The inaugural Nike Women’s Half Marathon in DC happened on a beautiful April morning, and before the race even started, I was already regretting my decision to wear arm-warmers. I knew I would end up yanking them down quickly because it was really nice outside, but then I also thought that maybe I’d need them to wipe my nose (gross, sorry). Anyway, the point of that was that it was a gorgeous day for a half marathon!
The race started at 7am in Freedom Square (a place I am very familiar with since Pacers does most of their 8Ks there), which meant my third Sunday in 4 weeks with a 4am hour wake-up call and Metro ride. I arrived around 6am, and was surprised by how short the bathroom lines were, so of course I had to take advantage. After that, it was all about killing time before the 6:45 pace corral call & warm-up. I decided a little bit too late that I wanted another bathroom trip before the race, and wasn’t able to accommodate that because then I wouldn’t have made it to the start on time. I was hoping to avoid a mid-race bathroom stop, but alas, not this time.
Once we were all in our pace corrals, we had a fun dancing warm-up, some speakers, and some introductions of amazing people (like Olympic medal-winning runners). Also, Ellie Goulding, the singer, was running this race with us! Before the national anthem, we had a moment of silence for Boston where you could literally hear a pin drop. It was an emotionally charged moment (at least up in my pace corral), with some people crying. I couldn’t help but tear up, too. It was such a poignant moment to share with fellow runners, especially as you are staring at the Capitol building in the distance. Once we finished the national anthem, it was go time!
I was in the 7:30-8:59 pace corral which was really far up (the sub-6 min to 8:59 pace corrals were very small; the bulk of runners were in the corrals behind us), and I think being so far up allowed us to avoid most of the issues I’ve heard some others faced, like a long wait before crossing the start, walkers who didn’t know race etiquette, people tripping over each other, etc. I definitely felt like the first mile was crowded, though, but I ended up going faster than I thought (too fast, I think). One thing I think could have been improved was adding a stagger start instead of a waterfall start. While I didn’t feel like I had people at my heels, I felt like I was at other people’s heels.
Miles 1-4 took us through L’Enfant Plaza, Washington Monument, Memorial Bridge, & Lincoln Memorial. Kennedy Center was mile 5 (I swear, it is mile 5 in every race I do down there), and here is where I got the clue that I started off way too fast. Apparently, I was ahead of the 8:24 pace group for the entire first 5 miles, which is exciting, but also a lot faster than I should have been going (my goal pace was around 8:40ish), and not something I thought I could maintain for another 8 miles. I let them pass me, but still tried to keep them in my sight a little bit. Even though I started off way too fast, it made me feel like I could slow it down a little bit later on if needed because I “made up” so much time on the front end.
Miles 6-1o took us through George Mason Memorial, Hains Point, & Jefferson Memorial. The George Mason University band, the Green Machine, was playing around here! So fun to see people you “know.” Hains Point, though, is seriously never-ending. It was here that I was like, “I need a bathroom break or that’s all I’m thinking about for the rest of the race!” Hydration has its downfalls! Luckily, there was a park bathroom off to the side so I didn’t need to mess with Port-a-Potties. Also during this time, I was completely expecting my knee to act up (it usually happens around mile 7 or 8), but nothing happened. It was really bizarre. Getting to mile 10 was easy (except for a large hill around 9.5 that I don’t think people expected bc the course was said to be flat), and getting through mile 10 was easy-ish, but miles 11 and 12 were so hard. I remember seeing that the Lululemon cheer squad would be at mile 11.75, so I kept saying, “just look for them, then you are almost done!” but I never saw them, so that marker was nonexistent for me.
At that point, I was just ready to be done, but kept telling myself that I didn’t want to feel disappointed in myself at the end, I had brunch plans to make, and sweet little baby faces waiting for me at the finish line. What I did let myself do, though, was have a few quick walk & drink breaks since I hadn’t stopped at any of the previous hydration stations. Maybe 2-3 15 second breaks? Then it was back to it! At mile 11, they sent us back out past the finish for another 2 miles. Torture. Complete torture. Even though I knew this was coming, it was still awful. Once you rounded out the circle area in front of the Capitol Building, the rest of the course was a straight-away to the finish line, and you could see that bright green beacon of heaven as soon as you made the turn. I will say, though, that the straight-away was deceptively long. It just seemed like it was never getting closer! Usually when I see the finish, I don’t pick up my pace too much until I’m really close simply because of things like this. I definitely saw some people burn themselves out in that section BUT as one of the signs said, “You can’t walk now! You have people watching you!” so there was no walking for me 😉
Crossing the finish line was a great feeling, too, because I met the goal I had set, so no regrets! And of course, having a little blue Tiffany box handed to you by a handsome man in a tux was a perk, too. I think every post-race amenity was provided to us by handsome men, ha. I was able to speed through the finisher chute (not too many people were back there at that point), and met up with my favorite supporters. I have to say, nothing makes my heart melt more than hearing Audrey say (unprompted), “I am so proud of you, Mommy!” She does this after almost every race that she comes to, and I just love it. I also love that she and Caroline are seeing things like this because these environments are so good for them to witness.
Overall, I had a great run! Crowd support was good, logistics were great, weather was amazing. There were tons of aid stations, including 2 Luna bar stations, and one other supplement-y station (can’t remember because, like I said, I just don’t tend to stop). There were some pretty entertaining signs, too, with my favorite being “Binders full of runners!” and a more x-rated “We know it’s long & hard…but when is that ever a problem?” (sign held up by a woman, so it’s not quite as wrong). There were also tons of “Hey girl…Ryan Gosling/puppies/Channing Tatum/bling is waiting for you at mile 13!” signs, too. Even though my knee didn’t act up, currently I am dealing with pretty bad muscle pain between my upper thigh and pelvis (adductor muscle?). This is a completely new pain to me, and it is really painful. Icing & Bayer will be my new best friends for a while. If it’s not one thing, it’s the other…I’m getting so old over here 😉
I finished in 1:54:51 (watch time, not including potty break) which is about 8:40 min/mile. Official clock time was 1:55:52. My goal was to beat my disappointing Rock ‘n’ Roll performance and to come in under 2 hours, and under a 9 min/mile pace. Check, check, and check! My goal time was really somewhere around 1:54, and I hit that, so hooray!
1844 out of 15,000+ total (12%)
523 out of 3744 in my age division (13%)
5K – 26:07
10K – 52:37 (26:31)
15K – 1:21:13 (28:37)
20K – 1:50:09 (28:57)
Enjoy some photos from the beautiful day!