Sunday, April 20, 2014

Course Guide: DC Nike Women's Half

We are officially one week out from my FIRST half marathon, the Nike Women's Half in DC.  I'm starting to visualize the course and come up with my plans for the race.  In many ways the Cherry Blossom 10-miler I ran two weeks ago was great preparation because miles 4-11 are virtually the same as 1-8 of Cherry Blossom.  So it's like a 5k + Cherry Blossom, with a bit of a detour over the last two miles.

I've studied the course map and read about last year's race (which had a slightly different course).  This is how I'm breaking it down in my mind.  Disclaimer: this is based on my understanding of the course map and may not be 100% accurate! 

  1. First Mile: Pennsylvania Ave and around the Capitol. First race photographer on Pennsylvania Ave. Race entertainment at the beginning and end of the mile.
  2. Second Mile: National Gallery of Art along Constitution Ave. First water stop around 1.75 (this water stop might also be accessible at 12.75, map is unclear).  Race entertainment just past the water stop.
  3. Third Mile: Through the 9th Street Tunnel - race entertainment on both ends of the tunnel! Last year it was drums that reverberated through the tunnel.  Expect Garmin to go wonky from lost satellites. More race entertainment, Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Holocaust Museum, and "Moms Run This Town" water stop close to mile marker 3.
  4. Fourth Mile: Around the Tidal Basin, views of Washington Monument, WWII Memorial, MLK Memorial.  Race entertainment past mile marker 3.  Have my first GU towards the end of the mile, before water stop at mile marker 4.
  5. Fifth Mile: Lincoln Memorial and Memorial Bridge.  Race entertainment at both ends of the bridge.
  6. Sixth Mile: More Memorial Bridge, up Rock Creek Parkway toward Kennedy Center.  Water stop at 5.5 with Clif Bloks. Race Photographer before mile marker 6.
  7. Seventh Mile: Back down Rock Creek Parkway, second peek at Lincoln Memorial.  Race entertainment towards the end of the mile.
  8. Eighth Mile: Heading into West Potomac and towards Hains Point. Views of Jefferson Memorial and George Mason Memorial.  Have my second GU before water stop ~7.75.
  9. Ninth Mile: More running towards Hains Point. Race entertainment around 8.3.  Hoping for energizing signs like they had last year, this can be a tough stretch with limited spectators and possible wind.
  10. Tenth Mile: Rounding Hains Point, race entertainment at the tip.  Water stop at 9.25 with Luna Bars
  11. Eleventh Mile: Heading back out of West Potomac. Entertainment and race photographer around 10.75.  Have my last GU (wait until you pass the photographer! No GU pictures!!) before water stop at mile marker 11.
  12. Twelfth Mile: the mysterious "Whole Foods Chocolate Mile". What is it? Chocolate Milk? Chocolates? I think Nike Women's in San Fran had Ghirardelli chocolates.  Race entertainment around 11.25.  Expect a steep uphill highway ramp.
  13. Thirteenth Mile (plus a tenth): lots of race entertainment during this last stretch.  Back through the Garmin-killing 9th Street Tunnel, a couple of blocks on Constitution Ave, a sharp turn onto Pennsylvania Ave and the finish line is in sight with its promise of Tiffany pendants!
(see race info sheet for more detail)


  1. HI I ran it last year it's a great race. Sounds like you are really prepared! I didn't get in this year but I am manning water stop #2 w my MRTT group so make sure to run by for a high five. looking forward to hearing how it goes. Have a great time!
    Deborah @ Confessions of a Mother Runner

    1. oh and I will be at the Twilight Festival 4 miler too!

    2. Yay, I will look forward to the water stop! The MRTT water stop was a point of interest for me during the Cherry Blossom race, too. And guess what, I've been following your blog on my RSS feed for a couple of months now but didn't connect your name with the blog until just now :)

  2. Just a tip - miles 11-13 are deceptively long, and when you turn towards the finish, it is actually way farther than you sprinting yet!! I saw so many go hard too early during that last stretch and they ended up crashing before hitting the finish!

    1. Thanks for the tip Liz! I heard they actually changed the finish of the course this year because so many people complained about the perception deception last year. I will keep your tip in mind and not start sprinting too early :)