Warning: this post may be excessively long and a tad disorganized. I have so much to say and don’t really know where to begin. If you want to read a much better post, check out this one from my sub-2 buddy, Kara. 🙂
If you only want the quick & dirty version, here it is: I met all of my goals for the Brooklyn Half! I went sub-2, PR’ed and ran a strong and (mostly) happy race! And then I had an awesome weekend celebrating.
And now for the long version: Let’s start on Friday night. I ate sushi and went to bed early, but slept horribly and kept waking up thinking about things I needed for race morning (where was the sunscreen? what SPF was it?). Boyfriend kept telling me to shut up and go to sleep. The alarm went off shortly after at about 4:15. I ate a quick small breakfast and packed a banana and peanut butter sandwich to take with me. I knew I would be hungry again because we didn’t start the race until after 7am. I filled my to-go mug with tea and drove to Coney Island where I met up with Kara.
We took a short subway ride up the start and after a quick security-check, we were headed to our corrals. Kara and I had to decided to run together, as we were both chasing down that sub-2 goal. We got into the corrals, used the porta-pottys and mentally prepped ourselves. I have been reading a lot about the mental aspect of running and the power of positivity, and I was ready to put it into practice during my race. I even wrote the word “believe” on my hand, because it’s something my favorite running buddy always says to me.
Earlier in the week, I had created a kickass playlist (that happened to be just about 2 hours long). I heard the course becomes challenging during the long, boring miles out on Ocean Parkway, aka miles 7-12, so I adjusted my playlist accordingly, setting up songs that were dedicated to certain people or tunes that just plain pump me up.
Coach’s plan for me was to run the first 5 miles conservatively at 9:15-9:20 pace, bumping it up to 9:00-9:10 for the next 5 and then give it everything I had til the finish. She told me if I couldn’t push the pace during that last 5k to just “hold on”. It was 58* and 67% humidity at the start, which basically is race perfection.
After a little confusion over where the real start line was, we began the race passing the Brooklyn museum and the botanical gardens. Kara and I started out way too fast and knew it. We kept looking at our paces, over to each other and kind of laughing about it. “Oops, too fast! Uh oh, the next one was even faster. We should slow down…” Our watches must have been off, because our “official” splits definitely weren’t as fast as the GPS was telling us. Which makes sense, because it didn’t feel that fast. And we kept it up. A little after mile 3, I started feeling this strange tightening chest pain. It felt a little like heart burn, but was most definitely in my heart. I was just going to push through it, hoping it would go away, but then my anxiety got the best of me and I spoke up to Kara. I figured I should tell her I was having pain in the event that I had an actual heart attack…so she could tell the medics. Ha! She, of course asked if I was okay and if I wanted to slow down or stop. I didn’t, and this super strange feeling went away a few minutes later. Let’s hope that never happens again…
We then entered Prospect Park and I was feeling fantastic. It was cool and breezy in the park and I was really hopeful about my paces. Although it wasn’t the race strategy, we were happy to have some time in the bank during the first half of the race. I took a vanilla Gu a little before mile 5, right before we hit the hill in Prospect Park, which is long and steady but not unmanageable. Somewhere in there, we came upon a water stop and I lost Kara! I glanced back a few times and couldn’t find her. I hate to be that person who stops in their tracks or keeps looking back, so I kept going. I knew she was there somewhere and was hoping she’d find me. Turns out, she let me take off a bit ahead, but kept me in her sights the whole race.
The crowds were awesome coming out of the park and crossing the 10K mark. At that point, I knew Beth, Abby, boyfriend and my family would be getting an alert with my time and I was excited that I was on track for sub-2. I felt strong and was ready to push through the second half of the race. Heading onto Ocean Parkway, my playlist kicked into high gear with “Til I Collapse” by Eminem followed by “2 Legit 2 Quit” from MC Hammer.
Then the race got hard and I had to rely heavily on my mental game. I pushed out any negative thought that tried to creep in and told myself I could do this. I went through every cheesy, cliche motivational quote I could remember. I told myself to just put one foot in front of the other. The faster I ran, the sooner I’d be done. I glanced at the word “believe” on my hand about 50 times over the last 5 miles. “Do this for Beth and #brokenwing”, I thought. Do it for Kara, who BETTER be just a little bit behind me. 😉 Do it for coach, who believed in me and pushed me to run these paces in the first place. Heck, do this for ME! I knew I was overrunning the course and that my GPS wasn’t right, so I tried to track my finish time with the mile markers. I’m not great at math, especially when I’m exhausted…so it was hard. At the Mile 9 marker, I knew that if I just held on, I would go sub-2. Just like coach said…HOLD ON. Keep that pace. My watch was saying that pace was 8:50, when in reality I think it was somewhere around 9:05. But I held on.
I took a second Gu at 9.5 and couldn’t finish it. Everyone raves about the Salted Caramel flavor, but yuck! I hated it. I wish I could have fueled with dates stuffed with PB as I’d been practicing, but I didn’t feel like carrying anything big with me during the race. Around Mile 10, my “good” hip started to hurt. My feet were aching and I could feel the beginning of a blister on my right big toe. I didn’t feel like running anymore. Especially not on this stupid parkway in Brooklyn in the sun. I had forgotten that sunscreen I stayed up worrying about and knew I’d be getting some sick tan lines as a result. Negativity started creeping in…but I pushed it out. I started to think “Who really cares about sub-2 anyway? I like running for FUN!” But then I realized I CARE. So I danced (“Shake It Out” by Florence and the Machine). I punched my hip/glute to loosen it up. I probably looked like a crazy person, but I HELD ON. I took water at every mile marker and didn’t slow down. Shortly after Mile 11, my playlist pulled through again. “Move B*tch” by Ludacris. Yes. Less than 2 miles, less than 20 minutes. I can do anything for 20 minutes!
The photographers totally captured my #painface over those tough miles. Although I was pretty confident I’d come in under 2 hours, I wasn’t sure by how much. I truly couldn’t have pushed any harder than I already was, so it was still all about holding on. No way was I giving up at this point. And I was really excited to cross the 20K mark and send my biggest fans the good news!
The last stretch was brutal as you turn the corner onto West 10th street and up the little ramp to the boardwalk. I put on my happy face and flashed a 2 for the photographer:
And as I hit the boardwalk, my last song started. “All I do is win” by DJ Khaled. BOOM. Dang, this playlist was perfection! I dug deep and sped up to finish out the longest 0.1 of any race I’ve ever run.
And finally….1 hour, 58 minutes and 45 seconds after we started the race, I crossed the finish line! With a 2 minute and 5 second PR!
I DID IT! I was so happy, but so exhausted and needed water. I pulled out my phone to find immediate congratulations from Beth, coach, boyfriend and Dad. Best fans ever! I found Kara after she finished (also with a PR and sub-2!) and we got our medals, re-hydrated and then sat to relax for a second. We did it! And we both agreed we were relieved to get our sub-2, so that now we won’t have to try to do it ever again! 🙂 After struggling to find our way out of MCU park, we headed over to the boardwalk to celebrate.
I also got to catch my cousin and friend Emily as they finished their races! Congrats, guys! We all enjoyed some Coney Island lagers and Nathan’s on the boardwalk and of course took an obligatory post-race beach photo:
It was a kickass day. I ran the best race I could have run and am so unbelievably proud of myself. I worked hard this cycle, trained by butt off and HELD ON during race day. I reached my goal and am still a little bit in shock, but ready to see what else I am capable of! Like Kara said, 1:55? Strong NYC marathon in the fall? The sky is the limit!
I know I was the one who put in the work, but I would never have gotten across that finish line without some incredible people in my life and it’s only appropriate to thank them here:
#IronKara-You are such an inspiration to me and I am so so thankful that you were my sub-2 partner for this race. WE DID IT!!!
#RunningBuddyinMyPocket-I know I wouldn’t have even gotten to the start line without your constant motivation and encouragement. You pushed me through every long run during my training cycle and it was no different on race day. I can’t put into words how much I love and appreciate you!
Coach-Thank you for believing in me, even when I didn’t. And for always putting up with my crazy. You are the best and I can’t wait to see what you come up with for marathon training.
And a big thank you to everyone else who encouraged me throughout my training and on race day! 🙂
THE END. Phew.