Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Brooklyn Half-Marathon Race Report

I don't think any race on the NYRR calendar this year has been as hyped up as the Brooklyn Half-Marathon. Well, at 4am on Saturday it was finally time to check out the hype. After a long ride on a 5am local train packed to the gills with runners I arrived at the Brooklyn Museum. I honestly could not believe the number of porta-potties (not all the runners were there yet--soon I couldn't believe their numbers). It felt more like a big city marathon than an outer-borough half. Before I get to the meat of my race report let me say a big hats off to NYRR for putting together a really well-run event.

The start corrals on Eastern Parkway
Somehow I found my teammates though I missed warming up with them because I had to wait in line for one last bathroom visit. After a brief warm-up on my own I made my way to the corrals. There may have been 15000 runners but since I was in the first corral with a bunch of my teammates it was easy enough to find folks. I even saw one of my running buddies, Bobby, who was there to cheer. Unfortunately I missed him on course later.

After a string of local politicians told us to "run smart," it was time for the start. Several of us had decided to go out at between a 1:24 and 1:25 pace. This was pretty conservative given that most of us have PRs several minutes lower. The first mile of the course is a mix of gentle downhill and uphill. I felt okay but not great--it wasn't effortless like the way I felt the last time I PR'd in the half. I passed mile 1 in 6:30 and we headed towards Grand Army Plaza. As I looped back around the circle for mile 2 in 6:23 I was beginning to "feel Boston" in my legs. Still, I was trying to hang with my teammates for as long as possible. That's why I did mile 3 in 6:10.

As we ran around the outside of Prospect Park, I started to convince myself that there was no point in trying so hard since it was clear my legs weren't going to let me PR or even break 1:23. I was running with one of my teammates who had also done Boston and I figured I would stick with him and then reassess. We entered the park and I did mile 4 in 6:28. I knew the only real hill of the race wasn't too far ahead and I think I started slowing accordingly. Miles 5 and 6 were 6:47 and 6:45 respectively.

As the course headed south again I realized I had lost my teammates, though several passed me at this point. I did mile 7, the last full mile in the park, in 6:25. As we exited onto Park Circle I saw several teammates out cheering which was awesome. I smiled and made the turn onto Ocean Parkway. All I could think about was the long stretch of monotonous miles ahead of me. I never felt bad but I never felt the rush that I expect in a race--it never felt like I had truly hit my stride.

My miles on Ocean Parkway went by in 6:33 (mile 8), 6:42 (mile 9), 6:40 (mile 10), 6:33 (mile 11), and 6:38 (mile 12). At one point I saw Matt, one of the team captains. I had run with him earlier and he had gone ahead but a pit stop had lost him some time. I said hi but didn't try to keep up. Instead of worrying about my time I made my goal to thank as many volunteers as possible. At mile 12 there was a large group of Whippets members cheering which was tons of fun.

Before I knew it I was turning onto Surf Avenue for the final stretch. I saw the "800m to go" sign and then it was time to turn onto the Coney Island Boardwalk. I charged up the ramp--probably the only time I passed anyone in the final 5 miles--and could see the finish. The time was getting close to 1:26 and I decided I had to have a finish time with a 1:25 in it so I picked it up and crossed with a net time of 1:25:50. It was my second slowest half-marathon (only my debut race back in 2008 had been slower). I had a really fun time thanks to my teammates--we hung out at the beach afterwards and enjoy comically large beers at Nathans--but had I been running alone I would have rated the day a failure.

As I posted yesterday, it was a true learning experience. I've done some of the toughest workouts in my running career over the past 6 months and run intervals at faster speeds than I thought possible but I've simply done too much. There's a reason I haven't PR'd at any distance other than the marathon since 2010, I haven't been training smart. So now it's time for some serous R&R because I'm ready to run fast and feel good again.

1 comment:

  1. i'm amazed that you found yourself in that starting picture! i know it was your 2nd slowest HM but that's a pretty damn good time to me! it's good that you recognized the start of overtraining before it resulted in anything worse.