Nike Women’s Marathon SF: Week 14 training recap

Source: Nike

Source: Nike

Happy hump day, and welcome to the week 14 recap!

There’s quite a bit to get to, so I’ll jump right on in. Here’s what the schedule looked like:

  • Tempo run – 5 mi
  • Track workout – 7 x 800s
  • Long run – 15 mi 13.1 mi

After all the rain in Portland, this week’s downright toasty weather in the Bay Area was a welcome change. Although I did bring one little souvenir home with me: a head cold.


The first sign of trouble: Tuesday’s five-miler was uneventful, although I felt like I was really dragging. Then came the telltale twinge in my left tonsil when I woke up on Wednesday morning, which evolved into a full-body ache by the end of the day.

No, no, no. I cannot get sick with a half marathon in four days and a full marathon in two and a half weeks.

So I proceeded to lay low (i.e. not leave the apartment; thank goodness for home offices), hydrate like crazy and load up on OJ, smoothies and vitamins. Healthy habits aside, I think it was actually the two nights I knocked myself out with NyQuil that finally did the trick.

While I managed to ward off the worst of it, I still wasn’t feeling 100 percent on Thursday, so I pushed my track workout to Friday. Despite the extra day of rest, I really had to drive myself to stay on pace for the 800’s, which ranged from 3:38-3:48 (the target was 3:45-3:48).


Aside from a little stuffy nose, I felt better by Saturday morning…although I woke up with a sore left hamstring (seriously, what is wrong with that side of my body this week?!), so I did an easy 30 minutes on the bike and rolled the heck out of it before hitting up the expo for Sunday’s race.


The schedule technically had me running 15 miles for this week’s long run, but I figured a race of 13.1 would count because it’d be at a harder effort. Plus, there’s no better way to rev the engines than with a little pre-race race. And, Hubby decided to run with me (his first half…yep, just like colds, the running bug also seems to be very contagious).

This race actually turned out to be a great dress rehearsal for the Big Day (aka Nike Women’s Marathon on October 20) because…I slept right through my alarm on Sunday morning!

Yes, total rookie mistake. And no, I was not hopped up on NyQuil at the time. 

Luckily, Hubby was planning on waking up later, so his alarm got us both up…although it was a mere 30 minutes before we had to be out the door. Not exactly an ideal start, but miraculously everything else went smoothly, and we got to the start with time to spare. We even bumped into @PavementRunner and got to wish each other luck before lining up in our respective corrals.


As you can see, the start was super crowded. I heard there were about 16,000 people doing the race, but they had us well organized into groups by projected finish time, starting with the fastest runners.

Why? Well, mostly to prevent mass chaos when the gun goes off. Rather than having everyone start at once and run the risk of over-eager runners trampling each other, each corral gets its own official start. But don’t worry; your timing chip doesn’t register until you actually cross the line (hence the difference in “gun” time and “chip” time).


Hubby and I were slotted into the second corral, which means that we’d be in the second wave of runners to cross the starting line.


After the National Anthem, we were off! My game plan was to run by “feel” to gauge my pace and fitness level, which will better inform my planning for the full 26.2 in two weeks. Here are a few of the highlights:

Miles 1-3: These were the warm-up miles where we focused on getting a feeling for what pace would be sustainable for the duration of the race. You can have a number in mind, but it may change due to a number of external influences (i.e. temperature, humidity, etc.), so it’s good to do an assessment at this point. We resisted the urge to go out too quickly, and stuck by the 1:45 pacers.

Miles 4-6: By now the initial adrenaline wore off, so we settled into an 8:30 pace, which felt comfortable. I ate a chew every mile and a half or so, and we stopped at the aid stations for water because the weather was a bit warmer than what we were used to in the city. And now that we were in the groove, I started to enjoy the scenery, including one inspirational runner who was keeping a good clip despite having both arms occupied – one broken and the other carrying an American flag!


Miles 7-9: I always see these as the most mental miles; you’re about halfway in, and if you can hold the pace and get to double digits, you’ll be in the clear. Hubby and I were checking in regularly with each other and were both feeling good. We continued to stop at the water stations, and I upped the chews to one per mile to maintain energy. Also helpful for morale was the spectator signs; my two favorites: “Trample the weak, hurdle the dead” and “Remember, your training lasted longer than Kim Kardashian’s marriage.”

Miles 10-11: Around mile 10, we made a turn out of a shaded neighborhood and onto a main road…into full sun. I could feel the rays getting stronger by the minute, so I knew it was crucial to finish before it started getting too warm. Water stops were no longer optional, and I started to pull away from Hubby around mile 11 (we had an agreement beforehand to go ahead if one of us needed to drop back).

Miles 12-13: This is simultaneously the best and the worst part of the race. You’ve got another rush of adrenaline because your brain realizes you’re almost done…but then you realize that your legs are not able to react as quickly as you’d like, so it becomes a mind/body battle. I just had to dig in and rely on the growing crowd support, even though with all the turns, the finish line was nowhere in sight!

Final .1 mile: At last! We rounded a corner, and the finish line was like a mirage in the desert. It always is (feels?) farther than it appears, so all I could do was try to block out the burning in my lungs and legs and just focus on getting to it. I crossed the line and gratefully took the bottles of water, Gatorade and chocolate milk from volunteers before watching Hubby finish about a minute later.

Official times: 1:53:01 for me, and 1:54:16 for Hubby.

We met up again with @PavementRunner (who rocked a 1:37 PR, by the way) and the rest of my Saturday morning run crew to take a victory photo at the post-race celebration.


And on the way home, we decided to continue the festivities with a little In-N-Out…”Animal-style,” of course.


All in all, a successful race day: Although it took some restraint to run without trying to go all out for a PR, I’m happy we ran strong – yet sane – and stayed injury-free, which was the ultimate goal.

Stay tuned for next week…the final full week of training before the Big Day!

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