Nike Women's Half Marathon San Francisco
It's been a few days, but it's time for my race report from the Nike Women's Half Marathon in San Francisco!
The race itself was a beast compared to previous half marathons I've done. It started in Union Square in downtown SF, then immediately went into some hills. Starting off on uphills was rough! A lot of people around me seemed to burn themselves out quickly using their energy to tackle those early uphills. I knew I wasn't in peak shape, so I opted to walk the uphills from the beginning.
The worst hill of the race was at mile 10. Man, was it brutal. Even the really good runners I know struggled on it. At one point, I looked around and not a single person in my line of sight was actually running. While I enjoyed the run signage and motivational slogans Nike had scattered around the hill, I would be very happy if they opted to take a different route next year! Even for San Francisco, this was a very hilly course. I would've preferred a route along the Embarcadero.
It was also very crowded. By the end of the race, my GPS said I'd run 14 miles with all my zigzagging around. I can't say I was super pumped about that! I started in the 11:00+ minute mile corral, which meant lots of walkers to dodge for most of the race, so that extra distance could've been avoided if they'd had a separate corral for walkers.
I like to say I'm showing off my best "I'm about to sneeze" face in this one.
The course wasn't terribly scenic, either. I would've been pretty disappointed had I flown in from out of town specifically to run this as it didn't really go by many classic San Francisco sights. It was foggy, which didn't help (there would've been some great Golden Gate Bridge vistas near the finish!), but it would've been nice to see a few more iconic landmarks. Instead, we got routed through the Tenderloin and Western Addition, which aren't exactly the most scenic parts of the city!
Now, onto my favorite parts of the race! The finish area was simply incredible. There were sponsor tents from Whole Foods (free food!), Neutrogena (free, full-size products!), Kaiser (free massages!) and more. The lines were long, but it was worth the wait. There was also a lounge area for runners only that featured personal trainers who would come stretch you out. That was a nice touch!
And, of course, there's the necklace. Unlike the medals awarded at most other races, this one gives you a necklace from Tiffany & Co. (yes, the one pictured above). At first, I didn't really have strong feelings about this particular feature. But, now that I have it, it's a lot more practical than a medal! I enjoy being able to wear it on a daily basis and use it as a conversation starter! It's a cute necklace, too.
The course had some incredible entertainment along the way. I was a big fan of the drum group in Golden Gate Park! It was pretty cool to see all these people coming out to perform and cheer for the runners.
Finally, I really love the fact that they give us our race photos for free. I know my photos weren't all great (and they really didn't grab a decent finish shot), but I'd much rather have okay photos from the race for free than good photos (because, let's face it...race photos are never great) that cost a ton. It was a nice added bonus!
So, yes, this was a good race. Was it a race I'd do again? I'm not 100% sure. Between the hills, the crowded course and the $150 entry fee, there are a few things making me lean towards no. But the amenities post-race, necklace and general atmosphere of the race make me think yes. We shall see what next year holds!