Three A.M.! That was when I had to get up to be able to be in Prospect Park to volunteer at Water Station #4 of the NYRR Brooklyn Half-Marathon, with my PPTC friends. As a morning runner, I am used to getting up early, but earliest I did, for running, was 5 A.M. Back when I had a full-time job anyway. Some years ago I decided to give Black Friday shopping a try and got up at 4 A.M. to spend some time waiting in queue then some more hours inside the store later on, trying to get the tired store clerk's attention. I came home empty-handed and had a nasty headache for the rest of the day. What a complete waste of time that was. I hated shopping even more ever since. With the volunteer gig with friends, it was totally different. Sure I had to risk riding the bike at 3:30 A.M., complete with front and tail lights since it was still dark, but I hated to be at the mercy of the MTA's weekend construction work. The ride was not so bad, as once I got to Ocean Parkway to make the journey north, along the way I pedaled past NYRR crews setting things up. What's more, it was outdoor and I was surrounded by so much positive energy.
I was at the meeting place, East Drive near Lincoln Road, just as some of the PPTC folks arrived. But there was no tables etc for the water station. It was a good thing I came on bike, as I was able to zip around to see what's going on, and finally we found out that we were given bad info. Or the water station was moved. It was actually a bit near the big hill, a little past Center Drive. With my bike, I was stationed for a while at the meeting point to re-direct anyone who came in later. And a few did. By six o'clock I decided it was late enough, I went to the water station and helped with setting up the paper cups. Three tiers of cups on several tables stretching as far as the eye can see! Bring on those 22,000 runners already!
With the expanded field, this year's Brooklyn Half had two waves of runners. When they came, they came strong, even though we were near Mile 5 of the 13.1-mile course. Unlike the NYC Half, when I was at Mile 11 on a cold day, runners at the Brooklyn Half sure made use of the water. It was overcast and cool, but when you run you get hot quickly. Before long one of us got splashed, cups were all over, and we worked feverishly to keep up with the demand. As cups on the front rows got snatched and gulped down, we moved the ones in the back further forward. We were well-staffed so I had some moments to snatch photos of the runners.
I went home along Ocean Parkway, pretty much the same way I came. Vehicular traffic was jammed everywhere along the parkway, and even the bike path was not spared from the disruption. Every now and then there would be a medical tent right at the corner, completely blocking the bike path. I wonder if they really had to do that. I had to go around the medical tents then hefted the bike over the railing to get back on the bike path. Sure I could use the service road, but even with few cars nearby every now and then one would silently stalk me, I didn't want to deal with that.
While it was great that I did not have to deal with car traffic at intersections, there was plenty of pedestrian traffic. Walkers on Ocean Parkway are normally mostly ignorant of the bike path, i.e. they walk in the bike lane when there is a separate walking lane. With a big event like the Brooklyn Half, it only got worse. It did not help that every now and then there would be a police cruiser completely blocking the ramp to the bike lane, or some officers standing in the bike lane. Oh well, just have to use common sense and go around the obstacles. Not like those cyclists barreling down the Manhattan Bridge toward Chinatown that I saw on Friday while volunteering with Transportation Alternatives. You would think if you see a lot of people at the foot of the bridge, then you should slow down.
See more photos at
Last but not least, with the two volunteer gigs over, on Sunday I was able to finally resume making GPS art (gwriting) on a run. I promised a runner in the Run Junkees May Challenge to spell her name, "Miriam", and on Sunday I carried out the work. It was the first time I wrote the lowercase "a" this way and it came out good. Unfortunately I cannot say the same thing for the "r" and "i" being connected at the top. I knew that it's best to connect the letters at the bottom but I thought I could get away with "r" and "i". Instead, they look more like a fat lowercase "n". I will try again!