Brooklyn Half Recap: Resilience

I thought of a few differing titles for this post:

“Brooklyn Half Recap: How not to win a race”

“Brooklyn Half Recap: A Comical”

“Brooklyn Half Recap: Lessons never learned”

I settled on this one, though, because after all is said and done, it was truly resilience that got me to the finish line.

Let me start from the beginning, before I jump to the finish line, though.

I signed up for the Brooklyn Half back in April, before I even knew if I’d be healed from my injury enough to run the race. I had moments prior to the race where I freaked out and considered not running it, but in the end I decided I would run it for me. I would run it for fun and to remind myself why I run: because I love running.

The week leading up the race I prepared by totally wearing out my body. Monday I went for a 3 mile run, Wednesday I did yoga for the first time in months and Thursday I ran 4 miles and thought it would be a good idea to walk 7 more as well. By Friday I was still sore from yoga, plus my legs were a little cracked out from all the walking. So obviously, I decided some more long walks to work and such were an excellent idea.

Friday afternoon I met Dara for lunch in Nolita; our last meal together before she moved back to Toronto (insert sad face). We dined at Cafe Gitane.

Cafe Gitane dons modest scenery, yet still manages to grasp that classic “grungy chic” feel. As I had read in online review, the cafe was adorned with beautiful people, the hostest looking like an off-duty model herself. The restaurant was busy for a Friday at 1pm (seriously doesn’t anyone work in NY!?), but luckily we only had to wait 15min for a table.

Dara and I split the Avocado Toast since she heard rave reviews about it:

It was good, but nothing to write home about. I guess what makes it special is it was somewhat interesting and different. It was served warm and the toast has a strong lemon taste that seeps out the bottom half of the toast. When I bit into it, at first I just tasted the avocado, but then my tongue hit the lemon accompaniment and it did add a nice zest to cut the sweet avocado taste. The red pepper flakes on top seemed to be overly strong that day…

Next I got a Grilled Eggplant entree. I like to think I carbo load on a daily basis, so I didn’t feel it was really necessary the day before the race (btw –I will never consider vegetable carbs, I chose to hold my own food pyramid):

Again, it was good, but nothing special. I like eggplant, I like tapenade, I like goat cheese and pesto — couldn’t really go wrong.

During lunch Dara asked me about what I was going to have as my pre-race meal, which to I kind of just laughed because I honestly hadn’t really thought about it. I had kind of already written off the Brooklyn Half as just a long run that would likely result in a 10mile run + walk. Going alone with the excellent preparation for the race, I decided it was a MUST to stop in at the cupcake shop next door in order to get a cupcake to go along with the wine I was planning to have that night.

Yep, cupcakes and wine my friends, fuel of champions. I mean, when in NY right?

Anyways, it being a gorgeous Friday afternoon I thought it would be a perfect idea to really wear my legs out by walking part of the way home from lunch.

Friday night I did stay in (yes score one!) and just watched a movie with the boyfriend (while eating a fresh mozzarella sandwich, followed by wine and my cupcake). However, the movie we watched was terrible, graphic, violent and just awful. I recommend never watching The Divide. Perfect – just what I wanted, a movie bound to give me nightmares when I had to wake up at 5:30am the next day.

By 10:30pm I did finally get myself into bed and went to sleep until my alarm went off at 5:30am. I was a little groggy, but I took a quick shower, which pretty much woke me up. I also showered because I desperately needed to shave — you know, in case anyone was taking a close up of my legs during the race. I foam rolled a little, got dressed in my favorite Lululemon run shorts and a singlet for the Kenilworth Running Club that my awesome friend across the pond, Helen, graciously gave to me.

I really hate getting to races early because I get nervous just standing around, but I headed out my door at 6am for the 7am race and caught a cab right away towards Prospect Park, Brooklyn. The cab was really quick and by 6:20am I was out of the cab and joined the hoards of people walking towards the race corrals.

I also hate standing in my corall alone waiting for the race to start because again I get nervous. Luckily through the magic of twitter I was able to meet up with (and meet in general) Amy! It was so nice to finally meet her after reading her blog for months and even nicer to have someone to chat with before the start.

I have to say, NYRR were quite timely for this race. The announcement that the corrals were closing promptly came on at 6:30-6:40am and the race was off by 7:10am.

I honestly don’t remember the first few miles much, but I do know it took a while for my legs to warm up and I wasn’t totally feeling the run from the start. I’m not familiar with Brooklyn or Prospect Park, so I think I was just kinda of trying to get a grasp of my surroundings and not trip over someone in the hoard of runners. The first 3 miles (ish) were around the outside of Prospect Park. The next 3-4 miles consisted of the inside loop of Prospect Park. I wouldn’t say of it was flat, but it also wasn’t huge hills; more like gradual inclines.

Somewhere in Prospect Park there is a “bigger hill” that I was warned about, but honestly I barely noticed it. I think it occurred to me that I was on the hill when I was already half way up. There were so many runners that it’s kind of hard to see to far ahead and maybe I was just out of it, but I wasn’t really paying attention the elevation. Anyways, I have a hard fast rule that I never stop on a hill, so I shut up it instead.

Around mile 6 is where I started to get scared. Already I could “feel” my knee. Now, I don’t mean pain at that point and it’s hard to explain the actual feeling, but let’s just say I could feel it for the sake of this post. From the past I know that my injury starts out by feeling the knee, then progresses into tightening of my entire upper leg and then a sharp pulling sensation in my knee; which then physically debilitates me from running. Sounds pleasant right? I tried to tell myself to slow down to possibly ward off the entire IT band wrath, but in a race my legs override my mind and I couldn’t really slow down.

By mile 6 my endurance was finally start to feel good and I was mentally feeling into the race, but physically, my IT band was not having it. Miles 7 – 13ish were along the highway, which was closed off, on the way to Coney Island. This was my favorite part of the race. There’s something so exhilarating to me about running through an open street that you know should be occupied by cars. It was predicted to be a hot day and at this point the sun was shining down in full force. My IT band knee pain kept getting worse, but I kept going.

During mile 8 I knew in order for me to finish I’d have to stop and stretch out my IT band a bit. So, I did something I’ve never done before — I swerved over to the side of the road and stopped. I know to stop it seems hard to keep going at times, but to me, stopping is even more of a challenge. I stopped, I stretched…and then I got back into the race, because that’s what a runner does. My knee was still hurting a lot, but it wasn’t AS bad as it was 2 months ago. The main difference being I physically could run on it, whereas 3 months ago I physically could not. There was the voice in my head that told me I should be smart and stop, but I don’t know, I just didn’t feel like I absolutely needed to. I absolutely wanted to, but that wasn’t enough to end this race for me.

When I bent down to stretch I got dizzy and realized the heat was actually getting to me. I  had a few Gu Shot Blocks to replenish and some more water.

From mile 8-9 I kept telling myself I just needed to make it to mile 9 and then I could stop to stretch again; somehow I made it to mile 12 :-). I think it helped that I had told Beth the night before that I would run mile 11 in her honor because that’s always the toughest mile for me. I was wearing my “Soul Sister” bracelet and thought about my running buddy Kristine and how she wouldn’t want me to stop. I was reminded by the shirt I was wearing of Helen and how amazing running is that it can connect people from different continents that may never have met otherwise. Then I thought about my Mom, my Dad, my Brother, my entire family and how supportive they’ve been with my running; and how resilient my family was as a whole. This may sound sappy, but I thought about how my family has overcome a lot of sh*t this past year; if we made it through those things, I could finish the damn race with a smile on.

Mid-way through mile 12 I HAD to stop and stretch in order to be able to finish out the race strong (…or maybe just finish it…). I stopped a little longer than planned because I stupidly re-tied my shoelace and it took 3 times to get it at the correct tightness.

The last mile, mile 13, I knew I had made it. Only roughly 10min more to go. My legs were tight and felt like they had natural compression sleeves on all the way from my calves to my hips. My hips felt sore and I was focusing on pushing through my glutes to take the pressure off my IT band. I’ve honestly never felt this sore in a race before. I had only trained up to 10miles and I felt like it.

Here I am towards the end, rounding near to the Coney Island boardwalk:

My first reaction when I saw this was, “I look lost.” My lovely friend Beth pointed this out to me though:

That made me feel good. I’ve been reminded many times that if it was easy, everyone would do it. I may have been in pain, but that’s expected. The point was I was still running  and I was still enjoying myself.

The crowds towards the end were wild and really picked me up. I finished smiling because if all these people were going to come all the way out to Coney Island at 9am on a Saturday, the least I could do was smile for them.

My finishing time was 2:10:06. Stops and all, it was still faster than my first half. I had my Garmin on, but I set it to the home screen so I wouldn’t be obsessed with looking at my pace. I seriously did not want to run this race, I am coming off an injury and the Brooklyn Half was purely for me to run for the sheer love of running. However, after the fact I did check out my splits and was highly pleased with myself (note mile 8 and 12 had stops included):

My “moving time” according to my watch was 2:07:49, which isn’t bad for not having really trained and coming off a very bad injury! I know if it wasn’t for the knee pain I could have pushed harder, I had it in me, I could have totally killed my PR of 2:06. I’ll save that for next time :-)

The smartest thing I did for the Brooklyn Half was stop at the medical tent right after the finish line and get my knee wrapped up with ice. I always figured the medical tents were for people with “real” problems, like fainting, death, etc. However, I saw so many people going into the tent that I figured not everyone could be severely ill. I was right, they kindly provide ice for minor injuries :-)

I stopped to take a moment to enjoy the scenery. I took off my shoes and sunk my sore toes into the sand….

On my way to the subway, I snapped a shot of Coney Island the most famous part of Coney Island, Nathan’s Hotdogs:

Resilience: The ability to recover – Yes I think that just about sums of the Brooklyn Half :-)

QUESTIONS: What does racing mean to you? Did you run any races this weekend? How did they go? What does resilience mean to you? Share you’re stories!!! 

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8 Responses to Brooklyn Half Recap: Resilience

  1. The Brooklyn Half is one of my favorite races! (At least back in the day when it started in Coney Island and ended in Prospect Park.) I have never considered going into the medical tent for ice — will keep that in mind for next time. Congrats on pushing through and running a smart race, and thanks for sharing!

  2. Kara says:

    Yay awesome job, lady!! Way to be resilient-love that word. I know EXACTLY what you mean about “feeling” your knee. That’s how it starts for me too (especially when I was having IT band issues.) It was seriously an accomplishment when I was able to run through the pain though so I also understand that! (Even though I know that’s not something I should do!) How are you feeling now?? Hope you’re doing well! You did so great!! Wish we could have met up but we will soon for sure :)

  3. runlivelaugh says:

    Yay! Great post and I am so happy you finished and in a really respectable time too – despite the difficulties! Congrats for getting there and doing so well, despite all the things in the way.

    Would you do the race again? It could be my excuse to come back to NYC next year and I’ve never been to Brooklyn!!

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