Rock’n’Roll Brooklyn Half Marathon Race Recap 2016

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Yesterday I had the opportunity to run the Rock’n’Roll Brooklyn Half Marathon for the second year in a row and it was once again a great half marathon right in my own borough.  This years race was even better than last years which says a lot as it was my favorite half marathon that I ran. Admittedly, last year’s inaugural RNR Brooklyn Half Marathon did not go off with a hitch as organizers faced multiple problems including a late start due to issues with ensuring clear roads.  This year it was clear that Rock’n’Roll took all the feedback to heart and did their best to improve.

I headed to the expo on Friday afternoon and while I didn’t love the Manhattan location at Penn Plaza, I will be the first to admit that it was far more convenient than last year’s expo in Greenpoint. The expo was smaller than last year with far fewer vendors, but I also found it to be very easy to navigate. Including the shopping we did in the official race shop, where I picked up a Brooklyn branded Brooks shirt, we were in and out in just 15 minutes.

Saturday morning I woke up at 5:30, got dressed, sipped coffee and made peanut butter and banana sandwiches which I ate while heading to the starting area at Grand Army Plaza. I took an Uber since I was running a few minutes behind schedule, and found myself at the VIP security entrance at the Brooklyn Library just 10 minutes later! I met Zoe minutes later and we quickly checked our bags and then head over to our corral, just in time to find Nicole and stretch before the race began. While we chatted, I made sure to do my pre-race stretching routine which I’ve done during each of my long runs over the past five weeks.

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Check out the gorgeous sunrise the 17,500 runners were treated to as we waited for the 7 AM start? I know the race directors couldn’t plan this but man was it a perfect way to start the race. The weather at the start was 65 degrees, overcast and slightly humid. My only goal for the race was to enjoy the 13.1 miles with Nicole and Zoe for as long as possible. They are both training for the New York City Marathon and therefore our pace would be around their long run pace. As I had a far shorter training cycle than normal for this half marathon, I told them that I would drop back if my glute started giving me any pain or I found it tough to maintain their pace.

rnr-brooklyn-pre-race

At 7:01 the three of us crossed the starting line together, each with one ear bud in our ear and smiles on our faces ready for a great race. As Zoe lives on the Upper West Side, we pointed out local landmarks and navigate the course as we ran through this year’s course. I prefer this course over the May NYRR Brooklyn Half as it includes a shorter stint on the very boring, monotonous Ocean Parkway.

rnr-brooklyn-2016-course

The first eight miles flew by as we talked about marathon training, favorite races and injuries. We kept a 9:55 pace, exactly on target with their long run training plans.  There were multiple water stops along the way as well as small bands and local cheerleading groups motivating the runners.  At mile 8.5 as we headed back towards Prospect Park following the turnaround point on Ocean Avenue,  Zoe and I urged Nicole to run ahead as she was having an especially strong race. The next five miles weren’t easy but as we turned back towards the park I just kept focusing on the massage waiting for us in the VIP area.

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When we entered Prospect Park at Mile 10 we were greeted by amazing cheerleaders, family members and supporters as well as the first signs of Fall. During those final miles I walked a 1/4 mile and ran 3/4 a mile to ensure that I was smart considering I only did 3 long runs in preparation for this half marathon.

I finished my 22nd half marathon in 2:14:14 and couldn’t have been more thankful. After fighting through injuries these past few months any day that my legs and body can carry me 13.1 miles is a great day, no to mention the wonderful conversations and laughter that Nicole, Zoe and I shared on the course.

After crossing the finish line we spent the next hour relaxing with fellow runners in the Westin Rock’n’Blog VIP experience which was the perfect way to end the morning. Zoe and I each enjoyed 10-minute massages, freshened up and dove into fruit and food before heading back towards the subway.

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rnr-brooklyn-with-dani

Thank you to Brooklyn and Rock’n’Roll for such a wonderful race and great half marathon!

Your turn – If you raced this weekend, how did it go? 

I was provided a bib and VIP entry as part of my partnership with Run Rock’n’Roll but as always the opinions in this post are my own. 

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JP Morgan Corporate Challenge Race Recap

jp morgan corporate challenge 2

On Wednesday night, I ran the JP Morgan Corporate Challenge with 14,999 other runners and walkers. While I’ve heard about the event for years, this was my first time participating. While I had a blast running with Meaghan and Ashley, this event unfortunately lived up to the rumors I’ve heard for years.

  • Too crowded
  • Takes forever to cross the starting line
  • Chaos in Central Park with people EVERYWHERE 

The race started at 7pm but we didn’t cross the starting line until 7:17, even though we were in one of the closer corrals. I have no idea how corrals were decided though it seemed that they were based on company versus pace so people could spend time with their co-workers while they waited for the race to begin.

jp morgan corporate challenge 1

The 3.2 mile course was the bottom loop, starting right at the Loeb Boathouse and finishing on the west side of the park, avoiding the park’s largest hills. Regardless of the wonderful course, this is not a PR course due to the huge crowds and the fact that many of the participants are first time racers. I loved seeing the people of all shapes and sizes out their with their co-workers but when people were walking in the first few minutes of the course – five people across – it made things pretty crowded and cramped.

jp morgan corporate challenge race route

Luckily, our plan for the race was to chat and enjoy ourselves. I knew that my legs would be tired from running the Brooks 5k just 12 hours earlier after a month long running hiatus. Due to the crowds in our corrals and on the course, we were only able to keep around a 10-minute pace. As we dodged people we passed the time by laughing at team t-shirts, taking in the sights and enjoying a warm, Summer evening in Central Park.

We finished in 31:05 (9:42 mins/mile) – a far cry from a PR or even typical pace for me pre-injury. But, as you can see from the picture below, the crazy course crowds didn’t stop us from having fun together!

jp morgan corporate challenge 3

If you’re trying to decide whether to run this race with your company, I would suggest that you do so but know what to expect. Focus on the time with colleagues more than the workout or race pace and you should have a great time! Some companies rented out area bars or restaurants for after parties which sounds like the ingredients for a perfect evening – a run in Central Park followed by beers!

Thank you to JPMorgan for the complimentary bib and VIP wrist band. All experiences and thoughts are my own.

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Flying Pig Half Marathon Recap

Yesterday I had the opportunity to my twentieth half marathon with my friend, Amy, who also ran my first half marathon with me nine years ago!

Flying Pig finishers
The Flying Pig Half Marathon has been on my race list for years. Many of my Procter & Gamble co-workers run or even pace this race each year since it takes place in Cincinnati, where our company is based.  This is the cities primary race and therefore locals passionately support the race through volunteering, spectating and running. Now that I’ve finally experienced the Flying Pig Half Marathon, I understand the hype.

Amy and I chose to run this half marathon together with no goals other than enjoying every mile. We each have a lot of pressure and demands going on outside of running these days and therefore have taken a step back from trying to set personal records during half marathons and instead focusing on the fun that can be had when two best friends spend 13.1 miles running together.

We set out our race gear Saturday night, unsure what Sunday morning would bring. The forecasters projected a wet weekend, including temps in the mid 50’s and rain during the race. We made a last minute Brooks purchase on Wednesday to ensure we’d have the necessary gear in case it rained.

Flying Pig race outfit

Race gear included: Lululemon Energy Sports Bra, Brooks Launch 3 shoes, Pro Compression Socks, Nike Tempo Shorts, Brooks Drift Jacket, Brooks Steady Short Sleeve Shirt, Brooks Sherpa hat and lots and lots of Glide

When we woke up bright and early Sunday morning we heard the rain drizzling. While we ate our typical pre-race peanut butter and banana toast we decided on a game plan for our race outfit.  Since it was raining we decided we’d play it safe and wear our rain gear, deciding we could always tie the jacket around our waist if the rain held off or we got too warm.

Flying Pig starting line views

There was no traffic heading from Madeira to downtown Cincinnati so we were able to easily find parking in a deck downtown by 5:45. As P&G employees we were able to quickly go into the downtown offices in order to use the bathroom one more time before heading down to the start. Since more than 40,000 people were signed up to run the half marathon and full marathon we knew that there would most likely be long lines for the bathrooms around the start. The walk to the starting line was about a mile, a perfect way to warm up our legs before the race.

Flying Pig pre race

We found our starting corral “Pig Pen C” and easily slid in just as the national anthem finished. Less than a minute later, at exactly 6:30 the elites crossed the starting line. I couldn’t help laughing as I looked around our corral as there were at least 50 people, men and women alike, dressed up as pigs. Lots of people ran in all pink, similar to us, but added pig tails, pig ears and even pig noses! It was such a sight to see! Due to the multiple “pens” we actually crossed just two minutes later, unheard of for a large race like this. As you can tell from the below picture, we are nerds who like to match when we run together. It makes it far easier to keep track of each other and the people cheering seem to love it too!

Flying Pig ready to run

Throughout the half marathon, there were multiple things that surprised me along the course and helped me understand why people rave about this race. The first mile brought the first delight – no bottlenecking! The entire course is very wideso there was no bottlenecking, a welcome change from many races I run back in New York.

The second mile brought the first of many delights – a water station and bathroom at EVERY single mile. I have never seen so many water and Gatorade stations in a race, even Summer races. Due to the wide course the stations never got in the way and runners could easily run to one side of the road to avoid them. The volunteers at these stations were so friendly, offering support in addition to the water.  While we never stopped to use the bathroom, we both noticed that there were never more than 2-3 people in line for the bathrooms due to their frequency – another nice change from most races.

Flying Pig half marathon elevation

The first few miles of the race were a gradual incline with the only noticeable inclines being the bridge we crossed over the Ohio River, leading us into Kentucky and then the bridge we took back into Ohio a few miles later. At the second mile marker Amy and I realized that we’d made a bad choice in wearing both a hat and waterproof running jacket as we were sweating buckets. The sun was shining and the temperature quickly rose from 55 to 69 by mile 2. We tied the jackets around our waist for the rest of the race – a first for me.  Anytime we walked through a water station I would use the opportunity to tighten the jacket since it was constantly slipping down my hips. Oh well, live and learn.

The third thing that impressed me with this race was the level of crowd support. In many half marathons, there are clumps of crowds but rarely are the crowds throughout the entire race course. Whether it was the outskirts of Cincinnati or through the Kentucky miles, there were people everywhere! My favorite group of supporters were the elderly who cheered outside of their nursing home. Their signs were hilarious!

nursing home cheer squad

After crossing back into Ohio and downtown Cincinnati, mile five was filled with spectators as well as the anticipation leading into the arduous climb that would meet us beginning at mile 5.5.  During the mile 5 water station I took the opportunity to stretch my left hamstring and glute in preparation for the hills.

Flying pig downtown

The next few miles were the prettiest of the course as we climbed through Mt. Adams towards the Cincinnati Art Museum and Eden Park. I knew that we would be rewarded at the top with gorgeous views so instead of focusing on the incline we just chatted our way to the top enjoying the spectators and reminding each other how lucky we are to have each other as running partners who have run multiple races together in different states over the years. up the hill

Flying half marathon views

gorgeous views

The rest of the race is downhill as the course leads you back down towards Cincinnati. There were constant spectators and high school bands including a fun balloon arch across the course with the local football players and cheerleaders cheering. There were also a few groups giving out orange slices and Twizzlers! During the final few miles I definitely started to slow the pace a little bit due to some nagging in my left glute and hamstring. Unfortunately the constant foam rolling, stretching and deep tissue massage didn’t solve the issue so the last thing I wanted to do was injure myself during the race.  We both were also feeling a bit of fatigue in our legs since neither of us logged very many long runs over the past few weeks so miles 10-13 included jamming to our Spotify playlist and high fiving all the kids.

Flying Pig medal

Finally, we turned back to towards the waterfront area for the final dash to the finish line. We crossed the finish line in 2:15:17. While this is 15 minutes off my PR time, it is around what we expected since we ran for fun, conquered some crazy hills, enjoyed the sights, and talked throughout the race. It was a very different experience, and great reminder about the joy of running. Many other races, where I’ve targeted a specific goal, are a blur as I’m so focused on pace and conserving energy.  If you are looking for a new Spring half marathon to add to your schedule next year, the Flying Pig Marathon race weekend includes a race for everyone – 5k, 10k, half marathon, and marathon distances. Even though it is a hilly race, if you can spend the winter months focusing on hill training, this is definitely a race where many of my co-workers have PR’d or even BQ’d during this race!

Your turn: What race is on your wish list for 2016 and beyond? 

Thank you to the Flying Pig Marathon for providing a complimentary bib to this race. While I was provided a complimentary bib, the reviews are entirely my own.

 

 

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