My road to the Popular Brooklyn Half Marathon this year was one of many turns. To start, I had no intentions of running this race back in January. In fact, I secured a very late entry about 4 weeks before the race. Since I hadn’t run more than 6 miles in the past 6 months, the only emotion I felt when I clicked “register” was trepidation.
Despite my fear, I had an inkling that something deep inside me wanted to run this race. I had a really challenging time with the course last year. I didn’t even write my race recap until two weeks after the race because I was so dissatisfied with my performance. Even though I hadn’t followed any training program, Brooklyn became about redemption for me. I was determined to go back and beat last year’s time. I also determined to go back and not just run faster than I had before, but I wanted to feel better than I did last year.
I spent a lot of time before yesterday’s race worrying. I worried that I didn’t have enough time to train. Truthfully, I didn’t. Instead of ramping up my mileage dramatically, I decided to intensify my workouts on a much smaller scale. I’ve been running three times a week for the past year and half, so I continued with that. One day a week, I focused on hill repeats of all sorts-200s, 400s, and 800s. During my second workout, I focused on speed. My third workout was my long run, which was between 6-9 miles. I was convinced that I was entering the race with too low mileage; however, I always experience overuse injuries of some sort when I increase my mileage drastically.
This was the first time in my life that I ran a half marathon without a 12-miler under my belt in the weeks preceding the race. At the start line, I had to rely on faith-faith in myself and faith in my training to propel me through the course. I often hear that running is partially a mental battle, and that especially applied to me since I hadn’t completed any training program. I had to believe in myself because that was really all I had.
Last year, the hills in Prospect Park almost knocked me out of the game. I hit a wall at mile 7.5, which had never happened to me before. I had to slow down significantly just to continue running the race. I was discouraged and disappointed. This year, I knew that I had to crush the hills in Prospect Park and make it to mile 8. I did that and much more! Even though it rained the entire race, I found myself running with a smile. I was happy! When I saw the sign for mile 8 and I felt strong, I was even happier. I realized that I was not only on track to finish the race without keeling over, I was actually on track to PR!
In the last 5 miles, I felt nothing but excitement. My clothes were soaked and I was praying that my phone wouldn’t get water damage, but that didn’t stop from trying to run my fastest. When I reached the “800 meters left” sign, I pushed even harder. I was going to give the race every ounce of energy I had. When I crossed the finish line and looked up at the clock, I was excited to see that I beat my time last year by 8 minutes and 17 seconds! I did miss my overall half marathon PR by 1 minute and 50 seconds, but considering I came so close on a course with hills in the pouring rain is huge.
It’s been 24 hours in the race, and I’m still basking in my victory. It was so unexpected, which made it even more surprising! I think that my low-stress training program helped a lot. Last year, I was very concerned about mileage and as a result, spent about 6 months out of the year icing my injuries and running through pain. This year, I focused more on having quality workouts, strength training 3 times weekly, and going to yoga class. Everyone’s training needs are different, and I think that I might just be settling into finding my own.
As for future races, I’m planning on a 10k in few weeks. It will also be an anniversary race for me. For now, I’m going to enjoy my recovery so that I can get back to preparing for my 10k!