This morning, I ran my first-ever half-marathon, and it was a hell of an experience. The Brooklyn Half-Marathon was well-executed by the New York Road Runners, allowing a record number of runners into the fold while still retaining a uniquely Brooklyn flair to the proceedings.
Over 14,000 participants managed to finish the race at Coney Island with a picturesque boardwalk finish.
To hear about my experience, follow the jump!
The beginning of the race was at Grand Army Plaza, which is only a few blocks away from where my brother lives. This was extremely convenient, as we were able to get up at 5:05 AM and take our time preparing for the 7:00 AM race.
He's a big fan of GU Energy gels, and he always has some new flavors for me to try whenever we see each other. Today, he gave me three for the race: lemon-lime, tri-berry and espresso love. I'm not used to eating three packets of performance gel, but they certainly gave me a boost at regular intervals.
Enough about the gels, though: this was my first half-marathon, and I was anxious to get going. Heading into the run, I didn't have a fully-defined plan; I just wanted to finish in a reasonable time. My brother did not agree, pointing out that without a plan, I didn't know what I was aiming for.
He was right, as I planned at that time to run 8:15 per mile for the first ten miles, and then finish up at a 5K pace. Having never run 13.1 miles before, that was a bold plan.
What was even wilder was that my pace far exceeded my expectations. Finishing the first mile in 7:55, I realized that I wasn't doing anything out of line with my normal running pace. At five miles, I crossed at exactly 40 minutes. I knew then that my paradigm had shifted and a memorable finish time was within my reach.
The race took some interesting twists and turns, including an entire loop of Prospect Park and a lengthy jaunt down Ocean Parkway to Coney Island. You can see the map (and read some nerdy Brooklyn historical facts) here.
Without dragging this out, here are my splits:
Things felt good the whole time. I was shocked at how well my body responded to the brutal punishment I put it through, but I felt quite driven by all the support I received from onlookers and from my friends and family.
At the 12 mile marker, I was feeling fantastic. I believe my time was 1:34 and I was aiming to finish around 1:42 at that time. I did run into some bad side-splitting cramps with 800 meters to go and struggled to the finish line. The most important thing is that I beat my goal of 1:45 and have a feeling of tremendous accomplishment.
Postrace, I had my first Coney Island Nathan's hot dog and a humongous Coke. Then, we headed to the beach and I decided to test out the icy Atlantic by fully submerging my body in the ocean.
Oh, and the water felt fine, thank you.
For all the results from the 2012 Brooklyn Half-Marathon, head over to the official NYRR page.