Note: As a Rock 'n' Roll ambassador, I was given complimentary entry, but all thoughts are my own. Ain't nobody got time for lyin'...
Let's be honest here folks. There was A LOT of sleep til Brooklyn. I mean that place is ffaarrr away from Boston.
Well not THAT far away. I mean I simply hopped on the Amtrak and was in NYC in about four hours then I jumped on a train with some letter and then with some number and badda bing badda boom I was in Brooklyn. Ta Da even.
With the race on a Saturday I opted to take the train down from Boston first thing on Friday morning. Oh you don't think a 6:10am train out of Boston sounds appealing. Yeah me neither, but it got me into NYC around 10:15am so I had plenty of time to make my way to Brooklyn.
It's actually a good thing I took that into account since the expo was about 30 min away from where I was staying, which was a 5 min walk from the start!
Now I am hopeless when trying to get around NYC. I owe big thanks to the creators of Google Maps. Literally I was walking around with my Google Maps out obeying every turn it told me to take. It's one downside of traveling solo - no one to share navigating duties with. Luckily my wife was only a text away and she provided assistance when I got to the point where I just wanted to sit and cry. I am directionally challenged. It's one of the reasons why I am not an Elite runner. I don't need that pressure of being at the front of the race. I like having people to follow.
Well that is ONE of the reasons I am not an elite runner - I also lack the speed. :P But that is a minor reason. It's really not wanting to have to pay attention to directions. ;)
Anywho I dropped my stuff at my friend Aransas' house (a few minute walk to the start line) and she walked me to the train so I could make it over to the Expo. I know the Expo was so far away because there's a serious lack of convention space in Brooklyn. But it also seemed ridiculous of a trek.
When I did the Rock 'n' Roll Brooklyn 10k the bib pick-up was right on the sidewalk at Prospect Park. Quick and easy. With my couch situation, I wish it was that easy again, but thankfully the train ride was painless.
The Expo itself wasn't really an expo. I didn't realize until I got there that there wouldn't be booths. The only group on-site were sponsors: Chocolate Milk, Team In Training, Toyota, etc. I know this was the inaugural RnR Brooklyn half, but I definitely expected more. The expo was giving away free Michelob Ultra to folks to drink while getting their bibs and shirts. But it didn't seem like many folks were taking part as I saw folks leaving with 12-packs to take home.
Since there wasn't much to see, I breezed through the small area of race gear from Brooks, stopped by to see my girls from Sparkly Soul (they were sharing space with TNT), grabbed my bib/shirt and headed out to get lunch.
Now lunch turned into a huge ordeal since most of the places around the Expo were closed. After lots of walking and help from the wife (who was in Boston), I was able to grab food before meeting up with some blends (blogger friends) for a meetup.
There was a quick adventure in the rain, which included bib pickup for a friend, dinner and bed.
Since my couch (aka sleeping arrangements) were so close to the start, I didn't have to set the alarm for a "Run Disney" type wake-up time. Yay! I made my way over to the race just in time to hit up the VIP area (located inside the library) before heading to our corral.
On race morning, I learned that NYC has some strict security measures for any race longer than a half marathon. I had to go through a metal detector and have my bag checked before heading into the VIP area. I was actually in line behind the three eventual winners (all originally from Ethiopia). We of course were talking shop while in line. OOOrrrrrrr I was speechless looking at the pacebands they were wearing.
At about 7:15am we decided to make our way out to Corral 2, which thankfully was just outside the library/VIP area.
The race was set to start at 7:30am, but it was quickly becoming apparent that the race would be starting late. There were a ton of people tweeting that they were stuck in long security lines still.
It was a chilly Fall morning and I was regretting not having a throwaway outfit as the minutes ticked by. The race announcers did a great job of keeping the crowd entertained and informed. But it was still a tough delay. I was shivering, which was making me have to pee. TMI or not I had to go. I knew I'd be making a port-o-potty stop as soon as the race started.
Big thanks to Barry and Megan for keeping me company pre-race. We shared our goals for the run. Mine? Have fun! Yup short and simple. I had zero time goals and wanted to really soak in the Brooklyn scenery. As I mentioned, it had been two years since I did the RnR 10k in Brooklyn and was hoping for a better race atmosphere.
After a 30-min delay, the race was set to go! Phew! I understand why the NYC Police have the tight security that they do, but I think a lot of race participants were from out of town and didn't expect the additional lines when planning what time to get to the race. I know I didn't. While it is annoying when a race is delayed to start, it isn't the end of the world. Something I would give another chance for an inaugural race.
Once the gun went off I was ready to roll... or go to the potty!
I bobbed and weaved with Megan through the first mile before bidding her adieu at the sight of the first port-o-potty. #Priorities
Mile 1: 8:27
Mile 2: 9:18
Any way to tell which mile was stop was during? ;)
As you can see in the course map above, the race featured two out and backs, which I love. I really enjoy being able to see, cheer on and high-five friends and random strangers taking part in the race!
Mile 3: 8:11
Mile 4: 7:59
Going into a race with zero expectations usually results in some of the best races I have ever run... this was no different. During Mile 4, I met up with the infamous Gregg (aka Mr. New York). Gregg and I have been Twitter friends for years and have only met once briefly in 2013. So when I ran upon him during the run I took it as a sign that we were meant to enjoy this run together. Now I just needed to see if he agreed.
It's seriously like asking someone out. I felt like I was back in junior high (not that I dated anyone then, but you get the level of awkwardness).
"So ummm Gregg, you wanna maybe run together a little?"
<<looking at me like I have seven heads>> "I guess so."
Okay he really was cool about it, but I was trying to drum up some drama there.
And that is how the magic happened. I was also so caught up in what we were talking about that I slacked on my picture/selfie taking. Oops!
Mile 5: 7:57
Mile 6: 8:13
Gregg is a running coach in NYC so there were a ton of "Hey Gregg," "Oh my gosh it's Gregg," etc being shouted as we ran. I really felt like I was with a celebrity. I tried to be like "Oh hey it's IrishEyes1982" out of the side of my mouth - didn't really catch on.
I did enjoy picking Gregg's brain on training plans, overtraining and the crazy idea of possibly running an Ultra marathon.
As I shared my self doubt, he reminded me that I am so positive and optimistic about the success and potential of my readers and friends that I need to do that for myself as well. Okay buddy I heard you loud and clear. Seriously it's been on my mind every run since that mile. I needed that buddy!
Do you think we were having any fun? It was at this point in the race that we watched the three leaders buzz past us on the other side of the street. They seriously looked like they weren't even breaking a sweat. It also made me wonder how they decide who wins? I mean these three guys were running together the entire time.
We hit the turnaround and made our way back towards Prospect Park. We were running out and back on Ocean Parkway, which wasn't the most scenic street. The volunteers were on point with their excitement. I was LOVING their enthusiasm.
I also enjoyed having my bum smacked by my friend Melanie just before the turnaround during Mile 8!
Mile 7: 8:09
Mile 8: 8:20
Mile 9: 8:20
Mile 10: 8:42
As Gregg and I ran and talked, the miles ticked by. I didn't pay attention to my pace, the mile markers or my watch. Which really means you have found a good running partner. I just focused on our conversation and the people around us.
We hit Mile 10 at the top of the ramp/exit off Ocean Parkway. We were finally making our way back towards the park. The last couple of miles would be winding through Prospect Park and the hill. It wasn't the biggest hill in the world, BUT when you hit it at the end of the race it feels like a mountain. Am I right? The good thing about this section were the spectators. Oh spectators thank you for your amazing cheers. I needed the extra love.
It was a little tough watching the Finishers walking towards us with their medals. I used it as motivation. Well if they are walking this way that MUST mean I am close to the Finish. Right? Well I told myself that. I felt like I was picking up the pace, but it also felt like I was running on a treadmill. Thanks hill. Thanks.
Mile 11: 8:33
Mile 12: 8:34
Mile 13: 8:09
Just before hitting the Finish Line, Gregg and I were being pushed to the right side of the chute. I was really confused about why they weren't having us use the entire lane until I saw a man down on the ground. Oh no. I immediately sent out as many good/healthy vibes to him as I could. They were blocking off that part of the road so he could be put on a stretcher and into the ambulance. (We later learned he passed away!)
FINAL TIME: 1:50:21
Wow! Gregg and I had definitely run faster than either of us thought we would. I thought about how I could've done a 1:4X if I didn't have that bathroom stop, but they I wouldn't have run into Gregg and I would've missed out on a ton of fun!!
I give Gregg big props for humoring me and doing my new-favorite thing of leaping across the Finish Line. I just wish the photogs had caught it.
Once we snapped a post race photo and our medal, we headed over to the VIP tent.
The VIP tent was off the chain. Thanks Ashley for hooking me up with an entry.
I got a sweet massage, enjoyed some carbs, charged up my phone (hello charging station) and caught up with Harriette Thompson (the oldest person to complete a marathon). I also got to see my buddy Chis (aka Run Westin). I was missing the mimosas from previous VIP tents. They were serving Michelob Ultra, which is just not my scene. So after a quick bite and some hugs, it was time to meet up with Melanie to enjoy the rest of the weekend... and a post-race beer. :)
Outside of the race start delay, the event was well run. There were plenty of volunteers, a good number of water stops, fun bands/cheerleaders/entertainment and a kick ass medal. I do wish the Expo was actually an Expo with vendors and was closer to the Start area. I would even take a small bib pick-up outside in the park again like 2013. It was convenient and near a lot of great lunch spots. The course featured two out and backs, which I love!! Medal was awesome AND doubled as a bottle opener. :)
Did you run RnR Brooklyn? Would you do it again?