Run Inspired: Nike Women's Half Marathon Race Recap

by - Monday, April 29, 2013



There's no other way to describe how I ran this weekend at the inaugural Nike Women's Half Marathon in DC.

Nike women's half

I set a monster PR -- crushing my old record by 2:21 -- and I ran the entire race -- for the first time in my half marathon racing history.

I always employ the "walk through water stops" race plan, so I can actually drink the water and give my legs a short break. But not yesterday. Somehow yesterday I found the strength and endurance to run the entire time.

I wasn't trained well for this race, and on race morning my only plan was to go out and have fun. It was an absolutely beautiful day for a race. Temperatures in the mid-50's with sunlight bouncing off the monuments. No better weather for a run around DC with 15,000 other women.

Nike women's half
Mom and me pre-race

The morning kicked off with a very nice tribute to Boston. The race director introduce Shalane Flanagan and Joan Benoit Samuelson who were going to be "jogging" the race in shirts for Boston. There was a moment of silence and then a gorgeous singing of the National Anthem.

Shalane and Joan rockin their #bostonstrong shirts at the Nike Women's Half.

It was hard not to get a bit emotional seeing all the runners in the corral wearing various shirts and signs in memory of Boston. Minutes after the race started, Sweet Caroline started playing on my iPod and I almost lost it.

I went out way too fast. I was riding the adrenaline and soaking in the atmosphere of all these women out running together. My first several miles clicked off way faster than normal. Every time I looked down I saw my pace hovering between 8:30 and 8:45 and I knew I was going to be in trouble later on the course, but I just tried to enjoy it while it lasted.

The course was pretty flat, and I was feeling so good. As we looped across Memorial Bridge and out past the Kennedy Center, I couldn't believe the times I was seeing on my Garmin.

Nike women's half

I figured I'd probably crash and burn on Hains Point -- the bane of my existence in every DC race -- three miles of nothing to look at with no race spectators. But though Hains Point felt long, it didn't feel as torturous as normal. Maybe it's because Nike had set up signs on the course so there was stuff to read. I kept telling myself that once I got off Hains Point, I'd only have about three miles of running left.

Mile 10 was the first real hill on the course, running up an on ramp and getting ready to head back to the Mall. That hill almost broke my running streak. Lots of other people stopped to walk, but I just kept telling myself one step at a time, and next thing I knew I was over the hill.

I cruised past a friend from high school who was out on the course cheering (thanks Marisa!) and mentally locked myself in to finish off the last 2.5 miles.

Mile 11 clicked by and I was starting to hurt. There was a bit of back up at the water stop and I almost started walking again, but I kept pushing on.

By this point I knew I had sub-2 in the bag. I couldn't believe it, but I was slowly starting to realize that a PR was still a definite possibility.

Nike women's half

But then my legs started to hurt, my mental strength was fading and I wanted to be done. The loop we ran around the Capitol never felt so long. I kept waiting to make that final turn and head back to the finish line.

Then we were finally on the straightaway. You could see the finish line in the distance, but I knew I still had almost a mile to go. I couldn't focus on much at this point so I just picked a spot on the ground a few feet in front of me and tried not to worry about how far out the finish line was.

Nike women's half

I was looking at my Garmin, trying to do the math in my head based on how far I still had to go. Trying to calculate how much of a PR I'd be able to grab. But at this point in the race my brain wasn't functioning well and I gave up on trying to do runner math.

I could hear the crowd screaming and then a volunteer directing us toward the finisher shoots.

And then I was done. I looked down at my watch and couldn't believe it.

Three minute PR? On no training? Helllll yea!!! #fitfluential @runnikewomen

My official time was 1:56:37.

I went to find Emily after the race, who also set an awesome PR (1:40 and change...she's so fast!)

Emily and me, our little blue boxes and brand-spankin' new PRs

Big thanks to Emily's boyfriend Mike who came out to watch the race and take some really nice pictures!

After finishing, I went to watch for my mom, who finished in 2:40, a decent time for her. She was disappointed though because she knew she could have gone much faster if it weren't for some major, major snafus on the course.

Since this post is already way, way too long, I'll save the pros and cons of this race for a separate post tomorrow. Spoiler alert: While the race was an amazing experience for me and my friends, it kind of sucked for the people in the later corrals.

For now, I'm off to bask in my post-race, PR soreness.

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  1. Emily4:55 AM

    YOU are so fast!!! :))) It was a beautiful morning! Congrats!

  2. Congrats on such a great race! Days like that are the best!

  3. Congrats on your awesome PR!! That's so fun that your mom ran it too. My mom wants to try to do a half marathon. We are aiming for the fall.
    It must have been a good weekend for PRs. I got a killer PR this weekend myself.

  4. WooHooo!! Well done!

    Did your mom run too or was she there for support?

  5. Wow! Congrats on the PR -- there's no better feeling than surprising yourself with your time. I hope you celebrated!

  6. What's all this crossfit stuff I keep hearing about? There's no way that crossfit can make you a faster runner or help build your endurance. It's just for meatheads and paleo freaks, obviously.

    So undertrained on running + some crossfit thrown in + rest/recover from an injury that required a boot last month = huge pr? There's actually a movement called Crossfit Endurance where people are training for Ironman using CF and not running over 10 miles. and still hitting ironman pr's. Personally I don't trust it, and the 100 mile rides and 20 mile runs are my favorite part of marathon/ironman training, but you can't deny the results.

    Great job! That's just wonderful.

  7. Elaine Yandrisevits12:30 PM

    Great post, Jess! This was my first half, and I didn't do as well as I wanted, but I finished! I agree, perfect day for a run! And huge congrats on the PR!!!

  8. WOHOOOO congrats on the shiny new PR!!!!

  9. WOW! That's an incredible finishing time! You're probably the 5th post I've read about this race, and it just looks like such an amazing race to complete. Mad props and congratulations on finishing, running the whole way, and beating your PR!

  10. Awesome job! Very happy you had such a good experience. The weather couldn't have been more perfect for it.

    Next year come up to run IronGirl!

  11. Woohoo! What a great half PR and boy do those medals beat the normal marathon swag!

  12. HOLY Congratulations!!! That is a really great PR!! The finishing mile was slightly torturous, I ended up just focusing on keeping good form and running it in as hard as I could. What a testament to your mental strength, it sounds like you have a lot of PRs in your future!

  13. Great job!! Congrats on the PR!

  14. congrats on the PR!! that is awesome! are you still crossfitting?

  15. [...] coming off a monster PR at the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in DC two weeks ago, I’m all fired up to see what kind of speed I can muster in shorter [...]

  16. Congrats on the PR!! I've always heard mixed reviews about the NWM in SF, so I wondered what DC would look like. I don't have the greatest opinions of womens races in general, and I'm sorry your mom had a rough time.

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    [...] ting ready to head back to the Mall. That hill almost broke my running streak. L [...]...

  18. […] I’m thankful that despite all the injuries and having to drop out of many races during the year, I was also somehow able to set a new half marathon PR at the Nike Women’s Half in April. […]

  19. […] race experience? The Nike Women’s half marathon in DC in April. I was barely able to train for this race because I was balancing CrossFit and teaching at […]