The only thing better than running a PR at the Brooklyn Half on Saturday was helping a good friend run one.
As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I had decided to forego racing on Saturday. My coach and I both felt it was a bit too close after Boston – my first speed work was this past week (8 miles with 4 at tempo) and I am still in the regeneration stage. I also felt that I was mentally not ready. Training for – and racing – a marathon takes a lot out of me and I didn’t feel like I could wrap my head around running all out for 13.1 miles so soon.
I reached out to my dear friend, Jen, and offered to pace her. I’ve been coaching her for a while and knew that she wanted to run sub-2. It seemed like the perfect option – I could use it as a shorter long run, still get to run and experience the Brooklyn course/race and help a friend achieve her goals.
Before I get into the details of the entire morning, I wanted to talk about some of the pros and cons of the race (this is just my opinion).
- Course: it’s a challenging course but all the hills are over by mile 6.5. After that, it’s basically flat or downhill to the finish. That’s a win in my book.
- Easy to Segment: I like races where there are distinct sections – it makes it much easier to focus on and break up in your mind. Brooklyn had a few – (just over) 5k outside the park, ~3.5 miles inside the park, ~ 6 miles on Ocean Parkway.
- Early Start: Weather is unpredictable in mid-May in the northeast so I like the early start time (7am for wave 1, 7:45 for wave 2).
- Finish Line: I loved finishing on the boardwalk in Coney Island and there definitely was a party vibe
- Spectators: There were a ton of spectators for a half marathon – and I was impressed with how many still came out to cheer despite the torrential downpour that happened twice during the race!
- Really Congested: We started in Wave 2, Corral 22 (basically the 3rd corral in the 2nd) and could not believe how congested and tight the course was for the first 7 miles. It wasn’t until we exited the park where I felt like we were able to run easily. But the first few miles were just plain awful. There’s something like 28,000 runners spread out over two waves – that’s a LOT of runners on the road at once!
- Security: We weren’t sure what the issue was, but wave 2 did not start getting cleared through security until just before 7:30am (we got there around 7:10am). We made it through and basically jogged to our corral just in time for the race to start.
- Water Points: I was surprised that water points were only on one side of the road – there was a lot of craziness at each water point. And most of the water points had only a few people handing out water – not the biggest deal but for a race of this magnitude (and cost!), I assumed there would be more volunteers along the course.
Jen and Danielle picked me up at 5:50am and we drove to Rachel’s in-laws home (her father-in-law was driving us all!). It was me, Jen, Danielle, Rachel, Rachel’s husband, Janet and Tara! LOTS of Staten Island runners!
We made it to security at 7:10 and after making it through, split off into everyone’s respective corrals. Jen and I went to her corral along with Janet! The three of us would be running together – with their goal being sub-2.
I had not run Brooklyn before, but I read a handful of race recaps and made myself familiar with the course elevation – so had an idea of our pacing plan. It looked like this – easy for the first couple of miles (I had heard it was really congested early on), pick up pace but maintain steady effort through the park, see how Jen is feeling and if she looks and feels strong after park, pick up pace a bit more. Jen and I have done enough runs together where I know that she can run a string of 8:30 miles. She didn’t really believe that she could do it in a half marathon, but I knew she could if we paced the first part of the race properly.
I don’t want to do a full race recap because it’s really not my race to recap. I’ll just give you some of the highlights!
The first couple of miles were tough. I wanted to stay around 9:00 pace but also didn’t want to exert too much energy weaving around other runners. I was panicking a bit when I saw the pace we were running – it just seemed so tough to run the pace we wanted. Miles 1-3: 9:12, 9:07, 8:43
Sometime around this point, it started raining. At first, we all welcomed the rain. It had been pretty hot and muggy, so the rain cooled us off. But eventually, it turned into an absolute downpour (none of us had visors or anything to help with the rain – the forecast had changed and rain no longer seemed a threat). We maintained pretty consistent and strong miles in the park despite the hills (including the never-ending one at mile 5!). Mile 7 was a bit fast but it was a downhill and I think we were all excited to be exiting the park! Miles 4-7: 8:46, 8:49, 8:50, 8:32
The next six miles were great. I knew Jen was getting into the pain cave, but her form looked GOOD and she was still running well under 9:00 miles. And Janet made the pace look effortless (she was still making jokes and chatting with me up until the very end!). My plan was to take cues from Jen – if she looked like she was really struggling, I would pull back the pace. But she didn’t (even though she says she was!). She more than held on – she actually picked up the pace for the last two miles (it was the fastest 2 mile stretch of the day!) and ended up just barely missing breaking 1:56. Miles 8-13: 8:41, 8:50, 8:39, 8:47, 8:39, 8:36. Last .23 -> 7:40
Official time -> 1:56:01
Miles 1-6: 8:55 pace
Miles 7-13.1: 8:39 pace
PR by over 2:30!
Not only did I get to run with Jen and Janet, but I got to see SO many old and new friends – including two of my high school classmates – Fran (who ran the half with her husband – their first half!) and Nicole! I’ve been in touch with these girls over the last couple of years about running-related things so it was so nice to finally see them!!
I also ran into Joe, one of the local runners from Staten Island who I coach! He hit his time goal perfectly and in the process, shaved another 2.5 minutes off his PR! As well as Dana, a girl who works with my sister. AND Sally – another local runner from SI who took some great photos of us right after we crossed the finish!
The whole morning was just so much fun. I was so happy to be with so many new friends who ROCKED the half. These ladies are all strong mother runners who made the travel time into Brooklyn – and then the return trip home – so enjoyable.
Congratulations to everyone who ran Brooklyn on Saturday!! And a special shout-out to Theodora who got herself a new PR and broke 1:50!
Have you run Brooklyn? Did you run this weekend?
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