First, let me say that I’ve been awake since 4:45 AM, I’m alone in the house while the boys attend a kid’s birthday party, and I’m not even napping. Guys, I’m totally doing this wrong.
Longtime readers will know that after last year’s Nike Women’s Marathon, my feelings about a repeat performance ranged from “we’ll see” to “no effing way,” depending on my mood. And yet I came back and captained a Team in Training group that was going to Nike. I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t have my doubts about this.
Let me tell you this upfront: the Nike experience was vastly improved this year, at least at the starting line. I’ll give credit where credit is due.
There were actual corrals this year, corrals that were semi-enforced. Each corral had its own set of bag drop buses and porta potties, which meant that you had every incentive to get to your corral and actually stay there, not drift into the 8:00/mile pace group because that was where the bathrooms were. Everything was smooth, efficient and so easy to navigate that a group of six of us actually managed to rendezvous at the start. Pretty amazing in a crowd of 25,000, if you ask me.
Best corral moment: while discussing our laid-back race approach — no time goals, no pressure — we were passed by a woman using a walker. Kudos to her for attempting 13.1 very hilly miles with a walker, but really? Were we seriously passed by someone pushing a walker?
- The absolutely amazing gospel choir that appears every year to serenade us as we cruise along the Embarcadero.
- The absolute absurdity of 100+ runners belting out “Call Me Maybe” as we ran along the Marina.
- The guy in the Presidio who, using a traffic cone as a megaphone, shouted at random passersby, “You’re so pretty! No, really! I like hot, sweaty women.”
- The women in the Presidio area who were looking all over for the Golden Gate Bridge, which was completely obscured by fog.
- My friend Greg who met me with a resupply of water and kindness at Mile 8, and serving as an unofficial race photographer for runners who wanted their photos taken with the “I’ll prove them wrong” sign.
- Unexpectedly running into Coach Tim in Golden Gate Park; I thought he was working the full marathon half of the course, so seeing him made me ridiculously cheerful.
- Having enough energy to finish strong and run the final stretch.
That’s the part where a thoughtful, tuxedoed firefighter hands you a Tiffany blue box. There are worse ways to end a race.
But oh, Nike. That post-race chute is absolute insanity. There has to be a better way. It took me a solid 20 minutes to get between the finish line crossover and the end of the chute. True, there was a lot of distance covered in picking up food, drinks, finisher’s tees, etc., but there was a lot of time spent just standing in the misty rain, wrapped in a foil blanket, not able to move.
On the bright side, though, the bag drop buses were a million times easier to navigate this year, and aside from the volunteer not being able to find my bag in the first, second or third attempt (as I panicked slightly), it was all good.
Every time I do a half marathon, I think to myself, “I’m really not suited for this distance.” The longer the distances are, the slower I get. I really think that in an ideal world, I should work on my speed at 5k and 10k distances, and just maintain that level of fitness all the time. But then again, would I really train without Coach Tim to push me? Something to think about.
But more immediately, I have a massage to look forward to tomorrow night.
How’s your training going?