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The Brooklyn Half Marathon: Honestly.

May 21, 2013

A non-runners honest opinion about running The Brooklyn Half Marathon

I’ve been pacing my apartment, going over and over in my head the half marathon and trying to find the right words to depict exactly how I felt before, while, and after running. I’ve began writing this 4 times now.

And then I realized: I was pacing.

I know that sounds so minuscule to you as you read this. Pacing is so simple and requires very little muscle. But for me, over 50 hours after the race ended, pacing still hurt. Every move I made was painful. But the fact that I was doing it was…

Let’s rewind.

Last summer, I made the decision to run a 10k (6.2 miles) to help me set a goal before Miken and Tim’s wedding. The 10k happened to be a few weekends before. My birthday happened to be around the same time as well. And after running the 10k and feeling great afterwards, I told myself that by the time I turned 26, I would run a half marathon. I actually told all of you as well that when I was 25, I would do it. Apparently, 25 came early…

This winter when my friend passed along the information about the Brooklyn Half, I debated it for a week. Should I? Will I? Can I? I figured I might as well try to and if I feel unprepared before the race, I can always decide to not run. An added bonus was the thought of bringing people to the still devastated Coney Island which was continuing to suffer from Hurricane sandy damages. If I could be one more person there, so be it. So I registered and began slowly training. I began running 2-3 times a week, which increased to 3-4 and slowly increased to at least 5 days a week. Running. And running. And running.

It began to be all I could think about — my life revolved around running to be sure I was prepared. Eating salad for lunch and protein for dinner. Rarely drinking alcohol (which is already rare). Focusing on breathing, motivation and hydration. Feeling a bit too comfortable at that 7 mile marker.

And then the day came. I woke up at 5:30, put on my Gap Fit gear and headed over to Brooklyn. With the F train coming so late I almost missed the baggage drop, I already felt a bit anxious. I was about to run 13.1 miles from the heart of Brooklyn to Coney Island. And while I stood there in my corral, I was poised. My mind was empty and I was ready to run. Calm.

I ran the first two miles with no music but the sound of sneakers hitting the pavement all around me made me self-conscience. I felt as if I were the slowest runner. I forgot not to care. I blasted my music to be absorbed in all things Fergie and Florence and before I knew it, I was at mile 4.5. Uphill. My pace slowed but I still felt great, I was breathing normally. It wasn’t until the massive group of runners around me made their way out of Prospect Park and onto the on ramp to Ocean Parkway did I begin to realize that there was still so much further to go and my legs were tired. Or was my mind tired?

I began refueling every mile from 8-11. I was craving water. We had to make it from Avenue A to Avenue Z on that parkway so I began counting blocks, which is the opposite of what a mentally drained runner should do. Mile 9 was the point where I thought, “Screw this, I can jump off right now, take off my bib and walk the rest of the way. No one would even know!” And then Mile 10 there was a sign that read, “You aren’t tutu far now — it’s only a 5K!” So I beat on, slowly, methodically.

800M to go and the bend to the boardwalk and beach was approaching. 800M is two times around the track, half a mile, and the race I dreaded running in middle school because it was so far. All things that I pondered deeply as I ran the next 400M. Then, finally the sign that read 400M to go. The other race I dreaded in middle school. Is it a sprint? Is it a stride? I never knew and always got beat by those long-legged girls from Washington Local. But I started striding anyhow, the boardwalk uneven beneath my feet. The finish line was close, the sea salt was abundant. I crossed, done. Stretched, painfully. And grabbed a medal that I was still unsure meant anything to me.

400M To Go

Brooklyn Half

After Race

I attempted to walk down the stairs to where my friends were waiting, hopefully not too impatiently, for me. I grabbed my baggage and licked the salt off my lips. I ate pretzels, had a beer and tried to continuously stretched my painful calves. As those around me enjoyed their beers and laughed, my thoughts processed like so:

Why did you do this?

I hate you (my body talking to my brain).

You are crazy.

You will not be able to walk tomorrow.

Imagine running a full marathon.

Scratch that, don’t ever imagine that.

WHY DID YOU DO THIS??

But I was still walking. Enough so, that when Steve proposed riding The Cyclone, I could not say no.(*Highlight of the day: we rode front car in The Cyclone.)

The Cyclone

The Cyclone

We travelled back to Manhattan, took naps and headed to a friend’s birthday party. There, my knees started weakening. I woke on Sunday in a paralyzed state. A true, olympic effort had to be made for me to make it from bed to the couch. I was exhausted. Mentally, physically. I stayed on that couch for 5 hours. And when it was time to go to church that evening, upon arriving after walking two avenues and up 6 stairs, I burst into tears.

Yes, literal tears. From pain, fatigue, dehydration, and emotions.

But Monday was better.

And today, no pain. No soreness. In fact, I could go for a light run right now and feel amazing. I won’t. But I could.

And I suppose that’s the point. That you can run 1 mile, 6 miles, 13.1 miles or even 26.2 and be in excruciating pain for 24-48 hours but still be able to walk on. (Mikey put it elequently, here.) And knowing that you did it when your mind told you “no, stop, please…” Knowing that everyone is supporting you no matter your time. Knowing that you can do it. And now, looking back, knowing that I did do it is a wonderful feeling.

Maybe one day I’ll run another. Not anytime soon but one day, definitely. I’ll keep pacing until then.

Smile

(Psst… a special thanks to Jayne, Steve, Bill, Mikey and Alicia for running and giving advice throughout training; Josh for being at the finish line; My family and friends for all the texts, calls, facebook, blog and twitter love. I could not have done it without you.)

{Top Photo via Brooklyn Half | NYRR; Forth and Fifth Photos via Steve}

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. May 21, 2013 3:00 pm

    This is really inspiring 🙂 well done on your achievement!

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