After a stressful few months, I decided to make some changes to my original Brooklyn Half Marathon training plan and just do base-building runs (though I did full on race one 4-miler and semi-raced another). My mileage peaked at 26 miles the week before the race. I took a mini taper for race week with the hopes I wouldn’t totally blow up on Saturday.
I honestly had no idea what to expect on Saturday, but hoped to be in the 1:5x range. Even if I wasn’t trained for anything close to a PR, I still wanted to see what I could do by working hard and running smart.
Goals for the Race:
#1: Don’t be an idiot
#2: Run a negative split
My alarm went off at 4:00AM and I promptly went back to sleep until 4:20. I hurriedly dressed, poured my coffee in a to-go cup, grabbed my bag and hustled my way across 86th street to catch the fancy 5:00am New York Flyers’ bus to Brooklyn. The ride to the start was seamless and totally worth the $15.
I had over an hour to wait around once I got to the start. Since I had nothing to be anxious about I thought the time would crawl by but it actually went by pretty quickly. The lines for the port-a-potties were hilariously long. Since they were inside the seeded corrals the lines snaked through them in such a way that the entire corral was a bathroom line. When they collapsed the corrals the runners in corral 6 had to walk in single file lines through the port-a-potty lines in corral 5 to get closer to the start. If this was a goal race, I’m not so sure I would have been amused.
This portion of the race is outside Prospect Park and while slightly crowded, it also contained a few downhills. My goal here was to keep my effort level around a 6 and not care about the pace on my watch (I actually don’t care about the pace on my watch 99.5% of the time, I run by feel and use my watch for feedback.) In reality, I was probably running closer to an effort level 7 or 8.
After the 1st 5k, I knew the only hills in the race were ahead of me so I wrangled my pace back down to a true effort level 6 and tried to stay steady until mile 7. Looking at my race splits this pace seems to be more in alignment with where I should have been during the first 5k. I’m happy I pulled back and found a better, more reasonable effort level. I felt good on the hills which meant I found a good conservative pace.
Just before mile 7 the course exits Prospect Park. Knowing the hills were behind me, I purposefully went back to running at an effort level 7 – this is where things began to feel a little more challenging. Out of nowhere I felt hot, hungry and thirsty. I slowly ate a vanilla flavored cliff shot between miles 7 and 8. I also walked for a few seconds at the water stops at both mile 8 and 9. I didn’t feel like I had any other choice based off how much I was sweating and struggling.
Mile 9 was my slowest mile of the race clocking in at 8:29 and it felt like the slowest mile. I talked myself out of this funk by realizing I knew I could pick up the pace for the final 5k.
At mile 10 I started to drop my pace by asking myself to just hold on tight. I still had no idea what my finish time would be, but I wanted to gut it out.
And THEN HALLELIUEH THE RAIN CAME!!!
At some point it didn’t feel as hot as it did at mile 9 and suddenly it was raining so hard I literally couldn’t see due to the mixture of salt, sweat and sunscreen rolling off my forehead and into my eyes. I pulled back my pace for a bit, afraid I would run into other people since I couldn’t see. Luckily the course goes under two underpasses and during those I was able to get a long enough break from the stinging sensation in order to run with both eyes open again.
I realized I wasn’t suffering the same way I had during Run As One, I knew I could suck it up and run harder. I continued to drop my pace and increase my effort level as I approached the boardwalk and the rain continued to come down. The crowds and bottle neck on the ramp onto the boardwalk were a bit of a slow down, but once on the boardwalk I punched into high gear.
I outran my fitness level and embraced the pain which was good. However, my average pace for the race (8:10) is really close to my marathon PR pace (8:16) so in retrospect, I have a looong way to go until I get into any sort of racing shape this year.
If I want to reach my goal for the year, I’m going to have to shave seven minutes off this time and I have no idea if that’s possible! Only time will tell. Until then I’m excited to race all the races.
Next up, UAE Healthy Kidney 10k (Have I told you how much I hate that distance?).