the view from our window was a little different at 5 in the morning.
we all got ready fairly quickly and then headed down to meet the other girls in the lobby. our hotel was really close to where we needed to go for our corral, which was marked with this bright blue balloon.
and the first selfies of the day.
and again, nike was watching.
with 15 minutes before the start, the streets of san francisco were filling up with the 25,000 registered runners. in front of me:
although it's the "nike women's half," there were also a good number of guys present. this one was extra sparkly.
it turned out that we were the very last wave of runners to be released onto the course. despite a 6:30 start, we didn't cross the start line until well after 7.
and then we were off!
yes, i took pictures of every mile marker.
because i was running with my friend delovely details, i never did find a need to turn on my music. i kept my headphones on to hear the cheers and mile prompts from my nike+ app, though. and this allowed me to hear the fantastic church choir as we rounded this corner.
i don't even remember what we were talking about here.
after passing up a few great photo ops, we decided to stop here because it was pretty and colorful.
and then we came across the first water stop. i took advantage of every one of these.
just past this marker was another one telling us we'd completed the first 5K.
we saw a few different cheer squads along the way.
but this was my favorite one, at mile 4. hello, mr. lilcee and mini cee!
we were a little surprised to see that a lot of the water stops after that first one seemed to be self-serve. i don't think i've ever seen that at any other race.
don't go chasin' waterfalls.
yay for mile 5! we'd gotten to this point in just under an hour.
golden gate park was really pretty. this was my favorite spot.
the mile markers seemed to be coming pretty quickly at this point, although i knew the gnarliest hills were still ahead of us.
the road less traveled.
we noticed that at some points, the volunteers were holding up barriers to direct runners towards a different route. we could see crowds running on entirely different streets, and this explained to us why the nike+ app kept telling me that we were done with certain miles about a half mile before we passed that marker. it was weird.
high-fives from a member of SFPD:
this poor mile marker was crumpled and broken on the ground.
it was an indication of how we'd feel once we got a look at the hill we were about to climb.
that's okay, though. the next one was intact.
we knew from that elevation chart we'd seen at the nike store that the course was about to get rough, so we took another quick selfie while we could still muster up a smile. plus, the background was really pretty.
nike had put some thought into where they placed the nike training club crew, and with this being the most killer hill of the entire morning, it was the best spot possible to see and hear those extra cheers and encouragement.
while it was definitely rough as all hell, we were still having a great time. it was hard not to, with the gorgeous scenery to take in as we huffed and puffed.
the cheer squads and signs were most appreciated.
and before we knew it, we were at the top.
and from here, it was all downhill. this was great, because this is usually the point in every half marathon when i hit a wall - both mentally and physically.
see alcatraz, off in the distance?
as we entered crissy field, we were stoked to find that the "chocolate mile" was still a part of the course.
we knew our time was already completely ruined from all of the photo stops we'd taken, not to mention all those hills we'd climbed. and so we didn't even think twice when there was a bit of a line for this photo op.
these girls decided, though, that they didn't want to wait for the line and jumped in right as i was trying to get a shot of DD. you can see how happy she was about that.
dragon! ribbon dancers! mariachi! drummers! it was a fun multicultural stretch as we finally started to see a light at the end of the tunnel.
here's the one and only shot of me along the course. somehow, i'd managed to miss almost all of the photographers - or they had their cameras down, which was a bummer.
one more, just because.
and then...one more turn to make before that finish line finally came into view.
we each received one of these fun hot pink water bottles.
and just beyond that, more snacks and recovery fuel.
distribution of the little blue boxes was rather anti-climactic, with no tuxedo'd firemen with silver platters in sight.
didn't matter. we were still super excited to receive them.
and then it was time to join the thousands of runners and spectators and try to make our way to the finisher's boutique for some pretty gear (that we'd earned, but still had to purchase).
we found our friends already in line, and talking to one of the firemen who had volunteered to come and take pictures with exhilarated, sweaty, happy runners.
more words of encouragement from nike.
finally inside the tent!
even the mannequins had had it, it appeared.
with no time to spare (because of hotel checkout and our flights back home), DD and i said goodbye to our friends and made our way to the shuttles to get back to union square. it was kind of cruel to hear that after running over 13 miles, we still had to trek another 4+ blocks to get to the damn buses.
once there, though, we were happy campers.
we took quick showers, packed our bags, and snagged one last lyft back to the airport.
and then back at home, i finally got my post-race meal:
confession: i still haven't opened my blue box. it's too pretty. but i'll get there...maybe after all the soreness is gone.