Two weeks ago, I ran the AirBnB Brooklyn Half Marathon. The course was tough, the weather was finicky, and I struggled more than expected. I’ve often heard that running long distances is much more mental than physical, and that proved to be true for me leading up to and during the race.
The Sunday before Brooklyn, I woke up with a sore throat. Given that the weather had gone from 80 and sunny to 50 and rainy in a 48 hour period, I wasn’t surprised. My body never adjusts well to drastic weather changes. I took some throat lozenges and drank lemon water, knowing it would pass in a day or two. Tuesday morning when I woke up, I had a cough and my chest ached. Still, I dragged myself out my bed and went for a 4 mile run. I was coughing up mucus the entire time. I thought to myself, if this gets any worse, I don’t know how I’m going to be able to run 13.1 miles. I spent the rest of the week on DayQuil, drinking loads of water, and continuing with my workouts.
By Friday, I started to feel a bit better. I wasn’t coughing or sneezing as much as I was before and my chest no longer hurt. I believed I was ready to own Brooklyn. I checked the weather, and it said 68 and overcast-perfect for running. I made my playlist and went to bed early.
A wave of excitement passed over me as I crossed the starting line. After all, it was 8:02am and I had been standing in the wind since 6:30am. I spent the first 2 miles coughing up mucus. I was constantly looking behind me because I was afraid I’d spit on someone. Of course, I only ended up spitting on myself! By the end of the third mile, I had entered Prospect Park. I knew I was in for the long haul-five miles of never ending hills. I kept my pace and stayed strong by lifting my knees. I was determined to dominate those hills. When I saw the sign for Mile 7, I was relieved. I knew that all that was left was a straight shot down Ocean Parkway to Coney Island.
Around Mile 7.5, I was smacked with fatigue. I felt like I was hitting a wall I’d never hit before. I felt like someone had their hands on my shoulders and was pushing me backwards. I started to wonder if I could finish. I didn’t know why I felt that bad halfway through the race when I had run much further with ease during training. My pace started to slow. I saw my dream of finishing by my goal time start to slip away. To keep my morale up, I started to review all my goals. I was determined to run the entire race with no walking breaks. I was doing that. I knew at that moment that no matter what, I was going to finish the race running.
At Mile 9, I started to feel better. Maybe because I was entering the last quarter or so of the race or maybe because the fatigue had faded away. I even sprinted the last 200 meters to the finish. I gave the race all I could, even though I wished I had more to give.
When I crossed the finish line, all I could think about was my time. Did I PR? I looked at the clock. I didn’t PR. I was happy to be done when I put on my medal, but I was frustrated. I trained hard for 10 weeks and wasn’t pleased with my splits. The fact that I finished the race wasn’t enough for me. I wanted to PR.
In the past few weeks, I’ve thought a lot about Brooklyn. I don’t know what went wrong. I don’t know if anything went wrong other than the fact that I was coming off of a cold. It’s disappointing because I was confident that I was going to own this race. In all, this experience will teach me to work smarter. I will rethink the structure of my workouts so that I can put my best foot forward. I wasn’t sure if I was going to run another half this year, but my performance at Brooklyn has motivated me to do so.
Whenever I feel like I have so much to accomplish, I look at what I’ve done so far. I think about how out of breath I used to be after one mile. I have a long a way to go but I also came a long way to get here. This isn’t the end of my running journey. And maybe one day, Brooklyn and I will meet again.