Now that you’ve read about E’s recent racing triumphs (which continue to blow me away – a half marathon PR two weeks after his first 50k?!), I suppose it’s time I share what I’ve been up to since Boston. I too ran the Brooklyn Half Marathon this past weekend. No PR for me – that wasn’t the goal – but I had an amazing time, which certainly was part of the goal! It was a great experience pacing E two years ago, but I really enjoyed running for myself this year.

The Brooklyn Half has really changed since 2012. The expo two years ago wasn’t memorable at all, while this year’s expo – or shall I say pre-party, as NYRR aptly called it – certainly was unique! It was a trek getting there, but with beautiful views it felt like an “urban hike” and was worth the effort. Definitely the hippest expo I’ve ever been to, with local food trucks/stands, a bar, DJ/live music, graffiti artists customizing racing shirts (also sporting a cooler design this year), a barber shop (?), coffee bar (with excellent baristas and coffee, of course), and prominently displayed Brooklyn Half hashtags (obviously), all overlooking Manhattan. A great celebration of Brooklyn before taking to the streets!

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The race is a LOT bigger now than it was in 2012, with over 25,000 finishers compared to around 14,000. And I thought it was crowded back then! The course essentially is a Brooklyn version of the NYC Half, with 7M of rolling hills in Prospect park followed by a flat and fast stretch on Ocean Ave towards the beach (sure beats finishing in downtown Manhattan). It was VERY crowded in the park, and I found it frustrating at times to navigate around everyone particularly at water stations (next time I’ll carry my own small bottle so I can save time), but once we left the park the roads opened up and it was easier to get into a groove. The boardwalk finish was beautiful but I echo E – not fun to sprint on. I was gunning it towards the finish once I saw the 400m sign but then hit a wall of runners on the tiny ramp onto the last stretch, and it was tough to regain my speed on the sandy, slippery surface of the boardwalk. I guess that’s the price to pay for the scenery!

I had a fantastic race, which was a pleasant surprise. I’ve been recovering fairly well post-Boston but lately my legs have felt unusually fatigued. I spend a lot of time on my feet each day and things have continued to be so busy on the school & internship front that I haven’t been able to prioritze my training nor my recovery/sleep for that matter (working on that). I’m in the middle of my 3-week Staff Relief rotation, which is the culmination of my clinical rotations that started in late January. I essentially cover for other RDs and thus am treated more like an entry level dietitian than a dietetic intern, which means that my preceptors push me to see an increasing number of patients in the same amount of time over the course of three weeks. The goal is to reach 10 – I am currently at 7 up from 4 – which may not sound like a lot but believe me, 7 feels hard right now. This push along with less hand holding is exactly what I need and I welcome the challenge, but it has been mentally and physically taxing. I’ve been getting home from the hospital feeling utterly exhausted, body aching. Going for an evening run at that point is the last thing I want to (or have time to) do, but I’ve managed to get out there and squeeze in some miles a few times a week, which usually makes me feel better (emotionally, at least).

I felt pretty miserable when I woke up at 3:45am to make and eat breakfast on race morning, but that changed to excitement once we got to the start. I was aiming to enjoy the race and get a good workout in; if I felt up for it, I planned to run around marathon effort in the park and then gradually speed up towards the finish. Turned out I felt quite strong! I still refrained from going full-out, sticking with a cautious just below marathon pace effort in the park, but when I still felt good at mile 7, I started to pick up the pace and was able to stay around my usual half marathon range. Only in the last mile did my hamstrings start to ache slightly, but otherwise I was extremely comfortable. The weather was awesome which helped – warm but not too hot (there was shade on a large part of the course too) with a lovely but not overpowering breeze. Made the insanely early morning start worthwhile, as the temps began to rise shortly after our finish!

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I ended up finishing in 1:42:03 (Garmin details here), which funny enough is only less than a minute slower than my NYC Half time with far less effort exerted and certainly less prep work done. The atmosphere at Coney Island was amazing. I found E shortly after I finished – since he finished only FOUR MINUTES after me (he’s catching up!!!!!) – and we headed to the post-race party at the stadium for a nap in the sunshine on our space blankets. It was glorious (SO much better than the way too crowded boardwalk two years ago) – with live music, food, great people watching, perfect blue skies…too early for beer but I had a nice buzz going from my runner’s high. Wasn’t too early for ice-cream though, which we got on the way to the subway!

We just barely squeezed ourself onto the Q train back to Manhattan. I felt bad for the non-runners on that train, pressed up against all of us who had just raced. The mixture of smells was extremely unpleasant and I was contributing to it, so I can only imagine how they felt! The fatigue began to set in by the end of that hour-long standing journey. A nice hot shower and crashing on the couch when we got home felt like heaven!

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I managed to make these quinoa pecan muffins (via NY Times recipes for health, pictured on the left) in the afternoon, which I hadn’t made for years. Super tasty, not too sweet and very wholesome! They make a great pre/post run snack, packed with protein, whole grains and healthy fats. We put a touch of jam or honey on ours to make it a bit sweeter, but on its own it would go great with a savory meal. I had some leftover quinoa and quinoa flour so I tried out another version today – this time adding ripe mashed banana, substituting almond milk for skim milk (which I add 1 tsp lemon juice to make “buttermilk”), and coconut oil for canola oil. Definitely preferred version number 2 (pictured on the right) – extremely moist and a touch sweeter from the banana! I ran out of pecans otherwise would have added them. The black specks btw are from the tricolor quinoa I used (ran out of normal). These freeze very well so I popped a bunch into the freezer for quick snacks in the coming weeks!

So another great Brooklyn half in the books – and the verdict is, it’s even better than it was in 2012.  I highly recommend this race and look forward to running it again next year!

 

 

 

 

 

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