for a little blue box

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Apparently, I will go through a lot for a necklace from Tiffany.

Ran the Nike Women's Half this morning. Official results aren't posted yet (I'll get to that later), but my watch said I crossed the finish line at 2:14 -- better than SF, and given the fact that this was a hillier race and I'd run a full marathon the week before, I'm pretty happy with that. Also, my knee didn't act up. And yes, the necklace at the end was really cool -- you know what I'll be wearing to work tomorrow!

But that's not to say this race didn't have its challenges. To be perfectly honest, with the exception of the finish area, which was extremely organized, Nike was one big clusterfuck. I'm glad this race was a training/recovery run for me and not my main focus. I think I would've been really stressed out, angry and frustrated if I had been going for a time goal. Nike was like a really long fun run -- something I'd love to do with my mom (if I could ever get her out there), but not something I'd want to do as a serious runner.

Here's why:

Tons of people and no direction. I had a feeling after the expo (and I went on the "slow" day -- Jessa went yesterday, and it took her more than an hour to pick up her bib) that this race was going to be packed. I should've also known from how they distributed the bibs -- no assigned corrals based on previous race times or estimated finish -- that the starting line would be insane. Basically, you picked where you wanted to line up -- whether or not that pace was actually your true pace. (You'd think that in a race with 20,000 people, assigning people to corrals would make sense, but maybe that's just me.) So there were walkers way up at the front in the 6:30 minute/mile group (WTF?). People were colliding, throwing elbows and tripping over each other when the race started. I have never been cut off so many times during a race -- it was like an obstacle course out there! And some of these walkers seemed to appear out of nowhere -- how the hell did they get to Mile 12 before me by just walking? It was like they were dropped from the sky! I suspect a lot of people jumped into the race here and there and walked portions of it.

Similarly, the bag check at the start was insane. Once again, because no one was assigned to a corral or specific start time, it was a free-for-all at the drop bag buses. They weren't organized alphabetically, by bib number, nothing. You had to fight your way through a huge crowd, wait for a bewildered volunteer to put a sticker on your bib identifying which bus, bus window and box your bag would be in, and then hold your bag up to another overwhelmed volunteer reaching through the window. Talk about inefficient. (And imagine trying to find that bus at the finish -- not easy, either.)

Totally impractical aid stations. They served water out of plastic cups. Plastic! WTF! You can't pinch a plastic cup and drink it while running! The cup either won't budge or will splinter and almost cut you (which is what happened to Jessa). In order to drink anything, I had to slow down to a crawl and carefully sip my water. And imagine the course littered with these cups -- you can't just stomp them down like you do with paper. Wet plastic is more dangerous! And not to mention horrible for the environment! How can a race that made a point of lecturing participants about throwing their gel packets away in trash cans instead of on the course use plastic cups? So hypocritical.

And then there were the aid stations with no actual water. One of the stations just handed out white cloth towels and Kleenex purse packs. Again: WTF. Why the hell do you need a towel? And what are you going to do with it afterward? There were trashcans full of used towels, and towels all along the course. Again, an incredible waste. And Kleenex purse packs? Runners don't use Kleenex! They blow snot rockets! And even if they did use Kleenex, what on earth would you do with a purse pack? Where would you put it? It's not like we were carrying purses out there!

Worst race Web site ever. I am still looking for my race results. Look at the Nike page. Does it even make sense? Do I have to wait for a Nike "blog post" to find out what my official time was? Seriously. Compare it to this site and this site. Which one would you rather spend time on, especially if you needed immediate information?

That said, I still am glad I did Nike. I think it's one of those "bucket list" races -- you have to try it at least once. And like I said, the necklace is a definite plus. Every runner girl should have one!

And I actually really liked the course -- if I weren't in recovery mode right now, I would've enjoyed storming up those hills (instead, I walked a lot of them). A lot of people say the SF course is better because it takes you across the Golden Gate Bridge, but I loved how this one went by the Legion of Honor and down the Great Highway past the Sutro Baths (one of my favorite spots in the city), Cliff House and Camera Obscura.

And seeing Ocean Beach just sprawled out before your feet, all glistening sand and silver waves and rays of sunlight cutting through the clouds -- man, absolutely worth it.

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