Entry into the Nike Women's Marathon is by a random drawing lottery system. Around April, they will open the registration period for 2 weeks. During that time I think +40k people try register for the 20-25k spots they have available. You register, and if you get "chosen" your credit card will be charged the registration fee of $100-150.
For the past few years, I've tried to get into Nike, but I never won the "lottery". I would get the sad email saying "Thanks but no thanks" from Nike and I'd feel depressed and defeated.
However, every year, I've noticed that 1 month before the race, they'd send out an email saying, "Hey you can still register with this 'last minute entry code!' " but by that time, I would have had no flight or hotel booked and it would be impossible for me to get to SF. So I'd pass.
Finally, last year, 2011, I won the "lottery" and it was amazing.
Fast foward to 2012.. during registration period, I felt that I was going to be a sure win. I booked a hotel during Day 1 of registration. Then after the 2 weeks, I instead of a "congratulations confirmation" email I was expecting.. I got the dreaded "Thanks but.. No thanks" email..
I read it over and over and over again.. This can't be.. I felt sad. I felt angry. I felt cheated.
However, I never put 2 and 2 together until this year 2012.. I decided to keep my hotel and wait for the 3 week "last min entry" into Nike. I waited and waited.. It usually happens around 1 month before the race.. As that week approached, I started to give up hope and made other plans.. The day before I was about to cancel my hotel, my runner friend Pam, who won the lotto this year, got the last min entry code and informed me about it.
I raced to the nearest computer and quickly registered. Hooorray!!! I was IN!
Now the tough part.. I didn't train, at all, all year. The most I ran was 5 miles.. So I had 3 weeks to train for a half marathon.
I know I could do it without training, but I wanted to race well, and to finish strong. I didn't want to walk and half ass it, since I wanted this all year.
So I trained hard for the 3 weeks leading up to the race. I had a bad case of runner's knees. Every night my knees ached and throbbed. But I pushed forward with my training.
Finally race weekend arrived. My running partner Connie and I drove up from LA to SF early Saturday morning.
Sunday Morning, Race Morning, we "planned" to leave the hotel around 6:15 and arrive at the starting area by 6:30, however it didn't happen. As we repeatedly hit 'snooze' we remembered, it took us 30 mins to get to the start line last year.. We can wait.. So we left our hotel at 7am, (race starts at 7am) and got to the area in 12 mins. The corrals were still slowly walking to the start line. Perfect timing!
As we ran, we felt strong. We didn't need to stop or walk, but we did have to pee. We passed through the 3 massive hills during the course. I love hills because its a great way of passing people who see the hill and immediately give up.
If you do have to pee, during any race, wait for mile 5 or 6. the lines will be significantly less. Mile 2 port-a-potty will have a crazy long line. Even though I had to pee really bad, I wish I didn't have to stop because I'm sure my end time would've been 5+ mins faster. after we collected our T shirts and our necklaces, I grabbed all the food I could, and headed straight for my $20 shuttle ride back to our hotel where I got a late checkout and slept until housekeeping woke me up. :)
Overall a fantastic weekend.
Tips for Nike Women's Marathon
- If you don't get in, try again during the 3 week "last min entry period"
- Buy the shuttle ticket when you register $10. The Price doubles at the expo $20.
- If you don't buy a shuttle ticket during registration, but really need to take the shuttle at the last min, try to sneak on. They didn't even check if we had our tickets. Then use the $ you saved and donate it to charity!! Karma will get you.
- Pee after mile 5.
- Run to the END of the water station. Everyone crowds in the front.
- If you need to walk, Move to the right, and don't form a line with the person next to you. Leave space for people to pass you
- LOOK behind you when you stop and move out of the way. You will most likely get run over the by runner behind you.
- There are 3 major hills, which get progressively worse.
- After Fisherman's Wharf. ~mi 3
- When you see the Golden Gate bridge on your right ~ mi 6
- When you're out of the park and enter a residential area, (worse hills) ~ mi 9
- After when you enter the Great Park, you only have 3 miles left, and its pretty flat.