I finally got to run the Airbnb Brooklyn Half. And the best part was it turned out to be the perfect way for me to give a big, go-out-with-a-bang goodbye to Brooklyn and NYC.
For those of you who missed it, Mark and I moved to the Philly area literally the next day. Talk about timing.
Oh and what I mean when I say I finally got to run the Brooklyn Half, is that for the past three years I was forced to miss out on it due to my sister’s college graduation, a wedding and some other important obligation that I can’t remember, but I know that it made me miss the Brooklyn Half.
We’ll this year, I didn’t have any prior engagements for May 21 and dammit, I was running the Airbnb Brooklyn Half — even if I had to pack up my whole apartment and move 150 miles away the next day.
I honestly didn’t have a goal for this race, except to have fun since it would be my last NYC race for a while and also because I had been dying to run this course for so long. I just wanted to enjoy it and soak up all the good runner vibes.
I definitely accomplished that goal.
But of course, as most runners know, it’s so hard to let go of wanting to push extra hard and gun it for that PR — no matter how many times you tell yourself the race is just for fun, and no matter how prepared (or not prepared) you are.
So, in the back of my head I had that little voice saying, but if you feel good and can make it happen, go for it. And to be honest, I didn’t think that I would feel that great to race.
Not only did I do a very moderate training plan ( I basically just wanted to make sure I was in shape to run a half marathon, I didn’t train for a specific time goal), but the night before the race, Mark and I went out with some of our NYC friends one last time before we moved.
Normally, I would never agree to going out — even just for dinner — the night before a race. The night before a race is for sweatpants, making pizza and pasta at home, and getting in bed by 9 p.m. (my three favorite activities of all time). But I didn’t want to be a bummer on the night and really wanted to enjoy one last night in our Brooklyn neighborhood. So I put on my big girl pants, enjoyed not one, but two margaritas and great conversation with some of our closest friends, and said, “whatever happens tomorrow, happens.” And guess what, to my surprise, everything turned out OK.
I didn’t crash and burn. I didn’t collapse on the side of the road. I didn’t forget to set my alarm and end up being late to the start line (although I did have a dream that that happened … because what’s race night with out a “late to the start” nightmare, right?).
I was semi-responsible and was in bed by 11:30, and although I woke up feeling a little woozy from the margaritas (I am an EXTREME lightweight when it comes to alcohol), a little bit of coffee and peanut butter toast washed that away and I was good to go and on time to the start of the race.
Then, to my surprise, once I got in my groove by about mile 3, I was feeling SO good. I honestly couldn’t believe it. All this time I was prepping for races by getting to bed early and drinking a ton of water, and then the one time I throw all of that out the window, indulge in some alcohol and get to bed later than I would’ve liked, I was feeling better than ever.
Go freakin’ figure.
The lesson I took away from this is not that we should all go out and party our faces off the night before a race (definitely not recommended), but rather, we don’t need to put SO much pressure on ourselves, and at least for me, spending a ton of time prepping for the race the night before and going over everything in my head a zillion and one times probably isn’t the best strategy.
A better strategy for me is probably to get all of my stuff ready so I’m not a lunatic running around looking for safety pins and my Gu gels while trying to head out the door on time, and then let go of everything else. Let go of obsessing over what pace I need to hold. Let go of whether or not my race outfit is perfect. Let go of worries about the weather. Just let go, and run.
So back to my race: as I said earlier, I was feeling really good during the first 5 miles or so and was actually on pace to maybe be able to run a sub 2-hour half. It really seemed like it was possible … until around mile 10 … when my stomach totally betrayed me.
My energy levels and momentum were so great that I really, really didn’t want to stop, but eventually I had no choice but to visit a porta-potty and then unfortunately after that, the rest of the race was pretty lack-luster for me.
Stopping made my legs cramp up and allowed some of the soreness to set in and once I started up again it was really hard to get that momentum that I had back. I was a little upset, but for the most part I just rolled with the punches and told myself to enjoy the rest of the course and get to the finish line with a smile on my face, which I did.
All in all, minus my emergency bathroom stop, I can honestly say my first Brooklyn Half was a success and the perfect way for me to say a final goodbye to Brooklyn the best way I know how.
I actually haven’t checked my official race time yet, because I truly don’t care what it was. According to my watch, which I paused for my bathroom break, I ran about a 2:03, which is a typical half marathon time for me. For having indulged in two drinks and a later-than-normal bedtime the night before, I’ll definitely take it. In fact, I still can’t believe I pulled that off without dying.
Oh and for those who are wondering: Yes, moving out of a walk-up apartment the next day (i.e., going up and down a flight of stairs too many times to count in one day) was a B!@#$ the next day, but absolutely worth it for the chance to run the Brooklyn Half!
Have you ever run a race under-prepared and then surprised yourself with a pretty great performance? Let me know in the comments below!