Nike Women’s Half Marathon Recap and Race Report: Part 1
WARNING: Probably my longest recap yet of both a race’s expo and race itself. There were a lot of ups and downs with this race and my overall experience, that I’ve broken this into two parts. Social media is a very large component of this race’s experience as well.
For Part 2, which focuses on the race, please click here.
Race: Nike Women’s Half Marathon
Location: National Mall, Tidal Basin, L’Enfant Plaza, Washington, DC
Distance: 21.1 km (13.1 miles)
Date/Start Time: 28 April 2013, 7am
Distance Travelled to Compete: 198 km (123 miles)
Weather conditions: Sunny; temperatures stayed at mid-to-high 60s.
Course conditions: 3-4 inclines along the course. Most noticeable hills were Miles 1 and 10 (up and down the I-395 ramp). By and large it was mostly flat.
Preview: Nike’s first race in the DC area as part of its Women’s Series had a lot of ups and downs from registration to outreach to how the race was run. I always enjoy running in DC, but there’s a few things that could have gone better. Okay there’s MORE than a few things that left me disappointed.
Registration Process: I had written more about the registration process here. I had bypassed the lottery process as a graduate student, paying a reduced rate and securing confirmation immediately. To make sure I don’t screw up, I will be checking MANY times for my student ID, as it is needed to secure the bib and the corral bracelet.
But again, I give these guys props for guaranteeing entry and a discounted rate (even if still on the high side) for students. Life can be miserable as a graduate student but guaranteed and discounted entry for a very popular race has lifted my spirits in more ways than one. I don’t know of any other race or race series that gives this type of preference for students.
— Charlene on the Run (@OneFootThere) April 24, 2013
Probably one of my main gripes about this race, and seemingly other Nike races, is that their FACEBOOK page is their main website. Several other runners have complained on FB, on Twitter, and even in person at the expo about not wanting to put everything on FB. I have also seen comments from other runners complaining about their support and quite honestly I don’t see their social media staff answering all the questions I see thrown at them on their Facebook page.
Not to mention I am one of many people looking to leave Facebook soon. (Although I plan on nuking my personal page, I may consider a running-oriented/fitness branded page…not sure yet.)
They have an email address in their FAQ for enquiries. But by placing prominence on their FB page, they are not making it any easier for people to contact them. They DO have a standalone page for registration that is integrated with their Nike+ application, but surely the race pages should be based from that site and not Facebook?
Their Twitter account, however, is very active. It seems many times when I included the official hashtag #werunDC, especially in an inquiry, they always responded. More real time interaction is in? I mean if they want to integrate other social media sites, great, but Facebook should not be the forefront of things.
Besides, Nike’s own Running app encourages social interaction, why does it need Facebook to anchor it? I do not nor have I ever worked for Nike, so I must be missing something.
I could understand if it were a small town race where the race directors are scrimping by, but it doesn’t even cost that much to run a website, and Nike Series races? Please.
But then again, whoever is running their Twitter account is quite engaging.
— Run Nike Women (@runnikewomen) April 23, 2013
Props to whoever is running their Twitter account, but again a massive headache for people who simply don’t use that much social media.
— Run Nike Women (@runnikewomen) April 23, 2013
Emails disseminated have been orderly and on time. No issues here. The essential information IS on their PDFs, but there are some extras on their social media sites that some people may care more about to enhance their experience.
The expo is being held at the Georgetown Harbour off at Thomas Jefferson Street (between 30th and 31st) off M Street NW. I know this area TOO well – it is where my favourite bakery (all time) is located: Baked and Wired. Incredible and eclectic cupcakes and a lot of bang for the buck – no lie.
When I first arrived on M Street I saw the massive wall of names on Nike’s Georgetown store and eventually found mine.
I had gotten to the expo quite late in the process, and all the while I was chatting it up with Becca (@onelittlebecca) who lives in the DC area. We had been tweeting to each other and agreed to catch each other at the expo. I had been waiting in the queue which was ridiculously long when I had seen her with her boot.
@onefootthere it was great to finally meet you!!! Ahhh Gluck tomorrow!!!!
— OneLittleBecca (@onelittlebecca) April 27, 2013
— Charlene on the Run (@OneFootThere) April 27, 2013
Luckily that queue was moving through fast, and credit to Nike organisers for having the volunteer force to get people through. The sun was beating down on the harbour quite nastily so the heat was getting annoying quickly.
When I checked in, I showed her my university ID and my licence before she gave me her bib. Thank goodness it was under 8000. Numbers above 8000 would have required me to change trains and that would have been a further problem for reasons I will explain later.
I got a green bag that was required for bag check (which I elected not to make use of later on), goodies and such. I’ve had Luna bars time and time again before, but I’ve never had the Somersaults snacks before, and sampling all their varieties, I fell in love. They are absolutely delicious!
One key difference though: unlike most races, you do NOT get your tech shirt at packet pickup. You get it AFTER you finish – IF you should finish. Of all my races, this is the first one to have done it this way. Shamrock Fest (Virginia Beach) gives you a race shirt before AND another shirt or piece of swag AFTERWARDS if you finish.
The expo tent was VERY small, but there WAS a lot going on. So much, actually, that it was extremely crowded. As people came in, there was a wall of tweets and pics taken and tagged on Instagram and Twitter.
Across from that was the Nuun sampling station, which I tried out. Earlier on, I had bought the tri-berry tablet pack to ease in with my stomach, and this was a good thing. The fizziness of the drink didn’t go down well, but if I refrigerated or left the drink warm, it was flat enough to work well with me.
Behind that section was the Nike shoe area. This was where I got my gait tested, and some shoe recs. As predicted, the attendant said I had a straight gait with slight overpronation, and recommended a stability shoe, since I was pressing quite hard on the outer edges of my feet.
I also got a bra fitting which helped. My racing bra is a compression bra, and a non-compression type would help in some circumstances. They recommended merchandise for me to buy at the nearby Georgetown store, but now I know what shoe to keep an eye for if I needed to purchase another Nike shoe. Very helpful overall for those people not knowledgeable enough about proper fitting bras and shoes, and considering the number of first timers here, I imagine it would have helped.
Also we had the ability to use cards that Nike gave us to see if we’d won prizes. At three different stations, we would enter the card’s code and it would tell us if we’d won. Unfortunately mine was no dice. However, I did use my Nike apps to track my runs, so attendants did give us bracelets.
Other stations included products oriented towards women, and understandably so. There was the bareMinerals station where women could get their makeup done (foundation, concealer, moisturizer, bronzer, etc) and being a darker complexioned individual, I often struggled to find a proper shade of makeup, so I sat in to see what the makeup artist would say. I sat in alright, and I don’t know what it was, but I think my face was a shade lighter than what I had come in with. I didn’t look awful, but deary me. I think I’ll stick with my Estee Lauder foundation after all. (D’oh!)
The Paul Mitchell station featured an area where women could get their hair done. I took a sample or two of their hairspray and shampoo was also included with the expo swag bag, and unfortunately I found the queue entirely too long, so I skipped this part. Not to mention I had been on my feet and wanted to get back to the hotel and rest.
Across from the Paul Mitchell area was where elite athletes gave talks. I was queued up for one of the Nike stations when one of my favourite runners, Shalane Flanagan was giving words of advice, and unfortunately I could not get close enough to her. Crikey.
Finally, the Luna station. I’ve always been a big fan of Luna bars, LONG before I took up running. At this station we could make signs for our encouragement and such.
Out back was a massive sign planted by Nike and I took a few moments to enjoy the harbourside.
Finally, feeling the fatigue in my legs, I jetted the red line back to where I was staying. Overall, I felt the expo was very cramped, and whilst the activities were very engaging, they could have used a lot more space.
This is partially my fault for not getting there until Saturday however; to Nike’s credit, they were also open Thursday and Friday. Another criticism I had heard from other runners is that their special edition shoes (which I wouldn’t buy as I feel they are too expensive at well over $100 a pair) were in short supply. As a resident of Philly however, nearby running store Philadelphia Runner did carry select merchandise themed for this race, so I could have gone there and bypassed the bedlam if I had felt the need.
The race and aftermath is covered in Part 2 of my recap.