It’s been a few days since the Brooklyn Half Marathon, which I ran on Saturday. I’ve had some time to reflect on the race a little and my feelings haven’t changed one bit: it was amazing.
I got into New York around 12 p.m. on Friday and after walking through Brooklyn (where I was staying) and taking the subway to the 86th Street stop, I made it to NYRR to pick up my bib. It was right around lunchtime and pick-up began at 1 p.m. so I expected it to be a little crazy and while there were definitely a lot of people there, it was a quick process. Well done, NYRR.
I expected to pick up my Team For Kids singlet at this location but learned that they had mailed them out and for those who didn’t get theirs in the mail (a.k.a. me), it would be available at the Prospect Park warmup in the morning at 6:15 a.m. I was a little bit frustrated because I knew it was going to be really hot out, so I didn’t want to wear an extra shirt and then check my bag at the race, but I also didn’t have a tank top to wear underneath, just a short-sleeved Under Armour shirt…so I had to make a quick stop in The Gap after to pick up an exercise tank to wear over to the race start and under my singlet. A little bit of an unnecessary purchase but I’m glad I did because it was definitely warm out the next day.
I woke up at 4:50 a.m. the next morning, made coffee with my friend’s fancy French press, and then mentally psyched myself up for the race while I ate some dry cereal. I was really, really nervous. I probably should get over it by now, but I always get nervous before long runs and races. Anyway. I walked about a mile and a half to the race start and found the Team For Kids group right near the start line. I got my very bright singlet, and tried to calm my nerves a little bit. After a quick warmup, we made our way over to the start and just like that we were off.
The start was well-organized, based on the first numbers on your bib. I was put in the 12th corral based on my predicted time but I think there might’ve been around 20 corrals total, and there were definitely people that moved up to my corral or others.
The race went around Park Slope in Brooklyn, with a loop around Prospect Park and then another loop in the actual park itself, before heading out to Coney Island. I had mapped out the course beforehand so I knew where to expect the hills, and it was a little hillier than I expected in terms of number of hills, but it wasn’t bad at all. I also anticipated the hills would be much worse than they were, so that probably helped me. As I entered the park, a group of kids that are actually in some of the Team For Kids programs were there cheering, along with some of the team leaders, and it really made a difference going into the park.
Friday afternoon, when I met up with my former prospective roommate for lunch (and got a TWO POUND salad from Whole Foods…and paid EIGHTEEN dollars for it…and then ATE IT ALL…yeah), we agreed she’d come out to the park around the mile 6 marker and cheer me on if she was up for it. Sure enough, around the top of all of the hills, right before the downhills, I saw Amanda there and was extremely grateful. Knowing she was going to be there definitely helped me get through the park.
As we exited the park and headed toward Coney Island, there were more Team For Kids people cheering for me. The route to Coney Island was straight and flat, which was easy on my legs but not too easy mentally. I kind of like taking twists and turns to keep things fresh and interesting, but on the bright side, there were some people out cheering and I was seeing a part of the city I’d never seen before. I also tripped around mile 8, and heard gasps behind me as I fell forward, my face leading the rest of my body into the pavement. Somehow, though my face was undoubtedly less than a foot from the ground, I managed to stay up and my face was sacrificed, but I couldn’t help but laugh at my clumsiness. Every time, it gets me.
Around the mile 11 and mile 12 markers, there were more Team For Kids members, which again, helped push me through to the end. The race ended on the boardwalk at Coney Island, and as I approached the finish, I was tired but felt good.
Throughout the race, I used my Garmin to keep my pace in check, and I tried to take advantage of the downhills, but not so much that I tore up my legs. The Garmin honestly made all the difference; there were times when I felt like I was barely keeping a 10-minute mile and I’d look down and see that I was running 8-minute miles, so I knew why I felt so fatigued and also knew to slow down.
Just to make it clear how much it helped, here are my splits:
8:46, 8:37, 8:19, 8:40, 8:44, 8:55, 8:23, 8:50, 9:07, 9:08, 8:58, 9:04, 8:00 (<– wtf)
So, as you can see, pretty much all of my splits were within 30 seconds of each other. Which I’m really happy with.
Between the motivation from Team For Kids, my Garmin keeping me in line, and my overall feeling of strength from the very beginning (probably related to my positive attitude that I was going to go big or go home), I was able to complete all of my goals.
As a reminder, my goals were the following:
- Have fun with it.
- Run the whole thing.
- Run a sub-2 hour half marathon.
Check times four. I had such a good time with this race and I think a large contributor to that was the support from Team For Kids, but also the course. I liked it a lot. It was pretty and overall interesting enough to keep me from getting bored.
I ran the whole thing, including through the water stations. Most of the time I ran through the station, grabbing water on my way, but towards the end with the cluster of people, I’d have to stop and grab water and continue running. That was another thing…there was so much water. It was great. I want to say there was water at every mile after mile 8 or 9. Pretty awesome stuff, especially considering how hot that last stretch got.
I also PR’d. By a lot. By about 9 and a half minutes…which means that my ultimate goal of finishing in under 2 hours was accomplished.
I finished in 1:57:33 officially, and I am so unbelievably thrilled about it.
The first thing I did when I got back to Brooklyn, before even going inside to my friend’s apartment was text Brenna. Then, I told my friends I was staying with. Then, I got a call from Diana about it. Then my mom checked in and my friend Kerri checked in and I went to a graduation party and everyone asked about it. The people in my life are really amazing. Anyway, random tangent aside…
I loved the Brooklyn Half Marathon and assuming I’m still in the area, I will definitely run it again next year. Great support (in terms of spectators and water/gatorade), wonderful course, easy to get to/from the start/finish, and overall just amazing. It was honestly the best race of my life and made me even more excited about running and all that I am capable of accomplishing.