a gear check back so I could change into some warm, non-sweaty clothes immediately after the race. In hindsight, I really wish I hadn’t done this. The gear check was a mess, a mob of people surrounded the gear buses and the runners were all trapped in this mess. Finally after 30 minutes of wading through people I got my stuff checked and tried to make it to my wave. The race had already started but I was in the third wave and thought I might be able to make it. No luck. I got through some people, but got stuck in what I think was a 12 minute pace wave (boo). Some nasty girls wouldn’t let me through and I tried to explain to them what I was doing. Here is the convo:
Me: I’m sorry, I’m just trying to get my wave.
Mean Girls: Well, you should have gotten here earlier.
Me: I did, I drove from Santa Cruz.
Mean Girls: Well, you should have left there earlier.
Me: I did! I got here almost an hour ago, I got stuck in bag check.
Mean Girls: <rolls eyes>
Sigh. So 17 minutes after the race officially started, I finally crossed the starting line. I would spend the next 8 miles weaving through the crowds, avoiding those who walk the NWM, alternating between sidewalk and street, and zig zagging across the streets adding about a mile to my overall distance.
While I had a grumpy start, I couldn’t help but be happy as I ran. The NWM has a beautiful course and I enjoyed it just as much as I did previous years. The first 7 miles or so, I was averaging between 8 and 9 minutes miles and feeling pretty good. But then my lungs lost it. Did I mention I ran this with bronchitis? So I slowed down considerably and looked to just finishing the race. This meant more walking than I would have liked, a lot of coughing, and stopping at each water station.
I got excited when I saw the volunteers handing out the Ghirardelli chocolate squares, because I knew that meant it was just over a mile until I crossed the finish line (and that I could eat the chocolate soon!). I finished well over 2 hours But I finished. I was disappointed to see my time wasn’t immediately posted but not a biggie. I waiting in a line to have my photo taken with my “medal” (yep, another tiffany’s necklace!). But the line was long and then I saw the firefighters were in the photos too and I thought that was kind of weird. So I decided to skip it after all and get my gear. Picking up my stuff was painless, I slipped into my warm, non sweaty clothes and took the shuttle back to Union Square. An hour and a half later, I was home.
For the next few days, I continued to check for my official race times. Nothing. Finally, I emailed the official time keeping company, Pacific Sports Events. A very nice man named Jon promptly replied to my email and said that while my bib number had been tracked, my name was not in the system. What?! I have since learned from other NWM participants that if the volunteer did not scan your bib at check-in, you were not in the system. Awesome. (Note my sarcasm.) But Jon at Pacific Sports is updating the records so I’ll have results. Apparently Nike isn’t doing much to rectify this problem (and it seems I’m not alone here).
Overall, I still enjoyed the event because I just can’t complain about running through those parts of San Francisco and there is something amazing about knowing your running with 20,000 other runners. I think Nike was much less organized this year and didn’t prepare their volunteers as well as they did last year. I am happy to have another Tiffany’s necklace (although personally I like the 2010 design better than the 2011, but that’s just my taste). But for the cost of the race, I’d like to see things run more smoothly.