2009 was my seventh time running the brooklyn half marathon. 2009 was the first time the half ran in the reverse direction, from propect park to coney island. the new course included two loops of the park, before it ran down ocean parkway to the finish. in a coincidence, i first ran the brooklyn half in 2001. that year bad weather moved the start off the boardwalk, which necessitated a second loop of the park to correct for the alteration!
luckily, the second loop of prospect park came at the start of the 2009 race - and not the finish. it's best to get the hills done and out of the way early, rather than later. as in years past, pat drove us (emmy, rob, and me) down to the start and then met us at the finish. in a change from the past years, katie slept in and skipped the race. also, in another last minute change of plans, don couldn't run the race. so we had two fewer people in the car for the trip.
pat dropped us off right in front of the baggage trucks. almost instantly we lost rob, as he made his way to the porta-johns. just as quickly, emmy and i met up with bob. bob is running 50 races in one year to celebrate his 50th birthday. in the process, he is using the experience to raise awareness and money to fight childhood diabetes! as i dropped off my bag, i spotted chris. when i said hi to him, i mistakenly put my bag on the wrong truck! luckily, i found it with no problems at the end of the race.
in one of the coolest race moments, just inside the park was the v.i.p. tent. emmy had gotten an email from the nyrr inviting her (and a guest) to visit it. the greatest part of that perk - the no wait porta-john! i also grabbed a small bottle of red grapefruit juice - which emmy gave me way too much grief for drinking just before the start. who could have imagined pre-hydration would be so complicated!
it was an crowded walk over the start on center drive. we were in the second corral, and we had given rob a little grief earlier because he had a first corral bib for this race. while we waited for the start, mary wittenburg (who would jump into the race herself) walked up and down offering the runners salt packets! i didn't think the heat was that bad - but better safe than sorry. the brooklyn borough president announced that the field was 11,800 strong. i said a hi to tom just before the gun went off.
the first mile was, as expected, slow and crowded. it also included one fairly sharp left turn off the main drive (which we would bypass the second time around - when we did a full loop of the park). mile one took 7:36 - and would set the tone for a conservative pair of loops. while i didn't have more than a sub 1:40 finish in mind, it seemed that i'd have to make up the time on ocean parkway because running a 7:30 pace in the park was tougher than i'd though (mainly because of the volume of runners on the course).
on the south end of the first loop, mile 4, emmy and bob caught up with me and we ran together for a mile or so. bob had taken his camera with him and snapped that very cool picture of me in race action :D he also snapped a shot of a runner dressed as zorro! given the sun and heat, dressing in black didn't seem the way to go - in my opinion. but then again, i'd never run a race wearing a cape - so what did i know?
my five mile split was 38:04 - just slower than the 7:30's i wanted to run for the first half of the course. emmy once again caught up with me on the southbound leg of the second loop - we weaved in and out of traffic together as we made for the park exit and moved over to the prospect expressway. free of the crowd, i ran mile 7 in 7:02 - my fastest mile of the half. i was right at home on ocean parkway and looked forward to working my way up the alphabet as we moved closer to coney island.
except for a quick psyche out with newkirk and parkside avenues coming way too soon in the alphabet, i mentally ticked off each approaching letter on ocean parkway. i ran sub 7:20's on this stretch, and my split for the second five miles was 36:28, for a cumulative 1:14:32 at the ten mile mark. with just a 5k left, i dropped the pace down to sub 7:15's and ran a 22:21 for the last 3.1 miles. the last mile (primarily on the boardwalk) seemed to stretch out endlessly! but i was in for a neat surprise just before the finish!
i heard pam shout out my name! there she was, with pat alongside her, cheering just before the mile 13 mark! how cool was that?! pam had driven ilana and eliot to the start, and then met up with pat at coney island. they went for some coffee at dunkin donuts, then waited for all of us to finish the race. i was very happy with my 1:36:53, 7:23 pace. while it was well off my personal best for this race (1:30:15 and 1:30:34 in 2005 and 2006, respectively) - it was a decent improvement from my 1:39:38 in 2008.
in the finish area we did some serious socializing. at one point our little group included the following characters: pat, pam, emmy, rob, chris, bob, ilana, eliot, frank, and maggie! earlier i had said hi to fellow taconic teammates tom (who won his age group!) and bob. the only two people i didn't see were mike and al, both with pptc. even factoring in the crowded park at the start, the general consensus was the revised course was great!
here are my race photos.