Saturday, March 18, 2006
The Brooklyn Half Marathon or How I Bonked on Ocean Parkway
Today I ran the New York Road Runners Club’s Brooklyn Half Marathon. The race began at 8:00AM on the Boardwalk in Coney Island. It’s a great race and I believe one of the oldest continuously run half marathons in the country.
Some context before I dive into the details of the race… I’ve run about eight half marathons including last year’s Brooklyn Half and I’ve never been able to break 1 hour 46 minutes (just over an 8 minute per mile pace). The closest was the 2005 Bronx Half Marathon where I finished with a net time of 1:46:03, just 3 seconds shy of a preferred start for the Chicago Marathon. As you can imagine I was considerably annoyed. Of late however, actually since Chicago, I have been running strongly and have bested several personal records for shorter distances (5k, 4 miler, 10k & 15k), but I digress.
I arrived at the start of the race in plenty of time (thanks to Jared and LuAnn for organizing transportation) to use the facilities, stretch, and warm up a bit. I use the word “warm” somewhat loosely as it was a nippy 33 degrees and a chilly wind was coming off the beach. Moments later I found myself lined up with some teammates near the start and we were off.
And we were really off… At the first mile marker Kate, a fellow Hellgate Road Runner and friendly competitor said something to the effect of “Uh Oh, look at the time!” We had just run the first of 13.1 miles in 6:30. Now, starting out too fast on longer distance races is a lesson I’ve learned before (2004 NYC Marathon) but I guess not nearly well enough. Knowing I couldn’t keep that pace up for another 12.1 miles I backed off. Some anyways. Kate was running strong and though she had slowed a bit she was still pushing herself, and subsequently me, pretty hard. Pride is a funny thing.
At the second mile marker she had opened up a lead of 10-15 meters. A couple of times I toyed with the idea of catching her but figured I’d play it conservative – we were after all only 5 kilometers into the race. All the time in the world to hang back and when the time is right close the gap...“Surprise! How you doing?”
But then Ocean Parkway happened. Ocean Parkway is long and straight and flat and Kate was edging away. Somewhere around mile 8 I lost her. No “Surprise!” No “How you doing?” Just me, my pride, my spent legs and another 4 miles of Brooklyn to cover.
Finally the course turned off Ocean Parkway into fabulous Prospect Park. Knowing the finish was within reach and encouraged by the words of teammates along the course (Thanks Guys! I needed that!) I pushed on strong, churning up the devilishly long hill at mile 10 and around the rest of the course.
And there it was… The finish. Regardless of the distance or how tired I am something happens to me when I see the finish line – I sprint full out. There’s my big old ego again.
I crossed the finish line in a net time of 1:36:59 – a personal record by about 9 minutes and 12 minutes better than my time for the same course last year. To say that I’m jazzed by this would be about right. But like most other runners I am already looking ahead to a 10k in early April and the Queens Half Marathon on April 29th. Look out Kate.
Ha! Just kidding… sorta!