Last weekend, me and 15,000 of my closest friends ran the streets of DC (AGAIN!) This time, what we were all chasing was not the usual finisher medal.. but rather, a little blue box. Inside the box.. the coveted Nike Women’s Tiffany Necklace. Our mission.. complete 13.1 miles, cross the red carpet finish line, and meet up with a handsome ROTC cadet in a tuxedo- who was handing out the beautiful limited edition 2014 Nike Women’s DC Half Marathon necklace.
Dawn was running this one with me, but she had to work until 11:30 pm the night before so I headed down to DC on Saturday afternoon alone. I Parked at the Greenbelt Metro station and took the Metro to the Foggy Bottom stop. From there it was about a 10 minute walk to the Nike store in Georgetown. You knew you hit the right place as you approached, when you saw the giant blue sign with white letters along the side of the building that said We Run DC. When you got closer, you realize that the sign is actually made up of all the participant’s names in alphabetical order. I followed along until I found mine!
Continuing down the side street towards the water, I came across packet pickup. Last year, this place was a mob scene. I seem to remember there being a shorter time limit on packet pickup.. because I remember waiting in a super long line and wondering if I was going to make it to the front on time. (After getting there with plenty of time to spare.) This year, there was no line at all. I think having satellite packet pick ups throughout the week really helped with the over crowding. I walked right in and got my packet (and Dawn’s) and headed over to T-shirt pick up. Last year we got our shirts when we finished the race. This year we got them beforehand. I liked this much better. After getting the shirt, I headed down to the Expotique.
There was a giant We Run sign sitting in the middle of the courtyard on the way down to the Expotique. I noticed a line and saw that there was a volunteer taking pictures with people’s cameras in front of the sign. I decided to get in line to get a picture. Turned out pretty awesome!
I headed down some stairs and into the Expotique tent. When I walked in I saw a huge curved LED wall with the Nike Women’s logo on screen, I took a picture because I thought it was really cool- something they didn’t do last year. But as I looked again, the logo dissolved and all these names popped up. It was then I realized that there must have been a sensor that sensed the B-tag timing device on the race bibs, and the runner’s name popped up on the screen when they entered the tent. I’ve definitely never seen that before.. and I was able to see Dawn and my name pop up!
Further inside the tent they had a running analysis station where you could have your running looked at and shoes recommended for you. Since I was wearing flip flops, and since my feet don’t like Nike shoes, I skipped that, but it was cool none-the-less. There was a wall full of pictures and tweets- where if you used the hashtag #werundc, the picture or tweet would show up on the wall. There was a DJ playing cool uplifting music. There was a Nuun sampling booth and a booth for the only real vendor- the Fleet Feet Running store. There were decorative foil walls, and a hair salon where they had people doing hairstyles.
There was the Luna Cheer booth where they were giving out tons of Luna mini samples. You also could make a cheer sign using a pre-made template ot your own saying. I made one for me and one for Dawn. There was even a volunteer standing at the ready for picture requests.
There was an LLS station where you could also make a sign, make a donation, and take a picture in the photobooth. I made a sign and took a picture. All the pictures everyone took were uploaded to a facebook album on the Team in Training page
I then heard an announcement that Shalane Flanagan and Joan Benoit Samuelson were going to speak. So I stuck around for that.
Like last year there was also wall that you could write on.. so I left my mark.
As I was heading out, I stopped by a giant light up map.. again, a wonderful volunteer took my picture.
I wandered back up the street to the Nike store to look at the merchandise. Unfortunately, everything in there was super expensive- $48 for a T-shirt? $90 for a zip-up. No Thanks. But I did get a picture of the cool display they had set up in the main entrance to the store.
Since I was in Georgetown.. and since every time we’re in DC, Dawn says “I want to go to Georgetown Cupcake!” I decided to seek this place out. If anyone doesn’t know.. Georgetown Cupcake is featured in the show DC Cupcakes on TLC. I looked it up on Yelp, and saw that it was 0.3 miles away. So up the street I trudged. I figured the store would be crowded, seeing as how the expo was going on and drawing a lot of people to the area. I didn’t realize it would be THIS crowded:
Aparently from what I hear.. it’s ALWAYS like that. Well, I had nothing better to do.. wasn’t quite hungry yet, and I wanted to surprise Dawn (and my husband). So, I got in line. Took me an hour to get to the front! But I made it baby!
Cupcakes in tow, I made my way back to the Metro station. I didn’t get back to my car until about quarter after 8. I decided to find a Noodles and Company for dinner, but had to drive into College Park a little ways to find it. I finally to my hotel, checked in and made it to the room around 9, where I relaxed and ate my dinner watching the Suze Orman Show (of which, my segment still has not aired yet.. but I know I’ll be on soon!)
Dawn texted me at about 11:30 to let me know she was on the way, and ended up getting there around midnight sometime. We promptly went to bed at that point- we were both exhausted!.
We got up the next morning around 4:30. I ate my cliff bar and banana and put on my race clothes I had layed out. I decided since I’m a TNT alumni and that this was a race for the LLS, I wanted to wear some purple 🙂 I settled on my white TNT shirt, gray capris and my purple sparkle skirt. I even painted my nails the day before, a sparkly purple. I decided to wear my old shoes (the purple ones!) because I wasn’t sure if it was the new shoes that were causing the foot pain I’ve been experiencing lately. I also attached my blood drop I made the day before at the Expotique to my race belt- I wanted to carry Grandma with me in the race.
We set out for the Metro, which was only a 5 minute drive from the hotel. It took us a little bit to get to the Archives station, but we didn’t have to switch trains, and when we exited the station, were were right there at the start/finish line.
it was about 6:30 at this point. We made our way down towards bag check, which was way down at the other end of the corrals. As we got closer and closer to bag check, we were finding it harder to get through the crowds of people pushing forward from the opposite direction. That’s when I remembered that the corrals were going to close around 6:45. We pushed our way though and found bag check, then rushed all the way back forward to the 9:00-9:59 pace corral. There were still a ton of runneres rushing around, trying to get where they needed to be, and at this point, the corrals were closed. We hopped two fences to get into our corral. this is something that definately needs to be improved on next year- I don’t understand why they were closing corrals at all, let alone when there were that many runners still rushing about.
Once in the corrals, we had plenty of time. We were getting pumped up by the DJ announcing the start of the race and playing great music. Once, her even turned around and took a selfie with the crowd. We were ready to start.
The course was a bit like the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler course I ran in the beginning of April. The begining was a bit different, and backwards from last year’s Nike Women’s. We started out down Pennsylvania Ave. and merged onto Constitution Ave. and 1st St. NW, where we ran around the circle in front of the Capital building.
We continued down Maryland Ave and continued on 3rd St. NW and back on to Pennsylvania Ave, where we saw the runners that were behind us. I lost Dawn about half mile in. My strategy for this race was to keep it slow and pay attention to the pain in my foot. I had another half and 5k coming up the following weekend, so I didn’t want to wear myself out.. and wanted as minimal impact to my foot as possible. I hit the mile mark as we turned onto Constitution Ave- a very quick mile indeed.
We ran down 9th St NW and ran through a tunnel. In the tunnel were several small drum bands, and the sound of the drums echoing against the walls made a pretty cool beat to run to. Around Mile 2 we encountered the We Run sign, all lit up in a beautiful Tiffany blue. A pretty cool sight to see.
Coming out of the tunnel, I saw the wall from the expo that people had written on
We headed down Maine Ave and Raoul Wallinberg Pl SW, then made a turn down Independence Ave- this is where I started to see some of the same sights as Rock N Roll USA and the Cherry Blossom races.
I noticed that this year.. there were a ton of bathroom stops. Seemed like more than last year. I also loved how there were these signs set up at every stop, letting you know how much further to the next one.
As we made our way to Memorial Bridge, my foot started to feel worse. I decided that at mile three I would start to do run/walk intervals. I had one set in my interval timer for 10 minutes running, 2 minutes walking. It felt really strange to stop and walk in front f so many spectators (there were TONS along the course so far!) but I got some cool shots of these guys-
We made our way down Memorial bridge.. and I was scanning the crowds for Dawn among the runners that were passing, ahead of us. I spotted her and shouted “Go Dawn!” She saw me and shouted back.. always cool to pass and cheer on your buddies.. she was looking good! On my way back up the bridge, I started waking and jumped up on the sidewalk to get out of people’s way. I noticed the runners from the road below us and stopped real quick to take a picture.
We exited the bridge and headed down Ohio Dr SW and Rock Creek/Potomac Pkwy SW- again, the same route as my previous 2 DC races. The turn around point back down Rock Creek was the same as Cherry Blossom. Right around Mile 6 there was a rest stop- I kind of had to go, but the line was a little long, so I decided to wait until the next one. About a half mile down the road, I regretted this decision. The rest stop sign said the next one would be in 2.5 miles. Ugh. I wasn’t sure what hurt worse, my bladder or my foot.
We continued along.. I passed a screen that was filming the runners as we passed. I cheered as I saw myself. We the started running towards memorial Bridge- Passing the point where I took the picture from above.
We continued into West Potomac Park and hit the TNT cheer zone. I got to see a lot of signs posted along the way, lending support to the runners in the name of fighting blood cancer. A pretty cool sight to see. One thing I loved about this race- all the purple shirts.. and all the supporters yelling GO TEAM along the way. So uplifting- even among Alumni.
Around Mile 8, I FINALLY hit a bathroom. At that point I didn’t care if I had to wait an hour in line, I had to go. I didn’t wait an hour, but I did wait about 5 minutes. I took the opportunity to text my husband to update him on how I was doing. The foot was hurting, but I was trying to focus on keeping the foot loose and not tensing it too much. Unfortunately, I think my right side was compensating a little, because my hip flexer has hurting too. Either way, keeping it slow helped a lot. I also noticed how much more I was enjoying the race. By not focusing as much on my time and being present in the here and now, I realized that it was a gorgeous day with gorgeous scenery. I saw weeping willows by the water, saw a cherry blossom tree that had blooms on it, I even saw a boat on the water with a sign someone had hung that said GO BEN on the side of it.
Around 10.75 miles, I got a text message from Dawn letting me know she had finished. I responded an let her know where I was. Around Mile 11 I hit the Chocolate Zone.. and it was every bit as amazing as it sounds.
We were tracing our steps back the way we came to the finish. I passed a screen that flashed people’s names on them as we ran passed, as a DJ was announcing people and giving words of encouragement in the home stretch. Mile 12 found us back in the 9th St. tunnel again.
Coming out of the tunnel, we made a left onto Constitution Ave and a right onto Pennsylvania Ave. So many spectators shouting.. “you’re almost there! Keep Going.” I still had plenty of gas in the tank.. but was glad to be almost done for my foot’s sake. Before I knew it I saw the finish! There was a band playing all the runners into the finish with a cool and triumphant beat. I took a video as I ran to the red carpet.
I crossed in 2:38.. took a quick finish line selfie and a few more pictures and headed towards the hot men in tuxedos!
I stood in line quite a while to get my necklace. Last year the guys were giving them out as people passed by. This year, people were herded into lines and it caused a bottle neck. I finally got through the line and headed to bag check to meet Dawn. I got my bag, changed into my flip flops, and headed towards the metro stop. We had to high tail it back to the hotel for showers in time to check out by noon, and Dawn had to be at work in Baltimore by 2:30. We ended up making great time and I checked out quarter of noon.
Overall.. this was a GREAT race! I remember it being pretty awesome last year.. and I really think they made some great improvements! I also feel like there was still some room to improve. But let me tell you, I completely feel like as expensive as this race is, I got my money’s worth. This is one race I’ll definitely put in for again next year.
My next race is this weekend at the Frederick Running festival. I’m essentially running three challenges- The nut Job Challenge is associated with the Frederick Running festival- participants get an extra medal for finishing both the 5K Saturday night, and the half marathon Sunday morning. I’m also participating in the Maryland Double- a challenge in which finishers who complete both the Frederick half and the Baltimore half (in October) get’s a special 3rd medal for the Maryland Double. The third is the King Crab Challenge- which is the two halves from the Maryland Double and the Baltimore 10 Miler in mid June. Participants who finish all three races get a special premium- an Under Armour backpack with the MD flag on it. I’ve basically been resting all week, and trying to get my foot to heal as much as possible. Unfortunately, I still feel it a little bit.. which means these two races are going to test me from the beginning. But I’m pretty detemrined to finish both so I’ll get it done!
I have more pictures from my 2014 Nike Women’s race posted on my blog’s Facebook page. I want to start posting pictures from all my races there, so feel free to follow my page if you like. I have a badge on the side panel of this blog, just click to Like my page!
Until next time!