the race of my life. [NWM 14 race recap]

25 Oct

Last Sunday I ran the Nike Women’s 13.1 in San Francisco (thanks again, #NikeLA for having me!)  It was an incredible race in so many ways — I want to share all of the aspects of the weekend but the race recap comes first.

I spent Saturday night at my aunt and uncle’s house in Oakland.  They cooked an incredible pre-race feast (post Cal game — post on that to come) and I did the usual pre-race shilling for instagram likes photo. (Isn’t it cool how well I know myself?)


My uncle graciously dropped me off near Union Square at about 6 AM (the race started at 6:30), and they later met me at the finish at Marina Green.  There was a little bit of traffic coming off the freeway, but it was not nearly as bad as the time I ran #RnRSD when Jenn drove me to the start and traffic was so bad I freaked out, left a car full of people and ran to the start, so I wasn’t sweating it.  I walked to my corral and it was super easy.

I’ve done NWM twice before (in 2011 and 2012). This is the 11th year of the event and with that came a brand new course.  We started in Union Square, meandered through the Tenderloin, popped into Golden Gate Park, wound through the presidio (and up a pretty steep hill around mile 11) and finished in the Marina.  I LOVED the new course — it was pretty challenging, but it was a great blend of scenic views, rolling hills, and a couple of steep grades.

I seeded myself in the second corral (6:00-7:59/mile pace).  It was incredibly thin, which was awesome.  I don’t think I’ve ever started out that close.


The race started just a few minutes later and we were off!  My only criticism of the course is that I wish we’d started at 7 or so – my first 5 miles were in the dark.

Before the race started, I tweeted that I didn’t plan to PR and my goals were just to have fun and enjoy the day.  Famous last words (Spoiler Alert: PR ahead).  Again right before the start, I took a deep breath and reminded myself not to go out too fast, to have fun, and to just chill out.  I wanted to keep as even splits as possible, even if they were on the faster side.

The race started and I went out fast — not crazy fast, but more like comfortably hard.

In the second mile, I noticed a couple of familiar runners pass me on my left side. HOLY COW.  I was literally rubbing elbows with Joan Benoit Samuelson, Shalane Flanagan, and Jordan Hasay.  These women are crazy inspiring.  I didn’t cry, but it was just an insane moment of “how is this happening” and “what the heck are you doing up here, Gillian?!?!” and an overwhelming feeling of luck and gratitude.  I settled into my pace after the third mile or so and enjoyed the course and my jams.


The best moment of the race may or may not have been when this song came on my iPod as I came off the final hill. I also may or may not have yelled YES!!!! at that point, too.  I also loved seeing the November Project cheering squad at that big hill as well — Pavement Runner said they’d be out there in full force and they were. I totally fed off their energy at that point.


  • Mile 1: 6:56
  • Mile 2: 6:49
  • Mile 3: 7:40
  • Mile 4: 7:13
  • Mile 5: 7:09
  • Mile 6: 6:57
  • Mile 7: 6:50
  • Mile 8: 7:31
  • Mile 9: 7:29
  • Mile 10: 7:21
  • Mile 11: 8:08 (HUGE hill)
  • Mile 12: 6:45
  • Mile 13: 7:14
  • 0.3: 1:58

Total Time: 1:36:02 (PR) – My garmin had 13.29 miles for an average pace of 7:14.

101st finisher (of about 25,000).


Needless to say, it was an incredible race. I cannot believe I ran as fast as I did and I kept thinking “what are you doing, you’re going to have to stop at mile 8 and walk the rest of the way” but that never happened.  My splits were decently consistent, and I never felt super gassed out. I also felt strong when I finished.


The moral of the story is never trust anything I put on twitter.


But seriously — this whole weekend was really crazy and reminded me obviously how much I love this sport but also how far I have come as an a runner and as an athlete.  I was the slowest kid on my youth track team, was consistently the 8th fastest girl on my HS cross country team (top 7 is varsity), and did my first half marathon in 2007 in 1:57.  My previous NWM times were 1:48 and 1:47.  Never in a million years would I DREAM of running the race I did last weekend.  The whole race was like an out of body experience watching someone else’s race as opposed to actually living it. This was a great reminder that if I can do this and see this much improvement, just about anyone should be able to.

It also makes me think I should reassess some of my goals (like helllooooo maybe it’s time to get your life together Gillian and train for a BQ).

Anyway, I don’t mean to #humblebrag (okay may I do just a little) but NWM 13.1 was awesome and I can’t wait for next year.

What was your best race ever?? 

4 Responses to “the race of my life. [NWM 14 race recap]”

  1. Angela October 25, 2014 at 1:38 pm #

    So flipping inspired by you, Gillian…way to go!

    • Gillian @ That's G October 25, 2014 at 1:42 pm #

      Awww. So sweet. And dude I would not be half the runner I am if it hadn’t been for the four years we spent together!!

      • Angela October 25, 2014 at 1:46 pm #

        😀 By the way any chance you’re doing Santa to the Sea?

  2. Brittany October 25, 2014 at 8:55 pm #

    SO LEGIT! Way to kill it in this race.

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