Thursday, May 24, 2012

Race #7

Name: Brooklyn Half Marathon 
Date/Time: Sunday, May 19 at 7am
Location: Prospect Park to Coney Island
Length: 13.1 miles
Bib Number: 20306
Official Time 2:52:55
Average Time per Mile: 13:12

During this race, I truly realized that running 13.1 miles is no joke.  It is a very difficult task.  To be honest, I probably wasn't quite as well prepared as I should have been.  I was ready to run about 10 miles, but 13.1 was tough for me.  This race started for me a couple of days prior to Saturday when I saw that the NYRR had already put out a heat advisory for the race.  They advised runners to be extra hydrated prior to the race along with a slew of other suggestions.  I took heed of many of them, especially the one about being hydrated.  I drank bottle after bottle of water.  This caused me to wake up around 3:30am on race day before my official alarm went off at 5am.  Needless to say I was a bit tired before the roughly 45 minute subway ride to the start just outside of Prospect Park.  Chris and I arrived roughly 7 minutes before the race was set to begin, but I knew I'd be in one of the back corrals so I wasn't too worried about cutting it a little closer than anticipated.  I had time for another quick bathroom break before telling Chris goodbye and heading to my corral.

Chris snapped a quick picture pre-race.
Chris and I had discussed his plans for which miles he would try to make an appearance to cheer me on the night before and again briefly before I headed off to my corral.  He had anticipated being able to make it to miles 2, 5, 7, and the finish.  I was already looking forward to seeing him at mile 2 as I began waiting in the line to start the race.  I was literally at the very back of the 16,000+ pack of racers as we moved toward the start.  I officially began the race with 19:55 on the official race clock.  I had decided about 3 days before the race that I wasn't going to use my self-timer method for the miles in this race because I didn't want to push myself too much initially and tire out too quickly.  However, I started at a steady pace and was surprised to see I ran my first mile in 11 minutes.  Since miles 1-3 were set up in a sort of down and back pattern, I began to look for Chris as soon as I hit that section of the race.  When I didn't see him, I was a little concerned, but thought he might have been delayed and kept telling myself he would surely be there after I made the turn and headed back between mile 2 and 3.  In the midst of all my looking, I did meet two of my friends - Reba and Amanda - on the course. They were roughly a mile or so ahead of me at that point so I saw them just before my 1 mile marker closer to their 3 mile mark.  It was fun to see them especially in the sea of people at that point in the race.  The first part of the course was interesting and exciting because I was fresh and ready to go.  Once I came around to mile 3 and began my trek through Prospect Park and I still hadn't seen Chris, I started to get a little concerned, but convinced myself that I shouldn't be too alarmed unless he was also missing at mile 5.  As I later found out, there was just too much congestion at the start of the race for him to get in a spot where I would really be able to see him and there were just too many people packed together in a small running space for him to be able to find me.  He was there and I definitely passed by him, but we just didn't know it. Reba ended up seeing him at that spot though.  Anyway, back to my entry into the park.  Just prior to entering the park, I hit the 5k mark at 36:24.  I knew I had run the first mile in 11mins and thought the next two were roughly 11:30, but when I saw my time at the 5k I thought two things - 1) I think that might be the fastest I've ever run a 5k...too bad this is a half marathon and 2) I'll definitely be paying for this later in the race.  Regardless, I think I kept my 11:30 pace for the next couple of miles. I have done a few races in Prospect Park so I knew there was one particularly large uphill stretch that I needed to keep on my radar, but I seemed to be breezing right along.  I noticed we had started an incline when I looked up to see Chris and the mile 5 marker.  I was so relieved.  I started waving and then headed over to say hello, get a quick picture, and take a slight, but very needed break from the race.

My posed Mile 5 (almost, but not quite halfway there) picture....

I told Chris then that I thought I had made really good time on the first 5k, but was starting to tire out and knew the last part of the race would be difficult.  We didn't talk too long before I jumped back into the action, but I felt refreshed by seeing him.  He planned to meet me at mile 7 and we determined he would have roughly 20 or so minutes to get there before I came though.  I told him I thought he'd have plenty of time.  I'm not sure how quickly I ran those next two miles, but I know I was happy to have seen him at that point in the race.  I took a very quick port-o-potty break between mile 6 and mile 7 and prepared myself for the toughness and the heat of the straight stretch on Ocean Parkway that was just ahead for me.  I think I took this break just after the 10k mark which I clocked at 1:18:33.  I knew that time was pretty close to the time I had run for my earlier couple of 10k races so I was feeling pretty good about my pace.  At the exit to the park and mile 7, I looked all around for Chris, but he wasn't there yet.  Turns out it took him much longer than we thought to get across the park due to a concert set up and general craziness of the park pathways.  I was relieved when he texted me as I arrived at 8 mile marker that he must have missed me.  I took another quick, but much needed break to text him back my location and that I looked forward to seeing him at the finish.  As I proceed to struggle through the next few miles, Chris jumped on the F train and headed 15 stops to Coney Island. I think when he was telling me that post-race is the moment I realized that 13.1 miles covers some serious ground.  I know I don't ride the subway too often, but if something was 15 stops away, I would most definitely opt to jump on the train rather than walk.  And I pretty much walk everywhere.  Mind you that is 15 stops after running 7 miles.  If I was contemplating not taking the train before, I would FOR SURE take the train under those circumstances.  For some reason, that just totally put some perspective on it for me.  But, back to the race, when not only was I unsure of how many train stops it was on the subway, but I was just concerned about when would be the next time I would see the coveted mile marker signs.  My mental game went totally out the window around mile 9 when I hit the 15k mark at 2:02:10.  My pace had dropped significantly at this point.  I had to take a couple of walking breaks, however short they may have been, to mentally recharge and convince myself that I could in fact finish the race.  I struggled most of the way through miles 9-11, but when I hit the 11 mile marker, I realized I was close enough to the finish that I could make it.  I got a burst of energy and picked my pace back up to what I am guessing was about a 12 to 12:30 pace.  I'm not sure if it was the heat - the official temperature was 58 degrees, but I'm pretty sure it was much hotter by the time I finished - or the race getting to me, but as I hit mile marker 12 I turned to the totally random runner on my right and asked if we had one more mile or two left.  She assured me we had 1 mile left...actually 1.1 mile left, but I told her I'd take the .1 over the 1 any day and kicked up my pace a bit in relief that I was ALMOST there.  I clocked 20k at 2:43:48.  My splits were consistent in the first half and the second half with the first half being splits I was much more proud to claim :)  Regardless, about halfway through that last mile, I began to see signs with Coney Island references.  This was huge.  I knew I was almost there, but when I saw signs and the boardwalk and the crowds of people, I was certain I was almost there.  The last stretch had a lot of crowd support and was actually kind of fun.  With about 400km to go, we entered the boardwalk area and ran the final stretch there.  I started looking for Chris and our two friends - Janet and Loan - that had come down from Albany to cheer me on at the finish.  I was looking so much for them that I almost tripped myself up on the slated boards of the straight stretch to the finish so I went back to concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other.  I did manage to look up again just steps before the finish and saw them just in front of the finish line on the right.  I was EXTREMELY happy to see them there.  I took my last steps crossing the finish with just under 3:12:52 on the race clock.  

Great action shot taken by Loan at the finish!
With my math skills being as poor as they are, this lead me to believe that I somehow set a PR.  However, I was thinking that I officially finished in around 2:43 rather than my actual time of just under 2:53.  Anyway, it was kind of fun to think that I had done so well for an hour or so.  Who knows, maybe next time I actually will do that well :)  After the race, I met up with my race support crew for some pictures before we made the hour long trek back to the city for brunch.  Take a look.

So happy and relieved...only 2 more races to go!!
My amazing boyfriend who woke up super early and searched all over the park for mile markers to support me for this race just because he knew how much it meant to me for him to be there!
Two of my Albany favorites - Janet and Loan.  Thanks for coming down to cheer me on!! :)

It will be a long time before I subject myself to the insanity of a half marathon again.  And before I do, I will be certain to be well prepared because I know that makes a big difference.  Even though it was torture on my mind and body at the time, I did enjoy the race.  I liked the course (well, the 5 miles of straight nothingness was a big much, but otherwise...).  I had a great sense of accomplishment after the race which was a very good feeling.  However, this race did make me realize how crazy I am for thinking a full marathon is a good idea, but all I know is that it is on my bucket list and I'd rather knock it out sooner than later. In all seriousness though, I think it will be a great experience for me. It will likely be one of the most difficult things I will have ever done.  Actually, I am already certain of that.  But with that being said, having this race behind me, I have two left to qualify for the craziness that will be NYC Marathon 2013.  Stay tuned... 

Andrea :)

1 comment:

  1. You will learn a lot about your self training for and running the marathon. I know you can do it! It might just involve some tears along the way... Congrats on another great run!