Fitness Swellness: 2013 Nike Women’s Marathon San Francisco Marathon race report

October 25, 2013


Marathon #4, the Nike Women’s San Francisco Marathon: DONE.

Last Sunday, October 20, 2013, I ran the Nike  Women’s Marathon in San Francisco. I always get nervous before a race, but I was pretty anxious about this one. Why’s that?

I’ve mostly approached my first three marathons with a general goal of finishing. To help me pace, I have a finish time in mind but typically think of it as a way to run an even pace rather than a goal I have my heart set on acheiving. There are so many factors that can go right or wrong on race day and I still feel like a newbie marathoner so I just aim to do what I can do. I feel like there’s only so much I can ask of my body to accomplish!

And that was what I had in mind for NWMSF, too…until the last month of training. Even though I was traveling a lot (and thus eating rich foods, lacking sleep, plus I took one week off of running), my training seemed to all of a sudden take a turn for the better. I saw my pace for my long runs improve (without me feeling like I was exerting myself too much), so I started toying with the idea that I could run a personal best in San Fran. Could it be?! Could I run a faster 42.2 kilometres when my two fastest have solidly been at the 4:06 mark?

I decided I should go for it. Then, I did hit a snag in my last week pre-race: I caught a cold. Which meant I missed my last long run of 16k, and I was sniffling right up until two days before the race. I did my best to remind myself that my body was trained for the race and that a little cold wasn’t enough to take me down.

But would the hills be enough to take me down? Hills are not my strength. But the first half of the marathon is essentially the route for the half-marathoners, and I ran the half in 2011 and I don’t recall it being that hilly. Not so, said Marie Purvis, Nike Master Trainer (we chatted on the phone a month pre-NWMSF). “The front half is really hilly and steep hills at that, and then the back half of the full is flat,” she said. She recommended for my training to do hill sprints one day, with my long runs on flat roads the day after.

Other tips from Purvis? Be prepared for the second half of the race mentally. “You have to pass the finish line twice, and that messed with me mentally, plus there is much less support on the last part along the highway,” she said. She suggested having one part of my cheer squad at the finish line turnoff for the half marathoners and another cheerer along the stretch of the highway. (I didn’t have a cheer squad accompanying me, though, but she and Nike promised to cheer me on.)

NWMSF in Golden Gate Park

On race day:

The day of the race was cool and the high of the day was forecast to be 18C. Which was, in my opinion, perfect running weather. It was cold enough that I wasn’t sweating buckets, yet warm enough to run in a tank top and shorts.

The race started at 6:30AM with fireworks at the start line and some great girl-power songs from Beyonce and Katy Perry (and NKOTB’s Step by Step was the first song my iPod on shuffle played — how happy was I!?). It’s really an incredible race to run–to be surrounded by so many like-minded women, and especially all of the runners (like those in Team in Training) who in the 10 years of the race have raise more than $143 million dollars for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Back to the route: Um, how did I not think the first half was hilly?! It is very hilly. I think I didn’t think it was that bad because in 2011, I ran it for fun and basically took my time as I hadn’t been full-on training leading up to it. There was the very long, neverending hill at about the 9k mark (the one hill I did remember being tough in 2011)…and just when you think “well, that hill I crushed!” there’s another one right after (and all of the other hills, which I somehow didn’t notice too much two years ago).

I also managed to forget that Purvis said you see the half-marathoners turn off on their route twice, and yes, that does mess with your mind a bit. I looked at them longingly, majorly wishing I’d only registered for the half.

The last half is delightfully mostly flat; not so delightful is the drab scenery and yes, there’s definitely the decreased level of support Purvis mentioned. I do recall there being a camera broadcasting us on a big screen, so that’s a nice distraction for about a minute, of looking for yourself on camera. And on another big screen they were showing words of motivation along with your name (I remember actually saying out loud “That’s me!” when I read “Greatness has no peak, Karen!” and feeling like a nerd. But you (or at least I) start to grasp for anything  motivating or entertaining when running for hours.

With the route mostly marked in miles, I wasn’t too sure how on point my pace in km was, but I felt like I was hovering around the pace I wanted to be at (I was looking to stay in the 5:30 to 5:35/km pace — given that I needed to be at 5:41/km to reach my goal time of four hours (specifically, I was aiming for anything faster than 4:00:59 — which is to say about five minutes faster than my marathon PB in Vancouver).

I felt strong most of the race, but faltered (as usual) in the last 6k or so. I was tired. The turnaround point to trace back towards the fiinish line never seemed to be appearing. At the 40k mark, my iPod played “I Want It That Way” by the Backstreet Boys and that gave me a bit of a boost. I wasn’t sure how close I was to reaching my goal but at that point, I didn’t feel like I could run any faster than I was. I crossed the finish line, got my Tiffany medal, took pictures with the fire fighters (I can barely sit up in their arms cuz my body feels like jello), tried to keep warm with a thermal blanket, made sure to snack (much thanks to the sweet girl in the fireman photo line with me who gave me a Luna bar when said I needed to get some food in my belly), and went to check my results.

And whaddya know, I squeaked in just under my goal time with a time of 4 hours and 53 seconds! Yeaaaaaah, buddy!

An incredible race. And now, onto the Philadelphia Marathon on November 17th. Cuz, ya know, one marathon a season just isn’t enough anymore. More on that in another post.

NWMSF with the firemen


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4 Comments Leave a Comment

  • 1. Health & Swellness &r&hellip  |  October 31, 2013 at 3:09 PM

    […] ran the first one a week and a half ago — the Nike Women’s Marathon in  San Francisco. And I PB’d! […]

  • 2. Health & Swellness &r&hellip  |  November 1, 2013 at 4:57 PM

    […] How this nail-art makes me feel: Like I totally had to ROCK that Nike Women’s Marathon. I could hardly have “Booyah” on my nails and run my slowest marathon ever could I? And whaddyaknow, I ran my fastest marathon to date! […]

  • 3. Health & Swellness &r&hellip  |  November 27, 2013 at 12:39 AM

    […] Because of these two reasons, for this race season, I decided that my goal race where I would try to run a PB would be the Nike Women’s Marathon (NWM) in SF. And I met my goal! (Read about that race here.) […]

  • 4. domain  |  October 12, 2014 at 4:11 AM

    My brother suggested I might like this blog. He was entirely right.
    This post truly made my day. You can not imagine just how much time I had spent for
    this info! Thanks!

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