Tidbits & Insights For Saturday’s Popular Brooklyn Half Marathon!

Well New York City, this weekend BROOKLYN takes center stage!

This Saturday May 19th New York Road Runners will be hosting the largest half marathon in North America when 27,000 runners are expected to be set loose onto the streets of Brooklyn to wind up on the boardwalk at historic Coney Island! Its time for the Popular Brooklyn Half Marathon!

Getting into the race can be a task as this year’s race was SOLD OUT in just a few hours! So if you got in and will be one of the 27,000 participants – congratulations! However now you have to run this race and here you are in the home stretch of preparations. No worries, I’m going to try and help you out!

BIB PICK UP & EXPO

The Brooklyn Half Marathon Expo is set up and ready to go! (photo credit – NYRR)

Unlike most NYRR runs, you won’t be able to pick up your bib at the NYRR Run center. That’s ok though! This pickup will be a lot more fun. The Brooklyn Half Marathon Expo is where you will have to pick up your bib and you might as well give yourself some extra time when you are there because there is much more to do than just pickup your race bib!The expo is open Wednesday thru Friday from 12pm – 10pm in Brooklyn Bridge Park – Pier 2. In addition to picking up your bib there will be tons of merchandise on sale, live music, food trucks selling their fare, course strategy tips from NYRR coaches and one hell of a view of the Manhattan skyline! The expo is outdoors so come on out and enjoy yourself in the NYC open air!

Whatever you decide to do at the Half Marathon Expo just make sure you get there because that is the only way for you to obtain your bib! Unlike other NYRR races, you won’t be able to pick up your bib the morning of race day! If you can’t make it you can assign someone as your proxy for pickup. They will need your race confirmation form, which you should be able to get from your race profile and a copy of a legal form of identification.

TRANSPORTATION TO AND FROM

With the Brooklyn Half starting at the Brooklyn Museum and ending at Coney Island, public transportation is really the only way to get to and from the race. Keep in mind however that it will be Saturday morning and the subways tend to alter service on a lot of subway lines. Be prepared to get up very early and plan for a long commute if you are going go the race from any where other than Brooklyn. The 4 or the 5 trains are your best bet. Depending on which wave you are in will dictate which subway stop to get off at. Wave 1 runners should get off at the “Franklin Avenue subway station“. Wave 2 runners should get off at the “Grand Army Plaza Station“. The the subway stop and where they are relative to the starting corrals is in the map below which has been provided by New York Road Runners.

Map of the starting area! Photo courtesy of NYRR

In order to verify that the subway nearest you is running on Saturday morning, or if you want to see how often it will be running at an early time of day, I highly suggest using the MTA Trip Planner website . The website allows you to set your starting point as well as your destination and it will give you the best subway route to get you to your destination This trip planner will tell you of any interruption in service on Saturday morning and will also give you the approximate time when your train will be arriving. I have used it before and have found it to be very reliable.

Additionally, folks travelling from Queens or Long Island might want to consider using the Long Island Railroad as an option to get to the start. The Atlantic Terminal railroad station is not too far from the start area. There is a 5:31AM train leaving Jamaica and arriving at Altantic Terminal at 5:51 for wave 1 runners. Then there is a 6:18AM train arriving at 6:39 for wave 2 runners.

As for cabs and Ubers of course they are an option but be ready to jump out of them blocks from the entrance to your corral as traffic is sure to build in the surrounding blocks to the corral entrances. Adding to the potential delays is the real possibility of rain for that day. Be prepared for slower traffic as a result of this. As with public transportation, factor in some extra time into your cab ride just to play it safe.

Finally do you insist on driving and having your car at the finish line? I highly suggest against it! In years past NYRR has had access to the New York Aquarium Parking lot. Not this year. As for the MCU Park parking lot? That lot is off limits because it will be the bag check are to pick up your bags after the race. Outside of local street parking, realistically, there is no where reliable to park by the finish line or even the starting line for that matter. But if you insist on driving, consider parking near the Barclays Center as there are plenty of garages there and the streets should be open in this area as the race does not pass thru that section of Brooklyn. The start line is about a 10-15 minute walk from Barclays center and the train ride after the race from the finish area is about a 30 minute ride. In my opinion if you don’t want to risk getting on public transportation, this might be your best bet!

STARTING TIMES, BAG CHECK & SECURITY

So all the scrambling to get to the starting area via different forms of transportation but what time do we have to be there? See the infographic below brought to you once again from the good folks at NYRR.

Infographic showing important times that you should know for race day! Courtesy of NYRR!

Oh yes – some of the times listed for wave 1 are EARLY but don’t think they are lenient on them just because they are early. For example the bag check closing at 6:10am is a big deal. Why? Since the finish line is no where near the start, all bags are transported to the finish line. If you are in wave 1 and you don’t check your bag in by 6:10am, the vehicles transporting your bag will likely be long gone shortly after 6:10am. Of course you can check your bags in with the wave 2 folks but those vehicles may not get to the finish and be set up for drop off until later. For those that are considering not dealing with bag checking, as of the writing of this blog, race day is calling for a 90% chance of rain. With these odds, we are likely going to get wet. I would personally want to change into a dry set of clothes at the end of the race, but hey, that’s just me!

As for corral closing time, if your corral closes, you will likely be sent to the last corral in your wave. If you weren’t assigned anywhere near the last corral, this may put you into a frustrating position of having to weave in and out of runners that may not be running at your pace.

Therefore it’s important to note the times and factor in extra traveling time so that you have enough time to meet all of the suggested checkpoints above. Be reminded that after you check your bag in, you will have to go thru a security check point similar to that at an airport that requires you to empty your phones and metallic objects into a bin and then walk thru a metal detector. Many folks don’t realize how much you will have to do before you enter your corral.

So to summarize, your commute, bag checking and security checks all have to be factored into your morning in order for you to make it to your corral in time. Oh and then you have to run 13.1 miles! (lol),

COURSE STRATEGY

Members of We Run NYC Running Club at the start of their BK Half Trial Run!

So you nailed your commute, had a great breakfast, mastered bag checking and security and now you are finally in your corral. Now what?? Relax and smile like the folks in the picture above. Why are they smiling? Well, myself, along with about 40 other awesome runners who for the most part are members of We Run NYC Running Club took a test run of the course a couple of weeks back. Here’s how I saw the course on that delightful day!

Miles 1-4: The first mile for the most part is down hill as you ascend down Washington Avenue. WARNING! Resist the temptation to fly in this mile as it is only mile 1! As you loop around Empire Blvd to come up Flatbush Avenue, you might recognize this stretch if you ran the United NYC Half Marathon. This stretch of Flatbush Avenue is the area where the starting corrals were located for the United NYC Half. This stretch takes you up a slow hill that will bring to the end of mile one. You will then come to Grand Army Plaza where you will circle the plaza and go back down Flatbush avenue the same way you came up it before. So that uphill you climbed in mile 1, you will be going down the hill as you begin your 2nd mile. But once again, hold back on the speed! The toughest part is yet to come! From here you will run on the perimeter of the park until you enter Prospect part just before the 4 mile marker.

prospect-park-1

A beautiful running park, Propsect Park will bring you the toughest hills of the race!

Miles 5-7: These 3 miles are entirely within Prospect Park. The park itself is a beautiful oasis in the middle of Brooklyn. But beauty may not impress upon you during the race because the miles within the park are where your hardest work will be done! I am just going to say it – mile 5 is almost entirely uphill. There may be 2 small declines but you are climbing in elevation for the entire mile. This is why I mentioned to hold back on the throttle when you ran those down hills in the first 3 miles. But at the end you know yourself best. If you are a hill runner and haven’t run hard in the race up until this point, then go for it! If you tend to despise hills, then take a mulligan in mile 5, get thru it and look ahead to mile 6 because this is where the party begins for most. Mile 6 will take you down a gradual hill after which you will wrap around the west end of the park on your way to exiting the park at the end of mile 7. Once out of the park, you will hang a left and run onto Ocean Parkway who will be your friend for the next 6 miles!

Miles 8-13: These miles are why people love the Brooklyn Half Marathon! With the exception of going under an over pass and having to climb back up to street level on a couple of occasions, you won’t see a hill the rest of the way. This stretch of the race will take you straight down Ocean Parkway where a lot of local residents will be cheering you along the way. The only intriguing section I find about Ocean Parkway is around the 11 mile marker. Right around Ave W, the road hooks slightly right and when it does, you can finally see the end of Ocean Parkway for the first time. Here is where some runners will make a decision. At this point, you only have about 2 miles to go in the race. You can go for it and hit those final two miles hard if you have the endurance to do so. Alternatively, you may not want to allow yourself to pick up the pace if you can’t hold that pace for two miles. Either way, you can smell the finish line. As you cross under the Belt Parkway, you will be a mile from the finish. Coney Island will start to come into view. At the 20k marker you will leave Ocean Parkway for Shore Road which you will take until you see the historic Cyclone Roller Coaster where you will make a left and head to the boardwalk for that last 0.1 miles.

POST RACE FESTIVITIES AND OTHER AMENITIES

BKHalfFinish

Theres something about crushing 13.1 miles and finishing on the boardwalk at Coney Island!

Congratulations – you made it! Once you have crossed the finish line in front of Tom’s of Coney Island, your personal celebration is just beginning. The post race walk off will lead you down the boardwalk just past MCU Park, home of the Brooklyn Cyclones. The walk will lead you into the parking lot of MCU Park, where you will retrieve your checked bags, assuming you checked one in. Either way once you are done with the bag check area, NYRR has some post race festivities inside of MCU Park which you will be able to access directly from the parking lot area. If rain did fall and you are looking to get into those dry clothes I recommended bringing earlier, kudos to you for packing them and rest assured that you will be able to do so once inside MCU Park.

Once you are done with your day at the race, NYRR members can have their medals engraved at the NYRR Run Center! You can head there right after your race as they will be engraving from 11:00am – 5:00pm on race day! Too tired or don’t feel like heading back to Manhattan after the race? No problem. Engraving will also be done on Sunday May 20 from 10:00am – 5:00pm and finally on Monday May 21 from 12:00pm – 7:00pm.

In closing, this course is a fast course and has been known to produce a lot of personal records. You can nail your training for this race however if you don’t plan your logistics right, you may end up stressing yourself out prior to the race and it may derail your potentially strong results. However if you plan correctly, you could walk away with not only a personal record but one hell of a great day running the street of Brooklyn!

Good luck to all of the runners running the Popular Brooklyn Half Marathon on Saturday!

If you found this information helpful, follow me on twitter @catrunsnyc or on Instagram @catrunsnyc_2018. 
Looking for a fun group to workout with and run with? Look no further than my fellow teammates at We Run NYC Running Club!  Look for them as well on social media: Twitter: @WeRunNYCRC or on Instagram: @WeRunNYCRC .

Trial Run Of The Brooklyn Half Course!

My friends! We are less than 3 weeks from the NYRR Popular Brooklyn half marathon! This race came pretty fast but I’ve seen many of you getting at it with all of your training runs!

 

This Saturday, May 5th, 2018, I will be having a trial run of the course with members of the Popular Brooklyn Half Marathon Facebook Group that I host . The trial run is as it sounds – a practice run of the entire course- yup 13.1 miles this Saturday morning! The trial run is free and everyone is welcome to join!

*MEET UP SPOT🏛️🏛️

As this is a trial run of the course, I would like everyone to meet up at Brooklyn Museum (200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, NY 11238) at 7:45am! Please do not be late!

Yes thats nice and early in the morning but keep in mind, the actual starts at 7:00am on race day anyways! This gives you a chance to wake up early and practice your routine and route to the start line!

*TRANSPORTATION TO START🚕🚆🚗

For those of you that don’t live in Brooklyn, can I suggest driving to the finish line area, by Coney Island and parking by the finish line. There is a parking lot in MCU Park that if you manage to park there before an attendant is present, you pay nothing! If an attendant is there, I believe it is $15. This lot will only work for the trial run this Saturday because for race day; this lot will be off limits as it will be used for bag check pickup.

For this Saturday however, if you park by the finish line, you can then either take a subway to the start or Uber which is about $10. A few of us are sharing uber’s to the start from the finish line. In order to do this, I would suggest being parked by 7:15-7:30 at the latest!

Of course you can take the subway to the start line. The Eastern Parkway Brooklyn Musem stop on the 2-3 line seems to be the closest station to the start line. Check the MTA website to make sure these trains are running on Saturday morning!

*COURSE MAP!🗺️🗾🏔️

Course map courtesy of New York Road Runners

 

The course map is above. I also posted details of the the start area and finish area are below. Some of you may remember the trial run of the United NYC Half Marathon course that I held back in February. Unlike that trial run that we held, we should be able to run this course fairly close to the actual course. If you remember we couldn’t get on parts of the United NYC Half Course. That shouldn’t be the case here for the trial run of the BK Half. We should be able to see the entire course!

Here’s a brief overview of the course and what we plan on running on Saturday!

-The course starts at the Brooklyn Museum and we will run south along Washington Avenue, down to Empire Blvd where we make a right and another quick right onto Flatbush Avenue.

-Next we head north on Flatbush Avenue, towards Grand Army Plaza. Runners of the United NYC Half may remember this stretch as it was the starting corrals of that race.

-One we approach Grand Army Plaza (at approximately the 1.5 mile mark) we will loop around the Plaza and then head back south on Flatbush Avenue, til we get back to Ocean Avenue.

-We will take a slight right onto Ocean Avenue and proceed straight until we get to Parkside Avenue where we will make a right onto Parkside Avenue. This will be around the 3 mile marker on the course map.

-Continuing west on Parkside Avenue we enter Prospect park near Machate Circle where we will then proceed to do a full loop within Prospect Park.

-After one full loop within the park, we will exit the park close to where we entered it for the loop and run onto Ocean Parkway. Once we leave the park we should be 7 miles in

-Once on Ocean Parkway we will stay on Ocean Parkway and head south for a little over 5 miles until we turn onto Surf Avenue. On the course map this is around the 20k marker or 12.5 miles.

-We will continue west on Surf Avenue for about a half mile until west 10th street where we will make a left onto west 10th street once you pass by the Coney Island Cyclone roller coaster.

-Take west 10th street one block to the Coney Island Boardwalk – once you get to the boardwalk make a right.

-Run on the boardwalk until you reach “Tom’s of Coney Island” -this is the approximate finish line of the race!

*PACE OF RUN ⏱️⏱️

grouprun

Group runs are as much about fun as they are about the run!

 

Some things to note – this is not meant to be all out pace. Personally I will enjoy this run and i think you all should too! The weather is supposed to be nice. My definition of nice is Sunny with temps in the 50’s and 60’s for our run! I will likely snap some pictures along the route for myself so that i don’t have to do that on race day! Have fun with this run on what is shaping up to be a gorgeous day!

As for paces, this trial run is for EVERYONE! As I mentioned earlier, I did one of these in the pouring rain in February for the United NYC Half and 12 of us completed the trial run successfully as we split up into similar pace groups. I plan on splitting the group up into the following pace groups:

*Under 9 minute mile pace

*9-10 minute mile pace

*10-12 minute mile pace

*over 12 minute mile pace

It is highly suggested that you note the course directions above as we likely will not stay together in one big group due to the different paces we have. As such, I would be appreciative if anyone is familiar with the course and would like to volunteer as “pace group captain” on this date for any of the above pace groups!

*OTHER THINGS TO CONSIDER

Also to note are bathroom breaks – try and hit the bathrooms before you start. I have been told that there are portable bathrooms at 5 different locations on the loop within Prospect Park with 2 portable bathrooms where we enter and exit the park to and from our loop.

The stretch along Ocean Parkway is mostly residential so I’m not sure if you will have access to bathrooms during that 5 mile stretch. Or course when we get to Coney Island, there should be public rest rooms to use also.

As for hydration and nutrition, please bring your own! There are 5 water fountain stops within the Prospect Park loop. However once we exit Prospect Park, I cannot guarantee that we will pass by open store fronts.

Additionally please bring your own gels or anything you may consume for a 13.1 run.

Once we are done with the run we can hangout on the boardwalk and maybe catch a cold adult beverage to “re-hydrate”!

If you have any questions or comments – please do comment below! As I mentioned, it’s going to be a nice day on Saturday – let’s get together – meet some fellow runners and take one huge step towards getting ready for the Brooklyn Half Marathon!

Trial run will be sponsored by We Run NYC Running Club but by all means open to all!

See you all on Saturday!

Starting area map courtesy of New York Road Runners

 

Finish line area map courtesy of New York Road Runners

Race Day Planning For The United NYC Half Marathon!

So you are running the United NYC Half Marathon? Congratulations are in order because this race is not easy to get into! Now that you have gotten into the race, running and completing the race is not the only thing that you may have to worry about. Preparing for this race physically, mentally, emotionally and logistically can be a huge task. With this course being new, no matter how many races you have run in New York City, no one has ever run this course before! Those that will run the race this year will be the first ones ever to tackle this version of the course. In fact there are portions of this course that have never had any race run over them!

Over the last couple of months, I’ve hosted a United NYC Half Marathon Facebook group and we’ve discussed so many topics about this race. From training, to travel accommodations, to diets, to race prep, to holding local group runs and even hiring two coach buses to take some of us to the start line of the race! We’ve covered so much in that group and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it! (side note, we have similar groups open now for the Popular Brooklyn Half Marathon and the New York City Marathon!)

So I thought I would put this article together for everyone to benefit from the discussions that we have had in this group. It targets out of towners running the race as well as native New Yorkers. It’s a long read but I think there is something for everyone in here!

Getting Your Race Day Bib and the Expo

Getting your bib at the Expo is only the beginning of the fun!

Whether you are traveling in from out of town or whether you live here in New York City, you will have to make your way to the Half Marathon Expo. For those that live in the New York City area who are accustomed to picking up their race day bibs at the NYRR Run Center, that will not be an option this time around. Further, you will not be able to pick your bibs up on the morning of the race either! That makes it super important that you plan some time either on the Thursday (11:00am – 9:00pm), Friday (11:00am – 9:00pm)  or Saturday (9:00am – 6:00pm) before the race to make it down to the Expo. The Expo is located at 125 west 18th street, New York, NY 10011 (between 6th and 7th avenues).

When heading to the Expo, give yourself some time to be there. Getting your number and race shirt should be quick, but there is usually a lot of fun little things for your to see or do there. A race pacer booth will be set up so that you can speak with race pacers to talk about strategy to meet your desired goal time. I was able to confirm with NYRR that you will be able to pick up a “race pace” bracelet at the expo to help you keep pace with your desired goal time. These are several different bracelets each with a different goal time. The bracelet then tells you the mile splits you will need to hit in order to run that bracelet’s goal target time. Among other things to do at the expo is look for your name on the wall of runners, take some pictures or do some shopping from the racks of merchandise they are sure to have! The official race dear gear sponsor New Balance will be on hand with some giveaways as well! Whatever it is, just give yourself some time at the Expo! You won’t regret it!

If you can’t fit some time in to get to Expo yourself, there is an option to send someone as your proxy to get your bib. That involves having your proxy bring a copy of your photo ID, with your name matching the name attached to the bib. Your proxy should also have a copy of your race day confirmation form. Your race day confirmation form can be found by logging into your NYRR account. While this is an option, you will miss all of the fun at the expo!

Know Your Transportation To The Start Line!

This is the first year that the course will start in Brooklyn and end in Manhattan. As such you will have to plan out your traveling plans in order to get to the starting line on time! The race is on a Sunday morning which means New York City subways will be operating with less trains than they usually do on Sunday mornings. This means give yourself lots of commuting time if you will be riding the subways to the race that morning. Recently New York Road Runners Club released a detailed diagram of Prospect Park and where runners will need to go to enter the starting corrals. Based on that diagram below, it looks like the Q, 4 & 5 trains are the preferred subways to take the start of the race. One important thing to note, even though it is advertised that the race will start in Grand Army Plaza, runners will have to enter the corrals on the other side of the park over by Flatbush Avenue & Empire Blvd. Make note of that and make sure you travel to the right location! Traveling to the Grand Army Plaza station will only make you walk all the way around to the start of the corrals.

Diagram of the starting line for the United NYC half!

One thing that I STRONGLY urge you to do is check out the service advisory section of the MTA website. They are notorious for scheduling track work or other maintenance that can severely affect train service on the weekend. The last thing you want to do is be on your way to the race, only to find out that morning that the train you planned on taking that morning was not working! Plan ahead! To assist with that, the MTA actually has a “Trip Planner” available. This trip planner takes into consideration any service advisories that may be in play that day. I tested this a couple of weeks back when I did my trial run of the course (click here to read my review of the course!). The day I used the Trip Planner, there were service advisories for the subway lines I used that day. The trip planner told me about them and factored them into my traveling time. I got to the starting line to meet my group for the trial run on time with no issues just as the trip planner had planned it out for me! For reference the name of the subway stops you can travel to are in the graphic above. Enter those subway station names into the trip planner along with the station you are traveling from.  It works – use it!

Aside from subways, NYC taxi cabs, Uber & Lyft are an option. Just keep in mind, traffic to that area will be heavy. Further street closures in Brooklyn leading up to the park may snarl traffic. Give yourself some time if you plan on taking some form of car service to the start! As for driving yourself, I strongly suggest against it. 25,000 people will be heading to the start area. I tried to park at Prospect Park a few weeks ago for a race that only had 5,000 participants and it was chaos on that day! Imagine having 5 times the number of runners and trying to look for parking! Leave your car at home!

Planning Your Day Before The Race

Many folks will be traveling into New York City specifically for the race. If you are like many of these folks, you might be getting to New York on Thursday, Friday or even Saturday. If you are lucky enough to get in Thursday or Friday, do your moving around the city those days. Saturday is March 17th, also known as St. Patrick’s Day! Manhattan is full of parade goers and party goers looking to seek a celebration or two in honor of the famous Irishman! The festivities always seem to end up in an abundance of alcohol being consumed so if you had your heart set on going to a restaurant or bar in Manhattan on this Saturday, just know that it may full of festive party goers enjoying St. Patricks’s Day. Further, getting around town may be tough on the day before the race as the parade route goes right up 5th avenue, smack dab in the middle of Manhattan. As I mentioned, plan your day on Saturday accordingly to work around the St. Patrick’s Day congestion.

There is no question that the St. Patrick’s Day Parade is the most popular parade in New York City and one to enjoy if you are ok with having a couple of drinks. But for the person who has trained for weeks in preparation for 13 miles on Sunday, you might want to skip the festivities this year. If you need to unwind with some beverages, seek out hotel bars or lounges who will likely not allow St Patrick’s Day revelers into their establishments. Better yet, by a bottle of wine or a 6 pack and sip comfortably and responsibly in your hotel room if you absolutely must, although personally, I recommend you save it for AFTER the race!

Dressing For The Race & Bag Check

What to wear come race day morning?

Weather in New York City in the month of March is extremely unpredictable. There have been 70 degree days in March and there have been insane snow storms in the month of March. In 2017, the race was run on the heels of a pretty strong snow storm during the week leading up to the race. The temperature at the start of the race was 30 degrees. While the temperature could be cold at the beginning, it could warm up rather quickly as the race progresses as well. So how does one dress??

I suggest to wear some layers to the race that you will be comfortable parting with. There are close to 25,000 runners competing in the United NYC Half Marathon. This means that the bag check won’t be close to the starting line. In fact if you look at the graphic of the starting area above, the bag check is before you even enter the secure zone. Think hard about what you want to check in and what you will be able to bring with you thru security and to the starting corral. Keep in mind that you can only check in a clear bag. NYRR wants to see the contents contained in your bag. Also, I have confirmed with NYRR that your bag will be transported via courier to the finish line at Central Park so don’t worry about having to come back to Brooklyn to get your stuff! Check your bag in with confidence!

In terms of other items allowed past security, water bottles in excess of one liter will not be allowed. Camelpacks are also not allowed either. To be honest, those likely aren’t even needed. The race course will have a water station just about every mile along with some water stands that will include Gatorade. There is even a “Powebar Gel” station in mile 7.

The security check point will include a metal detector and you will pass thru it like you do at an airport. Your cell phone, keys, money, etc., will go in a dish and then they will wand you and you will go thru a metal detector. All of this means that if you’re checking items into the bag check, you will have to do it early to give yourself enough time to get thru security. This could cause your wait in the corral to be anywhere from 30-60 minutes.

Going back to how you should dress, you will want to stay warm in the corrals for this period of time. This is where the extra layers come into play. Remember, it will be anywhere between 7am – 8am when runners start since there are two waves. Once your wave starts, you can peel a layer or two off and part with them by placing them in one of the several donation bins that will be lining the starting line area. That’s right, you won’t be seeing those items again, so plan accordingly!

Going back to checking in your items at the bag check, one thing to consider when packing your check-in bag, is that it may be cold or rainy this day. Consider packing a dry  or warm change of clothes in your check in bag for after the race. The last thing you want to have happen is to be standing around after the race in cold or wet clothes. You can easily duck into a portable john to get out of those wet clothes if you choose after you retrieve your checked in bag. If you despise portable bathrooms like some folks do, you can head over to the New York Road Runners Run Center (320 West 57th street b/w 8th & 9th avenues) which is not too far from the finish line to use some of their changing rooms there.

As of the writing of this article, the temperatures are expected to range from the low 40’s at the start of the race, to the low 50’s thru out the race. That’s not cold. Rain is in the forecast as of now, but lets hope that pushes away! I would still plan to wear a couple of layers to the stating corral only to peel them off when the race begins.

Get To Know The Course

img_0822Finally, the course itself! As mentioned earlier, this year New York Road Runners Club decided to change the course route that had been in effect for several years. For the first time ever the race will start at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn and will finish in Central Park. The reason for the change is because the race is getting bigger each year and they are looking for a wider course and one that has a larger finish line and finish area. Logistically also, finishing in Central Park allows them to keep the finish area open longer so that runners don’t have to worry about having to finish their race under a certain time.  If you have ever run this race before, it will be all new for you just as it will be for someone who is running the race for the first time!

The course map is just above. If you have run this race before you will notice that this course has a lot more hills than the previous version of it. What make it worse is that a lot of the hills are towards the end of the race. If you look at the elevation chart at the bottom of the below graphic, miles 8 thru the end of the race are a series of climbs most of them which will be in Central Park. Just before that there is a stretch of 7th avenue from 42nd street up until the entrance of Central Park which is all up hill. If this stretch may look familiar to those who have run this race before thats because the race used to run the opposite way down 7th avenue after you exited the park. This year, you are running a slow steady climb for 15 blocks before you get into Central Park! If you haven’t thrown in hill work into your training, now may be the time! For a more comprehensive review of the course, you can read the review I wrote up after I did an actual trial run of the course a couple of week ago. You can find that article here!

The Finish Line.

You made it 13.1 miles to the finish in Central Park – CONGRATULATIONS! You’re not done yet! Once you are done with the race, you will still have about a half mile walk. During that walk, family will not be allowed in this half mile are as it is considered a “runners only” area. Family can watch you finish the race during the last mile. See the graphic above and note that they can enter the park on the west side the park via two entrances. They will not be able to meet you however on there other side of the finish line.

Once you have crossed the finish line, you have approximately a half mile walk that will lead you to the southern exit of the park close to Columbus Circle. I highly suggest, that you meet with family away from the park after the race. The area around Columbus Circle will be pure chaos. During your half mile walk you will get your recovery bag, water, and of course, your well deserved medal! There will also be stations set up to take post race pictures with your medals or your friends. Medical tents and bathrooms will be available during this half mile walk as well. It may be a half mile, but trust me, it will pass by really quickly!

Speaking of medals, make sure to get your medals ENGRAVED after the race! I confirmed with NYRR that medal engraving will be available immediately after the race at the NYRR Run Center on Sunday from 10am – 5pm. If you are not in the mood to stand on line to get your medal engraved after the race, medal engraving will also be available at the run center on Monday 3/19 from 12pm – 7pm and on Tuesday 3/20 from 4pm – 7pm. Unfortunately medal engraving is only for NYRR members. However there is nothing stopping you from becoming a NYRR member before the race to not only take advantage of free engraving but to also take part in their future races. Of course as an alternative to all of this, you can also get your medal engraved else where.

In Closing

I am a stickler for logistics. I put this together because so many of you worked hard to prepare for this race and I don’t want to see you throw it away because you thought you could pick up your bib on race day morning or you took the wrong train to the start or your dressed incorrectly. You deserve better than that! Now go out there are crush this NYC Half Marathon!

If you found this information helpful, then I am glad I could help. As I mentioned earlier, if you happen to be running either the Popular Brooklyn Half Marathon or TCS New York City Marathon, I have similar group discussions going on now. Here is the one for the Brooklyn Half and here is the one for TCS NYC Marathon Why not join these groups and get in on all of the information being exchanged there!

For more information about running in general in New York City, make sure to follow me on Instagram @catrunsnyc_2018 or on Twitter @catrunsnyc ! Also while you are at it, check out our running club We Run NYC Running Club! It is a running club that is open to all levels of runners with one common bond – that they simply love running in New York City!

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It awaits you!

Race Report – Gridiron 4 Mile Run

Hi everyone! I have been away from this blog for a few days. Apologies about that but this thing they called a job, kind of got in the way! I also have been working on some other running related things that kind of some how fell into my lap. I will likely be a little forthcoming on that in the next week or two!

Lost in my absence, was the fact that I ran a race finally! I tell you, it has felt like forever since I have run a race. While I did do an unofficial 5k on New Year’s Day with my gym and I also managed to do a virtual 5k with New York Road Runners, nothing compares to the feeling of an actual race, particularly one at Central Park! Add the fact that I got shut out of the Fred Lebow half marathon and that they cancelled the Joe Kleinerman 10k and I was really itching to get a race in. Well finally the day to race came!

RACE:  NYRR Gridiron 4 Mile Race & Longest Football Throw

DATE:   Sunday, February 4, 2018 9:00am

LOCATION:   Central Park

DISTANCE:   4 Miles

WEATHER: Cloudy, 34 degrees w/ 5mph winds.

GETTING TO THE RACE & PRE-RACE:

I like to document this because the time leading up to a race can dictate the outcome of your race. This was my first race in a while and I was anxious as all hell. With the race being started on the upper easy side (102nd street traverse), I thought I had a good chance of finding some street parking if I got there early enough. I got to the area around 7:30am- Mind you the race didn’t start til 9:00am. After circling for about 15 minutes, I decided to look for a parking garage close to the park. Found one right on 102nd street just east of 5th avenue but it had a line waiting to get into the garage. That was ok, I was early. I was waiting on that line, I noticed a guy walking to a parked car down the block. I bolted off of the line and followed the guy. Sure enough he was pulling out. Free parking was scored!

Meeting up with some members of the United NYC Half Group

 

Adding to the excitement of the pre-race was the fact that I was meeting up with some members of our United NYC Half Facebook community. Close to 30 of us in the group had signed up for this race and several were eager to meet before the race. It was great to meet up with several of them before the race! The cold weather had us a bit frozen, but I think it was safe to say that we all made some new running friends and we likely started a new trend that could carry over to other local races leading up to the United NYC Half Marathon on March 18th!

THE FIRST HALF:

I usually start out in D corral for NYRR races, but this time I started in E corral to run along side one of the members from our online group who had never run a NYRR road race. Knowing this runner, I don’t think she belonged in E corral as I’ve seen her pace and it is definitely faster than E corral. However NYRR has a policy that they  will only move you up once you have recorded a time with them. At the start of the race, it was very crowded and I found myself dodging a lot of slower runners and even walkers. The first mile ran along the 102nd street traverse from the east side of the park to the west side. Once we turned onto the west drive of the park, there was some up hills to overcome. I was taking it easy during this first mile because the crowds just did allow me to stretch out my stride. My first mile was clocked at roughly 7:36. Not bad for the first mile of any of my runs, since I am usually slow in that first mile!

As I approached the second mile, you could tell that the crowds were starting to thin out a bit. I remember seeing a nice area of space and darted for that. It coincided with a down hill and I remember just flying down the hill for about a good 200 meters. Truth be told, that whole second mile felt like a down hill. The mile time was reflective of that. 6:38 was my split for mile 2. What the hell was that? Pretty fast by my standards.

A nice loop in Central Park on Super Bowl Sunday

 

THE SECOND HALF:

Mile 3 was an upward climb as we crossed over from the west side and back to the east side of the park . Up “Cat hill” we went and I was definitely feeling some tired legs up this hill especially after a 6:38 second mile. As we started the climb I could feel my legs getting heavy and my breathing starting to get rapid. There was a brief point where I got distracted. There was a purposely made up division in the road. If you went left it meant you were rooting for the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl. Going right mean you were rooting for the Patriots. At that moment, I felt like stopping and turning around because I hate both teams. But if you need to know – I went right (lol) .

After that distraction, I focused on controlling my breathing and just taking relaxed strides. Once my breathing was under control I tried to pump my arms and my legs a bit more to get up the rolling hills a bit stronger. Mile 3 definitely wasn’t the fastest mile of the race, but I prevented myself from burning out. In fact, I was actually pleased with my mile split considering that 3rd mile was filled with hills, 7:12 pace!

Once I got past the 3rd mile, it dawned on me that there was only a mile left. This is what I hate about short races, its like you are alway churning a rapid pace each mile. You can’t take a mile off! I know myself, I can always churn out a fast final mile. But like I said, in a short race, all of them had been fast this was going to be a bit of a struggle. I locked my mind into a sustainable rapid pace and told myself just to stay at this pace until the finish line came into sight and then let it all hang out. That’s what definitely happened. My final mile, 6:40. I have never put two sub 7:00 minute miles together in a race before! Hey I’ll take it!

My analysis:

My final time was 28:42 for an average pace of 7:11. This was good enough for a PR at the 4 mile distance. For my first race of the year, I was very pleased with this. If that first mile wasn’t as crowded, I may have run that mile a bit faster. All in all this was a great way to start Super Bowl Sunday!

PR for the 4 mile distance!

Get Ready For Another Half Marathon

Good Morning to everyone out there! This will be a quick but informative post!

The cold weather has taken its grip on New York City again! While running may not be on the forefront of people’s minds right now, runners know that race planning is always occurring. It is after all one way that runners stay motivated. They set these goals and put races on their calendars as something to strive for.

Today, myself like many other folks will try to put another race on their calendar. Next to the NYC Marathon, a half marathon in Brooklyn, New York might be the hardest race to get into. The Brooklyn Half Marathon, now called the Popular Half Marathon, usually sells out in less than 30 minutes. This race unlike the NYC Marathon or the United NYC half marathon does not have a lottery. It’s a simple sign up to register. But registration spots are limited and that’s why it sells out in less than 30 minutes.

Registration for the Brooklyn Half opens at 12:00pm noon today! Park yourself by a computer at that time and deploy a little patience! It might be a marathon and not a sprint to get thru on the registration!

Good luck to all attempting to register today!!

5 Ways To Keep Your Runs Interesting

Cheers to another day my friends! I have gotten a few messages from folks who have started running recently who are struggling to stay motivated in their new journey. It’s new to them and what is still fresh in their heads is how much they have always hated running. Further, if they haven’t run a race yet, they may not have had the opportunity to witness the positive enthusiasm that running can bring to keep them motivated during their workouts. So this morning I thought I would share some ways that can keep running interesting. For me I can’t say that running is ever boring for me, even after all these years. Maybe the reason it isn’t boring is because I call upon some of these every now and then to “keep things interesting”! Here are just a few of those!

Run with headphones. Whether they are wired or bluetooth, running with headphones is a game changer. I have a few playlists that I fire up when I go for my runs. For me it’s 90’s alternative since that’s what I was listening to in high school when I first picked up running years ago and quite frankly, I still love those tunes too! But I have a few other playlists too, like some old school hip hop and another with latin vibes. But music isn’t the only thing you can listen to. Podcasts have become favorites of runners, or maybe even a newscast. All of these can and will make your run go by a lot faster!

Some songs from my 90’s/Alternative Rock Playlist

Mix Up Your Running Routes This is one that I like to do a lot. Let’s be honest here, if you are running the same route over and over again, this will get boring. I always say that running can lead you to be a sightseer whether it’s when your travelling or even in your own neighborhood. Take a look at your runs, if you’re doing the same ones over and over again, mix them up please or consider changing the length of your runs if you must use the same routes.

Track Your Runs. There are a number of running apps out on the market today that track your runs from your phone by use of GPS. I am a fan of Map My Fitness & Strava, but I must say that Strava is quickly becoming my favorite. These apps have information that keeps me wanting to come back and run again and again. One of the reasons Strava is becoming my favorite is because of all the info they give you out of just one run. They will calculate portions of your run and compare them to similar portions you have run before and tell you how you compared to those. Further Strava is quickly becoming another community but solely made up of runners, which means you can follow your friends and compare how you do. I always say numbers can tell a story and Strava’s stats tell you your story while keeping you motivated. Map My Fitness is always coming up with challenges to keep you motivated and thats part of the reason I continue to use them as well as Strava!

Just a few of the stats from Strava that keep my running interesting!

Run With A Group. This is something that I personally had not tried until this week. I’ve always run alone in my neighborhood but since creating a facebook group for the United NYC Half Marathon, I’ve met a lot of runners online in preparing for that race. Some who live close to me, and when I say close I mean New York City (lol), expressed interest in running as a group to prepare for our race in March together. I ran with the group for the first time this week. We had 6 people in the running group and it was an awesome experience. I’ve always heard that group running is fantastic but it was hard to vouch for that without a group to run with. I highly recommend that if you need a change a pace in your running, find a group or even just a friend and go for a run with them. While your chatting away, those miles will trickle by with ease!

Good chats, good friends and good running within a group!

Mix Up The Type Of Runs You Do. Running doesn’t always have to be about going out and running the same distance. As I mentioned up above, the same route can get boring but also the same type of run can get boring. I always like to get a track workout into my routine if not once a week, at least every other week. This allows me to do intervals on the track which in turn help me build my speed. Hopefully most people have a community or high school track near by that they can have access to. If so, I encourage a track work out! Other times, I like to go find a decent sized hill by me and just run up that hill 10-20 times. This will no doubt challenge you but it will be different from your usual run. Plus hill work will make you a stronger runner in general and that is always a plus when running a race! Tempo runs are also a good way to mix things up. Tempo runs involve running portions of a long run much faster than other portions. For example on a 5 mile run, running miles 1,3 & 5 easy but cranking it up for miles 2 & 4. These are just some ways you can mix up the type of runs you do.

When you look at the above, in my opinion, running can indeed be fun! Like with any other task if you do the same thing over and over again you will naturally lose interest. I’ll update this from time to time when I find new ways to keep running interesting. Want to be updated – follow my blog!! lol

Have a great Thursday everyone!

Recovery After A Half Marathon

Happy Monday morning!

In looking at my social media feeds this past weekend and even last weekend, I noticed a lot of folks completing half marathons. Yesterday I was thrilled to see so many people I know completing the NYRR Fred Lebow half marathon. The weather in NYC was perfect for a half marathon and I am hoping a lot of people achieved personal records!

There is no question that when you set out to conquer a half marathon, especially if it’s your first, adrenalin and euphoria will push you to achieve wonderful things. Running a half marathon is no easy feat and while some may think it’s something they can’t do, hard work and motivation will push you to the finish line along with the adrenalin and euphoria I mentioned before. But what about after the race? What about when your medal is hung and there are no more crowds, cow bells clanging or music playing? When it’s just you, and your sore muscles?

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Just complete a half martathon? Listen to your muscles!

Since today is the day after a big half marathon here son New York City, I thought I would post some suggestions about half marathon recovery.

  • Hydrate and rest– Sure you drank a lot before the race and during the race but your body will still needs to replenish its liquids. You lost slot of your electrolytes during that half marathon. Therefore look for liquids that contain a lot of electrolytes. Gatorade and coconut water are perfect for this. Also, try to increase your fruit and vegetable intake, you will need the potassium that they provide. Further, your first day after a half marathon should be about rest. Unless you are an experienced runner, avoid running the first couple of days after. Your body needs to recover from the impact of 13.1 miles.
  • Diet.During these important next couple of days you will need to have a well balanced diet to fully replenish the nutrients you lost during the race. Meals that includes a healthy balance of complex carbohydrates, protein and monounsaturated fats are ideal after the in the days after a race. I like to go with roasted salmon with quinoa and garlic mashed potatoes. Coincidently, I like this before a race too! (lol) A little Greek food is always a plus for me. I enjoy some pork kabobs with cherry tomatoes and onions and a lemon cucumber dressing with rice.
foamrolling

Foam rolling is a great way to help sore muscles recover!

  • Listen to your muscles. There is no question that there will be sore muscles to deal with. Whether it’s your hamstrings, quads or calves, spoil them rotten the next couple of days. Ice them. Invest in a foam roller and massage your muscles. If you don’t want to invest in a foam roller, get a friend or loved one to simply use their hands. If you want to splurge, seek out a sports therapist or a masseuse for a deep tissue massage. Do any of the above that suits you but please don’t sit there and let your muscles ache!
  • Walk but don’t run. While running the day after is not recommended because of the impact on your legs, do go for a walk to stretch the muscles and get the blood flowing.
  • Need more to stay active? I understand that some of you just don’t like the couch or that your body just needs a workout as a mental escape from it all. I’m kind of like that myself! (lol) Go ahead and cross train in the first few days after a half marathon if you must. But if you do. work muscles you didn’t use in your half marathon. Stick to upper body work or something that is low impact on your legs. I find yoga can aide in flexibility right after a half or full marathon. Also if you can gain access to a pool, running or walking in a pool is really helpful. Cool water helps muscles recover and there is zero impact on your legs in the pool.
  • Running again I know, you just crushed a half marathon and you want to run again. I would hold off on any running until about day 3 after your race. If you recall in the last week or 2 before your half marathon, most people tapered their miles and ran less. If you were training at 10-13 miles, you reduced your runs to much less mileage. Well now after your half, my approach is to “reverse taper“. Go very short on your first run. 2-3 miles is ideal. As you progress over the next two weeks, keep “reverse tapering” and increase your mileage to 4-5 miles then 6-7 miles until you are back in your routine. The idea is to ease your legs back into the running routine while they recover.

Keep in mind that the above are just suggested ideas that can help you recover after a half marathon. These have worked for me in the past as well as others I know. Thankfully, I have never seen any long term effects of injury after a half marathon. However if you have pain, not just soreness, after your half marathon, seek a professional doctor’s advice. In a couple of weeks it is normal to have soreness but definitely not pain. The most important thing is to listen to your body and respond to it with the appropriate treatment. I cannot stress how important this is.

But lets think positive! If all goes well and you recover well and get back into running, don’t be afraid to put that next race on your calendar! Remember complacency can work against you. If you are pleased with your first half marathon results, make a goal to run faster and most importantly a smarter race. We can always improve. Challenge yourself, because the challenges you present yourself will reward you. Comfort never rewarded anyone!

Congratulations to everyone out there that recently completed a half or a full marathon!

Don’t be afraid to plan for your next big race!