Race number 11 (9th 2009 marathon-qualifying race – I just need to “volunteer” at a race to have guaranteed entry) was the Brooklyn Half Marathon.
Goals: to run between water stations and three time goals: i) to set a course PR (sub 2:06:56); ii) to set a distance PR (sub 2:02:42); and iii) to run a sub-2. I have a very specific strategy for running a sub-2. My plan is to run the first 3 miles at 9:30 pace, the next 3 miles at 9:15 pace and then finish the race at 9:00 pace.
My friend, Laura, let me stay at her place again, so, before the race, I only had to deal with the messed up trains in Brooklyn (getting home was a nightmare!). After a night of weird dreams about Alton Brown (don’t ask me - Laura doesn’t have a tv, so it wasn’t from watching one of his shows), I met Bonnie and we headed to the subway. We had to change trains, because the train was not running straight through to Coney Island. We ran into Lana, then Steve passed by, and then LK joined us. We hung out until it was time for me to head off to my corral.
I went out easy and tried to keep my footing on the boardwalk. As I’ve mentioned in previous recaps, the boardwalk frightens me because the boards are uneven and the bolts aren’t all flush with the surface. I’ve seen bloody gashes on fallen runners and do not want to be one of them. I only saw one person fall this time, but Bonnie saw three and heard another person talking about having fallen. At one point, there was a huge dog standing on a bench barking away and I’m sure he was cheering us on. I skipped the first water station and moved to the inside to watch the front-runners coming at me from the turn-around. As always, John Henwood* was in the lead. I kept an eye out for Sue and saw her (about 11 minutes in front of me), but she was on the other side of the boardwalk, so I don’t know if she heard me call out to her. After I hit the turnaround, I stayed on the inside to keep an eye out for LK, Lana, Mark, and Bonnie, but only saw Lana. I called to her, but don’t know if she heard me. At some point, I realized that the zipper on my tights was cutting into my heel, so at the next water station, I unzipped it a bit. There was a small bloody hole in my heel, but it wasn’t too bad. It felt weird having the tights flap around my ankle, but, after a while, I forgot about it.
Miles 4 through 9 are straight up Ocean Parkway, which is mostly flat, and very stressful on the muscles. I was so happy to get to the slight uphill and downhill in the 8th mile! Not to mention, I was still going too fast, even with the water stops, which weren’t as numerous as I’d expected and Gatorade was served at only 2 of the stations. In the 9th mile, as I was entering Prospect Park, I was struggling to breathe (there was a lot of humidity) and the camber on the road was killing me. I realized I wasn’t going to be able to hold on for a sub-2. My knee was beginning to ache, so I decided to move towards the center of the road and glanced to my right to see if I could get around the person running next to me. I don’t know how long he’d been there, but it was LK! I was happily surprised and he looked great! He was running along nice and easy. We went along a little ways together and then he moved on ahead, still looking as if he were just out for a long, slow run. I was sure he’d finish in under 2 hours. At the next water station, I made sure to use my inhaler and wished I hadn’t waited for the water station. The 10th mile is almost entirely uphill and it’s a killer. I knew, though, that if I stopped to walk at all, I wouldn’t make my PR, much less the sub-2, so I just kept going and hoped I wouldn’t lose too much time. After the crest of the big hill at Grand Army Plaza, I had to get down the rolling downhills in the 11th mile. There was some relief in the 12th mile, which is mostly downhill and which I tried to use to get back on track a little, then I had to push myself through almost every step of the last 1.1 miles. I was so close to a PR, but I had no spare time and needed to run as fast as I could (at that point) if I was going to set a PR. The turn into the park to the finish area started another slight uphill and the spectators were great, telling us that 13 was just around the corner and we were almost there. I had no finishing kick, but held on to cross in 2:02:24. I wandered around the finish area, but didn’t see LK, who had finished about 6 minutes ahead of me. I got my chip clipped and grabbed my bag, then headed to the start to wait for Bonnie, but I missed her. I was standing in line for my post-race picture when Mark found me. My cell phone doesn’t work on that road, but Bonnie found me, just as I was asking for directions back to Laura’s neighborhood. Bonnie lives just around the corner, so we walked partway back, because I stopped at CocoaBar for treats.
On my way home, I was plagued by train issues, but stopped off at Lumenhouse (www.lumenhouse.com) to see my friend’s work. Thanks to the MTA, I was later than I’d said I would be, so I must have missed Aurora (http://www.aurorarobson.com/), but saw her exhibit. Very interesting! The exhibit (Lather, Rinse, Repeat) is on until May 18th, if art is your thing.
Official stats: my official time was 2:02:24 for an average pace of 9:20. My splits were 9:04, 9:24, 9:53, 9:16, 8:56, 9:34, 9:08, 9:29, 9:16, 9:59, 9:18, 9:04, 9:10, and :57 (pace) for the last tenth of a mile. I was 3707 out of 5832 runners, putting me in the 46th percentile. It was 48°F, 93% humidity, and 10 mph winds.
Celebratory treats: I stopped at the CocoaBar for a cinnamon hot chocolate and a piece of Peanut Butter Explosion Cake (for Sunday). CocoaBar used to have the best red velvet cake with a cinnamon buttercream frosting, but they no longer carry it, so I probably won’t bother going there anymore. When I got home, I had a slushy British Dr Pepper (which I’ve been saving for this occasion), some Baskin-Robbins York Peppermint Patty ice-cream (okay, but not great), and part of a Thornton’s Cocoa Nibs bar (thank you, Jillian!).
Next up: Wall Street Run 5k (5/20) – I’m waiting for some non-running events to be finalized, before I sign up for any races.
Race pictures are available here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/7411850@N04/sets/72157604866347670/
“Cirque du Soleil” performed at MSG this week and pictures are available here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/7411850@N04/sets/72157604871015171/
On my way to and from NYRR to pick up my race gear, I took these pictures: http://www.flickr.com/photos/7411850@N04/sets/72157604866147818/
*John Henwood is a New Zealand Olympian and I’ve seen him run (and usually win) many NYRR races. When the Queens Half was a double-loop course, I tracked my progress each year by how far I got before he lapped me.