Race Recap: Popular Brooklyn Half

By | May 20, 2018

Short version: PR by six minutes and change and I ran the entire thing!
Major thank you to Caryn and Rachel who were most definitely my pre-race cheering squad and ears.

Bag lady!

Longer version: while I don’t mind running in the rain, I really hope this is the only race I need to shuffle to the start with my feet in bag check bags! ETA 5/22: further thoughts.

First, time to take a step back.

The weather looked iffy all week. In fact, it really hasn’t stopped raining since Tuesday’s insane storms.

I had to be in Brooklyn Bridge Park anyway on Wednesday for the GlassBarge event so I decided to go to Expo then. This was my first NYRR Expo and I was simultaneously overwhelmed and underwhelmed. With a race of this scale (25,000+ finishers and said to be the largest Half Marathon), I knew it was going to be a lot. Bib pickup was easy, I really liked the addition of a shirt try-on station as New Balance shirts are cut really weird. Even though I’ve lost weight since then, the Poland Spring shirt still doesn’t fit and I had a feeling the Half one wouldn’t either. Ugh. Running isn’t about weight loss, but it would be nice if my efforts were reflected in shirt size.

As was also the case with the Lebow Half, I really enjoyed the race strategy session. I’ve never run Prospect Park or really any part of Brooklyn other than a quick run on the sand at Coney Island one day last summer. I’d heard about the Hill in Prospect Park and after a chat with Rachel I was confident I was ready for it, but seeing the elevation profile really helped. I went to the pace predictor station and picked up a couple of pace bands. I thought their predictor was more than a little generous at 2:26 – 2:32, but I took the bands for 2:30, 2:35 and 2:40.

I was feeling more than a little nervous about this race, and wasn’t going anywhere near the finishers’ gear they were selling. Why was I nervous? Because humans are weird. I knew I could run 13.1 and was better trained than for my prior races, but to me that made the risk of failure greater. I knew I could — so not being able to was worse than if I dropped out not knowing if I could finish. I really liked this shirt though and just bought it for myself as a reward.

On Friday they sent an alert to prepare for the worst and that there would be heat blankets at the finish. I’m almost positive no one thought that would be in the cards for a May 18 race! I’ll be honest, the rainy forecast wasn’t bothering me as much as it was others. I realized in October that I kind of love running in the rain. It’s like playing outside as a kid. I also knew there wasn’t anything I could do about the weather, so decided to be cheesy and refer to it as Mother Nature cheering us on.

part Austin Powers?

there’s a starting line up there somewhere!

I think part of the reason I had butterflies ahead of this race was the new-to-me area. I could walk to Cherry Blossoms and could have for Fort Lauderdale, although I opted for an uber due to the time of day err night. But I’d have to rely on the MTA and travel about 45 minutes to get to the start. Trains between Manhattan and Brooklyn can be a challenge on the weekend, never mind at 6AM. But I found out that one of the stops to use for Wave 2 (yay, turtles. 7:45 start vs. 7:00 start any day) was on the Q which meant no transfer needed and it all ran surprisingly smoothly. When I got to the station the only folks on the platform were runners and that was pretty much true for the entirety of the journey.

In the further files of New York City being the world’s largest small town, I ran into a friend who was running on the platform when I got off the train and was reapplying body glide to my feet at what I expected to be the last dry spot. She helped me adjust my trash bag poncho (I wish I’d gotten a better photo, it was *special*). The top photo?  Extra bag check bags as I hadn’t thought of wrapping my feet to keep them dry. I wasn’t sure exactly where to go from the 7th Avenue stop, but it wasn’t hard to figure out – just follow all the runners. I tend not to check a bag when I run, but I didn’t see any way around it this time, I’d need dry clothes at the other end of the race and because I’m me, a book for the train to and from.

They suggested a 6:20 arrival for bag check, but I thought that too early in the rain. Got there about 6:45 and it was easy peasy and quick. From then the longest wait was security (my first race that featured metal detectors!) followed by port-a-potties. Corrals had collapsed so I got to roughly where I thought J runners seemed to be and joined the shuffle. I’m not sure exactly how, but the time cut offs for the Half corrals upgraded me to J. It won’t last, but I’ll take it. I was slightly disappointed not to find the 2:30 pacers, but trusted myself to figure it out. The weirdest thing about this race was I wasn’t sure exactly where the start was. Near Brooklyn Museum, yes, but then I saw the building and not the start. Slightly disorienting, but were soon off.

In an effort to stay somewhat dry-ish, I kept the trash bag on for the first mile or so as we headed by Brooklyn Botanic Garden and toward Grand Army Plaza. I had a long sleeve tee shirt on over my tee shirt and I started to get warm around mile five so I slowed up and took it off. It was soaked, which surprised me as I didn’t feel wet. I guess when you’re wet, one part doesn’t really feel it. I took my glasses off somewhere in the Park as well as seeing through semi transitioned rain spotted lenses was just annoying. Note to self: get a hat next time. I’m glad I wasn’t attached to the long sleeved shirt as I dropped it somewhere along Ocean Parkway and when I picked it up, it was soaked so I just tossed it.

speaking of Ocean Parkway

This is one of my favorite race photos. I was just so glad to finally be out of Prospect Park and into the back half of the race. I look miserable, but I was having fun.

This LetsRun post sums up my thoughts on Prospect Park. It’s way flatter than Central Park and although I regularly bitch about Cat HIll & the West Side Rollers (yep, still avoiding Harlem Hills), I really enjoy the downhills. I really didn’t get that in this race with the exception of Grand Army Plaza segment turning back toward the Park and when we went down the ramp onto Eastern Parkway. There was no reward for Prospect Park’s hill. My quads hurt less, my knees and calves are a mess. Or were yesterday, I haven’t yet ventured out of the apartment today. I would like to return and explore the area in a walk, as Prospect Park seemed beautiful.

taking on Eastern Parkway

I’m not sure what I think about this course. Eastern Parkway has some beautiful architecture, but it’s long and straight and kind of boring. Funny, that’s what I usually think when I’m on the train to Coney. Brooklyn is long. I’m not swearing off it entirely the way I did Lebow, but I’m not super excited to do it again next year either. Although I’ll probably do the Bronx 10 Miler which will get me 4/6 and guarantee entry to the NYC Half, I’m not sure I’m excited about that either. We’ll see. What I found amazing though were the spectators and volunteers. We “had” to be out there, but they chose to be there supporting us and cheering us on. Awesome. Really loved the friendly faces from Team MHRC at mile eight and all of those who gave us a lift in the rain.

I was so happy to see this

and what a finish chute!

I love this spot!

I was smiling, even though I didn’t yet know my time. It felt like a good race. I’m really pleased with my splits. Under twelve for eight miles (mile 6 was aforementioned wardrobe adjustment so I don’t hold it against my pace) and I never really felt bad. Sore? Yes. Like I was running through soup? Yes. The headwind in mile 12 was sucktastic. I don’t think I went out too quickly, I think the 12s toward the end were a factor of being slightly undertrained. I hadn’t run more than four miles in three weeks and hadn’t run double digits since February’s half.

unofficial time

Aside from a text to coordinate meeting up with an amazing friend who waited for me in the rain when he was long done, my first text was a photo of my watch’s time to Rachel who I’d chatted throughout the week about time goals. There were many exclamation points!

To be honest, I really hadn’t thought about goals until Wendy asked me about it in the comments of my last post. 2:30 has always been kind of a hand wavy goal, but not one I actually trained toward. I knew I could do 2:41 and that this was flatter/I was better trained than Lebow (I don’t count Fort Lauderdale’s time against what I can do as I was injured and I walked a lot of it due to the humidity). I spit balled 2:35, but didn’t really know if that was real. I was shocked when I saw my watch as aside from 2:25 passing me around mile 8, I never spotted any of the pacers. That’s my “Enjoy the Journey” bracelet peeking out under my watch (I most certainly am!) and the 2:35 pace band under my jacket. I really couldn’t make use of that since my watch doesn’t seem to show cumulative time lapsed and the mile marker clocks were for wave one, so I was just estimating and I really can’t do math on the run.

Brooklyn Half Results

2:34:35! PR by six minutes over Lebow!! Running brings out the exclamation point-using, pink-wearing person in me. I feel no need to apologize for either.

NYRR Progress

Running is like weight loss, you don’t always see the losses, but they’re there. Holy crap! 30 second faster per mile than Lebow, but only one minute/mile slower than the four miler that blew my mind in February. Just ten seconds/mile off my other rain run. In many ways, this felt a lot like that one. I put body glide on my feet before putting on socks and reapplied it just before the start. I feared a blister was forming as I felt a hot spot, but did what I could to avoid puddles until a large one just before mile thirteen and another on the boardwalk. But when I changed socks and shoes before heading back to the city, there were none. My feet were prunes, and my sneakers are still wet, but no blisters. I couldn’t have done without the glasses entirely, so my windbreaker, despite not actually keeping me dry, was good for the pockets for them and my phone.

Changing post-race under an awning on Surf Ave. channeled my sports-playing days past: friend held up the heat shield as I changed into dry clothes: I was soaked down to my sports bra. Due to the weather, I didn’t get the chance to meet up with colleagues running or Darlene, who I hope to run with soon after meeting in a linkup.

I was slightly concerned about stiffening up after the 40m ride back to the city, but the issue was different. With almost everyone leaving simultaneously as it wasn’t a beach day at all, there were no seats so we stood until Union Square. My legs were not happy. Lunch was the plan, but my stomach was weird (gels on empty stomach? Who knows – it ultimately ended up fine) so I opted out and went to see how chaotic medal engraving was.

medal back and front

It wasn’t, at all. I was quoted a time of twenty minutes when I checked in (vs. the two hours I experienced after Lebow and we were quoting when I volunteered after the Half) and by the time I’d gone to the bathroom, I had a text that it was done. I really love the medals: they might be my favorite. I decided to hang around a little to dry off, charge my phone and unwind and had a fun realization:

accidentally a fashion plate!

My change of shoes (yep, the ones I met & fell in love with last summer are out of run miles and down to knocking around, although I did use them for Phoenix runs so as not to bring two pair of sneakers) match my new windbreaker oh so well. The bulge? My belt since I didn’t have where to put it so I left it on. As I was unwinding I noticed they had a table with Deena Kastor’s book and the emcee mentioned she’d be there shortly. I didn’t realize she was running the Half (to be honest, I skimmed a lot of the upcoming discussion due to nerves), and thought it would be a fun chance to hear how an elite runner feels just after a bucket list race wherein she came in second. Full disclosure: still haven’t finished her book. Run reading has been in a weird place lately.

Deena Kastor speaking with emcee, NYRR Youth Runner

It was an interesting conversation. Some was redundant to her talk a few weeks ago, but some was new. Interesting to hear an elite’s disappointment (at her time, not at coming in second), but also that such a common, accessible to the public race was a bucket list one for her. Nothing on Boston, bit given that the emcee didn’t bring it up, I think maybe she requested it be off limits. Glad I stayed for it as it allowed me to be out long enough to get sushi on my way home and not go back out again because my legs by then were a hot mess and the stairs weren’t fun.

Today’s plan is to go for a walk and maybe hit the gym purely for their foam roller since mine wasn’t doing the job last night. I’m glad it was a Saturday run giving me today to sleep in, and unwind. A lot of travel lately and I haven’t had a me day. I cannot wait to tackle the Women’s Mini in a couple of weeks. I haven’t raced a 10K since September and while hill avoidance is probably going to catch up with me, I’m eager to see what I can do. In the mean time, taking a couple days off running. I’m away this coming weekend so will be out of my usual routine, but plan to run to be tuned up for the Italy run in two weeks.

Other Workouts This Week:

Linking up with Wendy and HoHo again. In awe they’ve done this 146 times!

  • Monday: 5K PR. I wanted to see if last week was a fluke, and it wasn’t. Strava said it was a PR, Runkeeper didn’t, but either way I was able to repeat the pace and I’m super happy with that. I think June’s runs are going to be good ones. I’m excited to focus on some shorter runs (4m-10K) for a little bit as I think longer will be harder in summer heat, and treadmill for hours isn’t ideal.
  • Tuesday: 5K row. Apocalyptic thunderstorms and really didn’t feel like the treadmill three days in a row.
  • Thursday: one mile shakeout and long session with a foam roller. My calves were tight for some weird reason and I wanted to knock it out.

27 thoughts on “Race Recap: Popular Brooklyn Half

  1. Coco

    Congrats on your PR! I don’t mind running in the rain if I’m prepared for it, but I don’t like getting blind with rain on my glasses! I’m getting pickier about race courses I think but I know they all have pluses and minuses.

    1. cari Post author

      Thank you!
      Yep, that’s exactly why I took them off. Luckily I have new glasses and didn’t have sliding issue I did in October but the fog and raindrops were more annoying than running without.
      Yesterday was definitely unseasonably cool, but I was OK with that. May can go either way here and I was worried about warm & humid. Turns out cool and humid is just fine.

    1. cari Post author

      Thank you. Me too. My other rain race was a good one too. It’s refreshing.

      Do it! While I didn’t love the course, there’s nothing that would keep me from recommending it to people. Because it’s not lottery, and relatively cheap (less than $100, I think) as longer NYC races go, it’s more accessible to many

  2. Wendy

    Congrats on that PR! I’m so proud of you!!! I’d love to do that race.

    I was wondering about Deena and Boston. I couldn’t find any tweets or any comments anywhere from her about that race. She must be unhappy about DNFing.

    1. cari Post author

      Thank you! I thought I was done with beginner gains, but apparently not in the half. Sorry to hear about yours today

      I think Brooklyn is one worth trying, maybe not one repeating. If it’s a year you can travel to NY, what I’d recommend is planning to be at your computer as soon as registration opens. It’s not a lottery. If your health flares that year, you can defer for guaranteed entry the following year-friend just had to do that as work travel was a bigger issue for her than for me.

      I think so too. Has to be especially hard on the book tour since, at least at the two prior events, a lot of her remarks were about Boston. Weather had to be deja vu for her yesterday. Not quite as bad, but unpleasant. Not much in the way of shelter at the start, VIP of not.

    1. cari Post author

      Thank you! Definitely one of my favorite medals

  3. Liz Dexter

    Congratulations on the PR yayyy! and I am really jealous of the engraving, we have to prepay for a little metal strip to stick on and then it comes weeks afterwards. You’re doing so well in your running journey, so very cool!

    1. cari Post author

      That’s what they do for Cherry Blossom. In some ways it’s easier. The queues for NYC Half were insane and some non-local runners weren’t able to get their engraving done because they had to catch flights. It’s free for me as an NYRR member (and I believe New Balance does something for their members) but others pay so I think it’s more or less the same, cost wise.

  4. HoHo Runs

    Welcome to the Weekly Wrap! Wow — that’s an impressive PR, especially in such rainy conditions. I don’t mind the rain as long as it starts after I’ve started running. Mentally, it’s hard to go out when it is already pouring down. Using extra bag check bags over your shoes were a great idea! But I’d probably trip over my own two feet. 😉 Its looks like a great place for a finish and I adore the medal. The engraving is a great touch as well. Thanks for linking.

    1. cari Post author

      I’ve been reading you on and off since I found you in someone’s comments and I only just realized what the WW# stood for in your post titles. That’s impressive consistency!

      Agree re: starting after. As I’m in the northeast, the thing I don’t like about winter/early spring (apparently May qualifies for the latter this year!) is the waiting before races. Going out to run, no problem, although I’m likely to wait until it stops to head out. But stand and wait for start? Ack, no.

      and yes, very hard to complain about a beach finish although my personal favorites so far are the ones along the Fort Lauderdale beachfront. Visually rewarding!

  5. kookyrunner

    Congrats on that PR! I felt the same way about hitting Ocean Parkway when running that course – I really dislike Prospect Park and the hills there lol

    1. cari Post author

      Oops, I don’t think my reply posted. A month’s hindsight, and I still feel no love for this course

  6. Rabbit Food Runner

    Congrats on a PR! I love all your race pictures.

    1. cari Post author

      Thank you! Glad I caught a few since race photographer never found me. Always enjoy the snapshots when I look back

  7. Debbie @ Deb Runs

    Congrats on your 6-minute PR!!! That’s so exciting! I don’t love, nor do I hate running in the rain – I just don’t care for being wet before and after the race when I want to mingle around and look for friends. I ran my marathon PR in pouring rain the entire 26.2 miles and I think the rain kept me cool and helped me run more efficiently.

  8. Darlene

    Congrats on your PR. I struggled during this race. Blisters…wet and wet and cold!!!!!!!!

    I walked during every single mile.

    I was so looking forward to this race and Coney Island. Can’t change the weather. It is what it is.

    1. cari Post author

      We’re supposed to have rain tomorrow for the Pride run and a friend asked if I was still doing it. I said if I could do the Half, I can do 5 miles in the rain. Will be cooler.
      I was injured/undertrained for my prior Halfs so PR as much a factor of that as PR in weather. Coney adventures next summer 😀

      1. Darlene

        I agree. I may skip a run in the rain but I do race.

        We’re supposed to have rain tomorrow as well. No race for me at least.

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