This past Saturday, I ran the Brooklyn half marathon for the first time. This race has gotten a lot of hype, enough so to have convinced me to venture off Manhattan at the crack of dawn (I hardly leave the UWS, so this was a serious jaunt). My initial plan was to treat this as a hard long run, but not go for a PR. I’m targeting a 10-k in a few weeks and didn’t want to lose training time recovering this week. Well, that went out the window in like the first mile. Here’s how it went down:
Miles 1-3 (5k in 22:54) – The weather was beyond perfect. Slightly cool and overcast. I don’t remember ever being too hot which was a huge blessing because I definitely had been skimping on the pre-race hydration. We jumped in a car around 5:45 to head over to the start and ended up with plenty of time. My friend and I had planned on running together, and I had hung back in her coral with her so that we could. Ultimately, there was no one checking corals and we all ended up pushing our way towards the front anyways, so it wouldn’t have mattered. Did anyone else find it strange that they talked up the security measures so much, but this was the first race where I didn’t even see people manning corrals or hardly anyone at the start? We never felt unsafe, but I was prepared to have more of a hassle getting lined up, when in fact it was the most relaxed of any of the nyrr races I’ve run.
The gun went off and it took us about 3 minutes to get past the start line. My *trusty” Garmin started doing all kinds of crazy and simply wouldn’t start. I wasn’t too concerned since I wasn’t running for time anyways. The start was quick though. Normally I’m used to fighting through people for the first couple of miles, but people took advantage of an initial downhill and really went for it. My friend thought we hit mile 2 in around 14:30, and I finally got my watch to start, although it was still not giving me accurate data. This was faster than I had planned, but all felt well so I just decided to go with it. The strangest thing was that we seemed to hit a wall of people around then and had to do a lot of weaving to keep our pace.
Miles 4-9 (15k in 1:09:32) – I really enjoyed running through Prospect Park. I had never been there, and loved how lush and green it felt. Certainly more remote than Central Park, and thankfully less hilly. There was one hill that I had heard people talking about, but honestly, after daily runs in CP, it wasn’t too big of a deal. Actually, what bothered me most was the slight incline on the highway starting about mile 8. It was just a little incline but it seemed to go on forever. I was also starting to regret going out so hard at first. Looking back, I think that if I had planned on racing I could have hung on at this point. I didn’t get good sleep, had raced the weekend before, and hadn’t hydrated properly. I also decided to try some new gels, which I would normally never do in a race, but thought would be ok since this was just practice anyways. That was a mistake because they did not sit well. I finally told my friend to go on ahead of me, and started to sulk about how not fun the rest of the race was going to be.
Miles 10-13.1 (20k in 1:34:15)- At this point I just wanted to lay down and take a nap. Fatigue always gets me. I would much rather push through the pain of a short fast race then trudge along for miles yearning for my bed. But I knew I had done this to myself by going out too fast and I was just going to have to pay the consequences. I gave myself one mile to kinda shuffle along at around 8 minutes, but when I saw the race clock and gathered that I was 3 minutes behind it, I realized that if I could put up decent paces for the last 2 miles I actually had a chance at PRing. My current PR had been 1:39:28 and I just kept having visions of coming in just a few seconds slower than that. Nothing worst than working so hard to come within seconds of PRing.
The amazing thing is that I started to feel better around mile 11. I’m learning that in these longer races you really do have good and bad miles. As someone used to running shorter distances, I always assumed that once it started to hurt it probably wasn’t going to get better until you crossed the finish. Not so with the half. After a relaxed 10th mile, I had some renewed energy. My stomach was still a mess, but I decided to concentrate on just holding a solid pace. I really gave it the last mile, and especially last sprint on the boardwalk of Coney Island. I think I ran that one in 7:17. I had no idea what my time was, but knew it was going to be close. I met up with my friend (who had finished around 1:37) and her husband who thankfully drove us home. Was super happy to see 1:39:00 once I got there!
Lessons learned – It’s easy to get sucked into a race. Going out too fast makes for a less than enjoyable ending. Take each mile on its own and don’t dwell on the miles to come. And for Pete’s sake, don’t eat any untested substances on race day!
I also want to give a huge hug and thank-you to my husband, who had to attend a family function this weekend and took the kids with him so that I could stay behind and race. You are amazing hun, and this was the best mother’s day gift ever!!!! Thanks also to my brother-in-law and in-laws who helped with the kiddos. I’m so lucky to have such an awesome and supportive family.
Did you race this weekend? Do you find it easy to run races for fun or do you get sucked into going faster than planned?