I have run the Brooklyn Half Marathon once before.
It was 2011, and I had just started training for my first marathon. I was in the best shape of my life. I was fast, fit, strong, and confident.
The Brooklyn Half Marathon that year was in no way a goal race. I had just PR’d the half marathon distance and was working toward 26.2. I wanted a strong race with a proud finish.
Instead, I spent a good portion of the second half of the race dashing from one porta-potty to the next, and the following month or so battling a Crohn’s disease flare-up. (I actually finished with a really respectable time all things considered, thanks I’m sure to going out way too fast and banking some time.)
I signed up for the Brooklyn Half Marathon again in 2013 and was super excited to get “revenge” on the course. Or something.
And if you’ve been around for a bit, you know how 2013 went for me. I was in the worst flare of my life and wasn’t leaving my bathroom, let alone running or racing. So, no 2013 Brooklyn Half for Ali.
Now, we’ve arrived at the 2015 Airbnb Brooklyn Half Marathon for which I’ve been training and preparing for the past few months.
Imagine my annoyance and pissed off-edness when I developed a low-grade fever last night (the race is on Saturday) and woke up this morning with some pretty serious bathroom activity keeping me very occupied.
My stomach is a mess, I’m achy, and I’m really hoping this is just a 24-hour “stomach bug” situation meant to test my resilience. (Which, if that’s the case, I’m not worried. I majored in resilience.)
Instead of doing any shakeout runs (I usually run 2–3 miles two days before the race and then take a total rest day the day immediately before racing), I’m getting some real rest in this week. Just me, my couch, my bathroom, and the Kardashians. (And obviously if I have a fever on race day, I’m not going to race. I learned the hard way never to run with a fever. Seriously, people, don’t do it.)
My goal was never to PR this race. I’ve been documenting my training for Shape magazine, and haven’t been shy about declaring a sub-1:50 goal. (My PR is still from 2011, and I worry often that I’ll never be in that kind of shape again.) I would still love to make that happen, and I’m not really over-thinking it or stressing over it.
And truthfully, I don’t feel like I’m racing this weekend. Maybe it’s because I haven’t picked up my bib yet, or because I haven’t been racing much in general and can’t get into a groove with my pre-race routine because, well, I have no routine. Still, I have followed a training plan for the past few months, and I’ve put in the work and the miles.
Many of my runs did not go as well as I had hoped (think tempo runs with breaks in the middle and 800m repeats that start fast and get progressively slower). I had a few highlights along the way, but generally I’ve felt slow and sluggish. I don’t think I truly recovered well after running two fall marathons, and even though I took two more weeks off running earlier this year, I don’t think that was enough. In hindsight, I wish I had run less during this training cycle — my plan had me running six days a week, and I think four or five would have been better for me — and cross-trained more.
But hey, something about the hay being in the proverbial barn, and in spite of whatever doubts I have about my physical potential, I am really excited to get to be a part of this race this year! I’ll be toeing the line in Brooklyn in two days thanks to tremendous help, support, and patience from these gems…
The good people at Shape, who convinced me to write about my training leading up to the half. Doing so unknowingly forced me to stay positive and find even the smallest lessons and highlights throughout my training. I wrote about the downfalls and the struggles, of course, but writing weekly training recaps made me consciously reflect on what I was doing and why.
The Tuesday morning interval group. “Run with fast people to get faster,” right? John Honerkamp, who works for New York Road Runners and is a co-leader of the NYC November Project tribe, organized a sort of informal group that meets to do interval workouts on Tuesday mornings in Central Park.
I avoided it for a while because I assumed I would be the slowest person or that the workouts would be “too hard.” But after showing up one day on a whim, I’ve stuck with it. Those have become my favorite workouts of the week. I’m sort of frustrated that my times haven’t gotten a whole lot faster over the weeks, but I enjoy the workouts and love pushing myself with that group. Everyone is nice and encouraging and claps for you when you finish!
Specifically my dear friend Michael McLinden. Sweet, wonderful, gracious, hilarious Michael McLinden. (I don’t think he reads my blog, so I will gush quite a bit here.)
I don’t know how Michael and I became close friends. We met at November Project and then bonded during the Tuesday interval sessions because he’s my rabbit; he’s faster than me, so my goal is always to stay as close behind him as possible, or at least keep him in my sights. (He just PR’d his marathon, and I was so proud I cried.)
Michael makes me laugh so hard and he works on Broadway so we bond over everything we both love, including but not limited to puppies and the choreography from all the High School Musical films.
Michael has been so supportive throughout training, and is super encouraging. He makes me actually believe maybe I can get fast again. I always tell him it’s an honor to get to eat his dust at our workouts.
My November Project tribe. They really do #raceeverything. These people race so much, and they’re all getting faster. Admittedly that can be a little discouraging — the people I used to run with and keep up with are now far ahead of me. But many of them set good, inspiring examples for me. Plus, this is my first time racing as part of an official team! I’m proud to sport the NP logo — we’re about 40 runners strong, and aforementioned Michael McLinden is championing the mile three water station, so be on the lookout!
Super neighbor Abbe, for putting up with me on the run and on GChat. She knows more about my runs, my body, and my bodily functions than any person should have to know about someone else.
HOKA ONE ONE. My cushy, comfy Cliftons are race ready!
Airbnb. More on this after the fact, but I’m staying in an Airbnb the night before the race so I don’t have to make the trek from the Upper East Side to the depths of Brooklyn! This is easing a lot of typical race day worries. I will be able to walk to the start and I get to have a sleepover with my greatest aca-bitch Lucy. We’re also seeing Pitch Perfect 2 the day before the race. All great wonderful things.
First-timer Anne, who beasted her training and will crush her first half on Saturday. When my yoga/SoulCycle friend Anne told me she was “going to run the Brooklyn Half,” I was all, “HELL YEAH YOU ARE!” She “wasn’t a runner,” by her claims (I disagree, because she has run a 5K or two before), but decided she was going to run this race. She has trained her little tail off and I’m so proud of her. It’s hugely motivating and inspiring following first-timers as they prepare for their first distance race. DO IT, ANNE.
If you’re racing on Saturday, good luck! May your legs be light and fast, and your smile be huge and happy. I hope to see you and sweaty-hug you and cheer for you and not get you sick. (J/K, I’ll be fine by then. Right? Right.)
Oh. Another fun fact about the Brooklyn Half Marathon: After I raced it in 2011, I went to the Bronx to film commercials for the Run for the Rabbit campaign, went home, wrote my race recap (so prompt back then!), and then drank wine for dinner. (What? I was way too tired to cook.) Then I sent a flirty Facebook message to Brian. We went on our first endless date later that night. I wore compression socks.
Brooklyn! Let’s go!