This weekend, I ran the Brooklyn Half for my FIFTH TIME. As you can see below, my experiences with this race have run the gamut.
Brooklyn 2013 — Kinda crappy day
Brooklyn 2014 — Got to pace friends to their first half finish
Brooklyn 2015 — HUGE PR
Brooklyn 2016 – First DNF
So maybe it’s fitting that this year’s experience with the actual running of the race was…fine.
My coworker Mallory had wanted to run sub-2, and I (foolishly) told her I would pace her. I’ve obviously run sub-2 — and faster — before, but not in at least two years. I medium trained for this race: I ran a bunch of long runs and generally ran 1-2 times on top of that during the week.
OK, plus, I was in Wave 1 and she was in Wave 2, and Wave 2 started 45 minutes later, meaning an extra 45 minutes of sleep, quite the luxury that early in the morning.
I set my alarm for 5 and woke up at 5:30 for a 7:45 start in Brooklyn. I screwed around for far too long — I planned on leaving at 6 and left closer to 6:15 because I couldn’t find my SpiBelt or my credit card/Metro card (which…I’d already put in my skirt. Smart, Theodora.)
A sidenote here: I walked a TON on Thursday in my Jacks for the first time this season. It was 90+ degrees and my bloated feet did not react well to the heat and friction, and I woke up Friday morning with a blood blister, freaking out. True friendship is when you text your physical therapy professor/former dancer friend to ask her what to do and she tells you to send her a photo of your (nasty) foot. She suggested I pop/drain it and let it dry out. She also suggested putting Ambesol on it if it still hurt Saturday morning, and I so ran over to Duane Reade on my way out to buy some for good measure. I know that, weirdly, sometimes things like blisters cease to bother me while running, so I hoped for this as I cabbed over to the start. (Every year I tell myself I’ll take the train. Every year, I take a cab.)
(Just me and my 27,000 BFFs)
The security line was long, but I eventually got through it and met up with Mallory. At the time (foreshadowing!), I felt really happy that I hadn’t checked a bag. LOLs.
Mallory, her friend Nick and I started the race out together, and I tried to keep us running to the left side of the course, so that we wouldn’t run any more than necessary.
As we crossed the start, I saw/heard Karla announcing and remembered just how small and awesome the running community really was. The first mile or so of EVERY race gives me anxiety (also because I mostly run large races), and I used this time to set an intention. My intention was to enjoy the race, not let the DNF of last year hang over me, not obsess over pace and get out of my own head. So, nothing to think about here 🙂
I also forgot the first 1.5 miles-ish are a very very slight incline (I have only run on the pancake-flat West Side Highway as of late, so I was like the princess and the pea with the hills) and was disappointed my legs were feeling this difficulty so early on. But we eventually found ourselves in Prospect Park, and I’d run further than I had last year. At this point, I was feeling just OK — neither great nor awful. I certainly felt like it was an effort to run, but not an insurmountable one. Once I passed the spot I dropped out last year, I knew I’d be fine. (I should have known anyway but whatever.) I stayed with Mal and Nick through about mile 6, and the hills of the park had caught up with me. My heart rate felt a bit higher than I was comfortable with, so I took a lil walk break to let it come down.
I caught up with them, but I could tell they were doing better than I was at our pace, and I didn’t want to hold them back nor did I want to push myself beyond my current abilities, and so around mile 6ish, I told them I was going to let them go.
The benefit of having run this race so many times is that I know the course well. I knew by mile 7, I’d be out of the park and heading down Ocean Parkway, no more hills in my future.
But by the time I left the park, I started feeling both mental and physical fatigue. There were several times I asked myself if my mind or my body wanted me to stop. Most of the time, it was mental, but even when I realized that, I still couldn’t make myself keep going, and I tried to not beat myself up over not having the mental strength I used to.
There were two women with really obnoxious accents (I know, pot, meet kettle) who kept talking FOR ALL OF OCEAN PARKWAY how boring it was and how they were never running this race again. Their voices and negativity were grating on me and I wanted to surge past them, but just didn’t have it in me.
Around mile 10, I started thinking: if my mom can get through chemo and everything else she’s been through, I can STFU and do something I chose to do, that I love. (Even if I wasn’t loving it in that second.)
Finally, I made the turn onto Surf Ave, and knew the finish was near! Turning onto the boardwalk, I started grinning, knowing I was about to finish! This was my 27th half, and I can’t remember the last time just finishing it was such an accomplishment to me, but I was so happy.
I grabbed my medal and asked someone to take a photo of me.
Race finish line or Hunger Games???
I walked through the finisher area and then cursed myself for leaving it, because I wanted to watch Meg and her dad finish, and I had to leave the finish area and basically walk in a big circle.
Remember how I said I was stubborn and didn’t check a bag? Waiting for them, it started to rain. I wanted to go buy a sweatshirt, but I knew I’d miss them if I did, so I stuck it out and waited…and it started raining. (Thankfully they crossed just after it started raining, and I ducked into a store on the boardwalk to buy a sweatshirt.)
It was neither planned nor unplanned that we wore the same skirt, by the way.
I had coached Meg and her dad, so it meant so much to watch them finish their first half — I felt like such a proud mama bear (and also glad that my plan worked so smoothly for them.)
Coney Island after the race is a hot effing mess, so we hopped on the train to start heading away from there. In past years, I went to Vanderbilt in Park Slope, and it was PERFECT for post-race, so we went there to celebrate all of our finishes.
Usually, I say 10/10, would ___ again…but this being the fifth time I’ve done this race, I’m going to say: 5/5, would Brooklyn again.
What race have you run multiple times?