This weekend, I crossed the finish line at the Brooklyn Half Marathon after not running more than a mile since December – which is ridiculous. The only running I’d done in months was during CrossFit workouts, which normally were more like running around the block. I had such good intentions to train, really I did, but I just hate running so any excuse to not run,I am all over and this winter’s crazy weather was all I needed to just not run at all.
I was planning on scrapping it but then it seemed like a waste since I had a bib to this sold-out race. So, I started playing with the idea of just starting it and seeing what happened. Some of my friends were all “You have to run it! You are fit, you’ll be fine!” the other half were “That is NUTS. You have to drop out! What are you thinking?” To both groups, I said the exact same thing: “I’m just going to start. Run a few miles and just see. There are a lot of subway options on that route!” I didn’t really think I would run the whole thing… mostly, I just didn’t talk about it.
I ran the Brooklyn Half in 2011, the last race they did where you didn’t get a medal for completing it. I’ve always been salty about that fact – I like medals! When I ran it before I wasn’t as fit as I am now, but I had at least tried to train, which, as it turns out, really makes a difference. I love to race but just don’t love running for running’s sake. I think my exact words after my first Brooklyn Half were: “That’s awesome but now that I’ve done it, I never have to do that again!” Triathlons are more my speed… but I thought since the 70.3 Ironman will end in a Half, starting to train early for that piece of it seemed like a swell plan and I could finally get that damn medal. Except that intended training never happened.
On Saturday morning I bundled up in old layers, stashed my metrocard, some cash, my id and insurance card (I was worried it might be needed) in a wrist pouch and headed out the door. It felt strange leaving for the race with basically nothing but the bag check sounded like a huge pain in the ass. I was in the very last corral and we didn’t get started until a little after 8am so I had about 45 minutes of just waiting around. I loved listening to people chatting away about the upcoming race, all of the training they’d been doing and the plan for the race… but I felt like an impostor.
As we started to run, I realized that while I knew where the race began and ended, I really hadn’t paid that much attention to what the course was actually like. When I ran it before, we looped around the park before heading down the straight shot to Coney Island. The new route had a lot more twists and turns and was overall just more fun since there was more to be distracted by but I did really wish that I’d looked at the map because I was constantly like …wait… where are we going NOW? I was so slow and pokey, with a running loop in my head saying: “Maybe you should stop. This is ridiculous. People TRAIN for this.” The thing, though, about being in the back was that I was surrounded by people who were not so fit but had trained for the Half and were killing it by just slogging through. As one of them would pass me, that running loop in my head would be interrupted by an even louder one that said “If they can keep going, so can you.” And so, mile after mile, I kept going. By mile 8, I was fully in it and knew that I would have to complete the thing but was so miserable by then that the five mile trek from Prospect Park to Coney Island, although straight and flat, seemed unbearably long. Every few minutes that “So can you“ voice popped up and I just kept going. At mile 11, one of my friends, who was there cheering with Lululemon, screamed my name and grabbed me in a fierce hug. It was just what I needed. The next 2 miles was fueled on that alone.
I crossed the line with a terrible time, but DID cross and was just so damn proud of myself for pushing through. I grabbed my medal, popped it on and headed back to the train. I didn’t really belong at the end party with everyone celebrating crushing their goal – I didn’t crush a goal by any stretch but what I did do was not let a race crush me. I was slow as dirt but finished and I couldn’t have asked for anything more.
I came home and took a nap, then chilled out for the rest of the day. I was wiped out but really not sore and the following day when I woke up was shocked that I felt totally fine. I learned a lot about how fit I really am at the Brooklyn Half, which is awesome, but I also learned that training is REALLY important. I need to get on that – I have a 70.3 to prepare for!
Photos from the NYRR Brooklyn Half site