A Brooklyn State of Mind

No matter how many years pass, the memories of the first one lingers on. For me, Brooklyn was my first.

My first half marathon. My first BIG race. This was the race that changed running for me. Although I had done a couple smaller races before with Ben, my feeling about racing was one of disinterest. Two years ago in 2012, New York Road Runners (NYRR) didn’t open the Brooklyn Half registration until six weeks before the race, which turned out to be a good thing for me. Had it opened up earlier, I doubt I would have agreed to register for the race. At the time I had recently started running and was quite casual about running. I don’t think I would have thought I would have been able to run 13.1 miles. But as the weeks went on and I was running longer distances, I became more open to running longer races. So when Ben asked me to join him for Brooklyn, I agreed as I am wont to do as a supportive girlfriend.

The morning of the race we woke up early. We were meeting my friend and going to the start line together. I ate a pear and some yogurt for breakfast. You can tell how much I knew about running back then because I ate stuff that one is not supposed to eat before a race. Actually it surprises me that Ben let me eat that. On second thought, it probably isn’t all that surprising that he didn’t stop me because I don’t take people telling me not to do things very well.

The E train came a bit early, so we missed it and had to wait a bit longer for the next train. This meant that we were going just barely make the start on time. Ben was a bit nervous, but I took solace in the presence of all the runners in cramming into the trains so early in the morning. Surely, NYRR would delay the race with so many runners late? Ben said no and told me about a time when NYRR went ahead and started a race even though a bunch of runners were delayed because the wrong size ferry was being used to transport the runners.

By the time we arrived at Prospect Park, we had just enough time to chuck our bags to the volunteers at bag check and run over to the corrals. I heard the national anthem being sung. Then we were off.

The liveliness and the excitement of the runners were unlike anything that I had ever experienced before. I found the energy intoxicating. I soaked in all the sights and sounds – music blaring, people cheering, the signs, the roar of the crowds, and the infectious spirit of all the runners. I was having an AMAZING time. I blinked my eyes and I saw the Mile 4 sign. I had no idea where all the miles went. By the time we left Prospect Park, more than six miles had gone by so quickly that I thought to myself that the half marathon was going to be over before I was even aware of it starting. I ran with a big grin on my face and thought to myself, “Half marathons are SO MUCH FUN!!!!! I LOVE HALF MARATHONS!!!!!! We should do one EVERY WEEK!!!!!!” I could barely wait to see Ben and tell him how much I loved half marathons.

Once out of Prospect Park, the course is pretty much straight down Ocean Parkway for about five miles until we hit Coney Island. Miles 7-10 were a little less fun and I was getting tired, but still in good spirits. The sun was growing stronger. The sprinklers set up by NYRR offered some cool relief.

Miles 11, 12, 13, and the final .1 were absolute torture fest for me. I was thoroughly fatigued. Of course, I made the novice mistake (and I still do) of starting out too fast and I was dearly paying for me. I slogged on. I realized that Ben was done and resting. Actually at the point, he had been resting for a while. I did the math in my head and figured out that by the time I crossed the finish line, he would have been done for about an hour. I had some very uncharitable thoughts towards Ben at that point because I was really tired and I blamed him for putting me in that position of being hot and tired in a half marathon.

The last half mile lasted forever in my mind. By the time I crossed the finish line, I was toast. I was soooo tired. I think there are pictures of me crossing the finish line with a gaping mouth like a dead fish. Pretty sure my eyes were glassy looking like a dead fish too.

I finished in 2:08 flat. Not bad for a first half marathon.

A few hours later, I was so sore. I hobbled around. Going up and down stairs were the worst. At that time, I lived in a walk up, so I had to climb stairs to get home. By the time the soreness went away a few days later, I was bitten by the racing bug. I became motivated to train so that I could run faster. I began thinking and setting time goals for various distances.

Why do I love the Brooklyn Half Marathon? It’s not just because it’s a big marquee race with a PR-friendly course that has one of the coolest finish lines in the US (how can you not love Coney Island?). I love Brooklyn Half Marathon because it was the race that changed me and what made me into the racer that I am today.

I haven’t gotten over Brooklyn, and I don’t think I will ever want to.

14 thoughts on “A Brooklyn State of Mind

    • Thanks. This was from two years ago. I started to write up this year’s BK Half race report, but I realized that by talking about my first BK, the post was going to get really long. So I decided to turn it into a separate post. I’ll have this year’s race report up tomorrow. Thanks for reading.

  1. This gave me chills! It sounds so much like my first experience back in October. The sights, sounds, and excitement were just so overwhelmingly awesome. You just made me want to run the Brooklyn half!

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