How Amanda Ran a Personal Best in the Brooklyn Half Marathon
Waiting in our corrals for the gunshot to signal the start of the race, my heart rate already elevated from the anticipation, I looked around and could tell that this was going to be a great day. Personally, I was at the top of my game, and that coupled with the dynamic Brooklyn course and the incredible organization of the New York Road Runners was going to make this an unforgettable experience.
I may not be the fastest girl, but I was always the most consistent girl, and in running that counts for a lot.
I trained hard for the last eight weeks and it was finally game day. My goal for the race was 1:33:59, a personal best. My alarm went off that morning at 4:30 AM, and I instinctively hit the snooze button, but the anticipation had me awake again before the second alarm. I felt great. I was healthy and well-rested, and had a detailed plan for achieving my goals. Mile by mile and step by step, I knew exactly where I wanted to be at each point during the race. My coach in college said it best—I may not be the fastest girl, but I was always the most consistent girl, and in running that counts for a lot.
The weather was perfect, not too hot and very little humidity. Having thoroughly foam rolled and stretched the night before, I had a protein shake and whole grain toast with peanut butter before leaving the house to meet my running partner. The race start was in Brooklyn Heights, right in front of the Brooklyn Museum. Iconic. Exhilarating. 15,000 runners had congregated for the race—more than twice the number of runners than in the previous year. And it was easy to see why. It was a great course—beginning at the Brooklyn Museum, the 13.1 mile course took us through Grand Army Plaza, around Prospect Park (the one uphill section), down Ocean Parkway and ending at Coney Island. Post race beer and hotdogs?? Not for me personally, but it was a great place to finish!
The gun sounded, and as the universal cheer erupts from the crowd, my running partner looks at me and with a final piece of advice—no stupid miles—we were off. Preparing for the day, we had done everything right; our training program included interval based workouts, tempo runs and strength training, and now on the course all our hard work had paid off. We were crushing it.
In order to achieve our goal, we needed to average a 7:20 mile. At the 5k marker, we were a little ahead of pace, but with the uphill section by Prospect Park still ahead, we were doing well. And then it happened. The excitement and the energy of Brooklyn caught me. At mile 9, I changed the plan. I told my running partner “next two miles consistent, and then I’m going for it!.” He lost sight of me at mile 12. With crowds lining both sides of the street, I clocked a 6:39 minute mile to cross the finish line in 1:32:02 —almost two minutes ahead of my goal. I finished 102nd among the female runners averaging a 7:02 mile. Not too shabby. Well ahead of my desired goal time but being the competitive spirit I have always been, of course, I wasn’t entirely satisfied.
I am able to put things in perspective. Years ago, I would have fixated on those three seconds that kept me away from a solid 1:31 finishing time. However, as I get older, I find that my attitude towards running is evolving. Where it used to be all about the competition and winning, I now find myself running for more personal reasons. The Brooklyn half marathon was about having fun, enjoying the camaraderie of race day, and challenging myself on a new course. Everyone runs for different reasons, but on the day of the race there is a sense of unity and pride that really makes me feel like I am part of something special. We were all there together to do something that we loved, to run. If I happen to kick ass and set some personal records along the way, all the better, but it is just a bonus. My final thoughts? Ladies and gentleman, make sure your phones are charged—this race sold out faster than a Lady Gaga concert and my bet is that next year it will be an even hotter event. Until then, I’ll see you all in Staten Island for the next 13.1 miles!
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Amanda is an athletic trainer based in New York City. To find out about her business check out Body By Amanda.
Photo Credit: NYRR