Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Nike Women's Half Marathon DC - Race Review

Ready for Race Day!
My alarm went off at 5am and I woke up feeling a little nervous. I couldn't believe race day was already here. I ate my pre-race breakfast of a bagel and peanut butter and kept hydrated with water and gatorade. I had laid out "flat Lauren" the night before just to be sure I had everything and wouldn't have to think about it that morning. Right around 6am Bryan and I made our way out of the hotel towards the starting line. We stayed at the Grand Hyatt which was only a few blocks away, a quick 5-10 minute walk. 

One of the 3 gear check areas
I decided not to check a bag and would just have Bryan bring flip flops for me to change into after. If you did have a bag to check the areas were divided into 3 separate locations depending on bib number. Since we had some time to kill we just looked around to see where everything was located and to figure out a good spot to meet up after. Soon enough they were asking everyone to get into their corrals to get ready. Both Shalane Flanagan and Joan Benoit Samuelson were there to kick off the race but unfortunately I couldn't really see or hear them from where I was. Right at 7am the race started with the first wave. There were 3 waves total which started about 5 minutes apart each. I began in the 3rd wave just about 15 minutes after the race start.

The view form my corral

They were AWESOME

We started out heading towards The Capitol and already there was tons of on course support. We passed this bad ass (there's no other way to describe them) all women drum line. They were AMAZING and really got you pumped up. Right after that I passed a spectator with a "may the course be with you sign" dressed up as Princess Lea. The FULL get up people, side buns and all. Bravo Princess, I applaud and thank you for your dedication.

This video doesn't even do justice to how
cool this section was
Around mile 2 we went into "the tunnel" that I've heard about. All I can say is WOW, this was my absolute favorite spot on the course. You go in and immediately you can feel the drums reverberating off the walls and completely engulfing you. It put a HUGE smile on my face and I decided I was going to just enjoy this race. I knew I was under trained so I was just going to enjoy all that the course had to offer me at whatever pace that may be. The "We Run" sign was also here, glowing for photo ops.

The We Run sign made its way into the tunnel 

Just past mile 2 I spotted some port-a-potties that didn't have a completely ridiculous line and jumped in. I waited about 5 minutes but I'm glad I went when I did because the lines were long at pretty much every stop throughout the whole race. It's a women's focused race, we've been hydrating like nobody's business, and we always have to pee all the time, of course bathrooms were in high demand. One thing that I did love that I think all races should incorporate was Nike had flags at each bathroom stop stating how many miles until the next stop- GENIUS! 

Photo: Nike
I quickly got back on the course, kept going past The National Mall, then out and back towards the Arlington Cemetery. I had started my intervals right after my bathroom stop and was feeling pretty good. I was tailing these 2 girls dressed as Aubrey Hepburn from Breakfast at Tiffany's and loved seeing their outfits the whole time! How had I not thought of that? I love anything Audrey, oh well next time. Right up until Mile 6 the crowd support was phenomenal. There were people cheering everywhere and it kept spirits high. Mile5/6 is usually where I find my groove and was feeling confident at this point. 

I kept trucking on until, uh-oh, my calves were cramping WAY early. Like mile 7 1/2 early. I said some curse words to myself because I knew this was the part of the course where there wasn't as much spectator support. I text Bryan "I think I'm going to walk a lot more than I wanted to." I was really annoyed at first but then I reminded myself, this race is more about the experience than the race. I knew I didn't put the training in to PR and wasn't expecting to. It was an absolutely beautiful day so I was going to walk/run as much as I could and take in as much as possible. 

I would run until I cramped, then switched to walking until that hurt and started cramping, and just kept repeating the vicious cycle. There was this one woman on the course around mile 8 1/2 that was handing out Oreos. Guys, I don't really even like Oreos but I had never been SO HAPPY to eat one in my life. I yelled "thank you" to her and loved every bit of sugar and chocolate that was being soaked up into my body. 

So close!

At this point I just kept telling myself "make it to mile 10 then you only have a 5K left." Once I made it there I felt like the end was in sight. I tried to run/walk as fast as my legs would let me. Around mile 12 the crowd support picked up again and this was what I needed to help push me through. I knew I was getting close so I text Bryan to see which side of the road he would be on. I headed back through the tunnel again, the drumming was not as intense this time since so many racers had already passed through. 

Bookin' it to the chocolate milk & Tiffany's

Outside the tunnel I knew I wasn't that far away. There was a giant screen greeting us by name like at the Expotique with words of encouragement. I was going to wait to see my name but then decided to just push through and get done. I saw Bryan in the crowd, made my way over long enough to yell "my calves hate me!" get a kiss and run off. At this point I could see the finish line in front of me so I took every ounce of energy left, powered through the finish line and threw my hands up in the air with excitement. 

I was exhuasted but so happy to be done. Some sweet woman who finished next to me said "good job!" and put her hand up to give me a high five. Me, still not being completely coherent looked at her like she had five heads, realized she wasn't talking to someone else behind me, realized what a jerk she probably thought I was, and said thank you and high fived her back. Real smooth Lauren. If you high fived me at the finish line THANK YOU and congratulations on your race, sorry I was so spaced out! 

My official finish time was 2:52:56, just 9 minutes behind my Wine & Dine time. For how early my calves started cramping, being sick withing the 2 weeks before the race, and how much more I should have trained, I was more than happy with that time. There are plenty of races for me to try and PR in the future, this was not one of them. 

Option 1

Option 2

After the finish line there was a good sized crowd that you unfortunately had to wait with. The first table you had to wait for was where they handed out water in reusable bottles that had the Nike Women's Half and the Whole Foods logo. I thought this was a nice touch and I'm sure helped with water bottle clean up after the race. The next table was food, which I was really disappointed in. We got some dried fruit, some nuts, a mini luna bar, and some other stuff I wasn't really interested in. Honestly, for a race of that size I think you should at least have bananas to offer your runners when they're done. I'm not sure if there was at one point but they ran out by the time I crossed. Either way, volunteers were scrambling to get everything into the bags to hand out to runners. Once we got our food and chocolate milk (YUM!) there was heat sheet distribution which was much needed at this point. 

Can you hear the choir of angels?!

Then, the moment we had all been waiting for-TIFFANY FINISHER NECKLACES! You could either go through a line where the guys just handed the box to you, or you could go to the line where the guys were holding the boxes on silver platters. Since I was feeling worn out and my calves did not want to stand in any more lines I chose the quicker option. 

Finisher area pre-race

There was also a finishers tent with mats and foam rollers-I completely missed this but probably would've taken advantage of it had I know. There was also another tent for finisher merchandise. The lines looked long to get it so I decided to skip it, I had spent enough money on merchandise for one weekend already! I finally located Bryan and my friend Colleen who had come to cheer me on. I switched into my heavenly gel flip flops to slowly stroll around to cool down. I was a happy girl and couldn't wait to celebrate my accomplishment with mimosas at brunch with my friends later!

Photo: Nike
Thanks for making me look so legit! Hopefully I'll be back next year!
Considering this is only Nike's 2nd year in DC, I think they listened to runners last year and made improvements for this year. Hopefully, this will only continue to happen as the race goes on. For a $175 race fee where you get a Tiffany's Necklace as your medal, I think this race is absolutely worth it and I would love to run it again in the future.

QOTD: Have you ever run a Nike Women's race? Would you ever consider running in DC or San Francisco?


  1. Awesome recap and pictures!!! I love the dressing up as Breakfast at Tiffany's idea - I think that is actually what Meg and Kristy did! I totally would have done that with you if we thought of it before the race!

    I think I am going to enter the SF lottery for this year - you think you will?

    1. Thank you! Yes, I saw Meg and Kristy did that too, so clever, wish we had thought of it!

      I think I'm going to have to wait on SF this year since I'll be at TOT right before that. Where's the job that pays you to go on racecations?!

  2. Congrats on your finish and your beautiful new necklace! Sorry your calves were giving you so much trouble, but way to push through it. I'm definitely going to try and get into this race next year (I would settle for either DC or SF, though getting to check off both would be nice).

    1. Thank you! Good luck in the lottery for both races. I have to admit, the SF race is slightly more intimidating with all those hills!

  3. Great job on pushing through! This race is on my list now!

    1. Thank you, I hope you get to experience it one day!