Running the DC Nike Women Half Marathon

nike women half marathon dcPhoto courtesy of Nike

I get it now. I get why women who have babies naturally (with no pain meds) forget the pain and say they’d do it all over again. I felt this way after I finished the Nike Women Half Marathon on Sunday — I’d do it all over again. Obviously the pain of having a baby versus running 13.1 miles is not even close to the same, but you get my point.

For the past month leading up the race I actually haven’t really been training very much because my IT bands (on both legs) have been super tight and making my knees hurt a lot as I mentioned in this postSo I eased off running for a while to hopefully make them better (and not make them worse). I think that was probably a good idea (or seeing a sports therapist, getting massages, doing yoga every day and rolling on my foam roller 3x a day would have helped i.e. totally should have done all of that consistently).

The first five weeks of my training I was doing amazing — but I might have pushed myself a little too far too quickly hence the IT issues. After my injury I only ran seven or so times (and no run longer than 2.5 miles) in the four weeks leading up to the race, so to say I was nervous about the race was an understatement. I just figured if my knees hurt really bad after running a few miles during the race I could walk/run the rest of it — even though I really didn’t want to. The longest distance I had run up until the half was 8 miles and it was a great run, so that was encouraging. I actually did that run on part of the actual race course, so it was familiar to me during the race.

ellie goulding

Since I was sponsored by Nike to run this half marathon (the inaugural Nike Women Half Marathon in DC), I had the privilege of doing some fun things prior to the run — hello private Ellie Goulding concert (above). I also had access to the VIP tent, VIP bathrooms and VIP check-in which spoiled me with its ease and lack of lines.

nike women half marathon dcPhoto courtesy of Nike

Someone told me that Nike “knows how to put on a race.” Yes, yes they do. Not only was I impressed with the Nike ladies I was dealing throughout the entire process, and impressed with all of the Nike products, but the actual race was gorgeous. I mean it is Nike, so I would assume that anything they did would be impressive. And it was. The beauty of DC, the historic monuments, and a gorgeous sunny morning didn’t hurt either. (Does Nike pay Mother Nature for that?)

nike women half marathon dcRunning across the Arlington Memorial Bridge. Photo courtesy of Nike.

nike women half marathon dcNo lack of color or neon! Photo courtesy of Nike.

Now for all of my race details…

Let’s start from the night before the race. I am notorious for not being able to sleep before something — an early flight, a vacation, first day of school, things like that. This was one of those things. I did my sleep routine — drank some sleepy tea and started reading my book for a while and then tried to fall asleep. I’m pretty sure I only actually fell asleep for an hour. And the only reason I know that I actually fell asleep is because I had a dream about one of the designers on the recent season of Project Runway — Layana (totally normal?). So when I got up a 5 a.m. I was hoping my lack of sleep didn’t affect me too much.

I drank a tiny bit of coffee, some water, had two pieces of whole wheat toast, even plucked my eyebrows a little (seriously why?) and left for the race. When I got to the VIP tent at about 6:15 a.m. I drank a little more water and ate half a banana. I typically never eat right away when I wake up so I felt really full. Once it came time, I got in my corral and the nerves set in a little more. The race started and everyone was really excited and running fast but there’s so many people for the first mile all packed in that you end up running at whatever pace everyone else is until the pack thins out a little.

One mile, two miles, three miles. I felt great so far. Knees/IT band not killing me. I thought, if it doesn’t get too much worse than this, I’ll be able to run the entire thing.

Four, five, six, seven, eight miles — all going fine. I had it, I could do it. I ran almost the entire race. I stopped a few times to quickly stretch my tight IT bands, and stopped only briefly two times to walk. One short walk was up a hill around mile 10/11 — I wanted to save my energy for the finish (not for a darn hill) and I was starting to get pretty tired. Then again at the beginning of the 12th mile right in front of the Capitol building I walked for a for a minute. I was spent and really wanted to end the race actually running, so I walked for a minute until a guy came up to me. He had helped me pick out my shoes at the Nike store in Georgetown 10 weeks ago and recognized me (what are the odds out of 15,000 people running the race?). He was like, “Hey, I helped you get your shoes, remember me?” I absolutely did. He said, “Want to finish this race?” That was just the motivation I needed to start running again because I was oh so tired at that point. So we started running. When I thought it couldn’t get any better than having that last-minute motivator — the song “Bittersweet Symphony” by The Verve came on my playlist — that song is just epic.

(Picture this) I had just a few tenths of a mile to go, I could see the the giant green finish line, that song comes on my playlist (I mean the beginning of that song is amazing), I was exhausted yet running in the gorgeous sunlight, in the capital city of the United States of America, accomplishing a goal I didn’t even realize I had. I took off and started sprinting toward that finish line. One of the most beautiful moments of my life. I almost cried.

And then I was handed a blue Tiffany’s box by a guy in a tux. Not a bad way to end 13.1 miles.

The last couple miles my feet were KILLING ME. I didn’t expect that since they never hurt in previous runs but am not surprised due to my suspended training over the past month. My knees/IT bands weren’t feeling super great either, but they never got to the point where I thought it would be a serious injury — so I just kept going. I was tired (who wasn’t?) and so so ready for it to be over. I just kept thinking, just keep moving, just keep moving, you can run (almost) this entire thing. Including my two short walks, a few quick stretch breaks, grabbing water and these shot bloks a few times — my time was 2:13:59. Prior to my knee injury, I wanted to run it in under two hours, but considering this was my first half marathon, and that I could only partially train for it due to my knee/IT pain, I’m extremely happy with my time.

Some people don’t necessarily care so much about their time. They just want to finish the race, have the accomplishment under their belt, raise money for charity, do it in memory of someone or for someone who can’t, etc. All noble and amazing reasons to run a race. Me, I wanted to kill it. I wanted to train to a T and then run this thing with 10 weeks of training under my belt, and kill it. Kill it for me. Kill it for the me that has been working really hard the past few years to build my own businesses. Kill it for the me that would be turning 30 just a few weeks before the race. Kill it for the me that wants to be healthy and take good care of my body.

That didn’t happen exactly how I wished it would have, and there wasn’t too much I could do about it. Should I have been rolling on our foam roller daily? Yes. Was I? Not exactly. But now the foam roller is my new best friend. I’ll be using it anytime I run, especially if I do another half marathon so I don’t hurt myself again. The next time I run a half marathon — I will kill it. Goal = Run it in under 2 hours. By avoiding any walking or stretch breaks in addition to more training I think that is a totally doable goal. I’d love to do it around 1:50 but that’s probably pushing it. We’ll see.

Overall thoughts on the experience amazing. I feel so lucky that I was asked to do this. Running longer than two miles was sort of a fear of mine as I got older. I just hated running and never had any motivation to push myself to see what I could do. Thanks to Nike, I was not only given the motivation, but all the gear necessary to do it, and a race to train for. It was such a cool experience in so many ways. I highly recommend signing up for a race if you are wanting motivation to start running/getting in shape. There were people of all ages and sizes running — so no excuses! I literally hadn’t ran more than just a few miles here and there since high school and in just 10 weeks of training (really only training for 5-6 for me due to my injury) was able to run a half marathon in 2 hours and 13 minutes. Being surrounded by a bunch of strangers also running, and strangers cheering you on, people with funny signs, people giving you high fives, people looking concerned that you grab the water out of their hands because they know you are thirsty — it’s incredible. It’s humanity at its finest.

Everyone has a common goal, a collective energy, a joyous spirit.

You’ll probably hate miles 10 through 12.5, but that last part where you can see the finish line and then cross the finish line, that part is worth every step.

nike women half marathon dc

Casie & I after finishing the race.

nike women half marathon dc

This is my name on the wall outside of the Nike store in Georgetown where they list all the runners (thank you Nikki for taking the pic & sending it to me!). I will be doing another post on all of my favorite clothing and gear from the race sometime soon!

What are your race experiences? I’d love to hear them?

Are you thinking of running a half marathon?

*Nike sponsored and outfitted me for this race but this post is not sponsored by Nike. All opinions are my own.