This past Saturday, I ran the Popular Brooklyn Half Marathon!
As I wrote here, I identified this as a goal race because it’s a huge event, and once my summer program starts, racing is less of a priority. Sure, I’ll be racing a lot in order to qualify for the NYC Marathon, but I may not be able to put in a lot of training miles. It really depends on how calm work is, and how lazy I decide to be this summer. Plus, Lior is coming to visit for 3 weeks in June/July, so I probably should prioritize spending time with him over running. (I’m such a good girlfriend, I know!) Basically, I plan to run a lot this summer, and I do want to get faster, but my main priority is to enjoy my last summer in NYC.
Originally I wanted to run a sub 2 hour half marathon…as training progressed, I realized this was just not going to happen. My goal was to keep the race under 2:10, and hopefully beat my time of 2:14 at the Tel Aviv Half Marathon.
SPOILER ALERT: This didn’t happen. I ran the race in 2:17:38. I’ll get to that later on.
I actually did a decent job training! I had several 30+ mile weeks, and one 40+ mile week. I did several 10 mile long runs, and one 12 mile long run. I also did some speed work. This is pretty good for me, and I have no regrets about the amount of time and effort that I invested in my training.
I started putting in longer hours at work, and last Tuesday, I got a cold. It wasn’t a major cold, but it was persistent. I don’t get sick very often, so if I could have afforded to take a day off from work, I would have, to sleep in and chill. This wasn’t an option, so I sucked it up and took a lot of DayQuil. I blame a combination of cold/damp weather, seasonal allergies, and stress. As a result of the cold I had low energy all week, and my only run of the week was a 5 mile easy run with the Whippets on Monday. That easy run didn’t feel very easy…yay for foreshadowing!
Price: $90. The race isn’t cheap! For comparison, the Tel Aviv Half Marathon, which was the biggest race I ran in Israel, cost $42. However, I do think the Brooklyn Half Marathon is worth the money. About 9 miles of the race are run on streets, meaning road closures, police presence, etc. The amenities were also fantastic. It’s a lot of money, but you’re paying for the experience. Can you find high quality half marathons for less? Definitely! But while I did groan at having to shell out $90, I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Value for money: A+
Website: I’m still not a fan of the new NYRR website, but it had all of the information I needed. Website: A
Publicity: Everyone and their mother knows about this race. Also, it sells out in less than an hour. NYRR’s marketing team must be evil geniuses. Publicity: A
Transportation to race: I’m subletting in Williamsburg, and the race starts near Prospect Park. I could have taken a bus, but one of my teammates lives near me, and she asked if I wanted to split a cab. We got there with plenty of time, and there was no traffic. Transportation: A, but not public transit
Weather: It was in the 60s. A tiiiiny bit chilly at the start, but that dissipated quickly. While I wasn’t suffering, if it had been 5-10 degrees hotter, I would not have been a happy camper. At least it wasn’t raining! Weather: B-
Time: 7:00am. However, with thousands of people starting at the same time, it’s recommended to arrive early. We got there by 5:40am…meaning I woke up at 4:30am. Not fun. But it meant that I had a chill, stress-free morning. There were no lines at bag check or security. All in all I had maybe an hour to kill, but since the weather was pleasant, it was fine. Start time: A-…good because it got quite warm later, bad because 4:30am is too early to be alive.
Start/finish area: This is a point to point race, meaning you start and end in different locations. The start area is by Prospect Park. There were lots of port o potties, and the lines moved smoothly. Although I took some Imodium (my unofficial race sponsor), I visited the port o potties twice before the race, to make sure that I wouldn’t need any mid-race stops. There was enough space for the runners in the corrals, but there wasn’t adequate space to warm up.
The race ends in Coney Island. I had an easy time getting my bag from bag check. My favorite part of the finish area was the changing tent. I brought a whole new set of clothes to change into, which was smart because I got soaked by a cooling station right after finishing the race, and my body temperature immediately plummeted. I also got a goody bag of water, Gatorade, and snacks, which was nice. Start/finish area: A
Packet pick-up: Most NYRR packet pick-ups are at their store near Columbus Circle. It’s easy to get to from my office. Not this time! Packet pick-up was in Brooklyn, by the piers. It was a simple subway ride from work, but it was 9:30pm when I left, so I was lazy and took a cab home…because otherwise I’d have to take a subway back into Manhattan, then the L train into Brooklyn. And the L is messed up now…so no thanks. They did have food trucks there though, which was a nice touch. Packet pick-up: C for lack of convenience
Race shirt: I had high expectations and wasn’t disappointed:
I like the shade of blue, and the two-tone style is different. The fit is also pretty good, and the material is good quality. Shirt: A
What I wore: Whippets singlet, Whippets hat, sunglasses, shorts, sunscreen. This was perfect. I almost wore my arm sleeves as a throwaway, but instead I stuck with a fleece zip-up that I checked when I arrived to the event.
I also ran in my PowerBeats3 bluetooth headphones for the first time, and they were great! I’m happy with my choice…and so is my wallet.
Bag drop: Available, and I used it. There were no lines and it worked perfectly. Bag drop: A+
The first few miles are winding the streets around Prospect Park. Initially, I planned to run 9:30 minute miles with some teammates. I wasn’t sure I could do this for the entire race, but I figured I’d hang for a little, and eventually drop off.
I lasted less than a mile. The first mile had some downhill, but I felt like I had no gas in my tank. And then when we entered Prospect Park, all I felt were the hills…and that everyone was passing me. Seriously, I felt like I was running backwards. It was very disheartening. I remember around mile 4, feeling miserable. That wasn’t fun. I recalled from 2017 that once I exited the park, the course would level out and be easier…so it was just a fight to get through the first half of the race.
But I did! Many people think the long stretch on Ocean Parkway is boring, but I disagree. It’s a great opportunity to lock into a pace and get it done. I slowly gained some energy, but didn’t want to bonk again, so I kept my pace conservative. I told myself I’d get to Mile 10…then to the Whippets cheer station at Mile 11…then to Mile 12, where I’d kick it into high gear, to complete a Strava challenge, where my last mile of the half marathon was my fastest.
And oh my goodness, the Whippets cheer station was amazing! See how happy I am?!
Photo credit: Tom Flanagan Seriously…so talented!
My average pace for the half marathon was 10:24min/mi. My last mile was 8:46min/mi, and the last .2 was 8:36min/mi. And I didn’t feel completely spent after the race, though I was sore. This tells me that I had more to give during the first half…but how much, I’m just not sure. I took DayQuil in the morning, maybe this impacted my performance? Maybe I’m just not used to hills, even though I ran the Williamsburg Bridge several times this month, to prepare for the elevation changes? Maybe it’s just bad luck? Or karma? Not gonna lie, it’s disheartening that I ran 7-10 minutes slower than I thought I would.
Water stations: About every mile. At one point, some of the tables seemed low on water…but there were so many tables, that it wasn’t an issue. There was always more Gatorade than water. At one point I had to stop taking Gatorade because the back of my throat was raw, so drinking it was painful. Water stations: A
Bathrooms: Almost every mile! I didn’t need them, but they were there! This is where my registration fee went, and I have ZERO complaints. Bathrooms: A++
Pictures: Free, but not available yet. It can take a week, whereas in Israel the pictures are available same day or a few days later. But the race field is smaller, so it’s also less work.
Medal: NYRR has good medals, there’s usually a theme, and the Brooklyn Half medal is usually Coney Island-related. See below:
Note the roller coaster! It’s so cute!
The medal is big, and although I wish the ribbon wasn’t so monochromatic, this is once of the nicer medals I own. Medal: A
I’m not satisfied with my time, but I loved the second half of the race so much, it makes up for the shitty first half. I’ve never hit the wall so early in a half marathon (mile 4!), and I was afraid to push through it, in case I wouldn’t have any energy left for the remainder of the race.
But still, I ran a half marathon! And I’m not running another until October! I’ve decided I’m definitely okay with that.
Ending with one of the Coney Island rides. Pretty!