2015 Savannah Rock’n’Roll Half Marathon Recap – The Short Version

Going into Saturday’s half marathon, my goals were simple: leave everything on the course in hopes of breaking the elusive sub-2 hour half marathon and help my mom and aunt finish their first and second half marathons.

rnr savannah

I spent the week leading up to the Rock’n’Roll Savannah Half Marathon tapering like a seasoned pro. I slept an average of eight hours each night, I hydrated, I ate well, I practiced some gentle yoga, I put together a great pump-up playlist, and I prepared my mind for a great race.

If you want the abbreviated, short version of how the race went down, here is what you need to know as well as a few pictures:

  • The temperatures during the race hovered around 80 degrees with 99% humidity.
  • Due to conditions, I abandon my PR goal at mile 5.7 when my pace went from a solid 9:01 avg to 9:40 due to conditions.
  • My dad and brother were incredible cheerleaders, along with what felt like most of Savannah, and supported us five times along the course! 
  • My mom, aunt and I all finished the half marathon together while Bo pushed forward and ran the 13.1 miles.
  • The race organization and experience was wonderful and Rock’n’Roll continues to impress me though only half the course was in what I’d consider “gorgeous, downtown Savannah.”
  • Due to conditions, the marathon course was closed if you had not reached a certain point by 9:35 AM.
  • This was a smart decision as there were two deaths and hundreds of medical issues for both the half and full marathon. (News articles can be found here and here
  • The word that best describes this year’s running journey is FRIENDS. The majority of this year’s races have become more about spending time with friends (Yes, I consider my mom and aunt to be friends, just ask anyone who knows me well!) and helping others complete a race than toeing the starting line and pushing for a number on the clock. I do not regret this decision and am thankful for the experiences I’ve had. There is always another day for that number on the clock but how often can you run with friends in multiple countries, states and races?




Now, if you want to read the longer version, come back later. Between work and life, this recap has taken longer to type than expected!


2015 Nike Women’s Half Marathon San Francisco Race Recap

How can you not fall in love with a half marathon that includes gorgeous, sweeping views of Golden Gate Bridge and enough hills to challenge even the strongest of runners?

kristine ashley golden gate

As planned, Kristine and I made it our goal to PR in fun this weekend versus giving ourselves a time goal. We wanted the girls weekend in San Francisco to be enjoyable versus filled with race stress that comes along with a goal race. We took a Bar Method class together, we walked for miles exploring Marina and other neighborhoods, we stayed up watching our favorite shows and laughing, and we enjoyed a fun night on the town with her amazing boyfriend.

After last night’s unconventional, yet delicious homemade pre-race dinner of pork chops, roasted squash and Brussel sprouts, we said goodnight around 10:30 knowing that the alarm would be going off soon. This race starts at 6:30 which, while a dream for this morning gal, means that we had to be awake at 5 AM.

ready to race

After chugging some water and coffee we donned our race day gear and hopped in an Uber with our pre-race meal.

From her neighborhood it was an easy 15 minute ride down to Union Square, where the half marathon took over the entire area.


Within minutes of arriving to the start, Nike proved that they know what they are doing when it comes to this half marathon. Everything was planned and organized flawlessly.  Even though over 25,000 women participated in this race, the bathroom and bag check lines were shorter than most races due to the strategic placement of them inside each individual corral.  There was even NUUN water stations within each corral! Well done Nike, well done!

At exactly 6:30 AM the first runners crossed the starting line, signaling the start of the race. It took 10 minutes or so until our corral, the 9:00-9:59 corral crossed the starting line. I will say that as soon as we started we came to a dead halt due to bottle necking. Not a good thing if you’re trying to PR the race but if you’re hear for the fun then it is no big deal.

nike womens half marathon course

The first 5k included lots of turns and hills as we headed west through The Tenderloin area of the city towards Golden Gate Park. While my hip flexors and glutes felt these early hills, including the second steepest one of the race, the three of us just kept talking as we powered up each of the hills.

San Francisco Nike Womens Half Marathon Course Elevation

We entered the gorgeous Golden Gate Park around mile 3.5 and proceeded to weave through it for the next four miles. The park was a welcome change from the first few miles. There was lush greenery, gorgeous buildings, waterfalls and beautiful views everywhere. The course plateaud during these miles, allowing us to rest our legs a bit.

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There were three aid stations in the park which included water, NUUN, a medical tent and bathrooms. We took advantage of the bathrooms early in the race, around mile 4.5, in order to ensure we could enjoy the rest of the race.  It amazes me how the temperature and weather vacillates in San Francisco depending where you are. While the start was cool, the miles in the park were warmer and humid due to the initial morning fog, which typically holds in the humidity.IMG_5444

As we exited the park, I laughed knowing that while we’d passed the halfway point, the hardest part of the course was waiting for us at mile 10.  Sun, hills and thicker crowds greeted us as we navigated the neighborhood streets en route to The Presidio.


I don’t know if I was fully prepared for the beauty we’d encounter during these miles. While the climb from 9.5 to 10.5 was nothing short of soul crushing, the views were well worth the effort. Unlike last year, Karl the Fog lifted in time for our climb which meant we could see the bridge, bay, and rocky cliffs perfectly.


Since we were running the race for fun, we took full advantage of the scenic vistas, posing for fun photos and taking pictures of fellow runners. The energy that the cheer stations provided during this climb was on par with the New York City Marathon. Special thanks to the November Project, Team in Training and Nike for the signs, cheers and motivation.


What goes up must come down and as soon as we crested the climb we turned the corner for a fast, steep downhill towards the coast line. As soon as we finished the downhill dash towards the coast line, we entered a wide path along the coast line which included a chocolate station and final water station as well as a few bands and Asian dancers.

I didn’t enjoy these final miles as much as I expected due to a side stitch and the urge to finish. Since we ran at a conversational pace the entire time, we still had two miles left when my watch beeped 2 hours. Even though the path was along the water, nothing could compare to the incredible views of miles 9.5-11.5.

As soon as we saw the finish line we gave it a final kick over the finish line, literally running into Emily.


Our final time was 2:27, more than 25 minutes slower than last week’s half marathon due to a fun, conversation pace and multiple picture stops. It’s amazing to see how far I’ve come as this was a “difficult, hard to talk pace” during my early years of running half marathons!


After grabbing chocolate milk and filled water bottles, we made a bee line for the highly anticipated medals, aka Tiffany necklaces.


We were a bit disappointed to see that they replaced the fire fighters with volunteers this year. In years past, tuxedo clad fire fighters presented each winner with her teal box.

It’s been a while since I ran a half marathon for fun and I would happily do it more often. For most of the miles, it felt more like a casual long run with a  good friend than a half marathon.

kristine and ashley pic

Too bad all long runs didn’t include Tiffany finisher necklaces, race support in the form of cheering and NUUN, and great company.

While the $200 price tag of the Nike Women San Francisco Half Marathon can provide some with sticker shock, I would highly recommend adding it to your race list. It is a wonderfully executed half marathon in a gorgeous city. In addition, the Nike tank, re-usable bag filled with race swag and Tiffany necklace are included in that price.

Final stats:

Nike results


Rock’n’Roll Brooklyn Half Marathon Race Recap

What an absolutely incredible half marathon! It’s official guys, I have a new favorite half marathon and it’s literally in my back yard!


After two years of hosting Rock’n’Roll Brooklyn 10km races, this year Rock’nRoll hosted the first Rock’n’Roll Brooklyn Half Marathon, welcoming over 15,000 runners to Brooklyn. While there were a few bumps, this half marathon features a great course that takes you through diverse areas of Brooklyn, includes hills and flat stretches, has great crowd support, and is easily accesible via subway! What more can you ask for in a half marathon?

Friday afternoon, as soon as we landed from Cincinnati, Amy and I headed to the race expo in hopes of beating the Friday crowds. This expo was located at the Brooklyn Expo Center in the Greenpoint area of Brooklyn. While some people said that they felt the expo was too small, I actually loved that we were able to get in and out quickly. The expo was so small that we actually ran into lots of friendly faces including Competitor founder John Smith, Dani and our friend Kelly!



After collecting our bibs we spent the rest of the day enjoying pizza, some mani/pedi pamper time and a pasta dinner which Bo and I hosted for our half marathon family and friends.

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Saturday morning we woke up at 5:15, got dressed, sipped coffee and made peanut butter and banana sandwiches which we ate during the 1.5 mile walk to the starting area at Grand Army Plaza. One of our co-workers and mutual friends hooked us up with VIP wrist bands for the race which meant we were able to use the bathrooms and separate bag check located in the Brooklyn Public Library. As soon as we exited the VIP area around 6:50 in order to head to the corrals we could tell things weren’t going as planned. Due to the size of the race, New York and Brooklyn officials required extra security checks which caused a number of bottlenecks. Unfortunately, this meant that it took some people more than 30 minute to get into their corral. Due to these delays as well as delays clearing the course roads, the race didn’t start until 7:28, almost 30 minutes later than initially planned. Luckily, our group of three made friends with other runners and passed the time talking and discussing post race brunch plans.  The only feedback I’d provide race directors with for next year is that constant communication to the runners really helps. I’m not sure if it was due to the sound system or overall noise but we couldn’t hear any announcements in our corral during the 30 minute delay.


At 7:30 the three of us crossed the starting line, excited to finally be running the Rock’n’Roll Brooklyn Half marathon. The cool, 60 degree weather and bright sun was the perfect running weather. As soon as we started our group split up, Amy and I running together and Bo running on his own. Even though we were running separately, we had a similar goal: run strong.

rnr start


As I’ve mentioned before, Amy is my original running buddy and through good and bad we’d stuck by each other’s side during the ten previous races we’d run together.  This half marathon would be no different.  We decided to start slow and gradually increase our pace, making sure that we didn’t go out too quickly and could finish strong.  I was going to pace us using my watch since Jess had provided me with pace goals. Unfortunately, I once again made a rookie mistake and forgot to charge my watch, thinking it would hold last week’s charge. As soon as I heard the dying beep half way through the first mile, I switched over to Nike Run. I know this app isn’t perfect but it would at least give me a pace gauge.

Amy and I settled into a comfortable pace, chatting and looking at landmarks as we ran through Crown Heights, Kensington and Prospect Park. The crowd support during the initial mile far exceeded my expectations. There were lots of people cheering with signs and warm coffees.

rnrn course

The race course was very different than typical Brooklyn races – it didn’t spend the whole time in Prospect Park nor did it spend too much time on Ocean Parkway. In fact, what many of us loved about the course is that as soon as you got bored with an area it looped you back towards a different neighborhood. Two parts were out and back which is my favorite since I love people watching and spotting friends on the course. There were multiple bands along the course which also included random entertainment acts such as stilt walkers, who let you run through their legs!

run between legs

The miles quickly ticked by as we held our pace in the low 9’s ranging from 9:11 to 9:02 for the first half of the race. We took fuel multiple times during the race, beginning at mile 3. I took two Honey Stinger chews at mile 3, 5, 7, 9 and 11 which really worked well for me. By mile 11 I ate the entire pack which could explain why I never hit a wall during the race. There were 10 water stations on the course, more than enough for the weather and crowds.  Based on the Rock’n’Roll official results, we hit the 10k at 56:20 or a 9:14 pace, which confirms that Nike Plus Running was a bit off track as it showed us keeping a pace faster than 9:11 for the entire first half.IMG_5290

When we reached the out and back, we were both feeling good so I decided to drop our pace a bit each mile, exactly in line with the race plan Jess provided. I knew in the back of my head that a sub-2 hour pace was 9:09 and that is only if you run the tangents perfectly. Since I figured we’d kept around a 9:10 so far, I felt that a sub 2 was within our ability.  At this point we both put in our headphones, ready for some distraction and energy as we headed back to the final few miles of the course which would also be the hilliest.


I had flashbacks to the New York City marathon as we entered Prospect Park at mile 10. There was a ton of crowd support and we were ready to be done. But, just like the marathon, we had the quite a few hilly miles in the park to finish before we could cross the finish line. I knew that Anne was cheering around mile 12.5, just the motivation I needed to get there as quickly as possible. Around mile 11 I heard Amy say that she needed to slow down. She urged me to run ahead but that wasn’t our plan for the day. We finish races together and we never leave each other even during the toughest of moments. I slowed the pace, telling her that she could do this and that we’d finish together. Even though our pace slowed to around a 9:25, we never stopped running and powered up each of the small, rolling hills unlike many of the runners around us. I was amazed at the number of people walking the hills! I guess most people weren’t ready for the hilly course.

We waved and screamed as we ran by Anne at mile 12, knowing that we were almost done.  We both wanted nothing more than to finish so we picked up the pace that final mile as we entered a slight down hill and turn towards the finish. You could hear the families and friends cheering as we approached the bottleneck finish line and crossed over, ensuring that we made it across both the finish line mats.

Amy and Ashley half marathon

Our final time was 2:01:20, strong enough for a 3-second PR and definitely a confidence booster as I continue training for the Savannah Rock’n’Roll Half Marathon. While we didn’t hit the elusive sub 2-hours, we accomplished our goal of running a strong, smart race and finishing together and that will always be more important.

We claimed our medals and headed over to the VIP area where we met up with Bo for food and massages. We also had the chance to celebrate the race finish with Dani and Megan, Rock’n’Blog Ambassadors.IMG_5137

The VIP Area was impressive and included everything you’d want post race including sweet and savory food, ice, water, massage stations, foam rollers, and even a mini shower station including deodorant, wipes and dry shampoo. Huge thank you to John Smith, who we are cheesing it up with below, for the VIP wrist bands!!






We roamed the finish area and enjoyed a few minutes of Nate Ruess, the Rock’n’Roll post race concert, before indulging in a delicious Bloody Mary and brunch at Stone park Cafe.




*A few pictures are from the Rock’n’Roll Brooklyn coverage.