Racing for me is not only about the miles, friends or smiles, but enjoying new cities by hitting the pavement.
As a Rock n Roll Marathon Series blogger for 2016 I had the pleasure of receiving a complimentary global tour pass to use for whichever races I wanted. I wish I had unlimited vacation and a never-ending bank account so I could've done as many races as many of my friends, but unfortunately that isn't reality. :P
I was able to tackle three cities, including my first International race, in 2016. I celebrated my birthday at RnR Philly half, I faced a tough decision to drop from the full to the half in Montreal and rounded out the Fall with 13.1 miles through Brooklyn.
Rock n Roll originally broke into Brooklyn with a 10k in 2013, which I ran with Team Chocolate Milk. It was the first time I ended up in the first corral for an RnR race.
After taking 2014 off, RnR came back in 2015 with the inaugural RnR Brooklyn half, where we had to wait not 3, but 30 minutes to start. ROUGH! Check out the recap to hear more about THAT debacle.
Rock n Roll made apologies for what happened and promised improvements had been made fro the 2016 race. I am one to give most races a second chance so I once again registered for RnR Brooklyn Half.
On Friday, October 7, I took the train from South Station in Boston to NYC. My Slumbrew teammate and friend Robert was on the same train so it was great to catch up, enjoy a beer (it was 5pm somewhere) and talk about our race goals.
I was met at Penn Station by my friends Briana and Andrew! YAY! Fellow Rock N Bloggers are the best. We headed to have a birthday lunch for Andrew at Carnegie Deli before it closed. I had a delicious turkey club. I would've brought the extra home for later, but I knew I would be walking around all day long and not have enough hands for it.
Once done with lunch, we headed over to the Expo. The Brooklyn Expo thankfully was moved back downtown rather than in Brooklyn, where it was for 2015. It was 1,000 times easier to get to than the previous year. The Expo is rather small so it didn't take us too long to quickly move through the bib pick-up, t-shirt pick-up and the few vendor tables that were set up. I did take advantage of getting my ankle taped by KT Tape since I had some odd ankle pain during RnR Montreal half (a couple of week prior). When it is free it is hard to pass up - right?
After completing our walk through the Expo, we headed out to grab a much deserved beer at Heartland Brewery. Love hitting up this spot on every trip to NYC.
Once our bellies were happy with some tasty beverages and our phones were charged, we headed to the train for Brooklyn. We would be meeting up with some fellow bloggers for dinner and then I would be crashing on Margo's couch. Thank goodness she lives less than a mile from the Start and was open to be crashing on her couch.
With the race starting 7am and having access to the VIP tent, I headed out from Margo's house at about 5:30am. WAY earlier than I usually leave for a race that is less than a mile from my hotel/base camp, but I was so worried about the metal detectors I played it safe.
Well friends I played it too safe. Haha. I was at the VIP tent before it even opened. I also realized this year they didn't make you go through the medal detectors before the VIP entrance (unlike the year before). So I got to VIP and had a chance to chat with VP of Communications Dan before my crew arrived.
It was great hanging out with these amazing friends I have thanks to social media and blogging.
After a quick bite, we headed outside to take advantage of the VIP bag check and port-o-potties before heading out to the corrals.
I might've also stalked the Elite runners while they also put their stuff in to bag check.
The race doubled the medal detectors from the previous year and it seriously paid off.
This helped the lines move much quicker than the year before and we were in our corrals with plenty of time to spare. Since I am always nervous about getting to my corral I ended up jogging there, but was still there with ample time. Haha.
How gorgeous is that Start Line sky?
And again unlike last year the race started right on time. Thank you Rock n Roll for listening to runners complaints/grievances and improving the experience.
I was in Corral 3 so we started a couple minutes after 7am. Well thanks to my Garmin I can tell you we started right at 7:02am. :P
The first two miles are an out and back turnaround, which as we all know I enjoy. Plus the race also starts on a gradual down incline, which I was a-okay with.
Rock n Roll also changed the start line from the previous year which I was happy with. The first mile in 2015 was very congested as we came around the arch in Prospect Park. This year we started on a nice open street without any hairpin turns, which cut out the clustering. Does that all make sense? You can check out my recap from last year if you want to see what that course map looked like.
Mile 1: 8:16
The turnaround is just after the Mile 1 marker. I tried to take a pic of it after I completed the turnaround.
It was a little blurry compared to my normal action shots, but I think you all get the idea.
Now for this race I didn't have any time goals set in stone. After a disappointing Philly half and Montreal race, I was hoping to at least finish sub-2. It had been awhile since I had recorded a sub-2 so I wanted to remind myself that I could do it. :)
Mile 2: 8:41
Just before Mile 3 we hit some kickass ladies who were putting out some serious moves. I tried to keep up with them, but was embarrassing myself so much I had to keep moving forward. Stopped. Dropped a quick move. Then ran away in shame. Ha.
Mile 3: 8:15
It was during this mile in 2015 that I met up with the one and only @NYCSweat (Gregg) and he agreed to run the remainder of the race with me. That day we laughed, smiled, he tried to talk me into an ultra and I basked in his energy.
Unfortunately this year he was in Chicago and unable to run with me. Instead I texted him from his moment and shared with him how sad I was to be running this race without him by my side.
Mile 4: 8:41
We started a stretch down Ocean Parkway. Let me tell you the spectators along this stretch were bringing their A game. I love seeing the flavor of each unique neighborhood celebrated by the cheers, music and dancing. :)
Mile 5: 8:14
While I was making my way down Oceanside Parkway, I wished I had a friend to run with. I felt a little sad until I looked to my right and spotted the elites CRUISING towards Mile 10. All I could feel after that was motivation.
I wondered if they decided amongst themselves who would win (since they seem to all be friends/teammates) or if they go all out each race and it is every man for himself.
Right after I took that selfie a couple people around me asked how I was able to selfie, continue running and not wipe out. Oh friends let me share some of my tips as we run. :) Yes I will adjust my pace to chat with you all. Thanks for opening up that can of worms by asking me that question. :P I don't think they wanted as much detail as I shared. Haha.
Mile 6: 9:11
Mile 7: 8:28
Just after Mile 7 was the final turnaround of the race and our chance to make our way back towards Prospect Park. Now check out this amazing feat of athleticism happening at the turnaround.
Can you even handle it? I kept cringing like an overprotective parent frightened he would wipe out.
My left ankle was bothering me so I stopped to stretch and looked up to see this sign. I really do love the on-course signage Rock n Roll uses.
Mile 8: 10:00
The ankle/knee was bothering me so much I stopped at the med tent for some advil/aspirin. They did a great job of checking in on me, taking down my information and let me take a bathroom break as well. It was a nice one stop shop. I figured after this top I would be good to go for the rest of the race. I knew the last 3 miles were amongst the hills in Prospect Park so I wanted to make sure I had some meds before that.
Mile 9: 12:01
It was also at this time that I ran into my friend Robert. He was looking good and strong and was shooting for sub-2 as well. I ran with him for about 1/2 a mile before I needed to push myself up the on ramp to the Mile 10 marker. Let me tell you those elites make there climb up the on ramp look so easy.
Mile 10: 9:14
Our out and back on Oceanside Parkway was officially over and it was time to enjoy the final flat before we enter the hilly Prospect Park. It didn't last long and all of a sudden we were entering the park.
It was time for some good old fashioned self talk. I knew the last 5k would be hilly and mentally challenging, but I was still on pace to be able to finish sub-2 and I wanted to keep my eye on the prize.
Mile 11: 8:54
The entire Prospect Park Drive was lined with spectators as well as folks just out getting their normal Saturday workouts in. There were puppies galore. And oh wait another Robert sighting!
We might have played leap frog back and forth during those last few miles up the hill. I think he finally bested me when I stopped to take a pic of this SIGN OF THE DAY!
I think I started a line of people that started taking pictures of this sign after me.
Mile 12: 9:12
The final mile had declines and inclines as we weaved our way to the Finish. I didn't have much in the tank, but I wanted to give everything I had as I saw the Finish Line in my horizon.
Mile 13: 8:02
It was at this spot last year where we had seen a runner down and being put into an ambulance (who later passed away). Thankfully this year I did not see the same sight. But said a quick prayer for all the runners who were behind me that they would all cross the Finish Line safely.
FINAL TIME: 1:58:07 (9:01 min/mile pace)
WOO!!! I had just made it under my goal of sub-2. Pretty happy about that with my extended stay in the med tent around Mile 8/9.
Look who was there to give me my much-needed low fat chocolate milk? I asked him if he remembered visiting my house a few years back, but he kept pretty quiet. ;) I get it. He didn't want others around to be jealous of our bond.
After grabbing my medal, I headed over to the special tent to pick up the hoodie I earned from running both RnR Philly half and RnR Brooklyn half. Once I secured that I headed over to the VIP tent to take advantage of the free massage!
I did love seeing all the volunteers out rocking their Elvis outfits and signs. I know how confusing races can be so I appreciate RnR strategically putting these folks around to help folks go to the right spot.
Oh the post-race massage was heavenly. While I wish it was an hour longer, I was happy with the 10+ minutes I was able to get. I just wish all of the RnR VIP tents had similar offerings. When I was in the Montreal VIP tent, they had different styles of beer (not just title sponsor) and wine. When I was in Philly VIP, they had the Michelob Ultra and mimosas. Brooklyn? Michelob Ultra only. Womp womp. That was the same thing last year as well. Whereas in 2013, they had wine as an option as well (as seen in my first pic of the post). Consistency in the VIP tents would make it easier to decide which to spend your $$$ on. Right?
I had a quick bagel, caught up with my girl Ashley from Healthy Happier Bear, enjoyed my massage, stalked the elites again and then headed out back to Margo's. But first I needed to get a pic of the medal one more time.
With that picture secured, I headed to Dunkin for some coffee. After a quick shower at Margo's we headed out for an afternoon of fun with my Fitbloggin blogger family before I headed home to Boston that evening.
What an amazing 36 hours I had in NYC.
Overall, I had an amazing time during RnR Brooklyn half. The race team did a great job taking in the feedback from last year's race and making the experience 1,000 times better the second time around. I was using 2016 as my third strike and you are out for RnR Brooklyn, but with the improvements I would definitely run this race again.
Did you run RnR Brooklyn half in 2015 and/or 2016? What did you think?
Disclaimer: I did receive complimentary entry into this race as a RockNBlog ambassador, but all opinions are my own. Ain't nobody got time for lyin'!