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Brooklyn Half Recap

Sometimes the goal for a run isn’t a new record, a new distance, or even the medal. Sometimes just finishing a race is all you can aim for. In the past, marathons have typically had this goal for me, but after injuring my foot, all I wanted to do was cross the finish line alive in the Brooklyn Half.

Thanks to my running buddy Rebecca, I had someone to help get me through some of the toughest running outside of miles 22-26 of a marathon. 

After the Belfast marathon, my foot started hurting again, along the tendon on the outside of the foot. It started feeling better finally after about a week, so I went out for a run three days before the half to see how things were holding together. It went horribly. I made it only a mile before having to hobble back home. Things didn’t look good for the half.

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We headed out to Brooklyn Friday night where I collected my race packet and shirt at the immense expo right under the Brooklyn Bridge. I made a nice friend on the subway there where we swapped running tales and helped each other find the expo. The venue gets an A+ for scenery but a try again later for organization, at least on the last and most popular day. They were almost out of shirts in most sizes and entirely out of women’s shirts. The store was also entirely out of pretty much everything. As the largest half marathon in the country, I understand that there was high demand, but this did not inspire confidence for the organization of the event.

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At least the beer garden and food trucks were well organized and very well attended. I didn’t partake as we were destined for deeper Brooklyn. You couldn’t ask for a nicer view though.

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My wife’s parents were out of town so we decided to use their apartment in Sheapheads Bay, near the Coney Island finish line, as a base of operations. But first I had some arts and crafts to do to make the Hershey head sign ready for Brooklyn…

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There are two great parts of running, the pre-race meal, and the post race recovery meal. To carb up or something, we got some amazing world famous roast beef sandwiches from John’s Deli in Brooklyn. Rebecca was unhappy that we got food without them, so ruined this perfectly amazing picture.

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Just look at the ooeey gooey goodness and tell me I didn’t make a great pre-race dining choice. You can’t do it.

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The morning of the race we got up bright an early which was less difficult than expected due to an extremely uncomfortable bed, air mattress, and very loud air conditioner. Hershey’s anxious pacing all night didn’t help either. Driving to the start line was not bad, somewhere between the ease of parking a block away for Belfast and taking a 2 hour bus ride for the NYC marathon. Many streets were closed necessitating detours, but eventually we got within a block of the corals and headed in. Security was a pain like the NYC half, and coral enforcement was lax at best, but the lines for porta-potties moved quickly. We were also able to move up a bit from the back, hoping this would mean our supporters wouldn’t have to wait as long to see us. 

My foot was feeling ok at the start line thanks to some last minute tennis ball therapy, KT tape, and two Advil that I constantly worried would destroy my insides. Through the race the pain kept ramping up, periodically spiking up to near quitting levels, but running with Rebecca helped keep me going.

It rained fairly heavily for a few minutes in Prospect Park, soaking me through, but it felt kind of nice once completely soaked through. It didn’t get cold at any point. It was the first prolonged running in the rain I had done and I actually enjoyed it. It also helped keep my mind off the foot.

Ocean Parkway, miles 7-13 was the most difficult stretch. It runs pretty much in a flat straight line from the park to Coney Island. The route was great with no uphill bits, but support was less present here and it got quite repetitive.

Luckily our supporters, my wife Gen and Rebecca’s BF John were waiting for us at mile 8 with snacks and our Hershey (our dog) and Janus (their cat) signs. This gave us the energy to keep going for a while.

Running alongside Rebecca definitely helped out here. I don’t normally like running with others or talking, but having the distraction was just what I needed for this. It was nice to talk about hockey or the BS running math we do in our heads rather than thinking abut how much time was left. 

Eventually we made it to the ridiculous turn onto the boardwalk at Coney Island and the finish line was in sight. There was a huge crowd here that helped push us over the line.

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We finished just under 2:05:00. It wasn’t my worst run or anywhere near my best, but the feeling of making it through so soon after only my second marathon was fantastic. I also got the news around this time that my co-worker Francis had completed his 24 hour run with 101 miles logged around the same time. Our achievements can’t compare, but it was fun to share each of our running achievements over our hurdles together.

PS. Doesn’t the NYRR have the absolute best medals? I mean look at that thing.

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The post-race was a bit of a mess with so many people trying to get out and find their families. Again, this was the biggest half marathon in the country, so finding someone, even with a giant dog poster was impossible. Add in the complication of 20,000 people trying to make phone calls on a singe tower and there was no way to get in touch. We couldn’t really concentrate on the festivities or the concert until we found them. Eventually we made it out of the MCU park stadium and found our team. 

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It wasn’t that hard to spot them from afar. Hershey was spotting his newly completed hipster glasses for Brooklyn.

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The race ended next to Nathan’s Hot Dogs, so a quick recovery snack was in order. They were good, but basically what you get in the grocery store. The Coney Island lager was just what the doctor (the doctor being me) ordered.

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Naturally the full post-race needed more substantial food and beverages, so we made our way back up to Williamsburg to finally try the highly lauded Dirck the Norseman, a beer hall and restaurant. The calamari made a great recovery snack. I forgot to take a picture of my brontosaurus sized schnitzel because it was so good.

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Every Canadian runner knows that the best post-race food is poutine. For a Norse, or was it German, themed bar, Dirck somehow exceeded the poutine I had in Canada. Cheese curds are nature’s Advil.

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We have the best support team. Being close enough to shower after a race was a nice change too. We actually clean up pretty well. I’m really starting to enjoy Brooklyn.

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Bye bye for now Brooklyn. I have a feeling I’ll be back soon, if not for a race at least to eat more.