Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Brooklyn Half Marathon: PR City

I started training for the Brooklyn Half the week after my very less than stellar performance at the DC Half Marathon in March in which I finished in a blazing speed (just under 2:15). Someone remind me to never run a 'fun' half with no serious training. That was very stupid in my opinion. I trained hard and smart the past 8 weeks and knew that I had put in the work to run a PR. That was my biggest goal going into yesterday. 

My good friend, Liz, came in from Chicago to run the half and I was excited to have a friend to travel with to the start and chat with in the corral before we got started. We took the subway as it was an easy option since I live a block away from the 2, 3. We arrived to the start right around 7am. Before we knew it, it was 7:35 and time for Wave 2 to get started. Liz is faster then me so right before we crossed the start we said our goodbyes and knew we'd see each other again after 13.1! 

I crossed the start line to listening to Rihanna's "Diamonds", one of my favorite songs. I was smiling, and was so ready to run this race. The first half mile is a complete downhill... that helped my smile. When I got to the bottom of the street and made the turn to make a slight climb up Flatbush I could feel that my mouth was already dry. CRAP. We left my apt at 6:20 and it was now 7:40ish and I hadn't had any water in over an hour. Stupid, stupid mistake. Right past mile 1 there was a water stop. I contemplated stopping or not but I knew that stopping for 10 seconds would be better than not stopping and risking something worse happening later. My first mile was 9:24, a little fast but basically on pace. We ran around Grand Army, and then back down Flatbush. The downhills in the race are kinda awesome. Mile 3 clocked in at 8:57... too fast for me. I told myself to tone it down a bit or I'd pay for this later in the race. We entered Prospect Park, and a familiar route was upon me. I've run several races in this Park and I knew what was ahead of me. There is one long climb, but asides from that hill, P.P. isn't too hard. 

That hill is in between miles 5-6. When I reached the top of that hill I just felt 'off'. I was on the verge of throwing up (TMI). I contemplated pulling over, but instead I tried to push through it. I didn't feel great. Had I gone out too fast? Was I dehydrated? What if I don't finish? Instead of letting those feelings defeat me, I knew that the toughest mile of the course was over and decided there was nothing that would keep me from Coney Island and my medal. Mile 6 clocked in at 9:47, my slowest mile of the day. I knew that since I wasn't feeling 100% I'd just take water as I needed it and tried to keep my goal pace. I exited Prospect Park, and the song, "Feel Again" by One Republic came on and it just made me realize that running makes me actually feel so alive. (Yes, I'm cheesy, sorry!) I got on Ocean Parkway and I knew I was just going to give it everything I had those last 5 miles. I literally said to myself, "Leticia, you don't get up every morning, run paces that are uncomfortable in training to not PR today. YOU GOT THIS! Let's go." Michele (my amazing running coach) has taught me to be a good mental runner. I can do anything as long as I believe it's possible. 

Miles 8-13 are honestly pretty boring. It's a straight shot down Ocean Parkway all the way to Coney Island. I would check my watch from time to time. I stopped a couple of times for water. Every time I glanced down at my watch, my pace was on track. I knew that a PR was definitely in reach, I wasn't sure by how much but I knew if I held on it was mine. At mile 10, I looked at my watch and knew that as long as nothing bad happened in the final 5K I was pretty much a shoe in for a PR. The final three miles flew by. Before I knew it I saw the 800M to go sign. Two more 'laps' if you will. I turned the final corner, heading to the boardwalk, up the ramp, and could see the finish. I didn't even look at my watch. I just gave it all I had. I crossed the finish line. Hit stop on my Garmin and read the time: 2:05:10 (unofficial). BAM. I had done it. I was so, so, happy!

Mary Wittenberg, the CEO of NYRR was right at the finish after I got my medal and she gave me a big handshake and said congratulations! That was a cool moment for me! When I finished I was so exhausted but I looked right ahead and saw a familiar face! It was Jen! She had also PR'ed and we walked down the boardwalk together, grabbing some water and snacks. It was so nice to celebrate a PR immediately with a dear runner friend! 

My PR before this was a year old, as it was from last years Brooklyn Half. I needed this race. I needed a confidence booster going into marathon training later this summer. Every part of yesterday was fantastic. Even when I didn't feel great, I tested my mental ability to not give up and push through when it's really really hard. Yesterday, was half marathon #7. It was Lucky #7 for me. I'm still smiling! :) Thanks for all your texts, tweets, and well wishes! This runner community is one of the greatest things to happen to my life. I am forever thankful, encouraged, and motivated by ALL of you. 

Brooklyn Half Finishers: (L-R) Jenny, Carla, Allison, Beth, Me, and Liz

Final Stats:
Net Time: 2:05:12
Pace Per Mile: 9:34

Hope you had a great weekend!