Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Rock ‘n Roll Brooklyn Half Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!
It feels like it was a lifetime ago, but just this past Saturday, I ran the Rock ‘n Roll Brooklyn Half Marathon for the first time! This was my big goal race for the fall, and I must admit that it was full of quite a few surprises, most of them NOT pleasant! Still, I powered through and finished half marathon #15! I’m so excited to finally share my recap with you!
I’m linking up with Marcia, Patty, and Erika for Tuesdays on the Run, where bloggers talk about their training and share running tips! I’m also linking up with Susie, Debbie, Lora, and Rachel for the Running Coaches Corner and Annmarie, Nicole, and Jen for Wild Workout Wednesday!Check out my recap of the @runrocknroll Brooklyn Half Marathon! #bibchat #bibravepro Click To Tweet
If you follow my blog regularly, you know that I have spent the last 3 months training for the Rock ‘n Roll Brooklyn Half Marathon and I shared the details of that training every week. After having such an incredible spring racing season where I PR’d in the 10K, 10 mile, and half marathon distances, I wanted to see if I could get even faster and break my newest half marathon PR of 2:07:56 that I achieved in Buffalo. Well spoiler alert, I didn’t get that PR. I worked extremely hard to get there, but once again, the weather played a big role in my racing performance. Such is life as a distance runner!
coerced encouraged Bret to also run this race so that we could have one more mini-racecation together. Bret’s sister lives in New York, so we were able to stay there for the night and spend a little bit of time in Queens, though it was a pretty quick trip. Bret has been gunning for a half marathon PR as he’s been teetering on the edge of 1:40 for a while. I was really excited to see how this race would go for the both of us!
I had a ridiculously easy commute to NYC. I took a half day off at work and took the Regional Rail to 30th Street Station. From there, I took a 12:00 pm Bolt Bus to NYC, read a book on the way, and ended up right across the street from the Jacob Javits Convention Center at 2:00! Bret still had to work a full day in the office, so I was going to pick up his race materials on his behalf, then he would meet up with us as soon as he could get out of work.
I had my purse, a small backpack, and a duffle bag on my arm as I entered the Convention Center for the Health and Fitness Expo. I was excited to get in there, but it had to be one of the smallest expos I’ve ever seen! The layout was strange because you had to walk through part of the Expo to get to the registration area. I was able to get Bret’s materials easily, and I decided that instead of starting in Corral 11, I’d start in Corral 9 so that I wouldn’t get lost in the shuffle. I got the official corral change, but apparently, that wouldn’t matter…what are rules, anyway?
Of course, I had to buy some Rock ‘N Roll Brooklyn swag: a beer glass, a couple of cute tank tops. I texted Kim of KookyRunner to see if we would be able to meet up at the Expo and sure enough, we did! It was great to catch up with her since our first meeting in Montreal. Kim was deciding whether to continue running the half or dropping down to the 5 mile. After all, she just ran the Chicago Marathon a few days prior! I also ran into the two other BibRave Pro’s that were running the race: John from Run Geek Run Disney and Sara from Sara Runs the Cape. We all chatted a bit before wishing each other luck and going our separate ways.
Once I was done with the Expo I headed to Queens, which was an easy ride on the 7 train. Bret’s brother-in-law Ben was home and I chilled a bit at the apartment. I didn’t have lunch so I was really hungry…by this time it was around 4 pm, so it was going to be a pretty late lunch. I Ben and Alysia (Bret’s sister) ended up taking me to a local Italian restaurant. I definitely ate too much food…I got a personal pizza and ate 3/4th’s of it….smh! I even ended up getting heartburn after the meal. Am I getting old or what!
It wasn’t until 7:30 that Bret finally made it to the apartment, and then it was time to go eat again! This time, we went to a nice pub and I got a delicious bean burger with sweet potato fries and an Oktoberfest beer. Before I knew it, it was time to settle in and get ready for bed. Ben graciously offered to drive us to the race start, so that was a HUGE relief and time saver. I think I got to bed sometime after 10 for a 5 am wakeup. That’s pretty much like any day during the week for me!
I woke up at 5 as planned, making sure to hydrate. I ate a granola bar from Nature’s Bakery for breakfast and hoped things would “pass through”…lol. We headed out the door at 5:45 and Bret just needed to find a place to get coffee to drink before the race. Unfortunately, Dunkin Donuts wasn’t open before 6 am, so once Ben dropped us off, we had to search for a nearby coffee shop in Brooklyn. Fortunately, there was an adorable spot that was open and the crisis was averted – and we had plenty of time before the 7 am race start. It was weird to be at a race where it was still so dark outside!
Bag drop was straightforward, though unlike in Montreal, the trucks were sorted by alphabetical order, instead of by bib number. I made the wrong assumption and already tore off my tag – so it did take a little while for us to get our bag checked since Bret’s line was a lot longer. The Expo was very deceptive – there were a LOT of people at this race! We had tons of photographers snapping photos in our faces on the way to Security and once we were through the metal detectors, all was good.
Finally, the sun started to rise and one thing was certain – we were at 100% humidity. I think it rained the night before, but I already knew that high humidity would be in the weather forecast. The announcer was being loud and obnoxious as usual (if you’ve run Rock ‘n Roll races, you know who I’m talking about), but overall the energy was pretty good. I was excited about the race, but the corrals did seem to be VERY disorganized, in a similar way that it was in Seattle. Here we go again.
After going to the potties, Bret and I jogged a little before splitting up and wishing each other luck. I lined up for Corral 9, but honestly, I could have lined up anywhere. I wonder if that would have made a difference…but anyway, we were waiting for a while to even get started. Even though the race was supposed to start at 7 am, the first Corral didn’t go until at least 7:10. Then there was a weird snafu where Corral 9 was called up 3 different times (again, gotta love that announcer lady) before we finally crossed the start line….and then we were off!
In anticlimactic fashion, we started the race. And as we headed down the street past the Brooklyn Museum, it was SO crowded! I was trying to stick to my plan and take it a little slower for the first mile, but I was going WAY too slow! Thankfully, I noticed an 11+ minute pace on my Garmin and picked up the pace a bit to settle into where I needed to be, though the first mile was still too slow. The humidity was INTENSE and persistent and the skies were overcast. Surprisingly, the temperature wasn’t all that bad. But I had a serious fight ahead of me over the entire course of the race.
Once I made it through the first two miles, I was feeling really good. Was I a little tempted to split off with the 5-mile runners? Haha, maybe just a little! Fortunately, once they split, we had a bit more space and I didn’t have to worry about being crowded out anymore. I really enjoyed the scenery on the course and looked at the apartment buildings, the trees with slightly changing foliage, and I had lots and lots of runners to watch. There were a couple of out-and-back portions of the race so I tried to see if I could find Bret, but I never could. I didn’t know if it was because he was going too fast or going too slow. But I was really focused on maintaining a 9:30-9:40 pace.
You know how some races the miles just fly by? This wasn’t one of them. I noticed every single mile marker. I was drenched from the humidity within the first mile, so it was a real challenge to maintain my pace. I’ve said it a thousand times but humidity is my Kryptonite. I kept willing myself to stay strong despite it, and I was really pleased that I was able to hang in there. I just didn’t know how long I could hold on! This was going to be a tough one.
Splits: 10:22, 9:47, 9:22, 9:28, 9:49.
The next challenge was the long out-and-back on Ocean Parkway…this made up almost half of the entire race! It is so mentally tough to see the runners on the opposite side of the road so much closer to the finish line…and the turnaround point took an eternity to reach! And while it appeared to be flat, there were some long, steady inclines and declines along the way…so my body was really putting in work to stay strong. Along the way, I felt various pains in my right hip, both knees, my quads, and my glutes. There was no cause for concern with any of the pain, but I wanted to PR so badly and I wanted to be able to say I gave it my all.
Apparently, there is a noise restriction ordinance in NYC such that no amplified music could be played on the course until a certain hour. So instead of having the typical a rock ‘n roll experience, there were a few drummers along the way, and of, course whenever I passed by, they weren’t playing at all or had very low energy. I did have my own playlist going during the race, but I enjoy the boost that live music provides. This was a real bust, especially during such a long, boring stretch. And what was even worse was that I started to have some GI issues around mile 7! I didn’t know if I should stop to go to the bathroom, deciding against it after passing several porta-potties on the course. That was NOT a good feeling.
The wheels were starting to fall off. I wanted to stay under a 10-minute mile but as hard as I was working, I could feel myself slipping and people around me began to pass me. I was starting to feel defeated. Then I did the unthinkable – I walked through a water stop around mile 9. That’s something that I only do when I’m really struggling for an excuse to walk. I hoped that it would somehow give me a second wind, but it didn’t work at all. Then we had to go up a ramp between miles 9 and 10 and I was SPENT. It really dragged me and I got even slower as we finally made our way to Prospect Park for the final miles of the race. I was in trouble.
Splits: 9:40, 9:38, 10:03, 10:19, 10:48.
I don’t even know what was going through my mind, but the struggle was REAL. I should have looked at my watch to really see how things were going. Maybe I could have engineered a way to get closer to my goal of 2:05. I knew that the PR wasn’t happening, but maybe I could have made a few minor choices that would have saved some time. Running through Prospect Park was really pretty, but I knew that I would be approaching the biggest uphill portion of the race. And as I climbed, I got slower and slower. It was absolutely miserable. Every time I took my Chews, my stomach would churn and I’d debate whether I should just run to the potty and get it over with, but I never did. I did walk through another station at this point and looking back, I wish I hadn’t.
Once we got in the park, we finally had some amplified music, but it was so LOUD that it was more annoying than enjoyable. We had lots of spectators around and better energy overall, but I was just so spent…sigh. I knew that the very end we’d finally get a downhill so I braced myself for that moment. I pushed myself as hard as I could in that final 1/2 mile and apparently Kim called out for me while I was approaching the finish. I was in an angry/intense mode and didn’t see her, but I did see Bret cheering me on and saying I’m “almost done”….come on, really? LOL. I don’t even know if I waved to him.
I ran like hell to the finish…no arms up in jubilation, just ran through the finish without fanfare. This race didn’t feel like a victory. It felt like a complete failure. I was so disappointed in myself. What a relief for it to be over.
Splits: 10:51, 11:24, 10:04.
My official time was 2:12:38…13.15 miles in 2:12:40 according to my Garmin. And when I saw those results, I was PISSED. When I realized that I finished in 2:12, I realized that I really wasn’t that far off from my goal, and if I didn’t walk through those water stations, I could have knocked off a few minutes from my time…hindsight is always 20/20, isn’t it? On a lighter note, Bret completed the race in 1:40:26…just 2 seconds away from a PR! I’m really happy for him!
I went through all the emotions thinking about my performance in this race. I knew that the humidity would make the race tough, but I completely fell apart at the end. I knew when all of the elevation changes would take place during the race, but I couldn’t help but wonder if knowing this did more harm than good? Why didn’t I look at my watch to gauge how fast I needed to go to finish as strong as possible? Why the heck did I have those digestive issues? Why is the weather this fall so UGH?! I worked really hard, and the good thing is that I know that if conditions were perfect, I would have smoked this race! And finishing in 2:12 is still one of my best half marathon performances, despite not being a PR!
As soon as I could, I hit the porta potty to TCB, then changed into some clean, dry clothing. I was looking forward to meeting up with Kim post-race and we ended up meeting in the beer garden for some free Michelob Ultra…woohoo!
I normally skip the free beer because I’m more of a craft beer kind of gal, but it was just one of those days where I decided to roll with it. Security was checking ID’s to get in, and unfortunately, Bret didn’t bring his driver’s license to the race. He assumed he wouldn’t get carded…but unlike RNR Montreal, they weren’t playing around! Before Bret could have a complete meltdown, I remembered that he scanned me a copy of his license for the expo, so I was able to pull up the PDF from my phone so that Bret could get in! Crisis averted!
Once we made it in and grabbed our beer, we found Kim who was with her mom who also ran the 5 miler and a friend who completed her first half marathon. Kim’s mom is the sweetest!! It was great to chat about the race and to catch up with Kim since she completed the Chicago marathon. Somehow in my brain fog I didn’t get a picture of us together! I hope we are able to meet up at another race soon!
Eventually, we left Prospect Park and had a very long subway ride back to Queens. We went to a Mexican spot for lunch and I had a fantastic meal with all the calories! Then we had a long journey back to Philly. We didn’t get in the door until about 9 pm. Man, it was great to be back home with the cats!
Despite my challenges, the Rock ‘n Roll Brooklyn was a really fun race! I am still bummed that the weather was so humid, but the race was well organized, scenic, and definitely challenging! I probably won’t do this race again next year, but I definitely recommend it! I could see myself coming back for a re-do one day….
Thanks so much to BibRave for giving me the opportunity to run this race! It was great running through the city and I’m glad I finally got to meet some more of the BibRave Pros!
Thanks also go to my fiance Bret for indulging me in another race. I’m proud that he had another strong performance! And I really appreciate Ben and Alysia taking us in and being such gracious hosts. We had a really fun time, though it was a quick trip!
Coach Laura has really taken me to another level with my running this year and I’m so grateful. While the humidity crushed my dream to hit 2:05 this time, I am confident that it is within reach, thanks to the hard work that I’ve put in with her training! We will have to see if 2018 will be the year for 2:05! I can’t wait to find out!
And last, thanks to everyone who has encouraged me during this training cycle and wished me well. I truly appreciate the support!
So…where do I go from here? It’s weird for me to be done with training so early in the season, but I am really looking forward to having more FREE TIME, not to mention time to focus on yoga and barre. Of course, I’ll still be running! I have a 10K in a couple of weeks and an 8K in November – two new races that I’m excited about! Naturally, I’ll be blogging all about it!
Are you working towards your goal race or have you already completed it?