Airbnb Brooklyn Half Marathon Recap


I crossed the start line, I ran 13.1 miles to Coney Island, and I crossed the finish line. So I ran the race, yes! But in reality, I quit — like completely gave up in almost every aspect — right around mile four.

Mentally, physically, nothing was clicking. I had no legs, no head, and no heart. And so after four fast, fun, and fabulous miles, I just sort of…gave up. I kept running, and I earned my medal and space blanket just like the other 27,000 runners. But the 2015 Brooklyn Half Marathon didn’t get my best effort. Bummer.


It wasn’t necessarily the worst day ever because I didn’t have to make any bathroom stops along the way (always a victory, especially coming off a little 24-hour stomach bug), I got to spend a lot of quality time with some very dear friends, and I got to run. I truly believe that any day you get to run — that you are well enough, healthy enough, and strong enough to physically put one foot in front of the other — just can’t be the worst day in the world.

My official finish time was 1:53:08, which was just more than three minutes slower than my sub-1:50 goal time, and about five minutes slower than where I really would have liked to be for this race. (And slower than the on-a-whim half I ran a few weeks ago, which I was just using “as a long run.”)


Want more? OK.

The truth is that getting to the start of this race required a lot of forced enthusiasm on my part. I believe I was totally over-trained for my two fall marathons, and I didn’t recover well from them. I took two weeks off running earlier this year, but I still did some yoga during that time, and I would have benefited more from two weeks of total rest. (Unheard of these days!) Hindsight, you bitch.

I jumped into half-marathon training at the start of the new year, and was averaging 35–50-mile weeks. Very few of my training runs felt good. My legs were almost always tired, I rarely hit the paces I wanted, and I just kept pushing. I wasn’t injured, so I kept working. I took rest days, sure, but I didn’t truly listen to my body. Instead I listened to my training plan.

Post-race jump shot FAIL. I wonder why.
Post-race jump shot FAIL. I wonder why.

I was just going through the motions of running every day and I wasn’t enjoying most of my runs. I was always counting down the miles, watching my paces get slower, and feeling frustrated. I took walk breaks, Instagram breaks, puppy breaks, anything to stop running. I wasn’t running for fun. I was running because “I had to.” Good signs.

So just like with Steamtown in the fall, I went into this race feeling over-trained and not recovered enough, even with three rest days the week leading up to the race. My legs never felt light and bouncy. Everything felt heavy, thanks also in part to this weight gain thing that we will maybe touch on in another post if I decide the public needs to hear about it. (And if my sensitive, not-very-thick skin wants to open up those gates.)

But maybe less light and bouncy.
But maybe less light and bouncy.

Anyway. I kept trying to be excited about the half because it was my first time racing with a team (!!!) and because it really is a great race! It’s a fun course, and everyone you know is running, volunteering, or cheering. Really. Everyone you know. Probably even your grandmother and your dog.

27,000 runners and I found my friend Anne before the start. I DON'T EVEN KNOW HOW IT HAPPENED, BUT IT WAS SO SPECIAL. PS SPOILER ALERT: She crushed her first half, but NBD.
27,000 runners and I found my friend Anne before the start. I DON’T EVEN KNOW HOW IT HAPPENED, BUT IT WAS SO SPECIAL. PS SPOILER ALERT: She crushed her first half, but NBD.

It never really felt like “race week” to me, but I went through the motions — new outfit, bib pickup, nails painted because obviously that makes a difference, HOKAs shined with a damp paper towel, Airbnb secured — and half-heartedly hoped for the best.

I tried to arrange my stuff all nice and organized like everyone does on Instagram. It kind of felt like a waste of time.
I tried to arrange my stuff all nice and organized like everyone does on Instagram. It kind of felt like a waste of time.

I knew I wanted to go sub-1:50 and would’ve liked to run around 1:47. I never looked up the splits to know what paces that meant I had to run, but figured if I averaged around 8:10–8:15/mile I’d be good.

The race started, and it was fun! I saw tons of familiar faces before the gun even sounded, I was able to get into the porta potties with time to spare, and I got tons of hugs from my November Project teammates. It wasn’t even raining!


The first few miles were a blast. We kicked off with a slight downhill, and ran an out-and-back, which is sometimes my favorite way to run.

My highlight from the entire day came within the first two miles: During the out-and-back, I saw all of my super-fast NP teammates f-ing crushing it. They were flyyyyying. I felt so proud to be wearing the same logo as them, and I got warm, sweaty fuzzies seeing them looking so strong already. Also I cried. Because of course I did.

I reached the November Project water station around mile 3.5 and locked eyes with my BFF Michael McLinden, who screamed for me and you would’ve thought his joy would’ve propelled me to a strong finish.

Fist pumping my way through the water stop. Because I'
Fist pumping my way through the water stop. Because I’m…cool?

I saw so many friends along the course cheering and running, but by mile four I was over it.

The first four miles were great. I wasn’t looking at my watch too much (probs went out too fast, naturally), but I felt good. Once we got into Prospect Park, though, I was miserable. I hate running in Prospect Park. It feels all uphill to me, and I don’t know it like I know Central Park, so I don’t know when the inclines are coming and where the delicious declines will be. I’m sorry, Brooklyn, I just don’t love your park.

Zoom zoom!
Zoom zoom!

So I slowed down a lot in Brooklyn and I just wasn’t enjoying myself. I was already wishing the race were over. That’s not such a great sign.

Eventually, the course spits you out onto Ocean Parkway, which comes around mile 7 and takes you all the way to the finish. It’s a long, straight shot and again it feels uphill to me at times. But it’s most flat, and ends up being a net downhill.

Kristan jumped in to run with me and she is 20 weeks pregnant and I love her and I deffffffinitely swore in front of her fetus baby. My bad.
Kristan jumped in to run with me and she is 20 weeks pregnant and I love her and I deffffffinitely swore in front of her fetus baby. My bad.

By Ocean Parkway, I was barely holding a 9:00/mile pace and I just didn’t care. I kept asking myself, “Ali, will you be mad if you don’t reach your goal? If not, it’s OK to slow down and just run, but if you’re going to beat yourself up later, then please keep trying, and try harder.” Meggie caught me for a while, and ran alongside me and was chatty and I was just like, “Dude, I can’t even fake a smile for you, I’m sorry, go ahead, have fun, don’t let me bring you down.”

I hate that this feels like such a grumpy recap, but I just wasn’t into it, and for no one’s fault but my own.

Photo by Oh Snapper. I look AMAZING and happy!
Photo by Oh Snapper. I look AMAZING and happy!

Around mile 9, I walked through a water station, and then I walked through each water station until the finish. That gave me the mindset of, “You only have to run one mile at a time, then you get a little reward and a little break.”

It started drizzling around mile 10, and pouring around mile 10.1. The rain made things sort of fun and puddle jumpy, and after a very humid start it felt good to cool off!

Finally, Coney Island came into view, and we made that cluster-y left turn onto the boardwalk (seriously, there’s gotta be a better way…). I tried to give it one last hard effort and kicked my way to the finish. I did happily pass a few people in those final meters, but ultimately I was done.

My space blanket kept falling off my shoulders. IT WAS TRAGIC IN THAT MOMENT.
My space blanket kept falling off my shoulders. IT WAS TRAGIC IN THAT MOMENT.

And then I walked 13.1 more miles just to get through the finishing area and back into the real world. Seriously, that death march…it felt worse than the marathon and everyone was soaked.

I wasn’t immediately upset, I was just happy to be done and eager to see Lucy and Anne and to see how they had done.

Anne = crushed it AND raised $3,500.
Anne = crushed it AND raised $3,500.

It took hours (really) but eventually I found all my people and we hugged and the sun came out and people drank beer (I did not).

Lucy, coming in hot with a sub-2:00 half debut! POEMS RHYME.
Lucy, coming in hot with a sub-2:00 half debut! POEMS RHYME.

The post-race party was super fun, though it was a little womp-womp-y having to answer honestly each time someone asked how my race went and I just didn’t have a happy story to share.

Being precious. Lucy U R DOING IT WRONG.
Being precious. Lucy U R DOING IT WRONG.

It happens.

And, the good thing for me is, I think I know why it happened.

This race was a good reminder that every distance can be humbling! I’ve been so focused on marathons and my mileage was too high for a half. I did a lot of short interval work, but doing longer tempos would’ve increased my confidence (and fitness, obviously). Marathons aren’t the only “hard” races. Everything is hard if you push yourself enough. (Write that down.)

"Let's take a post-race jumping photo."
“Let’s take a post-race jumping photo.”

I am not plotting some secret “redemption race” and I have no desire to sign up for another race. I’m not running a marathon this year, and don’t have plans to run another half. My goal is to get healthy — to get my head where it needs to be, and to finally give my body the break it so obviously and desperately needs — and to actually start planning this wedding that’s coming up mighty quickly. (We ordered our invitations last night, so…already being productive!)

I meeean, if nothing else, I got to hang out with these hot thangs.
I meeean, if nothing else, I got to hang out with these hot thangs.

I wish I could’ve made a stronger showing for my team debut and my age group debut, and admittedly my running confidence is a little shot right now. I’m trying not to dwell on it, and once this recap is published it’s onto the next thought! I mean, honestly, it’s just a race, a hobby, a thing I generally really enjoy — and want to enjoy for years to come, which means taking good care of myself now and giving my body a lot more looove.

To all 27,000 of you who PR’d at Saturday’s race, congratulations! To the 19,000 of you I met in the corrals or at the finish, yay! I am so happy we are best friends now! And to all 12 of you who made it through this entire lengthy recap, well done! Sorry I kept you here so long.

Whoooa now PG-13 post-race photo. Sorry bout that.
Whoooa now PG-13 post-race photo. Sorry bout that.

And now, to stretch. Because even though this race wasn’t my fastest and I finished feeling like I hadn’t necessarily worked all that hard, my quads are furious about the whole situation.

It’s not you, racing. It’s me.

I’ll be back when I’m good and rested!



23 Responses

  1. Oh yes, been there, done that. Take some time off, and maybe that running vibe will come back when you need it most – wedding planning can get pretty intense! Hope your friend is feeling OK – that ice pack looks painfunl

  2. I feel the same way about the Brooklyn Half. Every year I ran it I went into it hoping for a different outcome , but by the end I hated the 7 mile straight shot and didn’t enjoy the park. Hope you have a better week and enjoy a Summer of FUN running versus training!

  3. I just wanna say…YOU’RE AWESOME!!! Thanks for being candid, honest, and as always, hilarious.


  4. I love how honest you are… which is one of the reasons I love your blog! (hmm… that’s a lot of love!)

    I am sorry you didn’t have the race you had hoped and trained for, but thank you for sharing that not every race is going to be exactly what we want or trained.

    Best wishes with your wedding planning!

  5. You kept running even though you felt less than stellar and you didn’t stop for the bathroom! Victories especially after how you were feeling with that stomach bug, it is impressive.
    Rest up recover and enjoy that little thing called the wedding you have to plan 🙂
    I haven’t raced since NYCM due to Crohn’s flare and honestly if I can run any day these days without a bathroom break I am happy (okay no, that’s a lie I am slow and miserable and feel defeated) but I do try to remember any day that I can run is a good day!

  6. Great recap. I’ve always wanted to run Brooklyn – hopefully next year! I always struggle with taking enough time off after a race and training for a specific race, and not trying to always be in “marathon shape”. And as a fellow Crohn’ser any race or run without stops is a Victory!!! haha. Love your blog : )

  7. Sorry your race didn’t go as planned, but thanks for the honesty. I can totally relate, and this feeling is one of the reasons I decided not to run Chicago this year. I just did a half where I felt awful and burned out and just OVER running. I can’t go into marathon training with that mindset. Time for a break! You’ll get your groove back soon, I’m sure. When you do, we’ll be here waiting for your next awesome recap 🙂

  8. It happens to everyone! I feel like I have gotten away with over training and over racing and then one day BAM! You have a race where you just don’t have it. Brooklyn 2010 was like that for me. In the last 3 years I have tried to recapture the fun in my running. I pay them. I try to remember that! It seems to be working. I ran well and with friends this time. It was not my best time but it beat the goal I had and I finished strong and with a smile. (And an amazing grimace in the boardwalk pics! Hilarious!)

  9. Ha! I get to be number 13! See, way more people love to read your race recaps than you thought! 😉
    But honestly, I really like your recaps for the honesty, and you are an incredibly insightful person – you learned a lot in this race, and after giving your body (and mind) the rest it needs, you will have fun running again, I am sure!
    And how GREAT is it that it was just a 24 hour stomach bug?! Yay for no bathroom stops!
    Hope you have a great, relaxed week!

  10. This happened to me a few years ago – I was totally burnt out from overtraining (due to a marathon redemption attempt) and taking a break and focusing on shorter distances did wonders for injury prevention and mental recovery. I was in Manhattan for the weekend and it was so gross and humid, I couldn’t imagine running a race in that weather! I assume it was similar in Brooklyn?

  11. Thanks for sharing. So sorry the race didn’t go well for you. A lot of what you wrote makes sense, especially the part about being OVERTRAINED for a half because your mileage is too high. Hope you get rested and come back to loving it soon!

  12. you seriously did awesome, you also have to remember hormones and I didn’t read any nutrition info…I am sure you did, but maybe you needed more calories that day?

  13. Ugh preach girl. I had a really similar experience running Brooklyn this Saturday and definitely struggled with it mentally. Love the honesty and the humor – i feel ya and so do my quads. We’ll get it next time!

  14. In all seriousness, this is the best race recap I’ve ever read. Your honesty and humor and ability to learn from the situation just MADE this post. My perpetual “frenemy” is my training plan. I want to please her and follow her orders, but that means friend-zoning my body, ya digg? Which results in the “ugh, I HAVE to run” mindset rather than the “ooohh, I GET to run!” one I want to have!

    You do you, girl. Enjoy the rest and get back to GETTING to run 🙂

  15. I’m really glad you aren’t being too hard on yourself about this. Your time was still awesome, and isn’t it about enjoying it anyway?!I am coming off of a half-marathon PR in January and an even better PR in February, followed by a horrible +0:40.00 half marathon in April. I just shrugged it off, took a break, then kept running! Keep up the good work, smile, and have fun!

  16. Yeah beer’s just outta the fucking picture, isn’t it? First valuable thing I’ve learned on my own since my crohn’s diagnosis. I miss it so. *tear*

    More importantly, you’re awesome and sorry this race blew. Finishing and recapping for all to see is what makes you so bad ass. Nothing sucks like falling off your time goals, but it seems to forever pop up in the span of our racing lives. All I can say is: no bathroom breaks? FUCKING WIN.

  17. Racing is always humbling and hard and awesome at the same time. I think you rocked it and you look amazing! (Legs for days, gf!) You are going to be the prettiest bride. Keep eating and enjoying… from a fellow IBD buddy- I hear ya: it’s hard to come back from being “sick skinny” to exercise and eatingyummyfood healthy (I’ve had this convo with many UC/Crohn’s friends). HUGS.

  18. No race or even run will be perfect, there is no such thing as the Goldilocks “just right” run, but some are more challenging than others. I ran this with you and had one of my worst races as well due to folishly signing up for a half 12 days after only my second full marathon. I crushed the marathon, but also a muscle in my foot and didn’t give it time to recover. I hobbled to the finish line which was an accomplishment in itself. Luckily due to the June & July race freeze, I have 3 months to recover and ramp back up for the next. Keep up at it, but only when it makes you happy. Running should be for the joy of it.

    My race recap to come soon here:

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about ali

I’m the creator of the Ali on the Run blog and the host of the Ali on the Run Show podcast. I’m also a freelance writer and editor, a race announcer, a runner and marathoner, a mom, and a huge fan of Peanut M&Ms, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (way better than the first one!), and reliving my glory days as a competition dancer in the early 2000s. I’m really happy you’re here.
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