This race last year was my PR half marathon race at 1:54 (official clock time = 1:55). That put a little bit of pressure on me to run another PR this time around but for many reasons, that didn’t happen. I have mixed feelings on not making it, but it really wasn’t my day, and when it all comes down to it, I am not as well prepared as I was last year. I’ve also been opting more to run pressure-free races because that is far more enjoyable. Then again, when I cross the finish line in a slower time than I’ve seen before, I am not always happy about it, so it’s a balance I am still working on.
Anyway, I LOVE this race. I think this may be my favorite DC race, and it’s only 2 years old! I had a wonderful experience at last year’s inaugural Nike Women’s 1/2 DC, and this year’s logistics and experience were even better. One thing that I didn’t like about last year’s race was that packet pick-up was in Georgetown only, and that is really inconvenient for a lot of people. Nike listened, though, and offered early packet pickup for locals at a few area running stores. This was so much better! Another complaint that I heard from people last year was that the course was so crowded. I didn’t really feel that as much because I was in the second pace corral (and not many were in the first) so we were towards the front, but the people behind were pretty bottle-necked. Nike fixed that, too, by using a wave start this year. They also cleaned up the finisher/celebration area and organized it better, and we got lots more goodies (awesome NWM water bottles that were pre-filled with water, huge bottles of chocolate milk, a goodie bag from Whole Foods, etc)…AND the necklace was a huge improvement over last year’s. I might actually wear mine this time around! AND Shalane Flanagan & Joan Benoit Samuelson opened the race AND ran it – this was less than a week after Boston. Bad ass.
The course itself was really fun and picturesque. The finish line photos with the Capitol in the background underscore that for sure. I was so happy they revamped the course so that we weren’t hanging around so close to the finish line for 2-3 miles this year, unlike last year – that was torture! Instead, we did that part at the beginning of the race this year. Running through the tunnel at mile 1.5-2 was so fun and LOUD, especially with the drum band there. There was also a lit-up We Run DC sign there, and we got to run through the tunnel twice. The energy was crazy! I wish I had taken a picture, but I am not one of those people who can do that while running. The bands on the course were awesome (including Mason’s Green Machine right before Hains Point!), and little C LOVED the drum band at the finish line – spontaneous toddler dance party? Check!
There were two areas with HUGE TV screens that played personalized messages to you as you crossed a certain point. One was at the halfway mark and the other was at the 20K. It was so cool to see your name up there! There were Shot Blok stations, Luna bar stations, and even a Whole Foods chocolate stop at mile 11…I’m not sure who can eat chocolate at mile 11 of a half marathon when it isn’t next to a water station, but based on the wrappers on the ground, some people did! Nike really rolled out the red carpet for all of the runners. The spectators were awesome, too! There were even some on Hains Point which is so unusual.
I swiped some pictures from the Run Nike Women FB page because they did such a great job capturing some of the fun aspects of the race:
My race was not so pretty, but I tried to enjoy the atmosphere. I thought I had had enough bathroom trips prior to the start of the race (is 2 not enough?!) but ended up veering off at mile 3 to make another quick stop. At this point, I felt like my goal of PRing was gone, but I knew I would end up stopping at some point along the course, and since I was in Wave 1 and towards the front of the pack, I decided to stop when there were no lines. I was also fighting a sinus infection during the race (started w/ a sore throat that Friday night…), and breathing was tough (though definitely not as tough as running w/ bronchitis!) I started getting chills at mile 7 or 8, and ended up taking a walki break because it freaked me out. I didn’t know if it was from dehydration or being sick, but why play with fire? I texted Brian at that point (first time ever texting someone mid-race) to say I was really struggling and not feeling well, but he told me that I needed to get my butt to the finish because I had two sweet cheerleaders on their way! I made it a goal to run until water stops and then take as long of a walk break as needed. I should say I had an awful race, but once I accepted that a PR was not happening and decided instead to enjoy the race, I had a much better time. Final Garmin time was 2:04 and change. Maybe someday this season I will hit my sub-2 1/2 marathon again…if not, whatever! There is always next fall during marathon training! I have two more chances this spring, but they will be challenging halves!
Sorry if this post is disjointed – it feels like it is to me, but I am still in my sinus infection-induced haze, so who knows! Long story short – I love this race, and can’t wait for next year’s!