Last Wednesday, at exactly 12pm on the dot, I immediately signed up to run the Brooklyn Half Marathon again this year. It was quick and seamless and by 12:03pm, at the latest, I was registered to run through the streets of Brooklyn once again. I loved this race last year and decided I wanted to run it all over again this year; apparently with many of my friends. Aren’t races better with friends?
I wrote this post last year, one week after finishing the Brooklyn Half Marathon, and then never posted it. It seems, to me, like a good time to finally post it and illuminate why I signed up to run it a second year in a row. And, perhaps, why you should definitely put it on your list of fun races you want to run one day.
No Sleep ‘Til Brooklyn
Last weekend I ran half marathon #5. When the year started, I only intended to run one half marathon this spring. Fast forward to today and I’ve run three. I wanted to run the Brooklyn Half Marathon last year, but when registration opened I didn’t know if I would be fully recovered from the tendinitis I had when I ran the NYC Half. This year, I really wanted to run it. I’ve heard it’s a great race, with a great course, and I wanted to be part of it. It was only 13 days after the Long Branch Half Marathon and I worried I wouldn’t be able to run two half marathons 13 days apart. I mean, who did I think I was? It wasn’t until Nicole tweeted, and said it will be a good prelude to marathon training, that I was immediately sold. I signed up from my lounge chair while on vacation in Mexico.
My only goal for the Brooklyn Half Marathon was to have fun. And, secretly, to see if I could physically and mentally run two half marathons in 13 days. For me, this would be a good indication of if/how my body could handle marathon training. After all, come July, my body will have to learn how to run far more than 13 miles every other week, right?
A little birdie had told me that there were some cool, fun runners planning on running together and aiming for a 2:15-2:20 half marathon. I immediately invited myself to crash this party. What’s more fun than running a half marathon purely for fun and the love of running? Running a half marathon purely for fun with other runners who were also planning on running it purely for fun. I was really excited for the Brooklyn Half.
I had no intentions of wearing my watch for the race. Jocelyn and Meggie always talk about Garmin free running and how freeing it is. But at 5:40am on race day, I caved and put on my watch. Why? I really don’t know the answer. I didn’t care about pace, finishing time or splits. I think I find comfort in knowing what part of each mile I’m in and how much longer to go until the next mile marker. Spoiler alert! At the last minute, Jocelyn convinced me to let her wear my watch and just like that I ran my 1st half marathon Garmin free. Thank you, Jocelyn.
I took a cab with Allison and Nicole from Manhattan to Brooklyn for the very early race start. Our plan was to meet up with Jenny, Jocelyn and Katie at 6:45am by the 30,000 corral and move up from there. Since some of the group had bibs farther back into the 30,000s we decided to all move back and start together. We all made a last minute trip to the porta-potties, before the race start, and then made our way into the corral and got ready to start. Jocelyn caught me turning on my watch and asked if I would feel comfortable letting her wear it instead of me. She was the pacer for the day anyway, so I ventured outside my comfort zone and gave Jocelyn my watch. It actually felt great to run “naked.” In fact, after mile 5 or 6, Katie had to use the porta-potty and Jocelyn told us to run on ahead and they would catch up. She tried to give my watch back and I told her, in a strange Type-A twist of events, that I actually didn’t want it back. I was having much too much fun at this point to care about what the watch said.
There were so many high fives during this race. We were all having the best time. Were we really running a half marathon? At one point, we were running, three across, and Allison said she preferred running behind me; like during training. I laughed and resumed the role as pacer. It was an incredible feeling knowing that every time I glanced back my friends were right there behind me. We caught up with Nicole so many times during the race. It was so much fun seeing her. She would run ahead and then we would run ahead. This continued for most of the race. I would tap her on the right shoulder and be on her left. Funny, right? My Dad’s been doing that to me since I’m a kid and yet I still fall for it, every time. By the third time she was on to me and we all had a good laugh. The miles seemed to FLY BY. It was honestly the most fun I’ve ever had during a half marathon.
Running up and turning right onto the boardwalk was quite possibly one of the coolest half marathon finishes. Turning onto the boardwalk, seeing the Cyclone, and the finish line was amazing. The crowds and the cheering definitely provided a great final boost to cross the finish line strong.
My favorite parts of the Brooklyn Half Marathon:
- I loved this course. I loved running in Prospect Park. I had inquired about the “big hill” I kept hearing about last week and was told it was somewhere between Cat Hill and Harlem Hill in Central Park. Although I anticipated this hill would be challenging, I run in Central Park all the time and I was ready for whatever the hill was like. To my surprise, I found it to be an easier climb than either Central Park hill; yet I did feel like it went on for-ever.
- Fastest half marathon I can remember (not finishing time; just perceived time running). Running with friends was a blast. The miles flew by.
- At mile 1, I yelled out only 12.1 to go! I saw a race sign that said that once and thought it was pretty funny.
- Running a half marathon for fun is, beyond words, exciting!
- Couldn’t believe how fast we got to mile 12. Only one more to go!
- Running on Ocean Parkway made me very nostalgic about college and pharmacy school. So many memories.
- Finishing on the boardwalk in Coney Island was one of the best finish lines ever.
- At mile 11, I asked Allison what our time was. Just under 2 hours. I knew I could get her a PR and I said, “Let’s get you a PR, ready?” She was ready. She PR’d by 4 minutes. Only 3 weeks after her first half marathon. That’s amazing! There was NO WAY I could’ve done that last year after the NYC Half. She already signed up for the Wineglass Half Marathon. I can’t wait.
- At mile 12, I asked Jenny and Allison if anyone would cheese out with me and cross the finish line holding hands. All three of us held hands crossing finish line together. SO HAPPY!
Each half marathon has taught me something about myself. This half taught me that sometimes it’s good for the soul to run a half marathon purely for the love of running. Just for fun. With friends. No goal in mind except to have fun and to cross the finish line. No pace in mind. No pressure. No watch. It’s freeing and can put as big of a smile on your face as a shiny, new PR.
I learned that pacing someone else to a PR can also be really exciting. I learned that crossing the finish line holding hands with good friends is also really good for the soul. I learned how much I truly do love finishing a half marathon on the beach (3 out of my 5 half marathons have finished on the beach).
Most importantly, the Brooklyn Half Marathon taught me that, although I’m looking forward to thoroughly enjoying the next six weeks off from training, I AM READY for marathon training. New York City Marathon, here I come!
I went to sleep that night with a huge smile on my face, a happy heart and feeling extremely grateful.
I can’t wait to run this race again this year. As of now, it’s my spring goal race. Stay tuned…..
Have you ever run the same race more than once?
Have you ever run a race just for fun?
East Coast friends, how are you surviving the second polar vortex? Have you taken your run inside or have you been braving the arctic temperatures?