Fitness Swellness: Nike Women’s San Francisco Half-marathon race report

October 24, 2014

post Nike Women's San Fran Half

“So maybe I should go see a shrink like Coach Bennett said to…”

Yes, Bennett (the Nike+ coach in NYC) straight up told me to see a psychologist when I told him I was running the Chicago Marathon aaand the Nike Women’s Half in San Fran one week apart. I believe he said it in jest…or maybe it was one of those jokes you make but you’re really trying to tell someone the cold-hard truth.

And I’ll admit that this definitely ran through my mind in the week after the Chicago Marathon. Especially as I ran 10k on the Thursday (as recommended by Coach Bennett) four days after Chicago–I wasn’t horribly sore, but I did feel a bit weary and tired and definitely was grateful to take it mega slow and easy as he’d recommended. Given how this run felt, I skipped running on Friday, even though he’d suggested another one-hour run that day. The only other run I did was a 3-mile shakeout run in  San Fran with Nike, which started near the Golden Gate Bridge on the gorgeous Saturday morning.

morning shakeout run in San Fran with Nike

If you’re not a runner — well, know that it can take quite some time to recover  after a marathon or a half . There are some that say that it takes as many days as the number of miles (ie. I should have spent the 26 days after Chicago just recovering, and not running 13.1 miles seven days after). Some say it can take up to a month to recover after running a marathon.

What was my goal for #werunSF, you ask?

So in the two months leading up to the Chicago Marathon and San Fran half, I told a few friends that I wanted to PB in both races. And, yes, everyone more or less thought I was crazy. But…I needed something to feel in control of, and strong about, and so, my lofty goals. ” First focus on Chicago and then see how you feel after that,” said my running buddy. I knew she was right.

Then,as you may have read in my race report, the Chicago Marathon went really, really well for me. But I’d worked myself into such a tizzy leading  up to it, I just felt spent mentally in terms of setting a goal for San Fran. And so I was less goal-oriented right after completing it. What I did know was that I ultimately wanted to run a personal best, but I also knew that:

(1) my body and mental state was tired after running the full in Chicago

(2) I’m now conditioned and trained to run a marathon distance, not a half-marathon distance. The past three years I’ve been training to run marathons (and have run a couple of Around the Bay 30k races, too)

(3) it’d be smart to look at the San Fran half as a fun race to complete, rather than one for my record books

And yet, still, that inner (crazy) runner voice told me, “No, you should try to PB.” My previous fastest was 1:54 and that was several years ago–I haven’t raced a half in at least three years. Looking at my most recent marathon times, I could see that I ran the first 21.1k in about 1:52, so I set a goal of 1:51.

Nike Women’s San Francisco Half-marathon — race day!

Talk about perfect weather conditions: foggy (so it was almost like we were being sprayed by an Evian atomizer the entire race) and about 10C at 6AM and warming to about 15C by 9AM. Not so ideal was the rest and sleep I was getting; what with the travel, time change, dinner with the Nike team and a bit of sightseeing in  San Fran, I could’ve used more sleep and time off of my feet.

pre-race the morning of werunSF

Because I’d been so focused on Chicago, I’d done little research in advance about this Nike race. The route was new, but I didn’t study it heavily. I knew from the elevations map to expect more hills than the previous route. I’d never found the old route to be too strenuous, so I told my fellow runners in my Nike Toronto crew (Sasha Exeter of, Justine Iaboni of Kenton Magazine and Melissa Greer of Best Health) that the hills should be very manageable…that is, until I took a good look at the route map the night prior to the race and noticed we were running through the centre of San Fran (which I know can get hilly — whereas the previous route brought us along the flat Embarcadero to start). Uh oh. (Plus, I was so unprepared that I had also completely forgotten to print out a pace band for myself, so I scribbled down my splits onto a piece of paper the morning of the race. But at least my nails were race-ready — did you see my marathon mani?)

And sure enough, the race started with a nice long incline, and it only got steeper from there. Culminating in a killer hill at the 10-mile mark. “What the–?” It was a very long and very tough hill (at least as tough if not tougher than the horrible hill in Around the Bay 30k) and my pace had slowed so much on this hill that I figured walking would be the same pace, and so I walked up about a third of it. I was not a happy camper and I knew that Sasha was likely cursing my name for being so adamant the hills would not be terrible. She and I started the race together and pretty much ran most of it together or within steps of each other. With about a third of the hill to go, I gave her a thumbs up, she nodded, and we started running again.

With so much fog, it was hard to enjoy much scenery (and disappointingly, there seemed to be very little spectator support this race — but I loved the marching bands and all of the cheerleading squads — former cheerleader myself and all, I have a soft spot for the sport).

That said, I was likely huffing and puffing too much to take in much of the foggy pretty views anyhow. To run a 1:51, I had to maintain a 5:15 pace…and I was having a rough time with that. I think I might’ve been able to do so on a flat route, but these hills were kicking my butt. I thought several times during this half-marathon how it was feeling way rougher and grueling than the Chicago Marathon (in fact, not once during Chicago did I think “I would reaaaaaaallllly like to not be running right now,” which is a thought I’ve always had when running a full.).

I knew, though, that I’d likely run a PB, and changed my focus to simply running faster than a 1:54…

And sure, enough, I did! I ran 1:52:14. I finished 1,132nd overall (I believe there were just over 20,000 runners) and 106 out of 2,924 in my division (ie. in the top 5 percent of my division).

With Sasha Exeter after Nike Women's Half-Marathon 2014

I was happy at the finish line, and even happier when I saw the doughnuts, full bar and breakfast spread in the very posh VIP tent located right by the finish line where I was hoping to see the rest of the Nike Toronto crew cross the finish line. And I was super thrilled when I found Sasha in the finish area and we celebrated together with mimosas — she ran a fantastic half, her very first, and I’d seen her struggling in the last few kilometres (thanks to a knee issue) but knew we had finished very close to one another. She’d talked me out of my stressed-out mode pre-Chicago Marathon, so I hope I was there as a support to her for this!

doughnuts in the Nike VIP

And with that, my 2014 race season is over. A big, big thank you to Nike Canada for hosting me to run this incredible race. Training with my fellow media girls has been an incredible experience, and, well, as always the gear is totally on point and this has only made me more fond of running (remember, it’s not true love for me). So now what? Onto setting goals for 2015! Oh, and yes, the pretty medal for #werunSF, yes, it’s from Tiffany & Co. as always!

Nike Women's San Francisco Half-Marathon medal 2014


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