RBC Brooklyn Half Marathon Race Recap

RBC Brooklyn Half logo

MAY 20, 2023

This was my 2nd time running this half marathon. I ran it in 2018 in the pouring rain… I definitely did not get to enjoy my post-race Coney Island experience.

So I signed up to run Brooklyn in 2023 for several reasons:

  • I love NYC (and Brooklyn).
  • I surprisingly got a guaranteed entry.
  • My two local running buddies were running it too.
  • We all ran a local half marathon a month before so we were sorta trained already.
  • NYRR races are so well-organized.
  • Who wouldn’t want to finish at the beach on Coney Island.
  • It was on a Saturday so I would not have to take the next day off from work.
  • I wanted to re-do this race after the wet one in 2018.
  • I had to DNS on all my 2023 half marathons so I was super excited to give this one a try!!

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 April 15 November 20, 2022.  I broke my foot and had to DNS my half marathons in February, March and April.

Since March 20, I have completed easy SHORT weekday runs and a few longish runs on most weekends.

the plan though I admit it got altered quite frequently

Though I don’t usually care much about my short runs, I usually like to get in a 10, 11 and 12 miler before each half marathon.

Thanks to support from my running friends, I used run/walk intervals and got those long runs done.

They were slow and they all felt very hard.

After the 12 miler, I went to Florida and skipped my long run in favor of a short easy run (in the heat/humidity.)

So I tapered with another SLOW (hard) 10 miler.

refueled with birthday cake!!

Obviously I was a little worried about my endurance. However, I didn’t expect to run the half marathon at a PR pace anyway. I was running it purely for the experience. I was very excited to be back out there racing.

Pre-Race Activities and Preparations:

As I did for the NYC Half Marathon, I planned this race with my two local running friends Sherry and Stan.

thanks to my broken foot, they are now a “couple” – long story

Stan’s friend, Lisa, also decided to come along and support us even though she was not running the race.

We all took the train to Manhattan Friday morning. While on the train, I decided to use my app to check into our hotel.  Well, the reservations had disappeared!! What? So I called the hotel, they gave me some bogus stories about me cancelling my reservations. Long story short, it appears that the hotel had closed and they didn’t notify anyone. Luckily we were able to find another hotel (although it cost a lot more and  it wasn’t within walking distance of the race start).

Once we arrived in Manhattan, we took the subway to our new hotel, left our bags and started carb loading at a nearby restaurant.

After lunch, we took another subway to Pier 2 (near the Brooklyn Bridge) Pre-Race Party location to get our shirts and bibs.

not a fan of the design or color

I didn’t buy anything at the expo although I was tempted to buy another pair of Goodrs.

We took the prerequisite photos

and then headed back by subway to check into our hotel.

As you can tell by the photos, it was a beautiful day (perfect for a race… LOL).

After we checked into our hotel and unpacked, it was time to head out again (by subway) for dinner.

pizza, of course

There was a lot of stress due to the weather predictions for race day:

I laid out my outfit:

Of course, I needed to add a rain poncho, throwaway shirt, etc.

Fortunately, our friend Lisa agreed to meet us at the finish and carry everything we would need for after the race: umbrella, dry shirt, oofos, race jacket and more!! For all three of us.

Race Day:

Alarm set for 5 am. After much debate, we decided it was too far to walk, too complicated to take a subway and so I had ordered an Uber to leave for the race at 6:15 am.

Minimal sleep, if any.

I brought my usual race breakfast of oatmeal and coffee with me and ate in the hotel room.

At least it was not raining when we left the hotel.

We were all in Wave 2 and so we didn’t started until 7:45 am.

The Uber left us off near Grand Army Plaza.  I think we were there by 6:30.  Everything was very organized… the security line moved very quickly.

Of course, it started to drizzle (just like the forecast said.)

staying dry until the race started

There was an abundant number of porta potties and minimal lines.

We decided to all wait in Sherry’s corral (J).

I considered doing run/walk intervals with Sherry (since we did ALL our long runs like that) … but in the end, I decided to move up (to corral D) and do my own thing. Stan did the same (in corral G)

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 then basically walk whenever I needed to.  Based on my training runs, that would be pretty often.

Lisa, Sherry, Stan and I planned to meet at the finish and then hang out. Of course weather permitting.

Anyway, here’s how the race went (photos courtesy of the NYRR/Cheer Everywhere/ FB websites):

Miles 1-3:

Eventually we started to move. I immediately ditched my poncho. And long walk it was to the start line (and I was only in D). Some runners actually ran but nope, I walked until I hit the start line.  It was drizzling but with the humidity, it felt very comfortable. I was secretly hoping that this light rain would last until I was done with the race. It was warm enough that I threw away my long sleeve shirt right away.

NYRR photo

As you can see, it was quite congested in the beginning of the race.  Did I mention that almost 26,000 started this race and half were in Wave 2? I may have started middle of the pack but moved into BOTP by the 2nd half of the race.

For the first 3 miles, you ran outside of Prospect Park and there were minor ups and downs in the elevation.

(Photo by NYRR)

Of course, I had amnesia thinking that the hills weren’t bad at all. (LOL I hadn’t hit the hills yet.)

(Photo  for NYRR)

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 was used to.)  I stopped anyway even though I wasn’t thirsty.  They were a tempting opportunity to walk and so that’s what I did.

NYRR photo

By the 5k point, I was getting hungry (since I had eaten breakfast at 5:30 am) and ate my first GU.

NYRR photo

I tried not to look at my Garmin at all because it would make me stressed… but every mile, my pace would pop up.  I was shocked at my pace for the first few miles… I didn’t feel like I was running that fast.  But based on my training, I knew that I would slow down but I decided to just continue at this pace until I couldn’t.

Miles 4-6:

NYRR photo

At mile 4, you headed into the park. It started 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 10k clock to eat my second 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 actually felt warm (due to the humidity).

NYRR photo

The downside was that it was raining more steadily, there were puddles and my feet were getting very wet.  Wet sock + bunion = BIG painful blister.

I got one on my right foot and it hurt with every step. I tried to figure out how to step without the pain but there was NO WAY!

Then I passed this runner:

Yup, I told myself to “Suck it up.”

Miles 7-9:

Finally, the part of the race I was waiting or… No more hills!

from FB – recognize these celebrities??

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 injury layoff and it being my first half marathon in a long time really reared its ugly head at mile 9.  My lower back starting aching. 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.

The volunteers at all the water stops were so supportive too.

Miles 10-12

Still running down that endless Ocean Parkway. At the 15k clock, I ate my third GU and walked what seemed like forever hoping to get some zip in my step.  But now it was POURING!!! (Those Wave 1 runners lucked out.)

Finally as you ran 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.

Run…walk… run… walk….

Mile 13- 13.25

from FB

Soon I saw the sign that said “800 meters to go” and then I was finally on the boardwalk.

400 meters… then 200 meters.

NYRR photo

It was SO SLIPPERLY that I had to walk several times to make sure I didn’t fall.

The finish line seemed so far away but all of a sudden, the race was over.  I crossed…. (LOL… I thought I sprinted but maybe not…)

chip time= 2:21:41

Post Race Activities:

NYRR photo

I pushed through the runners finishing to get my medal and then was handed a bag with boxed water, Gatorade and some snacks.

wet but happy

I followed the crowd to exit and walked and walked to eventually get into the park/stadium.

NYRR photo

Our original plan was to hang around, go to the After Party (where you got beer, pizza, Nathan’s famous hot dogs, etc.)  and even walk along the boardwalk (dip our feet into the ocean, etc.)

Not into this weather, our friend Lisa has texted us that she would be on the bleachers where families were directed to wait (and in section R).

The sections started with A and so I limped to R and finally found her. I was soaked and FREEZING and glad to put on my rain jacket.

in hindsight I wish I had changed into a dry shirt… brrrrr

Stan had finished just after me followed by Sherry. We walked toward the exit to find them.

They both exceeded their time expectations and were cold, wet but happy, as well.

We quickly headed to the subway where we shivered for 16 stops before arriving at our hotel.

I took the longest HOT shower ever, changed into dry clothes and bandaged up my blood blister.  We were all starved and I hoped that Lisa had found a nearby restaurant for lunch.

Luckily the food was delicious because we walked several miles in a monsoon there and back.

Then we had to shop for Stan’s birthday celebration (more walking in the rain.)

Will this day ever end?

Nope, we hopped the subway and headed to Manhattan for an recovery/celebration Italian dinner…

It was sooo delicious (sorry no pix).

Finally back to Brooklyn for dessert and champagne.

My bed that night never felt so good.

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.

So I was really pleased at my time. I thought I would finish much slower. I knew I would not come close to my 2018 time of 2:11:23 but secretly, I wanted to finish faster than 2:27.  That was the qualifying time for my new age group for the NYC Half, Brooklyn Half and NYC Full Marathon in 2024. (I may not run them all but it’s nice to have that option.)

Well, this was a bucket list race for me.  Since I couldn’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.

And running a race with friends made the experience even better.

The Good:

  • 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 (even though I didn’t have any)
  • Water & Gatorade Stops at every mile (many tables of cups and many enthusiastic volunteers)
  • Crowd Support (even in the rain)
  • Having friends to train with and spend the race weekend

The Bad:

  • Running down Ocean Ave for so long was a little boring
  • Pre-Race Party was disappointing – very few vendors
  • Prospect Park Hills (since I didn’t train on hills)
  • Slippery Boardwalk at the finish
  • DOMS two days after.

The Ugly:

  • The Weather!!
  • That blister!

Would I recommend this race?

Yes. Definitely.

And my finish time will give me a guaranteed-entry into this race for 2024.

Though I wish that I could wait to see the weather forecast before I sign up again.

Final Stats:

It was not my slowest half marathon. And as I mentioned above, it was faster than I expected (based on my long run pace).

I’m pretty sure than if I didn’t take 5 weeks off from running due to a broken foot and have to skip THREE half marathons, I would have run this race more confidently and had a better finish time.

But it is what it is and I am truly grateful to to able to race again.

I retain my title as “queen of the positive splits”

well, at least no 12 minute miles

I didn’t use run/walk intervals but I did stop and walk at EVERY water stop and the 2nd half of the race, I walked several times between water stops.

Next Up:

Miles on the Mohawk 10M

10 MILER – May 28, 2023

Happy Running!  Have you ever run this race or any NYRR races?  Do you prefer large races or small ones? Do you enjoy running in the rain? Please share.







Since today is Tuesday, I’m linking up with Zenaida and Kim (Kooky Runner).

I’m also linking up here:

with co-hosts Coach Debbie RunsConfessions of a Mother RunnerMile by MileRuns with Pugs, and Laura Norris Running.

24 thoughts on “RBC Brooklyn Half Marathon Race Recap

  1. Well done, Darlene! Congrats on your comeback race!!
    Such a shame that it had to rain on race day, especially since you had such beautiful weather the day before!
    Now that you have qualified… will you be running the full NY marathon?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow Darlene, you did GREAT! You came in the top third of your age group and that is a great time, especially considering the conditions. I wish the conditions had been better, but it sounds like you enjoyed the day anyway. But now I want to hear the story of how Sherry and Stan became a couple because of your broken foot!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks. Rain was probably more comfortable than extreme heat.

      I roomed with sherry for nyc half but left a day early because I had a dr appt. I left them alone and the rest is history.


  3. Congrats, Darlene! You continue to inspire and impress me. Well done. I enjoyed my NYC Half Marathon and now want to do this race. The hotel canceling your reservation would have freaked me out but glad you found another one. Who are the celebrities in that photo? I have no clue who they are.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Congratulations! You did great in spite of the spotty training and the weather. I’m glad that you have moved out of my age group (just in case we ever race in the same event 🙂 ). I have no idea who those people are (celebrities?). But then I rarely recognize famous people.

    Liked by 1 person

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