Fun fact: I used to listen to Yellowcard’s “Ocean Avenue” on repeat when I first started running back in the day. But I’m going to talk about another Ocean Avenue today – the one in the Brooklyn Half Marathon. Yep, another half in the bag and now I’m forcing myself to take a mini hiatus from racing. I actually wasn’t even planning to race on Saturday but a few months back when everyone and their mom started talking about it, I decided to jump on the bandwagon and sign up. Serious FOMO issues here. Good thing I was at my computer that day because the race sold out in 45 minutes!!! Yes, I paid money to endure 13.1 miles and there’s nothing you can do to stop me from doing it again.
Overall it went well. It hurt but that’s something that generally comes with the territory. The saying goes “don’t do anything new on race day” and well, I may have broken that rule a few times. First off, I was going in with less training than I would have liked. Sure, I’ve been working out but not really working out properly – mostly taking classes that leave me sore and then dilly-dallying through my running. Then my sleep and food routines have been all over the place this week. Between flying back from home and attending our upfront events and concerts, it was sort of a mess. Yolo. On Friday, I was invited to a friend’s dinner party (I guess you could say healthy interest/blogger meet-up hosted by GreenBlender folks) and while the food was absolutely delicious, I maybe shouldn’t have stuck to classics. I didn’t have coffee the morning of and well, that might have messed up some things too. I’ll leave it at that.
^^ White strawberries (actually albino strawberries but that just sounds weird) are a thing. Check it out!
Anyways, I do have to thank my friend Sara for letting me sleep on her couch the night before because that meant I was about 800 meters from the start and thus I could avoid waking up at 4am to catch one of the few subways actually traveling to Brooklyn. WINNING! I also have to give her a huge shout out for crushing her first half! What a champ 🙂
So the race. Because of my time from last year’s Washington Heights 5k, I’ve been placed in some of the front corrals. Funny since I’ve been getting slower with each race and yet my bib still states otherwise. I rolled off the couch around 5:20, ate my banana and Honey Stinger waffle, got dressed, and was out the door by 5:45. Bag check was supposedly going to close around 6:10 but I think that was a ploy to get runners to actually show up on time. Wave #1 didn’t go off until 7am (wave #2 around 7:45) and that left me with plenty of time to find my NP friends and hang out (and use the porta-potty…duh).
Weather was definitely working in our favor – slightly overcast with no sight of rain. Perfect since earlier this week it was about a 100% chance of rain and while voluntarily racing 13.1 miles is crazy, running in the rain is even more so and not so enjoyable. It may have started to get a bit hot and humid but again, thank goodness no rain.
Consensus is most of us started way too fast. Typical for me when you get caught up in the heat of the moment, you are pumped with your new playlist (Hello Justin Timberlake and EDM remixes by Spotify), and everyone else is jetting out like a bat out of hell (kudos to my friend Sarah for teaching me that phrase about 10 years ago). Anyways, I was feeling oh so dandy for the first couple miles and then realized I still had 11 more to go. Cool.
We wrapped in and around Prospect Park,
struggled powered up the hills where I saw some November Project folks cheering (we have the best cheer squads out there), and then down counter-clockwise and onto Ocean Parkway. I happened to be running alongside a couple other of NP people, which kept me focused on pushing forward. We actually switched off pushing the pace and kept one another accountable. I rarely race with people that I know, but this prevented me from slowing down too much – something the lazy part of me wanted to do. But yes, the the course. Prospect Park was nice but lovely Ocean Parkway – remind me again why I signed up for this? 6 miles of not so attractive open road. Good times.
About two years ago when I raced this course, I thought the same thing, dying with the endless path in front of me and pretty much crashing at mile 10 because I didn’t fuel properly (aka no gu or chew or dates). This year I did use fuel (dates at 6.5, 7.5, 9, and 11), but had to stop in the porta-potty for a few minutes at mile 10. Good times.
So here’s a question – do you stop your watch during a race if you use the bathroom? I did. I figured I wanted to know my actually running time and after all, the live tracker would find my total time anyways. I’m pretty spoiled living in New York City because New York Road Runners has their sh*t together – aid stations and porta-potties pretty much at every mile, relatively seamless bag check, and a much more manageable race start than the one I did in Sweden last year. Sweden was what we call a sh*t show. Pardon my French today.
After the pit-stop I had to get my head in the game and power through those last few miles. It was just me, Bieber, JT, and the home stretch. I may not practice running fast on a daily basis but I do have a pretty good kick, so with 800 meters to go (thank you to the weekly intervals crew!!), I went for it and landed a time of 1:46 clock time (1:45:59) and 1:43ish by my Garmin but not by Strava so maybe I made up that time in my head (likely to happen to me)
I found my friends, celebrated their PR’s, picked up my bag, and headed to the baseball field to stretch. Then it was onto the makeshift beer garden (Steeple Chase) to catch up with all the other November Project folks. I later left with a few friends for brunch and real food on the main island of Manhattan but more on that later this week.
^^ Highlight of the morning – seeing Ellie Golden in person again
Saturday wasn’t about PRs. It was about finishing with a positive mindset and knowing that I can race under various mental and physical conditions. I have to have that attitude if I want to run or race double that amount in less than 6 months. I have to pull myself together and enjoy the moment. I always enjoy seeing my friends and love how supportive they are to one another. We have folks running their first halves and half marathon veterans. We are there through the good and the not-so-great. They are my family here and I don’t think my experience would be the same without them.
But enough sap for one post. Here’s to the Brooklyn Half, another day where we voluntarily chose to wake up at the crack of dawn, jaunt (sprint, suffer, slog, fly) through 13.1 miles, and party in all different ways afterwards.