A little over a month ago after the Rock & Roll DC Half I swore off big, corporate races. Then I ran the Nike Women’s Half Marathon DC and was reminded that it is possible to do it right. I LOVED this race. It was exactly what I needed to get excited about running and racing again.
I entered the lottery for this race back in November along with my friend Danielle. Danielle got into running last summer and she was hoping to make the Nike Women’s Half her first half marathon. We were so excited when we were both picked in December. But she was also very nervous, so I promised her I would run the whole thing with her. I’ve run with a few friends in their first half marathons, and nothing makes me happier than to help them accomplish their goals. Plus, the finisher’s medal for this race was a Tiffany’s necklace! I couldn’t wait!
Danielle, Kevin, Baby K and I all headed to the “Expotique” in Georgetown on Saturday afternoon. I have to admit that I didn’t have the best first impression of the race at this point. Traffic was crazy getting into the area, and it seemed like an odd and crowded place to hold an expo for 15,000 people. Then we went down to where the expo was located and we saw a HUGE line of women waiting to get in. We somehow found the end of the line and waited 45 minutes just to get through the line and to the big tent where we could pick up our bibs. It was hot and we weren’t prepared to wait outside with the baby for that long.
Luckily once we got to the tent my opinion changed. I was happy to be there and determined to enjoy the experience. We picked up our bibs and headed to the second tent where the expo was being held.
The expo was unlike any other expo I have been to before. It was small, only featured a few outside vendors, and was mostly based around the Nike company. But I thought it was awesome. It was really interactive and entertaining, and a nice change from the other expos I have been to recently.
Nike had a lot of cool giveaway opportunities, like this card that you could swipe at different locations to see if you won a free pair of shoes. They also gave away cute bracelets.
There was a lot to look at, like this cool course map and a huge wall you could sign.
I thought it was cool how they took over Georgetown, with running signs everywhere!
Even with all the women, there were a couple of my favorite boys there 🙂
I left the expo very excited for the race. We went home, ate dinner, and I went to bed feeling relaxed. I was loving that this race was all about Danielle and not about me. I was focused on helping her get to the finish line, not stressed about getting a PR for once. That felt good.
I woke up at 4 a.m. the next day to get ready to run. I got dressed in my blue and yellow for Boston, ate my oatmeal, drank my coffee, and woke up the baby to get ready to go.
We left the house at 5:00 to head north to pick up Danielle. We decided to drive into DC this time rather than take metro, thinking that it would be easier since this was a smaller race. We were right. We arrived at 6:00 a.m., one hour before the race start. There was no traffic and we were dropped off right at the start. Kevin was able to find parking a block away. Perfect!
Danielle and I walked around the start area, taking pictures at all the places they had set up, used the porta potties which had NO line, sipped on cups of water and Nuun that they had set up, and got EXCITED!
Eventually, it was time to say goodbye to Kevin and get into our corral. I’m not going to lie, I was more than a little nervous about leaving them at the start/finish area, thinking about what had happened at Boston. But I knew there was increased security including bomb sniffing dogs, so I felt better. It’s still ridiculous that there needs to be bomb sniffing dogs at a race, but I guess that is what it’s come to.
We listened to the National Anthem and had a moment of silence for Boston. I could see Shalane Flanagan and Joan Benoit Samuelson up there and it was awesome.
Right on time, we were off and running!
15,000 women (and some men too!) on the streets of D.C.!
I have to say that from start to finish this race was just enjoyable. Even though the beginning was crowded and my knee hurt a little bit, I was loving the course, being with Danielle, and feeding off the energy from all the women.
It was just FUN. Nike did a great job designing the course, which went through the National Mall and around there before heading out to Hains Point along the Tidal Basin and back. It was unlike many of the other races I have done in D.C. recently and I really liked it.
Nike did a great job of planning entertainment in strategic places. They had music from speakers and live bands, including some awesome marching bands, all along the course. They also hung tons of motivational posters.
When we were running the long out and back portion of the race, these posters were hung every 10 yards or so. Each one said something different. It was very entertaining and kept our mind off of the long out & back we were running.
Danielle did AWESOME. I’m not going to post splits and things like that, because that’s not what this race was about. It was about her dominating her first half marathon and us enjoying the experience together.
She really underestimated her training. She had told me that she hadn’t really been running much and when she did she was stopping to walk a lot. The longest she had run in her training was 8 miles. She ended up blowing me away by not needing to stop and walk at all, except for a few seconds through water stations. She kept setting goals for herself, like no walking until the halfway point. When the halfway point came she didn’t want to walk and kept pushing on. I was so proud of her!
There did come a point where she walked a little bit up a hill, but before the hill was even over she started up again. I was amazed at her strength and determination. She kept telling me she was thinking of her grandfather, who passed away last year, and that kept her going. What was really awesome was that we passed the 10 mile mark TWENTY MINUTES faster than she had run the Army 10 miler last October. That is huge!
All of a sudden we were back near the Capitol Building and I knew we were close to the end. The course had us run right by the finish line around mile 11 which was a little torturous, but I knew we only had to run down to the capitol, run a big square, and then make our way back to the finish.
Danielle was DONE at this point. Truthfully, I was too because my knee was killing me. I kept reminding her that soon she would be finishing her first half marathon, our boys were waiting for us, and so were our necklaces!
I let Danielle go ahead and I stayed back to capture her crossing the finish line. She finished in 2:38:03 and I was a few seconds behind her. She had predicted that she would finish around 3 hours so we were so shocked at her amazing time!
We went through the line and got our little blue box, along with our finishers shirts and some food. We put it all into little blue Tiffany’s bags and met up with our boys.
I am so proud of Danielle. It’s been great to see her journey into running and watch her accomplish her goals. I feel special that I was able to share this experience with her, and I can’t wait until we run the next one- The Divas Half in September!
This race was a good reminder for me about what races should be like. They are supposed to be fun and a celebration of this hobby I love so much. I think I had lost that mentality recently, and I’m SO glad to have it back. Since this race 2 weeks ago I have had more motivation to get out and run than I have in the last 6 months. I’M BACK!!!