Saturday, May 22, 2010

Brooklyn Half 2010: One Person's Take

So I dragged myself out of bed at 4 a.m. for a bowl of cereal (and then back to bed), up at 5:15 a.m. for some coffee, so I could grab a 6 a.m. subway to Grand Army Plaza on the 3. It didn't help that the MTA was doing construction on the F line, so decided to avoid it entirely. Meant a longer pre-race walk in the morning, though at the same time, helped to relax me. Other thoughts:

*Most of the riders on the subway were runners. I feel bad for those just coming home at that hour wondering what the heck was going on.

*When I got to the pre-race organization area, seemed a bit of mess. The Portapotties that could be seen had an endless line (though there were others that volunteers kept announcing about.) And, while I like the baggage trucks on the upper transverse ... wow, it seemed messy. I got my bag there in time - I'm hoping that wasn't a problem for others.

*Marty Markowitz (yep, he was there) called this the biggest half marathon in metro NY. At 7,006, it falls short of the NYC Half this year (which had 11,600). It still felt crowded in the park, even with 2,600-plus less finishers from last year. I suspect the Brooklyn Half could handle 12,000, if the logistics are handled. (PPark may be too small, however.)

*The humidity when I reached the park was thick ... so thick that you could, well, you get the picture. I was leery about the water problems from last year, but figured that things would be better. Well, they had to be. And while I wasn't a fan of the first water table a mile from the start, it was a welcome sight at 4.5 miles on the second loop.

*The split between the slower runners and the faster runners seemed to work better this year (though I admittedly yelled at some slower runners who got into the fast runner lane near the 6.5 mile part, if only because I feared they'd get trampled as folk bulled past ... OK, yes, including myself).

*Running on Ocean Parkway remains for me a huge mental challenge - even though my pace was pretty even, I spent a lot of time arguing with myself about whether to just give in. (Usually I can distract myself with something else, but there was nothing there, just a stream of runners. Even singing the alphabet song didn't work.)

*There's a huge local advantage at running this race. Not only did I see folk beforehand, from all walks of life, but several running friends during the race provided inspiration, whether or not I was passing them or they were passing me. The spectators as well were key, and wonderful.

*After two years of running it, I'm definitely a fan of the PPark-Coney Island route. I'd rather there was more run in Coney Island (running two loops of PPark is harder, obviously), but so be it. I can live with the 7 a.m. start, though would urge both a consistent time, and date, for the race.

*Can I say enough about the volunteers? Probably not, but let me give a shout-out to everyone who was out there at the crack of dawn, if not earlier. Thank you.

*Overall was very pleased with my race. 4 seconds off my post-college PR for that distance, and my best Brooklyn Half time. As always, helped by the home course advantage, and that I saw so many runners that I knew before, during and after the race. It's a fun race to run.

*I didn't get a chance to spend much time at the beach and do any post-race festivities (having to jump onto the subway for the aforementioned trip to the Bronx). I did stop at a local pizza joint for a Gatorade, and was encouraged on the upsell on a spinach calzone (which I probably would have puked out, regardless of its quality). I hope folk get a chance to use the coupon books over the next few days.

*Most of the people starting on the Q-train at Coney Island heading back into Brooklyn and Manhattan were runners. I feel sorry for the people who got on later, and had to sit in some of those seats.

*What I'd like next year? Better registration policies, better organization at the start, better weather, better MTA coordination, more Portapotties. Suspect there were some other flaws, but all-in-all, a good race this year.

What did you think?


Amelia said...

Hi! I ran the Brooklyn half marathon today and was looking for blogs about other people's experiences, which led me to your site. I ran this last year also and was most annoyed last year that they ran out of fluid, but this year they had plenty. So for me this was a huge improvement. I don't love how spread out the starting line and the bag drop off are from each other or from the Q subway stop (where I got off), but I'm not sure how they could do it better. Overall I thought it was well organized. My minor quibble was with the music. I thought it was very helpful to have an upbeat song playing for our last half mile as we came up onto the boardwalk, but about 10 meters past the speakers, I already couldn't hear it well, and then there was so music to carry us into the finish. So we got just a 10-15 second musical boost. This is a non-issue for people with iPods, obviously, but I was sorry the music didn't accompany us to the end. Congratulations on your race!

Daniel said...

I had a total blast from start to finish (there's a part in the middle that's actually a little hazy in my memory, but I'm sure I was having a great time). On the second loop it was never clear which lane we were supposed to be in, and volunteers ushered us back and forth. But no big problem, everyone was pretty cool.

The whole race had a great feel. Definitely the best of the NYRR halfs. Even the wonderful Staten Island half can't compete with having the parachute drop as the finish line landmark. And a soak in the ocean cannot be beat.

mlittle said...

I agree with Amelia...since they posted the playlist on the NYRR site, I sort of thought music would have been more prevalent. It was DEAD silent for most of the race, which was mentally a bummer. Fluid supply was good, but the on-course bathrooms were woefully inadequate (and of course, this is the ONE time I had to use them). The starting area (checkin, bag drop, etc.) was somewhat confusing, but I think that's a result of being in a park w/natural obstacles. And, b/c I'm local, I didn't worry about the subway situation, but I'm sure it was plenty annoying for people.
As for the race, I was DREADING the 2x loop portion, but actually quite enjoyed it and didn't even really notice the hill, which is funny b/c when I run the loop normally, I hate it. I was expecting Ocean Avenue to be the easiest part of my race, but once I got past Church Avenue, I was totally bored and demotivated. Being able to look ahead of you and seeing runners for miles w/no one cheering was a serious bummer.
I think this race taught me to relish the unknown...b/c I had run the course so many times, there was nothing new to look at, and no distractions. I'm looking forward to hitting the other borough races.

Anonymous said...

This was my first time running the Brooklyn Half. I had a great run! I think the 2x loop around PPark was great. I didn't even notice the hill! I enjoyed getting the "hard" part of the race over with in the beginning. I live on OP, so running down it was familiar to me. At one point I was desperatley looking for mile 8 only see the mile 10 marker! I highly recommend spacing out during the OP portion of the run! The location of the water stops was perfect! I too would like to see music along the way. Congratulations to all the runners!