Sunday, May 17, 2015

Airbnb Brooklyn Half Marathon Recap

I feel like I am at a point in my running life, that I am finally getting to be good. Yesterday's race proved that point where I am capable of bigger challenges than I can imagine. It may sound dramatic, but it isn't. And part of me just thinks that it's because I never really tried hard enough, that I coasted through my life being just "good enough," (just because someone validated that in me a long time ago, and it sort of became my identity).

Anyway, the Airbnb Brooklyn Half was probably my most anticipated half. I love it because it is local, and because it is familiar. And it was the only half that I ran pregnant (before I knew I was), and it is also where I PRed last year. Having come off of a banner year last year, and being fairly inconsistent in training this year since Fred Lebow in January, I was a bit worried that I wouldn't have it in me to PR again, even though it was my ultimate goal. There is no other option than to give it my best no matter what.

And I believe I did.

Even though it was not run in an ideal pace or ideal weather, I pulled off a PR by close to 1:58. New PR now stands at 2:16:30.

I think if I controlled my excitement I would have probably faired better. But considering the (relatively) blazing fast pace I was going in the first half, (and knowing I would pay dearly during the second), I can't help but be proud of the mental toughness it took to accomplish this, and to be able to now dip below a 10:00mi/m regularly. I've only dreamed of this a few years ago.

The race started off with a bang. I took a Hammer gel right beforehand, and it added to the adrenaline I had in the tank. As much as I tried to pull back, I couldn't contain the energy, and ran a couple of sub 10 miles. Right after I passed the 5K mark, it started to drizzle, which was a bit of a welcome because it was getting pretty humid. Having sipped at the bottle throughout the entire way over, I made my first refill at the 3.5 mark, and proceeded the long ascending back portion of Prospect Park, which always taxed me mentally. I've only ran up the entire back portion without stopping, and that was with Kavin, whom I trained with during weekends. Right around that time I thought I saw him in front.

Also right around that time, the drizzle became steady rain, and it started to really come down. It messed with me, and I was pissed. I tried to put my headphones on, but the rain made it hard. So I said screw it and just ran pissed. Perhaps it was because I just wanted to get through that portion of the route, but I actually made it to the top of the hill near Eastern Parkway/Grand Army Plaza in good time. I realized that I was still going a bit fast, so I tried to follow someone who was running a steady 10:15, since that seemed to be what I was feeling at the time.

After looping around, I took my second gel thinking it was a good time even though my stomach didn't want it. (I realize I never really want the gels, but my legs appreciate it.) The sugar kicked in just in time for the down hill 7th and 8th miles, and against better judgment, I just flew. I knew I was going to get in trouble, but somehow I just wanted to push.

By mile 9, I knew I was in trouble. I had one more gel left, and I wanted to save it for after 10, and I also needed a water refill so I stopped. And that was when the wheels started falling off slowly. The familiar twinge of cramps started to show itself. Somewhere around 9-10 I saw a fellow runner down being tended to by paramedics. (Kavin said he saw them performing chest compressions, so I hope he is okay.) Distracted, I stepped on a pothole and almost twisted my ankle, but by then I knew it was going to be a long struggle to the finish.

I downed my last gel around Avenue S, right after the 10th mile and hoped that going a bit slower would keep the cramps at bay. I knew I had enough time in the bank, so to speak, so even if I had a couple of miles over 10:38 that I would probably still PR, though I was getting nervous it wouldn't be. I just kept willing myself forward until I saw the familiar overpasses.

But everything from mile 10 on was a struggle. My stomach didn't want that last gel. My left shin started twinging. My right toes started cramping. (I don't even know how toes can cramp up like that but they did.) I just kept moving forward.

Mile 12 was hard. Everything hit me at once, but knowing I was so close, I did my best to ignore the pain and nausea setting in. (I really could've used some chew to distract myself, but just started playing counting games to run/walk.) Tried not to panic when I saw I ran it at 11:02, and clicked the garmin to distance so I would stop paying attention to pace.

After the last overpass, (thank goodness we did a 10 miler a couple weeks ago so I remembered that there were three of them), I knew it was about a 1200 length before the last turn onto the boardwalk. I tried to keep as steady a pace as possible just to inch forward.

I heard someone behind me ask, "What does 800m mean?" Someone else answered back, "that means we have about half a mile left." I half turned and looked, and saw that it was the 2:15 pacer and her running group! At that point, I tried in vain to just keep up with them, but the sudden burst of speed made my right toes completely cramp up that I hobbled. I couldn't believe it! 2:15! I wanted to just glide with them, but it wasn't meant to be. The last 400m was probably the most I've ever struggled to the finish. My toes just curled and locked up, and each step forward caused pain to shoot down the back of my left leg. But somehow I just kept going until I reached the finish.

I could have cried, but quite honestly, I was just so relieved and exhausted. I really left everything out there on the course, and for that I am extremely proud.

I grabbed my hard earned medal, apple and a mylar sheet, and headed over to the MCU Stadium, which served as the family reunion area. Walked in and found a patch of astroturf in the outfield to stretch out on, and looked up my live results to confirm my new PR. At the stadium, I met up with Kavin, and while waiting for Chris and Anna, bumped into a friend, whom it was his first half. (Automatic PR!) Kavin and I discussed our performance, and were both really relieved that that was over. Finally, Chris and Anna made their way over, and we took pics inside the minor league stadium before heading to get some Nathan's hot dogs.

I'm proud of everyone that ran. Chris literally only ran 2 miles this entire year (even though we walked a good amount during the weekends), and was able to run/walk his way to the finish. Many would say that is insane, but somehow his confidence of being able to complete things, is something to be admired. Anna was sick the day before, and slept pretty much the entire day. She was dizzy and didn't eat, (only had 2 Ensures), and was still only 50/50 by 11pm, so for her to complete a half in sub optimal conditions was a monumental feat. It's safe to say that all of us earned our medals (and hot dogs)!

New Half PR ~ 2:16:30

Brian's first half. Automatic PR!

Nathan's. Best hot dogs, ever!

These are all special to me.

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