Running the Nike Women’s Half in San Francisco has always been a dream of mine.
A couple weeks prior to the race, I was filled with excitement when Mecque, my buddy from Fleet Feet San Francisco, welcomed me to pace with her in the half. Um, YES!!! My original plan was to run alone, but having a run partner is always an added bonus. Plus, she’s full of vibrant running energy, AND she knows the San Francisco running scene like the back of her hand.
The best part about running with Mecque? Besides showing up with a Rockstar energy drink in her hand and a smile on her face, she’s also rocking a Flip Belt with a MINI Jambox. It’s like running with a personal DJ. When the road is normally filled with the sounds of heavy breathing and running shoes hitting the pavement, crushing a few miles to the beat of Pit Bull can be pretty motivating. I’m pretty sure we had groupies at one point in the race. I’m not the kind of runner who traditionally wears a running belt, but I’m now thoroughly convinced I need both of these contraptions.
My alarm was set for 4:50 AM. Enough time to eat, dress, stretch, and perform all the appropriate morning bathroom duties (ahem), before meeting her at 6:00 AM. The hotel I stayed at was only 2 blocks from the starting line making it was easy to drop our bags and head to the corral. With 25,000 runners jammed into the city streets, there was an expectation of morning chaos, but everything flowed like water. Sunday also happened to be Mecque’s birthday. She was targeting a 1:55 finish for a PR. Even though I wasn’t 110% confident my body was going to hold up on the hills, I promised Mecque we would do our best to pace to her goal. Originally, my plan was to just cruise through this race, but I there was a bigger purpose.
The race began on time: 6:30 AM. Races always begin with the cluster of slowness that you have to weave through, but we spread out nicely within a mile of the start. The first hill to speak of was at mile 2 and we gave a little push to get to the top. The sun was coming up and greeted us with a clear morning. No fog, but it was around 63° and there was humidity in the air. I was already sweating and took note that I should be drinking little sips early and often to stay hydrated.
A little past the 5K mark we headed into Golden Gate Park. (Our 5K split: 27:42, 8:54 per mile) We needed to make up a little time, but I wasn’t worried. I’d never been in the park so I was taking it all in. As we continued running west, the course brought us closer to the beach where a light headwind started to pick up. My hair was already drenched in sweat so it was like having my own personal air conditioner. We continued weaving through the park. Every once in a while a breeze would drag the scent of eucalyptus across our noses — ahhh, natural running zen!
What do Nutella sandwiches, cake, and magical grape beverage have in common? They are all ways you can fuel, aka stuff your face, at the “Beat the Blerch” race series. For my husband’s second half marathon, he wanted a completely different race experience than his first, which was the 2014 Rock and Roll Vancouver half marathon. I think we succeeded in finding something unique. If you’re like me and have heavenly visions when you hear the words Nutella and running in the same sentence, this race is for you!
First let’s start with a little background info:
what’s a “blerch”: The Blerch is a cartoon character created by Matthew Inman, the author of the online comic, The Oatmeal. He’s a chunky, devil-on-your-shoulder character whose sole purpose is to defeat your running mojo by tempting you with activities such as eating junk food, hitting the snooze button, and binge watching Netflix. It’s also the sound a condiment bottle makes when you squeeze it.
This is a Blerch. Isn’t he cute?