I had no goals for this race and never care about place, but when I saw him later on an out and back at mile eleven or so, I just knew that I was not going to lose to a banana!
In fall 2021, I had great plans for this to be a Goal Race. And then life, an IT Band flare and heel issue flared. I mentioned it briefly, but the largest logistics going into this race was whether it would be a good idea for me to run it. PT and I came to agreement that it was and I’m pleased to report I finished and beat the banana.
I had the best laid plans of having this done earlier, but nope. And since I have not much running to speak of this week, linking up with Kim and Deborah to discuss the inaugural NYC Runs Brooklyn Half, or as I like to call it, the Banana Half Marathon!
TL;DR: I loved this race and will definitely run it again. And if it aligns with your training or travel schedule, you should too!
Short history: NYCRUNS has had a Brooklyn Marathon since about 2010, but it was loops of Prospect Park. Last summer, they got permission to do a race on the streets and added a Half distance. Adidas came on as a sponsor with a bunch of great events. There was no doubt I wanted to be a part of the inaugural Half. Not doing a good/bad, as there really was nothing I’d call Bad. I had a blast. There were some hiccups that you’d expect with a large, inaugural race and they could have used more volunteers at the water stations, but there was nothing that would deter me from running this Half again and I’d wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone looking for a spring half.
This wasn’t quite the excitement of Bermuda, but I’d signed up similarly early (August 24) for the Brooklyn Half and it still managed to sneak up on me. My word of advice if you’re going to run more than one NYCRuns race is to join as a member. Not only does it provide no questions asked deferrals, there’s also a discount. What did I use the discount on? Packet pickup. So no review of the expo in this recap. While I heard great things about it and friends bought some cute stuff, I’m glad I didn’t need to travel to Brooklyn at the end of a (good) crazy week to pick up my bib.
In the lead up to the race, there was a lot of information about the app, the start/corral procedures, the routes, etc. Everyone has a different level of informed they’d like to be, but this was at the volume I expected for a large, inaugural race and you won”t find yourself lacking in info if you run an NYCRuns race.
As a proud turtle, I was assigned to Wave 3, Corral J. Woohoo, come get me Sweeper!
Full disclosure: we were told to arrive close to five and I did not. I similarly did not bag check as that was slated to close at 6:15 and I knew I could manage post-race without. The extra time if not sleep was worth it and all worked out. There were 20K+ runners and plenty of places to sit, so if you’re an anxious runner, follow their timing especially if you’re taking public transportation. I opted to take an Uber to the start as Upper East Side to Williamsburg on a Sunday morning is not worth the clock watching and stress. They had designated drop off zones that corresponded with each wave and that was super easy. There was no need for the map on arrival as I just followed the other runners toward our corrals. The lines zigged and zagged, but moved quickly as the staff manning the metal detectors processed everyone as quickly and safely as possible. The race operated at a security level above NYRR Half Marathons and it was unclear whether fuel belts would be allowed. I chose a random flip belt that I didn’t mind tossing that also fit a charger I wasn’t attached to if I needed to toss it. Turned out those & SPI were fine. Fanny packs were the issue.
I was in the Uber on the way to the start when I realized my key was stabbing me in the side of my thigh when it shouldn’t have been – there should have been a NutriGrain bar cushioning it. Uh oh. Yep, rookie mistake, I left it on the table when I picked up my keys or something. I wasn’t sure whether I could do a Half on just chews, but I was about to find out. It didn’t particularly stress me out since I knew much of the race wasn’t going to be ideal.
After clearing security, Mo and I quickly found one another. She was pacing the 2:45 group for Prospect Park Track Club and I decided to spend the corral time with her. It’s always good to catch up. Fun to meet her co-pacer and some of the other runners including a man from Texas who had come in for this race. Unpictured here is a random heat shield I grabbed at the last moment. The skirt was perfect for the race temperatures, but the shield was nice for some leg warmth. I tossed that before we began but kept the Zooma shirt on.
The route was part of the reason I was interested in this race. In some portions, it’s the reverse of the current NYC Half route. In others, it overlapped with the 20m marathon training runs. While I don’t miss marathon training, those days were fun and lots of good memories. The Marathon and the Half run concurrently for twelve miles, but there wasn’t a lot of overlap in runners as marathon runners of all paces started at 7 whereas it was almost 8 by the time corral J joined the party. While I’m pretty sure I will never do another marathon (never say never), I can say definitively that I would not do this one. Two out and backs and a loop of Prospect Park. No thanks. Not for me.
As far as comparisons to NYRR Brooklyn Half and the NYC Half, I think it’s both easier and harder, if that makes sense. With the Brooklyn Half, you get the hill out of the way early, but the straightaway on Ocean Parkway is just brutal. NYC Half has Flatbush downhill, but then you have the bridge. All three are good courses and it just comes down to schedule, interest. Can’t beat Times Square for the NYC Half or finishing at the beach for NYRR Brooklyn.
and then, of course, there was DUMBO. Couldn’t get any better.
I won’t lie, the course wasn’t perfect. It was downright meanie in some spots with cobblestones in DUMBO, a mile long climb from ~8.5 to 10 and an out and back toward the end, but it was on that climb that the crowds were the absolute best. We passed borough hall and it was like Brooklyn came out to play. There were moments where it was like 1st Avenue on the Marathon or Times Square in the NYC Half and that was just awesome. Part of the questions around this race was whether NYC could support another race and the answer from a participant and spectator POV was an unqualified yes! Between both races, 19,297 runners finished. That’s just wonderful.
While I didn’t catch them before they moved to the finish, it was so nice to know I had friends on the course. And if you’re an SVU fan, enlarge the photo 😀
While water stations were plenty, I was glad to have my bottle because it was sunny and windy. That plus spring allergies meant dry mouth, which is such a distraction for me in a race. I also loved that they had Nuun on the course for a taste of sweet. While I hadn’t trained with that, I knew it was something my stomach and taste buds liked.
My personal course? Pretty good. I stuck with Mo and her fellow pacer for the first mile as I knew they were going to go out faster to allow for a slow down on the climb. And then I somehow got ahead of them. I didn’t feel like I was going too fast-but the course was flat, the landmarks were familiar and I was having a good day. There was some mental math going on especially when coming into and through DUMBO. I couldn’t believe it was only halfway as it felt like I had been out there a long time already.
As I came into the Park around mile 12 or so, I was passed by the 3:30 Marathon pacers and holy shit they fly. Fun to watch.
Other than the water stations, which I always walk since I have yet to learn to run and drink, and the cobbled street, I ran the entire thing! I did not expect that. Lesson learned: trust the taper, listen to the PT and get aches and pains looked at vs. turning yourself into a martyr and powering through for no good reason. I could have deferred, but I’m glad I didn’t because writing this a week later, I was in no extra pain from the race beyond Monday’s soreness.
I think I was actually looking for my friends at the finish, but given my love of run/dancing, Dancing Queen is absolutely in my head for the photo above. Goal of finishing smiling? Nah! 🙂 And yes, that is my beloved Frozen Penguin shirt. First race shirt + penguin = I’ll wear it until it rots. My mask was on my wrist which meant I mostly couldn’t see my watch, and that was good. Until I saw Mo on the out and back, I wasn’t sure whether they were ahead or behind me as I definitely slowed on the climb up to Grand Army Plaza.
My hill training is routinely sub par, but it was also non existent given the aches and niggles since the Central Park Half, so that was a given. If this course hadn’t been mostly flat, I don’t think I’d have tried it, but I’m so glad I did.
I have absolutely no idea where that came from, but my PT earned my race medal. But also, I’m proud of this weird training cycle. After Central Park I got in:
- 7.84 (cut short, heel issue)
- 10.09 (Cherry Blossom)
- 10.78 (yeah, should have been 12 but…)
The mileage was there-ish. This course was about the same altitude gain as Malibu (389/374 feet) but didn’t have the rolling hills, and it was much cooler. Brooklyn is also good to me as it’s home to three of my four fastest Halfs. I can either train on hills or find flatter courses if I’m serious about chasing a Half PR. I think I know the answer on that one.
What’s your favorite flat-ish Half Marathon?
They’re super fast, but they met me at Smorgasburg and I got to enjoy the awesome signs. We all met over SVU and it was fun to cement our two loves and do a race together.
Friends in town, busy work week and lots of walking. We had to walk a bunch out of the park, which definitely helped with post-race stiffness. As did dinner with Coco. I think we’ve met six? times now and forgotten to take a photo three or four of them. The Park is peak spring, and I loved the opportunity to walk through it. The running was mostly on the bridle path which feels so much better. Why not take care of our bodies? Walk breaks to take photos in the park? Absolutely.
I have nothing on the race schedule, although I will sign up for Pride and maybe the Mini. I’m planning on a fall Half, but in the mean time I’m going to take the distance breather I’ve been talking about since Malibu. My lower body needs the break and I don’t want the IT Band, heel issues to linger into fall. April was 83.58 miles, my least mileage on the year. I’ve run 367.57 miles on the year. That’s only ten more than this time last year, but it’s felt like a lot. I think some of that is balancing it re-entry into the real world with work events. Life is about balance. Not perfection.
Running is an outlet, don’t want it to be a to do.