My alarm went off at 4:15am on Saturday morning and I had no problem waking up. My bedtime the night before was 10pm, so I was fully rested and ready to start eating preparing for 13.1 miles from Prospect Park to Coney Island. I had a half a bagel with almond butter, half a banana and a coffee. I packed a water bottle with a nuun in it to drink on the way to Coney Island, and then another full water bottle to have ready for post-race in my car.
The logistics of getting to this race from anywhere other than Brooklyn or Manhattan were daunting, and just flat-out annoying. According to nyrr.org, and various friends that I spoke to the best thing to do would be to drive to Coney Island (the finish line) and park there, and get on the subway BACK to Prospect Park (the starting line) in time for a 7am start. The corrals were supposed to close around 6:45am, so hence the 5am departure from Manhasset.
I met Astrid in the NY Aquarium parking lot, which was quickly filling up with runners. We were all going to the same place, so it was easy to follow the crowds to the Q train, and then hop off at the right place near Prospect Park. However, we still had a ways to go to find Wave 1, and the roads weren’t very clearly marked. When we finally found Wave 1, we still had to wait in line for the bathrooms, and they were SO long. We heard the National Anthem playing in the distance, and heard the start, but we weren’t anywhere near the starting line. We started walking, and you could see the starting line up ahead around a turn, so I fixed my outfit/phone/Gus, got my tunes rolling, and double checked my laces. Around 7:15am, we were off!
The first few miles were rolling hills, and I made such an effort to hold myself back pace-wise. In the past that has always been my biggest issue (going out too fast) so I was determined to get to mile 5 without any major efforts, just nice and easy breezy. It was CROWDED. It also felt like a lot of people were running side-by-side which is super annoying. I made a game-time decision to skip my vanilla bean Gu, and just start on my Gu Chomps (gummies) instead around mile 5. I took 2 every 2 miles, and that seemed to work just fine.
Around mile 6, you run out of Prospect Park and start to head to the straight away portion of the race. My race plan was to gradually pick it up every mile starting at 8, but I could see that my splits were hitting between 9:10 and 8:55, so it was going to take a super fast second half to actually PR. It was also raining, but I truthfully don’t think it made a difference. It kept me nice and cool.
At mile 11, something happened that shook me up really badly. I could see a crowd forming on the right side of the road, and as I approached, I saw that it was a group of EMTs and an ambulance. On the ground was a younger looking guy, and they were administering CPR, and had an oxygen mask on his face. The group of runners I was with all slowed down, and we sort of creeped along the side of the group, nervously passing them, but I think wanting to know what had happened. 20 seconds prior I was looking at my watch worried about stupid pacing, and here was a guy who was in need of serious medical help. How could that not put things in perspective? I think if I had seen someone I knew at that moment, I would have started crying, it just really shook me up and emotionally hit me hard. I focused on finishing the last 2 miles, but I was really worried about what had happened to the guy. (Note: there isn’t anything online about it, so I am hoping he ended up being ok).
Mile 12 starts winding towards Coney Island, and you can start to see the roller coasters, and the crowds were getting louder. I loved the finish (even though my mind wasn’t quite there), and running across the boardwalk was such a cool view. The fact that I crossed in UNDER 2 HOURS made it even better. When I ran the NYC Half in March I ran 2:04, so with my 6-week Race Pace training plan with Coach Jess, I cut my time by around 6 minutes. Huge! My official time from Saturday was 1:58.
Now comes some complaints. I know that this is one of the larger NYRR races and that is takes an insane amount of logistics to organize a race of this size, BUT:
– How about something other than an apple or a pretzel at the finish?! No bagels? No Gatorade? No water bottles? I wish we had been handed a bag of food, much like the NYC Half. That was disappointing and I was STARVING.
– No one at NYRR told us that we couldn’t leave our parking lot until 11:30am. This made a lot of people VERY angry, as we had finished running by 9:30/9:45 and had to sit and wait, since we were on the same side of the street as the finishing runners. There should have been signs letting us know. Astrid and I grabbed some Grimaldi’s pizza and a Peroni while we waited, because beer and pizza is ALWAYS THE ANSWER at 10am on a race day
Those are my only complaints. Yes, it was crowded. Yes, the parking situation (and overall race logitics) totally sucked coming from Long Island. Yes, I wish I could have chowed down on a bagel or a banana when I crossed the finish line. But the most important thing is that I finished what I started. Another one in the books!