The most common questions I heard during my marathon training this year after telling people I was planning to run Brooklyn were: "Oh, there's a marathon in Brooklyn?" and "Where is it?" My answer, "In Prospect Park, it's several loops," was always met with either looks of confusion (non-runner Manhattanites who don't know where PP is) or looks of sympathy because I must be crazy to do that to myself.
Having run half of the race with my friends Joe and Ari last year, I knew it wouldn't be that bad. I mentally prepared for the loops by NOT running in the park all year. I'm a big believer in the idea that the miles go by much faster when you don't know where you are along the course. My plan worked- the race went by in a blur of big hills, lake views, friends and random cheering crews and mile markers. I paid very little attention to which lap I was on, but kept track by counting times up the big hill. I ran the tangents thanks to Hilary who reminded me each time and gave me reference points to shoot for with every turn. Most of all, I had a really good race! After a slightly disjointed training cycle due to eye surgery (Lasik) in early October and a trip to sweltering Paris in August, I missed more than one long run, but I did my best to get in the necessary mileage and went into the race with no real expectations. The coolest thing happened as a result, I did way better than I thought possible and all without the pressure of a goal time! Of course now that I ran so well on somewhat unstructured training and a really hilly course I'm wondering how I can run on a flat course with better training....
So, about my race... I ran the first 18 miles or so side by side with my friend Hilary. We bumped into each other before the start and chatted while I put some Kinesio tape on her cranky knee. We discussed race plans and ours were similar so we decided to start together and just see how it went. Luckily for both of us, we were very compatible running buddies! We chatted away the miles, looked for friends along the way and pushed our way up the big hill 5x side by side and cruised down the hills on the other side of the park. At least I think it was the other side, I told you I don't know the park very well. We were moving a little faster than planned, and in true crazy person style, we kept it up. It felt effortless and we just had to hope that we wouldn't pay for it down the road. In the end, Hil pulled ahead on the 5th big hill and I let her go, knowing that she had better training under her belt and I was happy to carry on with some other friends who stopped by to keep me company for a bit.
I think I was well fueled up until that point, but I must have missed "a feeding" because I felt sluggish, tired and blah for something like miles 19-21. I got in some more fuel in the form of a Honey Stinger waffle and gatorade and felt better within minutes. The company certainly helped (I won't mention any names because they were technically bandits) and they kept me peppy and we were just having fun. I saw Dave and gave him a hug and decided I'd like to walk for a minute to stretch out my burning hips. It helped, a lot. I've never walked during a race, it was a surprising little boost so I did it one more time a little later. One of my buddies was carrying water, which I think really helped me through the final miles because I felt pretty thirsty, but I didn't have to gulp at water stations.
The final turn was about 0.2 miles from the finish line, but it's felt like an eternity! I pushed on alone towards the elusive finish, which was around the third bend in that stretch of road. Oh, did I mention it was uphill? I crossed the line at 3:49:xx and my official time was 3:50! Wahoo! That's just 3 minutes slower than my marathon PR from NYCM in 2010! What a great day! I felt 10x better than in 2010 and I recovered pretty quickly, it must have been the hot chocolate, grapes, delicious bagels and cheesecake NYCRUNS was giving out at the finish line. By Wednesday I had barely any soreness left and I was still feeling the excitement of running such a solid race. Thanksgiving dinner was well earned this year!!!
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