Until yesterday, it didn’t really register for me that I was running the Brooklyn Half Marathon. I’ve run this race three two times before and didn’t love it either time, therefore deciding that I wouldn’t run it again. Until I made a alcohol influenced decision in Puerto Rico for Theodora’s 30th birthday. She saw everyone tweeting about it and convinced me to sign up for it. I figured that it would be a great way to keep me training after the New York City Half Marathon in March and kick off our vacation since we leave for Istanbul on Tuesday.
Well, training between March and now didn’t happen in a very organized fashion. NYC was definitely my PR race and I put my heart and muscles into training, following everything Gia coached me to do and making sure to log every run. Over the past two months I’ve enjoyed life. My workouts have been consistent, still squeezing in 5-6 workouts a week, but they’ve revolved around enjoyment versus a training plan. In addition to enjoying life the past three weeks have been filled with business travel which has meant that workouts have been shortened and a bit different.
Keeping all of this in mind, I decided to go into today’s half marathon with a positive, fun outlook. My only goal was to have a good time and finish.
Katie, my dear friend who was running her first half, met up with me bright and early for a trip over to Brooklyn. The day didn’t start out too wonderfully as I realized around 6am that we had no bread, bananas, or peanut butter. Fail. I made a small thing of oatmeal instead hoping this would work. I also forgot to grab water in my haste to leave so I could catch the subway downtown. I don’t think there was anyone other than runners on the subway line this morning.
By 7am we were in the corrals, ready for them to close at the planned 7:05am in advance of our 7:30 start since we were in wave 2. I have to give the New York Road Runners credit for their choice of starts and planning. The start was right near the subway station and each corral had plenty of portapotties, at least in the second wave.
Once we got into the corral we even found Kristin, my Philadelphia marathon buddy. She is always such a joy to be around, filled with positive energy. Katie and I were laughing non-stop for the 20 minutes we waited.
At 7:30 on the dot these pink running shoes all started their trek towards Coney Island. Katie decided that she wanted to start out slowly since it was her first half and she knew she had the energy to finish but wanted to enjoy every minute. Kristin and I both were focused on having fun but were toying with the idea of seeing how much we could push our speed. We decided we’d start together and split off if necessary.
The first seven miles were absolute bliss. The weather was overcast and cool though definitely humid. Kristin and I were either side by side or right in front of the other. Since she forgot her Garmin I would tell her our pace at the end of each mile. The first few miles before entering Prospect Park were speedy for us, under 9 minute mile pace. Once we hit Prospect Park I remembered it’s hidden hills, especially since my legs had just pushed through a 28:30 5k which is faster than my current 5k PR of 28:49. My goal for the park was to slow my speed a bit and focus on breathing and my music. The hills are no worse than Central Park so I knew it was nothing I couldn’t handle. I took a GU around mile 5.5 since my legs were feeling a bit heavy. At this point I heard someone yell hello and saw a smiling Katie at my side. As she’d predicted, the slow start had worked perfectly for her and now in the last 7 miles she was ready to drop her pace. Me, on the other hand, had just run a 59:34 10K which was also faster than my PR of 1:00:16.
As I crossed the 7 mile marker I had every emotion going through me. I knew that I was on track to run a sub 2:00 half marathon which is my long term half marathon goal. But, I also checked in with my body and realized just how exhausted I was. My heart rate was far too high, I felt nauseous, I was thirsty, and my legs were heavy. I told myself to just push on, get my pace closer to a 9:45 or 9:50 pace for a mile or two and then try and drop my pace past the 10 mile point.
Within minutes, everything started to get hazy and my right calf developed a horrible charley horse. When I saw the medical tent at mile 8 I knew I needed to pull over. I treated it like a drive through. I registered, sipped water, took some Pedialyte like substance they had for dehydration, promised them I’d run walk the rest, and then headed out within 5-6 minutes. I am a smarter runner than I was five years ago. I know my boundaries and I know when it’s stupid to push.
Since I knew a PR was no longer possible I went back to my original goals and focused on fun. I turned up my music, started taking pictures, took in the sights, and enjoyed motivating other runners.
How awesome is this woman’s outfit and sign? She was screaming and shouting like a crazy lady and I loved every second of it!
I told myself that I needed to keep moving and not risk further cramps by stopping. I took the advice of the medics and kept a run walk pattern until mile 13. I would run three quarters a mile and then walk a quarter of a mile while also grabbing water at the fluid stations.
As soon as I saw mile 13 I knew that I’d made it. I had pushed through the race and still enjoyed myself even though it wasn’t the race I expected. There were so many runners with whom I’d chatted during these final miles – motivating them to keep moving, talking about the great weather in comparison to previous years, and just enjoying ourselves. In the final quarter mile, along the Coney Island boardwalk, I found myself so thankful. Running is a sport which keeps me guessing each time I lace up my shoes. I never know what the run will hold but I find that I learn something from each run and race. Today I learned to respect any distance, whether it’s a 5k or a marathon. I thought for a brief few seconds that I could PR without training and that my friends isn’t smart. I’m pretty pleased that my 14th half marathon was my 3rd fastest even with the medical tent stop. This has lit a fire inside of me for next month’s Oakley 10k! I can already taste that PR!
Luckily, as I crossed the finish line I saw a familiar face and reunited with Kristin who had also had a less than stellar race. We decided to end the day in pure joy by dashing down to the ocean for a natural ice bath!
Your turn: What’s your favorite race distance? I am a huge fan of half marathons, especially when I train for them properly! It’s a challenging distance but it isn’t as large a commitment as a full marathon!