May 30, 2009

Brooklyn Half

Today was the Brooklyn Half Marathon, my third half marathon of the season and the first I could actually race. My first was back in January and I paced a friend doing her first half marathon so I ran her pace. My second was in February and I had just started training for New Orleans so my coach had me do it at long run pace. But today I had a chance to go for a PR and knowing it was likely my only chance this year, I wanted to give it my best.

I asked my coach for a pacing strategy prior to the race to avoid my usual go all out at the start and crash at the end approach. The plan was: Miles 1-6 - 8:30/mile; Miles 6-10 - 8:15/mile; Miles 10-13.1 - 8:00/mile and if I felt good with 1.5 miles or less to go, run as fast as I could. Here's how I did:

  • Miles 1-6: I started out good even though it was incredibly crowded - nearly 12,000 runners. I hit close to my goal pace on just about every mile, most around 8:21-8:24 with one just around 8 so I had a bit of a cushion built up. The more conservative start was perfect since this entire stretch was in Prospect Park with the only hills I'd see on the course.
  • Miles 6-10: I'm no good at sensing pace so when it was time to speed up I just ran faster and figured I'd sort it out after a mile. My first split was 7:49. Oops. I backed off and hovered right around 8:15 where I was supposed to be. We exited the park and hit Ocean Parkway. I love running on closed streets instead of in the park, it makes the race so much more interesting. We were headed straight to Coney Island.
  • Miles 10-13.1: Despite my hopes of having tons of energy at the end, I was fading. Ocean Parkway felt and looked like a false flat. I'd swear there was just enough grade to make your legs tired or perhaps my legs were just tired. I started skipping fluid stations to avoid stomach cramps and save time. I wasn't able to get to an 8:00 pace, instead I remained around 8:15 pretty consistently up until Mile 12. Coming into this fluid station I made a decision. I'd grab a Gatorade and take as many walking steps as needed to drink the small cup, then start to run again. I hoped it would act as a mini rest interval and give me that final kick I needed to come in under 1:50:00. It was a gamble because I lost about 30 seconds, but luckily it paid off. I ran the next mile in 7:54 and did the final .1 at a 7:20 pace, finishing in 1:48:53.
My previous PR was 1:52:33 last July at the NYC Half Marathon so this was an almost 4-minute improvement. I was thrilled. The race ended on the Coney Island boardwalk so I met up with friends and we waded into the water for a bit. It was freezing so I'd like to think it had the benefits of an ice bath. After standing there for several minutes, my friend Mary and I got brave enough to jump in all the way. The water was so cold it totally took my breath away, yet we managed to tough it out for another 5 minutes or so.

We did a stealth clothing change on the boardwalk, got hot coffee and headed home where we had an impromptu BBQ and lounged outside all afternoon. My optional swim didn't happen. Instead I drank summery wine and went for homemade ice cream before coming home and relaxing some more. Sometimes you just need to be lazy after a race.

Distance - 13.1 miles
Time - 1:48:53


  1. Wow, what a great time! You totally deserve "summery wine and homemade icecream"!!!



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