I did it! A year ago I stumbled upon the finish line, sort of, of the NYRR Brooklyn Half Marathon, but today I was part of it.
As usual, getting to the starting line is half the challenge, thanks to the MTA's regular weekend track work. I thought I would take the D train to the Prospect Avenue station and walk from 4th Avenue to Park Drive West. Normally the D does not stop at Prospect Avenue, but on weekend it usually does. Alas, the D was not running toward Manhattan, at least not from my station. I got lucky and caught a train just as I climbed the stairs to the station, otherwise I would have to wait a long time. Based on suggestion from the NYRR Facebook page, I took the Q from Coney Island to Parkside Avenue station. I had a vague idea where the starting line was and followed some fellow runners, but since I had to go to my high-numbered corral, I ended up making a big circle around the lake in Prospect Park. I think I walked 1.5 miles from the subway station to my assigned corral. Too bad that distance was not included in the 13.1 miles.
I ran in Prospect Park twice before and was out of breath both times, with just one loop around the inside. To better prepare for the two loops in Prospect Park during the Brooklyn Half, I have been training in Dyker Height. Before I would just go up the hill then down the hill toward the BQE then head back. Lately, I also head toward 80th Street and 12th Avenue, going up and down the hill in the process. I think the training helped somewhat as I did not feel as bad as when I ran in Prospect Park before.
It is not true that once you are out of the park it's all flat. Just right outside the park, we had to climb over the bridge over the Prospect Expressway then down into the Expressway itself, only to climb again into Oy Vey Parkway. I read somewhere that spectator support along the Parkway was sparse and it was true. Maybe there is some local ordinance about noises, or the rich people living along the Parkway don't want to be disturbed. It was a hot and sunny day, but luckily the Parkway was half covered by tree shades so only when we entered intersections did we get some sun. I don't think there is an Avenue A, but the first avenue name I noticed was Avenue H. Slowly the letter increased until we reached Avenue Z, then it was Neptune Avenue then we turned onto Mermaid Avenue. I don't know how it was done earlier when there were many more people, but by the time I got to Coney Island we were directed to get onto the Boardwalk using the ramp near the handball court.
On the Boardwalk, I had "Somewhere in Brooklyn" by Bruno Mars playing on my cell phone but it was unnecessary and ineffective. Some DJ already played loud motivational tunes and support from the crowd along the Boardwalk was great. As usual, I sprinted the short distance on the Boardwalk, not just the 0.1 mile to the finish line, but some distance before Mile 13. After the race I attended a meet-n-greet with other runners who I am friends with on the web site dailymile.com. It's always nice to put some real faces to the faces we see in cyberspace.
I was hoping I would break my personal record of 2:23:40, which I achieved with the Manhattan Half Marathon in the dead of winter in January. I was able to run non-stop, bypassing all the water stations, which were serving frozen water anyway. For the Brooklyn Half, to be safe, I stopped for water three times, around Mile 7, 10, and 12. I was disappointed to discover in the end that my time today is 2:24:40. Even though conditions are not the same, I still hoped I would outdo myself. Other people on dailymile.com sure did best themselves. I don't know how they did it. I just have to train more, I guess.