May 4, 2008

Race Report: Brooklyn Half Marathon

I woke up at 6:30 this morning feeling kind of tired. No big surprise there. In addition to all the drinking, I had only gotten 5 hours of sleep on Wednesday night, 4 hours on Thursday, and when I finally got home last night after all the flight problems, I chatted with my roommate and didn’t get to sleep till 1. Still, I wasn’t hungover, which was a plus. And I was psyched!

I headed to the subway, and when I switched trains at Rockefeller Center, I found that there were about 6 other runners in my car. Two of them were pretty cute, so I took a seat near them, and eventually we got to talking. Like me, they had done the other two in the five borough series (Manhattan and the Bronx), and didn’t want to screw up their streak by skipping out on today’s. We kept chatting, and I discovered that one of the guys had the same goal as me (to finish under 2 hours, and to finish at an 8:59 or faster pace). So we decided to be pace buddies, and take turns pushing each other. I’ve never done a race with someone else (except when I did the Midnight Run and didn’t care about my time), so I was excited. And he was pretty darn cute too!

About an hour later, we got to Coney Island (crazy how long it can take you to get around NYC!). I had never been to Coney Island before, and it was pretty cool – I really want to go again sometime this summer and do the touristy boardwalk and amusement park rides thing. The guys and I split up for a bit (them to use the portapotty, me to do packet pickup and baggage check). At the baggage check, a near fiasco ensued when the buses started leaving early. I was in line at bus 7 (the buses were assigned based on the last digit of your race bib), and all these people kept cutting in line. I didn’t really mind, because I thought we had plenty of time, but then the bus driver suddenly was like “that’s it… I’m leaving.” Everyone in line started panicking, and we yelled at him a little bit to point out that we had been in line and other people were cutting. Fortunately, one woman who was already on the steps of the bus said, “quick, give me your bags!” And so we all just started passing our bags to her assembly-line style as she threw them in, while the bus driver complained. I knew it would be a nightmare later to find my bag since I didn’t know where it had been thrown, but at least it was on the bus.

I headed back to our meeting place at a tree near the portapotties, and got a little worried when I didn’t see the guys – I thought I had taken too long at the bag drop and that they gave up on waiting for me. However, I decided to wait for a while in case I was wrong. I think I saw TK from Pigtails Flying, but I wasn’t positive, and I had suddenly developed a major case of shyness. By the time I got up the courage to say hi, she had disappeared into the crowd. Sorry TK!

The guys showed up in a bit (the lines at the portapotties had been ridiculous long), and we headed up to the boardwalk where the starting line was. I was excited to test out the new corral system that NYRR implemented, but… it was kind of a mess. They started collapsing the corrals about 15 minutes before the start, which was before most people had lined up. So even though my pace buddy and I were slated to be in the orange corral, the sign for the orange corral was filled with people from the pink corral (about three corrals back). We finally just jumped in at a point where we saw a lot of orange bibs, but it really wasn’t very separated – there were a ton of bibs of all colors (faster and slower) mixed in. The gun went off… and we stood there for a bit. I’ve learned to expect that in races, but I was a little surprised because I thought the corrals would mean that everyone could just start running simultaneously. Still, while I didn’t cross the start at a run, within 100 feet I was running, and I didn’t have to do too much bobbing and weaving. I guess the corral systems work!

The weather was cool and cloudy, but very humid, so I got pretty hot right away. However, that gave me the opportunity to tease my speedy running buddy using Vanilla’s patented “Wow, you’ve got me all hot and sweaty right now.” I don’t think he really got the joke though, as he had headphones on and had a hard time hearing me.

So the first three miles were right on the boardwalk, which meant there were some beautiful beach views… but we couldn’t really look, because we had to focus on watching for loose boards and sand pits on the boardwalk. I saw a guy who looked to be in his 70s take a tumble, and I was about to stop to help him, but a bunch of other runners had already done that, so I kept going. Scary though! When we turned off the boardwalk onto the road, there was this fantastic runner near me who yelled “Woo hoo, no more loose boards! Come on, y’all, let’s hit the roads!” Definitely gave us a little boost of energy.

Another fun(ny) runner was this girl that we were right behind from miles 3 to 5. She had on those running shorts that have big slits on the sides and then are kind of loose. I have never liked those because they look like they could fly up and expose your butt, and sure enough… it was windy enough that they were basically showing her butt off as if they were a thong. Amusing.

In the first few miles, we had really been pushing it. We were aiming for an 8:45 pace, but did the first five miles at about a 7:45 pace. Crazy! Unfortunately, that pace was taking a toll on me, and my legs were hurting. That was surprising to me – usually I don’t feel soreness in my legs till after a race; it’s my lungs that are the limiting factor. I kept pushing it, and was even leading the way with my pace buddy. But then around mile 8 we hit the end of the straight road… and had to take an exit ramp uphill to get to Prospect Park. I started falling behind, and somewhere on the exit ramp I completely lost it and just slowed way down, leaving my pace buddy… well, not behind, but ahead. I was really disappointed never to find him again, but he had a bit of an unusual name so I was able to be stalkerish and find his full name in the results, which I then used to find him on Facebook. He accepted my friend request, wrote on my wall, and sent me a message inviting me out for drinks! Stay tuned for more on my new running romance.

So remember how my run was being fueled by champagne, vodka, and tequila? (P.S. I want to make a t-shirt that says that for future day-after-drinking races). I think I must have also had some jungle juice yesterday, because when I sipped some Gatorade, it made me feel awful… as if I had had it the day before with alcohol. That’s why I never drink cranberry juice or orange juice the day after drinking – because that’s usually what I drank the night before. And I don’t care what they say – hair of the dog just does not work. After my first sip of Gatorade, I stuck to water for the rest of the run.

As we entered Prospect Park, I looked terrible. I was exhausted, going at a slow pace, and just trying not to give up and walk. I felt like spectators were looking at me with pity, which was no fun, and all around me, runners were passing me. About a mile into the park, we hit a point where the course had looped around and there was a little overlap, so we got to see some fast runners finishing. I saw a big sign for the Running Center, and a woman with a big “Coach Mindy” t-shirt on. I’m not sure where I first heard of the Running Center and Coach Mindy, but I felt like I had seen a celebrity 🙂

Unfortunately, I really hit a low at that point. Prospect Park was hilly! I wish I had known to save some energy, because I was just totally spent. I really must have looked awful, because heading up one hill, another runner grabbed my hand and was like “come on, you can do it! This is the last bad hill!” I stayed with her for a few paces, but then encouraged her to go on ahead because I was just sucking. Anyway, she turned out to be a big fat liar, because that was just the beginning of the hills. The tenth mile was probably the longest mile I’ve ever done – it just seemed to go on forever. I even had given up on seeing the 11th mile marker, and assumed that it had blown over and I was coming up on mile 12, when I saw it and started cursing (silently, in my head). It wasn’t until mile 13 that I was able to speed up at all, and my usual kick when I saw the finish was just slightly faster than my normal pace instead of being an all-out sprint.

I’m happy to have PRed, but disappointed that it was by so little. The Brooklyn course is known as a great course for a PR, so I was hoping to PR by more than a minute. Ah well… that’s what I get for fueling my run with champagne.

Tomorrow: the Providence half-marathon! I’m going to bed right after posting so I hopefully won’t be exhausted. Will I PR? Will I have to walk most of it? Will the weather report be accurate and it will be raining and thunderstorming (“Definite Light Rain Showers, Slight Chance Thunderstorms, Patchy Fog. Chance of precipitation: 100%”)? I have no idea. This is one grand experiment and I’m super excited.

Race stats:
Distance: 13.1 miles
Time: 1:57:15
Pace/mile: 8:57
Overall place: 3086/5832
Age group place: 467/1186

Other race reports (more to come):
Jenny at Triaspirational
TK at Pigtails Flying
Brooklyn Runner at Brooklyn Running
Michael at Timed Run
RunDangerously at Run Dangerously
Runner NYC at My Trips and Races
Paul at PLe1der Blog
Amanda at Poked and Prodded


9 thoughts on “Race Report: Brooklyn Half Marathon”

  1. Great job :-)!! I must admit, I said a mini-prayer hoping you’re alright… dehydration from alcohol scares the crud outta me!!! You are so the rock star!!

  2. Great job, but next time be sure to go out a bit more conservatively so you’ll have energy to totally kick a$$! It’s tough to do when you’re caught up in the excitement of the start, but it really works. Just remember you’ll eventually pass all those runners who went out too quickly in the beginning.

  3. Laura, I know what you mean … I train every day in Prospect Park and it still wore me out … the last few miles were totally killer. But you did great! Congrats on your PR and your TWO halfs in two days. Insane 🙂

  4. Even though I had run in Prospect Park fairly recent, it was truly with HORROR that I realized just how hilly it seems at the end of a half-marathon! Good work on the run–I am thinking that Staten Island is going to be a great one for a PR, that’s when I’m going to go all out (partly to get a good estimate of suitable marathon pacing for Philadelphia in November…)

  5. Wow! That was your first of 2 and you PRed? Congratulations! Those hills can kill you if you’re not prepared for them. You’ll tear it up next year!

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