This weekend, over 30,000 runners will conquer San Francisco. That’s A LOT of runners. On Sunday, the Nike Women’s Half Marathon will be starting in Union Square. The new course for 2014 will take them up hills (yep), past Alamo Square, down the pan handle, almost to the bottom of Golden Gate Park, back up and shoot them out towards Sea Cliff and the Presidio. After that they will run within sight of the Golden Gate Bridge, through Crissy Field, past the Palace of Fine Arts and out to the Marina where they will be greeted with firefighters dressed in tuxedos ready to hand them a Tiffany Necklace — and maybe take a selfie or two.
It looks to be a great trip through San Francisco where they’ll get to see many of the popular sites that the city has to offer, but since they’ll be running it, I wanted to offer some insight into what they can expect. I have never run the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in San Francisco, so a lot of what you will hear is based on my experience training in the city and feedback I’ve heard from runners. As is true with most races, one runner’s experience can be very different from another, so I’ll do my best to offer a generalization of what you might expect, but might not necessarily experience.
It’s San Francisco, we have them, you know this. From what I can see on the map, there are a couple “big” climbs. Remember that what is a “big” climb for me is when you look at it and the top of the hill is taller than you. I’m only going to focus on a couple, but there may be more. The first decent climb happens pretty early in the race. Alamo Square is at mile 2 and you pretty much have to run UP there. Most of the (steep) climb happens at mile 2, and it’s over pretty quickly, but there is some UP going on to get there.
[Updated] You will also get some rolling hills through miles 8-9 after you exit the park. Pretty much count on a incline once you start to make your way “out” of the park at mile 7. If you take a look at the link below (or click here), you’ll see a Nike map with an elevation chart and the course route is color coded from green-to-red with green being fast, red being slow/challenging. Gives you a good indication of what to expect and where to expect it.
The second “big” one comes much later, between miles 9 and 11. It’s the climb UP Lincoln. If you ran RnRSF in April, it’s THAT hill. If you ran SFM in July, you ran down it. It’s a LONG climb, I’m not gonna lie and it comes right around the time your legs might start to get tired. Just take it as it comes and if the sky is clear and Karl the Fog is not there, you’ll get some glorious sights of the Golden Gate Bridge. Just take it as it comes and don’t try to BLAZE up the hill because it last awhile. But when you get to the top, you’ve got 2 miles to the finish line so save some juice for that stretch and you can FLY.
I don’t think this is classified information, but you are getting some inside scoop. The November Project SF tribe is going to be representing when you make that climb up Lincoln at mile 10. They’ll be out there cheering you on, no doubt some will be running up the hill with you, and it’s going to be the LOUDEST CHEER SECTION you have ever seen in your whole life. You won’t be able to miss them. Bright colored shirts, screams, funky signs, tagged shirts, high-fives, all the energy you can feed off to make it up the hill and celebrate the climb.
Want to join in? If you want to be out there with the NPSF tribe, check out details here. Ya heard it here first. Tell em I sent ya. LOL. I wish I was able to make it. If I could, I would be running up and down that hill cheering everyone on and getting my hill repeats in… but Nike always falls on wifey’s birthday weekend and it’s the ONE weekend I don’t do my running thing. She supports me day in and day out, and THIS is the one weekend I typically step back from my runner-role.
All the runners
In case you breezed over that first sentence, I said 30,000+ runners. That’s a lot. Expect it to be crowded. Expect it to be crowded for a while. I know Nike draws a lot of first-time runners and just remember that everyone is there to have a good run. That can mean different things to many people. Some may be racing for time, some may be walking to finish. Some may do both. Don’t get caught up in trying to weave and wasting energy the first few miles… you’ll burn yourself out and you have a HUGE hill at 9-ish. Do your best to run your race and if you have to pass someone who might not be aware they are blocking you, simply say “coming up behind you” or “on your left.” Don’t scream it. It will just make you and the other person upset. Remember that you were once a “new” runner.
If you happen to be a new runner and this is your first race, please be aware that there might be runners behind you that are eager to finish before you. If you are taking a walk break do your best to make your way to the right if possible. You can always take your walk break on a sidewalk, I’m sure you won’t be disqualified from prize money (at least I never have been). If you are running or walking with friends, don’t do it side-by-side four people across. Try to keep your group to 2 people across, you can always rotate every few miles so you can talk to everyone. This is how I train with my friends and it has never taken away from the experience.
[Updated] Shakeout run with Fleet Feet SF on Saturday. Details and RSVP here.
The fun stuff, right? Okay. Everything that you probably want to buy IS AVAILABLE NOW online.
It is, I swear. In fact, it’s RIGHT HERE. And they have your size. That’s important because 30,000 people might be the same size as you and want that same shirt, hoodie, bag, and shoes. And to top it off, you won’t have to carry it back on the plane (or in the car). I get it, you want to buy something at the expo or at Nike and experience the day. Go for it. Buy one or two things, but if you are looking to go on a shopping spree remember that you have to carry those 5 bags through San Francisco and the expo, THEN take it home. And if you they don’t happen to have your size at the store, break out your phone and buy it online. It might be at home waiting for you when you get back.
[Updated] There is a $20 promo that each runner is given…
The Nike Women’s expo is different from the normal race expos you might have experienced in the past. At a typical race expo there might be 40 vendors with a mix running clothes, fuel, hydration, shoes, and everything you have seen a billion times. But since this is ALL Nike and the store is across the street, the expo itself is geared towards “women.” So you will see things like beauty counters, styling centers, in the past they have a spot to do your nails. NOTE: this is NOT me saying that these things is what makes you a woman, I’m just saying that’s what is there. Basically, I’m trying to say don’t expect 5 booths of running shoes and foam rollers. It’s a different experience. They do have a couple of fuel and hydration vendors there, but it won’t be the number you are used to seeing. Also, crowded, like I said before. I’ve heard feedback of not having to wait more than 5 minutes to get your bib, to waiting in a line that wraps around the block. My best advice is to avoid the “second line” of shopping in the store with making your purchases online.
That Nike Feel
One thing that I love about Nike is how they “get that runner style.” There stuff just always looks so damn nice. It could be my design/marketing background, but I just dig their stuff. The signage at the expo, on the course, in the store is going to be on point and it’s a real show. Soak it in, enjoy the weekend and just have fun. It’s a celebration of running and a celebration of women.
Good luck to everyone running. Can’t wait to see all the photos on social.
Have you ever run a Nike race?
Will you be out there this weekend? Next year?