The Nike Women's Marathon / Half Marathon is one of the hardest races in the country to gain entry into. So many people want to be part of the event, Nike has to set up a lottery system for entry. Only about 1 in 5 who seek entry actually get into the event--unless you are part of Team in Training! If you commit to raise money to fight cancer, you are guaranteed entry into this most sought after event. That is how I got in! In total, there was about 3,000 Team in Training participants in the race, raising over $13 million dollars to fight cancer. Nothing like a sea of purple running to fight cancer!
I met my team bright and early in the hotel lobby. Since our hotel was right at the race start, we got to sleep in a little because we could walk to the start. I was a little said and lonely that morning because I was the only "Yorkie" from the Central Pennsylvania Team at Nike this year. Most of my local teammates choose to do the Chicago Marathon this year instead of Nike. Crazy! We gathered for a team photo and wished each other luck!
It was still dark when the race officially started! Nike had a great DJ to get the crowd going. We even got a firework sendoff! It took me about 26 minutes to cross the start line. Those minutes waiting to cross the start are always so anxious for me. The first two miles were on the city streets of San Francisco, through the Financial District, heading toward the Embarkadero. The view of the San Francisco Bay was amazing, although it became very evident that the word of the day, like last year, was quickly becoming fog. It was so foggy that morning, that we could only see about a quarter mile out. I could not even see the water while running through Fisherman's Wharf or Pier 39. As we ran through the Presidio, all of the runner were eagerly awaiting a glimpse of the famed Golden Gate Bridge. Unforgettably, this was a marvel we would not be blessed to see that day. This was also the coldest half marathon I have ever done. It was about 50 degrees, and very damp. It never rained but the air was very wet. I was cold for the entire event. Some teammates tried to talk me out of wearing my long sleeved top. I was so glad I wore it! My hands stayed icy the enter race. Brrrr!
The course was tough, but simply amazing. That word does not do it justice, but is a true description. The first really tough hill was around mile 5.5-6.5. It felt never ending! This is where the best bridge view should have been, but due to the fog the bridge was never visible. After the top of this crazy hill, was about a mile of winding down hill, along the San Francisco Bay--not that I could see it due to the fog. At the bottom of the hill, we ran through a very cute San Francisco neighborhood that contained what I was told was Robin William's house. Lots of the runners were whispering about it on the course. We made a sharp turn around mile 8 to greet the steepest hill yet.
Once we got to the top of this hill, we turned a corner and there it was--the most beautiful and breath taking view of the race. I got my first glimpse of the Pacific Ocean! The view looked like it came out of a book. The waves were crashing against the cliffs. The seagulls were flying around. Pure magic! I have always had a love / fascination with the ocean--especially the Pacific Ocean. When I got to the bottom of the hill, I could see race village--but I was only on mile 10. After another breathtaking mile along the coast, we made a turn into Golden Gate Park to run our last two miles. By this time, I could see runners who already had finished the race carrying their finisher bags, wearing their finisher shirts and holding their little blue boxes. It was tough to not look at the bright yellow shirt in the bags, but I was determined I was not going to look at their necks! I did not want to see the Tiffany necklace until I was looking at the one I had earned myself.
The final mile went pretty fast. By this time in the course, spectators had lined up and were cheering the runners on. As I got closer and could see the finish line, I ran faster! I once again could see the Pacific Ocean. My mind was on getting my blue box from a hot firemen in a tux. I crossed the finish line strong and chose the guy I wanted to give me my little blue box. After I got my box, there were volunteers giving out reusable water bottles sponsored by Whole foods. I got my finisher shirt and then my finisher bag--full of snacks and a nice note from Tiffany's.
This year, I planned to spend more time at the finish line party. First, I stopped by and washed my face at the Neutorgena face wash station. Neutorgena really outdid themselves for race participants this year. They really pampered us at the expo, then they had a Neutrogena station at mile 5 with face wash clothes and sunscreen. Then at the finish line--they had huge bins with lots of Neutrogena products for runners to check out and take what ever they wanted. I got lip sticks, facial moisturizer, sunscreen and lots of other fun stuff. After the fun at Neutrogena, picked up my bag from bag check, then went to the Team in Training tent. After a stop for a sandwich and some food in the Team tent, I walked out on the beach. I took in my last few glimpses of the Pacific Ocean. After a quick stop in the Whole Foods tent for a snack, I rode the bus back to the hotel.
I was so excited to open my Tiffany necklace this year--but I made myself wait until I got back to my room. I wanted to take my time, open the box slowly--to take it all in. I slowly untied the ribbon and opened the box. I pulled out the tiny blue bag. There is was--my new Tiffany necklace. Its a triangle shape, with an X to stand for a 10 because this was the tenth year of the Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco.
Nike Women's Marathon was an amazing event! It was the most breathtaking course I have ever run. There is not one boring second of this race. There was always something beautiful to look at. The course was for sure my favorite I have ever done (don't tell the runDisney people.) The support on the course was also spectacular. I had 3,000 teammates/ new family members cheering me on on the course. There was hundreds of TNT coaches on the course. I could not go half a mile without seeing one of our green shirted coaches cheering on all of the runners. The NWM in San Francisco is going to be a yearly event for me. I can't wait to do it again next year!
A dream is a wish...