July 29, 2013

Nike Women Half Marathon DC - My First Half Marathon

...and a very belated recap!

My first little blue box!
While I was writing my recap of the Jamestown Half Marathon, it occurred to me that I never wrote one for the Nike Women Half Marathon, or is it the Nike Women's Half Marathon, or Nike Women's Marathon Half? Because I've seen them all used by Nike!

In April, I participated in the inaugural Nike Women Half Marathon DC. It was my first half marathon and I had a fantastic, amazing time. Seriously, it was a wonderful experience. This race is a Run for Life race, which raises money for cancer research. It was so empowering and emotional to be surrounded by so many strong women.

Friends in a crowd.
This race is a big deal. You have to enter into a lottery to get in - although of the few people I know who entered, all made it. Essentially what happens is that you enter the lottery, give them all your information, including your credit card number, and as soon as your name is pulled (2 months later), the fee ($160) is charged to your credit card.

Although it took longer, I opted to take the train down to DC rather than flying - when you factor in security and all the hassle, it's really not much of a difference time-wise, plus the train dropped me right off at Union Station, where my friend and running buddy for the race, Cassie, lived.

Snazzy finisher shirts!
It was necessary to take public transportation to the race, and with a 7am start time, we wanted to make sure we arrived in time to hit bag check and bathrooms. You cannot check any random bag - you can only check the clear plastic bag they provide at bib pick up. Cassie and I had planned to meet up with another woman at the race, but through lack of communication, it didn't happen. Happily we ran across another one of Cassie's friends, Pauline, who had also lost her running companion, and we joined up and ran the race together.
Awkward photobomb.
The race was very well run and organized, but the course had a snafu or two. We started on time and right off the bat entered a bottle neck and came to a complete stand still! I didn't mind, I was there to have fun. However, if you're looking to PR, this is probably not the race for you. The course is flat, but there are just so many people, it took a couple miles before we actually spaced out. There were water and Nuun stops, as well as a Shot Block stop and a medical tent at the halfway point. There was also a Luna bar stop towards the end. I don't know about you, but a Luna bar was the last thing I wanted at 11 miles.

Overlooking around miles 5 or 6, I think.
There was entertainment along the majority of the course. Tons of people were there to cheer us on. My favorite was a tunnel we ran through at the very beginning of the race: There was an awesome drum band playing and colored lights flashing and it was totally insane. I also got a big kick out of the women's drumming group, who seriously rocked it. Cassie, Pauline, and I pretty much goofed off for the first 6 miles, stopping to take lots of photos. The entertainment tapered off after 7 miles, when we entered a park. The crowds picked up again between miles 9 and 10, and there was lots of cheering, signs, and a few bands.
Entering the final stretch.
This race had some of the best signs - my favorite was "You trained longer for this race than Kim Kardashian's marriage!" But, around mile 6 or 7, there was one sign that made me tear up a bit. It was a little kid, maybe around 5, holding a sign saying "I have been in remission for 6 months. Thank you for running for me!" Seriously, how can that not get you?

Post-race mental breakdown?
This race is not cheap, but the reason so many women want to compete in Nike races is the SWAG. Serious swag. Once you cross the finish line, your bib is scanned and you are met with silver trays of little blue Tiffany boxes - each of which contains a limited edition Tiffany's Nike Women Half Marathon Necklace. SCHWING! You then continue through 2 more staging areas where you receive your shirt (a short sleeved "Finisher" tech shirt that I love) and then a blue Tiffany bag to fill in the snack and swag area. There is a second expo after the race where they do photos, makeovers, hair styling, a boutique, photos, and of course snacks. Once again, the line for everything was so long, we ended up giving up after waiting 15 minutes for a makeover and not moving. Same with photos. In the end we grabbed some food, makeup remover wipes to wash off with, some free samples (Bare Minerals Moisturizer!) and skipped out.

Because I know you were wondering...
These guys were like, 12. I felt seriously old.
Bling, bling.
If I had any criticisms it is this: There is no day of bib pick up - there are thousands of runners, so I understand why. HOWEVER, bib pick up ended at 7pm the night before AND bibs had to be picked up IN PERSON. With this being such a large race, I feel like it would be prudent to extend the pickup and expo an hour or two, if you want all the bibs picked up in person. I took a 7am train, arrived in DC around 3, dropped off my bags at Cassie's, got on the metro and went directly to bib pickup and the expo - after waiting in line, we just made it into the expo....where every table and station had a long line. In the end, we didn't actually get to sample any of the services or activities at the expo (a hair styling bar, a Nuun taste testing stand, a sign making station, a Luna bar tasting station, etc). We got to enter 2 of the shoe giv aways but not the third because it was decided that that the expo was over and they wouldn't be scanning anymore entry cards to see if you were a winner. Bummer. In the end, it could have been nice, but it wasn't large enough for the volume of people, nor did it last long enough.

All the swag!
That being said, overall I had an amazing time. I finished with a time of 2:29:23 and felt great afterwards. It was a super positive experience and would make a great race for anyone, especially if it's your first half. It was such a fantastic experience, it really got me motivated to sign up for more halfs and excited for next year. I've already recruited a group to enter the lottery as a team!


  1. That's so cool that they give out Tiffany necklaces! Looks like you had a ton of fun and congrats on your finish!!


    1. Thanks! The necklaces are awesome right? So much better than a medal, haha!


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