Brooklyn Half is the largest half marathon in the country and this year the number of participants topped over 25,000. Whoa! That’s a lot of runners who want to run Bklyn. So why is this race so popular and sells out within an hour of open registration? Everyone has their own answer to that and I’d say if you want to find out then you need to run this race.
The 1st time I heard of Brooklyn Half was way before I even started running. While I was gearing up for a Figure competition back in 2004 I started chatting with a friend who as it turned out was training for this race. I was intrigued. Fast forward to 2013 when I became a serious and dedicated runner I wanted to test my limits and remembered all about Brooklyn Half. Unfortunately I underestimated how popular this race had become and missed out on registration. (I ended up running Staten Island Half that year which was dedicated as a Staten Island Day in lieu of Hurricane Sandy-which ended up being a very emotional race). So I decided to volunteer at the finish line which would earn me a guaranteed entry to next years race.
My 1st Brooklyn Half marathon was in 2014. I was very excited to run thru the different neighborhoods of Bklyn. The race went well and I broke 2 hrs finishing at 1:55. I was back for more action the following year but as many of you know not every race, even the same course, goes as planned each time. While I actually ended up shaving a minute off my time finishing at 1:54 in 2015 I wasn’t a happy girl. Once I came out of Prospect Park things just sort of didn’t feel right. First, I took a gel too fast and it started giving me digestive issues, then I started counting the alphabetical streets on Ocean Pkwy which stated playing with my head. Ugh! Ave A, B, C…..omg I got all the way to Z???? This is sooo long! Then it started raining which was making me blind. At this point everything was just piling up and my brain was shutting down. I crossed the finish line not happy. I decided I’m never running this race again because Ocean Pkwy was dreadful, it was just too many people, and it was hot (I think the temps that day were in 70). Ok I ran this twice-I’m good. But I still luv the excitement of Bklyn Half so I volunteered as a leader in 2016. And as a thank u I got a guaranteed entry for 2017.
I really wasn’t planning to run this year. What changed? To be honest, it’s the energy of this race. That’s why it’s so popular and you keep coming back. With a click of a button I was in and there was no turning back. Training went well but we were hit with a heat wave right before the race. Like many of us neurotic runners I checked the weather all week hoping for a relief. I told myself if it’s gonna be hot I will just concentrate on not passing out. But, oh happy day, the temps that day were down to 60. Could it be? Do I have an actual chance of doing good at this race? I’ll just have to find out.
Raining! What? Why is it raining? There was no mention of this on my weather app. But as we lined up in our corrals the rain stopped. The temps were perfect-58F. Off we went! One of my fave parts about “opposite” running is we got to see all the elites flying by us. It was great to see that athleticism. As usual, running in Prospect Park is one of the highlights of the race. Yes you get hills but you also get nature and a beautiful lake. Ok we are out of the park and here comes my Achilles heel-Ocean Pkwy. But this time I’m ready for you. I decided no matter what never look up at the signs. Concentrate on stuff around me. Look at the runners, their form, what they are wearing, mantra, few ppl who are cheering-thank u!, oh Hokas, crap I just looked up, wait I gotta check my form, shoulders back, chin in, relax, u got this. Home stretch. I see 800 meters sign. Pass the cyclone. Up on to the boardwalk. People are cheering. Yes! I did it! I feel great! Seeing my honey at the finish line telling me I might have PRed.
Everything about this race just felt right. Crossing the finish line with this being my 9th half marathon I ended up setting a new personal record. 1:48. I shaved 6 min off my time for this course and a minute from my NYC Half PR. Catching up with friends afterwards atthe after party in the baseball field was a topping on the cake. So if you ever wondered why people love this race you need to run it!