Category Archives: half-marathon

Pacing my other half at the Airbnb BK Half.

Somehow, training (and, like, ALL the months) absolutely FLEW and it was already the week of the Brooklyn Half!

BK Half Pre-Party

Thursday after work, Justin and I met in Brooklyn to walk over to the pre-party to get our bibs for the race. This was the first time we’ve been to this area since this happened:

It was the hottest day of the year so far so our intention was to get in and out of there as quickly as possible, grab some pizza, and head back home to shower off the grossness. Even without the heat, we’d have done our best to get in and out of there quickly – the music was so loud! My 30 years may as well been 80 while we were there because I was so unbelievably agitated by the volume. #turnitdown #youregonnaloseyourhearing #iammygrandpa

Once we booked it out of there, we walked over to Juliana’s to meet up with Jenny and enjoy some pre-race pizza and conversation. Looking back, we ate really well the days prior to the race with Juliana’s on Thursday and Carmine’s on Friday night 🙂 #carbloadingbride

BK Half

Pre-Race

I decided to jump back to Wave 2 so Justin and I could run together (and also sleep in just a little bit longer) on Saturday morning.  We were up by 5am and in a car to the start by 5:45. Before we left, I checked the weather one last time – low 60s, cloudy, 0% chance of rain. About halfway into our drive, guess what started? RAIN. I crossed my fingers that it’d be a passing shower because I didn’t bring a running hat with me and running without a hat in the rain is so, so miserable.

Luckily, the rain stopped by the time we got to the start village and we took our time getting through security and dropping Justin’s bag off at his assigned UPS truck. It was so cold and windy and I instantly regretted not bringing throwaway pants in addition to my long sleeve shirt.

To stay warm, we sat on top of a subway grate until the corrals started collapsing. Once in the corrals, I did my best to huddle in the middle of taller runners to block the wind until we started moving. #shortpeopleperk

By 7:45, we were off and Justin’s second half-marathon was underway!

The Race

The first mile was quite congested and was most definitely our slowest running mile (we made a port-a-potty stop in Prospect Park which was definitely our slowest overall mile). I was super careful not to do any weaving and just let that first mile serve as a solid warm up. After that, things cleared out a bit and I made sure to keep us right around last year’s overall pace (10:07). I told Justin that I would assess pace again once we got to the 10k mark and I checked in with how he was feeling. Satisfied with that, he let me lead.

Maybe it was the fact that I spent the first half of Prospect Park looking for open port-a-potties for me and Justin or that running in a circle isn’t my idea of a good time but OMG Prospect Park seemed to never end. I started to get super whiny about the fact that we were still running through the park and not getting out of the park and onto Ocean Avenue quick enough. As promised, I checked in with Justin at the 10k mark, he still felt good and said he’d be okay picking it up a little, I responded “actually, I’m gonna keep us right here for a little while longer and check in around mile 8” and chose to omit the fact that I had already picked up our pace. #ignoranceisbliss

Once we left the park and meandered on over to Ocean Avenue, my mental state got a million times better. I know some people hate the monotony of Ocean Avenue but it doesn’t really bother me until Mile 12 or so. I like just being able to zone out and keep on keeping on down the road. At mile 8, Justin started running ahead and I had to pull him back a bunch of times. He eventually told me he wanted to beat his time from last year and we needed to pick it up (he didn’t have a watch so LOL what do you know, Justin?!?). Anywho, I told him that I had already adjusted, that we were going to beat his time from last year without issue, and he needed to just trust me.

At mile 11, I had a solid idea of what time we’d cross the finish line (I was exactly correct too – math degree FTW!) and asked Justin if he wanted to know how ahead we were and was met with a very stern “no.”

As I’d been doing all race, I picked it up again for mile 11 and a little bit more with mile 12. That last mile was a bit of a struggle bus for Justin so I knew my pacing was on point and that any faster during the race wouldn’t have been smart.

We finished in 2:05:25 (9:34), a 7 minute PR for Justin!

Post-Race

After we grabbed our bag and changed in the parking lot (#imsofancy), we walked over to Coney Island Brewing Company to meet up with Daniel and wait for Jenny (who had a totally badass run after dealing with injuries for months. She’s back, ladies and ‘gents!). It was pretty packed and the weather wasn’t the greatest so we stayed for a beer or two and then decided to head on back to Manhattan.

Once home, it was time for lunch, a serious nap, lots of tv watching, and eggplant rollatini and baked ziti leftovers for dinner. Perfect ending to a great day 🙂

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Congrats to all BK Half finishers!

With this half behind me, I’ve got a few weeks until NYCM training officially starts and less than 4 months until wedding day! Who has tips on balancing it all? Send ’em my way. 

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2017 Glass Slipper Challenge: Princess Half-Marathon.

The last day of the Glass Slipper Challenge (10k recap, 5k recap) is the Princess Half-Marathon. It’s another early day and since I was the only one running the half out of our large group, I got on the bus solo and waited to meet up with Jess and Nicole before heading up to the corrals.

My parents, Justin, and Sue were due to get a bus to Epcot to grab the monorail to Magic Kingdom so I knew they weren’t too far behind me with their wake-up alarm. Unfortunately, there was some misinformation and my family and a few runners missed the last bus and were told the next bus wasn’t until 6am (well after the start of the race). My mom texted me that they weren’t going to be able to make it to Magic Kingdom and I could tell she was upset. I reassured her that it was no big deal and that I’d see them all at the finish line.

About fifteen minutes later I got another text from my mom saying that they’d see me in Magic Kingdom. Wait – what?!

The runners with them decided they were going to walk to the start line and since my family was already up, they decided to tag along. Luckily, Disney magic was on their side because a race bus pulled up alongside them and scooped them up and brought them to Epcot!

Princess Half-Marathon

Our plan for the race was the same as the day before – to run easy and comfortably and stop for photos when there was a character we loved on the course. We also decided that for the latter half of the race, we’d employ an 8-and-2 run/walk plan if we hadn’t stopped for a photo in a while. As I’ve learned before with Disney races, I enjoy the walk “breaks” mostly for their mental benefit.

We didn’t stop for many photos early on but as the race progressed, we stopped more and more. We stopped so much in Magic Kingdom that Mile 6 took us over 30 minutes to complete. #WorthIt

After seeing my family on Main Street and stopping for so many great characters in Magic Kingdom, the lonely roads of the highway seemed to go on and on and onnnn.  Once we got to Mile 10, I began texting my mom from my Apple Watch to let her know where we were and an approximate time we’d be at the finish line.

After our finish, it was time to head back to the hotel to get ready for a day in Epcot!

Epcot

When we first started planning our Disney trip, the dads came up with the idea of getting us all ridiculous matching shirts and decided on, well, hot pink Vandalay Industries t-shirts. Now, let me tell you how 20 Italians from New York ended up in hot pink Vandalay Industries shirts…

My dad found a company online and sent an e-mail to each family to order their shirts. Well, everyone ordered their shirts on the same day and the company (which is extremely small and later told us that they barely sell that many of those shirts in a year, let alone in a single day) cancelled all our orders stating that we were “fraudulent.” LOL. #irony

Obviously, we got it all sorted out and everyone had their shirts for Epcot day! We realized very quickly that we should have done something like this the previous two days as it was so much easier to find everyone with us all in the same obnoxiously loud color. #LessonLearned

We were quite the hit in Epcot; people came up to talk to us and took photos of/with us. We overheard a conversation between a mother and a daughter in which the daughter asked why we all matched and the mother answered that we must be here on a company trip because we all worked for Vandalay Industries. #AwHoney

After the fireworks, it was time to go back to the hotel and relax.

The next day, we all hung out at the pool to enjoy one more day of sunshine before coming back to cold NYC.

It wasn’t easy to leave… especially since this is the first Disney trip in a while that I’ve ended without having my next one already planned 🙁

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Next up: I’ll be carb-loading at my wedding. True story. Stay tuned. 

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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.

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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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