Saturday, October 20, 2012

Nike Women's Half Marathon, Part Two

My alarm was set for 4:30 am.  I was up at 3:45.  This was not really a bad thing.  I had plenty of time to eat, use the bathroom, get dressed and even turn on the TV for a moment.  I was the first of our group in the lobby but it was full of TNT participants and the excitement in the room was awesome!

Once all of Haley's Sweet 16 arrived we snapped some pictures, stretched and Shawna led us in prayer.  
Haley's Sweet 16

We headed outside to start walking to our corral.  It was dark and a little chilly.  The streets were already crowded with people.  We walked up a few blocks to where we had to be.  There were more than enough porta potties and tables with water and NUUN.

I ran into my friends from Rhode Island and we were able to snap a pic and wish each other luck.
Some of the RI crew.

About 30 minutes before the race, Nike staff lead us in a warm up.  It was done with cool music and a guy up on a stage to show us what to do.  We stretched, kicked and jumped up and down to get the blood moving.  It was fun.

I was hanging onto my bag because it was dark but I wanted to change to my sunglasses before we started to run.  I waited to the last minute because I was sure the sun would be coming out.  I switched my glasses and dropped my bag at the gear check.

I headed back to my group, looking ridiculous in my shades.  Eric, Patricia and I were the only ones doing the half.  We wished everyone luck and headed to the 12+ corral.  I was placed in the one before that but I wanted to stick with Patricia and Eric.

The rest of the group were all doing the full and were in the corral before us.

After the National Anthem, the race started.  It was really slow moving and it took us 30 minutes to get across the start line.

The crowd support was really good at the start.  People were cheering and holding great signs.  Well, great except for one.  Come on Dude!  It isn't funny or original to have a sign that says, "Almost there" at .03 miles.

It didn't take long for me to have to use the bathroom.  I am guessing the extra 30 minutes getting to the start messed with me.  At the end of mile one, I ran into a porta potty.  I was in and out in a jiffy.  When I came out I didn't see Patricia.  I wasn't' sure if she went ahead or was waiting for me.  I took off and headed for my first hill.

I was getting nervous thinking that she might be waiting for me.  I pulled to the side to look down the hill for her.  I didn't see her.  I kept going and caught up to Eric.  He said he didn't see her either.

Eric and I ran at the same pace and I was enjoying it.  It wasn't dark anymore but there was no sun.  The fog was thick and my glasses were fogged up.  I was getting so annoyed and I hadn't even hit 3 miles yet!  It never occurred to me to carry a tissue with me to wipe my glasses.  Lesson learned!

It wasn't too much longer after that when we found Patricia.  The three of us were together again for a little while.

The crowd had died down a bit.  For some reason, I was expecting more people cheering us on.  We passed a choir signing to us, which was really cool and a few stops with music and dancers.  There was also cheerleaders from some of the local schools.  Most of the crowd support came form the TNT staff and although I kept my eyes out for the RI crew, I never saw them.

At the bottom of the third hill, I was a little taken back.  The hill was huge and it was curvy.  I stopped at the bottom and looked up, wow!  I pictured myself at the top and started running.  I was really slowed down by the walkers though.  I was surrounded by them and found it hard to weave in and out of them.  They were walking 5+ across and paid no attention to the runners trying to get around them.
Top of one of the hills.

Don't get me wrong, I have a ton of respect for anyone taking on 13.1 walking or running, but it would of been cool if we had a runners right, walkers left kind of thing going on.   This was pretty much how my run went because it never thinned out.

At the top of that hill, I stopped to look out at the Golden Gate Bridge, which I couldn't see because of the fog and I also looked down the hill for Eric and Patricia.  I had lost them again.  Bummer.

The next few miles I ran alone but here is the interesting thing.  I never used my iPod.  I just ran taking in all the sights and sounds and I really loved it.  The longest I had ever run without music before was just 4 miles.  Here I was on my way to 13 and I didn't even want it.

Nike had really cool signs along the way, all of them motivating.  It wasn't until I saw the Run Fearless sign that I stopped.  I just had to have a pic of me in front of that one.  Lucky for me, one of the girls in front of me agreed to snap my picture.

From there, I headed to a table that said bra exchange.  Hmmn, that is interesting. When I got there, all the bras were gone, but I am thinking I wouldn't of changed anyway.  I love what I was wearing and I would of hated to find out that the new one did not work for me.

There were water and NUUN stops every two miles and I was so glad I brought my own fuel.  I got a little spoiled at the Ocean's Run with all the gels and snacks that they had at every mile.  I did enjoy the Orange Mile.  The oranges tasted so good.

After that stop, I used the PP again, and this time, there was a line.  Once in line though, Eric caught up and was just a few people behind me.  We ran together after that.

One of the things I was looking forward to was the Chocolate Mile.  This was supposed to be a stop with Ghirardelli chocolates.  Well, unless I totally missed it, which I doubt, there was no chocolate mile.  There was a spot where we were given chocolate Luna bars, but that is not the same thing.  Oh well.

I felt really good during this race.  Nothing was really bothering me, not my back, my foot or my hips.  I never hit a wall or thought that I was not going to make it and I found my groove at the start line.  I was surround by purple TNT shirts with names and pictures all over them.  If I was close enough, I tried to read what the shirts said.  I looked at every picture I could and thought about the names on my shirt too.  This motivated me to keep going and to stay strong.  I wondered about Shawna and the rest of my group doing the full.  I had no idea where they were but I knew in my heart that they were doing well.

At mile 10, we were at a beach.  It was still foggy and I was still mad at my bad decision to wear my sunglasses.   I had Eric take my picture so that I can send it to Mr. RWM to let him know where I was.
mile 10

The view ahead of us was the the tents and busses that were at the finish.  It was cool to see, but I was not at the finish.  We had to go to the left and into a park for the final 3 miles.  The wide road that we were on for the last mile had thinned and I found that I was stuck with walkers again and I couldn't get around.

Eric was hurting a little and I lost him somewhere around here.  Shawna's family had cheered for us at about mile three and I saw them at the end of mile 13.  It was so nice to see a familiar face cheering me on.
It's all good.

I turned the corner for the last .1 and the finish was in sight!  There was a very large group in front of me and believe it or not, I actually slowed down so that none of them would be in my way for my picture crossing the finish line.  Is that weird?  I don't care.  I wasn't crossing with friends so I didn't want too many strangers in my picture.  Selfish?  Still don't care.  LOL

I was psyched to have crossed that line.  So many months of training and fundraising had all paid off.  It was so worth it!  My time was 3:10:05.  This is 33 minutes slower than my fastest time.  Considering the hills, two potty breaks and about 10 pictures, I am good with that.  I said it before, this was for Shawna and Haley and for fun.  That is what I set out for, mission accomplished.

I walked across the red carpet, was handed water and then headed to to the cutest fireman.  I stood in line and asked the girl in front of me to snap my pic and I would snap hers.  She agreed but when it came time for my picture, my camera would not work!!!  We tried more than a couple times, before I finally gave up.  This was the biggest disappointment of the weekend.

I wish you could see his picture.  He was really good looking with a smile that would make you melt.  I told him how happy I was to see him, mostly because he represented my finish and accomplishment.  He told me he was happy to see me too and that put a huge smile on my face.  That, and my Tiffany box with the most beautiful finishers medal ever!

From there, I got my finishers shirt and then a bagel and a banana. I was directed to the TNT tent where we had to check in.  It was here that Patricia had found me.  I was so happy to see someone that I knew.  We hugged and congratulated each other, checked in and got our finishers pin.

We had finished in the middle of the pack and apparently it was when most of us average runners finished.  The place was a mad house.  We couldn't get around easily and the lines for everything were half a mile long.

We had about two hours before Shawna was going to come in, so we decided to get our checked bags first and then head to the TNT tent for food.

Huge line into the tent, but once I got my sandwich, I felt so much better.  We sat down, ate and changed into our flip flops.

After that we walked around a bit to see what was going on.  Nike had a tent with just finisher shirts.  They were all nice but I was happy with the one at the finish line.  I was so surprised how much people were buying.  I think it is cool to have a shirt, but how many do you need that virtually all say the same thing.  The colors and styles were different but they all said NWM 2012 in some form or another.  And the prices!! Holy cow, they were so expensive.  I bought one shirt for $40 the day before and that was enough.

We headed to the finish line to wait for Shawna.   The place had really cleared out by now and it was actually nice.  We got a good spot and waited.  The announcers said each and every name of the person crossing the finish line who ran the full marathon.  It was really cool to see and hear.

We weren't' really sure who had come in yet, but we did know that Shawna was still running based on the automatic FB status we had signed up for.

Tracey was the first that we saw and I got chills watching her cross that line.  It was her first full and I am pretty sure, her first race.  She broke down and Patricia ran over to her.  It was here that I had my first moment of doubt about my decision to run the half and not the full.

And then we saw Shawna, with Robin right next to her.  They were smiling and so was I.  I was so excited for them. They looked beautiful crossing the finish line and I was so proud of them. What a fantastic finish.

It was then that I was sure I made the wrong decision.  I wanted to be crossing that line with Shawna and I felt like a missed an opportunity for an incredible first marathon.  As happy as I was to have just finished my second half, I also felt a little disappointed.  I shook it off and am now set on 26.2.

We caught up to her at the bagel table and walked with her to get her pin and then showed them where the TNT tent was.  They got some food and then Leah, Robin and I headed to the massage tent.  This was awesome.  I couldn't get in earlier but now we walked right up and got in in about 3 minutes.  I had a 20 minute massage which was great.

After that we snapped a few group pics and then headed to the buses.

There wasn't much time once we got back to the hotel.  I showered and got dressed for the Victory Dinner.  I met everyone downstairs and we got cabs over to the dinner.

The food was OK.  Nothing that I would of ordered if I had a choice, but we were all starving at this point.  I even went back for seconds.  We had a few drinks and then headed over to the dance floor.  Yes folks, after running half and full marathons, we danced until they closed the place at 8pm.  It felt good to dance and just have fun.  We deserved it and I am sure we all enjoyed it.
  Victory Dinner

We headed back to our hotel and met in the lobby for some wine.  As I sat there, talking with everyone.  I had so many thoughts going through my head.  I was so happy to be here with Shawna.   I loved meeting her friends and her family.  They were all so wonderful.  I was happy that we all set out to do something for such a good cause and we all succeeded.  I was also sad that it was all coming to an end.

I said good night as I had to be the first to leave in the morning.

I woke up early enough to get breakfast and was pleasantly surprised to see that Shawna had gotten up to eat with me.  It was so nice to have some one on one with her.  She has always been such a good friend and I have missed her terribly the last 4 years.  I wish we didn't have to be so far apart but it is obvious that distance has not changed how we feel about each other.

I grabbed my bags and said a final good by to everyone who was in the lobby and off I went.  I met my Rhode Island friends at their hotel and we flew home together.  I was so relieved to be back on the East Coast with Mr. RWM and the kids.  They truly are who I do this for and they make it all worth while.

Recently, my son drilled me on what distance I ran and what it was like and when I asked him why all the questions, he said he wanted to be like me.  And tonight I found Hal Higdons book in my daughters room.  When I asked her what she was doing with it, she said she was going to run a marathon.  Yes, she is only four and can't read, but how cool is that!

My family rocks, my friends are awesome and you all inspire me each and every day.  That is how and why I continue to do what I do.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Run Strong, Think Big.


  1. Congrats again, Nicole! Great job! And it sounds like it was an amazing experience - you should be very proud of yourself.

  2. Nice work and way to rock the hills! Love the medal:)

  3. Awesome recap and lots of lovely pics! Congrats!!! That is just so cool how you have inspired your children... I bet that was a proud mummy moment :) enjoy training for the Marathon, can't wait to read all about it!

    1. Thank you! Yes it was a proud mommy moment and I hope it continues. Yes, I think I am definitely ready for a marathon and will keep you posted on that.

  4. What an awesome story! Thanks for sharing it with all of us and inspiring us to aim for bigger and better things in our running journeys. CONGRATS!!!! :)

  5. Love this recap, Nicole! Did you really say you now want to do a full?! Look at you! That's awesome.
    Bummer about the walkers- they always seem so oblivious. It's tough to organize the spacing with such a huge number of racers. But congrats, you did it!!

    1. Yes, I did!!! Still have to think about when and where, but I have some ideas that I will share in a later post. Thank!!!

  6. I am in tears. Nuff said. You do live strong and run proud. :)

    1. I love you Kathy! I called today and I hope to talk to you soon.

  7. Wow! This is such a wonderful recap! Congrats on a great race! What an experience! I really love your outfit! You look so adorable!! Have a wonderful day! Spa love!!

    1. Thank you Jenna! Thanks for the SPA love too!