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Race Report: Nike Women’s Half Marathon DC 2013

Nike Women's Half Marathon DC Race Report

I’ve been MIA a couple of days since I had an incredibly busy weekend. For some reason I thought it would be great timing to have a dinner party the night before a half marathon. It was incredibly lovely to spend time with our dear friends, but another weekend probably would have made more sense. Did I mention I tend to over-commit?

Our cleaning person had canceled on Friday due to illness, so I spent Saturday cleaning the house, vacuuming, mopping floors, chopping and cooking, and barely got in my 2 mile keep-it-loose run. I was a little distracted during the evening dinner party since I was gathering my things for the race, pinning my bib to my shirt, and also needed to excuse myself to get to sleep early.

My alarm was set for 4:45am, but something woke me at 4:30am. Robbed of 15 minutes of sleep! But I was energized for the race so I got moving. My two bigger kids were sooo crazy excited to see me run that they got up and dressed at 5am. I was so excited to have them, my au pair, my friend from California, and my dad driving me down to the race start and watching me run!

I was dropped off near the start at about 6am and felt READY!Image

I was really happy with the amount of portapotties near the start – there were lines closer to the corrals but I used one right near where I was dropped off = no line. I didn’t need to check a bag but it seemed as though there weren’t any lines at that time and they were well marked.

In the race packets we received a colored wristband indicating which pace corral we were to start in. I thought the corrals were pretty well marked and they had indicated on the map in the packet exactly how the start would be laid out:


At about 6:30am, my pace corral looked pretty empty:Image

I turned around and behind the crosswalk, the next pace corral was already packed! This was literally taken 20 seconds after the pic above!


Maybe all the 9-9:59’ers were using the potty one last time. Speaking of which, I decided that I should go again so I headed back to the potty area. And whoa, when I came back my corral was PACKED. I squeeezed in and found a spot to wait for the start. I was in front of a bride and her bridesmaids, and next to a woman who was 9 weeks pregnant and had a feverish toddler at home. She was inspiring!


I loved seeing the Capitol in the background of the starting gate:


I couldn’t understand the loudspeakers with the pre-race warmup and other announcements, but we did have a moment of silence for the Boston Marathon bombing. I loved seeing this sign at the start:


Then, of course, the National Anthem. Since I couldn’t understand the announcements, I have no idea who was singing:

And we’re off! The race course was great – I love running through DC! As I was running the race, I really appreciated the sights and had these moments where I thought that it really is the most beautiful city to run around.

Apparently my kids were waiting near the entrance to the first tunnel holding their signs, but I didn’t see them (and they didn’t see me) since there were SO many people! Here come the leaders:


Mommy? Where are you?Image

So many women – they didn’t see me at this point:Image

The main thing I loved about this race was the on-course entertainment. We headed into this tunnel and there were drums beating. The energy was amazing! Shaky photo ahead:


I had two issues during the race.

1. Dodging people and avoiding crashing into people who suddenly started walking during the race. I was corralled with the 9:00-9:59 pace, but during the very first half mile, people started walking. Don’t get me wrong, I am supportive of the walk/run combo for anyone who wants or needs to do the race that way, but if you are walking in the first 5 minutes, please, please, PLEASE move off to the side.

2. Portapotties. While they were ample at the start of the race, they were NOT during the course. The sheer number of women running created lines like this at mile 4-5:


That was my first pit stop. I still don’t have a running watch and was trying to avoid messing with my phone during the race, so I’m not sure how many minutes I lost to this and the other portapottie stop, but it was AT LEAST 7-10! AT LEAST!!! I could not believe it as the minutes just ticked away and I stood there watching the crowd run by.

It also meant that after passing tons of people, I just had to pass all the same people again when I resumed running. After having 3 giant babies (they were GIANT, I tell you!), I can’t run for long before I have to stop. I just can’t. And I was NOT going to squat in the bushes in the middle of our Nation’s Capitol.

The good thing is, I felt great throughout the whole race. I felt strong, solid, and my pace was faster than my long runs in training. The course support was excellent and really energized me, and I loved reading all the spectators’ signs. Tons of entertainment that helped the miles tick by faster. And since there were tons of Team In Training people, there were many of the coaches along the course cheering them on – this gave me a huge boost too!

I loved having Nuun AND water at each stop – after the first aid station they were great about explaining where you could grab water vs. Nuun. I totally missed the Cliff Blocks since I didn’t need fluid at that time and didn’t realize they were handing out the blocks, but I had Gu and jellybeans on me so I was set.

There’s one really hard area to get through at DC races, I remember it well from the Marine Corps Marathon. Hains Point. It’s a pretty boring section of any race, but Nike really perked it up with fun signs along the way. I loved this one so I had to snap a pic:


One thing that I noticed along the way was that my Nike+ Android app was calling out the miles before the mile markers. I thought maybe it was because I had veered off to the bathroom and spent some time weaving, but others were chatting as we ran about the same thing. In fact, sometime on Hains Point my phone called out the mile at exactly the same second as another runner – a quarter mile before the mile marker. Maybe we had both taken the outside instead of the inside on turns, but it seemed odd. My app says I ran 13.51 total rather than 13.1.

As we got back into the downtown area, we knew we only had a 5K to go. And I knew my family was waiting near the Capitol. I was so excited to finally see my kids that I barely noticed this section of the race. My legs felt good, but I just started to have some pelvic or public bone pain that has sometimes flared up during the longer training runs (not sure what that’s about?!).

Finally, the kids! High fives all around.


Then it was Hello, US Capitol, I’m running around you!


After the Capitol, the pubic bone pain was starting to really get intense. I had this pain when I first started running after my last pregnancy, it felt like someone took a hammer to that area. Maybe kid #3 broke me. He was 11 pounds, after all.

I tried to ignore it and pick up the pace as I saw the finish line:


At last, the FINISH! I was seriously bummed at my time, the slowest of all my 5 half marathons, because I knew that I had lost tons of time at the bathrooms. But I felt really happy with my running – my pace per mile was decent. And I’m happy to say that I felt stronger than any of my training runs, and felt GREAT until the end of the race and the pubic bone pain.

I came in at 2:29:14 chip time. I know they said not to turn around after going through the finish, but I couldn’t resist:


After the finish, they handed each person a bottle of water:


Scanned our bib for the chip in it:


And then the part that seems to justify the $$$ race fee: A Tiffany Necklace. I had told all my friends and coworkers that I had bought a Tiffany necklace and just had to run 13 miles to pick it up.

They had men in tuxes handing them out (I heard they were firemen but I don’t know if that’s true):



Lots of helpful people handing out the heat sheet thingys:


But after this is when it got a bit crazy for me. Crowds, crowds, lines, lines. It was really congested and hard to get to the food tables. And later we got a bag to carry it all. Remember, we had been handed a bottle of water, a Tiffany “Blue Box”, a bagel, banana, Luna bar, fruit cup, and heat sheet. Then we got a pretty Tiffany bag. One genius lady near me had her own bag since she knew from previous races there’s a lot of stuff to carry. I thought “Aha – I’ll try that next time!”

The finish area seemed to have some neat things, but the lines were really long. I got my Finisher’s Shirt, but then didn’t wait in the lines to purchase anything else. I had already bought a shirt at Fleet Feet and was anxious to see my kids. Here’s the pretty shirt:


Paul Mitchell had haircuts for a $15 donation to charity:


And a Bare Minerals makeup station, but the line looked long and I wasn’t sure if it was free or if there was a fee. Plus, I was sweaty and gross and didn’t really need makeup put on me at that moment:


I really loved the Kaiser Permanente Stretching Lounge. They were leading people through post-race stretches, but again: Very Crowded.


I didn’t get a mat so I did some informal stretching in the corner, but they had little stress balls, smoothies, fruit flavored water, and a few other things they were handing out. Was someone actually riding this bike to power the blender?! Totally cool!


I checked my unofficial race results on computers they had in a Nike+ area, and headed out to meet my family.

I love the Finisher’s shirt and Tiffany necklace – both are things that I will actually use!


It was a fun race, lots of hype and excitement. I felt like I was on track for a decent (for me!) finishing time aside for the bathroom lines. My best half marathon time was my first one: pre-kids, it was 2:05. My other three were in the 2:12-2:20 range, so this was slower overall but I think my pace was similar to those timings, aside from my lengthy pit stops.

Now on to the triathlon training!

Cynthia @ You Signed Up For What?!

Cynthia @ You Signed Up For What?!

Cynthia Steele is a runner, triathlete, & working mom of 3 little kids. She has lost 50 pounds through fitness and healthy eating and writes about fitting in all this crazy stuff while juggling work and kids.
Cynthia @ You Signed Up For What?!

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34 Thoughts on “Race Report: Nike Women’s Half Marathon DC 2013

  1. Hey! Great job! I loved your pictures (I didn’t run with my phone). I was in the same corral group, but I pushed my way up to the front left near the stage so I heard them do the stretches and introduce Shalane Flanagan. I didn’t have too much of a problem with sudden walkers, but I was kinda in between corral groups for most of my run. My Garmin GPS was off too because of the tunnels. As soon as we came out from the first one, it said I lost Satelites and I was .14 ahead of every marker. On the way back when we did the tunnel the second time, I was .3 ahead. I just had to remember that when it went off early for every mile! Congrats! I LOVED it and plan on entering again next year!

    • I wish I had been further forward but thought my actual pace would be in the higher end of the corral group so I was 3/4 way back. Oh well! Aha, it was probably the tunnels! Congrats on your race too, I really had a great time. I thought I was crazy to run with my camera but now I did. It’s a tiny Canon Powershot and I had it in my little pouch on my waistband.

  2. Also I should add that I really enjoyed pics of the SF races when I was googling and looking at race reports, so I had fun documenting mine!

  3. Congrats on your race looks like a fun day was had!

  4. I got pelvic pain on my half. It started on the inside groin ares then radiated to my outside hip. Mile 11 I had a giant pop that made me stop. Turns out I got Hip bursitis. Hopefully you don’t have that. It hurts every time I do anything for longer than 45 minutes and its been 3 months since it happened.

    • OUCH! I was using Dr. Google but I’m thinking I should ask a professional about this since it seems like such an odd place for intense pain. Thanks for the tip about hip bursitis – I’ll go read about it.

  5. My Garmin also showed just over 13.5 miles for the day!! I think that between dodging the crowds and going through the long tunnel, perhaps it did some creative extrapolating. On the other hand, my running partner’s Garmin showed right on the money at 13.1, but hers auto-paused under the tunnel and overpasses.

    I was in the 10-11:59 corral which was stupidly crowded. I can’t for the life of me understand why they had the faster paces broken up into such tiny segments, and then threw the median times all together in one giant lump. I never got out of the crowds the whole time – I barely caught a glimpse of the scenery because I was too busy trying not to crash into someone.

    Congratulations on your race!!!

    • Yep, the crowds – it was so crowded! I was just trying not to crash into people half the time. I had the same crowd issue for the first part of the Marine Corps Marathon. For that one I could only walk through some of the water stops since it was soooo crowded. I’m hoping to do the Army 10 miler in the fall and hope that will be a good DC race experience like the Cherry Blossom 10 miler was a few years ago.

  6. Great post! I absolutely loved this sentence: “I had told all my friends and coworkers that I had bought a Tiffany necklace and just had to run 13 miles to pick it up.” So true!

    Great race – I was in the same corral as you, but I didn’t feel like crowds were that bad! Maybe I’ve run worse crowded races? Who knows! Either way, great race!

    My post is up to, if you want to check it out!

    • Loved your post, Megan! I think I was further back in the corral and it was a bit more crowded since as people came in later they just funneled through to squeeze into an empty spot. Originally I was going to come into the corral on the far side but went to the portapottie one more time, I think it was more crowded on the near side near the bag check tables and potties. But running the race was crowded for me. More incentive to do speedwork next time – less people further up in the pack!

  7. I love the picture of you on the course with your kids! So adorable! What a great moment for all of you! Congrats! I still haven’t taken my necklace off!

    • Thanks! I was so happy my dad took some pics, like the ones of the kids waiting to see me too where you see the back of their heads. They were SO excited to cheer me on and had to wait like 2 hours to see me. :)

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  9. Congrats! I was in the same corral and it was a train wreck. I totally agree, lots of walkers right off the bat and I even passed a girl on crutches with her friends on either side of her!!! Yea.
    Anyways, great race other than that and LOVE the bling too!

    • I did see someone on crutches! Maybe if they had staggered the corrals’ start times in waves it would have worked better? The excitement of the crowd taking off en masse was great though!

  10. Loved your recap. I was in the corral right behind yours and I totally agree with all the INSTANT walkers. Literally, I totally support run/walk but if you are going to walk within the first 5 minutes, you should be to the sides of the road. I almost tripped numerous times trying to avoid ladies who stopped to walk directly in front of me. It was crazy!

    • Yep, I think maybe they could do some advising about walking and passing etiquette so we all know what to expect. I wasn’t sure whether to pass on the left, the right, or just wherever since it was chaotic. But still fun!

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  13. So awesome!! I heard it was a great race!! Loved your re-cap. Funny that you mention Hans Point being boring cause I did MCM a couple years ago and it was definitely the worst part of the race!!

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  15. Thanks for the recap! What fun!!! Big races are always so crowded, and get me a little aggravated/anxious, but they are totally worth it. Great read – can’t wait for SF!

  16. This race looks like it was so much fun!!! I think sometimes you have to enjoy the spirit of the race and not worry about time, this would be one of them. Your race pictures are great too! I should really start running with my phone or a camera.

    • I have issues with taking pics on my phone since I have a huge phone now (Samsung Galaxy S3). Love the size of the phone for everything but running with it! I do have a tiny Canon Powershot that fits in my palm, and in a little waist pouch, so I have gotten used to running with it and snapping pics!

    • And you’re right – the spirit of the race is the purpose!

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  18. Rafaela on November 5, 2013 at 12:46 pm said:

    Great post! Just registered for this 2014, and this got me more excited! As for Run/Walk, I train on a Run/Walk group and we have people that are Boston qualifiers all the way to people with 16 min/mile pace. And it doesn’t matter how fast you can do a mile, you run/walk your interval from the very beginning. So, I would guess that is why people were walking within the first 5 min. That’s their interval… That being said, in our group we know to always stay to the right. So this way we are not getting in the way of runners and making people crash into us…

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