I know I said 4 years ago that Brooklyn would “never be my borough” Well, I can admit when I’ve been wrong, because the Brooklyn Half course version 2.0…well as I said in my previous post-reverse the course=reverse the curse? It did indeed. My 3rd time running this race, 1st time on the new course-I finally had both a race performance and time I was happy with. (Not to mention a great post-race party!)
So with all intentions of getting to sleep early on Friday nite…ah that didn’t happen-no not because of friends IMing me 😉 …but more because I was sucked in by the Yanks-Mutts game, dammit! But I did eventually get to sleep and actually did wake up an hour before my alarm and went back to sleep…alarm went off at 4 am and I actually got up without a problem…went through the normal pre-race routine and then headed out the door to catch the Flyers bus…listening to some cool songs on the iPod on the walk over (yes, “Tik Tok” was one of them…lol)
The bus was a coupla minutes late getting to the UWS, but still made it to Prospect Park with plenty of time to spare and with no directional issues or getting lost. Found the baggage trucks to drop our mini-plastic bags off (yep, had to sorta pack light this time…) and then me and Flyer EG wanted to head to the start in order to get a good starting position in our respective corrals…though there were no signs indicating where the start was!! After originally walking in the wrong direction and back-tracking, we saw lotsa people walking south and figured that was where the start was…saw the corrals in the distance so that was right 🙂 So by the time we got there, the corrals were almost empty…hmmm so much for everyone having to be lined up by 6:30 (yeah, the “checklist” says 6:50 now, but I could swear it originally said 6:30!) And honestly, the corrals were not really being policed…like I walked right in to the yellow corral and no one checked my number. And I bet my teammate who was a coupla corrals back could have lined up with me and nobody would check. Saw and chatted with Moz for a few minutes (and he would go on to run a great race!) and Maria was lined up with me-she was just doing this as a long run to practice for kicking some Vermont City a$$ next weekend 🙂 And of course, other familiar faces…other Flyers, AU from the Rez Dogs…was like a little party in the corrals 🙂 But before we could race, we had to, of course, listen to all the speeches…Mary Wittenberg, Brooklyn president Marty Markowitz…and oh yeah the singing of the National Anthem (with the lyrics flubbed again!!) And a coupla minutes later “on your marks” and the sound of the horn…about 50 secs later, cross the start and hoping for the best today…
Part I-Prospect Park, Loop 1
So I didn’t want to get too caught up in the downhill first mile…but I figured if I do that under 8, I’m off to a good start. My teammates DM and JJ were running with me for the first few minutes and DM even joked that I was gonna pace them…but they both eventually pulled ahead and I let them go-didn’t want to take any chances with the hills early on. So I was happy with both the mile 1 and the mile 2 split, as mile 2 had the evil hill and I just wanted to get that mile under 8. But unfortunately in mile 2, I saw my teammate DC and Lam (who was supposed to be pacing her to a 1:30) by the side of the road and it looked like there was something wrong with her. I yelled out “are you guys OK?” and Lam said they were fine…though eventually I found out that DC had to take a DNF 😦 Anyway, got through the evil hill and knew I’d only have to deal with it one more time, and enjoyed the downhill reward…things were looking very good so far. One loop down, one to go. And let me say-I was very pleasantly surprised by the amount of people out in Prospect Park cheering-it was a great boost, and it really shows the support for this race, that so many people were out before 8 am spectating!! So to all the spectators and cheerleaders-thank you! 🙂
Part II-Prospect Park, Loop 2
So even though the temps were pretty decent (around 60) and it was cloudy, the humidity was deadly and I felt it. After 2 miles that were over 8 minutes, I decided to not wait til mile 8 and take a gel now. Luckily, I had brought 2 gels with me in case I lost one and it may have been good fortune that I did…I felt with the humidity being what it was, it may have to be a 2-gel day. And I felt better in mile 7 (as the mile split showed!) May have been because of the downhill or because I knew I was a mile away from exiting the park!! We were starting to lap slower runners and I will say that the crowd control was excellent-the course marshalls really did a good job in keeping those starting their second loop and those exiting the park separate. Mile 7 was on the road heading out of the park and I was through 7 miles in 54:52 (7:50 pace)…ok, awesome. My plan was to get through Prospect Park under 8’s, then pick up the pace on Ocean Parkway…and so far I was right on track. Maybe I can get under 7:45s?
(Note-even though it may look like my pacing in the park was all over the place, the splits were very terrain-specific. And yes, that long run I did with 4 trips up the evil Prospect Park hill did help!)
Part III-Ocean Parkway
Ah crap, I forgot about that ramp to get onto Ocean Parkway. And just when I thought I was done with hills! 🙂 But still was nothing compared to the “evil hill” 😉 Coach DC from Urban was out riding his bike and cheered me on. Off the ramp and onto the Parkway…one that we don’t have to pay tolls on…just run down 😛 Just 5 and change miles of open road ahead of me til I get to the boardwalk. Even though a lot of the street signs had letters on them, I tried to avoid looking at them and playing the “alphabet game” (sorta “counting down” how many to go)…just run.
Even though Prospect Park was filled with spectators, Ocean Parkway was actually pretty quiet. Though it was good to see some familiar faces from Manhattan cheering. RB (aka Dr. Evil) was around mile 8 taking pictures…yes, I actually smiled for the camera 🙂 Not too long after, I saw LG and GA from Urban, and that was actually a nice surprise to see them. And LG told me later that I “really looked comfortable”…ah looks are deceiving!! Or I can’t resist smiling for my fans.
Yeah, Ocean Parkway was tougher than I thought!! It actually felt slightly uphill…funny, I thought going the other direction felt slightly uphill too!! Or maybe it was the elements getting to me, or maybe the fact this was the longest race I’ve done in a long time. But I just kept going. Barring a disaster, I had 1:45, now it’s just how far under can I go. Took my 2nd gel and did some quick math at the 10-mile mark (1:18:09)…hmmm unless I can signficantly pick it up for the last 5K, 7:45s may be out. Let’s see what happens…well after the legs could only crank out a 7:48 and 7:49 for miles 11 and 12, I thought, well maybe I can beat my 2008 Philly Distance Run time of 1:42:20…it’s gonna be close though!!
Part IV-Coney Island Boardwalk to the finish line
last .1 mile-:49
At the 12-mile mark, I could start to feel the finish line calling my name. One more mile. Less than 10 minutes. I can do that. Finally the turn onto Surf Ave and then another left, up the ramp, onto the boardwalk…heard “Nothing But a Good Time” by Poison playing and that actually made me smile.
The boardwalk. 2 years in a row, it tore up my calves and left me in pain for a good part of the race. This year, none of that (of course it helped there was less than a mile on the boardwalk and I had an almost 12-mile warmup and it was warmer out!) I did feel the boards moving (though I tried to stay on the part where the boards were straight instead of slanted for as long as I could)…normally I can really gun those last 1.1 miles, but I think I had to step off the accelerator a little bit to prevent from wiping out. And even though the crowds were great here (thx AP for cheering!), the scenery was very nice…this mile just seemed to last forever!! I think my legs were tired of the boardwalk 😛 Finally, the Mile 13 sign and I can see the finish line!! Did the best I could for a finishing kick while staying vertical at the same time…finished!!
Final time-1:42:27 (7:49 pace)-just missing my 2008 PDR time (I blame the boardwalk…thats where I left those 7-8 seconds! 😛 ) But much more important-3rd best half time ever AND first time breaking 1:45 on a hilly course. I’ve only done it on a flat course (PDR) or net downhill (the old Vegas course) And to do it on a course that caused me such grief and pain in the past? Revenge is sweet!
Part V-The Post-Race Party
Everybody was in really good spirits afterwards and ready to have some Coney Island fun. First off, me and Flyers EG, CN, KM and JR headed over to the ocean…while a couple of them had a desire to go swimming, I just wanted to dip my legs in the Atlantic to give them a nice ice bath 🙂 While it was eventually deemed that the water was too cold for swimming, it felt absolutely awesome on my legs.
But the best was yet to come-a lot of Flyers (and other teams, I saw) congregated at Beer Island to toast ourselves and our races. And I saw they had Honey Moon (the summer seasonal Blue Moon variety) on draft…score!!! Just a lot of fun kicking back, having a few beers by the beach in the morning with a bunch of friends…love it!! A few of us were saying how we may need to make this an ending point for some long runs this summer 🙂 Anyway, once done drinking, a few of us wanted to partake in some Coney Island cuisine…originally wanted some Totonno’s pizza but the wait there was gonna be ridiculous. No worries…next best thing-Nathan’s hot dogs!! After some dogs and fries, we were all ready to make the trek back to Manhattan and ready for some well-deserved naps.
As for the race itself, although I missed that time goal (PDR 2008) by seconds, I do think it was a much better performance, as that previous one was on a flat course and after 2 1/2 months of marathon training (for NYCM 2008.) This at least shows that I’m in decent shape heading into Chicago training, and I may not have to train as crazy hard as I thought. Don’t get me wrong, it won’t be easy. But I don’t think I have to train as hard as I did last year and just may be able to escape injury this time around. Only thing I might have liked was the miles along Ocean Parkway to be a little faster…but I know I left it all out there. Gotta be satisfied with that.
And I give a huge thumbs up to the Brooklyn half, version 2.0. The curse has been broken, and I am looking forward to running this one again next year!