Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Brooklyn Half Marathon 2010 - Race Report

Before sitting down to this race report I had to re-read my Brooklyn Half Marathon Report from 2009. My, how far I have come in the past year of racing. I ran for a long time without even entering a race and now I am starting to recognize them and run the same ones annually.

Last year's Brooklyn Half was my first official Half Marathon race on record (although I had run the distance in marathon training.) As a result it was a huge eye opener. It was unseasonably hot and humid that day in 2009. I struggled to maintain a 10:30 min/mile pace and by the time I reached the Coney Island boardwalk it felt like one of those dreams where you are trying to run fast but your body doesn't respond, like your wheels are spinning and you are going nowhere.

After that day I decided I didn't want to make my goal to just run faster, because that pushing really sucked and I hated every minute of it. Instead, I wanted to make running faster feel easier.

When watching fast runners it's always astonishing when they look like they are actually expending less energy than their slower counterparts. This is usually the result of physical conditioning, experience, and technique. Of course natural talent also plays a part, but if your goal is not to win but just to enjoy running, lack of natural talent is a very surmountable issue (I should know as some one who is naturally very snail-like.)

After Brooklyn last year, I read up a lot on form, incorporated more hill and speed training, and ran with new groups of runners. I completed 3 other half marathons since that one: NYC, Staten Island, and Manhattan. Each time I got progressively faster.

By the time I reached the start line for the Brooklyn Half 2010, I had one goal in mind: to run this half marathon in less than 2 hours! Brooklyn is my favorite borough, my adopted home town of the last 6 and a half years, I had some unfinished business with it after last year's performance in misery. In addition to weekly speed training I had been using my home turf advantage to do practice runs on different stages of the course. This included sprinting that final boardwalk stretch to mentally prep for the finish line and avoid last year's bad dream. I also did hill repeats in Prospect Park and countless loops to be ready for that stage of the race.

The day before the race I did a short tempo run on the treadmill practicing my 9 min/mile race pace. I forgot my iPod and was forced to entertain myself with the sound of my feet against the rubber. Interestingly, it made this chant come into my head. I ended up remembering it during the race. It was an interesting trick that I may use for some Lady Southpaw compositions in running music down the road...

Enough of this running tangent. Here is the breakdown:

I woke up early enough but was a bit too leisurely getting my butt out the door. Somehow I managed to get there when they were doing the last call on baggage check. This surprised me because I had deluded myself into thinking I was early. Once I had taken care of that I found myself at the end of a very long porta-potty line. Unfortunately, this stop was not optional, I needed it way too desperately to wait until I was on the course. I also didn't want a porta potty stop to detract any time (as it had when I ran Manhattan.) So, I got to the start line after the gun. Being at the back of the pack was very frustrating for the first mile because this race was so full it was hard to get around people. In my head I kept fearing this stupid fact was going to keep me from my goal as my last race was 2:00:23. A few seconds doesn't seem like much until it keeps you from hitting your goal.

By the time I got to mile 2 I was more or less up with my pace group, and the time on the clock was right about on target. This was a huge relief. My trip around Prospect Park was pretty uneventful.

I decided to wear the fuel belt. It's annoying and I hate the sight of it in my race pics but not having to wait for fueling stations and not having to drink gatorade is priceless. Last year I didn't wear it and I regretted it, so I've been sporting it for all the other halfs. This was no exception and hydration wise I felt pretty great throughout the race.

Ocean Parkway felt endless! That was the one stage of the half I didn't practice I started mentally planning my practice runs to include it next year. It was the only time I felt my pace lag. When I hit 9 miles I saw I had 43 min to make my goal and was projecting that it should only take 36 to run, unfortunately this meant I lost a couple mins on miles 9-12 because I got a little too comfortable. However, once I started nearing the last stretch I picked up some speed.

At that point I was so happy because I realized I was living the experience I wanted to have last year. I was challenging my pace and not feeling defeated by it. I was running fast (for me) and still feeling strong.

I was beaming as I ran through the finish line because I knew I hit my goal! What a great feeling, knowing that I had worked so hard and it actually affected my performance the way I wanted it to. That may sound funny, but at a time when so much of my life seems out of my control or the outcomes are counter to what I had planned, being able to set a goal and achieve feels really phenomenal.

Official Time:
1:57:09 - 8:56 min/mile pace
(up from 2:17:28 in 2009!)


Erika Beth, the Messy Chef said...

YAY! Way to beat last year's time! (Maybe I should get a fuel belt if I want to beat a specific time....hmmm...)

Ansky said...

Congrats on achieving your goal and your new PR.

Michelle said...

Great job on running a sub 2 Half. Way to go!!!!

Lela said...

YAY Erin! Congratulations - doesn't the sub-2 half feel awesome?

Still sorry we lost you at the beach! Looking forward to running with you over the summer.

janderso said...

Congrats Erin! Saw you are going to be at NYRR 10K coming up too. Monica might be coming up for that and if she does I told her to watch for you. Working on a few new things and I'll catch up w/ you soon. Nice job w/ the running and love the t-shirts too!

Lady Southpaw said...

Thanks Everyone!

John- Absolutely!! Let me know as you work out your plans I'd love to meet you in "real life" :)

baker said...

awesome work breaking the goal! great recap. i also hate the Ocean Parkway stretch- it goes forever.

Sara said...

You are an inspiration.

Doc Lago said...

Great job, girl! Unfortunately I experienced you last year, this year. LOL!! Despite the pain, I really enjoyed this race! IT was my first time running Brooklyn and loved it so much I plan to run next year! Congrats on exceeding your own expectations! :)