January 29, 2012

Race Report: Brooklyn Hot Chocolate 10K

After a week of long hours and little sleep, clearly the best activity for a Friday was… going out for drinks and not catching up on sleep. Oops! Last night was the monthly meeting of my women’s beer tasting group, The Real Alewives of New York City. We convened at Local 61, a new bar in Brooklyn that had a pretty neat vibe, and I enjoyed a few new-to-me brews. Total count of unique beers I’ve tried is now 256 – definitely on track for my target of 400 by the end of the year!

I had planned to head home around 9pm to get a good night’s sleep… until my roommate texted me that she was just at a bar just a block away. It didn’t take much to convince me to go hang out at the other bar with my roommate and her boyfriend, and I had a great time, but didn’t get home and to bed until midnight (takes a wihle to get home from Brooklyn). Midnight was not at all early enough for the 6am wakeup I had for this morning’s race!

I woke up this morning feeling absolutely exhausted (hmmm, wonder why), but got my act together and headed for the subway. Hopstop had told me 45 minutes from my apartment to Prospect Park, where the race was being held. I needed to do day-of packet pickup, which we were asked to do at 7:15am, so I was pretty much going to arrive just in time (but hoped they would be lenient in case I arrived at 7:20am or so, which would still be 40 minutes before the race start at 8am). I lucked out with timing, arriving at the station one minute before the train… but then discovered that all 2 trains were running local instead of express. And discovered that there was a ton of track work going on and so we kept stopping and holding for long periods of time. I sat on the train for over an hour, getting more and more concerned about my ability to make the start.

Across from me was another runner, equally stressed and checking his watch, so I asked him if he was headed to the race too, thinking that having someone else in the same boat might make me feel better. However, when he heard that I hadn’t picked up my packet yet, he gasped and looked horrified – apparently he had picked up his bib the day before, and was that stressed just about getting to the race on time. Me and my need to still do packet pickup? Well, I was just a goner.

We finally got off the train at 7:40am and headed into Prospect Park – we had about a mile to walk from the train to the bag drop/packet pickup. Panic was rising in me with every step, and I called my friends to see how much further I had to go. Meanwhile, I was thinking all kinds of negative and horrible thoughts about Brooklyn and the outer boroughs in general – why did it have to be so hard to get there? Luckily, I made it to packet pickup with ten minutes to spare – and found a line of runners who had the same problems getting there. Whew! Huge relief.

Once I affixed my bib and checked my bag with extra sweats, I headed to the start with Jocelyn and Laura. Halfway there, we were joined by Susan and Betsy – running blogger party! We caught up on all the latest as we walked to the start, and with no fanfare that I could hear (though we were way in the back), we were off.

The timing mats didn’t go all the way across the road, and since we were all running side by side in the crowd at the start (don’t worry, I’d never do that once a race actually thins out), most of us didn’t run directly over the timing mats. We realized this a bit late, and wondered if we should go back, but decided to just keep going. We later found out that was a really good decision – turns out, the timing mats didn’t work and so the whole “race” was turned into a fun run as a result! Bummer that no official results were kept, but I at least had my Cardiotrainer app on my phone to get my own time. What I did not have? Working headphones – I forgot that I broke mine in Bermuda, and didn’t remember until I pressed play on my music and got no sound. I was glad this was only a 10K, where no music wouldn’t be a huge deal.

Before even getting to the starting line, I had very low ambitions for this race. Given how exhausted I was and all the trouble I had that morning, my goal was just to finish under 62 minutes – aka, keep an average pace under 10 minutes per mile. The race started with a not-very-steep but kind-of-long uphill, and I was tired right from the beginning. Since I didn’t have working headphones anyway, I couldn’t hear the updates on my pace and splits from my phone, so I decided to just run without checking my time and just have a nice easy day of it.

But then I realized I had made another tactical error in putting my gloves into my drop bag instead of wearing them to run. What was I thinking?? Hands are not a body part that tends to heat up much when you run, so I had doomed myself to frostbite during this race. (Is it possible to get frostbite after only an hour outside when it’s a not-THAT-cold-you-whiny-baby 40 degrees?) Instead of running totally easy, I decided to at least hustle a little bit – the faster I ran, the sooner I’d be done and back to my checked bag and my gloves.

Mile 1 turned out to be the toughest of the race, thanks to that minor hill – the rest of the loop was mostly flat or downhill. Running without music was a teensy bit boring, but I entertained myself with the super obnoxious and random song that was stuck on a loop in my head (“O Little Town of Bethlehem.” Wish I were making that up – I have no idea where it came from) and people watching. My favorite of the race was the guy who was running alone and coaching himself by talking out loud, saying things like, “You can do it! Halfway there!” His positive resolve didn’t last the race though – on lap 2, I caught back up with him (having been passed by him when I walked through the water station) at the hill, and found him saying a string of expletives as he tried to make it up. Seriously, dude? The hill was a minor one – enough to make you work hard, but not enough to warrant that!

Just before reaching the hill, though, was the halfway point in the race – and I checked my phone to see my time for 3.1 so I could log it for Adam’s Freeze Your Thorns Off 5K Virtual Race. 3.1 miles in 25:07, or an 8:06 average pace. WHOA! I was going a lot faster than I planned. Realizing this, I started belatedly setting some new goals for the race – could I finish under 55 minutes? As I went through miles 4 and 5, it became apparent that I could – and in fact, I might even finish somewhere in the 52 minute range. Given that my 10K PR is 52:04, I couldn’t believe I’d even come close to that – especially with the stars being not-at-all-aligned for this race.

With a speedy time of 7:44 in the final mile, I finished the entire race in 52:48 – WOW! Laura was cheering for me as I crossed the line (having finished in a crazy impressive sub-48), but the finish excitement was dampened by the guy calling out gun times as each person crossed – and this was where I found out that we hadn’t been timed at all. What a bummer! I wanted that finish on the official log books, and I also wanted to see how I had done compared to others. I knew I wouldn’t have won an award or anything like that, but it still would have been neat to see how I stacked up.

On my way over to the hot chocolate tent, I bumped into Frank and Emmy – who were doing the run as part of a longer 30 mile run day! Frank snapped a quick pic of me, which turns out to be the only one I got of the race.

Leaving Frank and Emmy to head off for many many more miles of running, I caught back up with my group at the Pavilion.

While opinions were mixed, I loved the super sweet hot chocolate they were giving out. It’s been a while since I’ve had hot chocolate, since I usually prefer not to drink my calories (except for alcohol), and this totally hit the spot – so much that I finished Laura’s, when she healthfully decided she didn’t really want it. While the hot chocolate had actually filled me up pretty well, our group continued on to brunch at a little diner in Brooklyn that seemed pretty popular. So much for the run burning off calories – I think I ate it all back! Haha.

The rest of the day, I lazed around home – reading, catching up on work, cleaning my room, and packing for the week. I didn’t mind the downtime at all though – tomorrow is a jam packed day (Athleta run followed by a 10 mile run to the Mac & Cheese Takedown followed by a date!). Plus, tonight is going to be a very special night – I’m headed to check out one of the top restaurants in NYC, Per Se, with a few friends! I’m excited to dress up in formal attire and try Thomas Keller’s incredible creations, and this is one occasion where I’ll try to take pictures of my food for the blog. It’s going to be a great night!


4 thoughts on “Race Report: Brooklyn Hot Chocolate 10K”

  1. hahahah I don’t know what’s funnier, little town o’ bethlehem or the guy coaching himself…i’d say it’s a tie!

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