It seems like I’ve been planning to run this race forever. But actually it is a lottery and this year, I was determined to get in. I sat at the computer and exactly at noon, I clicked Register and my friend Sue and I both got in. (Sue is my partner in crime for the France 8k and the Shape Half – both in NYC)
I signed up to run Brooklyn as my 31th Half Marathon for several reasons:
- I love NYC (and Brooklyn).
- I had enough hotel points for a free room.
- My friend Sue agreed to run the race and room with me.
- NYRR races are so well-organized
- Who wouldn’t want to finish at the beach in Coney Island.
- It was on a Saturday so I would still have Sunday at home.
Half Marathon Training:
If you follow my posts, you also know that I am not strict about following a training plan. I ran my last half marathon on March 17 in Florida and since then I have completed easy weekday runs and longish runs on most weekends.
Though I don’t usually care much about my short runs, I do like to get in a 10, 11 and 12 miler before each half marathon.
I skipped my 12 mile long run entirely the weekend that I was on vacation in Florida. I added extra miles to my weekend 5k races. Only ONE of my long runs was completed without a break in between the miles and that was the last one of 9 miles
I am sure that this is NOT the my best way for prepare to run 13 miles. I am a coach’s nightmare. LOL.
However, I wasn’t really worried. I didn’t expect to run the half marathon at a PR pace anyway. I was running it purely for the experience.
Dealing with a crazy work schedule, travel and rain does not equal a fast finish time. The goal for this half marathon was survival and enjoyment!!
Pre-Race Activities and Preparations:
I learned some valuable lessons about pre-race prep on my last half marathon in NYC and Vegas– rest the legs the day before.
So we didn’t really walk that much. We took the bus to Manhattan and then the subway to Brooklyn so we could check into the hotel. Then we took a subway to Pier 2 to the Pre-Race Party to get our shirt and bib.
The Pre-Race party was a little disappointing. Not many booths or food and there was no entertainment. But if you just wanted to get in and out, it was fine. You could also get any information you needed about the race and logistics. We asked a lot of people about what time to be at the race and got many conflicting answers so made our own decision.
While we were at the pier, we did a little sightseeing by touring an old schooner and watching a glass blowing demonstration on an Erie Canal boat. Our last stop was Coney Island where we had a delicious pasta dinner before heading back to the hotel to call it an early night.
Alarm set for 5 am. After much debate, we decided to leave for the race at 6:30 am.
I brought my usual race breakfast of oatmeal and coffee with me and ate in the hotel room. Good thing because the hotel breakfast didn’t open until 6:30 am.
My original race outfit was going to be a tank and skirt. But with each weather forecast predicting colder and colder temps, I kept changing my mind.
I was very close to adding capris and a jacket but decided at the last moment that I didn’t want to be too warm. Sue and I both also decided against a checked bag based on the logistics, long bag check lines and having to wait outside in the rain even longer.
Our hotel was fairly close to the start so we would have walked if it hadn’t been raining so hard. We had planned to call an uber but two sisters outside our hotel had already called one and offered us a ride. We accepted and hung out with them for a while before the race (one was running her first half… poor thing.)
We arrived at 6:45 to cold pouring rain and wind and did our best to stay dry by standing under one canopy after another.
Unfortunately we had to eventually get to the start. We waited so long that wave 1 (we were in wave 2) had already started. That meant we had to run across the course. Just imagine how hard it is to cross between runners running at a 5-6 min pace. I almost had a heart attack but we all did it successfully.
Then we had to wait on a very long line in order to go through security before getting into our corrals.
We decided to stay under a canopy until the very last minute and it was the right decision. Then the line moved pretty fast and we pushed our way into the corrals and just moved to about the 10 minute pacer.
I kept my rain poncho on until it was time to begin. Many runners kept theirs on all or most of the race. I thought that it would be too uncomfortable. I normally take off my throw away shirt too (because it was heavy cotton) but I was just too cold. I wished that I had gloves on, as well.
My plan for the race, as usual, was to stop and walk briefly at every water stop (so I wouldn’t get dehydrated) and to stop and walk longer to eat a GU at every 4 miles or so. And of course, not slip and fall or succumb to hypothermia. Sue and I planned to meet inside the Coney Island subway station and go back to the hotel together.
Anyway, here’s how the race went (photos courtesy of the NYRR website):
9:53, 9:58, 9:14
As you can see, it was quite congested in the beginning of the race. For the first 3 miles, you run outside of Prospect Park and there were minor ups and downs in the elevation. I tried not to step in any big puddles but in trying to cut the tangents, I stepped in one monster one. In addition to my feet now being soaked and sloshing around, my throw away was getting water logged and I had to stop and toss it. The good news is that it was covering my watch and I couldn’t worry about my pace. I still had on my DIY arm sleeves for warmth.
My plan to stop at every water stop slowed me down because in this race, they were at every mile (not every 2 miles as I am used to.) I stopped anyway even though I wasn’t thirsty. They were a tempting opportunity to walk and so that’s what I regrettably did.
9:41, 10:27, 10:01
At mile 4, you head into the park. It starts off flat and just before Mile 5 comes the biggest hill on the course which is not as steep as some of those Central Park hills, but seems like it will never end. I continued my water stop walking and used the one at hilly mile 5 to eat my first GU. Thankfully as you loop around the park, you discover what goes up must come down and you get to enjoy a nice downhill. This was my favorite part of the race. At this point, I rolled down my arm sleeves. They were so wet that they weren’t keeping me warm anyway.
8:56, 9:41, 10:09
As you come through Mile 7 just outside the park, you head to Ocean Parkway with a quick dip down and a steady bump in elevation on the entrance ramp.
I tried to think of this as my final stretch to the finish line. But it felt like Ocean Parkway would never end. Until this point in the race, I was really feeling strong. My lack of long runs really reared its ugly head at mile 9. I started to get a big blister on my left foot (where I always get one). It was painful and I think it made my gait awkward. My lower back starting aching and then the arch on the bottom of my right foot started feeling funky. As a result, walks at the water stops were getting longer. To make things worse, it was raining even harder. Believe it or not, there were lively crowds all along the course…even in this weather. That helped a lot.
10:35, 10:02, 10:25
Still running down that endless Ocean Parkway. At mile 10, I ate my second GU and walked what seemed like forever hoping to get some zip in my step. Finally as you run South, the Avenues go in order from A to Z then you make a right hand turn onto Surf Avenue where you can see the roller coasters up ahead. But by mile 12, I barely had any energy. I just willed myself to continue. I knew the end was near.
Mile 13- 13.25
Soon I saw the sign that said “800 meters to go” and then I was finally on the boardwalk. The finish line seemed so far away but all of a sudden, the race was over. I crossed….
Garmin time= 2:11:18
Gun time = 3:09:46
Chip time = 2:11:23
I got my medal and then was handed a bag with water, gatorade and some snacks.
I followed the crowd to exit and my original plan was to hang around, go to the After Party in MCU Stadium (where you got beer, pizza, Nathan’s famous hot dogs, etc.) but I was FREEZING!!!!!
So I made a bee line to the subway to wait for my friend Sue.
I checked my phone and saw a message from her. “DNF. Quit at mile 5. Took an early train back to Albany.”
I had the feeling that she didn’t want to run in the rain. At mile 5 we had looped the park and it was an easy walk back to the hotel.
Now I was stuck alone in the rain in NYC until my 6:30 pm bus home.
(In the end, it was fine. I had a nice lunch and went to the movies.)
Additional Race Reflections:
Though there were timing clocks at every mile during the race, they started when the elites of wave 1 started so I really wasn’t sure how I was doing. I kept thinking that I was about an hour less than the displayed time. It was hard to see my watch because of my arm sleeves (I had only rolled them down not thrown them away.) So I was pleased at my time. I thought I would finish much slower. I knew I would not PR but secretly, I wanted to finish faster than 2:12. That was the qualifying time for my new age group for the NYC Half Marathon next March. (I may not run it but it’s nice to qualify for something.)
Well, this was a bucket list race for me. Since I didn’t train hard, I was expecting to completely enjoy my experience, take lots of photos, hang out at the beach, etc.
All of this impossible in such miserable weather conditions.
But no, I don’t regret running the race. I actually liked the course more than I thought I would. The hills weren’t as bad as Central Park. More than 25,000 excited runners. So much energy. NYRR puts on a first class event.
- Easy organized packet pick-up.
- Lots of information from sign up to race day
- The excitement and energy
- Prospect Park part of the course
- Ending on the board walk of Coney Island
- Hot Dogs and Beer at the Post-Race Party
- Water & Gatorade Stops at every mile (many tables of cups and many volunteers)
- Crowd Support (even in the rain)
- Running down Ocean Ave for so long was a little boring
- Pre-Race Party was disappointing – few vendors
- Congested before the start due to security check
- The Weather!!
Would I recommend this race?
Yes definitely. Too bad, it sells out so fast. I would do it again if I could wait to see the weather forecast first.
It was not my fastest half marathon. But it was actually faster than my last two half marathons.
I am pretty sure than if I had seriously trained and the weather was better (Honestly the rain just put me in a foul mood), I would have had a better finish time. But “it is what it is.” I chose to run those 5ks instead of doing my long runs (and I don’t regret it one bit). And you can’t control the weather. It was the same for every runner.
September 23, 2018
It’s Tuesday so don’t forget to link up with these wonderful ladies:
Happy Running! Have you ever a big run in the rain? Do you prefer large races or small ones?