Going into Saturday’s Brooklyn Half I was admittedly, a big old grump.
Thursday and Friday I didn’t work-out at all – which left me feeling tired and cranky. Add to that the fact that I had to cancel plans to see Missy Higgins in concert with my sister because the logistics just weren’t feasible with a 4:00 a.m. alarm – and I was Miss Sassy.
As I’ve done the past three years on the morning of the Brooklyn Half Marathon when my alarm went off at 4:00 a.m. – I swore to myself that I would never sign up for this damn race again.
A missed bus and a taxi later we were settled onto the subway for a 45-minute ride to Brooklyn. At that point I had downed a cup of coffee and was happily eating my peanut butter and banana toast and things were starting to seem a lot less miserable.
Right off the subway we checked our bags and entered our corrals. Bag check closed at 6:10 yet the race didn’t start until 7, so there was lots of waiting around and waiting in the porta-potty lines. Despite the 27,000 runners, I felt that everywhere I turned there was someone else from November Project to say good morning too and wish good luck.
Luckily, the rain was going to hold off and though I kept a throw away long sleeve on in the corral – the weather was pretty warm which made the hour wait until the start pass pretty pleasantly.
I may have laid on the ground and done some glute bridges. Maybe.
I ditched the long sleeve shirt right before starting and ran in my favorite Saucony shorts with a black Under Armour top and was a perfect temperature the entire time.
Melissa and I crossed the starting line at about 7:10 which made mental math pretty easy along the course (a bunch of mile marker clocks weren't working though - double-you-tea-eff?) We were shocked at how spacious the course was even from the very beginning. That was definitely a pleasant surprise.
Ready for this? I was running watch-free. The goal was just “stay comfortable” the whole time. It’s been 1 full year since I ran anywhere near 13.1 miles and I was in no way aiming for any sort of time goal.
I love the first half of the course. There’s a long, steady hill that doesn’t seem too bad since it’s part of an out and back and you can scan the speedy runners ahead of you for friends. Then you go through Prospect Park and it’s green and beautiful with rolling hills and one pretty large hill around mile 5. There’s spectators all along this part of the course with fun signs and even a blowup “Punch Trump" was spotted.
Throughout the park I was successful in “staying comfortable.” I felt really good. I was having fun. I wasn’t stressing. I felt like I was moving pretty quickly (Based on my splits I was actually running a lot slower than I thought, but again, didn’t matter at all).
When you head out of the park around mile 8 you find yourself on a big ass, flat, boring highway. The spectators become non-existent. And at least in my experience, there is little to distract yourself from the moment your body starts saying, “Why are we still running?”
This year, for me, that was around mile 9. At mile 8 I was feeling tired so I slowly took a Huma gel. By mile 9, things were starting to hurt. By mile 10, I had a little more energy from the gel kicking in, but the pain was only intensifying.
At this point, I was starting to think that walking to the finish was a viable option. But I’m stubborn, and walking an hour sounded pretty miserable. So I kept going. The pain in my groin got worse and worse but that wasn’t all – it seemed that every part of my upper legs and knees were screaming at me to stop.
It pretty quickly escalated from “Ouch can we stop now?” to “WE HATE YOU.” Hip, knee, IT band, that weird bump on the side of your ankle – none of them were happy.
By mile 11 I could feel my face crumpling in pain. The 8:00 mile pacer passed and when I tried to run with them it seemed as if they were sprinting. I was reduced to a limping jog and it took all of my mental strength to keep myself moving.
Like the previous two years, the end of this race seemed to last forever. I was so happy when Melissa came running by me, knowing that she was going to get her PR! I wanted so badly to run through the finish with her but I just couldn’t move any faster. There were tears in my eyes purely from the pain.
When these race pictures come out – it will probably be pretty obvious how I was feeling as I crossed the finish line.
POST RACE TEARS
I hugged Melissa and pulled over to the side of the boardwalk where I dug my palms into my eyes as the tears started to fall. They started from the pain but then when I stood up and gave Melissa another hug they turned into big, actually crying, emotional, frustrated, sad, emotional tears.
I had been focused on finishing, getting one foot in front of the other, convincing myself that the end was near. It’s hard to do that for an hour.
I was also thinking about how much running means to me, and how frustrating it is that I know I need to stop for a while until I can figure out what’s up with my legs.
I was angry – not only do I love running but I feel like it’s something that I’m good at – and want to get even better at. I’m willing to work for it but my body just doesn’t want to. It feels like a big betrayal.
I was not disappointed at not PRing or not running a certain time. I knew going into this that I hadn’t trained at all and that it wasn’t going to be a great race. I had hoped to enjoy it though – and for the last 5 miles I certainly didn’t accomplish that goal.
Another NP friend saw my tears and gave me some encouraging words, a hug, and some water and soon the tears dried. The pain went away almost immediately after I stopped running, which was a relief.
It was overcast and we were on the water and I was instantly freezing. I was informed by the medical tent that there were no heat sheets. I spent the next 4 hours freezing cold. One of my fingers went numb. Even though I changed into all dry clothes! GRR.
We got our bags from the bag truck (of course ours had theeeee longest line), and hung out for a bit at the after party. It’s a really awesome set-up. Then we stopped by the beer garden next door to say hello the November Project crew and check in on how everyone's races had gone.
A group of us made the long trek back into Manhattan for brunch at Gotan (obviously). We got a beer next door and when I got home I took the hottest shower before passing out in bed for over an hour.
The only reason I got out of bed was to have the dinner of half marathon champions – 16 Handles. And lucky for me, I had rewards on my card and only had to spend 84 cents.
So what now?
Lots of swimming, biking, yoga, arms, and GLUTE STRENGTHENING. No running. Scheduling an MRI. Seeing where this goes.
Not really processing it all very well, but it’s obvious after a year of not being able to run 13 miles that something needs to change.
Finish – 1:53:07 // 8:38 pace.
I think a trip to Denver for a week will be a great distraction - I leave this morning to visit my best friend from high school and I cannot wait :)
Leave any Denver/Boulder/Colorado Springs suggestions in the comments please & thank you!!!!