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Brooklyn Half Marathon Report

by Lisa Coyle

Running the Brooklyn Half as an NBR was truly an amazing experience. I did not PR, but I definitely ran faster than expected and very much enjoyed my 1st Brooklyn Half and trip of hopefully many more to Coney Island!

My running time is not as as important (especially compared to all of your accomplishments) as
being a part of what may be the coolest group of runners I have ever met (and I have been
running since before quite a few of you were born.) It is refreshing to find a group that is not only
very dedicated, supportive and fun to hang out with, but also appreciates that every distance is
important. We all have different strengths and there seems to be a disproportionate emphasis
on marathons in recent years in most running groups.

Anyway, it was truly an honor to run as a North Brooklyn Runner. I have not really run with a team in almost 20 years, but I never remember it being this fun even when I lived in Ireland and trained on a steady diet of Guinness! I would like to thank everyone for being so welcoming from including me in a pace group to sharing donuts, jalapeno margaritas, pabst blue ribbon tshirts,
and race blankets at the awesome beach party....Keep up the great work and I really hope I can officially move back soon so I can race, train, time speed workouts and cheer for NBR a lot more on a regular basis!

2016 Brooklyn Half Race Report

by John McGovern

On May 21st 2016, about 300 of us ran the Brooklyn Half together with about 26,700 other people. This was the first time I have run the course all together, but being a Sheephead Bay native, Ocean Parkway was an integral part of my childhood as was Coney Island and most importantly - Nathan's.

A little background on me: I only started running in April 2015 - mainly to add to my weightlifting routine. I had never really ran consistently in my life, if you forget about 1 month of running I did during a winter in Seattle.

Serene and I had decided we should try and run a half marathon at some point, and after the Rock n Roll Brooklyn Half we decided to do another one. After that race we joined NBR, and in a few months started slowly working into both TNT, Thursday Night Track, and Narwhals.

My last half marathon before this was the frozen United NYC Half where I was way overdressed for the race, but somehow still underdressed for the cold before and after the race. After a blow­up between mile 7 and 9, I missed my goal of 1:40 by about 2 minutes and felt like a bus had hit me, backed up over me, and hit me again. I had some work to do here...

I took a week off, hit both Tuesday Night Tempo and Thursday Night Track harder than ever, switched up my lifting routine to work on strength and mobility, and began focusing on eating correctly for that level of activity as well as trying have as much fun as possible. Got a little drunk a couple weeks back and decided to run the McCarren 5k as a test, and crushed my previous PR by about 3 minutes with a 19:21 finish. Things were looking up to say the least.

As race week approached and the billions of e­mails went out about pace groups, I synced up with Gregg B. and we came up with the game plan to not just PR, but to crush the race if everything falls into place. The plan? A 43 min 10k, a 41 min 10k, and then drop the hammer for that last 1.1 km. As per usual, Gregg and I went out of the gate a little fast but it actually felt really good and for once sustainable. We were keeping each other on pace, and really focused on the 10k time we had set out for. That first 10k split ended up being a little fast at 42:14, but still it felt good as we were headed out of the park and saw the NBR cheer squad for the second time.

Around mile 7 I started getting a pretty bad side stitch, and Gregg was having some stomach issues. I grabbed a PowerGel and shot that at mile 8 and my problems went away, but this is where Gregg sent me on my way and we split up. Now as I said before, I'm from Sheepshead, so Ocean Parkway wasn't a boring nightmare or anything overly dramatic like I've heard before. Instead it was literally and figuratively my way home. At Ave H one of my great friends was waiting for me, and I learned you should not try and high five a stationary object at a 6:50min/mile. I almost slapped him in the face, so that was funny and sad at the same time. Just past mile 10, standing on my home block of Ave U was my Mom who I gave the most sweaty gross kiss on the cheek and got my last boost of energy. That second 10k split ended up being 41:59. Thanks fam!

That last 1.1 km where my plan had me just dropping the hammer and going hard just didn't seem to work at all until I saw the 800m sign and I thought back to every one of those track workouts where I had to kick it into gear for the 8th or 9th repeat and all I wanted to do was close my eyes and pretend it was all over. I dug in as deep as I could, and that last burst was close to a 6 min/mile which carried me up the ramp where I saw to my horror about four Dashing Whippets about to cross the finish line before me and I said to myself "Not today!". I honestly don't know how fast I was running or even remember much of the boardwalk at this point, but I passed all 4 of them and finished just barely above my goal time. New PR ­01:30:31

I saw to my horror about four Dashing Whippets about to cross the finish line before me and I said to myself "Not today!".

So the accomplishments for this race were huge for me. First, I crushed my previous PR by almost 11 min, and ran my best 10k ever by 2 min at the end of a half. Secondly, I finally ran a smart race. The plan worked, maybe not exactly since I didn't come in under 1:30, but I'm not going to complain about 32 seconds at this point. I was also dressed correctly I think for the first race ever, albeit everyone had to take in the majesty of me in my 2" tempo shorts. Lastly, and most importantly I was happy and pumped at the end of the race for the first time ever. I was literally rocking out and singing along to Bon Jovi's Livin on a Prayer when Gregg and I reunited in the recovery area.

So in closing, thank you NBR for everything over the past 8 weeks. I've dropped over 10 min from my half time, over 10lbs, and I figured out how to not just like racing but feel awesome after for a change. Next stop: Sub 1:25 at the Staten Island Half, and then the NYC Marathon.

- John McGovern

Going Outward, Going Inward: The BK Half from a Pregnant Runner’s Perspective

by Lilly Ardell Stevens

I registered for the NYRR Brooklyn Half Marathon amidst the same flurry and excitement that the rest of our club­ and the country­ did. This race holds a special place in my heart for the obvious reasons. It’s one of the 5 ­borough series flagship races, it’s in my hometown borough and the beach party at Coney Island - but the most salient reason is this was my first ever half-marathon 3 years ago. Although I’ve been a runner all my life, I only began joining races in 2014, a year before I even joined up with the black and white clad singlets at McCarren Park. Much to my delight, I learned I was six weeks pregnant the morning of February 27th, which some of you may know as the date of the NBR Gala 2016. My excitement gave way to a brief bit of nerves­ what would I do about all those damn NYRR 9+1 races I had registered for in my quest to earn a 2017 Marathon spot?? Holy crap, how will I manage not one but TWO half-marathons during this pregnancy? The internet didn’t provide MUCH solace, and my gynecologist remarked, “why risk it?”. Hmph. I resolved to trust in my body, faithfully wear my heart rate monitor, and continue training at a reduced pace while my body began to change, expand, and prepare for my growing baby boy. (Yes it’s a boy!)

Lunging towards May 21st, I ticked off all my NYRR races from March to May: Wash Heights 5K, Scotland Run 10K, and More Women's Half Marathon: each one reducing my pace just slightly and (miraculously) finishing each one with a kick in my step. I began to adjust my race ­goals from obsessing over my pace to monitoring my body’s dynamics. I had a NEW goal in mind­:  finish this race, and ONLY this race, feeling strong and hydrated. I used this mantra while enduring the next several Narwhals and SFRs in the weekends leading up to the big event, to ensure baby and I had the endurance to manage another 13.1. On race day morning, I donned my stretchiest NBR singlet (thanks Only Atoms!), affixed a bright-green Baby On Board! sign to my bib, and grabbed all my Gu's, gear, and guts. I ate my typical pre­race ritual of bananas and peanut butter toast with a cup of DECAF coffee, and hopped in an Uber with Ms. Silbiger and Ms. Harvey down to Eastern parkway. The weather gods really showed up for me on race day: slightly overcast skies with a mild low 60s temp. In the corral waiting for the starting gun, I chatted with my fellow corral E and F sistren and brethren, reacquainting myself with Beth Weinstein who insisted on doing a slow run today due to a nagging injury. Would I run into any of them on the course or would I be solo the whole time? Either way, I knew my mantra: keep hydrated, keep your shoulders down and head up, and enjoy the ride. Only YOU are showing up for this experience today. Only YOU are pushing yourself to finish what you started.

"Only YOU are showing up for this experience today. Only YOU are pushing yourself to finish what you started."

Wait. It isn’t only me. It’s me and baby boy today. He has no agency in this decision -­ I have made my choice and­ whether he likes it or not­ he’s coming along for the ride. 7:20 am, and away we goooo......

The first stretch of the race, was really a breeze thanks to the training runs I’d done with NBR, I knew how to pace myself up and down Flatbush­, plus there was the added bonus of searching for my faster buddies all up and back along miles 1­2. Knowing the cheer squad was right at the entrance to Prospect Park helped me stay focused, trying not to acquiesce to the pounding on my bladder. To no avail, I stopped at mile 3, gave myself the relief I needed, and was back on the trail in no time.

Hitting the park, I knew my biggest nemesis was upon me: the big hill between miles 4 and 5. I was mentally preparing for it as Beth Weinstein strode up to my right, checking in to see how I was feeling. After briefly chatting, I insisted she go on ahead, that I may decide to do run­walk intervals earlier in my race than expected. Beth figured she would walk the entire upcoming hill anyway, and that I may catch her up ahead. She was right, although to my delight there was another NBRior by her side: Christine Huber! We introduced ourselves (how did we not know one another?) and merrily tackled that damn hill with the collective power of not focusing on our pain! Our newly formed gaggle proceeded forth to tackle the rest of the park, and before we knew it, Ocean parkway was upon us.

Our gaggle prodded forward chatting away, stopping for hydration at each mile and helping keep our focus on anything but our increasing physical exertion. As it turns out, each of us had our own conditions to manage: injury for Beth, a shift in focus from running to cycling (and thus not a lot of training) for Christine, and pregnancy for me. No matter our reason for needing to run at a reduced pace, we relied on the impromptu camaraderie that you find by sharing a team singlet­, making most of the race fly by without even feeling like a half-marathon. Several times I remember thinking “This feels like a SFR with fluid stations”, that by the time I hit the 10 ­mile marker, I was ready to treat this as the race I knew I was in: partly because I wanted to finish already(!), and partly because I had some gas left in me. I took a minute to walk, clear my head, and go inward. This race was for the two of us, and baby boy had (unwillingly?) comported himself for 10 long miles. I owed it to give him the mindfulness and attention that he deserved. So for the final 5K, it was all about going inward. Lilly and baby - the two of us marshalling all the courage and endurance we could muster to finish strong and confident. It turns out I dropped my pace by 40 seconds per mile in the final flourish to the boardwalk.

While this race was for me, this finish­ and the metal­ were for him. We crossed the finish line together as a tear welled up in my eye. Our time of 2:12:22­ just 8 minutes more than our April HM in central park, was precisely the time I was aiming for. I can’t wait to meet him next fall and relive this story together; to let him know how special it was to be a racing mom-­to-­be in our hometown borough.