Race Recap: San Francisco Nike Women’s Half Marathon (10/19/2014)

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Before I recap the race, let me explain what it took to get here. Having a solid running group was integral to my training. I really only started seriously running two years ago when I did my first 5K (GoodLife) followed by my first 10K (Sporting Life 10K) in the spring of 2013. Leading up to San Fran, I had a good fitness background but in the months prior I had been running only occasionally and focusing heavily on bootcamp classes in order to tone up for my August 16th wedding. After an amazing wedding and honeymoon it wasn’t until my first day back that I got the official invite from Nike Canada to run the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in San Francisco, which benefits The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). It meant I had just eight weeks to train (Yikes!) but there was no way I could pass up the opportunity! Here’s a look at what my training schedule looked like.

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This amazing fridge magnet was a gift from Nike’s Danielle Gibson and it served as a daily reminder of what I was working toward. (Plus, my workout regimen looked pretty badass on the fridge when friends came over to visit.)

Anyways, as I said, having a group to run with was crucial for me, especially once I started to log longer distances. I trained weekly (every Wednesday evening) with the Queen West Nike Run Club. I was also part of a rad group of women who were also training for San Fran (Sasha Exeter of SoSasha.com, Justine Iaboni of JetSetJustine.com and Karen Kwan of HealthandSwellness.com). Danielle from Nike arranged regular meet-ups for us to train together, which included an NTC class with Nike Master Trainer Eva Redpath, speed work with the Toronto Eaton Centre Nike Run Club, hill training and hydration tips at Greenhouse Juices and an incredible long run in Central Park where we got expert tips from Coach Bennett, a NYC Nike Running Coach. Two weeks out from San Francisco I logged my longest run (ever!): 20.1 km. I was feeling ready and well prepared thanks to help from my #WeRunSF crew and Nike Canada. Which brings me to race day…

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I woke up at 5:00 a.m. and had a Vega Protein bar and a banana for breakfast before meeting the rest of my running crew in the lobby of the Clift Hotel where we were staying. From there it was a short walk to the starting line for our 6:30 a.m. race start time. It was still dark and a bit cool but I neglected to bring a sweater because I knew I would warm up quickly once I started running. I had tried to study the route map a little so that I would know roughly when to expect water stations and to set out a plan of when I would take my Vega gels. Once I was off and running the adrenaline set in and I was ready to settle into a comfortable pace and enjoy the sights of the city! I felt good starting off and my legs loosened up after a few kilometers – also around the time the sun came up. The cheer stations along the course helped with motivation. My favourite was this gospel choir at the bottom of the first hill.

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The course looped through Golden Gate Park, which was a great route. I got to take in the beautiful scenery and it helped to know I was running toward the Golden Gate Bridge. Then, at the 10 mile mark there was a monster hill. I attempted to run it but in hindsight I think I could have walked it at roughly the same speed. The last three miles were painful for me. Despite my best efforts to keep hydrated and consume electrolytes, my feet were cramping. My left knee was also paining me due not to running up the hills, but actually from the impact going downhill. The last mile I ran my fastest and was overcome with emotion as I crossed the finish line. I was so proud of myself and after collecting my Tiffany finisher necklace I just wanted to find my husband in the crowd and eat something!

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My official finish time was 2:26:59 and I placed in the top half of my age group (2201/5209). I was hoping to finish in under 2:30:00 so I’m pleased with my results. This time I was mostly concerned with conquering those hills, so next time I’ll work on my speed. A total of 25,000 incredible women (and a few men!) ran San Fran, and for 8,000 of us, it was our first half marathon. A big congratulations to everyone!

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