*Running Post!* This past weekend, I ran. I ran in my first NYC race, my first race in almost exactly a year (which was not planned), and my fifth half marathon since I started running half marathons in 2013. It was also my slowest half marathon yet (by (I’m not kidding) two one-hundredths of a second). Let me tell you all about it!
If I had to sum up the Airbnb Brooklyn Half Marathon in only one word, I would say “crowded.” Which makes sense, it’s the biggest half marathon in America. The one of the plus side of a race in a city with 8 million people is that your cheering section is bigger and more energetic. The downside is that the running pack never thins out.
In my experience, races are always chaotic in the beginning. You’re full of adrenaline and ready to start running, only to find yourself weaving in and out of people, avoiding being trampled by the sprinters, and trying not to trample the walkers (WHY DON’T THE WALKERS START IN THE BACK?!). In the largest half marathon in America, this process of finding your pace and spreading a little thinner later in the race just never happens.
In a way, it was kind of nice. I tended to see some familiar people as we stopped for water or adjusted our paces. But I also really like that feeling of finding your pace, focusing on a few runners up ahead of you, and zoning out to just run. I had to stay alert for most of the race so as not to step on anyone’s feet or dart in front of anyone to pass another runners; this alertness makes it kind of hard to zone out.
Apart from the crowd, I really enjoyed this race. This training cycle was a little rough, hence the slowest-time-yet thing, but the race itself and the route and the energy was all pretty wonderful. We started at the Grand Army Plaza on the North end of Prospect Park, spent the first 10K-ish running through the park (which is so beautiful and reminds me of Iowa), and then ran down the Ocean Pkwy to Coney Island. Something I learned: running on a highway is exciting at first, but then gets pretty boring. Something else I learned: the Atlantic Ocean offers pretty great incentive to finish a race. I swear when I came to one of the last turns on Surf Ave, I smelled the ocean in the air and my crazy-sore legs felt a tiny bit lighter.
Another disclaimer: the reason I’m not super upset about my time is because I knew this wasn’t going to be a personal best for me a long time ago. This training cycle was unfortunately riddled with complications; I think I chose a training plan that increased my mileage a little too quickly, so less than a month after I started I was already cutting runs short/cross training because of various pains.
That ended up being a trend; I’d run too much too soon, be in pain, take a week off to do the stair machine, then try and start running too far too soon again, leading to another random pain, etc. I sound like a hypochondriac, but this was actually one of my smarter training cycles in terms of listening to my body. I didn’t push myself to the point of injury, even though I probably could have a few times.
That’s why I’m not too upset with my time; I knew it wasn’t fated to by my sub-2-hour half way back in February or March, so I felt much less pressure and was able to really enjoy this run. I am a little salty that I was 0.02 seconds from beating my Marion Arts Festival time though… two one hundredths… that may haunt me for a bit. Ultimately, I just love running and races like this one remind me of that. I promise not to go another entire year without a race (although in my defense, it’s been a crazy year.)
Anyway: 2 hours, 18 minutes, and 20 seconds later, I finished my fifth half marathon with a view of the ocean and some extra motivation to train smarter next time. ◊