Lots of details I want to share with you about the run yesterday. Before I do that, though, I want to say thank you to the many readers who reached out over the past few days with well wishes and positive thoughts; your support meant (and means) a lot to me. As I struggling through the latter part of the race I thought a lot about the goals I'd set and shared with all of you; that gave me extra motivation to keep up the pace....
As challenging as I found the run, it was an incredibly satisfying experience and a really fun day. Here's how it unfolded:
I got on a yellow school bus in Manhattan at about 6:20. By 7AM we were at the boardwalk on Coney Island, so I had two hours to burn before the race started. I spent the first hour walking down the boardwalk (this was my first time there) - taking pictures and checking things out. At about 8:20 I checked my bag and started to get ready for the race - stretching, jogging to warm up, 'eating' my PowerBar chocolate gel for breakfast, etc.
At 8:50 I got into the corral for my number group (3,000-3,999) and got ready to go. One of the race starters mentioned that the Brooklyn course tends to be a place where people set PRs (personal records), so I thought that was a good omen. The horn sounded at 9 sharp and we were off. The first 2.7 miles or so were along the boardwalk; the course doubled back on itself, which gave me the chance to see the elite runners, which I always think is fun and inspiring.
We left the boardwalk and after a short trip along Surf Avenue, turned north onto Ocean Parkway. My pace improved through mile 5, at which point I started feeling a bit tired; I also found myself mentally challenged by the fact that there were almost 4 miles to go on the Parkway, which, in spite of being flat and smooth, felt like an endless stretch of road. I slowed my pace just a bit to conserve energy for the park section, but I didn't want to slow down too much for risk of missing my finishing time goal.
Around mile 9 we turned into Prospect Park. Much like Central Park. the park looked gorgeous - lush greens and blooming trees - and there were a good number of people out cheering on the runners (more than had been at the Manhattan half-marathon in January and the Bronx half-marathon in February). I was feeling even more tired at this point, and then I confronted the hills that a number of people had warned me about. In the end (obviously) I got through the hills, and though my pace slowed a bit, I maintained a pace that was much better than how I felt (which was terrible). As I mentioned yesterday, it was a HUGE boost to see Betsy waiting to cheer me on along the trip up the long hill on the Park Slope side of the park.
I finished mile 12 at 1 hour, 44 minutes, so I knew the goal of 1:54 was reachable. There were some little hills in the last mile which slowed me down, and I often forget about the last .1 miles when I'm multiplying my pace by the mileage to project my time; in spite of that, I managed to cross the finish line (with a short sprint at the end) at an official time of 1:54:01 - 4:24 faster than the Bronx half and 7:51 faster than the Manhattan half.
On finishing I felt excited about what I'd accomplished, and also really emotional. The race was a lot more difficult than I had expected, and in the end I think it was a huge relief to be finished and to know that I'd pushed successfully through the difficult phases of the race.
I'm not sure yet what made the race so challenging. In the end, the weather was pretty perfect - 48 degrees, dry, and not too much wind; my knees felt fine as well. So what could it have been? Nutrition/hydration? Running a couple of hours later than I typically do? Not enough tapering off in preparation for the race? Not enough speed work? Too fast a pace at the beginning?Certainly the hills played a part, but I was feeling tired long before the hills. In any case, lots to think about as I turn my attention to preparations for the Chicago Marathon (now 161 days away); I'll have at least two more half-marathons (Staten Island, Queens) and maybe three (the Nike half, which goes from Central Park to Battery Park) that I'll run as part of my Chicago training. I'm also participating in a 5K race down around Wall Street on May 20th.
For those of you who aren't yet bored to tears by all the details, just a few more things to share:
Mile 1: 9:00
Mile 2: 9:00
Mile 3: 8:41
Mile 4: 8:15
Mile 5: 8:12
Mile 6: 8:34
Mile 7: 8:22
Mile 8: 8:37
Mile 9: 8:33
Mile 10: 8:57
Mile 11: 9:20
Mile 12: 8:29
Mile 13: 9:16
The last .1: 0:49
There were 5,832 finishers; of which 3,292 were men and 471 were men between 40 and 44.
I was finisher 2,630 overall, 1,950 among the men, and 267 among the men between 40 and 44.
After the Manhattan half, I set a goal to get into the top half of the finishers across all three categories and estimated I'd need to be around 1:51 to do that. My time yesterday put me in the top 45% of finishers overall, but I finished behind 59.2% of the men and 56.7% of the men my age. To be in the top half of those groups yesterday would have required a 1:50.
Finally, I wanted to share my ipod playlist with you. The overall playlist I prepared for the race worked really well in that I had to skip very few songs; the list below reflects only the songs I played through to the end.
Thanks again to everyone for all your support!