First off: Accountability!
Current weight: 253 ibs. Gotta lay off of the energy drinks. (NOS…Y U SO ADDICTIVE?!!!)
The AirBnB Brooklyn Half-Marathon is billed on NYRR’s website as being “the largest half marathon in the country.” When you first hear it being said or see it in print, you might be quick to dismiss it as just another case of New Yorkers over-hyping something in regards to New York (listen; I have love for my NYC folks…but you all know this is 100% true) but I assure you, when you’re standing in corral with over 27,000 other runners on Eastern Parkway in Prospect Park, you realize the sheer magnitude of this race.
To be honest, you don’t even need to actually be present on race day to get a sense of how popular this race is – you can find out for yourself from the comfort of your own home when you’re attempting to register for this race on the day it opens. When I ran this race in 2015, I registered sometime around 10:00am on registration day. A few folks got wind of the fact that it was on my race calendar so they made an attempt to register that same afternoon, but without success as the race sold out in a manner of hours. When I registered for the race this year, I damn near broke my trackpad, hitting the “refresh” button repeatedly until I saw that my registration had gone through. I then took to social media directly afterwards to get an accurate grasp on how fast the race was selling out….and found out that the race had completely sold out in 52 minutes this year!!
Unlike the Flying Pig, the draw for the AirBNB Brooklyn Half isn’t the crowd support. Well, at least for me at it wasn’t. Don’t get me wrong: there are definitely cheer stations and just random folks on the streets in full voice, motivating you (last year I think I remember the majority of the cheering I encountered being along Flatbush Ave and in Flatbush in general) but that’s not the draw. The draw…is Brooklyn itself. The race affords runners an opportunity to see 13.1 miles of it through eight of its extremely diverse neighborhoods.
Now in the interest of full disclosure, I’m a fan of Brooklyn. I have been lucky enough to have spent a little bit of time in every borough in NYC and to me, Brooklyn by far is the most interesting of them all. It’s a LOT different from when I used to visit in the mid to late nineties, but still…the architecture, the music, the food, the people…Brooklyn sets its own pace.
The atmosphere is off the charts with this race – starting at packet pickup / expo which takes place at Brooklyn Bridge Park on Pier 2. It’s festive with food and games to be played along with the usual stuff that goes on at expo, but with it sitting right on the pier with a beautiful view of the East River and Manhattan on the other side. If I would have had more time last year to just relax after pickup, I would have spent time just relaxing here. Any time I’m in NYC, I stop in Brooklyn and particularly at this park. One day I want to get into town early enough to actually get a run in over the bridge. (With the emphasis on “early enough” as I hear it gets really crowded and damn near impossible to run as the morning wears on and all the runners come out for their morning miles.)
The race itself starts off on Eastern Parkway next to the Brooklyn Library. It’s pretty congested at first, but that’s to be expected as bag drop is right there as well. (And because there are 27,000 of you. Just a hunch. lol) As far as the course goes, it’s not terribly hilly and the hills that are incorporated into the course take place relatively early (miles 2 and 5 I believe) within the race. The best part if you really want to put on some speed is the nice, extremely flat section of the course that run straight down Ocean Parkway for a number of miles until you make the right onto Surf Ave and then onto the boardwalk for the big finish at Coney Island. (Side note: this was where I had my first experience with nipple chafing. I ended up running the last mile and and half holding my shirt away from my chest looking extra foolish. Lesson learned. Packing my band-aids as I type this.)
My official finish time for this race last year was 2:57:04 with me running an average of 13:30 per mile. Needless to say that I plan on doing a great deal better than that with a year’s experience under my belt. My plan run at least a 10:00 min / mile pace this year and finish somewhere in the neighborhood of 2:20 for a new PR over my last PR a few months ago at the NYC Half where I ran 2:37:12. I’m dealing with some residual soreness in both calves and completed my last training run this afternoon. We’ll see how that plays into my weekend but I don’t suspect it will since tomorrow is a travel day and I plan on not doing any more running until the day of the race itself after today. My nutrition has been okay up to this point and as long as I don’t go crazy during lunch at my favorite Caribbean restaurant in Crown Heights tomorrow, (Shoutout to the folks at Gloria’s on Nostrand Ave! Go there! Get fed! Thank me later!) I should be good to go for race day.
To say that I LOVE this race doesn’t really do it justice. From top to bottom, this race is A++ and a “must do” as far as half-marathons go in my humble opinion. So far, it’s the only race that I have made a mental checkmark to do EVERY year if possible.
Alright. That’s it from me for now. I’ll catch up with you all with the recap of race weekend in a few days. Take care!