Rock N Roll Brooklyn Half Marathon – Before, During & After

Well, it seemed like it would never get here but it did.


all packed – never thought I could fit it all in this small bag!!

I left very early Friday morning by bus.  I arrived in NYC and decided that since it was a beautiful warm day I would walk from Manhattan to Brooklyn. That means I took the subway to the bridge and walked over it. (That meant I had to carry the bag pictured above.)

Brooklyn Bridge Park in Manhattan

It was so awesome and worth every step.

The views were breathtaking.



It was getting late so I quickly hopped a bus to get to the apartment that I rented thru AirBnB.

brookyn apt

it was very clean & comfortable – even had Netflix

As you can see from the pictures, it was pretty nice and my host Sylvie was great.


She was French and didn’t speak much English so as a former French teacher I got to practice my French with her. Loved it!!!

After she left for work, I quickly hopped onto a subway to get to the expo.


I got my bib & tech shirt.


It was one of the worst expos I’ve ever attended.  There was nothing there. So I wound up getting a shirt (only cuz I got $10 off by test driving a Toyota) and having something to eat. Got to Carbload, right?


it’s a tank & I liked that it had the race route on it – but it still cost too much

Maple grilled cheese & free beer

When I was done with the expo, I still had time to kill so I hopped another subway and took a ride to Prospect Park. (I met a nice girl on the train who was from Mexico, a triathloner and planning to run the Great Wall of China Marathon.)

And I just sat on the bench in the sun watching the bikers and runners go by.  It was heavenly.

Finally it was time to head back to the apartment and I arrived just as a thunderstorm hit.

too many steps the day before a half marathon???

Happily the rain had stopped by the next morning but it was a lot cooler. I got up at the crack of dawn (I couldn’t sleep anyway), had my oatmeal and tea and called a cab to get to the race start. (I didn’t want to deal with buses and subways in the dark.)

I arrived around 6 am with no problems.


arriving at the plaza with the other lost souls

But here’s where running an inaugural race is not a good idea. (I seem to have a knack for picking them.  It’s my 5th – Lake George, Fall Foliage, Love Run, Saratoga).

It was VERY poorly planned and so unorganized. A lot of inaccurate information given out, if any.

I heard that they overbooked the parking lots so people had nowhere to park and had to miss the race.

There were no signs and thousands of runners aimlessly wandering around.

I took a cab to Grand Army Plaza per directions but then had to walk a mile to gear check (I had lots of keys and a jacket to check.) I finally found a long row of 25 trucks labeled alphabetically (starting with Z – I had to walk to the 3rd from the beginning since my last name begins with Ca.)

Then we had to figure out how to get to security to enter the corrals.  You guessed it.  Another mile walk. After passing through airport like security, you had to walk to arrive at corral 20.  I was in corral 10.  Believe it or not, there were 4 porta potties for each 4 corrals!! That means 16 porta potties for 16,500 runners.  (Good thing the 27,000 projected runners didn’t sign up. I also heard that it was so backed up that they let runners in without going through security – how comforting!)

The porta potty lines were miles long. I kept walking until I got to my corral and waited online for a while. But it was almost 7 am so I got off the line (Luckily I didn’t have to go that bad. many runners waited in a line over an hour.)

I moved up to stay warm and ended up standing with runners in corral 7.  And we waited and we waited and we waited.  I guess the roads weren’t cleared so the race started a half hour late. I was freezing.  At least I had my DIY arm warmers on and a throw away long sleeved shirt but my teeth were chattering i was so cold.


waiting for my corral to go

Eventually, it was time to move.  It took about 15 more minutes for my corral to pass the starting line.

It was very crowded, of course, and very hard to get going.  You had to weave in and out. First, my shoe which was double knotted got untied.  (A bad omen, I guess.)

But at least, it was warming up outside.  Next I ditched my throw away shirt. By mile 2, I had also thrown away my arm warmers. It was sunny but there was a nice breeze which kept you cool.

The best thing about the race was the PERFECT weather.  (All that worrying for nothing.)

RNR Brooklyn Half

I think early in the race – not sure – didn’t see many photographers

My plan for the race was to race the first half conservatively.  I always crash and burn. To do this, I would walk through ALL the water stops and have Gu at mile 4, 8 and 12. (I wasn’t hungry and only had one at mile 5 and 10 but did drink water at every stop.)

That’s one good thing (and maybe the only) about the race.  There were water stops at every mile.  Toward the end, they even gave out GU.

As you can see from the map below, the race started with was an out and back running through Brooklyn Heights.  I liked seeing the other runners ahead and behind me.

Next came running along Flatbush Ave and then on Ocean Ave for a very long time.

You would think that for a Rock N Roll race, there would be music – NOPE.  Just one lonely guitar player.

Things were going well until the turn around.  My feet did not hurt (a miracle).  My even pace kept a 2:15 finish in sight.  (That was my real goal. No delusional PR hopes)

Then around mile 8-9, things started going south.  My lower back started to ache.  It bothers me when I sit too long but never while running. (Usually it’s my upper back & shoulders if I am tense.)

The pain got worse.  I was running and massaging my back at the same time.  My pace got slower and my water walks longer.

At mile 10, I saw the 2:15 pacer go by and mentally, I think I gave up.

This was also when I met the first big hill.  I ran up most of it because I was looking forward to running in the park.

The park was the nicest part of the course.  I would have enjoyed it more, of course, if I was in pain. There was even a small band.

Then came mile 12….the very long unending hill.  I just walked most of this mile.  My back hurt so much that I thought for a second about quitting.

But I forced myself to run despite the pain.  I told myself that there was no way I was finishing slower than 2:30.


heading to the finish line & happy

And I didn’t 🙂



brooklyn hills

hill near the end – ugh!

If you want to run the course virtually, watch it here:

After I got my medal, I found some chocolate milk. There were also bananas and power bars.  That’s it.  Food fail!


thousands of finishers in a field

I took my obligatory medal pic.


Believe it or not, I then bumped into a student that I taught 20 years ago.


We chatted for a long time and then I went to search for my checked gear.  I skipped the free beer and decided to find my way out of the park and to a subway.

I asked runners but no one seemed to really know so I just followed the crowd.

What was interesting was that it was after 12 pm and there were still runners out there.  They were all happy. It put it all into perspective.  I didn’t finish in my goal time but I did run 13.1 miles!!

My Splits:

mile 1 – 10:15
mile 2 – 10:21
mile 3 – 10:48
mile 4 – 10:18
mile 5 – 10:52
mile 6 – 10:35
mile 7 – 10:55
mile 8 – 11:18 (pain begins)
mile 9 – 11:29
mile 10 – 11:56
mile 11 – 11:24
mile 12 – 12:38 (I want to quit)
mile 13 – 10:53
.19 –   8:58

I’m not going to analyze what I did and should have done in the race. I’ll leave that to a later post.

It ended up being a mile walk to the subway.  But it was cool being on the subway and everyone is wearing their medals.

After changing my clothes and packing up, I decided that it was a beautiful day and I was going to spend it outside.  So I took the subway to Coney Island.

I had never been and it was great.

I walked along the Boardwalk.


strolled along the beach


sat in the sun and relaxed


Of course, I had to eat…

I wasn’t hungry but you just have to if you’re in Coney Island


homemade gelato …pumpkin spice, of course

Finally, it was time to head back to Manhattan to catch a bus home.

I think this is a record high – 8 miles in addition to the race

It definitely was an experience to remember.

After 28 miles in 2 days, I did rest on Sunday.


boating with my hubby and friends on Lake George – no talk about running or races…)

I’m linking this one up with Jessica at The Silvah Lining–she hosts a Race Recap linkup every Tuesday. Please head over and linkup a race recap you’ve written, new or old. And check out some of the other posts!

Happy Running! Did you race this past weekend?  Ever have a race that’s hyped but disappoints?

21 thoughts on “Rock N Roll Brooklyn Half Marathon – Before, During & After

  1. Oh Darlene, I am so sorry this was not the race experience that you had hoped for. Inaugural races can be tricky and it sure seems like alot of things went wrong. On the positive side, you had beautiful running weather, got to enjoy NYC and go to Coney Island and have a Nathan’s hot dog. That alone was worth the trip.


  2. Oh, that’s too bad you had a poor experience with the RnR Brooklyn race. Usually RnR does a good job, and I ran their Brooklyn 10k two years ago and it was well done (no expo at all, though). I do love running in Prospect Park. I wonder what happened — it’s not like RnR has never put on a race before. :-/


  3. Inaugural RnRs can be tough. People complained so much about the first Vegas at night one (my first half) that they gave us discounts & the following year was run much better. So you might want to hold off on signing up for the next RnR.

    The longest walk I’ve ever had to the portapotties was at Runner’s World Heartbreak Half. Go figure. It was seriously like a mile. We just kept walking and walking and walking . . . I always need to use them before, too. I’m well hydrated so I usually need to go a couple of times. That would have put me in a very bad mood from the very beginning!

    I didn’t think about security, either, since I never had to do that.

    It’s such a shame to have such a nice day, get there, and then be blindsided by pain. A big kudos to you for sticking it out! My back muscle is still slightly sore, but it’s not one I use in running (bending over was a different story) so I got lucky there.

    I have NEVER had 40,000 steps. And I think maybe I had 7000 the day before my race? But I like to take it easy before a race. I had a measly 4000 the day we drove up because it poured pretty much the whole day!

    You’ll have to let me know if you need to do another before the end of the year. 🙂 Like, another out of town, of course.

    Smart move taking that cab though!


  4. Wait, I’m just now picking up on this, you rented an apartment in NYC for your race? How awesome is this? I’ve seen a service where people rent out their beach homes, even apartments in New Orleans. We’ve actually checked into this in NOLA before we got our RV but I guess I never really thought about it much anywhere else. This is so neat!

    I still hate your race didn’t go as planned but hey you adjusted well and still ran a great pace, you are right it is all about the experience and it looks like you had a great one!


  5. was looking forward to reading your recap of this inaugural race! proud of you for pushing yourself through despite the pain — that must have been so hard. it sounds like they have some kinks to work out before next year. i’m greatly disappointed that it didn’t live up to the RnR name — isn’t that the whole purpose of having it be part of that series?? otherwise it’s just another BK Half. (PS –try to get into the May BK Half, as it’s amazing and easily one of my fave races to run!) congrats on a race well-done, and being part of the first one! i love that your host only spoke French, as one of your former French students!


  6. I hear RnR races can be very hit or miss – sorry this one was such a miss for you! We did the San Antonio RnR several years ago and I was very impressed with everything, from the expo to the way the corrals moved so quickly to the start line. It seems like you guys were guinea pigs for this one, unfortunately.

    That aside, congratulations on finishing another half marathon! You rocked it, especially through the pain. It must have been really bad for you to think about quitting at mile 12. Way to go with the strong finish!


  7. Congratulations on your finish, even though it wasnt the experience you were hoping for.
    Looks like the weather was perfect for race day. It’s always fun going to NYC. Cute medal! That pumpkin spice Gelato looks delicious. It was well deserved:)


  8. A late start is a huge no-no in my book because you’ve fueled and hydrated based on a certain start time. Shivering causes my back to hurt. Do you think that had anything to do with it? Congrats on pushing through and up that awful hill. You finished, which is always a WIN.


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