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Nike Womens Marathon - RunMarathon

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San Francisco, California
United States
62F / 17C
Total Time = 4h 07m 32s
Overall Rank = 524/4897
Age Group = M40-44
Age Group Rank = 11/46
Pre-race routine:

It's been a whirlwind of races for me in the last couple months. 6 weeks ago, I did IM Wisconsin; 3 weeks ago, a 50K trail race; 2 weeks ago, the Mt. Diablo Challenge; 1 week ago, my first successful 50 mile trail race.

So, the week leading up to NWM, I didn't do any running at all since I was purely in recovery mode. However, I had signed up for NWM through work, Jamba Juice. Since they are a major sponsor, we get a block of registrations so I definitely wanted to run for our team at work, esp. since I didn't get to run last year because I had a race the same weekend.

Even though my legs were not yet recovered, I still debated whether or not I should try to "race" the event or just do it for fun. The fact that I was even considering racing it all was vanity and hubris prompted by the very weak race results from the 2007 race - in the M40-44 category, third place was 3:57, which would easily have been within my reach.

So, Saturday before the race (on Sunday), I finally decide I'll do it for fun. The slogan for the race is "Run like a girl" so I wanted to dress up accordingly. I mentioned to my wife how I was looking for something hot pink and was going to go shopping at some of the sport stores and buy a pink wig to match. She pulled out a hot pink costume dress she had made many years ago and I tried it on. It fit pretty well. A little snug in the waist, but really not too bad a fit. Usually when putting on a dress, I find the shoulders are the hardest part to fit, but since this dress was a halter top, problem solved.

Later that day, DW and I went for a little shortie run in Golden Gate park (sans dress) just to give my legs a little test and, yeah, they were still recovering from last Saturday, so running for fun tomorrow was the right choice. However, I did feel sluggish enough on that mini run that I had no idea if I'd last a full 26.2.

After our run, we went shopping in the Haight for a wig. We found a store with a great selection. There were several pink wigs from which to choose. One of them we saw was a medium length hot pink wig with blonde streaks. We both agreed that the streaks gave the wig a little more depth than a simple plain pink-only wig, so we bought it.

Then we had brunch at Bia's, a Mediterranean/California restaurant with organic produce. I had the chicken apple sausage scramble and DW had a very tasty lamb sandwich.

After getting back home, I took a shower and took the opportunity to shave my legs and my arm pits (oh the razor burn...). We then took a nap. I still had to go down to Union Square for packet pick up, so we biked, which is by far my preferred form of transport in the city. There was valet bike parking for the event, which is always nice. We briefly saw the expotique which included an oxygen bar, gait analysis (looked cool, but didn't want to wait), manicures (would have been nice before the race, but didn't want to wait either), and other things, but we headed over to registration first. Fortunately, there was no wait at all and I picked up my packet, chip, bib, and goodies. On the way out, they had pace bracelets available.

It just so happened that they were about to give out Jamba Juice's so we waited for a bit and each grabbed one. I was wearing my jamba race shirt and we chatted with some of the jamba team members working at the event (and some also racing tomorrow too).

We then headed into the expo again. We looked around a bit. DW tried the oxygen bar (not impressed). We headed over to the sign making area (another Jamba provided booth) and briefly chatted with the team members working there. DW made a sign and grabbed an extra blank one.

On our way home, we had to run an errand, but we also happened to pass the San Francisco Chocolate Factory, which I didn't even know existed. DW and I eat chocolate every day, so we had to check it out. We bought a variety of dark chocolate bars.

Back at home, I was feeling I bit under the weather so i rested up a bit more. We eventually had dinner, which consisted of spinach pasta with arrabiata sauce (spicy, so not exactly the best choice before a race) and a fresh turkey sausage. Dark chocolate for dessert, of course.

Went to bed at about 10pm with alarms set for 5am. At 5am, I'm up and making coffee. Normally we have coffee we roast ourselves, but I recently went to visit a colleague over at Peet's and he gave me a tour of their newish roastery in Alameda and gave me a pound of their holiday blend, so we've been drinking that this week. I also had my usual Vital Vittles toast with locally produced honey (eucalyptus).

I put on my running shorts and then put on the dress. i was a little concerned about the sequins lining the halter top since they might chafe. We adjusted the top so that hopefully they wouldn't rub as much and I also put on some body glide (ha, I'll bet no one ever at Body Glide ever thought it'd be used for this purpose). i put on the wig. I knew the hair was going to by flying all over the place, so DW put in a few bobby pins, one on each side and one at the bangs, to try to keep hair out of my face.

I packed my matching pink purse with 4 gus (espresso, vanilla, and the two new roctane flavors - blueberry pomegranate and vanilla orange), a Zone Perfect bar, and my inhaler. DW also pulls out some long white gloves for me to wear. She says they were her mom's so they are vintage and I better not lose them.

Soon enough, it's time to go. We head downtown and DW drops me off where she can. I'm supposed to meet up with the jamba team at 6:15 in front of the jamba juice store at montgomery and clay. We're supposed to then receive a nike escort to the VIP starting group for the race. It's chilly this early in the morning, but I have a light shell. The rest of my fellow team mates are a bit surprised, but pleasantly so, by my getup. A couple of the guys who ran for the team last year dressed up cheerleaders then, so I'm just carrying on the tradition. I am taking it a bit further, though, since my gown is almost full length, a bit more ostentatious, and I'm doing the full mary! If I were cycling, I'd stuff my shell into my cycling jersey pockets, but since I'm wearing an evening gown, I find the the halter top a convenient place to be stuffed. I'm not going to be checking anything in.

Eventually, we walk over to the start without the nike escorts, but we're supposed to be given access if we just name drop (of course, I can't remember the names of the people). As we get close to Union Square, we can see how many people are here. Wow. The elites take off at 7:40. I have no idea where bathrooms are, but fortunately, I don't need to go (which probably means I'm dehydrated, esp. I didn't hydrate with anything but coffee).

We make our way through the large crowd to the race corral entrance, which is quite small considering how large this race is. They won't let us in because we don't have sub 9:00 pace bracelets. We explain we're from jamba juice since everyone (except me) is in their jamba race shirt. Eventually one of the volunteers relents and let's us in. Of course, we don't really know where the VIP section is (front of the pack?), but none of us really want to be at the very front anyway. Even though it's only 50 something degrees, the big mass of people keeps us all pretty warm and I don't really feel cold at all in my halter top.
Event warmup:

I'm not big on nothing for me.
  • 4h 07m 32s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 09m 27s  min/mile

While we're all waiting to start, I receive a few compliments on my outfit and a couple of folks want to take my picture. The countdown starts and when the race starts, they let a small initial wave of people go (I'm guessing that's the VIP group) and we're soon stopped again. A minute later, they let the next group go (the one I'm in) which I believe is supposed to be the sub 9min/mile group based on self seeding by race pace bracelets. I don't know if I'm up for a 9 min/mile mary today, but that'd be nice.

The first section through downtown to get to the embarcadero is a little crowded but really not too bad. Plus, I like to start easy. I'm passing people and many are making comments about my gown. Some take pictures along side as we're running.

As we run onto the road along the Embarcadero, things open up a bit. I'm able to pass some. I receive many compliments as I pass or as I am passed by others. Many ask if I'm doing the whole marathon, which I am, and they're impressed (or think I'm just crazy...) that I'm planning to do it in this outfit.

A lot of the comments I receive are along the lines of "go pink!" or "go prom queen!" I also get some comments along the way about the major tan lines I have on my back (from tank tops and tri tops. See photos at finish to see a picture of my tan lines); I sheepishly say I'll need to work on that and they tell me I could use spray on tan. Ick.

I normally skip the first aid station (since they're usually a zoo), but the aid stations are very well staffed with very enthusiastic volunteers and not too crowded. Plus I'm thirsty! Many of the volunteers comment on how they love my dress.

One of the obstacles I found in wearing a gown like this is just using the port-a-potties...I don't want to soil my dress! I had to remove my long fingered glove and put it back on afterward. I'm sure I lost many minutes because of all of this on the 4 times I eventually stopped to pee.

Once the initial burst of energy from the start wears off, it's quite apparent to me that my legs are not fresh at all. After a few miles, my outer left quad is already feeling sore/fatigued. I suspect this is going to be a tough race...

On this stretch of the Embarcadero, there are spectators who generally start cheering when they see me and many take photos or video. Past Aquatic Park where I've done numerous OW swims with the tri club. Up the little hill. Usually I can fly up hills, but most of the runners around me seem faster than me. Then it's down and along the Marina, along Chrissie Field, past Sports Basement (always an enthusiastic crowd here), and then up to Lincoln Blvd. somewhat near the Golden Gate Bridge.

We're headed down towards Baker Beach. On the downhills, my left quad really suffers. As we run through this area, I look for LJR who saw me and poweredbyfear here when we ran through during the San Francisco Marathon earlier in the year, but I can't find him.

The route continues on through Sea Cliff (no Robin Williams to be seen) and then through the Richmond. There are a couple girls here in the bathrobes easting breakfast. We continue on to Great Highway along Ocean Beach and then onto John F. Kennedy Dr. into Golden Gate Park.

After going for a bit in Golden Gate park, the half marathoners split off. We encounter a lot of purple shirted TNT folks. There are more TNT folks by far than non-TNT folks in this area. I'm not sure how they all got out here ahead of me because many of them are walking. I guess they had a head start of some kind and started from elsewhere on the course (because they didn't all start at Union Square).

There were a lot of TNT coaches and TNT specific spectator support (in fact, the course map shows specific areas on the map for TNT cheer sections). Even the TNT spectators cheered me on along with their folks.

One racer tells me she'll hang out with me since she can share in all the cheers. Another woman catches up to me and half jokingly tells me her sister missed her going by because she was too busy looking at me.

There are good crowds at the turn around point in the park. I'm waving at spectators on one side of the road and other racers on the other side (headed the other direction) and getting lots of cheers.

A couple of runners pass me and tell me half jokingly that I stole all their attention. I do feel a twinge of guilt about some of this. Even though dressing in costumes for a race is a very San Francisco thing to do, I was a little afraid of appearing to mock the race, but it really seemed like everyone was very supportive and appreciated the spectacle I provided (or at least I hope that was the case).

At one point in the park, we join up again with the half marathoners before we end up out at ocean beach. The half marathoners head to the right to the finish and we head left to down Great Highway towards Lake Merced.

At some point, I became aware that some spectators, after seeing me, are calling ahead to other spectators to tell them where I am. That's a little weird and cool at the same time.

The road is very rough here, so I try to stay on the shoulder where it's marginally smoother, plus I'm closer to any spectators. My legs are fatigued, but the spectators buoy me up.

At some point along this stretch, I saw the lead runner coming the other direction on the other side of Great Highway. He was all alone. He looked at me and I said "way to go" and he said the same back to me. I cheered on all of the lead runners as they came by.

As I get further along the course, I start to see some of the same people cheering since they've moved ahead for their runners. I also get the benefit of them cheering for me multiple times since I'm so easily recognizable.

As I approach Lake Merced, the DJ there is playing some Smashing them. This stretch around Lake Merced is a struggle because fatigue continues to increase, crowd support is sparse, runners are spread out, and we're sharing the road with cars.

At about mile 22, it's the Ghiradhelli chocolate aid station. However, I thought better of trying to pound some chocolate while on the run so I just pass (plus, I'm a dark chocolate snob-aholic).

With 3 miles left to go, I still have to run back up from Lake Merced, but i can already start to feel the pull of the finish knowing that I only have 5K to go. On this last stretch on Great Highway, the photographers love photographing me. I've never had so many race photos (30+) of me from a race; I guess they just can't resist a gal in a hot pink evening gown.

With 2 miles to go, I decide to crank it up a bit for a strong finish. I know I am going to pay for this big time, but I'm passing a good number of racers. The spectators along the road are getting thicker and I make sure to wave and smile to all of my adoring fans.

Closer to the finish, I'm still passing people. The side of the road is totally packed with spectators. I'm not particularly into crowds or big races, but it was infectious and I felt uplifted, being part of something much bigger than me. All my feelings of pain and fatigue are put on hold and I feel great as I cross the finish line.

Glad I shaved my pits for my finish photo! ;)

Post race
Warm down:

Right after going past the finish line, there's a gauntlet of firemen dressed in tuxes with a tray of little blue tiffany's boxes with the finisher's necklace.

receiving my tiffany necklace

There's a photographer there from the SF Chronicle that asked me my name. The picture she took of me (below) was posted on the website (link here), which was kinda cool because there were random people who then contacted me again after they saw the picture.

I walk to the post race section. I grab some water, a banana, and a bagel. Surprisingly, DW is right there and congratulates me. The Chiquita people want me to take a picture with the banana guy.

with the Chiqita banana guy

a shot of my tan lines

We walk to the Jamba Juice station. I suck down two of them and chat with one of the guys I know. I eat a bit and some folks ask to take a picture with me. I grab some Bear Naked Granola and eat some of that.

I'm really beat, more tired than I've felt after almost any race I've done (presumably because of all of the cumulative fatigue from the last 4 weekends), but it was such a great event, and such a fun one for me personally and I hope that I provided a moment of levity for all the racers who participated. It was my slowest marathon time ever, but in so many ways, it was my most enjoyable one.

Last updated: 2008-08-07 12:00 AM
04:07:32 | 26.2 miles | 09m 27s  min/mile
Age Group: 11/46
Overall: 524/4897
Course: start in Union Square, over to the Embarcadero, along to Aquatic Park, Marina Green, Crissy Field, along Lincoln past Baker Beach to Sea Cliff to Ocean Beach, into Golden Gate park, back out to Ocean Beach down to Lake Merced, around the lake, back to Ocean Highway to the finish in front of Golden Gate Park.
Keeping cool Drinking
Post race
Weight change: %
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Good race?
Course challenge
Events on-time?
Lots of volunteers?
Plenty of drinks?
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5]

2008-11-01 7:22 PM

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San Francisco
Subject: Nike Womens Marathon

2008-11-01 8:47 PM
in reply to: #1780667

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Lafayette, CA
Subject: RE: Nike Womens Marathon
I laughed out loud at least 6 times reading your race report.   For the record:   You don't look fat in that dress.  Well done on many levels.
2008-11-02 9:03 AM
in reply to: #1780667

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Goodyear, AZ
Subject: RE: Nike Womens Marathon

You have had an amazing '08 race schedule. I think you have managed to fit in a bit of everything.

Well done on another great marathon performance. You make a handsome woman!  

2008-11-02 9:05 AM
in reply to: #1780938

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Charlottesville, Virginia
Subject: RE: Nike Womens Marathon
LOL, awesome race report.
2008-11-02 7:10 PM
in reply to: #1780667

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The Redlands, FL
Subject: RE: Nike Womens Marathon


Everytime that I see all your Pics...You make me laugh and laugh...It's a non stop laugh....LOL

You make my Day...LOL

Congratulation Donato!!! Excellent Race and Great Race Report!!!!

2008-11-02 8:26 PM
in reply to: #1780667

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Los Angeles
Subject: RE: Nike Womens Marathon
hey, that does sound like a good time. I think it's safe to say you made the spectators day much more enjoyable tracking you!

2008-11-02 8:36 PM
in reply to: #1780667

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Subject: RE: Nike Womens Marathon
As always, loved your RR!!  Damn nice tan lines   Sounds like you had a great time out there, ALMOST makes me feel like doing a mary.  Congrats!!!
2008-11-02 9:40 PM
in reply to: #1780667

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San Mateo, CA
Subject: RE: Nike Womens Marathon
Best race report ever!
2008-11-05 11:55 AM
in reply to: #1780667

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Subject: RE: Nike Womens Marathon

Wow.  You are one courageous errr... man!  I envy your courage to wear a get-up like that and run a marathon. 

Very nice pics. 

2008-11-05 2:15 PM
in reply to: #1780667

Subject: ...
This user's post has been ignored.
2008-11-05 5:18 PM
in reply to: #1780667

Subject: RE: Nike Womens Marathon
You my friend are completly out of your mind, that's why I like you so much, HA!!

Great race and even better DRESS! the gloves and bag really make the whole thing work...nicely done.

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