Monday, May 20, 2013

Race Recap: Killin' It for Half #9

This past weekend I ran my ninth (!!) official Half. It was my fourth time running Brooklyn and -- as you can tell -- I always like this race and keep comin' back for more.

The entire experience -- all-in-all -- was wonderful. My parents came in on Friday afternoon, and we went to a really cute Italian restaurant in the neighborhood Friday night to get me carbo-loaded up and ready to rock n' roll. 

They inadvertently coordinated outfits because they're just so damn cute.

We had an early bedtime to prep for the 4:45am wake-up call. I like to have a full hour in the apartment before I leave for races to ensure I have everything I need, can sit and eat, use the potty, and just have time to relax and try not to stress. 

As I was explaining to my Dad on the train, it doesn't matter if it's your first half or your ninth. Or your 30th like my awesome friend Sam who just completed 30 Halfs before 30 (Crazy lady! Congrats!) I personally find that I'm still incredibly nervous -- although certainly more prepared -- each time. There's this butterflies feeling in your stomach and this nervous energy all around you. But I think that's the beauty of the thing. It's what separates this day from all the other training days. It's what makes you want to pay the money and put on the bib and do this thing. Could you do it on your own for free? Absolutely. But it's the butterflies and the fans and the finish line that makes it special.

Before leaving the apartment we did a little pre-race photo shoot. My Dad has an "interesting" sense of humor. "Lean to the left," he said. "A little more...a little more..." Until he got me to take this incredibly awkward picture. 

Leaning unnecessarily. While my Dad makes fun of me. And Archie is creepin'.

Funny, Dad. Real funny.

Here's a real one:

Purple shirt? Check!
Watch? Check!
Hat? Check!
Bib? Check!
We're ready to roll.

And my fan club and I were on the subway by just past 6 am to get down to Brooklyn.
My mom is carrying all my wordly possessions on her person.  

Once in Brooklyn, my parents transferred to another train to situate themselves at mile 3 -- the first viewing spot I had prescribed for them. I went to the starting corral and arrived in plenty of time to meet up with Joss and Erica (remember them from Miami??) and to use the glorious port-o-potties.

Starting corral

There were two Waves this year because the Brooklyn Half has gotten so big. I remember back in 2008 when I ran my first one and there were just a few thousand runners. This year? I think about 25,000. Insane.

Wave 1 was off at around 7:00am and then Wave 2 begin at 7:30.

We were off.

The course is great for this race. You start at the Brooklyn Museum and spend the first four miles on streets near the Museum and Prospect Park -- one of my favorite places in the city. You then enter the park and do its lovely 3-mile loop before exiting and running straight down a closed-down major roadway to Coney Island. Baller.

Photo of runners on Ocean Parkway courtesy of Ken Glansberg
It wasn't a secret that I was seeking out a PR over my last year's record -- also set in Brooklyn -- of 1:58:48. It was a tough goal, because that pace from last year was a 9:04. I had challenged myself to run at or below at 9:00 mile. For 13.1 miles.

I had changed my training schedule to incorporate Yoga and more "Quality" runs (i.e. hills and speed). And I had really pushed myself with the mileage, getting up to 13 miles during my longest run (whereas normally for Half training I just go to 10 or 11 prior to the Big Day).

All week I ate really well -- not a morsel of lactose hit these lips. Sigh.

I stretched plenty, and I took several rest days. I got a great night sleep for two nights in a row leading up to Saturday. My tummy felt great on Saturday am (although the preventative Imodium can never hurt!) All-in-all, I was ready.

Miles 1-7 were great. With Erica and Joss by my side, I held just over a 9:00 average pace. It's a flat course with one [horrible] hill around mile 5. With that behind me, leaving the Park and heading down Ocean Parkway, I felt like I could rule the world.

Miles 8-9 were okay. I was starting to fatigue a bit from holding that pace, which absolutely is pushing it for me. But I still felt strong.

I saw my parents at Mile 9 and that gave me another little boost, but shortly after I started feeling the pain. My joints and my muscles and my lungs were okay, but I was just TIRED. And I think dehydrated. 

Not gonna lie to you right now, Miles 10 - 13 were just totally grotesque. I really didn't enjoy them. But my own ass-like stubbornness made me push through at a sub-9:00 pace. I was at about 1:30 and knew that I was technically physically capable to do three miles in under 27 minutes. So I was determined to do so. 

I'm kind of an idiot sometimes.

Wheezing, coughing, and muttering to myself like a crazy person, I carried on.

With my blessing, Erica sped away into the sunset to conquer her own personal PR (and school me in the process). She has been battling a knee injury since Miami, so I was really happy to see her so strong.

And I was jealous as hell as I sputtered along, cursing my own sweaty body, the misty air that was cooling -- yet somehow also was pissing me off -- and all the happy people around me who seemed oblivious to all the PAIN IN THE WORLD.

Around mile 12 I really thought I was going to pass out. But knowing that I had only one more mile to go, I just couldn't justify slowing down or stopping at this point.

If I pass out, I pass out, I said to myself.

Then a moment later, what is wrong with you. You used to not even run the mile during gym class and now you're proposing vomitting on yourself or passing out in the middle of a race just to beat your own best time WHICH STILL PUTS YOU IN LITERALLY 10,000th place! [Sidebar: This is a true story. I came in 10,004th place in this race. Sidebar over.]

What has become of you. I'm not sure if I approve of you anymore, I then said to myself. As the real me in my head shook her head in disappointment while eating a wheel of brie.

Around mile 12.5 you hit the end of Ocean Parkway and bang a right. In front of you is the iconic Coney Island ferris wheel and the spectators went from a few sparse individuals to a crowded, loud, exuberant crowd.

It was those cheering people that pushed me to finish.

So GO. I said to myself. That famous mantra from Miami came back again. Just Go.

With just that pesky 0.1 mile to go, I ran up a steep ramp (UGH) to the boardwalk and sprinted as fast as I possibly could to the finish. I have no idea how fast that last stretch was, but I truly felt like I was flying at that moment.

Just as I was about to cross the finish line, I looked at my watch. 1:57:25.




Almost a minute and a half PR.


(Again, for the record...10,000th place. Just sayin'.)

Erica was waiting for me at the finish. We embraced sweatily. All smiles.

A medal, step n' repeat, and hand on hip. OWNIN' it.

Me, Erica, our medals, and our PR smiles

Fan Club!!
At this point the adrenaline was starting to slow down and my own sweatiness was turning into just...wetness. A pool of my own filth and grossness. So sexy.

Before I even noticed I was cold, my father -- the former EMT -- had the good sense to see that things could deteriorate quickly. The forecast had called for low 70s and sunny at the finish, but instead it was high 50s to low 60s and misting. Yuck-a-roo.

So he literally gave me the shirt off of his back.

Love this glam shot. STYLIN'!

What a guy!!! 

Because I was cold [and beginning to smell myself], we made our way to the subway without stopping for beer and hot dogs. But we paused for photo ops.

We then headed to Cascabel on the Upper East Side for brunch and bottomless cocktails. Wherein my parents demonstrated that they are not only the cutest...but also the coolest. Best. Brunch. Ever.

2pm, drunk, and exhausted, we all passed out. We woke up, ordered in Chinese, watched bad TV, and then went back to bed. Honestly, I couldn't have dreamed up a more perfect race-day.

In conclusion:

Hooray for amazing parents who couldn't be more supportive in every possible way with these running shenangians.

Hooray for unlimited cocktails!

Hooray for reaching a goal!


Archie + PR Race Medal = Best pictures ever. Fact.


  1. Umm you're parents are awesome can they adopt me?!!

    more importantly CONGRATULATIONS!!!! Awesome race, awesome PR - that's the way to kill it :)

    1. Absolutely. We'll be sisters and it will be so much fun.

      THANK YOU!!

  2. For reals, your parents are clearly awesome. Also, Archie. Nothing more needs to be said there, clearly. :) Congrats, Meri. Way to rock it.

    1. Thank you! Yes, when it comes to Archie, no words can truly express.