October 24, 2013

Nike Women's Marathon, We Run SF!

(See these two posts before: The Day Before, The Morning Of)

The Race: October 20th
(Bear with me. My recaps are long and I'm trying to sync up between three sources: Nike Running app, official Results, and iTunes)

The race started off like any other: my goal was to get out from behind the throngs of people. This, of course, made my first mile my fastest at 08'42''. YIKES. I was focused on passing people and getting warm, and most of the first mile was downhill anyways.... but still!

My music started off a little wonky - it was playing alphabetically instead of shuffling. I couldn't have any of that, so I fiddled around with it and accidentally paused my tracking and blahblah but basically didn't get my music set up until 10 minutes later (thank you, Last Played column of iTunes!).

Hook 'em! :)
I'm at the very right of the picture, in green!! Found it on the Nike Women's FB page.
Looks like I'm leading the pack in that picture, right?? :D

My mile splits are as follows:

Take this with a grain of salt. I quickly realized my mile markers were off at the halfway point, by just under a mile.

From the above, my first 3 miles were at a 09'02" pace, but as you can see below, my 5K time came in at an average of 09'56". Something's off! I'm definitely going with the 5K time here. This was done in darkness, as the sun didn't rise until 7:24am.

Official time! I know this is right. (The pace times are the average, overall time.)

From Mile 3.0 to 3.5, there was a small hill - about 71 feet of elevation. This wasn't bad and I only slowed down a little bit. It finally was getting a little lighter, but no sign of the fog lifting. I had my sunglasses on my forehead and was wondering if I'd ever use them.

More Hook 'em signs!

Right at Mile 5.9 there was this HUGE hill. HUGE.

The massive hill. Taken by Nike.

Official time
Climbing 240 ft in .9 miles. I mean, just look at that lovely view! We could see everything - the beach, the water.... oh wait.

After the hill, we had a nice downward slope until about mile marker 8. The downhills were where I made up a lot of my time, and I probably went down them with much more gusto than I realized. My legs were reallllly in pain by the end of it, and I'm sure I should have been a little softer on those downhill sprints. But my mind was on the time, always the time... so I figured slowing down on the uphill meant I had to speed up on those downhills. Remember it's my first marathon, y'all...

Apparently, according to nikeplus.com, I was the fastest around Mile 7.4. It's strange that I sped up almost 2 and a half minutes from Mile 7's average, but looking at the elevation and how hard I was pushing those downhills, it made sense.

Miles 8-9 were another huge hill - starting at around 72 ft and topping off at 232 ft right along the 15K marker.

Official time

On the downhills, my pace was in the 8s. From the 15K marker to Mile 10.4 it was alllll downhill. We went from 231 ft to sea level in a little over a mile - wow! I definitely felt like I was flying.

Mile 10 marker, allll downhill. Another Nike Picture.
I was still shocked by how many people there were around me. I kept dodging people, I even elbowed a few accidentally. I just wanted to get out of their way. Maybe that's why I started out so fast? I'm used to running by myself, so I'm really not used to running with a lot of bodies surrounding me. I think it was kind of a contact high, as well.

I was feeling pretty good at this point - I kept trying to break up the race into different sections (I never really succeeded at keeping a breakdown) and I think at Mile 10 I was thinking, Okay, I've just done a 2 mile warm-up and then an 8 mile out-and-back (which means just 4 miles and then back), and I just have to do the 8 miles two more times and then I'm done!

This mentality didn't really last long, but it kept me sane.

At mile 11, the half marathoners broke off from the marathoners. That was a strange point in the race - I guess I was surrounded by half marathoners, because once I went along my unique path in the fork in the road, I felt alone. So alone that I wondered if I was going the right way. And it was so weird that the split was at Mile 11, because I couldn't even think "Halfway point!" to myself yet. This is where the mental game really started for me.

Starting at around mile 11.5 was one of the last hills, but thankfully this one was pretty gradual.

At around mile 12.5 was when my Nike plus came on and told me I was at the halfway point. Uhhhh NOPE. That was discouraging, thinking that I'd be probably about a mile or farther away when it thought I was at the finish line. LE SIGH. It was at this point I knew my tracking was off and was a little annoyed.

Looking at it, since I was in the park, my GPS probably failed and was just completely off - by like, a mile - for the rest of the run. Greeeaat.

Finally we had reached the halfway point, but it didn't feel like it. I felt like the real race was just beginning.

Fog, Fog, Foggggg. Nike Pic.
I was now running with only the marathoners, until Mile 15 when we briefly met up with the half marathoners as they finished their last mile of the race. I knew we were running close to the finish line, which was super discouraging - a little voice in the back of my mind chirped up and said, You could just finish right now.

But I thought, Then all of this would have been for nothing. Keep going.

Thankfully, most of Miles 14 and 15 were at a slight downhill slope. It was around here that I noticed the 04:30 pace group and tried to keep up with them, or stay slightly ahead of them. Throughout most of these downhill miles, I was ahead.

Mile 16 was the start of the Great Highway and the real beginning of my mental and physical struggle. I knew it was an out and back the whole remainder of the race (I could have sworn that we went around Lake Merced at one point) which is a huge internal struggle for me. Granted, I had 10.2 miles to go - but even breaking it up into ~5 miles out, and ~5 miles back was hard.

It was a little more than 2 miles down the Great Highway alone, and I dunno about you, but that's a long way to run without any nice beach to look at. Sure, there were spectators, but too many of them and you'll really start to not notice them, you know?

I did notice the elite runners running on the opposite side of the road and thought it was cool that I was witnessing several Boston Marathon qualifying runs.

I was feeling pretty good at this point. I knew I was ahead of the pace group. I was cruising at a pretty fast pace for having been running for 15 miles (though at this point in the race, it was pretty flat), and I didn't really have any pain quite yet. The aid stations were great - I would stop at every other one for some Nuun, and along the Great Highway I grabbed a handful of pretzels for the salt, and had a couple more Clif Shot Bloks in addition to the ones I was already carrying.

The Great Highway Miles

After the 30K mark, we curved around to run alongside Lake Merced. (This was the only point that I put on my sunglasses!) All along Lake Merced, until you got to the turn-around point, were the slightest uphill. But at this point, the second the hill started to slope upwards, I felt it in my hips. My right hip, specifically.

I wanted to keep running until Mile 20. I had that point bookmarked in my mind as the point where every step after that would be the longest run ever. I wanted needed to run constantly up to that point for my mental game. Thankfully I succeeded - I saw the little time marker that said Mile 20 and mentally told myself, Just an hour more to go. Which may or may not have helped.

After Mile 20 is when I started to walk. My right hip was killing me, it was so tight. I battled for a few strides whether or not I should just start running really slow, or straight up start walking. I was afraid that if I started to walk, then I wouldn't be able to start running afterwards. After a few seconds I realized that I just couldn't go on like this, and something had to give.

I mean.. what kind of marathon photographer takes a picture of someone walking?!?

My walk was at a brisk (well, as brisk as I could make it) pace but a walk all the same. I saw the pace group pass me and started to alter my goal to just finish under 5 hours. As soon as I started to feel some relief, it took a couple more paces to convince myself to start running again, with no idea of how it would feel when I did.

Thankfully running again wasn't a problem. The first few strides were strange feeling, but I got my pace back eventually. I tried not to walk again, but had to after Mile 21 as well.

Thankfully my pace only slowed about 10 seconds!
We were at the turnaround, and it was a straight shot to the finish line. I just had to go up one more massive (to me) hill and then I was home free.

I grabbed an extremely green banana (ugh) between Miles 22 and 23, walked more at the hill in Mile 23, finally made it to the beach portion of the miles (at Mile 23.5), and knew I just had to keep going and not stop.

After the 40K mark, I was listening to LoveGame by Lady Gaga, and suddenly I heard no more. Nooooo!! I looked down at my phone and pressed the button- nothing happened. I tried to fiddle with the on/off key. Nothing. No! No no no! Had my phone really died at the 40K mark?!? With 2K left to go???

So, it was just me and my thoughts at this point. I ran for a little bit with my headphones in but then I figured it was pointless so I took them out and wrapped them around my left arm. Some dude yelling encouraging words yelled at me - "Ahhh, she took her headphones out! Wow!" If only he knew that it was not by choice.

The only weird thing about the Great Highway miles were that people were just crossing the course as they pleased. I kept thinking I'd run into them. I hope I didn't subconsciously slow down to make sure I didn't... I swear, a surfer with a surfboard crossed right in front of me once. Like... dude. There's a marathon going on here. And it's foggy as fuck. Can't you postpone your surfing for a day??

Anyways. So, I ran. And ran. And ran.

Attempting to smile, with no music.

I couldn't even see the finish line, it was so foggy. Spectators kept telling us that it was just beyond the stop light, but I couldn't see any stop light. It was strange - as I approached, the crowd of people just kept looking denser and denser.. so dense that I wasn't exactly sure, from far away, where I needed to go. Of course, once I approached it became clear, but it wasn't very comforting to think that there wasn't much of a spectator fence. I kept thinking I was going to elbow someone.

In pain. Look at those people just... standing in the course. What.
Sooooo close.
Finally, I saw the stoplights (you can see them behind me in the picture above) and saw the Finish Line. I decided to sprint. Now you can see my "I'M IN PAIN" face!

The prettiest I have ever seen my face.
I sprinted, and sprinted, and sprinted, and finally crossed the finish line.

The look of relief.
I never know - which of those pads records the final time? Because I've clearly run over the first pad and the time says 04:52:28, but my chip says 04:52:29. 

What a beautiful face!! >.<
Thinking, "It's over!!"

I DID IT. I did it, I did it, I did it.

With no headphones, my ears were attuned to everything. I heard a distant "Hayley!!" and looked to my right, and saw JW standing right there at the finish line, waving towards me!

He had gotten there 2 minutes before I crossed the finish line. He had been texting me (so had three other people - I had 14 text messages waiting when I got my phone to turn back on) and had no idea if I had already finished or not, because he was running late and the tracking on the Nike site wasn't really working on his iPhone. He just happened to get to the finish line, wait for 3 minutes hoping that I was still running, and there I was!

Trying my best at a Run, Eat, Repeat pose - but I can't lift my back leg at all. Hah!
I got all my goodies and kept up with JW while we walked through to try and find an exit.

I look manic. And I'm wearing the space blanket wrong, go me!
The rest of the day and the rest of our trip is here!


  1. Congrats Hayley! You did great! Cannot imagine running in all that fog!

    1. Thanks!! The fog was pretty intense and I was disappointed that I didn't get to see any of the beautiful San Francisco views, but I slogged through it! :)

  2. Congrats! This is a super fun and amusing post. I am impressed with all the data you were able to pull together. GREAT JOB! now you can relax and think about your next race :) Or just relax. Being lost at the finish of a big race without a cell phone is my nightmare. So glad JW found you :)

    1. Thanks Amy! I'm known for my novel-length summaries... I never can tell a short story! All the data collecting took me about a day :P

  3. Congrats Haley! Such an awesome achievement! Shame about the fog and annoying people getting in the way, that would definitely make me mad especially so close to finishing, get out of the effin' way! lol