2016 Brooklyn Half-Marathon.

Brooklyn Half weekend was finally here! After 12 weeks of training, it was finally time to celebrate 12 weeks of Justin’s hard work with a 13.1 mile party.

BK Half Pre-Party

Brooklyn Half Pre-Party

We met up at Carmine’s for a carbloading dinner after work on Friday (it was so hard to not order my favorite frozen cosmo) before heading home to pack all our stuff for the morning and binge watch a few episodes of How I Met Your Mother. #RaceEveWinning

Race Morning

With an alarm that went off before 5am (bleh), Justin and I wearily gathered our things and headed out the door before the sun to grab a cab and pick up Meghan (just like old times!) on our way to Brooklyn.

Brooklyn Half - Start Line

Brooklyn Half – Start Line

We got to the start nice and early and were able to relax a bit before handing in our bags and heading through security.

In my bag:

  • A bag of Cheerios, banana, and small water for pre-race
  • Two packs of Honey Stingers (one caffeinated)
  • Change of sports bra, two long sleeves, and Adidas sandals for post-race
  • Small bag carrying chapstick, cellphone, money, and ID

A checked bag with post-race comforts is essential for the Brooklyn Half if you want to hang around Coney Island for a bit after the run.

bk half 2

Brooklyn Half – Start Line

Even with 2 port-a-potty stops before the start, it felt like we stood in the corrals forever. It’s definitely a long morning for Wave 2ers. Oh, and I fangirled quite a bit upon realizing we were standing behind Virgil in the corrals. Gah!

Brooklyn Half – The First 5 Miles

While a few days out it looked like it may rain on our parade, come race morning, the weather was perfect for running – 60s, overcast, and only slightly humid.

After so much waiting in the corrals, it took a while for our legs to warm up once we did start running. We checked in with each other a few times during these miles but for the most part, I yapped away about random things while Justin shlogged alongside of me.

Brooklyn Half

Brooklyn Half

We joked at every Chronotrack point that if we listened hard enough, we could hear mama runnerindenial cheering from afar as she got our running update on her phone (the ‘rents were at a wedding in the Catskills).

The crowds are decent in certain spots along these miles but there are definitely pockets of silence (this seems to be the case throughout the entire race though).

A major highlight of these miles was a gentleman with a giant blow-up Trump doll and a huge sign saying, “Punch Trump.” We meandered over to the right so we both got a chance to punch Trump. Little did we know, we’d get two more punches in before the finish. #thiskidwinsthebkhalf

Brooklyn Half – The Second 5 Miles

We picked up the pace here ever so slightly as our legs loosened up and we started to get into a rhythm.

I had a fueling strategy going into the race and we stuck with it throughout:

  • Water at every station until more than halfway where we’d alternate Gatorade and water
  • Honey Stingers around miles 3, 6, 8, 10, 12, with caffeinated stingers starting around mile 8

This fueling strategy doubled as a mental strategy because I felt so accomplished once we started integrating Gatorade and the caffeinated chews in. Hey, whatever helps, right?

We were excited to get out of Prospect Park and finally get to the long stretch that is Ocean Parkway. We punched Trump one more time and headed down the ramp to the highway.

Brooklyn Half – The Last 5K

With only about 30 minutes of running left, we picked up the pace a bit more. We hugged the right side of the course on the lookout for friends Jenny and Daniel, who we spotted around mile 10.5.

Our sign! Thanks, Jenny and Daniel!

Our sign! Thanks, Jenny and Daniel!

After some high-fiving, we continued on with renewed energy. Seeing friends along the course is pretty damn great. Thanks, guys!

As we got closer to the end of Ocean Parkway, the crowds really began to thicken. I love this part of the race where you’re running alongside the boardwalk but haven’t gone up the ramp to the finish yet. I imagine most people hate this but whatevs, my being strange would be of no surprise to anyone.

We punched Trump one more time and passed the 800m mark, where I made my usual 800m remark, “you can do anything for 5 more minutes.” 

Once we got onto the boardwalk, Justin picked it up and sprinted it to the finish line.

Brooklyn Half - Finish Line

Brooklyn Half – Finish Line – 2:12:37 (10:07)

Post-Race

After grabbing our bags and a quick change in the parking lot (#imsoclassy), we sauntered over to MCU Park for a stretch on the field. Jenny and Daniel had made it down to Coney Island so we met up with them at Coney Island Brewery before finding Justin’s parents and driving back to Manhattan.

Brooklyn Half - After Party

Brooklyn Half – After Party

Coney Island is a mob of runners and spectators after the race and it is all sorts of wonderful. This is probably my favorite part of this race, being able to hang out afterwards just relaxing and celebrating the run with a beer.

Once back on the UWS, we showered and grabbed lunch with Justin’s family and then promptly parked it on the couch for a serious nap – we had a night of beers at the Central Park Zoo ahead of us!

central park brew at the zoo

Have I mentioned before that I love this zoo? Because I love this zoo.

It was a great ending to a wonderful (but long, oh my god so long) day with my best friend.

Congrats, Justin, on your first half-marathon 🙂 

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Selecting a race: best and worst race experiences.

First up, workouts from last week’s Brooklyn Half “training:”

brooklyn half training

Selecting a Race

With a good chunk of races occurring in the fall (especially here in the Northeast), it’s about that time of year to pick a goal race if you haven’t already done so (like myself, whoops – I’ll get to it). Even if you’re not looking for a goal race but just a race in general, there are a few things to consider.

For me, the biggest factors affecting my race experience are:

  • Family/friends/spectators along the course
  • Course route
  • Organization (before, during, and after the race)

It’s these 3 main things that have made my past race experiences either positive or negative.

Best Race Experiences

Chicago Marathon

  • So much about this race felt EASY (not including the running, although, I did have a good day and the running felt great too).

chi marathon

  • Getting to the start line was EASY, finding my family along the course was EASY, it was EASY for my family to see me in THREE(!) different spots and barely travel a few blocks, getting my medal/food/foil was EASY, finding my family after the finish line was EASY. Chicago, you are doing it right.

Disney

runDisney

  • It’s no surprise that Disney puts on great races. Everything is so well organized and free race day transportation makes getting to and from the race simple. While the routes do travel on local highways, they also include multiple character stops and the chance to run through Disney parks before they open. Also, it’s very easy to convince people to go to Disney World so you’ll either have a running buddy or a gang of spectators just for you.

NYC Marathon (2010, 2011, 2014)

  • This race is obviously near and dear to my heart but, I promise, this race is incredible no matter where you are from.

  • It’s my local race so whenever I’m running, I have people to look for throughout all 5 boroughs. I’ve learned as a New Yorker and a 4x NYCM veteran that choosing the ferry for race day transportation is the best option if you enjoy sleeping and not being cold on Staten Island all morning. The course offers amazing views of the city and runs through so many different types of neighborhoods and let’s not forget the spectators who are ABSOLUTELY OUT OF THIS WORLD. Seriously, be prepared to get choked up multiple times during these 26.2 miles.

Worst Race Experiences

Las Vegas Half-Marathon

  • I ran this the first year it became a nighttime race and it was a fiasco from start to finish (and beyond). I’ve since heard that Rock ‘n Roll has improved upon the issues from that first year but my experience was enough to make it so I’ve never run another Rock ‘n Roll race.

vegas half

  • The corrals were not managed properly, the course was not well lit in certain areas, there was a WAIT to cross the finish line (yes, you read that correctly), there were no signs in the finish area, I couldn’t find my family or the buses for a significant amount of time post-race, and I later heard that they ran out of water and medals for those finishing later. Eek.

Philadelphia Marathon

  • The only reason I was calm during the security line nightmare at the Philly Marathon was because it wasn’t a goal race and I knew I had Nicole with me for the entire 26.2 no matter when I crossed the start line.

philadelphia marathon finisher

  • Long line story short, the security line for runners barely moved, many runners missed their start time, and when the race started, it seemed security “gave up” and just started eyeballing and patting down runners as they walked ran through to try and get to the start line.

NYC Marathon

  • Are you confused? Wasn’t this on my list of best race experiences? Well, yes… and I want to put it out there that I truly believe that the NYC Marathon is one of the greatest marathon in the world (I’m only slightly biased, right?), but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things that can’t be improved.

4:11:09 (9:35 pace) - 13 minute PR

  • NYRR has done a lot to try and improve the finish line/post-race experience but the truth is, it’s still a bit of a mess. You can help yourself out by electing to not check a bag but even then, it’s one of the worst ways to end such an overwhelmingly incredible marathon. The walk out of the park is extremely long and the ponchos aren’t handed out until the very end. In 2014, I was freezing and on the verge of tears by the time I had my poncho and was able to make my way to my family.

I’m still in the process of finding a goal race for this year (and also mulling the idea of not  having a goal race). At this stage in my running game, I find myself getting pickier when it comes to which events I choose to spend my money (and time) on. I see an intense search in my near future.

______________________

What have been your best/worst race experiences?

Any race suggestions for me?

Visit Eventbrite for local events (remember my race day factor #1!) or to create your own event, visit Eventbrite’s Event Management page.

Happy running 🙂

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Filed under chicago marathon, half-marathon, ing nyc marathon, marathon, new york city, philadelphia marathon, previous posts, running, walt disney world marathon

Update: I’m running the Brooklyn Half (and so is my other half).

Phew, I needed that little blogging break. After Princess Weekend and moving and working and all other life mayhem, my mind just couldn’t produce anything worthwhile and I’m not a fan of posting word vomit. You’re welcome. Or not, if you like word vomit. I’m much more word vomity on Twitter if that’s your thing.

Anywho, lack of posts does not mean lack of running/workouts becauuuuuuse I’m running one of my favorite races next month, the Brooklyn Half! As usual with the BK Half, I’m not running for time and I just want to enjoy the course and my finish line beer.

newsies_brooklyn is here

And this year, I get to enjoy my finish line beer with a first time half-marathoner!

On Brooklyn Half registration day, I set my alarm so I could get in ASAP as it’s a race that typically sells out quickly (I think this year it was about 2 hours). I promptly let Justin know that I was successful and he congratulated me… and that’s it. Nothing else.

MANY DAYS LATER (or was it weeks? I don’t even know) he calmly lets me know that oh yea, he also registered to run the Brooklyn Half. WHAT?!?! WHY WAS I NOT INFORMED OF THIS IMMEDIATELY?!?!

Newsies_grounds

Needless to say, I forgave him for keeping this secret to himself because someone registering for a race is kind of like Christmas morning to me. I quickly jotted down a sketch of a 12 week training plan.

As someone who has never run more than a 5k (he ran with us in Disney!) and is prone to shin splints and ankle issues (he’s been doing ankle strengthening exercises I used back when I had PTT), I wanted to create a conservative training schedule that wouldn’t feel overwhelming and would get him to the finish line healthy.

Each week consists of the following:

  • Two shorter weekday runs
  • One weekend long run (slow increases, two cutback weeks, and a peak of 10 miles)
  • One cross-training day
  • One strength day
  • One stretching day
  • One full rest day

We each do our own thing during the week in terms of training but we’ve been running the Saturday longer runs together. I’ll be sure to post his full training schedule at the end of the cycle.

newsies_spot conlon

With just 6 weeks left until race day and the THOUGHT of spring weather (where are you, spring? come out and play, will ya?), I’m rather excited.

_______________________

Is anyone running Brooklyn for the first time?

What are some ridiculous topics I can use to torture entertain Justin during our next long run?

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Glass Slipper Challenge: Princess Half-Marathon

Alright I am FINALLY finishing up my Princess Half-Marathon weekend posts! If you’re interested: here are the 5k and 10k recaps from that weekend.

Princess Half-Marathon

My alarm went off, again, at punch-yourself-in-the-face o’clock and it was a strugglefest. With the approximate 3-4 hours of sleep I got after staying (voluntarily) at Magic Kingdom until after close, it’s no surprise that I was in a huge daze as I got ready to tackle the last 13.1 miles of the challenge. I was in such a daze that I actually left my hotel room without my bib number (whoops) and had to knock to get Justin to let me back in.

After that little mishap, I walked down to meet my cousin Mike in the lobby. Once at the start village, we relaxed a bit, stopped in the port-a-potties, and met up with Jess to walk up to the corrals. We were all placed in corral C so we were all able to start together even though Mike was running for time and Jess and I were looking to PR in ridiculousness.

Princess half 1

Again, we kept the pace extremely comfortable and stopped for photos with characters when we wanted.

Running through Main Street was magical, as always, although I did miss the Christmas lights on the castle, which give this part of the course an extra magical touch during WDW Marathon weekend. My family was in Magic Kingdom so I was able to see them as opposed to sending them shaky videos and photos like I did during January’s half and full marathons.

Princess half 2

I kept the family updated with where I was throughout the race so they’d know when to expect me coming down towards the finish line. With another 13.1 more magical miles in the book, my 3rd Disney challenge/5th Disney half/13th Disney race was complete 🙂

princess half finish

With all the magical business of the morning, we decided to make it a later day at the park and not leave for Epcot until noon. We did some hot tubbing (some people napped, I didn’t because apparently I don’t sleep in Disney) before heading out for another day in the happiest place on earth.

Epcot

Epcot is pretty much the best park for adults and there was a huge reason we chose Epcot for after all the races: booze.

epcot group

Before making our way to the World Showcase, we enjoyed the following rides/attractions:

  • Disney and Pixar Short Film Festival (So good! I could have watched a dozen more.)
  • Living with the Land
  • Spaceship Earth
  • Test Track (The. Best.)

I can’t wait for Soarin’ to reopen. When Justin and I go back (yep, my next trip is planned – gotta make use of that annual pass!), it’ll be up and ready for us to enjoy 🙂

Once at the World Showcase, I demanded pizza and sangria in Italy for lunch. No one put up much of a fight.

The pizza at Via Napoli is incredible. The “kids” table ordered 3 of the largest pies and we all laughed at ourselves because of how ridiculous we were to think we would finish this much pizza. Seven minutes later (yes, seven, Nicki has it timestamped on Snapchat), there were about 2 little pieces left. The “kids” table also ordered bottomless sangria. #noregrets

epcot drinking around the world

The rest of the day was spent being entertained by the outdoor country attractions (I love Sergio in Italy and the chair guy in France) and enjoying a few more adult beverages (cantaloupe juice and vodka from Japan, limoncello in Italy, four different kinds of champagne in France, and my favorite grapefruit beer in Germany).

epcot evening

We had dinner in Germany before watching the Illuminations fireworks at the end of the night. I was happy that we had one more half-day to spend relaxing by the pool but bummed that another Disney vacation was coming to an end.

The next day was beautiful and we spent the morning and early afternoon lounging by the pool, sipping pina coladas, and getting a nice tan to bring back to cold NYC.

Until next time, Orlando.

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Filed under disney, half-marathon, running, vacation