Saturday May 22nd was the Brooklyn Half Marathon, running from Prospect Park to Coney Island. This is a race I've run a few times, although only in the opposite direction, and it's my half marathon PR course in 2008, of 1:19:55. But I knew this would not be a PR day, mostly because I'd just finished the World Championship 24-hour race eight days prior. Also, I was in the middle of a weekend of performances of Grease at the Staten Island Academy of Performing Arts, so I got to bed late the night before, and with a 7:00 a.m. start, I had to get up at 4:00 a.m. to get to the start on time, so I only got a few hours sleep. But I'd signed up because it's a fun race in my old stomping grounds (I lived in Brooklyn for a number of years and did a lot of running in Prospect Park and on Ocean Parkway), I love the half marathon distance and I love the 5-borough half marathon series, and it's a nice way to enjoy the day before my birthday.
I had a good day even before getting to the start, seeing my friend Eliot on the Q train and his friend Ilana. We arrived at the start with time to spare. I got the my corral, not feeling too sore, but a little weak from the 24 hour. I was hoping to keep under seven-minute miles and finish with a sub-1:30 time. The start was on one of the side roads in the park and quickly turned on to the main road moving counterclockwise. We did two full loops of the park, and I was feeling pretty good, keeping under 7:00 pace. And by the second loop I was closer to 6:30 pace. There were plenty of runners in close quarters, but when we exited the park after 7 miles, the field really thinned out, which was especially apparent on the wide expanse of Ocean Parkway. About five miles of straight, essentially flat road was interrupted only by the mile markers and fluid stations, but the time seemed to fly by quickly. Most of the time I was able to keep 6:30 miles, and I was confident that my sub-1:30 race was safe. I prefer this direction actually, since we follow the alphabet in order all the way to Avenue Z, and then you know you're close. After turning onto the boardwalk, the last mile, roughly, is on the boardwalk. It's tough to pick up the pace here, with occasional loose boards. But we could keep our eyes on the parachute jump, knowing the finish was close. I crossed the finish line in 1:26:29, good for 140th place, 135th man, and 10th in the 40-44 age group. It's a finish that I'm very happy with.
Fellow West Sider Belay Kassa won the race in 1:08:02, and many West Siders did very well, including Javier Rodriguez, Felipe Vergara, Eric Delcros and Cristian Abad, who gave the team title to the West Side Runners.
I wasn't able to stick around after the race very long, but I did get to see a few friends, including Al Prawda (who didn't run the race, but who I saw a couple of times on the course giving encouragement), Kevin Shelton-Smith, who seems to have my number at the half marathons, and Ralph Yozzo, who also didn't run the race, but was hanging around. Overall, a very nice day, and I'm looking forward to the next race in the series, the BRonx Hal Marathon in August.