This half marathon is America’s largest for a reason. Learn more with my Brooklyn Half Marathon Race Recap and add this race to your bucket list.
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The Brooklyn Half Marathon has been on my bucket list since I first heard about it 4 years ago. I’ve been trying to do the race every year since. Year 1, the race was sold old by the time I went to register. Year 2, I signed up but then got injured and couldn’t run it. Year 3, the race fell on the same weekend as The Blend Retreat. Year 4 was my year! (Fair warning: this post is a long one. If you aren’t all that interested or just want the summary, you can jump to the race pro/cons at the end.)
I set an alarm the day of registration, as this race is known to sell out quickly. A few minutes before registration opened, I started hitting refresh on the site like a crazy person. I also had the site up on my phone, ya know, just in case. A few minutes later, I was in!
As the weeks went by, that dream slowly started to seem unobtainable. I couldn’t really get into the training grove. In fact, I haven’t really been able to get back into the training grove since running The Dopey Challenge back in January. On top of that, I found out I’d be traveling to Los Angeles for work the two weeks leading up to the half and would have to take a redeye back home to NYC in order to pick up my bib before the race.
My new race goal became to get as much sleep as possible on the flight home and the night before the race in order to at least snag a sub-2 at the race.
Then I hit another snafu in the form of a nasty cold.
I drank all the juice and all the tea, but I just kept getting worse. The flight didn’t help. Have you ever had a head cold on a flight? The air pressure makes you want to rip your ears off. No fun.
Anywho, I made it back to NYC and headed to the Pre-Race Party and Expo to pick up my gear. I wasn’t feeling great, but I wasn’t feeling terrible. I figured walking around a bit and going to bed early would help me get well enough to make it through race day.
The pre-race party was pretty awesome. I wish I had been feeling well enough to enjoy it more. There was music and games, awesome shopping, a booth to customize your race shirt, chats on running strategy and more. Oh yea, and there was free coffee! WIN!
The Night Before
The moment I got home, I started to feel worse. I got hot and sweaty and then I got the chills. I was exhausted but couldn’t sleep, but nothing was going to keep me from this race. I already had to DNS one half this year. It wasn’t going to happen again, especially not with a bucket list race.
I got flat Nicole ready and got in bed at 9pm, hoping that a good night’s sleep would do the trick. I set my alarm for a 5am wake up call.
I barely slept a wink. I was tossing and turning and then at 3am, my upstairs neighbor decided to feng shui his apartment. I swear he was moving all of his furniture around. That or bowling. Maybe these people live above me:
The Morning Of
5am finally came and I crawled out of bed. I was all clammy and gross and going on almost 48 hours without sleep, but I told myself I’d sweat it out on the course and sleep all day when I got home.
I got dressed, kissed Will goodbye (he was going to meet me on the course later) and took my pre-race oats to-go as I headed out the door. It was race time, baby!
One of my favorite things about this race is that I can walk to the starting line. I didn’t have to worry about the subways not running or traffic or anything. I left my apartment at 5:40am, which would get me to the race by 6 – plenty of time to get through security and stop at the porta potties before my corral closed at 6:40.
It was a pretty nice morning for running, low 60s and overcast. As I walked to the start, I told myself to just take it easy and try to enjoy the race. The first 7 miles of the race were all still close to where I live, so if I really wasn’t feeling well, I could drop out at any time.
When I arrived, security was a breeze and led me right into the corrals. I soon realized that the port-a-potties were in the corrals. I want to kiss the genius that thought of that! Now I can just be in my corral and pee whenever I want before the race!
I peed, took a pre-race selfie and then just sat on the curb and closed my eyes, trying to snag whatever rest I could. With half an hour to go before the start of the race, I got in line to pee again just in case. The lines had grown significantly, but since I was already in my corral, there wasn’t any worry about long lines.
The starting gun went off at 7am, and I started inching our way toward the starting line. I was in corral E, and ended up crossing the start around 7:14.
Since over 27,000 runners were participating in this race, I was expecting it to be pretty crowded the entire time. Fortunately, the course is nice and wide, so this wasn’t the case at all! I found my space right from the get go, doing hardly any dodging and weaving.
The race day adrenaline was flowing and I was feeling pretty good despite not really feeling so well at all if that makes sense. Before I new it, I was at mile 1. My watch told me my first mile was at a 9:05 pace. I was shocked I was running that fast. 9:05 actually isn’t all that fast for me at all, but I was expecting to run much much slower given my cold. Well… all in due time.
The course took us around Grand Army Plaza, which is one of my favorite sites in Brooklyn, and then back down the way we came.
Once mile two hit, I started to not feel so hot. Actually, I was very hot. I was sweaty, but clammy sweaty, and I felt my pace start to slow.
I saw Meaghan from The Fit Crasher right before mile 3. She was looking strong! She asked me how I was feeling, and I think my response was, “Not so great, but I’m doing it!” She wished me luck and sped on up ahead.
Before I knew it, we were in Prospect Park, which is where I run on the reg. I started to struggle and my pace started to slow to about 10:30 per mile. I knew there was a big hill around mile 5, and Will would be waiting for me at the top of it. Knowing that he would be there really kept me going. I didn’t want him to see me walking.
I powered slowly but surely up the hill and spotted Will. I gave him a kiss on the cheek. He asked me how I was feeling. I said, “Not good, but I’ll see you at the finish!” and went on my not-so-merry way.
With the hill and Will behind me, I slowed to a walk to eat my PROBAR Energy Bolts. Then I made a promise to myself: run to mile 7 and you can switch to a run walk if you need to.
I picked up the pace again, and by picked up the pace I mean I got back to a 10:30 mile and slogged along. I tried to focus on my music. I tried to focus on my breathing – anything to keep me from thinking that all I really wanted was my squishy pillow.
I hit mile 7 and told myself to just keep running. After all, the sooner I finished, the sooner I could sleep. However, at this point, I was running down Ocean Parkway, so it was pretty much just a straight stretch until mile 12.5 – a straight stretch with not much to look at.
I was doing ok. Still slow, but ok. I took more Energy Bolts at mile 10. They gave me a jolt until mile 11. That’s when I hit the never-ending mile.
I swear, mile 11 was an eternity. I must have listened to 500 songs before finally seeing the sign for mile 12 up ahead. That sign was so glorious.
Then, I was in the home stretch. A guy stood in the middle of the road and shouted to all the runners, “Four more block and you’re at the boardwalk!”
The boardwalk, the glorious boardwalk! I was so excited to turn onto that boardwalk and see the finish line up ahead. The ocean was to my left, the rides and lights of Coney Island were ahead and to my right. It was magical.
I finished, and I was proud. It may not have been my fastest. In fact, it was one of my slowest, but I did it despite the less than ideal circumstances. I didn’t get another DNS. I didn’t get a DNF. I crossed that finish line, and I earned that medal.
I found Will, and he asked me how I was doing. “I did it!” I said. Now, let’s go home.
I didn’t go to the post-race party at MCU Stadium. I didn’t get my free beer or my Nathan’s hot dog. I didn’t get to explore Coney Island like I was hoping to, but my pillow was calling me.
The subway ride home was crowded. I had to stand and almost passed out because my body was over heating, but Will and some fellow runners helped me out. I got home and took a cool shower. I barely stretched. I didn’t foam roll. I crawled into bed. I didn’t sleep much, but I did sleep. When I woke up, I had a fever, but it was all worth it for that shiny new medal.
I don’t regret running this race for a second, mostly because I know how much more I would have regretted not running it. No, I didn’t get the PR I was originally hoping for. I didn’t get the sub-2 I was later hoping for. I didn’t get to enjoy the race as much as I know I would have had I been feeling top notch, but I got to run through my neighborhood. I got to race through my favorite park. I got to see parts of Brooklyn I’d never seen before, and I proved to myself that I can do hard things. That makes it all worth it.
Brooklyn Half Marathon Pros:
- Fantastic Pre-Race Party
- Well organized security and corrals
- Porta potties in the starting corrals!
- Beautiful course
- Plenty of hydration and aid stations (pretty much every mile)
- Large roadways so runners have their space
- Coolest finish line ever
- I hear the post-race party is awesome (though I didn’t get to experience it)
Brooklyn Half Marathon Cons:
- Second half of the course can be quite boring
- Coney Island is a trek on the subway, so getting home is a pain
Now, I’m going to take a few days off to let my body rest and let my immune system do its thing to recover. I’m going to focus on some things other than running for the next few weeks before NYC Marathon training kicks into gear and hope that in that time, I can get my motivational mojo back.
Thanks for bearing with me for this long post. Be sure to come back on Friday for a super exciting GIVEAWAY!
Now let’s see how you’re getting down on this Wild Workout Wednesday. Check out the full link up rules here, and add your posts below.
Have you ever run a race while sick?
What’s the hardest race you ever ran?