20 November 2011

The Inaugural Brooklyn Marathon

The Inaugural Brooklyn Marathon.  The day finally came and went, although at time time seemed to move too fast as I battle the nasty hills of Prospect Park.

I got up at 5:15 A.M. to get myself ready for the dreaded subway ride to the event.  Before going to bed the night before, I already packed the energy gels, some cash, a subway card, a few pieces of IDs in case I keel over.  For some reason I did not set the timing chip on my sneaker or attach the bib to the shirt with safety pins so those tasks I did in the morning of the event.  Being a recycler, I even set aside six previously-used rubber bands to bring to the event instead of using the new ones that BM organizers would no doubt provide.  Alas, I totally forgot about them when I got out of the house.  I will go into details about the rubber bands later.

I could have taken the Q or F train to the event if I was willing to make some transfer from the D train.  As it is with weekend track work, I decided to take the D straight to 9th Street Station and walk my long avenues to Prospect Park's Center Drive.  As it turned out, I overslept and got off a stop later.  No problem, I had plenty of time and it was a nice, cool day for walking.

There was some delay with the portable toilets.  The one I came across on West Drive was out there all along for the general public to use and there was no toilet paper - no surprise there.  The only usable toilet was a public one at a playground some long distance on the East Drive.  Even with the shining example of the Great Grete Waitz, there are still more men than women in most races, the exceptions being those women-only races, so the men's room actually had a line while the women's did not.  I still made it back to the start area with plenty of time to kill.  The race did not start at 8 sharp but instead at perhaps 8:15, no biggie.  By then I already had six rubber bands on my right wrist.

The course of the BM consists of 2 lower loops, 6 big loops, then one lower loop.  Or at least that's how I interpreted it.  NY1's report also said so, "6 big loop and 3 lower loops."  For my training runs, I almost never run in loops and usually head out x kilometers then back home, just tracing my way back.  The only time I run loops is on tracks and those runs are limited to at most 4 times, to make a mile, or 5 times, to make 2 kilometers.  On the track I would use different lanes as I finish a loop.  The two beginning lower loops are easy enough as it is hard to lose track of 2.  The six loops worried me.  I still do not own a GPS watch for running so I thought I might lose track of the six loops somehow.  Luckily, the rubber bands provide a somewhat reliable solution.  Each time I finish a loop I would shoot a rubber band to the side of the road.  I did it with a lot of fanfare and the cheerleaders on the East Drive was very enthusiastic with their volunteer job.  Mind you all the volunteers were great, just that those on the East Drive was more excited, perhaps because that's where people finish the big loops.

The rubber bands helped but I still had to actually run the loops so I can honestly take them off and shoot them away.  The hill approaching Grand Army Plaza was the worst, but the West Drive's hills were not friendly either.  After loop #3, I saw only 2 more rubber bands on my wrist but afterward saw band #3.  It was very discouraging but I pressed on anyway.  At some point my calves started to ache and then the thighs too.  I thought marathon pains only come in the form of "de agony of de feet"!  Fifteen years ago when I ran the NYC Marathon, with inadequate training, I probably felt aches in every leg muscles, but fifteen years is a long time enough to forget these tiny details.  I know with the races in the past two years I only felt aches above the feet when I sprinted for the finish line.  Luckily, my left foot was fine all along.  Eventually I shot the last rubber band away and entered Center Drive ready to do one more lower loop.  Remember the course?  Two lower loops, six big loops, and one lower loop, right?  It turned out after the six big loops you would just enter Center Drive to run to the finish line, which was just a tad beyond where the start line was.  I almost skipped the finish line by going to the right of it but an official corrected my course.  I didn't get to do my usual sprint for the finish line, to give the false impression that I was finishing strong.  My time was somewhere beyond 5 hours, maybe 5:15.  No Boston Qualifier :) but it was still a good finish for me.  I really need a GPS watch to avoid future scenarios.

The start line.

The start line before the 400 or so runners got behind it.

The inspirational Louis and Heather with me.  We regularly exchange messages and such on social networks - Facebook and DailyMile.  These folks are fast!  They may write about misadventures with stomach problems during races but then they still finish way before me, sigh.

A finisher.  Other than the St. Louis race in April where my great oldest sister took photos for me, I have to rely on pro photographers along the course to provide the photos.  They may be great or not but definitely cost a lot.  I planned to stay at the finish line a while to take photos of finisher but then I realized I had to get home to give my son a practice subway ride in case there will be school bus strike this coming week.


  1. The third lower loop started when you past the end of Center Drive on it's East Side, but PPSW.



  2. Congratulations, Qap on another successful Marathon.
    I agree with you about going up and down the stairs. I am so glad we decided on a ranch-style home when we moved to St. Louis 17 years ago. Now as geezers - we even plan to move the washer and dryer up from the basement :-)
    Have a Happy Thanksgiving.

  3. Thx, Course Director!

    Thx, too, TOTA. I am happy to report that as of today I can go up and down stairs with ease. Being more active in the past 2 years sure helped.

  4. Nice photos of your "dashing" to the finish line ;>)
    Is it getting cold in NYC yet? After a few days of cloudy, gray and drizell, we are enjoying sunny day today in STL.
    Have a good week,