Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Birthday Weekend at the Nike Women's Half Marathon DC!

I can't even begin to put into writing how awesome this race experience was! I am so grateful for everyone who made this race amazing! Thank you to Brandy, Nike Running, Nike Women, Lydia, the volunteers, Ellie Goulding, Robin, the Crews, and everyone I met at the expo! You know how to make a girl feel special and how to put on a race.

The race weekend began with a trip to the expo. One of my pictures from Instagram was featured throughout the event on their live photo stream. It was fun to see everyone's training and race weekend photos. There were so many strong and empowering women there. 


Friday morning I volunteered at the expo. I was in charge of checking racers in and giving them their race packets, assigning their bibs and answering any questions they might have had. It was a fun experience and really exciting to see how excited everyone was for the race. I also got a fun grey long-sleeve Nike Women's Half Marathon Volunteer shirt! Woohoo!

Friday was also the night of the VIP party at the Nike Georgetown store. Brandy and I went to the event together and had a lot of fun. We took our pictures by the wall of names and met some of the girls from the San Francisco Runway Crew! They are super nice and very inspiring. 

Found my name on the wall!

I was able to find my name on the wall and had to snap a photo to remember. Then we headed into the party. There were refreshments, chocolate covered strawberries, shopping, and Olympians Shalene Flanagan and Joan Benoit Samuelson presenting the Tiffany's necklace finisher's medal! I enjoyed checking out the party and meeting up with some friends and Nike employees I worked with as an ambassador for the Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco last year. After the party Brandy and I headed back to the hotel to try and get some rest before more exploring on Saturday.

 Shalene Flanagan and Joan Benoit Samuelson

Saturday morning Brandy and I headed to the expo. We couldn't resist taking some photos in front of the expo tent and really taking the experience in. This banner just happened to be all about my birthday so I had to snap a photo. Thanks Brandy for the great pose idea! Moments like this don't just happen every day and I had to take advantage of every opportunity. After some more photos around the expo we headed inside to check out what Nike had to offer. As always, the expo delivered fun for everyone. 

Throughout the day they had contests and activities and gave away awesome prizes and race gear. I was in the tent at the time they asked everyone to pull out their Nike Running apps and show how many miles they had run with it. I happened to have the most at the time, with a total or 1500 miles and won a hat. They also did a brief interview with me on why I love the Nike Running app. It was a fun experience and a great reward for all my running. They also did some live Nike Training Club sessions where they gave away some NTC towels just for doing the workout with them. This was my favorite. I love the NTC drills and it was great to be able to do them with a group of energetic women. 

Saturday afternoon Brandy and I did some touring around town. We saw the White House, Washington Monument, Treasury, and many other buildings and areas or interest in DC. We must have walked nine miles that day before the race. After taking a lot of photos, we headed to the private Ellie Goulding concert especially for VIP's, Crews, and Nike Running and Nike Training Club Superusers! I  really like Ellie's music and she is even more lovable because she is an amazing runner! The concert was great and very real. 

 Ellie Goulding and I after the concert!

After the show I got to meet Ellie Goulding as a special treat from Nike Women and Nike Running! She was super sweet and down to earth. Thanks Nike for letting me meet this amazing artist and runner. After the concert we headed to get some supper and then went to bed to prepare for our early morning race!

Sunday morning Brandy and I woke up around 5:30. We got ready, ate, put our race bibs, corral bracelets and running gear on and headed to the race! We walked about a half mile to the race from our hotel and then headed to our race corrals. I was fairly close to the front and could see the Capital from the start line. After waiting for about a half hour we did a quick warm-up with Deanna Jefferson, a Nike Training Club instructor, had a quick wave from Shalene and Joanie and then Jay Blahnik did a final countdown and started the race! 

 Running by the Capitol. Photo by Nike

The race course was absolutely beautiful. The temperature was in the 60's and the sun was shining brightly. I could not resist snapping some photos as I ran. It's harder to do than you would think. We ran by so many landmarks, across bridges, the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, the Capital. Each one was amazing. The race had great water stops, fueling stations and the crowd support was incredible. The last few miles the streets were lined with spectators cheering on their friends, family and strangers. They definitely helped to push me to the finish. I crossed the line in 1:55:03. I was happy with my time, especially considering the course. 

After I crossed that finish line I was so happy! I had made it and in under two hours. I picked up my Tiffany's Finisher Medal, grabbed my Finisher's shirt, snacks and then headed to take a few photos at the photo booth. The girls behind me in line were kind enough to snap a few photos for me because Brandy was still racing. After the photos I went to the stretching tent to give my muscles some recovery and sipped on some Jamba Juice smoothies! They have never tasted so good. Yum!

After the race Brandy and I went back to our hotel to change and then headed out for some more sightseeing. The day started to turn a bit cloudy and we were even rained on for about 30 minutes. We treated ourselves to ice cream and a little shopping. Then we went to see some more sights. We walked all around, almost ten more miles after the race. We took photos around the reflection pool and many other monuments. 

This is a really powerful photo to me. It really shows how much the times have changed. Women are an integral part of our country and know how to work as a team. This race was a testament to the strength and power of women from across the country and around the world. I met so many strong and inspiring women, I could not have asked for a better weekend. 

One of my favorite pictures. Reflecting at the Lincoln Memorial.

Turning 26 was an amazing experience. If all my birthdays are this fun in the future I can't wait to see what is yet to come. This race was one for the record books and I can't wait to take over San Francisco on October 20, 2013! Until then, follow my training journey here and if you did the Nike Women's Half Marathon or any other race this weekend, let me know how it went in the comments below!