I’ve said since the beginning of this “Race the States” adventure that California would be the Nike Women’s Half Marathon. I wanted San Francisco. I wanted Nike. I wanted Tiffany’s. I wanted firemen.
And San Francisco didn’t disappoint.
Friday was a travel day for me. I flew from Tulsa to Las Vegas to San Fran where I met up with my friend and grad school roommate Erin. We rented a place in the Haight neighborhood off of Air BnB. It was a darling room in an upstairs apartment. We shared a bathroom and kitchen with the other rooms on the floor but it didn’t matter much since we were gone most of the days anyway.
Our little place had all the little touches that made it feel like home – succulents, coffee, red wine. One of the big problems was that it was over a night club….our hosts provided ear plugs for us but still.
We spent the evening exploring San Francisco and making plans to eat and go to the expo on Saturday. The weather was unexpectedly warm for SF (or so everyone told me.). We found a before I die board in our neighborhood. I’ve seen these on social media but never in real life. I took the time to write my dream on there!
Expo was our top priority for Saturday. And food. The Nike Women’s Half called it the Expotique and it was certainly catered to women. (Men were allowed to register, and smart ones of course did but everything was catered to women.) For me, it was the little details that made this expo better. Even though it was crowded (over 25,000 runners came through over 2 days), it was very streamlined and efficient (that morning anyway). Before we went into the tent, there were several photo opportunities with Nike propaganda and their were staff/volunteers waiting to take photos for everyone. Lines were formed and people waited patiently.
Next we made our way into the tent to pick up our bibs. All of the volunteers were very friendly and asked about training, where we traveled from and what our race history was. Many of them also planned to run on Sunday. The Tiffany blue colors set the backdrop for most of the tent and big Nike-esque motivational quotes appeared around every corner.
We wove our way through different stations: packet pickup, Whole Foods cupcakes, bib photo opportunities, Luna Bar customized cheer signs, and Spotify playlist making. Erin and I stopped to sign the motivational wall (which reappeared around mile 10 on the race course!) and take photos throughout. We had to skip the Neutrogena and Paul Mitchell Booths but they had people there doing race day hair and makeup!
My favorite touch was the customized Luna Bar sign. We could use some of their quotes and sayings or come up with our own. The wait wasn’t very long at all and we were able to sample different flavors of their bars.
The expo was held in Union Square, close to both Nike and Tiffany and Co. After some time at the expo, we crossed the street to the Niketown SF store and found our individual names etched in the window of the store!
We spent the rest of the day touring the town and fueling for the run (food post coming later!). I (and everyone else) couldn’t stop appreciating the cloudless and warm day in SF. That’s 2/2 visits now that I’ve had beautiful weather :). It made for some beautiful pictures of the Golden Gate. My aunt Julie came over from her town of Livermore to hang with us and play cheerleader. It was so great to finally have her see one of my runs after talking about it for so long! When she picked us up, Erin and I debated driving part of the course to try to find the dreaded mile 10 hill. Julie took charge and drove us into the Presidio Park and we found it. And we weren’t sure that we were glad to see what was in store for us…..definitely a beast. I for one am always glad to know what’s coming, Erin felt like she would be dreading it for the whole 10 miles before it. (Spoiler alert: we both survive)
I can’t rave enough about the expo. I loved that they were selective of the vendors so you didn’t have all that excess stuff like Gu and other race promos and sweaty bands and earphones that don’t fall out of your ears and all the things you see at every expo. It was higher end sponsors that catered to us and really did an excellent job. There wasn’t a vendor that is normally at an expo that I missed at all. Well done Nike (duh.).