Love the Run You're With

Closing 2014 with a Breakthrough: My First Sub-50 10K!

How’s that for a solid end to the 2014 racing season?

After the Richmond Half Marathon I thought I’d relax and take it easy for the rest of 2014 before gearing up to race the NYC Half in March. I was already registered for the Houston Half in January, but I considered using it as an NYC training run before keeping up with the tradition of joining my dad to cheer on Emilia at mile 26 of the full marathon. But when I shocked myself with a 1:46:45 in Richmond I decided i wanted to capitalize on that fitness and continue to build on it. And so I registered for a 10K on NYC’s Roosevelt Island. The price was right and the course was flat, so I figured that elusive sub-50 would have to be a piece of cake there, especially since my Richmond 10K split was 50:52, only 5 seconds slower than my October 2011 10K PR of 50:47. (Note: According to my 2012 Houston Half stats, I ran my fastest 10K midrace in 48:53/a 7:52 pace. However, I once had a long history of improperly racing 10Ks, essentially going out like it was a 5K and promptly falling apart in the second half, hence my incapability to break 50 in “real life.” Spoiler alert: no more!)

I originally signed up for this race as a solo adventure. No one else I knew was running it, but that was alright; I was simply on a mission to check off that 49:59. But a few weeks out, several of my PPTC teammates caught wind of it and signed up for the 5K or 10K themselves. Gabby was determined to break 25 in the 5K and recruited our super-speedy teammate Luca to pace her…and it didn’t take much convincing to get him to turn right around and pace me in the 10K on the logic that if Gabby wanted sub-25 and I wanted a sub-50, both races would be at the same easy-for-him pace. Game on. Race day arrived, and I almost ran a perfect negative split: 7:58, 7:54, 7:48, 7:40, 7:43, 7:40, 2:14 (7:18 pace for .3 miles per the Garmin). I don’t doubt that I could have executed the same results on my own, but (mostly) ignoring my pace and simply chasing Luca around the island proved to be a great distraction, making it easy to just get it done. Sub-25 and sub-50 ended up being sub-24 and sub-49 when Gabby and I finished 5K and 10K in 23:58 and 48:58 (officially a 7:54 pace), respectively. Success!

My new favorite race photo. Thanks, Gabby!

My new favorite race photo. Thanks, Gabby!

Post-race team brunch

Post-race team brunch

PR mimosas!

PR mimosas!

On to the next: Houston is just three weeks away! As I alluded above, I’m no longer set on having this race be just a training run. After coming so close to my PR in Richmond, I’m determined to actually go for it back at my hometown race, exactly where I set my current one three years ago, and maybe even chase it again in March back here in New York. It’s been nothing but hard training since I hired Coach Hadley back in June, but somehow I’ve managed to avoid burnout thus far. I’m sure it has to do with my determination to get back to my prime and then build on that. I really want 2015 to be the year of the major comeback marathon, but I believe nailing a strong half PR first is a crucial step in that direction. I can’t wait to make it happen.

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Fall Season Wrap-Up

Last you all heard, I was coming off a strong summer racing season that included my first PR in any distance in a very long time, and I while I wasn’t quite back to what was once my peak racing shape, I was getting closer and closer to it and gearing up for what I hoped would be my strongest half marathon in years. Here’s how the fall racing season played out:

5th Avenue Mile (9/13): The A goal for this one was sub-6:30, and the B goal was to beat my sister. I wound up accomplishing both! I wrote splits on my hand for 1:37 400s, which would put me at 6:28, and I came in at 6:25. Emilia had been racing better than I had last winter and spring, so I fully expected us to be neck and neck for this one. I never looked back, but I assumed she was right on my heels the whole time and was surprised to turn around at the finish and wait another 20 seconds for her to show up. I may have gloated about this a bit too long that day.

Benton family bragging rights reclaimed, y'all.

Benton family bragging rights reclaimed, y’all

Newport Liberty Half Marathon (9/21): This was the big goal race, yet after almost an entire summer of mild temperatures and coolish long runs, this race started at a lovely 75 degrees and nearly 100% humidity. I ended up dropping out at mile 9.5 when I began to feel disoriented and seemingly dehydrated (but I was more likely actually low on electrolytes after chugging a lot more water than usual the day before). I wouldn’t rule out running this race again since it was a great course that looked to be pretty fast (in good conditions!), but in retrospect, I’m not sure what I was thinking putting all my eggs in this particular basket. I race best in 30s–40s, which are highly unlikely to be in a September forecast. I’d already planned to keep working toward peak half shape after Newport, so I solidified plans to join Katie in Virginia at the Richmond Marathon weekend for the half. Onward and upward.

I hope I get another cool bib number like that someday! Shout-out to Andrea (left) who placed second overall at the 5th Avenue Mile a week prior and then PRed and was third woman at Newport in that humidity. NBD.

I hope I get another cool bib number like that someday! Shout-out to Andrea (left) who placed second overall at the 5th Avenue Mile a week earlier and then PRed and was third woman at Newport in that humidity. NBD.

Bronx 10-Miler (9/28): I registered for this to get guaranteed entry into next year’s NYC Half and originally planned to take it super easy a week after Newport. But since Newport didn’t go according to plan, I decided to race it for some redemption with the pacing help of one of my PPTC teammates, Luke. I’d hoped to run 8:10s–8:15s, but this ended up being another humid one. However, we managed to to keep the pace consistently under 8:30 (8:26 for the first 5 miles, 8:29 for the second 5) to finish in 1:24:30, a 3-minute PR for me. During the last couple of miles I focused on passing targets Luke picked out, and I managed a 5:44 lap pace for the final sprint—a first for me, as I’d definitely never seen my kick dip below 6 before!

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. (Had to.)

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. (Had to.)

Poland Spring Marathon Kickoff 5-Miler (10/26): Coach Hadley and I were confident that I could go sub-40 on this one since I’d only gotten stronger after my Team Championships PR of 40:25 in August. And then. I felt under the weather all week and when I woke up on race morning with a nasty sore throat and earache it became simply about getting it done for my final 9+1 credit (I’ve been adamant about not paying NYRR for any extra races this year, so I wasn’t about to be a no-show). Despite feeling deathly, I managed to churn out super-consistent splits to finish in…wait for it…40:25, hitting my exact PR on the nose. I was diagnosed with a sinus infection the following morning. Good times. (Hashtag sarcasm)

And now, the success story we’ve all been waiting for:

Richmond Half Marathon (11/15): I was ready to get my Newport redemption, but I wasn’t quite sure what that might look like. The plan for Newport had been to target 8:20–8:30 pace for a 1:49–1:51 finish. A far cry from a PR of <1:44:32, but I was hungry for my first sub-1:50 since the spring of 2012. I raced decently after Newport (see above), but I was feeling insecure about the fact that my speed workouts weren’t quite as quick as they had been in the summer. Things were supposed to get easier as the cool temperatures rolled in, weren’t they? At least my long run paces all continued to be right where I thought they should be.

Best long run of the training cycle? Obviously the one I kicked off alongside Deena Kastor at Chicago Marathon weekend. I'd like to think some of her racing mojo rubbed off on me for Richmond.

Best long run of the training cycle? Obviously the one I kicked off alongside Deena Kastor at Chicago Marathon weekend. I’d like to think some of her racing mojo rubbed off on me for Richmond.

I thought I’d toe the line at Richmond with the same 1:49–1:51 range in mind, but Coach Hadley had other ideas when he gave me a pacing strategy for 8:10s–8:15s, or a 1:46–1:47 finish. What the what? That was faster than I’d averaged for 10 miles in the Bronx! But he hadn’t been wrong about my abilities in any of my previous races, so I persuaded myself to trust the plan. Race morning arrived, and the conditions were perfect: 30 degrees, sunny, and zero wind. Once I started to put one foot in front of the other, I focused exclusively on the mile I was in and told myself to just get this mile done in ~8:10. This made me far less anxious than the thought of running ~8:10 13 times in a row, something I hadn’t been able to achieve in ages. It also made the race go by so fast—each time I reached 10K, 8 miles, 10 miles, I couldn’t believe I was already there and still feeling fantastic. Before I knew it, I was sprinting down the rapid decline toward the finish line.

On my way to victory

On my way to victory

Richmond splits: 8:19, 8:13, 8:09, 7:58, 8:02, 8:08, 8:07, 8:14 (hill on a narrow winding road with a water station!), 8:00, 8:01, 8:02, 8:08, 7:55, 1:21 (6:34 pace). Finish time: 1:46:45/8:09 average pace, my second-fastest half marathon to date, and my fastest in nearly three years.

This was arguably the strongest half marathon I’ve ever raced. Even when I ran my PR at the 2012 Houston Half, I was not in tune with my body or capability and let my legs coast through 7:40s–7:50s until I died at mile 10 and crawled the rest of the way to just come under the wire and meet my sub-8 pace goal. In Richmond I felt strong and steady the entire way, and my 10K split of 50:52 was an 8:10 pace, meaning I ran a tiny negative split in the second half! When I crossed the finish a fellow runner even told me she had paced off me the entire way. That was a first for sure. Another first for the half distance: My first mile was my slowest, and my last mile was my fastest!

So happy! Sidenote: Once again, initials on the bib made me run faster. #science

So happy! Sidenote: Once again, initials on the bib made me run faster. #science

As for the race itself, I would absolutely recommend it. I loved that it was a big race, so I was never running alone. Yet for a big race, it was never crowded. I’d registered with my PR goal of 1:43:59, which put me right at the front in corral A. If this had been the NYC Half, that time would have put me at least a half dozen corrals back. In Richmond I didn’t find myself weaving at all, nor did I get stampeded by the fasties when we initially got going. I managed to “only” run .1 extra, so my Garmin pace (8:04) was only 5 seconds off from my official pace. I’ll take it.

I thought I’d be so ready for an off season after Richmond, but running such a strategic race and getting so close to my personal best has only motivated me to keep at it. More on what that means for the winter soon!

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A Little Bit of 2014

Oh, hey, an update. If you missed me, don’t worry, no one needed to read nonstop complaining about being in a seemingly endless rut with a healthy amount of regression thrown in.

Last spring contained a couple of disappointingly lackluster half marathons, but it wasn’t entirely without its highlights: I placed tenth overall in an NYCRUNS 5K in March. Sure, the field was women-only, and it was held on the same day as the Red Hook Crit, so the fierce competition was largely absent, but it was still such a rush to only pass and never get passed.

I traveled to the Boston Marathon as a spectator once again. I was never afraid to go back despite narrowly missing the 2013 bombing at mile 26 last year, but I happily opted to spectate at mile 18 among the Newton Hills with PPTC over the chaos of Boylston Street this year. We hadn’t checked who was leading in a while, so everyone was floored when we arrived and walked up to the race mere minutes before Meb surged past us with no followers in sight. Cue hypothetical speculation (anything could happen in eight more miles, after all!) about how amazing it would be if he won and constant phone refreshing until we saw the  headlines confirming it. It was a fantastic day for American distance running.


MEB!!!! This was such an exciting moment.

And then came time to register for a fall marathon. I’d had my heart set on running Chicago 2014 essentially ever since I crossed the finish line in 2012. Until I didn’t. I love the city of Chicago and having only ever run that marathon and New York City’s, it’s truly tough to choose a favorite. But NYCM beat me up last year, and since I’d yet to see any sign of the return of my 2012 fitness, I knew a fall marathon was not the right decision for me. I didn’t want to throw myself into training for a mediocre (for me) result; I wanted my next marathon to pull off a huge gain like my 22-minute personal record at Chicago 2012. But seeing as how my 2012 PR streak in every distance was followed up by zero PRs and a solid slowdown in 2013 and most of 2014, I knew that was a tall order. Real changes needed to happen first.

I began working with Coach Mark Hadley in June with the short-term goals of regaining my speed and achieving that elusive half-marathon PR I’ve been chasing for years now. I made the conscious decision to not even think about registering for another full marathon until I can check that box off. And I’m pretty sure it’s resulted in the best racing season of my life. Three weeks into training with Coach Hadley, I ran my first smartly executed 10K in Queens, negative splitting every single mile and shocking myself by coming in close to a PR time. In August I raced the NYRR Team Championship 5-miler and finally, finally, achieved a new personal record, my first in any distance in nearly two years. (Sidenote: This was the most fun I’ve ever had in a NYRR race. There was so much team spirit and it was so nice and uncrowded since men and women ran separately and the field was only local teams.) I also ran four 5Ks this summer, each one faster than the last. My most recent 5K was a very small race in Jersey City, and I ended up placing as fifth female, second in the 25–29 age group (medal!), and coming within 9 seconds of a PR with a finishing time of 23:36 (7:36 pace). I am loving this feeling of being “back.”

In disbelief at the Queens 10K

In disbelief after the Queens 10K

Team Championships. When PPTC cheers, you fly.

Team Championships. When PPTC cheers, you fly.

The final sprint to victory in Jersey City. (YEAH that guy got chicked.)

The final sprint to victory in Jersey City. (YEAH that guy got chicked.)

Today I’m exactly one month out from my goal race, the Newport Liberty Half Marathon (a mostly waterfront course, also in Jersey City). I’m not quite sure I’ll be in PR shape just yet, but I’m confident that at the very least it will be a stepping stone toward the Richmond Half, which I’ve got my eye on for November.

On the non-racing front, I made a conscious effort to get more involved with PPTC, as I was concerned that working with a coach would cause me to distance myself from the team if I started flying solo for speed workouts and long runs. But I’ve consistently managed to recruit some fellow early risers to accompany me to Red Hook on Track Tuesdays or the West Side Highway for run commute tempos. The team also got a sizable group together for a to occupy an entire bed and breakfast in the Finger Lakes region for weekend of trail running, wine tasting, and stand-up paddle boarding and kayaking in July, which was soon followed by a day trip to Tarrytown for more trails in Rockefeller State Park.


This almost makes city running seem overrated. Almost.

This almost makes city running seem overrated. Almost.

Racing will be minimal as the half approaches, with the exception of the Fifth Avenue Mile in three weeks. I love this race for the rare opportunity to run like hell without worrying about conserving any energy for later. My best mile time is from the 2006 race, when I ran 6:42 despite still being a solid 10-minute miler. Needless to say, I’m ready to crush that time. I’m also psyched to join forces with Emilia for this attempt. We’ve done many of the same races, but usually with different goals in mind, so those weren’t done “together.” This will be our first all-out, head-to-head race against each other since we were in high school. A little friendly competition never hurt anyone, so bring it, E!

Until next time. I swear that won’t be eight months from now.


On Foiled Redemption and Moving Forward

Yep, that nearly three-month radio silence was in fact intentional. After the New York City Marathon, I had grand plans to loaf around for a bit (er, I mean, recover) before getting back to regular running for a decent effort at the Houston Half Marathon. In recent years I’ve learned not to chase after aggressive goals at this race when it’s positioned so soon after a fall marathon. I always make a week out of this trip, so I’ve continued to register for the half simply as something to do during my time in Houston before cheering on my sister in the second half of the full.

When NYCM didn’t exactly go according to plan, I toyed with the idea of upgrading to the full at Houston. It  it was over two months away, and it wouldn’t be your standard random, potentially meaningless redemption race: it was in my hometown, I’d be running through neighborhoods I’d grown up in, there would be crowd support, and there would be family and friends on the sidelines. All just like New York.

The deadline to upgrade was pretty generous, so I decide to attempt training and wait until the last minute to switch races to be sure I felt ready. I had low expectations, since most of my pre-NYCM long runs were pretty lackluster, yet I surprised myself this winter. I was running better—much better—than I had been while I trained for New York. I finally felt like I could be my best running self again, that is, my running self before I got injured during Chicago Marathon training way back in 2012. With several solid runs and zero injuries, I felt confident that Houston could be where I’d check off that elusive sub-4 so long as I raced smart and weather conditions were manageable.

Pre-race photo op at the Houston Children's Museum.

Ready for take two: pre-race photo op at the Houston Children’s Museum.

Race day arrived, and I had a solid pace plan in mind: 2M x 9:30, 8M x 9:15, 10M x 8:50, 10K x 9:00 or faster. But by mile 3 the sun was out in full force, and I was already drenched in sweat and covered in salt (despite taking great care to up my salt and electrolyte intake all week long). Not a good start. Yet I managed to stick to my plan to a tee until we hit double-digit miles and my splits started to creep back into 9:30s and higher. I could tell the unusually warm weather (the real feel was already in the 70s by the middle of the race—not quite the twenties, teens, and single digits I’d prepared in back in New York) was going to force me to adjust my expectations, and I quickly made my decision to drop out when I reached my dad at mile 13.5.

Lack of sunlight + watch monitoring + what looks like a skip-run leads me to believe this was at the race start when 9:30 felt stupid easy because it was still supposed to at that point.

Lack of sunlight + watch monitoring + what looks like a skip-run leads me to believe this was at miles 1-2, when 9:30 pace felt stupid easy because it was still supposed to at that point.

More than one person has sympathetically said the decision must have been tough to make, but the reality is that it was actually extremely easy. I don’t run marathons for bragging rights. Being able to say I’ve run x number of marathons means nothing to me; quality matters more than quantity. Plain and simple, if conditions out of my control were going to prevent me from achieving a goal I believed I was prepared for, putting my body through the wear and tear and subsequent recovery from a marathon just to say I finished another one was not going to be worth it to me. I don’t care if that makes me sound like a quitter. I was much more content to cut the loss and call the 13.5 miles at a 9:29 average pace a respectable long run effort for March’s New York City Half Marathon. Not to mention that I had way more fun with my dad at mile 26, cheering on all the runners by the names on their bibs, than I probably would have had on my own out there. My choice was further reaffirmed as we screamed encouragement at runners shuffling their way toward a slow-for-them 3-hour finish. My only regret? Not making the game-time decision before the gun went off and actually racing to mile 13.5 like it was a half instead of reining in the pace for a full I wouldn’t finish. I just might go with this strategy if I ever attempt to train for this race in a Northeast winter again…


Post-race with our #1 fan. He and his sign made it to three different course spots that day!

Sure, I’m disappointed that I won’t get to cash in on some solid marathon training, and sure, I could do something about that by finding a local marathon, but I really have no interest in running some race I’ve never heard of and have no emotional attachment to. Like I’ve said before, the marathon is not my favorite distance to race, and I didn’t become a runner to ultimately become a marathoner. On the other hand, the NYC Half is a great race I’ve enjoyed in the past, and I’m excited to refocus on it. One of my pre-Houston long runs was 13.1 miles in 1:58. I don’t think I’ve ever run that distance in training in under 2 hours, so this makes me optimistic about getting close to my PR on March 16. Bonus: Emilia will be back in New York to run it as well!

When I took a hiatus from marathoning through 2011 and most of 2012, I got to be in the best running shape of my life and PR-ing in everything from the 5K to the half marathon, including taking 25 minutes off the latter, was seemingly effortless. With continued hard work and no future marathons on the horizon anytime soon, I’m hoping 2014 will bring some similar results.

That marathon PR will happen when the time is right.

That marathon PR will happen when the time is right.

I’ll try not to disappear again in the meantime.


“Put your hands up, make ‘em touch (Make it real loud!)”: 2013 NYC Marathon Recap

Welp, timewise,  it’s not much of a secret that Sunday’s race was not the one I trained for. But time goals aside, New York City made sure it would be a day I won’t soon forget. Say what you will about rude New Yorkers, but let it be known that they absolutely become the best cheerleaders out there on the holiday that is Marathon Sunday. Lady Gaga’s “Applause” was one of my power songs in training; every time I listened to it I’d get pumped about the crowds I’d see on the first Sunday of November, so the title of this post is a nod to them. Let’s start from the beginning.


In the days leading up to this race several coworkers, friends, and fellow marathoners asked me if I was nervous about it. My honest answer was no, that I was a bit doubtful about whether I’d reach my time goal this time around, but regardless of whether it was going to happen I was more excited than anything. After all, it had been so long since I’d last run the race in 2009 and it’d been so long since there’d even been a New York City Marathon at all thanks to last year’s cancellation. I was also eager to experience running a marathon with my sister. Yesterday marked both mine and Emilia’s fourth marathons, but it was the first time we’d ever run the same one.

No dice when it came to getting consecutive bib numbers. At least they both end in 6?

No dice when it came to getting consecutive bib numbers. At least they both end in 6?

Marathon Morning

I was so happy to learn that my local bagel shop would be open at 5 a.m. on Sunday. We were able to get fresh bagels right before hopping in a cab to the Staten Island Ferry terminal, where we found Theodora and Fiona before boarding our ferry. Once it got moving, we had our first taste of post-Boston security when we noticed the Coast Guard escorting the ferry, complete with a huge machine gun.

Well, this is new...

Well, this is new…

Our second taste came after we exited the buses that brought us from the ferry terminal to Ford Wadsworth. Here, every runner was scanned, patted down, or sent through a metal detector. It seemed intense, but it moved pretty efficiently, and knowing everyone was being checked definitely made me feel more secure, especially after having been at Boston. A few minutes later, my former roommate, Amy, spotted me, and we briefly chatted as we continued on to the area for orange bibs.

After the mile-long walk to our start village, things started to feel a bit rushed and chaotic. Emilia and I originally thought that a 7:15 ferry for a 10:05 start would give us a comfortable window to take our time and get ready for the race, but as soon as we reached the orange village we heard announcements about baggage and corrals closing within minutes. What? They actually announced that corrals were closed while we were still in line to get in, but we were lucky enough to still make our way through. Like Chicago last year, I found myself shedding my throwaway layers just as the usual pre-race rituals began. To mix things up after a performance of the national anthem for Wave 1, our Wave 2 heard “America, the Beautiful,” and then, as per tradition, the cannons were fired and Frank Sinatra began serenading us with “New York, New York.” That was the first and only time I got butterflies and realized Oh my God, this is actually happening.

The Run

Emilia and I started very conservatively on the Verrazano Bridge and took in the sights, which included many helicopters (more security) and a fantastic view of the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline. This bridge is the highest elevation point of the entire course, and we started on the top level, so this part of the race made me truly feel on top of the world. We tried to keep the pace steady on the downhill descent into Brooklyn, where the never-ending crowds of spectators began. Everyone talks about the Wall of Sound on 1st Avenue, but 4th Avenue is really so much better. These are the miles where you still feel fresh and amazing, the kids are high-fiving you, and you just can’t stop smiling. Around Sunset Park a teammate of Emilia’s from her Houston running club caught up to us and then snapped some action shots while we were in Park Slope.


It was here that I spotted my roommate, Julie, who also saw me all the way across 4th Ave despite being my surrounded by other runners. A few blocks later, we were at my dad’s hotel, where he was waiting with his sign.


As much as I love 4th Avenue, it is kind of a drawback that the bib colors are still segregated during this stretch. As we made our way to North Slope I spotted both Rebecca and Cipriana on the right side, but they missed us all the way on the left side of such a wide street. Oh, well. Soon we were at BAM and the turn onto Lafayette, where the crowds really started to pick up. At mile 8 we spotted Kristi on the left and immediately started migrating to the right where we unexpectedly found Megan before seeing my friends and coworkers, Jamie and Kayley, at mile 9. I was so happy to have seen so many familiar faces in Brooklyn, but it was right around the uphill climb on Lafayette that I began to tune into how my body was feeling and realized that my knees were getting incredibly tight. Anxiety started to set in. I was no stranger to lower-body soreness at the end of my really long runs this training cycle, but I was totally unprepared to experience this kind of shutdown so early in the game. At this point I kept my negative thoughts to myself and continued trucking along with Emilia. We were still slightly behind on our goal pace, and as we made our way along Bedford to Greenpoint and the Pulaski Bridge the tightness crept into my quads, hips, and lower back, and I finally admitted that I was in pain. We hit the halfway point in 2:04, and Emilia said she was hurting too and knew a PR was out the window, but we weren’t injured, so we were going to finish together no matter how slowly that was going to be. That was the last time I let myself look at my watch until we reached the finish line.

The Queens part of the course is not my usual running route to the Queensboro Bridge, so I followed Emilia’s lead on these streets while she announced where we might see some personal spectators. At the base of the Queensboro we scoured the crowds for Emilia’s Astoria roommate, Mandi, and I thought I heard her call my name, but I couldn’t locate her. I later learned it was another coworker, Jhanteigh! Then it was time to head up the silent, steep, and seemingly endless bridge. Since I knew what was waiting on 1st Ave, the lack of spectators on the QB didn’t bother me. I just focused on reaching the top of the incline and the point where it would start to decline into Manhattan. Marathoners behind us began to yell things like “Runners, make some noise!” I couldn’t muster up any additional energy to reply, but I was grateful for the other runners around me who whistled and whooped in response. Finally, finallywe began to make our way down and around the underpass, where we were greeted by the roaring fans on 1st Avenue.

I wasn’t expecting to see anyone I knew for at least another mile or two, but not long after we came off the bridge, Emilia spotted another former roommate of hers, Amanda.  I didn’t remember exactly where my other friends would be, but I knew everyone would be on the left, so we stuck to that side. The crowds were huge here, and I got a boost any time someone recognized my red singlet and yelled “PPTC!” or “Go, Prospect Park!” (Manhattan can’t get all the credit here, though. There were so many great PPTC supporters in all the boroughs!). Before this point, not that many people had noticed that Emilia and I were twins (maybe it was the lack of matching outfits?), but on 1st Ave we started hearing people cheering for us together or asking one another if we were twins. Whenever we overheard that, we turned and gave them a thumbs-up. As we hit mile 18, I was so excited to see Steph and Abby screaming their faces off, followed by another group of friends at the 30K mark. Then we were at the mile 19 water station being greeted by yet another past roommate of mine, Jenny!

So excited to see this crew! Photo credit: Ashley

So excited to see this crew! Photo credit: Ashley

Next up: the Bronx.  Here’s where things got really tough. I took my first non-water-stop break on the Willis Avenue Bridge when the incline started to make all my tight muscles start screaming. After a minute or two of stretching, Emilia and I got moving again. The crowds were still wonderful here, and they pushed us through the mile to the Madison Avenue Bridge back into Manhattan. As we exited this bridge, Emilia heard “Go, Bentons!” and pointed out Coach Cane to me around mile 21. Then she said something about “only five miles left” and I grumbled something back about “more like 5 whole miles left.” But we knew Gabby and some more of Emilia’s Oiselle teammates would be at the mile 22 water station, so we focused on reaching that next. This checkpoint felt like it took so long to reach. I expected them to be right at mile 22 next to Marcus Gavey Park, but it was really more like 22.5. When we finally found them, Gabby gave me a hug and told me I looked great. I wondered if she knew she was lying. My stomach had started rejecting fuel at mile 16, and by 22 I couldn’t even handle a sip of Gatorade, so “great” is not how I imagined I was looking.

As Emilia and I headed down Harlem I noticed that we were getting closer to 110th Street. Instead of associating this with the dreaded 5th Avenue incline, I felt happy that we were almost on the last leg of this street. One more mile on 5th and then we’d be in Central Park. Then we could almost feel like we were almost done. 5th Ave along Central Park felt kind of lonely to me; there were still massive crowds cheering, but we didn’t see anyone we knew, and we missed our dad both here and on 1st Avenue earlier since the iPhone tracking app hadn’t worked for him. Thankfully, that lonely feeling didn’t last long. As soon as we entered the park at Engineers’ Gate I heard someone yell both of our names and turned to see Josie! That really raised my spirits since no one had told me to look out for them in CP. A few minutes later, I saw my college roommate Rachel, another great surprise in the park miles. I saw the mile 25 banner above us and tried to pick it up a little. Central Park South was coming, and when we hit it I finally started to believe the spectators yelling that we were almost there. The crowds were so enormous here, and I knew I probably wouldn’t see Jamie and Kayley again, but looking for them still distracted me from thinking Columbus Circle looked far away. Suddenly, we were there and turning back into the park. 400 meters to go. Check. Mile 26 banner. Check. 300 meters. Check. 200. Check. I don’t know if I’d call our pace at this point a kick, but I could definitely feel our speed picking up. We saw a sign that said 100 yards to go with the finish line not far beyond it. Emilia grabbed my hand and we started weaving through everyone around us to cross the finish line together. DONE. 


#twinsies celebrating marathon #4.

#twinsies celebrating marathon #4.

As I mentioned, I didn’t look at my watch again after the halfway point, so I really didn’t know what to expect when I stopped it at the finish and looked down to see 4:49 and change. We could only laugh as Emilia pointed out that instead of new matching personal bests we now had matching personal worsts. On any other day I probably would have felt so crushed to be almost an hour slower than my goal, but all I could think about was how grateful I felt for having Emilia to run with me the whole time, for seeing so many friends along the way, and for all the strangers of New York who came out to scream encouragement at people they didn’t even know. The 2013 New York City Marathon was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but I know it would have been so much harder to go it alone. I sort of hated this year’s slogan of “26.2 miles make it a race. YOU make it the marathon.” I thought it encouraged the misconception that “marathon” is a synonym for “race,” not a distance measured by 26.2 miles. (Come on, people. If you understand that 12 inches equal 1 foot, the fact that 26.2 miles equal 1 marathon should be a no brainer. There is no such thing as a “5K marathon.”) But as soon as  I crossed that finish line I thought about how the “YOU” did not refer to the runners, it referred to all the New Yorkers out there, the ones who really make it Marathon Sunday. From the bottom of my heart, I am so thankful for each and every one of them.


2013 NYC Marathon Training: What Worked

It’s so close! The New York City Marathon is now just a few days away. As my daily mileage has steadily dwindled down to the low single digits, I’ve started to reflect on what changes/lessons helped me get to this start line prepared (I hope!) and  injury-free:

  • Mixing it up. Like this year, I ran 5 days per week while training for the 2012 Chicago Marathon, and 4/5 days were spent within Prospect Park. Don’t get me wrong, I love my park and I’ll take it over it’s tourist-ridden bigger sibling, Central Park, any day, but I’d be lying if I said those miles didn’t get a little monotonous, especially when they were in the form of multiple park loops. This time around, running to work and participating in coached speed work resulted in only 2-3 Prospect Park runs each week, which I now looked forward to.
  • Run commuting = an easy way to get more miles! As much as I wanted to incorporate a mid-week long(ish) run last summer, I just could not drag myself out of bed before the 6AM hour to get it done before work, and evening runs were out of the question (that’s feeding time, y’all). This summer I was able to jump on a Groupon for a cheap gym membership near my office, so I started making the 8 to 9.5-mile journey to Rockefeller Center once a week. To be honest, when I initially examined my training plan I was absolutely dreading the peak weeks when I’d have to run to work the long(er) way. I surprised myself by loving the opportunity to fly up the West Side Highway for some faster miles, and it took me back to my college days of running there in the early mornings before classes. Oh, nostalgia. I was actually sad when taper called for scaling back to the “short” route up the city streets.
  • Speed work is more fun in numbers. In the past it’s been really hard to hold myself accountable in terms of completing solo speed work since I don’t live very close to a track or any particularly flat terrain. Lucky for me, Jackrabbit held a summer track class in Red Hook, and the Prospect Park Track Club came to the rescue when it ended in the fall.  I made the decision to officially join PPTC in order to participate in their speed program, so you can catch me sporting their signature red singlet on race day!
  • When the Garmin starts to become your nemesis, spend some time apart. When I first got this running toy in 2011, it was a huge confidence boost to study my splits after PR-ing in every distance from the 5K to the marathon. Once I started to have to work to break those PRs, the constant obsessing over that pace monitor strapped to my wrist started becoming more and more negative, especially in races. So I went back to my old-school $10 digital watch from Target for my run commutes and ran one of my best long training runs essentially on feel. Speaking of running on feel…
  • It is possible to run fast without a Garmin (shocking, I know). I’ve yet to PR without one since acquiring it (maybe that’ll change on Sunday!), but my favorite part of coached speed workouts ha been leaving it at home and depending on someone else to call my fast (for me), even (!) interval splits.

I’d be lying if I said there was no self-doubt about whether I’ll be successful in terms of my sub-4 goal, but for some reason I’m feeling less anxious about it than I was last year. As much as I would love to break four hours on Sunday, I’m also at peace with the fact that I have my entire life to do that. For now, I’m keeping myself occupied by reading up on others’ recaps and watching videos from past Marathon Sundays to remind myself of what’s so great about this race. To all my fellow NYCM runners, who has you feeling most excited and inspired regarding this race? My favorite NYCM success story is Meb Keflezighi’s 2009 win. That was the last time I ran this marathon, and while I felt my own personal sense of accomplishment after finishing it (my first 26.2!) I also vividly remember what a big deal it was that an American had won this race for the first time in decades, nonetheless one who had overcome such adversity to make an incredible comeback (after fracturing his pelvis during the 2008 Olympic Trials right there in Central Park, it was widely speculated that Meb’s running career was over). Check out this video of his home stretch. I think it’s great that he’s grinning (no pain face!) as he gives the crowd a thumbs-up and motions to the “USA” on his singlet to get them to chant it. I also love that they played “Always on the Run” as he finished! Better believe that’s going on my playlist (though I’m still holding out hope that I don’t need music at all on Sunday).

This “Road to the Finish” clip is also a great one to watch to get psyched for race day; it does a fantastic job of detailing the highlights of each borough. Pay close attention around the 8-minute mark to catch my sister, Emilia, running up 1st Avenue in 2010! I can’t wait to run those streets together this year.

January's Houston Half Marathon was the last race we both ran.

January’s Houston Half Marathon was the last race we both ran.

I’m so excited for that finish line, but I’m prepared to savor every mile leading up to it: across the Verrazano, up 4th Ave (favorite leg back in ’09!), around to Lafayette, over to Bedford, through Greenpoint, up the Pulaski, into LIC, over the Queensboro, through the Wall of Sound on 1st Ave, up to the Bronx, back down 5th Ave, and into every NYC runner’s backyard, sweet home Central Park. Let’s do this.

A final note: I’m bib 26756 in the orange second wave. If you’ll be in the orange start village, let’s hang out! If you’ll be out spectating, tell me where!


22 Miles + Staten Island Half Marathon Recap


It’s here! I made through marathon training injury-free! (Knock on wood.) I reached 22 miles this time around! I’ve covered 22 miles in training before, but I never reached this particular milestone after getting injured in the middle of Chicago Marathon training last summer. As a result, I’m elated to have made it up to this point of preparation for NYCM. In addition to running the marathon with me, my sister is hoping to get in the NYC Half Marathon lottery for next March’s race, so naturally I want to run it, too. Rather than chancing the lottery myself, I opted to do four borough races for guaranteed entry, which is how I found myself facing 22 miles that included the Staten Island Half Marathon last Sunday.

I wanted to avoid breaking up this run with a gap between the half and my additional miles, so it was clear that the best tactic would be to get to Staten Island bright and early to cover 9 easy miles before practicing marathon goal pace during the race. Like a good little runner with a 4 AM wake-up call, I was in bed by 9 PM the night before—and yet I managed to find myself wide awake during the 2 AM hour. Awesome. I tossed and turned for a while, but I didn’t start to doze off until about 3:30, when it was nearly time to get up anyway. I know they say it’s the night before the night before that counts for pre-race sleep, but I’m sure “they” didn’t anticipate the night before’s shut-eye to be this minimal. I felt like a total zombie when I stepped off the 5:30 Staten Island ferry and set out for my solo miles, but I still managed my planned 10:00 pace for them and hoped I’d be able to summon some more energy for the half.


This is what Gabby’s ferry view looked like. Mine was still pitch black.

A few weeks ago, Gabby had asked around for a sub-2:00 pacer and I wanted to help her out, but since I’d be running 9 miles prior to the race, sub-2 was going to be a reach goal of my own. I did want to practice MGP (approximately 9:00 miles) on tired legs, so I agreed to start with Gabby and see if I could hang on to that pace the whole time. I studied her splits in her Brooklyn Half recap and gathered that she was good at negative splitting, so I figured we could try 2 miles x 9:30, 2 x 9:20, 2 x 9:10, and then 9:00 or faster for the final 7.1. We started off according to plan, with our first mile clocking in near 9:30; however, it was crowded and a lot of initial weaving got us way off the tangents early on. I was worried about pushing the pace too soon, but my watch was ticking off 9:10 miles at least 20 seconds before we hit the actual mile markers, so I knew if we didn’t work to make up the difference the whole time, Gabby would have to seriously book it to come in under 2 hours in the end.

We trucked along at around 9:00 pace for the first 8 miles, but not long after the turnaround my hips and knees started to feel sore and achy, which has been typical on my really long runs this training cycle. I’m not sure if this is due to higher weekly mileage, 10 years of running catching up to me, just getting old (at the ripe old age of 26), or perhaps all of the above, but I’ve never felt this stiff and creaky as a result of hard training before. Anyway, at this point I was still holding a decent pace for being at mile 17 of my 22, but I could tell Gabby was ready to pick it up, so I told her to go on without me, that it was just my long run while it was her goal race (spoiler alert: she crushed it!). I was still managing to hold a steady pace and figured maybe I’d still have a shot at my own sub-2 finish.

And then. 

I rounded a corner and a hill that hadn’t looked that bad to me on the first half of the out-and-back seemed to have transformed into a mountain before my very eyes. I’ll be honest: I gave up on this hill. I refused to let myself walk it, but my “run” (if you can call it that) was hardly faster. I kept my head down, didn’t look at my watch, and just did what I could to make it to the top. Mile 10 split: 10:42. Fail. As soon as I clocked this mile, I started beating myself up: What the hell was that? This is a race! A marathon goal pace workout! What if that had been in the middle of the marathon? On the Queensboro Bridge? THERE WILL BE NO CRAWLING ON THE QUEENSBORO BRIDGE. PICK. IT. BACK. UP. Somehow I got my head back in the game and slipped right back into my previous pace for the remaining 3 miles.


One of these is not like the others…

When I saw my splits, I was happy that I was consistent for most of the race (even if most the miles were a tad slower than I would have liked—blame it on having been awake for nearly 8 hours by the time I was done with 22 miles?), but I was still mad at myself for not even trying on that hill. I could have pushed to make that split almost two minutes faster, and if it had been, I probably could have still come in under two hours! Alas, there will be plenty of sub-2 half marathons in my future (without needing to run all the miles before the race), so I’ll cut this loss and be happy about the bigger picture: Gabby got her sub-2, I made it to 22 miles, we’re  now less than three weeks away from the New York City Marathon!


18-Mile Tune-Up Recap/NYC Marathon Training Update

Pardon the radio silence since last month’s post. To be honest, there wasn’t much positive news to report; while I’ve been nailing my speed paces and my Wednesday 5Ks weren’t too shabby, I’ve been feeling discouraged that my long-run paces have been much slower than what felt like easy LR paces a year ago. Enter the NYRR 18-Mile Marathon Tune-Up. 

When I signed up for this “race” a few months ago, I hoped it would be a good opportunity to practice marathon goal pace (~9-minute miles). After several long runs averaging 10+ per mile, I started to think that goal was a bit delusional, especially since I hadn’t made it up to Central Park at all this training cycle. How could I expect to manage that pace for three CP loops including three climbs each up Harlem Hill and Cat Hill?! I started to think 2:42 (9:00 pace) was out of the question. Maybe I could run 2:50 if I had a good day, but I was sure I’d be venturing into 3:00+ territory for this one. I wasn’t happy about it, but I figured if I could get to mile 18 in three hours in a tune-up, then there still might be a chance that I’d  reach mile 20 in three hours on race day. Spoiler alert: I crushed my three-hour estimate with a finish time of 2:46:26!

I was feeling anxious in the minutes before the race because the baggage and bathroom lines were ridiculously long and I was still waiting my turn when the corrals closed. However, NYRR announced they’d be keeping the starting line open for an extra 45 minutes, and when I finally crossed it (only 18 minutes after gun time), it was so nice to be able to cruise right through it instead of tripping over everyone else who would have been packed like sardines in the yellow corral.

I made a game-time decision to ditch the Garmin and wear a regular stopwatch instead for a couple of reasons: a) After the aforementioned long runs, I really didn’t want to let my pace and mile splits get to my head for 18 miles, and b) I really didn’t want to care about not hitting the tangents. I hate hearing a mile tick off when I can’t even see the mile marker yet because it’s still so far away.

I started with my former roommate Amy, who told me she was aiming to average 9:00 today. As we approached mile 1 she asked if I wanted to know our pace, and I responded that I only wanted to know if we were going too fast. I figured we’d get separated before long, but we ended up running the whole race together, a first for us! Aside from the uphills, our pace was often conversational, which was a great distraction from a pretty repetitive course. When we reached mile 17 Amy asked if I wanted to finish together. I didn’t think I had any kind of kick left, so I said I did as long as I could keep up. But once we reached Engineers’ Gate my legs got excited about being almost done, and the two of us managed something resembling a sprint through the home stretch.

According to Amy’s Garmin, we ran 18.5 miles at an 8:58 average pace (!!!), but NYRR’s official results have us at 9:15. I’m obviously annoyed that we ran so much “extra,” but I’m sticking to the 9:15 pace since I won’t be going by the tangents on race day. Speaking of race day, I’m now fairly certain that I won’t be using a Garmin on Marathon Sunday. Yes, I still wore a watch today, but it ended up being more of a security blanket since I hardly looked at it except as we came through each park loop. Each loop was approximately 55 minutes and change, so I’m pretty pleased with what was a successful attempt at running on feel. I’m even happier that I managed to run so close to marathon goal pace while closing out my highest weekly mileage to date (45 miles)! It’s safe to say my sub-4 confidence has been boosted. Averaging 9:15 pace on tired legs has made me feel much better about shooting for 9:00 pace on fresh, tapered ones.

Of course, once everything was said and done (said and run?), I decided I was interested in seeing some data after all. Here are today’s splits, compliments of Amy:

Whoa, where did that 8:35 come from? Also, that extra .55 is a little bit easier to swallow when it's attached to that 7:22! I've never even run a 5K at that pace and yet somehow I pulled it out at the end of 18 miles. What the what?

Whoa, where did that 8:35 come from? And I can’t hate that extra .55 as much when it’s attached to that 7:22! I’ve never even run a 5K at that pace and yet I somehow pulled it out at the end of 18 miles. What the what?

Here’s what’s coming up on the training front, with a few goals thrown in:

  • A week in Houston for some beach time with my sister. Goal: Don’t die while attempting to train in the Texas humidity.
  • Bronx 10-Miler on September 29. Goal: Perhaps a baby PR, which would be faster than 8:45 pace, i.e. not too much of a reach. Tack on 10 miles (most likely the NYCM course!) to total 20 that day.
  • Grete’s Great Gallop Half Marathon on October 6. Goal: Run as close to 1:50 as possible if the stars align that day. I’m hoping “only” two Central Park loops will feel easy after today’s three!
  • Staten Island Half Marathon on October 13 with 9 miles beforehand for a total of 22. Goal: Take the first 9 miles very easy and maybe, just maybe, finish the half in under two hours, even if it’s simply 1:59:59. This seemed like a much crazier goal before today’s Tune-Up results.

48 days to go until NYCM!


Oh, Right, Marathon Training…

Don’t worry, it’s been happening, I just haven’t managed to document any of it. I’m about to begin Week 6 of 18 for the New York City Marathon on November 3. As you might recall, I was shooting for a sub-4 finish at Chicago last year; however, a injured left calf put me out of commission for 6 weeks in the middle of training. Despite only having a month to attempt to regain my endurance, I crossed the finish line in 4:05:22, setting a 22-minute PR. This time around, my B goal is to get that 3:5X, but the A goal is to get to that start line prepared and injury-free.

So far, each week of training has looked something like this:

Tuesday: Speed work at the Red Hook Track with JackRabbit

Wednesday: PPTC Speed Series 5K at least at marathon goal pace if not faster (MGP is ~9:00, but I’ve been managing to throw down ~8:30s in the 5Ks)

Thursday: Run commute: ~8 easy miles from Park Slope to Rockefeller Center

Friday: Rest

Saturday: Long run

Sunday: Recovery run

Monday: Rest

One training goal of mine is to slowly (see: not getting injured) increase my weekly mileage to peak at 50 miles at least once. I had a base of 30 miles built up when I kicked off training last month and I’m currently at 37 miles, so I think I’m doing okay on this front. As a local, I’m lucky to have the race course practically right outside my door, so I’m making an effort to include a leg of it in most of my long runs. I succeeded this weekend by incorporating miles 9-16 (primarily Lafayette Avenue, Bedford Avenue, Greenpoint, the Pulaski Bridge, and the Queensboro Bridge) into a 14-miler from Brooklyn to Queens to Manhattan’s Summer Streets. If you’re running NYCM (or even if you’re not), come run some bridges and boroughs with me!

A second goal is to run a strong half marathon at Grete’s Great Gallop in October, as last summer’s injury prevented me from incorporating a single half into Chicago Marathon training. I know I most likely won’t be in PR shape (1:44) for Grete’s, but I’d be thrilled to get as close to 1:50 as possible, especially on those Central Park hills.

Along with Grete’s, I’ve got three more fall NYRR races on the calendar during NYCM training: the 18-Mile Tune-Up (Central Park Loop x 3. Yikes.), Bronx 10-Miler, and Staten Island Half Marathon. I’ll discuss goals for those as their dates get closer.

Last but not least, I have one final important note about NYCM 2013: It will be the first time my twin sister and I will be running the same marathon!

The 2012 Austin Half Marathon was a great way to ring in our 25th birthday.

The 2012 Austin Half Marathon was a great way to ring in our 25th birthday.

Emilia and I have both been running since high school, and we’ve run countless distances from 5Ks to half marathons together before, but never 26.2 miles. We plan to line up side by side on the Verrazano Bridge and (hopefully!) stick together for every step to Central Park. I’ve run some of my most evenly paced races with Emilia, so running this one together should be an extra advantage for that sub-4.

Until next time!

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Brooklyn Half Marathon Recap: Running Happy

Saturday marked my third running of the Brooklyn Half Marathon. A brief history of my experiences with this race:

  • 2011: I mistakenly checked my bag with my iPod still in it. My roommate tried to keep me from having a mini meltdown, and I decided that I had to run fast because if I didn’t, I’d be out there in “silence” even longer. I’m pretty sure that’s the only reason I ran a PR that day, and I’ve since become much less dependent on music while racing (though I haven’t given it up entirely).
  • 2012: This was the first year on a new course, which I loved. It was great to be able to start on the streets of Brooklyn and run around Grand Army Plaza before running one loop of Prospect Park and continuing on to Coney Island (the old course was simply two park loops before exiting onto Ocean Parkway). However, I did not love running 1:49, as I was gunning for a PR, and this was 5 minutes slower than my personal best (1:44:32 from that year’s Houston Half). I laugh at this disappointment now, as I would have been elated to run a 1:49 last weekend. Perspective much?

Brooklyn Half Marathon Map 2013

Source: NYRR

On to 2013. Going into this race, I knew I was not in shape to PR, or even run sub-1:50 for that matter. I was okay with that. I had trained much harder for the NYC Half back in March, but I ended up having an off day and running that race in 1:54. I knew I was trained for a faster time, however, I wasn’t very enthused about finding a redemption race. I’d been training for one race or another without a significant break since the winter of 2011, so I was ready to back off, run enough to be in shape for Brooklyn, and then pick it up to start base-building before training for NYCM.

My former roommate, Jenny, stayed over to avoid the early morning trek from the UES, so it was nice to have some company during the 6:00 AM walk to the start area. The corrals closed at 6:30, a half hour before the race itself, so I expected the next 30 minutes to be lonely since most of my friends were in the second wave, or in different corrals if they made Wave 1. As it turned out, Betsy was in my corral, so it was great to pass the time discussing our goals for the day and our upcoming races. When we finally crossed the start line (nearly 15 minutes later for those of us in the ninth corral!), I wished her luck on her PR goal and we parted ways as she sped off and I began my own race.

Since I wasn’t running Brooklyn for a specific time, I opted to run without my Garmin. The last few races that haven’t gone as planned have usually started too fast as I’ve tried to maintain what I feel like I “should” be seeing on the watch, followed by feelings of discouragement from seeing slower paces and splits toward the end. I wasn’t sure how I would keep my pace under control while running blind, but I figured at the very least I wouldn’t start much too fast for my fitness level. The result? My most evenly paced half marathon ever. If I could learn how to do this during a (time) goal race, I might never race with my watch again.

Screen Shot 2013-05-19 at 4.09.51 PM

The first 5K was mostly downhill, so I’m not surprised that it was the fastest split.  There was a significant out-and-back when we ran up Flatbush Avenue, around Grand Army Plaza, and around to the farthest park entrance. During this stretch I distracted myself from running as I looked for my friends coming in the other direction (Success! I spotted both Ashley and Theodora on Flatbush). The second 5K included a stop to take a gel with water, but I’m anticipating that I lost about a minute between pulling over to get the gel out of my back pocket and then walking through the water station, so without the stop the split would have probably been similar to the first 5K. I did slow down in the second half of the race, but only by about 30 seconds in the 15K, and I maintained that pace into the 20K and final ~3/4 mile. The weather was overcast and on the cooler side, which definitely worked in my favor this year. Confession: I usually try to avoid stopping for water in half marathons if at all possible (same goes for all shorter distances). I know this is unconventional, but I feel like it messes up my rhythm and makes it that much harder to get going again, so I usually just push through to the finish before rehydrating. This usually works for me, but Brooklyn is typically the warmest half I’ll race each year, so I’ll usually make it to mile 10 or 11 on Ocean Parkway, take a break, and then try desperately to pick up the pace but instead end up holding on for dear life until the end. Not this year. This portion of the course is a straight shot for 6 miles, and it usually feels endless, but this time I actually enjoyed it since the sun wasn’t beaming down on me the entire time. Despite not being at my speediest, each mile marker seemed to show up so quickly, and before I knew it I was at the 20K and it was time to yank my headphones out so I could hear the crowds as I made my way up to the Coney Island boardwalk to sprint toward the finish line.

Timewise, maybe I would have run slightly faster if I’d had my watch, but my goal was to run a smart race with letting myself get preoccupied by paces, tangents, and whatnot. Mission accomplished: My average pace this time was only 2 seconds slower than that of the NYC Half (8:49 vs. 8:47), but (surprise) it felt much better to maintain that pace the whole time than to start much faster and rapidly decline like I did in March.

After the race, Betsy spotted me again, and I learned that she got her desired 1:44 (guess we’re PR twins now!). We chatted for a bit before she headed back to Manhattan and I made my way back to mile 13 to try to catch my friends in Wave 2 as they finished their race before we gathered for the obligatory group beach photo.


Final verdict on Brooklyn 2013: Third time’s a charm, and I’ll definitely be back for what I like to consider to be my hometown race.

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