District of Columbia,
- 13.1 miles/Half Marathon, Other
- Road Race
Setting: National Mall and Tidal Basin Washington, DC
Cost/Registration: Registration is done by a lottery system. The cost was $160 (by far the most I have ever paid for a race!) and $120 if you can prove that you are a current college student with valid ID at packet pick up. Stay updated on registration for 2014 by liking the facebook page.
Expo: Or should I say "Expo-tique". Nike REALLY knows how to cater to the ladies. Seriously, this expo was fantastic. I could have spent HOURS here. After picking up our packets in the most stream lined and high tech packet pick up I had ever seen, we headed into the expo tent. (Note: No shirts are given out at packet pickup...they reserve them for finish line...more on that later). The expo and packet pick up was held directly on the Georgetown waterfront. What a location it was to showcase our city! Gorgeous! They placed the Expo-tique tent directly over the area where the fountains are....views of the water, boats and the perfect weather combined to make it a fabulous location. The expo began on a Thursday and continued through Friday and Saturday. We went Friday night after picking up my cousin Charline at Union Station. She was coming to run her very first half marathon. GO CHAR!
Entering into the tent, we could hear music from DJs spinning, it was dimly lit by chandeliers and we almost didn't know where to begin! I had heard that Nuun was going to be doing commemorative DC bottles just as they had done for Boston, so we headed to the tasting station first. Even though I had tasted all the flavors at the Rock and Roll DC expo, I figured it couldn't help to do it again. I was actually able to ask the Nuun reps for tips on how to get selected for the Hood To Coast Relay as well ;-) They asked for my blog name and said they'd check me out! I told them that I would definitely be applying again next year.
Then we moved on and had a make over done by Bare Minerals make up artists. They had a machine there that once you tweeted about your experience a free gift came out...my cousin got a tube of mascara! I couldn't remember my twitter passcode at the moment so I had to pass. Then we went over to the Paul Mitchell hair station and put our names in for the next appointment. We had about 30 minutes before it would be our turn so we decided to get a free gait analysis. I was told I had a neutral gait (which I knew) and was recommended the Pegasus or the Flyknit. I had already been eyeing the Flyknit for a while...the only hindrance has been the $160 price tag. The Pegasus felt a little bulky to me. When viewing the image of my foot hitting the sensor pad, I could tell that my gait was altered due to pain in my right quad. We then went over for our hair appointment and I was able to have my hair flat ironed and was given two free samples of the new Paul Mitchell dry shampoo. I love dry shampoo!
The expo also had a giant wall and asked everyone to sign it with why they run. That was neat to see all the signatures and reasons. Though it was Friday night and the wall was completely full. I am not sure they would be space for anyone coming on Saturday to sign!
The expo closed at 8pm and at 7:45pm, it basically erupted into a giant dance party as they played "Harlem Shake" on repeat. The DJs grabbed people and pulled them out to dance and people took turns in the circle showing off their moves. My Nike Fit Analyst even got out there with the worm! So so fun! It was too late at that point to head up to the Georgetown Nike Store to search for our names on the Name Wall, so we decided we would be back tomorrow to do so. We took one final photo out along the water with the giant glowing words, WE RUN. It was pretty neat because you could see it from the water and when you drive along the shore heading into Georgetown.
We came back on Saturday to see the Name Wall (names of every participant) and also just wanted to check on the waterfront one more time. I saw the line was MUCH longer for packet pick up. Readers: If you went on Saturday, was the line manageable? I found my name on the name wall! What a cool concept!
THE RACE: Got up at 4:45am the next morning in order to have a healthy breakfast of oatmeal with coconut and chia seeds and some coffee. We got all our stuff in order and headed out to catch the 5:45 metro into downtown. It was a bit early for my daughter but she was a good sport, albeit very cuddly on the ride down. The metro was full of runners and spectators. I love that. Of course who else is crazy enough to ride the Metro that early on a Sunday morning?
We arrived at Metro Center and rushed out to find bathrooms as soon as possible. Both Charline and I had to go. We look around everywhere and couldn't find them in sight of the start corrals. We asked a runner walking by and she told us they were down another street lining an entire block and gave us a insider's tip by telling us to head all the way to the end. So Charline and I took off running and considered it our warm up and ran all the way past the lines for the porta potties to the very end of the block, where there were NO LINES! Seriously, unheard of 30 mins before gun time. I could not be more excited. I guess most runners didn't want to add the extra block worth of walking/running before race time. It was totally worth it. We then jogged back, gave each other hugs and went to our corresponding corrals. I was placed in the 6:45-7:30 pace corral. I feel that must of been a mistake on Nike's part because there was no way that I registered saying I would be running a sub 1:38! My goal time was a 1:45 (which would have been one corral back). With being sick (diagnosed with strep throat Tuesday afternoon) and my quad muscle strain I knew I would not be running anywhere near the pace listed on my bracelet or my goal time of an 8:00 pace. I was thinking of starting in a further back corral, maybe the 9:00 to be safe, but then I saw how crowded those corrals were and decided to take my chances and start with my assigned corral. I am glad I did because there was so much space. The girls I was standing with at the start were all commenting on the fact we've never had so much room in a starting corral of a race before. It was really nice!
Nike began the race with introducing some notable women who would be running with us. Record holders and Olympians...the stories and intros were very inspirational. Nike asked for a shout out for all of those who were running their first half marathon and I gave a holler for my cousin Charline! We then had a moment of silence reflecting on the tragedy in Boston and the National Anthem. And then before I knew it, we were off and running. I had a lot of pent up energy I suppose because I took off running and completed my first mile at a 7:11 pace! After the second mile, my health started to get the better of me....the pain in my leg really took center stage and I could feel tightness in my chest that was making it hard to breathe from my strep throat. When I saw my husband at mile 3.5 to hand off my shirt, I shouted to him that "this is the hardest half marathon I've ever run!".
I was full of inner dialogue for the rest of the run. I was thinking to myself how we can be so disappointed when our bodies don't perform the way that we want them to. But, we are only human, we aren't machines and things like sickness and injury do happen. The best we can do is just to take it in stride. I just told myself to do the best I could with what I had available that day. After mile 4 was when I began to take walk breaks. The pain in my quad was running up to my hip and causing a lot of pain and tightness. When I saw the medical tent at mile 5 or so, I hopped out and asked them for some Ben-Gay. I spread it all over my thigh and hip of my right leg. So happy to have a full stocked medical tent there! (Unlike the medical tent at Gasparilla which didn't have band-aids!) I forged on, but the pain was still there. I took a walk break about every mile and stopped at each water station knowing that with being sick that week that hydration was VERY important. Normally in a half, I only stop for water once, because each second counts. I took my HumaGel at mile 5 to power me through the rest of the race.
One downside was I didn't see a single photographer during the course so I am not sure if there will be race photos or not. It could be that I was just in pain and therefore too focused to look around. Usually when I see a camera, I ham it up - smiles, waves, thumbs up....I didn't have that in me this time.
As we neared the end of the race, I really wasn't feeling so hot. I stopped at another Medical Tent to apply more Ben Gay. I was wishing I had brought some Tylenol along with me as well, but had forgotten to ask about that at the tent. My only motivation to keep going was it meant the sooner I would be done and could stop. I never have that mentality....I usually enjoy it all the way through! We went through a pretty long tunnel in which there was a drum band playing and it was giving me a terrible headache. The dark and coolness of the tunnel felt nice though. I got to see my husband again in front of the US Capitol building at Mile 11.5 and took out my ear buds to say to him, "Can you tell I am having a rough time?".
I was visably hobbling along at that point. I took a short walk break again after seeing him, and mentally prepared myself and told myself that I would run the very last mile without stopping. I almost couldn't do it. I was about half a mile from the finish and was about to slow down to a walk at two different points, but made myself power through. I didn't have energy to hand out high fives or even smile. Most races, I have enough pick me up that I sprint other finishers to the end, but I did not have that this time at all. I looked up and saw the clock as I was crossing the finish line and it said 1:58! I was shocked! With the amount of stops I made, the walking breaks, the visits to the medical tent - I could not believe I still pulled out a sub 2:00 finish. Of course it wasn't my 1:45 goal, but it was not bad at all. I was actually really really proud.
I made my way over to collect my finisher's prize - my blue Tiffany's box! I don't know if it was ever more deserved. A reader had given me a tip prior to running and told me to make sure I got a picture with my fireman, so I made sure to do so! I was about to try and take a self shot, when another runner offered to do it for me. So thankful! After the necklace pick up, we then headed through the shoot to pick up our t-shirts, which were of course Tiffany Blue. They have a great fit and I love it! It is a really nice shirt because it has no advertisements on the back, only what you see here.
I called my husband and found him and then we both tried to track Charline's progress towards the finish line using our "Find Your Friends" app. Once we saw that she had finished, we tried to text her our location. That was a little bit difficult because the area was so crowded and full of people all trying to do the same thing! A lot of texts weren't going through. We finally were able to find each other after I sent Jim off as a one man search party :-)
Grade: A+ Overall, I felt this was an AMAZING race. One of the best, if not the best, I have ever been a part of! Nike really knows how to put on a race. Even though, I hadn't run my goal time and wasn't as nearly as prepared as I had wanted to be (I've only run three times in the past 5.5 weeks!), I still persevered and finished. I loved everything about this race. This expo was amazing, the weather was fantastic, the course and scenery couldn't be beat, the finisher's prize, the finishers' t-shirt and everything else leading up to the race.
Nike did a great job of keeping in touch with participants and psyching them up leading up to race day. They put out a training plan, had motivations posted on their facebook page, they had artist Ellie Goulding (who I love!) as a spokesperson who trained along with us virtually and ran the race (bib #8 and she's fast!), they encouraged participants to post on twitter about their training with hashtags #werundc and #letsturnitup - which made me feel like I was part of something bigger.
One thing was I wish they had some protein at the end such as chocolate milk or bags of Almonds. They had Luna protein bars but they are too sugary for me. Nike- I hope you are listening out there ;-) (AND just like that - within minutes of posting this review to Run Nike Womens Series page, they responded! OMG! Seriously, amazing!)
It was just AWESOME. Thanks, Nike. I am hoping I am lucky enough to get in via lottery again next year! Laces Crossed! And until then, I will be wearing my necklace as much as possible as a reminder that we can all overcome the challenges set before us!