I can’t believe it took me almost three months to get myself together and write this post. Anyway, I finally did it!
I have not planned to run such a big race as a half marathon only three months after I started running. BUT I got an invitation to run Popular Brooklyn Half Marathon 4-5 weeks before the race date. This race is a most popular half marathon in the United States, 27000 participants and it was sold out within 2 hours after the sale started in 2018.
I was not sure if I can run that distance. I did not have proper training, the longest distance in my training session was only 10k, and it was not enough time left before the race. So, I decided to reach out to my trainer for her approval. And she said, “Go for it, this is a rare chance to get the spot in such popular race.” This is how I got myself into this.
A week before the half marathon I have a 4-mile race “Japan Run” from NYRR. And most of my training was concentrating on this. Plus it was the end of the semester in my grad school, so my preparation for half marathon did not go well. The longest distance I run before race day was 14 km/8.7 miles. But I felt that I am going to be okay.
Thursday. 2 days before the race day.
This race has a fantastic pre-party (expo) in Brooklyn Bridge Park. We went together with my husband. The party located on the pier with life music (Dj and some bands), expo, photo zones, food tracks and just a big zone to relax and enjoy the Manhattan view. The atmosphere was chill. Everyone looked enjoying the party and excited about the race.
The weather forecast for race day was RAIN. But everyone hoped to the last minute that as always weather prognoses in New York would change. But of course, it did not happen this time. Only one thing I bought at the expo was New Balance Visor, and it was the best purchase for the race!
Saturday. Race day.
4.20 am – my alarm went on. I woke up quickly and was so excited before my first BIG race.
The weather was not what I dreamt about… Rainy and cold. Brrr. But what can you do? I instantly thought about Boston runners, who had the worst conditions, and small rain did not look bad anymore.
I ate oatmeal which I made overnight with frozen berries and almond milk. Got ready, I was wearing Adidas shorts, official Popular Brooklyn Half t-shirt (New Balance), Visor, Nike Pegasus 34 and old jacket (which I prepared for donation before the start).
5.15 am – my Uber arrived and took me to the start line. The driver was super nervous, that all roads were closed and he did like to go extra block to get closer to the start. But eventually, we get where.
6.00 am – I was in my corral- wave 1, corral H. It was not the best feeling waiting for the start under the rain, but it was not that bad as I thought. Around 7 am I saw a pacer from my corral – Connor, target was 1 hour 55 minutes. I asked him about the strategy, and he planned to run with even pace all distance. I liked this because I think I am struggling with negative splits. Plus, I was not sure, that I will have any energy left to push after 10 miles.
7.05 am– we start moving towards the start line.
7.20 am– I am running! YAY! Finally!
Every coach and runner ho run this half will tell you, not to go crazy in the first part of the race. I really liked how we kept our pace even around 8.46/mile during all distance. After first couple miles, we grew a little team of runners who targeted 1hour: 55 minutes finish time for this race. We had a little chat, supported each other, and controlled our mile mark time. It was a lot of fun. For my future big races, I will definitely run with pacer again.
Ok. Let’s talk a little bit about a course.
This is the map for 2018 course.
The race starts with awesome sights of the Brooklyn Museum and an easy downhill for the first half mile following by another half mile which takes you uphill towards the Grand Army Plaza, then up and down again. It is crucial not to go crazy on first miles, and just take it slow and enjoy it.
The second mile is fun, as you will running a turnaround and see all other runners who just started the race. As you look on the elevation chart, it is a little hill on the second mile, but it is nothing to worry about. It is very small, and you will barely notice it.
The biggest hill awaits you on 4.5 mile. The Prospect Park Hill is long, you can’t even see where it ends, but is not super bad! After you push yourself through this part, you’re good to go, and nothing can stop you. I was mentally preparing myself for craaazy hill, but I did not even realize that we run through it until the pacer told us “that is it, the hardest part is done!”. So, if you had a hills training in your routine and did not push yourself crazy in the beginning, you will be fine! J
The race is flat or downhill past mile 6, so you have a lot of room to play with. After you exit Prospect Park on Mile 7, you will be in Ocean Parkway all the way until the last mile of the race. Many people saying is a little boring to run this part. But for me it was perfect. Running straight (no turns), downhill, what can you else ask for PR?! It is an ideal opportunity to zone out and push your best.
After mile 11-12 I run a little bit faster when my pacer team. I was waiting for when I will hit the wall, but it was just perfect! I did not take any gels during this run. I felt energized and not hungry. I started fell hunger on the last 800 meters.
So, I pushed hard as I can and crossed the finish line with a time of 1 hour: 54 minutes! Yay! I was so happy that I run my first half-marathon without sufficient training and only after three months of running UNDER TWO HOURS. I was so proud of myself.
My husband was waiting or me at the finish line. After the race, I change my wet clothes and went home, and get a full body massage at evening. I felt pretty good on the next day. It took me about a couple of days to recover and restart my running training.
I was an amazing race and experience!