Nothing like running in a downpour and getting soaked to the bone to kick off the week! It’s NASTY out there for sure – but it kinda felt good after the heat of Saturday’s Brooklyn Half Marathon. Okay, maybe only for the first few minutes (as I still try to get water out of my ears)…

As I mentioned in my last post, I wasn’t sure how this race was going to go. Both E and I were a bit of a mess this week – E in particular, with jet lag, the beginnings of a cold and no recent experience running in warm weather. We ended up missing our sub-1:50 goal by a few minutes, but it was still a great race and a fun, productive weekend overall.

  

We woke up at 4am to eat and arrived at Prospect Park around 5:45am – surprisingly we were both feeling somewhat awake! Even at that early hour, it felt a little too comfortable out – no need for garbage bags or long sleeved shirts. Yep, it was going to be a hot one!

The race was fairly well organized – we dropped our bag and headed to the start. My one complaint was that there were no bathrooms in the corrals, which closed at 6:40am for the 7am start. E had to make a last minute run to the trees! I was tempted to do the same but managed to control myself.

The first couple of miles of the race were CROWDED – much more so than the NYC Half, partly because the roads were a bit more narrow but also because we were of course quite a bit further back than where I usually start. It was frustrating having to weave so much and zapped some of E’s energy, but eventually we got into a groove and we were right on pace by mile 2.

However, by that point, it was already obvious that E was going to have some trouble with the heat. I established a system for each water station to try to keep him hydrated and moving at a steady pace – I would sprint ahead to grab two waters – one for him at that point, and another one for a half mile or so later to carry him through to the next station. It was a bit hard to keep the water in the cup as I ran, but I managed to keep enough in there most of the time (once I handed it to him and it was empty – oops – he was pissed!). It was a good system for the most part – and a great fartlek workout for me – although he did say that later in the race when he was really struggling, my offering water in between miles was a slight distraction from his attempts to “get in the zone.”

Once we hit the big hill after mile 4, he started to struggle a bit. We were still within reach of our goal as we left the park around mile 7, and I tried practically every motivational technique I could think of to get him to keep up with me and make up lost time in the park, but it just wasn’t working. I was hoping we would at least get him a PR (under 1:52:40ish), but he kept slowing down with each mile and by mile 11/12 it became clear that it wasn’t going to happen unless he really picked it up.

It was a slightly frustrating experience for me. I was concerned about him in the later miles so that was of course my priority – making sure he was okay and staying hydrated – but I also really wanted him to reach his goal and I couldn’t get him to stay anywhere close to on pace. You can only do so much to get your runner to stay with you, I suppose! It just wasn’t his day. I did get a compliment from another runner along the way that I was a “great support team” so that was nice.

I’m not sure why, but every NYRR race lately seems to involve narrowing roads and multiple sharp turns in the last 400 meters. Very annoying! In this case it didn’t matter so much as we were already off our goal, but I was still trying to get E to pick it up at the end. There was a slight bottle neck as we turned onto the boardwalk and then it was a straight shot to the finish. After all those miles of trying to get E to stop slowing down and to keep up with me, he suddenly sprinted towards the finish like a bat out of hell. We had joked that this race – our first race we were running together – would be his golden opportunity to cross the finish line before me (I had told him that would be his reward if he reached his goal). He had been struggling so much I was shocked by how fast he was going – I obviously wasn’t going to let him finish first so I went into full gear. A woman was right in front of me so I had to slow down at the last second, thinking E had finished first, but guess what? We tied, with a time of 1:53:57 – haha! Nice try, E – you will never beat me!

  

Despite not reaching our goal, finishing together was pretty special. He gave me a big sweaty hug and it was just so nice to share the actual finishing experience. I was proud of him – even though that sprint indicated a bit too much left in the tank, I know he tried his best.

I was also really pleased with my first pacing experience – it certainly is a fine art, figuring out how to motivate your runner, what to say (if anything), what to do if your runner is struggling etc. You need to know your runner well, and you also have to accept that you can only do so much to make it happen! I also discovered that running a half around that pace with minimal training is not a problem at all for me – it wasn’t easy but I wasn’t working that hard either, so that’s good to know for the future, as I definitely plan to offer pacing as one of my coaching services. I would certainly pay someone to pace me, sprint ahead to get me water etc!

  

We met up with my running buddy afterwards, who got a PR – impressive in that heat! It was my first time in Coney Island and we had a great time wandering around on such a beautiful day and in such a festive atmosphere. I would definitely do that race again!

  

We tried to wait on line for a Nathan’s hotdog but it was just too long…oh well, another time!

We did, however, have some amazing food later in the day in the West Village. We wandered all around town and ended up meeting a friend at a great little restaurant with outdoor tables. A bottle of bubbly, pizza, salad, burrata, sunshine….oh yeah, it was awesome. My first weekend without any studying to do, in great company and incredible weather! It felt amazing.

  

And now, after a wonderful weekend, I’m flying to California. Time to head to the airport! My family, friends, redwood forests and beautiful beach await me…

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