Tomorrow, I’ll run the Airbnb Brooklyn Half for the third time.
And in a weird turn of events, I’m feeling great about this race.
I have a very meh history with the Brooklyn Half. I ran it in 2011 after eating a lot of now-off-limits corn for dinner the night before. I had a great first half, and spent the second half dashing from one porta-potty to the next. It was rough. No more corn for Ali.
In 2013, I was supposed to run, but was in the midst of a brutal Crohn’s flare-up, so I had to DNS.
Last year, I followed a calculated and precise training plan — and then some. I ran more miles than my plan called for, and I didn’t rest enough. I hadn’t recovered smartly after my two fall marathons, and it wasn’t until I was three miles into the race and my legs stopped working that I realized I was totally over-trained and under-rested. It wasn’t a fun lesson to learn, but it was an important one, and it completely changed the way I run and train now.
This year, I didn’t follow a training plan. I started upping my mileage a few months ago, doing long runs (usually 10–12 miles) on the weekends. I ran four or five days a week, and plenty of rest days. I did short interval workouts on Tuesdays (usually three miles of 400m or 800m repeats), but otherwise most of my miles were easy ones.
I didn’t wear my Garmin for a single run. I tracked my runs using the Strava app on my phone, but I was never aware of my pace while I was running. I trotted based on effort. There were times I would review my runs afterward on Strava and I can tell you that as much as I adore the app, I’m about 90% sure it tells me I’m running way faster than I actually am. So I take the data with a grain of dark chocolate with sea salt. But it’s helpful in terms of keeping a rough track of mileage.
I definitely could’ve trained harder. I could’ve pushed myself more, could’ve done long tempo workouts (but avoided them because they intimidate me), and could’ve done more strength training and cross-training. I definitely could’ve cleaned up my diet. But this was the training “plan” that worked for my lifestyle right now. Between the move, a new puppy, and a fairly unpredictable work schedule, this kept things fun without feeling stressful or like a chore.
I’m not necessarily feeling super confident about my fitness going into this race, but I’m also not worried about it. I’m not at my fittest and I’m definitely packing a few more pounds than I usually do. I’m not trying to PR tomorrow (my very outdated half PR is 1:44:48, and I wonder if I’ll ever be able to beat that), but I do want to race well and run hard.
I have one big goal for tomorrow: I want to have a good day.
I want a day where things click and feel good. I want to enjoy running and racing, and I want to finish feeling proud and exhausted. I want to represent my team well. I don’t have a specific time goal, but I would be thrilled to run sub-1:50.
I’ll be racing without a watch, which has worked well during my last few races. I find I’m better able to check in with myself and enjoy the race rather than constantly checking in with where I’m at pace-wise. I’m able to dictate my own race instead of letting a GPS device do it for me.
So that’s the plan-less plan. Run hard. Run happy. Stay out of my head. Don’t be afraid to let it hurt. As long as my stomach cooperates, I feel ready to rock.
Good luck to all the other 27,000 runners out there tomorrow. Don’t throw away your shot. Run hard, run happy, finish fast — and look for Ellie at the finish!
See you at Coney Island!