Sunday, April 27, 2014

Nike Women's Half Marathon DC Recap

Wow! I am filled with emotions after completing my first half marathon. Pride, gratitude, exhaustion, exhilaration. The Nike Women's half marathon in DC was an excellent race for a first-timer, filled with support, entertainment, and lots of awesome women.

Saturday morning Freddy, my five-year old son, woke up at 7 am and started packing his suitcase - he was so excited to go to the hotel. His enthusiasm was quite infectious. We made a trip to Party City to select the balloon that he and Rick would hold to help me find them on the course. Freddy chose Cookie Monster, and Yoselin filled Cookie up with helium and tied on nice long strings:
Bringing a balloon like this can really help your runner find you when the course is thick with spectators. Thanks to Coach Shannon for the awesome tip which has served us well for multiple races.  

We left for the hotel and I learned an important lesson about checking the road closures more carefully. I thought I knew which roads were closing when, but some of those roads closed earlier than I thought and it took us an extra 20 minutes or so to get to the hotel.  Our hotel room overlooked Freedom Plaza, where we could see the edge of runners' village and a view of the Washington Monument:
We settled in and Freddy took a turn on the foam roller:
I had a fairly poor night's sleep, in part due to race anticipation, in part due to a restless yet overtired 5 year old who didn't want to go to sleep! I didn't worry about it much because I had gotten a solid night's sleep on Friday.  

This is the "flat mama" of my race outfit, although I made a last minute decision not to put the long-sleeve shirt on over my tank since it was warmer than anticipated. That was definitely the right call and I'm glad I didn't have to run the race with it tied around my waist.
You might see the KT Tape in the photo above. My left leg was pretty much held together with tape because I have a "hot spot" beneath my Achilles that I like to protect on longer runs and I've been having some knee discomfort the last few weeks, likely from overtraining.
Fortunately most of the tape was hidden underneath my capris. I saw a lot of KT Tape out on the course today. The tape did its job and my minor injuries were not a factor during the race.

My training buddy Christina met me at the hotel and we headed to the corrals, where we found someone to take our picture. 
Then we met up with Catherine, and then lost her a few minutes later. I was bummed to not be able to start with Catherine, but I also knew that she would be running faster than I should be attempting and figured perhaps it was for the best that I didn't start with her. Christina went to her pace group and I suddenly found myself alone in a sea of people:
(photo courtesy Run Nike Women Series)
I tried to look for Catherine with no luck, but I ran into a friend of mine, Katie, who I didn't know was running the race! I can't believe she saw me in that crowd of people.
I was so happy to catch up with her (its been a few months!) and to have a friendly face to spend those jittery pre-race moments with.

First 5k, pace of 13:46
I soaked in the race, the beauty of the Capitol, the conversations going on around me, the warmth of the sun. 
(photo courtesy of Run Nike Women Series)
I met Mary and Jane about a mile or so into the race. They were wearing Supergirl shirts, striped socks with lightning bolts, and fantastic glittery tiaras with their names on them. I enjoyed chatting with them for a few minutes and we wished each other a great race. I had to stop a couple of times to loosen my shoelaces as my feet swelled; I just couldn't seem to get them to the right tension. The end of the first 5k had two great mood-boosters:
  1. I met Deborah Brooks at the "Moms Run This Town" water stop. She was at the last table and I looked like a crazy person yelling her name at each table, but we found each other! I've been following her blog, Confessions of a Mother Runner, for a few months now and she is awesome. Future bestie, thanks for the support (and for reminding me to stop talking to you and get back out there and run)!
  2. And then just past the water stop, I saw the Cookie Monster balloon!!! There were Rick and Freddy cheering me on. I stopped to adjust my darn shoelaces and give Freddy high fives, and then I was off again.
Second 5k, pace of 13:36
I continued to loosen my shoelaces for another mile or so. I soaked in the monuments/memorials in this stretch - Washington, WWII, Holocaust, Lincoln. I thought about my sister in running Cameron who was also running a half today, and running with me in spirit. 
(photo courtesy of Run Nike Women Series)

I really looked at the backs of people's shirts and found myself almost moved to tears by so many of the tributes. This race raises a tremendous amount of money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma society, and this cause is so personal and meaningful to so many. 

Third 5k, pace of 12:51
Near the start of this section was a giant television screen with a live feed of runners as we passed the 6.55 mile, or "halfway mark". It was cool to see the screen and super-motivating to know we were halfway. This is the beginning of the more desolate stretch of the race, fewer spectators as we run towards Hains Point. I noticed things like the great signage for mile markers and restrooms. Each restroom stop was well marked and also indicated how far to the next set of restrooms. Kudos to Nike for impressive and informative signage. I actually saw my Supergirl friends again in this stretch and ran with Mary for a few minutes. I was happy to see her and so touched that she actually remembered me and my name! 
(photo courtesy Run Nike Women Series)
Fourth 5k, pace of 12:17 & Final 7/10 of a mile, pace of 11:07
Mary ran ahead but her fellow Supergirl Jane appeared by my side and ended up running with me for the rest of the race. I was so grateful for her company!! My legs felt heavy and I was getting tired. We chatted and helped distract each other. We focused on how little distance was left. I told her to watch for the Cookie Monster balloon, and she said she had seen them in the beginning of the race. Soon we saw the balloon and Jane ran ahead to surprise Freddy by knowing his name. Rick got a nice series of shots of Freddy watching for us and high-fiving:







Soon after this we learned what the mysterious "whole foods chocolate mile" was - there were chocolate truffles handed out during mile 12! Jane got one for each of us and we saved them for after the race, not wanting to risk GI distress. We went up a small hill and back through the 9th street tunnel (which didn't seem to mess with my Garmin either time, interestingly enough). This cool sign was in the tunnel, along with lots reverberating drums:
(photo courtesy of Run Nike Women Series)

After the tunnel there were giant screens that picked up names as we crossed a timing strip and we saw my name flash across the screen. We neared the end and Jane helped me figure out when to pull out that final kick. We crossed the finish line and took a couple of triumphant pictures before meeting back up with Mary:





Thank you Jane!! You really helped me make it to the finish line, leave it all on the course, and finish strong! 

We moved through the finish area, where we were given a Whole Foods/Nike Half water bottle with water in it, a generous sized chocolate milk, a bag to keep everything in, and a heat sheet. And then we made it to the Tiffany necklaces! This handsome man gave me my necklace and thanked me for running:


And at this point I went off to find Rick and Freddy in the family meet-up area, which was well-marked and easily accessible. I would have liked to have seen the Finishers boutique and the refresh area, which I heard had foam rollers, yoga mats, makeup wipes, lip gloss, and hair spray! I'm sure there was food in there too. 
Finisher tent at the start of the race...
the line was crazy long by the time I finished!
But the lines were so long and I knew my little guy had already had such a long day of high-fiving runners and telling them to "run for cookies", so I skipped this section. It's just as well because I'm sure the excitement of the moment would have led me to buy a finisher shirt and I certainly didn't need another shirt to commemorate this awesome race. Texts flew between me and Catherine and our friend Laura as we congratulated each other on a great race.
Negative splits!
If you are still reading this crazy long post, thanks for coming along on the ride to my first half marathon! I'm looking forward to taking a bit of a break from the long training runs for a bit, and focusing on maintaining my level of fitness. My next race is the Devotion to Children Mother's Day 4-miler and my next training program will be the Reston Runners' Women's Training Program in May and June. I will continue to blog about my running adventures!

22 comments:

  1. I loved the photo of Freddy giving up a high five---he looks so excited. Kate and I watched you cross the finish line on tracking app, did you hear us cheering for you? I can't wait to see you wear that beautiful Tiffany necklace with pride this week. Rest up my friend.

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    1. Thank you Melissa! I wondered who that was I heard cheering in my head when I crossed the finish line ;)

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  2. Great recap and congrats on your first half! I saw Cookie Monster too! The tunnel messed with my GPS first time through but not the second. Strange.

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    1. Thanks Cassie! I'm glad you saw Cookie Monster :) Hope you had a great race!!

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  3. I'm so proud of you, Kim! You need to let me come over and lead you through a Yin class, to get the kinks out! Sheila

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    1. Thanks Sheila! I'm definitely looking forward to getting back to the mat.

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  4. Congratulations! I'm so glad your first half went well and you had a great time. :) I actually saw your little dude while I was running - what a cutie!!! I loved the race but I'm definitely feeling the after effects today. ;)

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    1. Thanks Meridith - congrats to you too! I am also feeling the after effects today. Next time around I am going to be more diligent about including strength training in my training plan. I'm glad you saw Cookie Monster and my cute little dude :)

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  5. It was so great to see you run by! I wanted to jump in and run with you. I feel like I we're already besties. I'm so proud of you and can't wait to run a race with you soon.

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    1. Aw, thanks, Deborah! I can't wait to run with you, too :)

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  6. Congratulations! We finished RIGHT by each other.. I finished at 2:50:22!!! I saw the cookie monster balloon, and thought it was a great idea. Next time I'll suggest it to my friends coming to watch. Great job!

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    1. Thanks Molly! Congratulations on a great race :)

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  7. Why did I tear up reading this blog post and the comments that followed? 'Cuz I'm just so darn proud of and pleased for you! Congratulations to you, Kimberly. You so totally rock!

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    1. Aw, I am tearing up reading your comment. Your support through my training has been awesome. You totally rock, too!

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  8. LOVE your race recap and am so happy you had such a fantastic race! Great job on your negative split, too! That can be tough to do! Congrats again, my friend!!

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    1. Thank you Gina! I pretended you were there when I was running on Memorial Bridge :)

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  9. I am so excited for you and I feel a sort of pride for you too. I feel very privileged to get to watch your journey. Sounds like an absolutely incredible experience, Kimberly.

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    1. Thank you Susan, what a lovely thing to say! I am deeply touched. You've made my day twice today ;)

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  10. I love reading your posts!! Thank you for sharing your journey and congratulations!!

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    1. Thank you for reading about my journey! And congratulations right back at you, Mrs. Newlywed :)

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  11. Congratulations, Kim, on a great race and recap! I hope you're still basking in the glow of your first half marathon!

    I hope you'll join our MRTT group for a run one Saturday morning!

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    1. Thanks Debbie! I hope to join you one of these days soon :)

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