Y’all, DC was incredible. After visiting DC last year with Ian, I thought I couldn’t love the historically-rich city more. I was wrong — DC now has a very special place in my heart and I am already itching to get back! For being such a major metropolitan area, it is such a clean, beautiful and quaint little city. Not to mention, the architecture is jaw-dropping.
Made it in time to see the cherry blossoms!
Next time we go, we decided to spend a few more days doing the tourist-y activities. There is just SO much to see. We’ve hit up all the big monuments, most of the museum of natural history + science, the Holocaust museum (my #1 priority this trip since we missed it last time) but there is still SO much on my list of things to-do.
Okay, now on to the RACE!
You may know the Nike Women’s Half Marathon as the one that hands out Tiffany’s necklaces to finishers. Usually the race is only in San Fran, but the past two years they added a DC location, which I was thrilled about!
First off, Nike did a wonderful job with organizing the event. I’ll do more of an in-depth recap of my weekend once I get some photos from our photographer, Renee (who is by far the kindest human being I’ve ever met), but for now we will just stick to the race recap.
My overall thoughts of the race were good ones. The course is flat, with very few inclines that I struggle to call actual “hills.” The course had great entertainment, the aid stations were spaced at good intervals and the “extras” really made a big difference (Nuun, Clif Shot Bloks, luna bars… even chocolate!).
I woke up at 4:45 am the day of the race to eat a piece of bread, 1/2 a banana and a Justin’s maple almond butter packet that I brought from home. I followed it up with a serving of arginine extreme and a teensy bit of coffee, just to warm up a bit.
I met the rest of the CHAARG girls in the lobby at 5:30, where we then walked about a mile to meet up with our Nike rep who was staying at a hotel near by. VIP bracelets, y’all! This guaranteed us access into the VIP tent after the race — complete with drinks, food and MASSAGES!
Before we knew it, we were lining up in our corrals. Our pace corral was 8:00-8:59, which I had high hopes would be accurate at the beginning of my training. But alas, a stress reaction and 2 weeks of constant vomiting left training by the wayside, so my goal for the race was to never stop running and keep it under around a 10-minute mile pace.
I bought an old sweatshirt from Good Will to wear the morning of the race and then toss. It came in handy as it was pretty chilly to be wearing just a tank that morning! Plus, we all blew our noses on it before starting. TMI?
Miles 1-4 flew by. Literally. The middle of mile 3 I began to wonder where I was at in the race and was confused why Nike hadn’t posted any mile markers yet. Turns out, I was just in the zone and missed them. Oops!
Mile 1: 10:09
Mile 2: 9:08
Mile 3: 9:17
Mile 4: 9:37
I spent the first 4 miles with Eve + Kerriann, but around mile 4 I knew I couldn’t keep up that pace for the entire race, so I backed off a bit and ate my first shot blok that I brought. I was trying to play it smart but push myself at the same time. Looking back I knew I did the right thing!
We crossed over Memorial Bridge around mile 3 and then looped back around. I loved being over the water and seeing all of the city! I have to admit, I got really emotional at this point. I was in DC, the weather was beautiful and I had just spent an amazing weekend with wonderful, inspiring people. I actually had to fight back happy tears.
A random but hilarious signature from the expo.
Miles 5, 6 and 7 also went by quicker than I expected. I was by myself at this point, and to be honest I didn’t really mind. From past half marathon experience, I usually suffer mentally by running alone. I become such a head case and start to question whether I should stop or not. This race was SO different.
Mile 5: 9:33
Mile 6: 9:26
Mile 7: 9:21
I took in all the sites, bands and hilarious signs (my favorite? “Kiss me, He’s Irish” and “Run faster than cheap mascara”). I was in my element. The stars were aligned and I was exactly right where I needed to be. I know that sounds cheesy, but after a tough couple of months of struggling mentally, physically and emotionally with where I was in life, I finally felt like I was in the right place.
Nike had Nuun and water at every aid station, as well as CLIF shot bloks at mile 5.5. Want to know how I knew it was going to be a good race? BECAUSE I GOT HANDED MARGARITA SHOT BLOKS by a volunteer. Out of all the shot bloks flavors, I got maragarita. My favorite! Way better than the cran-raz flavor that I brought. I’m also a super salty sweater so I welcomed those little shots of joy (with extra sodium) with open arms.
When I hit the 10k mark at 58:56 I couldn’t believe it. That was a 10k PR for me! I think this is what caused me to turn up the pace a little bit during mile 7.
Miles 8, 9 and 10 got increasingly more difficult. Nike set up signs at each aid station that said “xx miles to next aid station,” so I started playing games with myself. I would just think, only 1.3 miles and then you can get water. I started to get really thirsty at this point and was missing my Camelbak that I usually run with.
These miles were also through Hains Point, which was flat as a pancake, but also didn’t have a ton of crowd support. I didn’t think it was bad and enjoyed all of the vegetation, but a lot of people I heard struggled with it.
Mile 8: 10:39
Mile 9: 10:31
Mile 10: 10:52
There really isn’t any other way to put it. Miles 11 and 12 were extremely challenging for me. I really had to focus to keep from stopping. I kept repeating to myself that no matter how slow I went, I would not. stop. running. Another odd thing that happened — I got really hungry. I’ve never gotten hungry during a race, and usually the thought of food repulses me for about an hour after I finish. Nevertheless, I ate another shot blok and tried to focus on putting one foot in front of the other.
I saw Ian and his parents between mile 11 and 12, which helped to motivate me through the last little bit of the race. Who knew that 2 miles could be so damn hard?
Heading into the tunnel at mile 12, I wanted so badly to be done. This was by far the longest mile of my entire life. I think maybe my facial expressions were giving off the impression of death, because a man from the band walking in the tunnel handed me his mini water bottle. If you are reading this — THANK YOU. You made my heart very happy during that mile of hell. The running community sure is a special one.
Mile 11: 10:54
Mile 12: 11:11 (we were in a tunnel for most of this mile, so I’m not sure how accurate it is)
After coming out of the tunnel at mile 12.5, I could see the finish line. Little did I know, the course looped around before putting you back on the main road to finish, so I started speeding up a little early. Too late to stop now! I chugged along until I was in front of those green arches, and sprinted until I crossed the finish line!
Mile 13: 10:09
I crossed the finish line at 2:13:39… A NEW PR! KJASFkhsdlbflakhsbdflaksbhdf <—- that describes my emotions. Try to decipher that excitement. You can’t.
Tiffany’s necklace in hand, I met up with a few of the CHAARG girls and waited for a few more to finish. I’m so proud of each and every one of them!
We then headed to the VIP tent for mimosas and breakfast! I couldn’t stay too long, as I was meeting up with Ian and his parents to go shower, pack my bags and grab lunch. The shower felt phenomenal. Literally best shower I’ve ever had in my life. Is that weird? I also didn’t chafe anywhere but my armpit. Whaddup body glide.
I then hobbled my way to the National Mall to check out a few exhibits at the Museum of Science and Natural History before Ian and I headed back to Denver. It felt good to stretch out my legs and kept them from tightening up, that was until we sat on a plane for 4 hours and I literally fell over trying to stand up when we landed, LOL.
I was, and still am on cloud nine. Thank you CHAARG and Nike for this amazing, incredible, wonderful and whatever other synonyms you can think of, opportunity. This could not have come at a better time. My heart is very full.
Like I said, I’ll do a more in-depth recap of my weekend with CHAARG in a few days, so be on the look-out!