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Posts tagged ‘Nike Women’s Marathon’

A nice retreat at the Nike Expotique

I mentioned in a previous post how excited I am about the Nike Women’s Half Marathon. It’s a huge race. There are more than 25,000 women running for the same cause. It’s all about female empowerment. And it’s fun. There was nowhere along the race path last year that I wasn’t having an amazing time.

I’ll admit, though, I was reluctant to sign up this year. It’s a lot of money. Getting in is also pretty difficult. There’s a lottery system. Nothing is guaranteed.

And yet, I got in. I was thrilled when I got the email earlier this year.

So I’ve been anxiously awaiting this race weekend. When I got the reservation for the LunarGlides, I immediately took the day off so that I’d be able to spend a lot of time at the expo and in San Francisco.

I headed to the city around 11 a.m. on Thursday. I venture over on BART, a public transit train system in our area. It’s about a 40-minute ride from the station I board at to near the expo site.

It took forever to find parking. I had to go to three garages. So I was ridiculously hungry when I got to San Francisco.

First stop, the mall. For food.

There’s a great pasta/pizza place there with thin crust pizzas. I ordered one and ate like there was no tomorrow.

It was amazing. The cheese was perfect. The flavors were amazing. Then again, I was really hungry. I actually was able to eat before the lunch rush. Then I walked around for a couple hours at the mall.

I even found a pair of shoes I’d been looking to buy for awhile (Cognac-colored flats).

There are very few stores where I live and not many that sell inexpensive clothes. So whenever I make the trek to San Francisco, I usually visit H&M and some other places that specialize in low cost, fashionable clothes.

I decided it was time to head to Union Square after a couple hours. It was a quick five-minute walk up the street. When I got there, I was greeted by the purple Nike tent.

There was hardly anyone at the expo, as it had only opened a couple hours before. So I headed to the first person with her hand up. Checking in was easy. And she didn’t even check my identification. (For all that Nike preaches about not allowing other people to run in the place of another, I thought that was a little weird.)

The volunteer’s scanner wasn’t working, so she manually entered my number. I was handed my Nike+ volt-colored bag and basically sent on my way. Actually, I got something new this year too.

It’s a pace band. After last year’s disaster of a start line, which I’m told happens every year, I was glad when I was handed this band. I’m not the fastest, obviously, but I also don’t want to be behind a sea of walkers. We’ll see if this brings any change.

The bag is pretty nice too. Definitely something I’ll reuse. I’m not big into bag check. Usually I just take what I need with me and my husband brings me a bag at the end. (I have another new one in my ongoing quest to get him to actually bring me a bag, it’s another one from Lululemon I’ll post about later.)

Then I checked out the expo.

There’s always a lot going on at the expo, but not in a regular sense. People complain about not being able to sign up for other races or visit other vendors, but I think it actually works out for Nike. It’s a big brand. Plus, I’m often tempted to buy  a few to many gear items I definitely don’t need.

This year, I was tempted by the sports bras.

I briefly chatted with the saleswoman, but decided I probably already had as many sports bras as I could handle right now. I know you are supposed to replace them every six months. I have a few that aren’t even that old.

I checked out the Neutrogena booth, where they were giving away free samples. I drank some Nuun. I got some coupons for Safeway. I also watched a runner have their gait checked out. A lot happening in a small area.

Then, I headed to Nike Town.

I was specifically excited for one thing there this year: Seeing my name on the wall.

And this time, it was there. Last year, because I gained late entry, I was too late to have my name included.

I was so excited to see it in purple.

And here’s the point where I go a little crazy. The same thing happened last year. I normally limit my expo spending in any area to a set amount. For some reason, I can’t see to do that at Nike.

I was already purchasing the $150 limited edition LunarGlides.

Then I started looking around. This year there was more half marathon specific items.

I found a new cotton shirt for everyday wear. I have a gray one just like this from last year that I love.

Then I picked up a new tech shirt for running.

And since it’s getting to be cooler outside (seriously, I went from wearing T-shirts and needing the air conditioner two weeks ago to sitting here typing this with a long-sleeved shirt and wearing socks), I justified buying a new long-sleeve pullover to run in.

That’s the front, which is pretty basic but still pretty awesome. I’m really, though, in love with the back.

I love the ombre-inspired color pattern going down the back. Plus, as I mentioned in previous posts, I’m a fan of good design. This long-sleeve is really well designed.

See how I went a little crazy? Yes. I actually saved up a good amount of money to not break the bank this time, like I did last year.

Then, just for good measure, I figured I would pick up a hat too. I run with them from time to time, especially when it rains.

Because I really needed something else. To say this is why Nike doesn’t allow other vendors at the expo would likely be an understatement. They want you to come spend money, lots of money, at the NikeTown store. And that’s what most people do. It’s always ridiculously busy in there, some women buy shirts upon shirts upon shirts.

Some likely also buy enough stuff to sell it on eBay. (An off note, I saw a pair of the Nike LunarGlides posted as an eBay link  on the Nike Women’s Marathon Facebook page. That was a little disgusting. I’m glad Nike removed it.)

I had to wait a couple hours to pick up my shoes, so I headed back out to do some more shopping.

The lobby to NikeTown has maps of the course and huge images reflecting the marathon themes. It’s pretty inspiring.

So many photos, right? I get a little blog happy at this expo. Seriously, I’m probably more excited to write about this half marathon than any other one I do. I’m even usually more excited to run it. I’m REALLY looking forward to tomorrow.

Since they let me pick up my shoes at 4 p.m., I went back to the mall where I was going to wait until my husband told me to head back to the East Bay. I figured I’d hitch a ride back with him to my car. So I decided to go back to my favorite pasta place and order the best Italian dish ever.

Pesto gnocchi is amazing. I also had a small Caesar salad as well. It was all delicious. By the time I finished eating I was so tired. I walked around a little bit more and decided that I needed cupcakes. Because I always need cupcakes.


Yes. I got six. I’m not ashamed. They are delicious. And the booth is right next to the BART entrance to head back home for me.

About an hour later, my husband and I talked and decided I should just start heading back to the valley. I hopped on the first train and started my journey.

My trip home wasn’t nearly as fulfilling as my time in San Francisco. My car started overheating. My husband, who was supposed to go out of town today, is now in our garage trying to figure out what’s wrong with it. He’s already replaced the thermostat. That’s the fourth time in the 10 years I’ve owned my car the thermostat has been replaced.

I did, finally, get to look through my “goody bag” from the expo.

There was a lot of great stuff in it, including lip moisturizer, coconut water, Somersaults Snacks and cookies. This was actually a bag filled with good stuff. Compared to other bags, this one is probably the definition of an actual “goody bag.”

Today I’m taking it easy. I slept with compression socks last night. I’m worried because my legs have been incredibly fatigued in recent days. And my half marathon experience last week was brutal.

So I’m nervous about tomorrow. But I’m also incredibly excited about being able to run with lots of other woman who will inspire me along the way. I’m counting down the hours.

My new glass slippers

I’m not typically into girly girl stuff. Not at all. I don’t wear a lot of dresses, or do my hair all fancy or anything. But early last week when Nike posted a photo of the Tiffany blue LunarGlide’s that would be made special for the Nike Women’s Marathon, I didn’t hesitate to try and reserve a pair.

And, surprisingly, I secured them. The confirmation process took little more than five minutes. And I was set.

All I had to do was show up and pick them up at 5 p.m. today. I knew I’d be in San Francisco today to pick up my race packet. So I reserved my time for when I’d be around.

After waiting and waiting in anticipation (again, I’m never typically like this), today was finally the day.

I went through the expo earlier in the day, but I headed over around 4 p.m. on the off chance I’d be able to get my pair early.

They did.

I showed my identification and the store employee checked my confirmation number against a long roster, then I was directed toward the counter where a man dressed in a fancy tuxedo handed me my pair of shoes.

The man showed me my shoes, checked the sizes and then handed them off to me so I could purchase them. The price was steep, yes. But it’s not more than I would have paid for a new pair of running shoes.Plus, the LunarGlides are within my range for stability.

I fell in love at first site.

The shoelaces are a delicate satin, but the shoes also came with regular Nike white laces to switch out. I’m not sure the pretty laces are even practical, but they are cute. The little Nike swoosh at the bottom of the laces is shiny and adds a nice touch.

I’ve never had “bling” on my shoes before. This definitely qualifies.

The shoes are incredibly detailed. Each time I look at them, I see something unique. It may be cheesy, but I kind of feel like these are my glass slippers, especially after the week I’ve had with technology fails and my car overheating on the way home from the Expotique (more sigh).

That’s the insole. When the nice tuxedo-clad man showcase the shoe for me, he made sure to give me a peak of the inside to let me know there was something special there too. The shoes are that Tiffany blue color everywhere.

That includes the Lunarlon padding, which actually is more pearl-toned than I thought it would be.

I’ve talked before about how I didn’t have a “pretty” pair of running shoes until I bought my LunarEclipses a few months ago. Then, finally, I had some color and different texture on my shoes. I felt, dare I say it, stylish when I ran.

These make me feel like a running princess. And I’m not inclined to ever feel like a princess. Ever. That’s just not my style. It kind of changes my perspective on running shoes (which have, always, been about function as opposed to style for me).

The downside? I don’t get to wear them during the actual run. I never, ever try anything new on race day. It’s taboo in general, but I think on a course like the 13.1 I’ll be running for Nike it would definitely be a big mistake. I’d love to wear these to run, but I’m sticking to my LunarEclipses because I know the shoes and how they’ll react on the course.

I’ll do a more throughout report from the Expotique a little later, but I wanted to share these photos and some giddy about these awesome add-ons to my race experience this weekend.

For those venturing out in the next few days, Nike Town is also giving away a free gift with a $150 purchase. It’s really, really easy to rack up that kind of damage at the store. There’s too much awesome stuff to choose from. I’ll admit, this is the one race where I actually do go a little crazy with gear.

The shoes come with a reusable bag.

Other purchases that exceed the limit come with a very practical cosmetic-style bag. Last year the gift was a brushed metal picture frame. I like this year’s freebie, particularly because it also came with pony tail ties and an elastic headband.

Definitely useful.

I may go a bit crazy about this race over the next few days. I’ve been fortunate enough to secure a spot in it for the past two years, which is really, really special in itself.

When I started running, my ultimate goal was never 26.2. It was “one day, I’ll run the Nike race.” I accomplished that last year. This year I’d like to beat last year’s time. With tired legs and a stressful week, though, I’m not sure that will happen.

One thing is already for sure: My shoes are an amazing treat.

Happening now


I’m in San Francisco at the Nike Expotique! Way more excited than I should be!

Answers to your Nike Women’s Marathon (and half) questions

One of the most common search terms that brings visitors to my blog is NWM or “Nike Women’s Marathon.” I know why. It’s  HUGE race, and not just because of the 25,000-plus women who run it. It’s big because of the money it brings in for charity. It’s also a “desired” destination race for the mega bling finishers get at the end.

Behold, the Tiffany pendant.

I hate to say it, but there’s no angels singing or anything when the hot firefighter hands it to you. But it’s beautiful. And amazing. I never owned a Tiffany necklace until I was handed this one. I still have the little blue box.

So in honor of the Nike Women’s Marathon, I’m going to answer some questions I’ve received via email over the past few weeks from nervous runners gearing up to run the 13.1 or 26.2 miles through San Francisco from Union Square to Golden Gate Park (and a lot of places in between).


Not like any expo you’ve likely been to. There’s very few vendor booths selling marathon swag. There’s a lot of “girly” stuff happening instead. You can get pedicures. Neutrogena has a counter and reps will give you pointers on skin care. There’s no race gear for sale. Instead, you have to go to Nike Town across the street.

Nike Town in itself is a mad house. Grab what you want quick, because it will go fast if you don’t.

The biggest thing is that last year Nike started a system where numbers would be assigned upon check in. I ended up with a very low 162 because I went to the expo on Thursday. I recommend going to the expo on Thursday if you live nearby. Why? There’s usually a little something special happening at it. And it’s light. Very light when it comes to people. I didn’t have to wait at all to get my bib.

Nike+ members got an extra disposable backpack for check in. I’m not a Nike+ member, though I now have it on my iPhone. I just got a florescent green bag, but still pretty hefty.

Overall, it’s nice. But I think I ended up spending a lot more money than I really wanted to. And a lot more than I’ve ever spent at an expo because Nike stuff isn’t cheap. (That said, ever since the Saucony disaster earlier this year, I’m staying brand loyal to Nike for the shoes.)


Yes. But the system is crazy. You have to remember what bus you checked in at. I’m hoping this year will be different because of a new corral system. We’ll see. We literally walked through a forest of buses last year looking for the bag my friend checked. I had my husband bring me my bag at the end, so I didn’t check anything.

Then, when said friend got her bag back, something had been spilled on it. Not really what you want after running for a long time.


One word: Bad. But NWM promises a revamped system this year to ease the congestion and, hopefully, the number of walkers getting mixed in with runners at the beginning.

In late September, a new corral map was posted to the Nike 26.2 Facebook page.

It looks promising.

If you click the image, it will take you to the PDF corral map.

That said, people will lie. This happens in nearly every race. Some walkers will say they run at a nine-minute mile pace just to get more time. Then the runners who run 10-12 minute miles, but still run, are stuck behind the walkers, weaving in and out of the way.

It sucks, yes. But it’s a big race. It happens.


At the start, no.  Everywhere else, yes. My two friends and I spent nearly 45 minutes in a portable toilet line that wasn’t moving. At all. People were crowding other people. Some runners were just jumping into the toilets before another one could. It was pretty brutal.

Brutal enough that I took matters into my own hands. When everyone was crowding up to move into starting position (again in very unorganized corrals last year), I noticed a toilet with green above the handle. I jumped in. It seemed everyone else was concerned about starting. So I commandeered a bathroom.

I’m not even ashamed.

The rest of the way, there seemed to be ample enough toilets. The longest lines were at the top of the biggest hill on the half marathon. That’s near the Golden Gate Bridge.


If you haven’t trained for them, of course. I earned my Nike entry last year as part of a sponsored team. I didn’t know I was running the race until about five or six weeks before. At that point I was training, instead, for a PR at the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose Half Marathon, which I got (and it was my standing PR until only recently).

There are very few hills on that run.

This year, I’ve increased resistance on my treadmill. I’ve also spent some time focusing on the muscles in my legs that propel me up hills. Proof of my work going well was a 2:32-ish finish in the 1st Half Marathon of the San Francisco Marathon.

A plan of attack: The hills near Fort Mason aren’t horrible and there’s a nice downhill after. The hills before Golden Gate Park are a bit painful. Slow and steady if you’re a running like me (10:30-11:30 minute half marathon time for miles).


Last year, Gatorade was provided on the course. This year, it’s Nuun. That said, water is available as well.

I always carry my own Gu and a water bottle. I suggest some hydration system in this race. Why? Because the first water stops are ridiculously crowded. Not even in a “I’ll go to the end of the table and it will be fine” way. It’s majorly crowded.


If you have no other way to get back, yes. If you are crafty, it’s really easy to catch a bus from the Ocean Beach (where the race ends) down Geary Boulevard and back to Union Square. Or to BART if you are having someone drive you in from the East Bay. A bus ticket only costs a couple dollars compared to the Nike price for a shuttle ticket.

Yes, it’s public transportation. But I’m all about cost saving.

That said, my husband has a knack for finding parking spaces when no one else can. So he drops me off in the morning and picks me up. He’s become really good at it because I run so many races.

When I lived in Oakland for graduate school at University of California, Berkeley, I often turned to 511 for information about buses and BART. I recommend it.


Nope. And honestly, this is always a question on days of early races. In only one case have I seen BART change a race schedule to accommodate a race. The service was limited. I live near the end of the line in Dublin/Pleasanton (in Tracy) and it would literally be a quick hop and skip over the Altamont to take BART. But, alas, no BART early on race day.


All parking in San Francisco is bad. But it’s worse around the finish. Consider that Ocean Beach is a pretty popular destination, Cliff House is nearby and Golden Gate Park always has a lot of people and it’s even worse. Plus, the neighborhoods are packed full of residents’ cars. So if you have someone coming to pick you up, be prepared to trek it out.


For some reason, I get asked this a lot. I don’t immediately eat after a race, so when someone hands me a banana I usually hoard it for the ride home. I was told they had bagel, juice and other stuff. I don’t think I looked hard enough for it, because I didn’t get any.


Crazy. I say that lovingly because a lot of people are taking photos and celebrating, but they are also interrupting the flow of runners just finishing. The T-shirt tables are unorganized (or they were in 2011). No one asks you to verify which size you signed up for, so it’s kind of a free for all.

Last year, I heard a group of men who ran complain that they didn’t get a separate medal or different shirt. It’s a women-focused race dudes. Seriously.

If you blink, you’ll miss something. I nearly missed being handed my space blanket. And don’t expect a singular finish-line shot unless you are an uber competitive runner. There’s always going to be someone around you. I was dodging people up to mile 10. Then I gave up and just went with the flow. My heart race and anxiety were getting the best of me.


Cheesy as it is, Nike was the one race I wanted to do when I started distance running. When I hit my first run over 10 miles, I said I would run Nike. And through serendipity, I got in even after I was rejected from the random draw.

This year, I earned a spot through the lottery with my running group.

And I’m excited about heading out to pound the pavement in San Francisco again. It’s one of the most scenic places in California and has quickly become one of my favorite places to race in.


No problem. If you have a question not listed here, shoot me an email using my contact page. I’d be more than happy to answer. (Even if it’s about the sprinklers coming on in Fort Mason, or tripping in potholes along the road, etc.) Just shoot me a line.

Lottery luck

Sometimes I get lucky. Just plain lucky. I owe some great career moves to luck really. I have two great internships out of state because of, what I think, is luck. I have a good job because of luck. I’m lucky in a lot of ways.

Running has never been one of those fields I’m lucky in. Despite giving it everything I have,  haven’t been able to gain speed or do better than a 2:27-ish half marathon. I bust my butt and still, it’s a constant struggle.

Last year, I signed up for a group ID and registered for the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in San Francisco. I waited, lost sleep and kept checking my credit card statement.

I watched the Facebook page all day long. And finally, a day after they started announcing that they were selecting entries, I as notified I hadn’t won a coveted spot.

I was crushed. I couldn’t believe that the one half marathon I’d wanted to do since I started running was now off limits. I was so upset I didn’t really let reality sink in. That’s probably why, months later, I was still looking for entry. And, as I started this blog right before I ran that race, I think it’s now known that I found a way in as part of a sponsored team.

Four weeks ago, I applied to run this year’s half marathon. Yesterday, I got in. I was greeted at 6 a.m. when I woke up with an email in my inbox that said the following:

Whether it’s your first or fiftieth race, there really is no other feeling quite like standing at the starting line.

We’re so glad that in 2012, you’ll be sharing that moment with us.

That’s right, you read that correctly. You’ve officially been selected to run in the 2012 Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco. Congratulations!

I’ll admit it: I did a happy dance.

Why? I love, love, love this race. I love to run in San Francisco. I love my Nikes too. I’m thrilled to be running it again. So thrilled.

But with luck also comes disappointment. On a whim, I also applied to run the New York City Marathon. Because I’m crazy? Because I really needed to off and fly 3,000-plus miles away for a marathon?

Actually it’s because after my visit to New York City last summer on vacation, I kind of fell in love with Central Park and Staten Island. (Two very different places, yes.)

I actually imagined going for a run in Central Park. But we stayed on Staten Island in a not so view friendly part of town (I did see the tip of the Bayonne Bride from my window, though). I thought it would be thrilling to run New York.

But it wasn’t to be.

Instead, after all the Wednesday fanfare and realizing that my credit card hadn’t been charged (these days a tell-tale sign of “getting in”), I knew it wasn’t happening for me.

Only today (seriously two days later) did I receive the email notifying me that I didn’t make the cut.

Well snap.

After last year’s Nike rejection, I kind of felt as if I’d been in that place before. I didn’t hurt as deep. I didn’t feel betrayed. And I shouldn’t have really.

A race is a race.

Many big races nowadays use lotteries because they are so in demand. (I wonder how many people opted NOT to sign up for the Nike event in San Francisco, though, because the company is now going a half next spring in Washington, D.C.)

To be fair, though, I’m still a little shocked I got into Nike via the lottery this year. I had planned to take quite a bit of time off from long-distance running this summer/fall and into the winter. My goal was to reclaim my diet and cut back on mileage.

Now I’ll be training into the fall.

So I’m considering doing the Big Sur Half Marathon again. I’m also considering running the California International Marathon for a second year. Wow. I never thought I’d write that sentence.

But then I’d be in a perpetual state of marathon training for more than a year. Big deal? Maybe. I’m not quite ready to take the plunge and sign up yet.

I may after I get through this weekend, though. We head to the Big Sur/Monterey area tomorrow morning for the Big Sur 21-miler on Highway 1. I’m excited, but very, very nervous. I have a nice time limit, but the hills, I hear, are kind of killer.

And I haven’t had enough outdoor running lately. Nervous. Tense. Scared. All of those things. I’ll get through this weekend before I make any huge plans for the rest of the year.


I ran to be empowered

Words can’t describe how it felt to get to a rather warm San Francisco morning with two of my closest friends for the Nike Women’s Half Marathon on Sunday. I was excited. I was nervous. I was elated. I had a moment or two where it just really felt unreal.

It should of.

Six weeks ago I wasn’t running this race. I hadn’t made it into the lottery in April. Neither had my two running buddies. There was little to no chance of us running this well-known, women-centered, ridiculously huge race.

Then I gained entry thanks to Somersault Snack Co. in Sausalito. Jennie and Sam were happy for me, but I was saddened by the fact that they weren’t running with me.

Then someone posted a Nike+ code on our running group’s Facebook page. I called Sam. She called Jennie. Within 10 minutes they were both signed up to run with me. It was meant to be. I’d gone the entire year thinking there was NO WAY I’d run this race.

We didn’t train for hills. Instead, we ran flat surfaces more than anything. We didn’t even have enough time to train for the massive hills in San Francisco. But we knew we wanted to run this.

And so we did.

My husband dropped us off near Union Square. There were a ton of people. And spectators everywhere. It was a madhouse in every respect.

There were people everywhere. I was to meet the Team Somersaults runners on the corner of Geary and Powell at 6:15 a.m. for a photo opportunity. I got lost in a sea of people. The Safeway team had the same shirts we did. I kept seeing people wearing our colors and trying to follow them. I should have known better, as Team Somersaults also had cool yellow sweat bands and sunflower clips for our hair.

That’s my swag, post race and washed. Those sweat bands come in really handy during a run, let me tell you.

So we gathered on the corner for a quick snapshot. I was able to meet a couple more of the team members. It was crazy hectic. People were walking in front and behind us. But we got a couple snapshots for the Somersaults Facebook page.

Sam also snapped one, despite holding two water bottles for me.

These are a group of awesome ladies who represent such a great company. It was wonderful to get to know them. Shout out especially to Jamie, I found first this morning and who I ran with two weeks ago. She has an awesome blog too. She’ll be running a race I’m also running in the near future, so I hope I get to see more of Jamie.

Sam also snapped a slightly blurry and unflattering photo of me while I walked back to her. We started walking to the bathrooms and literally turned around and lost all the Team Somersaults members. That’s how crowded it was.

I put my phone away shortly after this. We waited in a bathroom line until the start. And then, when we didn’t move for 15 minutes, we ended up all taking over an empty stall near our corral. There were too many people in the bathroom line for anyone to see three or four of the portable toliets were open.

Then we started running and, for only the second time ever and the first time during a race, my Garmin malfunctioned. It refused to pick up the satellite. Lame. I waited nearly 10 minutes as we were corralled to the start. Nothing.

I’m assuming it was because there were likely 5,000 other devices also trying to pick up signals.

I started with my 405CX just keeping time. It finally picked up and kept a signal a mile in. But, by then, the damage had been done. My “first lap” was 26 minutes according to Garmin. The mileage was way off. I took this as a signal from someone or something out there to not take this one as seriously as I have been recently.

Have a good run, I thought. Don’t think about it.

Miles 1-3 were relatively flat.

Miles 5-9 were hilly. But we hung together.

Miles 10-13 were recovery, with one very need bathroom stop.

And we all stayed together until mile 11 when Jennie (who is faster than she thinks) decided to move ahead. She finished 3 minutes ahead of Sam and I.

Jennie was waiting for Sam and I to cross and hug us. We then walked to the shoots to get the coveted Tiffany finishers necklace. I can’t tell you how beautiful it is. You have to see it to understand. It’s just amazing. Everybody was stopping to take photos of the fireman handing them out.

Including me.

On a silver platter, nonetheless. Love. After making my way up massive hills and pounding my way down them, these men were a sight to behold. That said, I was more interested in picking up my finisher’s shirt and getting something to eat than checking out my necklace. I didn’t open the box until about 20 minutes later AFTER Sam had showed me her necklace.

And it was as awesome as I imagined.

I own one other Tiffany & Co. item. It’s a scarf. This will be a treasured item for years to come, believe me.

The finishers shirt was an awesome yellow one too. I’m considering wearing it for the half I am running next weekend. Why? Well, if I’m slow it will show people that I’m crazy enough to do two half marathons in two weekends. Plus, let’s face it, it’s pretty awesome too.

Once we settled down and caught our breaths, I had time to reflect on how awesome the experience was. My husband (who lost me, or I lost him, I don’t know, but we miscommunicated) brought me my bag and a change of clothes. Thank goodness too. It was a warm day in San Francisco. I smelled. I was sweaty. I changed into a new shirt I bought at Niketown on Thursday. And we celebrated with a photo.

The photo above is really what his race was about. Friends. Love. Happiness.

I walked away from the Nike Women’s Half with my slowest half marathon time to date. My time was 2:53:30. But it was my best race ever.

I ran with my friends. I ran representing an awesome company that gave me a gracious free entry. I ran to be empowered. I was empowered by the 20,000 women (and men) who ran with me. Even as I was weaving in and out of people and waiting in ridiculously long bathroom lines, I enjoyed nearly every moment of it.

I’m on a runner’s high. I can’t describe it other than that. My high is as tall as the Golden Gate Bridge, no kidding. We, by the way, ventured that way to head back to the East Bay and home to the valley. We even stopped by In-and-Out Burger in Sausalito for a post race meal.

It was an amazing day filled with amazing happenings. I can’t say much more about how awesome it was. I consider myself a very lucky girl to have such great opportunities (again, thank you Somersault Snack Co.!!) and good people around me. Because that’s what it is about really. I have friends who help me navigate the marathon that is life and also help push me through a 13.1 road race.

That’s love. And it’s a nice metaphor for life in general.

That said, it’s also a little about this:

I also picked that shirt up at Niketown on last Thursday. There’s fun involved too.

We all have our reasons to run. I ran my first half to be stronger. I do my training runs to be powerful.

I run, sometimes, to be sexy and fit into my slim jeans. (I don’t call them “skinny” because I’ve never actually been “skinny.”)

Sunday, though, was proof that bad runs can be good runs. And good friends and good company are the reason why.

Meet me Monday: What motivates me

“What is your motivation to run?” I was recently asked on a questionnaire.

I have A LOT.

But lately it’s the feeling I get when I get to the finish line. NOTHING. I mean NOTHING compares to that. That’s especially true on good run days. It’s also true on days where I’m struggling to make it to the finish line.

I finished the Nike Women’s Half Marathon today in 2:53:30. By far, my worst half marathon time ever. But, by far, the best time I’ve ever had on a run. PERIOD. No questions about it. I’m planning to write a detailed race review in the next day or so. I’m too tired right now.

I’m the good kind of tired. I’m elated. I’m floating. And it had nothing to do with my time.

What motivated me was getting to the finish line wearing my Team Somersaults shirts. What motivated me was getting to the finish line with my two best running buddies. What motivated me was just getting there.

The finish line.

There will be more finish lines in the future. There will be more cheering spectators, last minute sprints and painful runs. There will be more smiles, though, too. All at the finish line.

That’s what I look forward to.

It’s not an expo, it’s an Expotique

I’m going to try to temper my excitement with this post, I swear. But it’s going to be hard for a couple reasons. One is that this is the race I’ve wanted to run all year. Another is that I’m doing so for free as part of Team Somersaults!

I had commitments both Friday and Saturday, so I was glad Nike started the expo – or Expotique as it’s called – on Thursday. A bonus to that was that my brother-in-law was playing a show right down the street in the same area. So I took BART in from the East Bay and left my car where my husband, who was meeting me for the show, could drop me off later.

I literally jumped off the BART and headed immediately to Union Square.

If you know anything about that area of San Francisco, you know it’s a huge tourist spot. The sidewalks, which are all under construction around Union Square – making me wonder how all of this is going to go down on Sunday – were full of people. I tried to wait patiently at the light.

When I finally got across the street, I was greeted by a little confusion and a huge tent.

I went to one side and was told by a guard that the line for checking in was there. I waited there for 10 minutes when I realized it was the wrong check in line. Another guard told me to go to the middle of the tent. Wrong again. I finally saw where check in was, only to have another guard – really rude this time – tell me I had to yet again go around the tent. Signs would have been nice, but I digress.

I found the yellow-marked half marathon line. Check in was quick. I was handed my number – a circular bib with a really low number, apparently numbers are assigned when we get there, which is easy for volunteers – and a bag full of coupons and samples, including Somersaults Snacks new flavor cinnamon.

I then proceeded to the rest of the tent where there were a good deal of vendors. Even on a Thursday, it was a big of a mad house.

There were samples of Gatorade, Pom and Neutrogena. Some women were getting their hair done. Others were getting foot massages. I honestly wasn’t interested in either of those things. I’m not just into really girly stuff.

Safeway had an awesome setup to ride a treadmill and power a smoothie.

The tent was a little stuffy, despite huge fans. It was a relatively warm day in San Francisco. I took off my jacket (I didn’t need it at all, even at 9:30 p.m. when I finally left) and stuffed it in my black pull string backpack. I ventured outside and found that Safeway had more samples of an Asian noodle salad, fruit and cookies. They were also pouring Italian soda.

Awesome! I’d been hungry my way over and didn’t stop to eat before I came to Union Square.

I went back into the tent for a little while and checked out the different offerings. I also noticed that there was a deejay! I’d never been to a expo with a deejay! That was kind of a nice addition.

I followed another crowd outside where there was a booth selling runner must-haves (forgot Glide? They had it). I also noticed a really crazy line forming at another booth. I went over to check it out. It was the Somersaults Snack Co. booth! The demand was huge! I tried to squeeze in, but a group of about 15 women went by me as I was taking this photo.

“Try some of the cinnamon ones!” one of them said to the others. By the time I backed up, they were surrounding the booth. Somersaults Snacks were definitely one of the highlights of the expo. And see the team jersey? Love! The ladies at Somersaults also gave me a sunflower clip to wear in my hair for the race.

And, because I didn’t want to cover my team jersey, I bought arm warmers to wear. This will be my first race with arm warmers.

So the expo got a little crazy after that as more and more people came.

Safeway was hosting a “ladies night,” so there was a lot going on. I decided to take leave and head over to the Niketown store where I knew the crowds would also be. One entire floor is dedicated to Nike Women’s Marathon goods. I walked in and there were people everywhere!

I went looking for half-marathon specific apparel. I’m a stickler for that. I don’t want to wear a shirt that says “marathon” typically unless I’ve run the distance. That said, there were a lot of people running the half buying the apparel. So I grabbed up two half-specific shirts. And I got a bag. And a poster (even though I registered late so my name isn’t on it). I bought an awesome jacket. It says NWM, so I think I’m going to take it to a local embroidery guy to add “13.1” to it. I’m weird like that. I also grabbed a water bottle.

I found one specific shirt that I absolutely love, though.

I bought enough to get me a free photo frame. It also flagged fraud alert on my American Express. Nice. I had to try to remember my pin number. Awkward when you can’t even remember setting up your credit card. Not sure what the lady at AmEx or the guy behind the counter thought of me. But the purchase went through.

By the way, the Nike store is decorated in all NWM. It’s inspirational. I kept trying to take photos of the huge sign as I went up the escalator. They all came out blurry. So this is my best effort from the line.

After calling my husband to make sure he knew the card was being used lawfully by me, I went back to Union Square where part of the crowd had thinned out in some areas, or so I thought.Everyone was actually inside the tent as they drew names for a Cole Haan bag. I found my way around, checking out more booths.

At one, I was offered frozen strawberries. The guy manning the booth also told me not to be afraid of the first hill in this one. That kind of put me at ease, but not really. I grabbed the strawberries and found a stand-up table to eat at.

Safeway also provided the decor for the tables. Beautiful flowers. Nice setup.

By then, it was getting to be time for me to head out. I tried, again, to stop by the Somersaults booth. They were so busy! Every time one person left, another person came over. Those cinnamon-flavored snacks are kind of addictive.

I passed by a couple more vendors. The Google Wallet people gave me a free Diet Coke. The technology was pretty awesome, but not available on my Droid X. And I received some samples from the Meyer’s Soap folks too. Good stuff too.

That’s my spread at home later. I also “liked” Neutrogena on Facebook at the booth to receive a small bag with face wash and sunscreen. That will come in handy tomorrow. I’m hoping it’s a nice, yet cold, day.

After all was said and done, I headed over to the Westfield Shopping Center to look around and wait for my husband. I walked past even more signs proclaiming it Nike Women’s Marathon weekend. It was awesome.

The one hanging from Macy’s was, by far, my favorite.

Also among my favorite is the shirt I bought that says “I run to be sexy.” It’s a long-sleeve shirt, perfect for the soon-to-be-cooling weather. I bought it after seeing what I consider a huge sign telling me to do so at the Expotique.

So my visit to the Expotique went really well. I chatted with some folks, spent way too much money at Niketown, got my bib and I think I’m almost ready for the Sunday run.

I can’t say it enough: I’m excited to run this race. I’ll be more excited when I get to San Francisco tomorrow at 6:15 a.m. and meet with with Team Somersaults for our photo beforehand. I’ll be excited when I run, even if the hills turn out to be not so wonderful.

To me, it’s not about the Tiffany necklace at the end. It’s not about the swag. It’s about the cause this is for. It’s about what it represents. Thousands upon thousands of women running together for a cause. It’s about empowerment. In the past two years I’ve run to be a lot of things.

I run to be stronger. I run to be powerful. I run to be healthy. I run to be sane. I run to be me.

On Sunday, I run to be empowered.

The signs are everywhere

I haven’t had much time in the last 48 hours to run let alone blog. I worked late on Wednesday and came home and ran 6 miles. Thursday, my rest day, I worked part of the day before venturing via BART to San Francisco from Dublin to pick up my Nike Women’s Half Marathon race packet (really just the number) and check out the offerings.

I’ll be blogging a full race report after I present at a journalism conference in Sacramento on Saturday (the main reason I had to go to San Francisco on a Thursday). But I thought I’d add this because it kind of sums up my excitement for this weekend.

I literally was off BART for 3 minutes when I saw this sticker on the window at the mall in San Francisco.

The signs for the NWM event were everywhere.

Counting down now…two days.