2015 Nike Women’s Half Marathon – San Francisco (Recap)

On October 18, 2015, I ran the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in San Francisco, infamous for the Tiffany’s finisher pendant in the little blue box. The weather was perfect in the 60s and the hills were challenging but SO MUCH FUN! The route was picturesque; I visited SF two years prior and already knew the neighborhoods, which added the nostalgia factor to the run. (Check out the route here)


Saturday morning at Union Square:



People lined up for hours to take a picture in front of the “We Run” sign.

I was surprised that there was no *real* expo; there was a packet pickup in the Westin, and everything else was scattered around Union Square.


At the wall that has all the names of the participating runners.


Inside the Nike store, where huge lines formed for the free earring (Note: ONE earring per location — Nike store was only one of them, and you had to go to another store to line up for another 1-2 hours to get more)


The earrings. The Nike store gave out (big surprise) the Nike swoosh. You must have the QR code that was emailed to you in order to validate that you are, in fact, a runner.

I purchased a half zip-up long sleeve and a tank top with the Golden Gate Bridge on it:


We then went to the Finish Line store inside Macy’s to get the wing.

I bought the special edition Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 32 with the Golden Gate bridge on the lip and the insole. They were sold at Finish Line as well as the Nike store. But at Finish Line, you also get a shoe carrier bag for free.


We had brunch at Nopa:


Ice cream at Bi-Rite, which was next door.


The flavors were so unique and creamy, but I had to choose…


A scoop of creme brulee on top of honey lavender.


Since we were in the neighborhood, why not visit the Painted Ladies? Hellooooo ladies.

Dinner at Koja Kitchen, a new Korean-Japanese (hence, Ko-Ja) casual spot in Inner Richmond.


Their garlic fried rice buns (in place of the traditional wheat buns) distinguish them from other places. You can add an egg to any dishes, which of course must be done.


Short rib koja is where it’s at. Fantastic flavor in the galbi, add an egg to kick it up a notch. Their braised pork is also very good, but galbi has my heart. Umami fries also have pork in them. The ahi tuna bowl is a nice addition to your meal if you want something lighter. The tuna is also very fresh.

The next morning, we woke up around 5AM.


The corrals spanned entire blocks in Union Square. It was not too cold, but totally dark. So many people, as this is one of the most anticipated races in the country.



I was hoping to run and enjoy the moment and NOT take any pictures during the race… until Mile 10, when everyone slowed down and stopped to take pictures. So I figured, I guess I will too.


Mile 10 is the hill that everyone talks about. It’s the steepest elevation in the entire race. I loved the hills, because I can finally say I ran the hills in San Francisco.


Looking back at people behind me. They’re taking pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge.


People are walking now… Not a motivating sight.





Another view of the bridge after “The Hill” — and that’s the last picture I take until after the finish line.


There it is! I was expecting men in tuxedos with silver platters handing it to us like previous blogs have written about, but it turns out they had several lines where boxes were on top of boxes and a girl handed it to you after checking it off your bib. Not as magical, but I’ll still take it!




At the marina, where everyone lined up for the finisher’s boutique inside a tent.



I bought a finisher’s hoodie, which is extremely soft and comfortable.


I also purchased the finisher’s t-shirt, and I LOVE that color.



Inside the goodie bag every runner received.

And that’s it for the race recap! Now onto the rest of my trip (aka all the food pics)…


We had lunch at Turtle Tower.

It was here that I learned about Northern style pho — no bean sprouts, basil, or hoisin sauce. The broth is also more bland but GOOD! The noodles were so different than what I’m used to; they’re wide and flat.





Around the corner was Brenda’s French Soul Food, where we got their beignets to go.


We took them to China Beach… what’s in China Beach, you say?




This was the crawfish beignet. The others were original, chocolate, and cinnamon apple.




Bubble tea (or as they call it on the west coast, boba) at Purple Kow.


Dinner at State Bird Provisions.

On my last day in SF, I woke up early to try to catch the sunrise at Twin Peaks. I ordered car service via Lyft Line, and they actually drove me up there. The other way is to hike up. Lyft and Uber are extremely cheap in SF because they’re in major competition with each other. During this weekend, I spent an average of $5-7 per ride using Lyft Line.







It felt so peaceful being up there, a bit chilly but the sun warmed the whole place up.


Before the fog set in, I made some new friends with strangers as we all took turns taking pictures for each other.

After that, I met up with my friends at Mr Holmes Bakehouse.


The Cruffin, a croissant muffin.


Inside the Cruffin — that day’s special was chocolate peanut butter.


California croissant: a croissant with salmon and nori inside, and you dip it in soy sauce. As weird as it sounds, I actually liked it a lot.


Boba Guys. Easily the best bubble tea (boba) I’ve ever had. I love that they don’t use powder, but REAL tea. I got a rose black milk tea and my friend got hojicha (I was jealous of hers, and very excited that they’re going to open a location in NYC soon!)


Sushirrito. I had the Sumo Crunch: shrimp tempura & crab meat — like a giant tempura roll. So good. The fake imitation in NY can’t even compare.


Travelogue: San Francisco (Day 4 of 4)

berry crepe

Our last breakfast in San Francisco: Cable Car Cafe — an unassuming, cute little diner that was situated on a hill next to the cable car track. If you go there, order a crepe and sit next to the windows. You’ll enjoy a quiet meal while people watching — or in this case, cable-car-watching.

lemon sugar crepe


It was the perfect ending to my first (hopefully of many) trip to San Francisco.

Travelogue: San Francisco (Day 3 of 4)

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One of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had — Taylor Street Coffee Shop! Highly recommended. I can’t rave enough about their Sailor’s Hash: Hash browns topped with an omelette with shrimp, crab, bacon, jalapeno peppers, and a heaping portion of smoked salmon on top. My mom had the french toast and she liked it, which is rare (she’s more critical than I am)!

We took 2 buses to get to the Japanese Tea Garden. Mom is very much into tea, Japanese anything, and flowers. This was perfect. It was free admission because we got there before 10am (every Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays 9-10am!)


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You can reserve a tea ceremony for $25 on Wednesdays and Fridays. I tried to do that but nobody picked up when I called… so instead, I sat near them and sort of experienced it…

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We got our own mochi and tea. They offer other food items as well. Check out the gift shop before you leave!


Right next door was the SF Botanical Garden. How convenient.



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Next up on our itinerary was Japan Town — we took 2 buses again to get there.

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Japan town had 4 main buildings that house a whole bunch of restaurants, stores, supermarkets. The streets adjacent to them were lined with residential apartments that had a Japanese flair.

It was time to go. We walked to the cable car station and took the least popular one — California-Van Ness line.


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It was a short ride, we didn’t really have to take it but hey, why not?

After we rested up at the hotel, I asked mom what she wanted for our last dinner in SF. She said “seafood”, so I Yelped a restaurant nearby with great reviews — Kim Thanh (Vietnamese), it was AMAZING.


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Sugar cane shrimp — first, you place the shrimp in the middle of the rice paper, then vermicelli noodles and veggies, and then you roll it up yourself. Shrimp was perfectly fried and full of flavor!


What they were known for was their salt baked crab, which lived up to the hype! Seasoned with salt and pepper, fresh and meaty!

This was a day of good food.

Travelogue: San Francisco (Day 2 of 4)


We woke up bright and early to grab a quick breakfast before we met our bus driver in front of our hotel — I booked a Muir Woods + Sausalito tour through Viatour. It was a half day tour, from 9am to approx 1pm.


The bus dropped us off at the central Viatour place at Fisherman’s Wharf, where we switched to another bus that would bring us to Muir Woods. They gave us our vouchers and tickets there. After that, it was pretty much a self-guided tour, about an hour or so.

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I enjoy the sounds of wind sifting through leaves and the occasional birds. Once you reach the fourth bridge, you know it’s time to turn around and rummage through the gift shop for souvenirs.

After that, the bus took us to Sausalito, a quaint little town full of shops and cafes. I could’ve spent the whole day here sipping on coffee in front of an ocean view.


This boutique is owned by a very nice lady who handpicks every item in her store; scarves, clothes, jewelry. My scarf still gets compliments to which I can reply, “Oh this? I got it from Sausalito/San Francisco!”

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On the way back, the bus driver paused at this lookout for us to take pictures. Very thoughtful. It was my mom’s dream to see the Golden Gate Bridge!

Tempura Udon
Tempura Udon
Tanin Don: barbecued marinated ribeye with egg over rice
Tanin Don: barbecued marinated ribeye with egg over rice
Sashimi Salad
Sashimi Salad

Early dinner was at Sushi Boat because we were tired of walking… 

My mom rested at the hotel while my friend picked me up to go running.

And guess where we ran?

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It’s about 1.5 miles one way — we ran across to Sausalito side and walked back to take in the sights.

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I have a thing for running bridges in other states/countries. Mission Accomplished!

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Art pieces at the park.


She took the scenic route to show me the bay.

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Top left: Roti bun at Honeyberry.

I wanted to try pho in San Francisco since everyone keeps telling me it’s the best in the entire world except for Vietnam. So we went to Pho Phu Quoc. They’re famous for their 5 spices chicken and I can see why!

Travelogue: San Francisco (Day 1 of 4)

It was the week between my mom and my birthdays. Perfect for a girls only getaway! We went from Monday to Thursday; I can’t imagine the amount of tourists that would crowd around the city on the weekends.

This was my first trip EVER to SF, and I learned many things along the way. I’m already planning my next trip out here!

Mistake #1: At SFO (San Francisco International Airport), I purchased two one-day muni passes ($14) for both of us. It was later that I rendered them useless; you would have to take public transportation at least 7 times in a day to get your money’s worth. In other words — NOT worth getting! We walked everywhere and took the cable car only once, just for s&g. We did take the buses maybe 4 times, but they’re only $2 each way!

Mistake #2: From SFO, I decided to take a cab ($60) to the hotel in Union Square only because I was with M. We could’ve taken the BART for $8.25 and it probably would’ve taken the same amount of time. I specifically chose a hotel close to the BART and cable cars for this reason, but I didn’t want M to complain on the first day.

After we checked into the hotel, we started our adventure!

First stop: Chinatown.

We walked from Union Square to Chinatown, which took only 10-15 minutes.


We took some obligatory Chinatown arch photos and walked down Grand Street.




Festive decorations everywhere due to upcoming Mid-autumn Festival in September!


You can sneak a peak at the Bay Bridge.


Yin Du Wonton Noodle
648 Pacific Ave
(between Columbus Ave & Beckett St)

M always reminisces about the wonton noodles in Hong Kong — New York noodles just aren’t the same. San Fran came pretty close!


(Random lady sitting across the table from us eating delicious noodles)


Next stop: Ferry Building/Pier/Embarcadero

We walked East towards the water — about 20 minutes. This was a farther walk, and not very scenic. But we got there with no damage!




The Ferry Building Marketplace reminded me of Chelsea Market in New York, tons of little shops out in the open, blue bottle coffee, restaurants.

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We waited a bit for the F to get to Fisherman’s Wharf, but decided to walk along the Embarcadero instead and enjoy the view!

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Got some chocolate from TCHO along the way.

Stop #3: Pier 39

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It’s actually worth checking out — more shops, restaurants, and of course the famous sea lions! Just go past the carousel and follow signs to the stairs:




Found them!

Stop #4: Fisherman’s Wharf

Walking further, we got to the wharf. It was chow time. Rather, clam chowder time…




Walk up the stairs to Bistro Boudin:

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We got the famous bread bowl New England clam chowder — too much bread, too little soup.


One of the best crabcake sandwiches I’ve ever tasted.


Really tasty crabcake inside!




Stop #5: From the Wharf, we walked over to Ghirardelli Square.


We went into the chocolate store, aka chocolate galore:





In addition to the ice cream and chocolate shop, there are also cute little boutiques that sell gift items and mementos.


Jackson and Polk — I absolutely adore this gift boutique! They have really cute, endearing jewelry, bags and trinkets.

Next to Ghirardelli Square is the main stop of one of the cable car lines — Powell-Hyde. You can see huge lines form and wrap around.



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We saw the line for the cable car and decided to walk the rest of the way back to our hotel in Union Square — I don’t recommend this for those with weak knees; SF hills are no joke!

I underestimated my mom. She walked the whole way without complaining. We stumbled onto the other attraction that I hoped to see, Lombard Street.




It was a beautiful walk, thanks to the great weather in SF. It was 70s and sunny everyday that we were there!