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I’m not big on posting lengthy race reviews, so I’ll give my recap through mostly photos instead.

I will say that contrary to many race reviews I read beforehand, the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in San Francisco was well-organized and worth the travel, even with more than 25,000 runners to corral, usher, accommodate, ego-stroke and connect with in that personal and emotive I-am-woman-hear-me-roar-ish sort of way in which Nike marketers excel. The emotional branding was dripping from every detail, so plentiful you could have poured yourself a cup for a pre-race booster better than any Gatorade or green smoothie. Oh Nike, flattery will get you everywhere.

One subtlety I appreciated: well placed port-a-potties throughout the course, with little signs indicating “next port-a-potty is 2 miles away” so you can better weigh the decision to make the pit stop or chance a dash to the next one. I’m nothing if not a potty opportunist, especially when running. Oh Nike, you so GET me.

One nice tech-y touch: in a few spots there were monstrous screens broadcasting video of hoards of runners bobbing along, and one just had names of runners scrolling across so that when you passed a certain trigger point you saw your name onscreen and someone with a microphone yelled “way to go, [name]!” Another attempt to personally reach out to 25,000 plus runners. So cheeseball, and I liked it.

Selfie in front of a gigantic replica of the course? Don’t mind if I do.

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Jake’s inner monologue: too many women, get me out of here

I loved the energy. I was discouraged when my Pandora app didn’t connect but I didn’t need my music after all. Drumlines, DJs, bongo players, cheer squads and others lined the course to pump you up along the way.

And the scenery. Swoon. This sums up how I felt about running through Golden Gate Park:

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Those hills. Oh, those hills were rough. But if you did the downhill right, you could make up for some lost time. You could fly.

Mile 10 uphill was just the worst. This was the only hill I did some walking on. It was hard not to as you had to weave through a sea of walkers in front of you.

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(Unfortunately, my watch didn’t connect during the first mile so it thinks the race was 12.6 miles.)

I knew a PR was not in the cards for this race and was thrilled to finish under 2 hours. I took my time, stopped at each aid station to drink water and took one bathroom break. I didn’t let myself think about the what if I didn’t stop here or theres, the how could I have done betters or the did I leave anything out on the course?s. I just enjoyed.

I spotted my wonderful family waving to me right before the finish line:

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I finished at 1:59:25, 345 out of 3737 in my age group and 2424 overall. Top 10 percent what what.

Instead of a medal, Nike gave a Tiffany & Co. finisher necklace:

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Double swoon.

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I’m so glad I did this race. It was a great birthday gift to myself. However, I’m now considering doing another half in Nov or Dec to scratch that PR itch. I can’t seem to help myself. #runnerproblems

This is the second 13.1 this year that after the finish I thought, yeah, I don’t feel like keeling over, I’ve got more in me, maybe I’ll do a full someday. Even if it’s hard. Because what’s hard is what’s good, what’s good is what’s living for, and every uphill battle has a downhill that, if you do it right, makes you fly.

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