Wednesday, May 22, 2013
the 2013 edition of the brooklyn half marathon was my 10th time running this race. my first brooklyn half, back in 2001, started in coney island and finished in prospect park. later in the decade the direction was reversed, with the start in propect park and the finish in coney island. getting the two loops of prospect park done in the first half of the race was a much nicer prospect - sorry for the pun - than having to climb them (twice) with the finish line in sight. last year, the start was moved to the front of the brooklyn museum and, as a consequence, we only had to run one loop of prospect park. while i was registered, i didn't run the brooklyn half last year because of an injury - so this was my first time running the new course.
it was also a first in terms of number of runners who participated. while the brooklyn half has always been popular (it's one of my favorite races) and regularly sold out in recent years, this year saw roughly 21,000 finishers - in a two wave start (also a first). what wasn't new, however, was the early start - 7 am. that made for an early wake-up (4 am) and commute down to brooklyn. this year i car pooled in with some of my friends from Connecticut - who had to get up even earlier! i met up with them at the new rochelle train station and we drove in with two cars.
since i ran the manhattan half (1:45:31) back in january, i had a minor setback on my road to recovery. i once again had to cut back my weekly mileage (to the mid-20s) - argh. when i ran the celebrate life half marathon in march, i couldn't run a sub 1:50 - and struggled to with a 1:51:59 finish. but by mid-april i was back to rebuilding my base mileage. i was averaging 40 miles a week (on the road to my return 50-60 mph) heading into the brooklyn half. that said, i figured a sub 1:45 was a good target for the race.
ironically, my last two brooklyn half marathons were each 1:45 efforts. i haven't run a sub 1:40 for this race since 2009 (w/a 1:36:53). be that as it may, i felt pretty good about running a sub 8 minute pace when i lined up on saturday morning. except for some humidity, we had great weather (mostly overcast skies) for the run. my first mile, 7:49, was a good start, followed, by a 7:59, and another 7:49 - but that was it for sub 8 minute miles for the foreseeable future! in fact, the next 3 miles were a string of 8:10, 8:14, and 8:16 - even including the prospect park hills, that wasn't a the pace i had hoped for (hitting the 10k split in 50 minutes, an 8:03 pace).
even my favorite stretch of the race - ocean parkway - did little to speed up my pace. my split for the 15k was 1:15:55, an 8:08 pace - and at 10 miles it was 1:21:22 (also 8:08). but things looked up from there because i had grabbed a handful (3) of gu's at the mile 8 aid station. the double strength caffeine gu's that i ate in miles 9 and 10 kicked and i ran a series of cut down miles for the last 5k (7:48, 7:36, 7:18 and 0.54) in a 7:36 pace! but even with that last burst of speed, i crossed the finish in 1:45:01 - missing the sub 1:45 by only two seconds.
the overall 8:01 minute pace was a mild disappointment. but that was more than offset by how happy i was with the last 5k - not only with the 7:36 pace but, most importantly, i had no pain in my foot when it was done. this is the second race in a row (on the heels of the norwalk mother's day 10k last weekend) where i was able to push the pace in the last few miles. while i haven't been too thrilled with the slow pace of re-building my base mileage, it has begun to show results. next month, if all goes according to plan, i will finally be back to the track for some speedwork :D
here are my race photos.
and here are my photos from the pre-party (packet pick-up).