Nike Women’s Half Marathon – A Weekend of Firsts

Our first race all together!  Thank goodness for these ladies!
Our first race all together! Thank goodness for these ladies!

What a whirlwind of a weekend! It’s bizarre thinking I left last Friday to go to DC and I am already back in Denver. Returning to Colorado yesterday was bittersweet, to be sure, and I felt a heaviness after departing. It is amazing the incredible high you can feel in reuniting with your best friends for the first time in over a year. Obviously I know how important these ladies are to me, but I didn’t realize just how much I missed them until we were all back together again.

The Nike Women’s Half Marathon was spectacular! I had such a great time during the race and partaking in pre-race activities. I would definitely do this race again in the future, and if I ever work myself up to the *M* word, I could possibly see myself running the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco. The men in tuxedos handing out beautiful robin’s-egg-blue boxes of Tiffany perfection did indeed add icing to the top of this rather large cake.

Totally worth the miles.
Totally worth the miles.

But let’s start in order. This is not a race recap, it’s a weekend recap. I arrived Friday evening and was picked up by my dear friends Justine and Samantha. We all spent the weekend at Justine’s apartment in Clarendon, conveniently located to multiple metro stops, Georgetown’s waterfront (the site for the Expotique), and a plethora of amenities. My friend Christine (who I ran the Disney Princess Half Marathon with in February) joined us shortly afterwards, and we dashed off to dinner at Lyon Hall. We made a stop by Trader Joe’s (which just recently made its way to Colorado!) on the way home for some additional libations, and spent the night catching up, watching movies, and just basking in our reunion.

The Expotique was small, but adorable!
The Expotique was small, but adorable!

The next morning we walked to the Georgetown waterfront to check out the Expotique (Samantha described it perfectly, it isn’t an Expo, but it had its own charm). We wandered around for a bit, sampled some NUUN flavors, created personalized signs for race day, wrote on a giant sharpie wall, and found our names on the participants’ wall. We shopped in the Georgetown Nike store for race day paraphernalia, which was a bit crazy and picked over, but definitely worth it. I managed to find an amazing pair of running tights, 2 NWHM running tanks, and a phenomenal purple NWHM pullover. I know that I love Nike running tops and half-zip pullovers, so I was absolutely a kid in a candy store.

After we finished our race prep, we headed off to Alexandria for Lilly and lunch. And boy did I Lilly. I found a must-have maxi dress, a breezy blouse and a scarf on sale. Happiness achieved. We grabbed a filling, protein-packed lunch at Vermilion across the street (excellent brunch!). Afterwards, we meandered through the Tanger Outlets at National Harbor, particularly for Under Armour and J. Crew. Once we shopped ‘til we dropped, we headed back to Arlington for a delicious dinner prepared by Justine (fettuccini with marinara and homemade turkey meatballs – YUM!) and a sweet treat of cake batter blondies.

The next morning we rose at about 4:30am, readied ourselves in our amazing ensembles, and jogged to the metro station. The trains weren’t packed at all, and we got off at Federal Triangle, which spit out into the middle of race-day festivities. While Christine and Samantha jetted off for a Half-Fanatic photo op, Justine and I wandered through the crowds, took photos, and figured out where to go for our corral. Once everyone was ready, we pushed through to the third corral, and waited for the race to begin.

The crowd was visibly excited. Although chilly, once surrounded by a sea of ladies ready to run, the thrill of the race sunk in. The first group set out at

The shirts were pretty genius.  And completely us!
The shirts were pretty genius. And completely us!

7:00am, but our corral didn’t take off until about 7:13am. Needless to say it was the perfect time for selfies and silliness. Our goal was to run together in colorful formation, so for the occasion we all wore different colored bottoms (I made a last minute switch to pink Under Armour capris so Justine could wear her favorite yellow shorts) and matching tanks from Race Junkie. The front simply said “… And she ran happily ever after” while the back displayed “Proof that a pair of shoes can change your life 4.27.14”. We were stopped all along the course by people commenting on our tops, taking pictures for themselves, or asking to take pictures for us. I have a feeling there’s a few pics of us floating around Cyberspace, of which I am grateful. For us, that shirt was symbolic. This race brought us all back together for something we had never done before as a group. It’s now a combined passion, and I am so utterly grateful to have been able to make and share these memories with my best friends.

The beginning of the race is pretty iconic. You start on Pennsylvania Avenue, just a few blocks from the capitol building. Within a half mile you are in perfect range for a photo op (in which we obviously partook). You wrap around the front and head back down the streets flanking the mall, passing by the Botanical Gardens and number of other museums. You quickly approach the National Monument on your right, and continue on to the Arlington Memorial Bridge, passing over the Potomac River, and hooking around the circle to come back to the D.C. side. From there the course veers to the left in which you pass by the Kennedy Center and loop back. Then the course heads out to Haines Point, which occupies 3 miles of the course. Finally, you swing back by the National Monument, and head back towards the capitol.

Who knew Peeps mid-race would be so phenomenal?
Who knew Peeps mid-race would be so phenomenal?

It was a great course, with marching and pep bands (including my Alma Mater’s band from George Mason University) scattered throughout pumping up the runners, and plenty of spectators cheering us on. Given that the race benefits the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, a number of Team in Training groups and their trainers were part of the race that day. It was amazing to see the obstacles some had overcome to be there, and the absolute determination to run this race for an incredible cause. Our group was surprised twice along the course by Samantha’s husband, Michael, who brought water, snacks, and a mental pick-me-up for all of us.

My favorite part of the race was coming up to the finish. My parents and sister found a great spot just steps from the finish line and were there cheering us on as we completed the race. I only recently began running, and only after moving to Colorado, so this was the first time they’ve seen me in a race. It was so inspiring having them there, and I couldn’t have been happier.

Sharing this moment with my family was truly wonderful.  It made the finish line that much sweeter!
Sharing this moment with my family was truly wonderful. It made the finish line that much sweeter!

After crossing the finish, sub-3 hours, collecting our Whole Foods Goodie bags, and collecting our blue Tiffany’s boxes, we met up with my family for a bit before heading to brunch at Masa 14 (um, hello bottomless brunch menu, what a fabulous concept!). I spent the rest of the day with my family, only after an emotional goodbye with the ladies, and headed home early Monday morning. What a wild, exhausting, thrilling, and perfect weekend.

 

Just a few of my favorite race moments!
Just a few of my favorite race moments!
What a great, rewarding, and memorable accomplishment.  Great race, but what's more, the best people to share it with!
What a great, rewarding, and memorable accomplishment. Great race, but what’s more, the best people to share it with!

 

How was your weekend?  Any amazing race memories shared with your besties?  What’s been your favorite race experience?  Do you run for bling, for camaraderie, the thrill of the run, or all of the above?

5 thoughts on “Nike Women’s Half Marathon – A Weekend of Firsts

  1. Pingback: #SquadUp: Running Loves Company | rockymtnpearls

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