Wednesday, June 11, 2014

New Balance Girls Night Out! NYC Edition


A couple of weeks ago, Pam and I attended the first of it's kind, Girls Night Out hosted by New Balance. I found out about this event through the contest their hosting for a Girls Night Out at RunDisney's Wine & Dine Half Marathon weekend.

The event was at the New Balance store on 5th Ave. 

The evening was great! We had a guided warm up and then were separated into 2 running groups. I knew I wasn't going to be able to keep up with the group after running The BK Half that weekend, so I asked what the route was and Pam and I ended up doing our own thing. We picked up a new runner along the way who was left behind by the group and had fun making a new friend!

The route was supposed to take you over to the High Line, up to 23rd and then back around for a total of 3-4 miles (depending on the group). We cut ours to 2 miles and accidentally got back before the faster group. Opps! But no worries, they were there before we knew it and that's when the party began!

There were h'ordeuvres and a fully stocked bar for cocktails. The Editor of Fitness Magazine talked to us about motivation and the NYPD spoke about runner safety. 

 We even got our own panic alarm to bring with us on runs.

No event is awesome until there is a photobooth!

There was dancing and fun to be had! 

It was really fun and I can't wait for the next one!

Monday, June 9, 2014

The 2014 Brooklyn Half Marathon

There's nothing like a hometown race. Every city/ town has one- that one race a year everyone runs. I think the Brooklyn Half is the best equivalent of that for New York City. Everyone who is any kind of runner or lack thereof, runs this race, hence why it sells out in hours. Now that I've experienced it for myself, I can definitely see why! Thanks to my guaranteed entry for volunteering at the race last year (that was NOT complimentary and NYRR failed to mention this pre- me getting up at 2AM. Thanks a lot!), I was able to score entry without worrying about the insanely fast sellout (although, it didn't sell out nearly as fast as it did in previous years, but I'm not bitter or anything).

I followed the warning of leaving extra early to get to the start and ended up sitting on the cement for a good hour before wave 2 was supposed to start. Opps. But it did give me a front row seat to the chaos of bag check for wave 1. Apparently, a TON of wave 1 runners did not heed the "get there EARLY" and missed their bag check (which to be honest, I thought they were bluffing to about the trucks leaving, too- but they did!). They did have 1 truck designated for late baggage for each wave, and I'm pretty sure the wave 1 last baggage truck had more bags in it than all the other trucks combined. I still have no idea how they got all those bags to fit into the ONE truck. The smarter thing for them to do would've been to push back closing bag check for 10 extra minutes- which is exactly what they did for wave 2. Good call.

Once it was getting close, I decided to find my way to a corral, and coincidentally enough, I ran into a friend of a friend, who I knew it was a her first half. I decided to stop and talk until the start of the race to pass the time and hopefully distract her from being nervous.

The sun came up and it was time for the race to start. The first half of the race was in and around Prospect Park, which I was very familiar with. I started thinking about my 1st 20 mile long run. Then I remembered I did all of my 20 mile long runs in and around Prospect Park. Almost like clockwork, my knee started hurting at the exact spot my 20 mile run ended. It was uncanny. I tried not to focus on it and it eventually went away. 

Then it was time for Ocean Parkway. Honestly, I was really concerned about the 2nd half of the race. 6 miles of straight highway- which means straight SUN on blacktop. Luckily, there WAS shade on the left side of the road and it was only straight sun for about .5 at the end of the race. I'm sure I would've died if it really was going to be 6 miles of sun. Do not forget your sunscreen and a hat for this race!

For some reason, NYRR decided it would be a good idea to put all the water stops on only ONE side of the road and that side also happened to be on the sunny side of the road. So, every mile the course of runners would start veering right to the water stop, then move back into the shade.

I absolutely LOVED the Brooklyn love and support we were getting. Something about the born and bred Brooklynite in that famous accent cheering us on was a huge energy boost. Hearing "Way to go! Brooklyn, Baby!" "You got this, Brooklyn!" "Looking good, Brooklyn!", I just felt incredibly Brooklyn Strong.

Have I mentioned I'm a huge fan of my borough? Brooklyn was the first place I lived when I moved to NYC and it was my saving grace after living in Manhattan for over 2 years. Without it, I would've peaced out from this city a long time ago. Brooklyn is my home and I have truly fallen in love with it through the years. I would even go so far as to say it might rank higher than NOLA and that's saying something. I thought about all that and I got pretty emotional.

The wind started to pick up and I new we were close to the boardwalk. I REALLY wanted to come in under 3 hours. I nearly ate boardwalk trying to accomplish it- seriously? Who put sand on the course?!- but I did it! 2:59. I'll take it!

At this rate, I'll PR in about 17 more half marathons :)

I went straight to the medical tent to tape my knees, per usual, but it seemed like everyone in the medical tent was running around with chickens with their heads cut off. All I needed was my knees wrapped, but it felt like I was asking for the moon. I know I couldn't have been the first person who only needed her knees wrapped. I wasn't interested in hanging out in the medical tent all afternoon, which they seemed very interested in keeping me there. I swear all I needed was ice for my old lady knees, but they REALLY wanted to find something wrong with me. Yes, I was not so very nice to some volunteers and I'm sorry for it, but seriously?! Luckily, I found the NYRR official medical director, who is in charge of all the NYRR races. He knew the drill and taped my knees perfectly and I was out. Thank goodness for him!

The post-race party was in MCU Park, The Cyclone's Stadium, which made me very happy for a real bathroom to change in. Best idea ever: bringing clothes and flip-flops to change into. Much like the expo, the Brooklyn Half Marathon isn't just a race. It's an event and you will be very happy for clean dry clothes, even it's only for the subway ride home.

There was a band playing and lines for days for food and beer. Getting to walk around on the AstroTurf was positively heavenly, but I preferred the shady seats to enjoy the post-race moment. I hung out there for a bit, but I really wanted to get on the beach. 

 Feet in the Atlantic= perfect ice bath. 

The water felt amazing and the beach was pretty empty. It was a nice peaceful moment from the crowds and noise at the after party. I would've stayed longer but I knew if I stayed in the sun much longer without eating, I would get sick.

I walked around for a bit trying to decide if I was hungry/ what I wanted to eat, etc. Luna Park was in full swing, but there was no way I could stomach getting on rides. I also decided I couldn't stomach eating a Nathan's hotdog (I know! Sacreligious!), so I got on the train for the long trek home. I miscalculated how long it would take to get home vs. how hungry I was, so I stopped at Dig Inn Market on my way home.

SO delicious. 

The Brooklyn Half was definitely a full day event and it was one of my favorite races, thus far! I'm so glad I got to run it.

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Brooklyn Half Marathon Pre-Party

The Brooklyn Half Pre-Party is not your usual expo. It's not a grab your bib and scope out the vendors on your lunch break type. . . it's a full on event. You should seriously consider it your evening plans. 

While the location was beautiful, it was seriously out of the way- and I live in Brooklyn! Sadly, the weather was super gross all that week, so the beautiful view of Manhattan that would've been worth the trek was completely greyed out and it was annoyingly drizzling.

It was about a mile from the closest subway station. Luckily, there were signs and volunteers guiding the way. I'm not familiar with the area, so it was a little  frustrating. There was also a ton of construction, so in order to get to the waterfront, you had to cross a bridge- that swayed. Talk about freaking out. The last time I experienced that I was on the Verrazano for the marathon.

The bridge of death and the construction.

It was also brought up that this is the only NYRR race that packet-pickup isn't in Manhattan. Could you imagine having to go to each of the respective boroughs for their races?

Once you finally arrived at the Pre-Party, it was really cute almost making you forget about the hike back to the subway- if you could remember how to get there. The official expo portion was under a tent and a tad crowded. Once you got your bib and shirt, you spilled into the New Balance merchandise area and the few vendors that were there were around it. I had my heart set on a couple of the race shirts that Brooklyn Circus designed, but I was disappointed that the designs either came in women's cut or unisex. The women's cut was shaped weird but that didn't stop me from buying way too many cotton blend shirts that said Brooklyn. I also picked up a half zip- what? How many times do you run your first Brooklyn Half?

You could also donation a pair of shoes and receive a $25 off coupon to the New Balance store on 5th Ave. I was really hoping I could pick up a pair of the New York City Marathon edition 890s, but alas they had already sent them to their outlets. You could buy the shoes at the expo, but you couldn't use the coupon. Whomp whomp. I should've bought them. 

Sparkly Soul had a custom headband for the race, so you know I had to have it. I'm loving that they're branching out this way, since they are the only headbands that don't give me headaches (but that doesn't stop me from buying others!) Nuun also had a special edition water bottle, like the one I got in DC, but I didn't realize that until it was too late, lucky for my kitchen cabinet. 

Brooklyn artists were there tagging your race shirts for free! By the time I decided I need that in my life, they had cut off the line. I thought it was a nice touch.

They also had a stage with lots of different musical acts, as well as plenty of AstroTurf area to enjoy the music. 

I was really interested in the food trucks for dinner. I am always on the look out for good Mediterranean cuisine, so I chose Toum. There was also a macaroni and cheese truck as well as a pizza one, I think. Luckily, I snagged a table under an umbrella and enjoyed my dinner.

I wasn't really fond of the only bathrooms being portapotties. It's one thing to go into one during a race, but in my work clothes with tons of bags? Ew.

See what I mean? It was an event. I easily spent a couple of hours there and I could've stayed longer, but I knew the trek home was going to be brutal.

I'm a fan of how much effort they put into making this entire event an authentic Brooklyn experience. I'm looking forward to how they handle the other borough races this year as well. I think it would be awesome for the other boroughs to get this much love, even if it does mean trekking there during the week :)