Nike Women’s Half Marathon (1:24.53)

This will probably be a lot longer recap and post from me then you are used too.   I don’t normally have a good amount to say about races but I am trying to get better about that.  First, I was never set on running this race.  The month of April I had been back and forth about running this race, I had a few other commitments that I was missing and it seemed like everything and anything was planned on tis same weekend.  When I found out there was no real way to trade or sell off my bib and my dad was going to come watch…well I decided to suck it up to get out of my comfort zone and run the biggest race of my life.

I’m elated I did.



It’s not a secret that I really enjoy Nike products.  They are by far my favorite brand and I have never denied that through swimming or running.  The fact that they announced they were sponsoring a race 6 months ago in DC, I decided I just had to run.  That was in November and for those who relatively new, I was just coming off a giant cyst in my foot…I needed something long term to look forward too and this seemed perfect.  So I entered the race six months ago and put it in the back of mind.


Fast forward to driving down and being on the metro to get my race packet.  I walked entirely too much and a lot more than I would have liked the day before a race.  Between standing in line (for about an hour), walking to and from the metro station (2 miles roundtrip…not the .5 stated) and then just walking…I walked…a lot more then you should.

But before we get much into this recap to much, I had said multiple times I wanted to do well but I don’t feel fully recovered from last months 1:25 at Shamrock.  For those who follow my training, it was obvious my running was okay not stellar. I was not expecting a PR here as well and I was fine with that.  I was there to have fun (I’m always there to have fun).


After getting to the race in the morning around 6:00, I shot the breeze with my friend from the area and her husband (another reason I was really excited to be there).  I didn’t warm up besides my jog with dad to the metro station.  Jogging with a bag, I looked like a line backer…maybe a career in the football is my next bet.


After checking in my bag and delayering all the way (no throw away clothes for me actually), I went to my carol and it was just awe inspiring seeing all the runners and so intimidating. We had to wear wrist bands depending on your pace and looking down to see about 30 females with a sub 6 minute bracelet was scary.

After talking with Brennan, we both agreed…how intimating.  These girls look legit…am I supposed to be here?  Also right before the start, I also saw Alex (who I saw quite a few times on the course).


Then we were off.  Literally the race started at 7:00am and on time.   Around the half mile point we went under a tunnel with bongo players.  It was loud and reminded me a metronome.  Although it was by far my favorite part, It also blocked my Nike watch and immediately I lost signal and from that point on I was sans GPS.  Not sure if anyone else had this problem but I wasn’t just going to stop and say oh darn…watch doesn’t work…race is over.

I was able to chart these splits off their website though and not that it matters too much about splits considering my 5k’s are nearly the same.  My watch acted as a natural stop watch so I had a good idea of what I was doing about my pace but not really. .


I’ll break it up into 4, 5ks.

The first 5k (20:39).

My first 5k will always be my slowest.  Always.  My legs were pretty tired and I didn’t know how it would play out.  I somewhere between 40-50th place but continued to pass people.  We went through the tunnel at the very beginning but I loved the bongo players.  The crowd support was amazing.  The first 5k went by pretty fast and there was only one real hill.  I was really taking in the scenery and trying to find my groove here.

The second 5k (19:49)


This was a very crowd supported.  As I felt myself getting into the groove of a very solid pace.  I didn’t feel 100% optimal but I felt good.  I found myself pretty alone from this point on.  I began to become engrossed in my own thoughts.  I stayed in the same position throughout the race besides a lone wolf dude who ran by me grunting nice running…

The third 5k (20:21)

Miles 6.5-9 were probably the hardest for me.  I was literally all alone with no one around and going into a bit of wind.  I look back at pictures of people running the same race as I am with literally hundreds of females around and I was all by myself.  I saw someone about .1 in front of me and I knew someone was .1 behind…but no one else around.  It was mentally challenging but gorgeous views and just focusing on finishing got me through.  I didn’t have any problems and it honestly just felt like a mental barrier of miles that I needed to get through.

Also during this point some mistaken man ran onto course and he was immediately stopped.  I chuckled and told him that he could finish the rest of the race for me.  He said “you’re a heart breaker kid”…whatever that means.

The final 5k (19:56)

This 5k (if I have this court figured out right) was pretty similar to the first 5k, just retracing our steps.  By this point I had dropped my hammer and had decided I was going to finish and finish strong.  The final 5k for me is my personal favorite because I know it’s like the extra run I normally do once a week and I can power through it.  We went through that tunnel again and proceeded to turn around the Washington Monument.  The course widened up and the spectators were screaming.  I was literally in tunnel vision to finish.

Bonus round 12.4-13.1.

I was just staring at the finish line because you were going towards it at a straight line and it’s big.  I thought it might never come.  I passed the fellow that passed me earlier in the race (and he said you go girl) and then I was gaining on someone in front of me who was being paced by a cyclist (but I never caught them).


But I finished in 1:24.53.

Post race I was shocked…Surprised…what the heck?  Me just finishing in 9th? I went through all the post race joys of getting a necklace, getting my (cute) finisher tee and just hanging out.  I meant to cool down but never got around to and never did a shakeout run later…

I was able to finally meet Mikey (who is point blank awesome).


I realized after looking in my bag, I had forgotten to run take my gel with 2X caffeine.  Now that might not seem like a big deal to you, but I have never run a race (at all) without taking this gel 45 minutes before.  Ever.  I have nearly cried (well just panicked) at several races because I thought I didn’t have it.  The only prerace tradition I have ever had is take that gel at 45 minutes…and I literally forgot.   Could I have finished faster?  Who knows, perhaps without any travel or walking around miles on miles but this was still a PR for me and a great race.

As dad said: This was my new favorite race course…sure you get to see all the beautiful monument and views but you also get to see all the political scandals (like Watergate!) .

And thus ends my longest blog post ever…ha ha.


Questions for you:

Do you drink or take any caffeine before races?

What is your favorite part of Washington DC? 

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  1. I am SO proud of you!!!! You deserve to feel amazing for going into it feeling a tad beat up, pushing through, and PRing in an intimidating field. Awesome, awesome, awesome.

    I always have caffeine in the form of coffee before races. Always.

    1. I had a terrible experience during the distance series with coffee and since then I can’t bring myself to drink it before a race at all. Just like once I got sick after eating Thai food and will never touch it again LOL.

  2. I’ve been waiting and waiting to read this. I loved finishing my race Saturday and seeing a text from you saying how you did. I was in pure amazement, HOLY CRAP!! You are awesome!!! We are totally celebrating when you come out here next!!

    I drink coffee in the morning before races. And I usually take a caffeinated midol (prevents cramping, and gives you caffeine boost).

    When I did my first marathon (in DC) I don’t even remember the sites, I was so zoned out that I didn’t see anything but the ground in front of me. But I do know what bride you went under with the tunnel, we went through there and I remember my Garmin beeping like cray cray.

    1. I like that tunnel a lot with the bongo drummers but I was a bit disapointed it knocked my GPS out of synch.

      I know a lot of people who take a midol. That sounds like a good idea too.

  3. You are such a beast, like crazy. Brennan told me you stayed at a hotel right across from my apartment! Next time! AWESOME JOB!!!

    1. Oh curses. If only I had known. I don’t have any DC races on my calender. I do, however, have the run for a dream half marathon in Williamsburg in early June. 🙂

      1. I think surgery is going to happen early June. Let’s definitely get in touch before though and see if we can’t work something out!

  4. First off, that’s a great recap of your race. Do you think part of the reason you did so well is because you were NOT going for PR? I’ve had some of my best runs when I’ve been going just for fun. Answers to your questions:1) I will have a cup of coffee in the mornings as long as it is a couple hours before the race, but I don’t use caffeine gels. I take a Gatorade Prime pouch before a race. (Race nutrition is a longer blog subject for another day, I think.) 2) I did an internship in the US Senate…well, a long time ago, and I was all over that town. I still love Georgetown and the Lincoln Monument the best. Can’t wait to see all of DC at the Marine Corps Marathon in October. (Probably one you’ll do someday, too!) 🙂

    1. I think the crowd support was a really big factor for me. I was so pumped with everyone cheering. I had a bad experience with coffee in January and now won’t touch it before races.

      Maybe one day I’ll do MCM, I’ve heard nothing but good things about it.

  5. You are a ROCKSTAR! And you know me, I drink coffee before not that it helps ME at all! So proud of you kiddo!

  6. Ah! I’m still in awe of how awesomely you ran! When I was crossing the Memorial bridge, you were already crossing it to come back. You looked so happy and strong just bounding along. I’m super glad I got a chance to meet you! We’ll have to meet up at another race again soon.

  7. This is such an awesome race!! I feel like I’d be shellshocked seeing a time like that. No, I know I would. I love that tunnel vision finish. There’s nothing else to think about except running like a banshee and being done with running. I’ve never tried taking any kind of fuel in while running/right before. I get too nervous that it won’t sit well with me, but I totally get the whole freaking out about not being consistent with fueling thing. It throws off the mojo.

    1. For half marathons and some long runs it is a must for me. I hate to feel terrible finishing up. I know I would have freaked out had I been at the start and realized I hadn’t taken my gel.

  8. BEST POST IVE READ. Not only did this look like an amazing race, but you SMASHED IT. I’ve told you before and I’ll tell you again – TOTALLY MY INSPIRATION GIRL. Anyway, so happy for you. Can’t imagine how you keep that pace but you look like you should be – tiny shorts = fast pace! Anyway, so glad this went so well for you, was so excited to read this post!

  9. Well, your long posts are still extremely engaging! I read every word, and I have the attention span of a two year old and the memory of a goldfish 😛

    My God, I want your splits – they’re perfect. I have no idea how you pace yourself so well! Halfs are a nightmare in terms of pacing for me – I always start too fast and fade, or crawl along and then desperately try to claw back time at the end.

    Absolutely fantastic race from you – well done 😀


  10. Awesome, awesome job, Hollie! I heard the bib/packet pickup line was ridiculously long, so even though you spent more time on your feet than what would’ve been ideal, you still kicked some major butt! I’m also so jealous you and Alex got to meet. 😉

  11. Congratulations, Holly! You are such a badass! I love that picture of you; you look so strong and determined, like you could run forever!

  12. Congratulations!!! PRs are always fun…especially if they are unexpected! I loooove coffee and drink about a cup before races…but I have to time it well or else I’ll be sprinting to the woods.

  13. Awesome!!! I was so excited for you when I saw your time 🙂 amazing. I usually have a tiny cup of coffee or gels or chomps with caffeine otherwise I bonk/get a caffeine headache. Yuck. You have definitely made me want to run this race..consider it on the bucket list! 🙂 great job Hollie!!

  14. Loved reading this! PRs are always fun and you did amazing, that is so awesome that you were 9th overall and there were some fast ladies in this race, not like a local hometown race or anything like that. Plus I know running in DC was awesome with all the political scandals and scenery, hehe. You look super strong in your race picture too.

    One time I had jellybeans to eat during a race and dropped them. Oh well, I still did really well without them- it happens. Sometimes I think the benefits are more mental for us, knowing we’ve had the caffeine/gu/whatever than for our physical bodies.

  15. Oh my, Hollie! I just can’t even imagine a 1:24 half marathon. Congratulations to you and I’m so glad you enjoyed the race. Reading recaps like this always energize me and make me want to do some speedwork asap. I will never, ever be as fast but you make me want to push my boundaries (I would LOVE a 1:45 half). Thanks for sharing your thoughts and making this recap a bit longer. Loved it!!

  16. Woah Speedy! Great job, girl! I think you’re doing good with your training by running slower but more miles. I think it all pays out in the end because you have more steam to let out. Although you felt tired and didn’t take your gel, 1:24 is freakin’ awesome! So proud! That creepy guy that ran out was probably trying to kidnap you and you broke his heart haahha!

  17. I’ve told you before and I’ll tell you again–you’re such an inspiration. Nothing like KILLING it when you weren’t even set on a PR to begin with. You rock the running world-and look good doing it 🙂 congrats lady <3

    i have a half this weekend. I haven't trained. at all. maybe somehow i'll knock out a PR 😉

  18. Congrats. That’s an amazing PR. I couldn’t imagine ever running that fast! You definitely have a talent for running (combined with your commitment to training).
    Also great splits. May sound like a stupid question but, do you find that you aim to run even splits or do you aim to run negative splits? I find it interesting what works for different runners.

    As for your questions- I always drink coke before a race as I require the caffeine but don’t like coffee. I’ve never been to Washington DC as I live in Australia but want to visit one day.

  19. Congratulations on your new PR!!! You were really consistent during this whole race, amazing!

    I haven’t raced in DC yet, but I know I want to! I would love running through all of the sites. It sounds like a gorgeous race!

  20. Like a BOSS! Great race. I’m so glad you had fun and got to geek out over Nike. Those mega-races can be really excited and overwhelming. Also, your body looks slammin’ in those race photos, and isn’t that what life is all about? 😉

    I usually do *some* caffeine before a race. Usually just a few sips (I get paranoid about over-indulging and dying.) and I’m good to go.

    I haven’t spent time in DC as an adult, but I’ve got the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler in my sights as a bucket race.

  21. CONGRATS!!!
    I have been waiting for this recap since you texted me haha. 9th place girl is EPIC. Seriously elite level in my book. My first 5k is always the slowest/roughest part for me too.

    Congrats again Holly – you did a great job!!

    PS – if you ever meet Kara or Shalane please get their autographs for me 😉

  22. I could tell from the times I saw you that you would have to run the race pretty much alone which is tough. So tough. I am still amazed at how freaking amazing you did and how you really pulled this one out. Shows a true athlete and all the dedication you put into training. 9th overall – shit girl. That has to go down in the books. Plus your time is speedy as heck, that man was probably amazed to see how much of a speed demon you were. My question is – did you run near Flannigan? I honestly kept thinking I bet she is right with them.. gah so cool.

    1. I actually finished ahead of Flanigan so I didn’t see her. She ran it as an easy run. I was pretty disappointed because she stayed at the finish line when she finished and I never got to high five her!

  23. WAHOOO I love that you are happy about this race!! And you have EVERY reason to be!! AMAZING JOB!! I have never taken caffeine before a race, but I have thought about it. I have thought about just taking straight up caffeine pills. Sometimes I get jittery though and it doesn’t feel good haha.

    I’ve never been to DC but I wanna go sooooo bad!

  24. Congrats on an amazing race and PR! I haven’t been down to DC in a while but my son is really wanting to go! I recall loving the FBI building…so cool

  25. So bad ass! I greatly appreciate the longer recap. I enjoyed every word. You are one crazy anomaly. Your half pace is not that different from your 5k pace! Without training at that pace, ever! Blows my mind. You are. Heartbreaker kid 😉 (do we all agree that means you are gorgeous?)

    1. I don’t think I’ve ever had a really good 5k to match my half times. I should be consistently under 19…but am I…no. That is actually what I would like to work on next. 😉

  26. uhm, i thoroughly enjoyed your longest blog post ever. Great recap and way to go speedy pants! I haven’t been to DC since high school, but I’ll be there in Oct running MCM. I think my fave place before was Arlington Cemetary or the Smithsonian. I’m a weirdo.

  27. I am still overly impressed with this race for you. You killed your goal and I love it! I did a race in DC once and the monuments are awesome! 🙂 Love the bonus round concept haha. And you also got to meet other awesome bloggers which is a win.

  28. Dude you rocked out with your c*ck out. And your bum heh. Maybe the fact that our schedules hate us and are preventing our ever actually meeting (until you come to Chicago AFTER JUNE 8th!!) is really just because you would smoke my ass on the streets and then I would have to sit in the corner and cry.
    But seriously, awesome job, love. Get it.

  29. So freaking proud. Very impressed with how consistent each segment of the race was for you. Ms Holly Pace Master 😉

    I’ve told you this a thousand times but I love how you get to run with you dad too! So awesome.

  30. OMG! Congratulations!!! That is just awesome!!! 9th place!!! 🙂
    You look like one of those elite runners!!! I’ll be proud to say that you are one of my blog buddies if you ever get famous! 🙂
    So awesome! 🙂

  31. Incredible job! You are truly an inspiration. I ran the race too (not nearly as fast) and had a wonderful time!

  32. I usually have an espresso an hour before and then a caffeinated GU an hour in to the run. I love Washington D.C. I love looking at the Lincoln Memorial and the mirror lake as well as all the beautiful gardens.

  33. Amazing job – congrats! I ran the race too and my race recap is like the opposite of yours, I’m an hour slower. I’m totally inspired. I love running around DC, and the on course entertainment was great!

  34. Seriously, congratulations, that is JUST amazing! I can’t believe it was so serious someone was being legitimately paced!
    The Women’s Nike Half is literally my dream race!

    On a different notE, I love the way you formatted this recap, breaking it into the 5ks. The descriptions of what you were thinking made me feel like I was racing, great recap!

  35. This recap makes me smile to the power of 1000000000 suns! as you would say 😀 Gotta love a race with bongo players, although being all by yourself on the course for a bit – especially in the middle miles (which are always the toughest for me, regardless)…but you pulled through and surprised yourself with a PR! I have to say, I think this current training style you’ve got going for you is really working…another reason why I’ll be looking to you for inspiration when I start my own training 🙂 WAY TO GOOO and whenever we meet up in the near future I will buy you a coffee/beer/whatever to celebrate!

  36. There are great things in your future, no doubt about it. Keep chasing those finish lines and rocking those rundies. I could go over-the-top with congrats, but I think you’ll appreciate a sincere — dude, amazing job. truly. — just as much. Congrats on achieving a goal you weren’t sure that you could. Crushing it with your soul power.
    Here’s to many more — miles, PRs, and top 10s.

  37. Girl… I don’t even know what to say about your running anymore. I feel like I’m starting to sound like a broken record when I tell you how freaking awesome of a runner you are, but it’s true. You’re a freaking awesome runner. And what I love most is your laid-back approach to it. You don’t stress or make a big fuss. You just kind of… run. And as ridiculously simple as that statement sounds, a lot of people can’t seem to pull it off…

    Congrats on your PR and your awesome race 🙂

  38. This is beyond awesome! I’m living vicariously through all of my virtual friends’ running achievements, so this makes me really happy to read.

    I’ve always had some sort of caffeine (usually in the form of coffee) before races, I don’t do well running in the morning sans caffeine. I’m not awake that early, ever.

    This sounds like a really cool course and really fun race, I hope I get the chance to run it some day.

  39. Wow wow wow! Way to go Holz! I know how hard you’ve been working and you deserved this!

  40. Girl I still remember in March at our day date that you were contemplating not running this. I am so proud of you for getting out there and doing what you love and throwing the cares to the wind. I wish I could have seen you finish honestly because I know it would have been epic. I know you must have been on cloud nine the rest of the day and this week after as well. Love ya girl and so so so proud of you 😉

  41. Woo hoo! Go Hollie! This is awesome! I am so glad that you enjoyed the race and totally rocked it. You are one amazing runner 🙂

  42. Congrats on the PR! You are incredible! No gel before the start, a watch that lost signal and you still kept your cool!

    I’ve read recently that too much caffeine before a race can be detrimental. Too much = 3-4 cups of coffee. I can no longer drink coffee but I can still have black tea in the morning before a race which does have some caffeine. For longer distances I try to take a gel with caffeine in it at least half way. Key word: TRY! I’ve never been to DC but have heard great things and would love to visit someday!

  43. What great splits!

    I can totally relate to being the only person running in your little bubble at some points. I feel like every single race I’m in, there’s always a mile or so where I’m just alone. The people in front are too far to catch and I refuse to look behind me unless I’m turning a corner, but I never hear people. I can’t decide if it’s me running at an awkward pace that nobody else has, or that when people come near me, I either don’t let them pass me or I let them pass and I slow down too much.

    My first half I was too caught up in everything going on that I didn’t think to split the race up. I love the idea of thinking of the race in chunks though. I’m such a mental runner.

  44. congrats on 9th place!!! You are awesome.
    I used to have a swimming prerace tradition, and I remember the panic if I forgot or couldn’t do part of it haha

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