Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Race Report: The Brooklyn Half Marathon

What a day it was on Saturday. First, I can't tell you how excited I was to be running Brooklyn. The last time I ran it was in 2009, when my half PR was right around 2:10 and I was riding high off my first marathon. If I remember correctly, it got a little stuffy on that day, too. I think I had to take a couple of walking breaks and ended up finishing in 2:22:00.

If someone had told me then how I'd run the race three years later, I would have laughed.

Post-race with friends Amortya and V
On Friday night, I sat on the couch eating a disordered dinner of baked beans and spaghetti squash. I considered the fact that I might have put a little more thought into that, but ultimately I wasn't too worried. I've had a couple of really good half runs and figured I could hardly expect the streak to continue. Why worry about it? When my roommate Jeremy came in, I told him I didn't intend to go crazy, only to finish under two hours.

It's interesting how much impact sheer mentality can have on a race. When I ran the Verrazano Half Marathon nearly a month ago, I went in thinking it would be my best chance to break 1:50 because I kept hearing about how flat it was. The minute the race started, I went out aggressively and I was looking to pass as many people as possible. I raced hard, but I'm not sure I ran my race. The performance was good enough for a slight PR, but I was disappointed.

On Saturday, I ran like I had nothing to lose. Big deal if I wasn't passing people or on track to run a 1:50. I only wanted to run under two hours anyway. There was no pressure whatsoever.

And yet...I was on track to run a 1:50. Or at least close to it. I utilized the stopwatch app on my phone but only glanced at it three times. At mile 1, mile 2, and just as I crossed the finish line. Why these particular places? Well, I wanted to ensure that I had settled into a good pace. After I saw I ran my first mile in 8:23, I thought it was probably a little fast. So after mile 2, I checked again and saw that I'd run an 8:24. It was good enough for me. An assurance of some level of consistency was all I needed, so I put the app in the background and ran my race.

That's not to say I wasn't looking at the time clocks at each mile. I certainly was and I had a decent idea that I was doing under 8:30 miles. But I kept telling myself it didn't matter. "Great," I thought, "I'm on track to get the 2 hour half. Anything better than that is a bonus." I didn't let myself think about what that bonus could be. When my mind did start wandering to that, I'd remind myself that I would get that sub-2. That's it.

What the what?!

Imagine my delight when I pulled the app up mere meters from the finish line and saw that the timer had climbed just over 1:48. As I crossed and hit the stop button, it said 1:48:18. I don't often smile uncontrollably or without inhibition, but I was doing it on Saturday. I think I had gotten all the way to bag pickup before I could stop.
The PR train is going to stop somewhere. Until it does, I plan on enjoying the ride.

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