The only thing I had to do this weekend was kick ass and write a guest post. And I’m all done kicking ass!
The Brooklyn Half Marathon is now the largest half marathon in the United States, with over 25 thousand finishers and at least 2,000 hot dogs sold. The atmosphere is a party. A hipster party. A hipster party with a beard; microbrewed to perfection.
Two years ago, the race I ran was something else entirely: a nightmare.New to speed, pain and pressure the course treated me to a fist-size helping of humility. A perfect storm of inadequate preparation, relentless humidity & jet lag left me far away from my goal – the boardwalk was almost that, creeping into the finishers shoot @ 1:53 and change.
Coming off my first 50K two weeks prior, I had pretty low expectations on how I’d be able to perform on Saturday. Even though I was stronger, smarter, and better prepared you just can’t rush adequate recovery. Well, you can. But that’s stupid. Just call me Mr Stupid. My quads still don’t bounce the way they used to – it’s just going to take more time. Normally, I like to race in my Pearl Izumi N1s but today HOKKAS were the order of the day – been really getting into my BONDI B 3s lately – tasty marshmallows.
The plan was to practice for perfect execution and if I didn’t have the goods on race day then it just wasn’t meant to be. The difference this year was that I was very focused and really on my mental game.
One of my strengths is I love to run downhill. While it crushes the quads, it affords me faster turnover and lets me push the pace without taxing my heart-rate. Along those lines, this course was built for me – aside from one major run up at mile 5, it was mostly a downhill course from mile 7 – if I could make it to mile 8 without blowing up, I knew I could bring it home.
One downside of the course is that the final stretch is on the boardwalk. While it’s a beautiful sight to see the ocean, the sand on the boardwalk just sucks the power out of your legs.
One huge positive of the course is that wave 1 was lined with bathrooms adjacent to all of the corals. The organizers really figured this one out and it took the pressure off when it came down to getting down to business.
This year, the weather was also perfect. Hot, but not too hot. Windy, but not too windy. Shady, but not too shady. Early, but not …. no, it was pretty damn early. Still, a great day.
The anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) is the part of the brain that controls how you deal with suffering. When they talk about long distance being mental, they literally talk about controlling the part of your brain that can suppress pain, drive you up that hill, even when the other voices are telling you to stop. To truly endure, you must believe you can and even more than that kick in that part of your brain that doesn’t have the good sense to stop.
For my mental game, I turned the race into a hunt. With a sharpy “kill stamp” on my forearm I was ready to pick-off the other racers in front of me. Execute on my nutrition plan (SaltStick tablets, wrapped in tin foil to the back of my visor), focus on the big mile marker (mile 5, 8, 10, 12), and focus on reeling in the competition. Line them up and knock them dead.
Mile 10 is always the stake in the ground. From there, I always figure out where I’m at by assuming even if I blow up I’m looking at another 30 minutes into the shoot. This year, I knew I was in PR territory but when to turn on the screws? This time, I kept it consistent until about mile 12 and then cranked it for mile 13 to the end – a strong finish and several minutes faster than two years ago.
The week before I also got my mind in the game by reading a fantastic race report on one of the greatest Ironman rivalries ever known – Scott vs Allen. It really put me in a blood-thirsty mood.
1:45:57 – my fastest time yet. This time was over two minutes faster than my previous PR. I sure do hate running fast but damn if it doesn’t feel good to break new ground.
The New York Road Runners put on a good race now and again. The after-party was perfect – they even organized the sunshine. Well done.
They finally rented out MCU field so with perfect blue skies, Nathan’s signature hot dogs and hydration in hand, we spent the rest of the morning laying out and enjoying a successful day. We didn’t partake in the Brooklyn lager (given we finished the race around 9AM) but that was clearly a ROOKIE MISTAKE.
I strongly recommend this race for next year – put it in your calendar ASAP.