A Race of Firsts

by Rachel Rose

The 2016 Brooklyn Half marked many “firsts” for me:

  • My first post-injury race (and therefore my first race since January)
  • My first actual half-marathon (the only other comparable race I’d ever done was a 20k in Paris last year; I was supposed to have run the NYC Half in March, but alas, my injury kept me sidelined)
  • My first time donning that sexy NBR singlet
  • My first time running a race as a proud member of NBR
  • My first time experiencing the splendor that is the receiving-end of NBR’s devoted Cheer Squad!

I won’t bore you with a mile-by-mile recap of my lightning-fast run that resulted in a
2:20 finish (insert laughter here ☺), but I will say a few things about the experience
overall—including what it meant to me as a new NBR member, and as a runner who’s still actively recovering from injury. (My leg is throbbing as I type this, in fact. Another round of physical therapy on Wednesday morning! Wee!)

The Backstory

I’m not a natural-born runner. Growing up I’d always disliked running for running’s sake, but in my late 20's / early 30's, some personal matters compelled me to start dreaming of running a marathon someday. A pipe dream, for sure—yet something I nevertheless decided to add to my Bucket List.

It wasn’t until 2014 that I promised myself I’d start hitting the pavement. One mile was hard back then— hard! Two miles? I thought it impossible. (And it almost was.) But eventually, I could run 3 miles. And then four. And then six. By 2014, I’d run a handful of 5K races and my first 10K.

In October 2015, I ran that 20k in Paris I mentioned. (Well, maybe “ran” isn’t the right word; I finished it, but barely, as I had food poisoning, including fever and all the other noxious side effects that come along with gastrointestinal upset. And, uh, let’s just say it didn’t help that there was only one—ONE!—portapotty along that entire course!) In November and December 2015, I ran a few other NYRR races and had an absolute blast. So much so that in December, I decided I’d start working my way toward achieving my marathonian pipe dream: I’d do the 9+1 program with NYRR and run the 2017 NYC Marathon. That’s when I joined NBR. (It’s also when I got injured. Go figure.)

The Here & Now

Fast forward to May 2016. As a member of the team for all of five months now (who ironically hasn’t really been able to run with the group very much) to have finally mustered up the courage to get out and run the Brooklyn Half this weekend was a big deal for me! Still recovering from my injury, I wasn’t sure my leg would hold up for 13.1 miles. And badly out of shape (for obvious reasons), I wasn’t sure my me would hold up! The race was therefore not an easy physical or mental feat. I had to walk a few 30 seconds here and there, and - having over-hydrated while waiting in my corral - I absolutely had to use the restroom around mile 8.
But darn it, I finished the race. While my time may be far from noteworthy for many of you, for me, just the fact that I finished at all is noteworthy. And I’ll tell you what: I couldn’t have done it without the ongoing support of some of NBR’s finest members, both new and old (many of
whom I now feel privileged to call personal friends). I couldn’t have done it without
the energizing hoots, hollers, claps, and cowbells of our devoted Cheer Squad at Mile
3 (especially Ali Fenwick who, with her hands cupped around her mouth, screamed
“GOOOOOOO RACHEL!!!!!” as I passed! What a great feeling!). I couldn’t have done it
without Mike Hill at Mile 13 who, with his warm wisdom and steady conviction, gave me me just the extra bit of confidence I needed to finish those last 800 meters.

I will never be a fast runner. My “fast” for many of you, is slower than molasses oozing down a wall. Once my injury fully heals and I’m back in shape, 2:20 may still be all I’m capable of running in a half-marathon. Who knows? But, here’s the thing: I’m cool with that. And as I learned firsthand at the Brooklyn Half this weekend, NBR, with its big open arms and acceptance of runners of all levels, is cool with that, too.

Another fabulous “first.”

With much gratitude,