Sunday, May 22, 2011

Ocean Parkway Kicked My Butt: The Brooklyn Half Marathon Race Report

The Brooklyn half marathon took place on the exact six month anniversary of my first race (Race to Deliver) and not long after my sixth month running anniversary. Going into this, I had three possible goals for this race:

A) Complete the half in under two hours
B) If I'm unable to do that, then complete it in under 2:05
C) If I can't do A or B, finish the half in one piece.

The night before, I had capellini with tomato sauce and onions, and it was very tasty. I made sure to get to bed by 9pm, although I probably didn't fall asleep for about 1/2 hour. I was so worried that I wouldn't wake up that I set about 10 different alarms on my cell phone, plus I plugged in my own alarm clock for the first time in a year and set up two alarms on that.

The next morning, I woke up around 4am, got my stuff together, and went to CVS to buy some water and post-race snacks (popcorn and pretzels). I then set out to meet some NYRR people that I had gotten in touch with through facebook at the subway. The trains were on schedule, and I got to the start without a hitch.

After using a porta potty, I met up with my friends Abbey and Rachel at baggage, and we used the porta potty one more time before going to the start. We also ran into Kat, Rachel, and a few other running friends before starting the race.

After making sure my Garmin was working, we started the race. It took us about four minutes to cross the start, and then we were off! My Garmin was off by about 0.12 miles, but you can still look at my splits here.

The two loops through Prospect Park were really fun. I stayed with Abbey for that entire section. Our plan was to do 9mm through that part, and although we went a little faster than planned, I felt great the entire time. After our first loop, we saw the leaders finishing their second loop, which was very inspiring.

I had the idea that things would be easier once we left the hills of Prospect Park, but for me, it was the complete opposite. I fell back behind Abbey sometime around mile 8, and at first, I was fine, but then, I faced something that my worst enemy when it comes to running: the extreme humidity. As anyone could see by my Garmin splits, the humidity of Ocean Parkway, plus the complete monotony of it, got to me very quickly. I had a decent mile 8, but it felt much harder to maintain my 9mm pace. By the time I finished mile 9, I knew that a sub-2 finish was very unlikely. My legs were fine, but breathing was much harder than it had been.

The next four miles were the hardest ones I have ever run, and that includes my 10K the previous weekend when I was under the weather. I had to walk through the water stations at miles 10-12 just so I was able to finish. After mile 12, I forced myself to run the rest of the way, and I did pick it up a little towards the end once I realized that my B goal was still well within reach. As I went up that small incline to the parkway, I saw my friend Gary when he called out to me - he was volunteering as a finish marshall. I crossed the 13 mile mark just after I hit the 2 hour mark, and managed to force myself to run what felt like the longest 0.1 miles in my life.

Thankfully, I finished, although I could barely walk for a couple of minutes. I knew that since I was close to breaking two hours, then Abbey must have definitely done so. After finding Abbey and Rachel in the baggage area, as well as several other running friends, I was happy to hear that Abbey got her sub-2 hour finish. Rachel had a tough race since she got sick, but despite that, she pulled through and finished her race, which really impressed me.

I saw Gary briefly as Abbey and I walked to the train, but he was helping someone get to the finish, which was really nice of him, and we just wanted to get home ASAP. After all, I had a album recording to get to that afternoon! (Yes, my day was insanely busy!)

You can find the pictures in my 2011 Race Album

My official time for the race was 2:01:50, which is a 9:18mm. It would have been nice to do a sub-2 debut half marathon, but I'm going to focus on the positive. Not only have I finished my first half marathon, but....


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