Thursday, April 16, 2009

from the archives: 2007 boston marathon race report - part one, the brooklyn half marathon

this is the first of a three parts race report for the 2007 boston marathon. these parts were originally posted on coolrunning and runners world masters forums. in my review of 2007 and preview of the 2008 boston marathon, i summarized this trio of race races. since the links to the forums reports no longer work, i'll repost the reports here on my blog.
Boston 2007 Race Report: Part One
Brooklyn Half Marathon
Saturday, April 14, 2006

My Boston Marathon weekend began on the streets of Brooklyn, running from Coney Island to Prospect Park, in the Brooklyn Half Marathon. The Brooklyn Half was scheduled for Boston Marathon weekend. It had been pushed back a month from its typical mid-March date, as part of an overall reshuffling of the traditional dates of the grand prix series races. As a former Brooklynite, this is one of my favorite races and I didn't intend to miss it - Boston or not. So I decided to add it to my schedule as a training run.

In the prior two years, I'd run the Wurtsboro Mountain 30k the week before Boston. Since Wurtsboro had been moved up to March this year, I didn't race Easter weekend, and limited my long run to 10 miles. But a half marathon before a full one? For me, it was simply part of the overall base building phase of my Vermont 100 training plan. I had done this combination a few times in the last six months. As training for the Disney Goofy Challenge, I'd run a half marathon the day before the NYC Marathon in November. With the Coast to Coast Marathon in Rhode Island followed by a 15 miler the next day, I reversed that combination. And then there was the actual Goofy Race and a Half in January.

The only new twist this time was the day off between the two races. That worried me a bit because of delay onset muscle soreness. DOMS normally bedevils me two days after a long hard effort. I can reliably squeeze in a race or long run the day following that hard effort. But even if I took that day off, the subsequent day is generally filled with muscle soreness. For that reason alone, Boston two days after the Brooklyn Half was more worrisome to me, than had I run it the next day.

Saturday morning followed a family tradition, of sorts. My wife and daughter accompany me to the start in Coney Island, then they drive to Prospect Park and have breakfast. Afterwards we reunite at the finish. My friend Don was driving in with us. Brooklyn was also one of his favorite races. This was the third Brooklyn Half we were going to together. He arrived just before 6:30, we were on the road by 6:40, and reached Coney Island by 7:30. After Don took care of his race day registration, we dropped our stuff off at the baggage bus and walked to the start on the Boardwalk.

Don and I run a lot of races together. He also ran the [2007] Wurtsboro Mountain 30K and Boston Blowout 30K races back to back with me last month. In 2006, he ran all five of the grand prix half marathons, to my three. The year before, 2005, I ran all five of the grand prix half marathons. After today's race, with only Queens and Staten Island remaining, Don is on track to do all five this year. This was my fifth Brooklyn Half. In 2005 and 2006, I ran 1:30:15 and 1:30:34, respectively. This year, as a training run, hoped to break 1:40. But, realistically, with the planned 7:45 pace I wanted to maintain, that wasn't likely.

On the Boardwalk, at the starting line, I was pleasantly surprised to run into Dean, a fellow Marathon Maniac. I had last seen him at the [2007] Caumsett Park 50K. We chatted for a while, catching up on races run, and races planned. He had just run the Ocean City Marathon in Maryland, the week before, in an April snowstorm... so the prospect of heavy rain at Boston in two days seemed somewhat less daunting by comparison. After the race started, we didn't see each other again until prospect park.

The Brooklyn Half can be divided into three different parts. The first is run as an out and back along the boardwalk. Then a brief transition on Surf Avenue to Ocean Parkway, where the bulk of the course, approximately five miles, runs. This section is flat and straight - perfect terrain for speed. Then, at the end of mile nine, the runners enter Propect Park. The last 4 miles of the course are basically a hilly loop inside Prospect Park. The toughest element of the course is the large hill runners climb during mile 11, in the northern end of the Park.

I completed the first three miles in 23:49 - well off my target 7:45 pace. In fact, only mile two, in 7:44, hit the target - and I wouldn't see a 7:44 again until mile eight. I took the opportunity in mile four to make a quick pit stop in one of the roadside porta johns. That 8:45 mile was my slowest of the race. The long stretch of Ocean Parkway was uneventful, with my pace bouncing between 7:44 and 8:07. A pretty stiff 15 mph headwind blew for most of that stretch. My split at mile nine was a slower than hoped for 1:12:28, an 8:03 pace. To make the most of this training run, I finished up the loop of the park with progressively faster miles: 7:51, 7:37, 7:23, and 7:12. My time of 1:43:16, a 7:52 pace, disappointed me a little.

Still I did enjoy myself. I caught sight of, and said hello to, my friend Michael, a member of the Prospect Park Track Club, just after mile ten. He was cheering on his fellow teammates. I caught up to Dean and his friends in mile 13, and saw him at the finish. Overall, despite the slightly slower finish, I'm glad I didn't give in to temptation and actually race the course. That would have made my goal of 3:30 in Boston pretty unrealistic. I wanted to run a sub 3:30, which would qualify me for Boston 2008 (as I join a new five year age group). But I'd be happy just to finish it with anything between 3:30 and 3:40 - or a sub 8:30 pace for the race

continue on to part two, the baa freedom run report.

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