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Another Brooklyn Half Marathon has come and gone! This is such a great, cool race, that I’m barely allowed to run it. Between the pre-party, the awesome merchandise, the fact that everyone and their mom does it, and the amazing times people post, I’m waiting for them to tell me that, like going gluten free or blending all my food, I’m just not trendy enough to be involved. But until that happens, here’s the fun from this years Brooklyn Half:
If you’ve read my previous posts, you know I haven’t been training much in 2014. I’ve had some other significant life events happening, plus the winter was a tundra even for my standards (read, I’m lazy), and my running has been slacking. I did get about a month of training in before this race, and ended up doing a bit better than expected.
This is always fun! It’s basically and excuse for people who love to talk about running to all be in the same place to talk about running, and drink beer… oh, and pick up your race packet. But did I mention the beer:
The only sucky thing about race day is the fact that it starts at 7 am, in Brooklyn… I luckily had a husband who wasn’t racing and was able to drive, drop me off, and then continue on to a location that would actually have parking. Due to my chauffeur, I must note that I did not deal with the bag check area, which I heard was a bit chaotic. And I feel for those who had to wake up at 3 am to get ready and head to a train to make the commute. Not ideal. But us runners are known to do these types of things.
I thought the porta-potties in the corrals were a great idea, until I was in a huge line that stood still as they opened the corrals and thousands of people tried to push past us. Minus that stressed out moment, everything else went great (and there was no real reason to stress, I’m just known to freak out about being in lines 5 minutes before start). The weather was perfect, the course is so fun, the people cheering are super enthusiastic and take some serious pride in their signs.
I started off a bit faster than what I had planned in my strategy. I took friday off completely from working out and my legs felt nice and rested. Knowing I felt good, I let myself run at a comfortable pace even though it was faster than planned, not pushing it too hard as to not burn out in the end, but not so slow I would regret my run. It was a good comfortable pace and then around mile 9 I finally felt like I started working for it. The lack of long runs and a lot of slow runs were to blame, but I threw a couple of Gu’s down my gullet (mile 7 and 10, the second one was just for fun really), focused on my form and kept cranking away. Finishing with a time of 1:38:12, a 7:30 pace, I was pleased. Not a PR here, but still not bad for where I thought I was at.
We didn’t have time to stick around long (family party going on), but enough time to have a couple beers. They have electrolytes, right? We headed over the the Coney Island Brewing Co.’s Beer Garden, which was awesome! It wasn’t crowded yet and we ended up talking to a group of other equally awesome runners, the people working from Coney Island Brewing were super fun and nice and it was a perfect way to end a perfect race!
Can’t wait till next year!
The big day has come and gone, along with it a whirlwind of emotions. Months of training, painful massages, skipping social events, early mornings and long runs have all come together for this one amazing day, the NYC marathon. Here’s a recap of the race weekend, the run and all my little bits and pieces.
I had the great opportunity to kick off marathon weekend Friday night at the New York Athletic Club with a pasta dinner and Shalane Flanagan speaking. With some great words of advice and feeling motivated after being in the presence of such a talented women, I was amped up the race.
Saturday was spent going to the Expo and cooking food for the annual party we do in our apartment every year. The race goes right by, so we always host a party, and it’s always packed. Luckily we have family that lives on Staten Island, so 4 of us headed to the ferry around 4:00 to go relax, eat even more pasta and go to bed before 10. I was surprised I actually slept well, I figured I’d be up tossing and turning all night with anticipation. I must have gotten it all out of my system the week before.
Up at 6, with some oatmeal in our bellies and trying to shake out the last of the butterflies, we all got dressed and ready to go. Through all the check points and porta-potty lines and almost missing our wave start (lines are really long), we made it to our corral. This was my first marathon I wasn’t injured for, the haunting of marathons past made me extremly anxious and nervous, which led to my stomach cramping for miles 1-4. It took me a while to calm down, focus on deep breathes and to just relax and run. It was painful but I knew calming myself down was the most important thing to get me running relaxed and not in pain… I was having marathon flashbacks and didn’t want to go through another 22 miles like this.
Mile 4 I started feeling normal again and really wanted to keep my pace slower, not knowing how the second half of the race would go, my goal was negative splits and I didn’t want to blow up. I decided to keep myself in check till the Queensboro bridge. This really felt like my first marathon, not having the experience of running the others I had done due to injuries.
Once I got to the Queensboro Bridge and the 16 mile mark, I knew it was time to focus and get moving. Running “easy” up to this point, my legs were still feeling good. Coming down off the bridge and hearing the roar of the crowd, running past my apartment and all my friends and family gave me a rush like no other! Focusing on my form and zoning out, I kept moving. I ran the first half correctly to pump out some serious negative splits.
First avenue is absolutely amazing and my favorite part of the race. Not only is it where I have to look forward to seeing all my friends, but the crowd and energy is contagious and seeps into your body, no matter how tired you are. Seeing the race extend out in front of you with the runners and spectators surrounding you, it is the most unforgettable feeling.
As I cranked up 1st ave, I felt lucky to have run the last part of the course a couple weekends earlier. I knew what I was about to run in those last 7 miles, which let my brain rest and go into auto mode. I zoned out and had my music rhythmically distracting me and all I kept thinking was “No Regrets” “arms” “form” repeating over and over again. Soon mile 21 became 22 then 23 and so one. 5th ave SUCKS and it was all heart at this point, I knew I was going to be right around my goal time of 3:30 but didn’t know how close (I forgot to start my watch just as I went over the start line). I figured I started about 3 minutes after the gun, so my goal was to get across the finish before 3:33. Trying to figure out what I needed my pace to be in the last couple miles I just put my head down and plowed away, trying to keep up with any runner that passed me.
As I looped down out of the park and onto 59th street I couldn’t believe I was almost to the finish line! I felt incredible. My legs that were exhausted under me didn’t seem to hurt, my phone died at mile 25.8 and I thought I might fall over, but away I went looking for the finishing clock. As I did my best “sprint” up that final hill I saw it counting down 3:28:42… 3:28:43… 3:28:44… I passed it under 3:33! With a finishing time of 3:29:44! Just squeaking in under my 3:30 goal. I made some friends in the long walk after the race who still had a working phone and had them look up my time for me, as soon as I learned it, I was ecstatic! I felt great during the run, I ran it smart and knowing I hit my goal time topped off my perfect race!
And to make the day even better, when we finally made it back to the apartment, it was filled with my family and friends! This will go down as one of my favorite days ever and I’m already thinking of my training for next year and how I’m going to get faster!!!
I’ve talked about things that I’m doing in the weeks leading up to the NYC Marathon (another post about it here), it’s equal parts preparatin and to keep my sanity over the next couple weeks. I’ve done 3 marathons before (2 and 1/2 really… keep reading) and none of them have particularly gone well. Here’s a brief recap and why I’m nervous about NYC this time around:
My First Marathon – the ING NYC Marathon in November, 2007
Not really having any clue of what I was getting into, I willingly threw myself into my first marathon. I had no training buddies, no coaching, nothing other than the fact that I knew how to run and I liked it. Highschool cross country and track were the base I thought could get me through my marathon, it didn’t end up great. I finished, which was good, but I hurt every step. I had no idea what my iliotibial band was before this marathon, and for years after this marathon, but I should have, and I should have learned how to prevent it feeling like someone was knifing my hips every step from mile 7 or so on.
I finished with a time of 4:21:39. And as soon as I stopped running, this nasty little thing called the runner’s high, immediately forgot about the pain and I signed up for another marathon.
My Second Marathon – the Paris Marathon in April, 2008
This time I was going to be smarter about my training, so I signed up with Team In Training and thought it would be great to run with other people, have coaches and a plan for my training. But as life would have it, I rarely got out of work in time to make it to practices and I like doing long runs by myself. But the training was going good until a couple weeks before the marathon, my left knee really started to bother me. Again, if I had only known what a tight ITB can do to a runner, I probably would have avoided this problem once again. I went to the doctor about a week before the marathon, long story short, I spent that week with ice on my knee and very little activity. I went back hours before my flight to Paris and he told me I shouldn’t be walking on my knee, let alone running a marathon.
My plan marathon day was to run the first couple miles, I was with TNT and I wanted to be part of something I had trained so hard for. I was going to take pics, have some fun running, then jump out of the race and be a cheerleader. I should have known that that wasn’t to be the case, I’m pretty hard headed sometimes. So, once I started running, I decided I could keep running, and halfway into the race I was on the other side of Paris and would have to walk back anyway, so decided I would just keep running. Around mile 20 my slow jog became a walk, I think I cried my way through miles 23 and 24 because it hurt so bad. But I finished! A slow 5:51:54 as my time, but I finished marathon #2!
My Third Marathon – the Nike San Francisco Marathon in April, 2008
After some rest, for both my body and my ego, I decided I’d give the marathoner in me another chance. This time I set my sights on the Nike Women’s San Francisco Marathon. Again, I signed up with Team in Training and thought how fun a women’s marathon with Nike was going to be, and let’s be honest, a Tiffany’s necklace is always a great incentive. Again with the training, and the loops of harlem hill in preparation for those San Francisco hills (which, let me tell you, central park hills are nothing compared to the hills on the course). Everything was going great, I was on track with my running, I felt great and was super excited, fast forward to San Francisco… I had plans the night before the race to meet up with some friends I made when I lived a semester in Florence. They lived in San Francisco and we went to dinner, I didn’t get anything crazy, and it was a restaurant they were familiar with, no problem right? Wrong. I went to bed around 10ish and woke up a little after 11 not feeling so great. What happened next was not ideal, the food poisoning was here! I spent from 11p.m. till the moment I had to be out of the hotel, up and puking. Thankfully my assigned TNT roommate never showed up, I would have kept her up all night with my barfing. I literally was the last person out of the hotel that morning, off to the race starting line I went.
The sun wasn’t up, the streets were packed and at one point I fought my way to the side of a building and some very nice ladies moved over and let me sit down in the cramped corral. Maybe it’s wasn’t their kindness as much as the fact that I looked like I may barf on them any second. Either way, I sat on my butt taking deep breathes till it was go time. Off we went. I felt ok for the first couple miles, the stubborn me again, thought I could do this. I made a decision along the way that finishing the 26.2 was not attainable, but made up my mind to make it to that 13.1 mark. Seriously dehydrated (I couldn’t even keep water down), I struggled my way along and as soon as I crossed that finish line and got my little blue box, I made a dash for the side to puke once again. As I was carried to the bus that would shuttle me back to my hotel, I was happy, I at least made it as far as I did. So when asked how many marathons I’ve done, I usually say three, even though I’ve only finished two, this 13.1 was harder than any 26.2 I could imagine. My official time was 2:34:11
So that’s a little recap of my marathon history and why I’m overly stressing and driving my husband nuts about this upcoming race. I know I’m way more ready for this year than I ever have been, I’ve put in the training and I’ve learned so much along the way, but the marathon and I have had a bad relationship, here’s hoping we get along this year!
I raced Staten Island Half Marathon again this year! Another race recap for you all.
I should have remembered this from last year when I missed the start of the race, but the bathroom lines are Horrible at this race. Once again, we started late because we were waiting in the porta potty line, which shouldn’t be a big deal, but for some reason this morning it was really stressing me out. Other than that, the race went great, unfortunately we had plans afterwards and didn’t get to stick around to enjoy the block party, but it was a gorgeous day for it and a wonderful way to celebrate and raise money for Staten Island, we all know what a toll Sandy took on the area.
Once we finally got into the start corral, we started about 8 minutes after the race, so there was a bit of congestion to battle through, but not as bad as I expected. The start/finish area is gorgeous, with a view of the city across the water, and with the sun shining it was beautiful.
Around mile 4 my legs started feeling heavy, and it was a battle to from about mile 6 on. My thighs just didn’t want to move any faster, it felt like I was trying to run through water, my brain wanted them to go, but they just wouldn’t. Around mile 5 you run down a nice hill, which is fantastic, but then around mile 9 you have to run up that same hill which really took a lot out of my legs, the little I had left.
I finished a little faster than I did last year, which I’m happy about, but not as well as I would have liked. Because of how I struggled through the race I am now thinking about my marathon training, I wonder should I run more, should I run less, should I do more speed work or more long runs or just rest in full out taper mode? How do I run my best race? I haven’t done a marathon in 6 years and I wasn’t prepared for any of the others I’ve done, so I’m not sure what the correct answer is. I know a lot of it’s in my head, but with the numbers and corrals being released today, I can’t help but wonder what I can do to be as ready as possible. I know it’s a normal phase of the training process, the freak out mode, and hoping it will pass soon.
Another race in the books! A recap of the Hamptons Half Marathon:
With every race you learn something… I’ve heard this a lot, I believe it, and sometimes it’s important to remember this when you have a race that isn’t what you’d hoped it would be. This was the case for my hamptons half marathon. Don’t get me wrong, it was a great race, but it wasn’t my best. It did, however, teach me some things:
- Rest is a very important thing for runners
- Even when a run hurts and you keep thinking how nice walking would be, just keep moving and you’ll be done before you know it and you’ll back and think that it wasn’t so bad.
The Hamptons Half Marathon, which is about a month out from the NYC Marathon, makes for a great training run and with it falling on one of the last nice weekends of summer, we thought it would be fun to make a weekend out of it and rent a place in Montauk. By the time we got out of work, loaded the car and got on the road it was later than was ideal to drive the 3+ hours it would take us. Stopping along the way at a random place to eat the night before a race is also never ideal. But we made it and crashed around 11 at our hotel. Up at 5, oatmeal in our bellies and in the car, we headed to the race.
The debate to park at the beach and take the shuttle to the start line or to try for parking around the race start, we battled with all week, and ended up deciding to try our luck with parking. Luckily we were there early enough, which is rare for us, that we found a premo spot. Packet pickup was great, with tons of nice swag! Bag, gloves, hat, chapstick, etc.
I won’t bore you with all the standard race details but I will break down how I felt after the race.
Thursday nights I’ve been doing NYRR classes, which are great and totally kick my butt, however, running 6 miles and doing 3 hard loops around Harlem hill are not ideal when you’re doing a half marathon 36 hours later. At one point during the half as we were running up an incline portion, my legs were reminded of how hard I ran Thursday and were begging for me to pull over and stretch or walk or just sit down. Knowing that I’d regret it if I did, I kept plodding along. Once the course evened out and especially on the declines, I felt better. I passed a girl puking on the side of the road and thought, I guess it could be worse! There was no kick on the last mile, no reserves in my tank, none of that extra push I usually have at the end. But I was done, it wasn’t a PR and it hurt, but I finished and I was happy enough with my time.
What I learned from this race is that I CAN run when it sucks. When it feels like my legs just want me to sit down, I can keep going, and I can do it for miles. Knowing this going into the NYC Marathon is good, the last marathons I’ve done I’ve always had problems with injury or food poisoning (that’s another fun story). Knowing that I’m ready to run through a painful race is a great tidbit to have going into a 26.2 mile run!
The Hamptons Half Marathon is definitely going on our race to-do list for next year. It was a wonderfully run event, a great excuse to spend the weekend out in the Hamptons/Montauk, the course was nice, I have some awesome new swag, the weather worse gorgeous. It’s a keeper. The only bad part of the weekend was this stellar blister I got, it really takes the cake:
Some photos from the rest of the weekend post half
My first Olympic Distance Tri is done!!! A quick recap
At the early hour of 5 am, our alarms went off on triathlon morning! With some coffee, oatmeal and bagels in our bellies, we loaded up the car and headed to the the Cazenovia Triathlon.
I didn’t realize we had to be out of the transition area 30 minutes before the race started, the 2 sprint tri’s I did last summer, you could hang out in the transition area and set up right up till it was go time. As I totally rushed around to set things up, my stress level increasing, I got everything done in time and down to the water ready to go.
Turns out I really need swim lessons. Like really, really, need swim lessons. I didn’t almost drowned, or anything like that, but I was second to last on the swim (I thought I was dead last till the results were posted online and saw that there was one girl who finished behind me). I had the canoe following me in, that’s how far behind I was. It’s not that I dislike swimming, I’m just really bad at it. I could have swam another lap if I needed, it just would have taken me hours to do so. I blame genetics, my family is, for the most part, land lovers. So I really can’t be blamed. In fact I learned to swim for my first Sprint Triathlon last year. So, for being a self taught, bird armed, sad excuse for a triathlete, not too shabby. But since I won’t settle for that, swim lessons it is!
After muddling my way through Cazenovia Lake and around the buoys, it was nice to be out of the water and headed into the transition area. No problems here, the run to the transition was long, so I had time to take off everything, goggles, swim cap, ear plugs out, wetsuit top off (I have a 2 piece wetsuit and only wore the top half), and ended up carrying it for most of the run to the transition. Dropped it and grabbed my bike gear. Only thing, which I would find out later, was as I pulled on my shirt, the safety pins to my bib unhooked. 2 of the 4 safety pins were open and ready to poke me as I climbed that first hill on the bike… like there wasn’t enough pain in my life that morning.
The ride was Gorgeous! Hilly, but through a beautiful area (thank goodness for those weekends up at Hunter Mountain biking some serious hills, paid off big time here). Knowing I did so poorly on the swim, I wasn’t allowing myself any slack on the bike ride. Getting on my bike, I kept looking for people in front of me and slowly trying to work my way up on them. Having the Sprint and the Olympic distances both doing the same loop, I wasn’t sure who was who as I rode, but I pushed along, powering best I could up the hills, cranking down them, through cornfields and sheep farms. Couldn’t have asked for a more perfect place to ride.
After the second loop of the ride, heading back to the transition area, I mentally prepared myself for the run, cause we all know that that part effing hurts! And even after my last post about Tips for a Triathlon, I didn’t follow my own advice and totally missed my spot as I went in. After some running around, I found my sneakers, and a big Thank You to the staff that was there, she was an awesome help as I ran around frantically. After some wasted time, it was out onto the road for a run.
The run was hilly! More so than what was expected, a change in the course that we weren’t aware of added some extra hills, but at that point, all you can do is run them. This far into the race, it’s hard to make up distance on a run after 2 hours if people are very far ahead. The run was out and back, so I at least could see who was in front of me as they looped back past. The first two girls were way out there, rock on ladies! As I counted, 1… 2… 3, 4, 5, 6… I’m thinking to myself, ok top 10. That’s not bad from last on the swim, and I always try to chase down at least one girl. So as I passed the girl in front of me as she looped back, I wasn’t sure if I could make up the distance, but I made up my mind to try. I slowly closed the gap, and with the belief that running is my “thing”, I did my best to zone out and focused on my form and let me legs go.
Finishing 6th place (out of 25) and 1st in my age group (out of 4) and not drowning, It was a good first time Olympic Triathlon for me! Full Results Here
I’d also like to say that it was a superbly run event! The staff was amazing, nice and helpful. It started a little bit late due to a power line down and people having a delay getting to the start, but it wasn’t much later than the original time, and once we started it was well organized. And the food after was awesome! Pasta with meatballs! Ice Cream! Chocolate milk! Kudos to everyone who helped put this event on, I definitely would do this race again and recommend it to anyone looking for an event.
There are few chances I get to Brooklyn, I don’t live there, I don’t work there, I have the occasional party or dinner there, but it’s not a stop on my after work agenda. So, I was super excited to go to DUMBO to pick up my packet after work Thursday, knowing I would be in for a treat with the sun setting, the music playing and the bridges reaching over the water back into Manhattan.
Not sure what the pick up was like Friday, but Thursday was a breeze. Hardly any line, bought some gels and took some pics. If I wasn’t trying to get back home where dinner was waiting, there would have been too much beer and food cart snacks had, so maybe for the best.
Race morning. Nothing like setting your alarm for 4:30 to make you wish you could stop signing up for these damn races. But up we were, coffee turned on, oatmeal heated up and half asleep packing up the last of our gear.
If you’ve ever done a race in Brooklyn, you will know, parking is Horrendous! At one point I thought we were going to miss the race. But after doing laps around for 30+ minutes, we finally got a spot. The start corrals were a little tough to get into due to the crowd, but not impossible, and we made it with just enough time to get into place.
If you know me, you know I prefer 50 degrees to 70 degrees, and I hate running when it’s humid. Race day was about 60 and 72% humidity, so not horrible but muggy!
After a nice little downhill start, we looped around and into Prospect Park. Having done races here before, it was nothing new (which is nice). One minor hill in the park didn’t cause much trouble, but going down the other side of that hill was fun and fast to exit the park with! Knowing you’re out of the park is the halfway point and downhill to sea level was great.
Around mile 9 I wished I had trained harder on those days I slept in a little late. But all in all I was happy. The finish up onto the boardwalk along the water was great! And knowing I had a new PR made all the chaffing (forgot some body glide in essential areas) worth it.
Sadly, we didn’t stick around after to enjoy the fun that is Coney Island, which I would have very much liked to, but we had my sisters Graduation party from law school to attend, so next year I’ll have to do it again and make sure we stay around for a hotdog and some beers!
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