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Tadesse Dabi of New York won the 2016 Brooklyn Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon with a time of 1:04:44 and the female winner was Bizuwork Kasaye with a time of 1:17:20. More than 17,500 runners took to the start line near Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn, NY on a day that wound up sunny and beautiful. This was my first ever half-marathon and I finished in 2:14. Check out my results below:
MIMICKING THE COURSE
To train for my first-ever half marathon, I didn’t follow a specific training program, such as one that Runner’s World would provide to beginners. I simply did one long run a week for the 2-3 weeks prior to the race. That’s it, really. However, I did get my fair share of obstacle course racing in during the two months prior. I covered more than 10 miles at Terrain Race in early August, then covered 12 miles at Warrior Dash at the end of August. I covered 15 miles at a GORUCK on September 10, then 6 miles at a Spartan Race a couple of weeks later. I essentially used multiple laps of short OCRs as a training tool for a half marathon. Obviously, this is not how a runner trains for a half marathon but that’s why I feel so accomplished: some people spend months training for a half marathon whereas I just did one long run each week for the two weeks leading into the event and I was fine.
What motivated me most was a 6-mile run I completed with Olympic marathoner and GLUKOS-sponsored athlete Jared Ward in Central Park, NY. Ward and I ran about 5 miles at my sad 10-minute mile pace, then we did intervals of 1-minute work, 1-minute rest. That’s where he took off and I was left huffing and puffing for my life. It was such an honor to run alongside one of the best runners in America, and pick his brains about running. Ward wound up placing fourth at the Brooklyn Rock ‘n’ Roll Half-Marathon.
DESCRIBING THE SCENE
I arrived at the start line and I sought my corral which was 20, or a 3-hour half marathon. I had no idea what time I’d finish this race in so I put down 3 hours as an estimate. As I waited in corral 20, I started to think: I think I can do this is 2:30 minutes, so I moved up to that corral. This thought crossed my head because during one of those long “training” runs around New Jersey, I clocked in at 2:30, covering about 12 miles. The scheduled start time was 7:00 a.m., but the corrals go off as waves, so people in the last corrals probably didn’t go out until close to 8:00am. Literally right before takeoff, I ate a GLUKOS Energy gel and I was off to the races.
My honest goal was just to complete this race without stopping to walk and I achieved that goal. Once I saw that I completed a 5K in less than 30 minutes, which I did only once before (in my first and last 5K race ever), I adjusted my goal to completing the entire half in less than two hours. I didn’t reach that goal but that may have been partially due to the fact I had planned to run a full Tough Mudder course the next morning. The Brooklyn course was great: no dramatically steep inclines and it ended with three miles in Prospect Park which was awesome. Throughout the course, there were family members and spectators cheering on the runners as a whole, which is encouraging. There were also marching bands and cheerleaders strewn throughout the course, providing live motivation for the runners. The runners came in all shapes, ages and sizes, and there were even two women dressed a Pokemon, one as Squirttle and one as Charzard.
There was adequate water on the course, eight stations in total to be exact, and there were both GLUKOS energy gummies and Gatorade Endurance liquid at Mile 6. There are rarely, if ever, eight water stations at any OCR, even though an OCR takes more time complete than a road race. Aside from at a Tough Mudder, no OCR company that I’ve participated in provides fuel on the course-you have to bring everything yourself. I guess this is because there are so many racers that giving everyone something would cause congestion at the fueling station and be too costly for the organizers. At around mile 8, I took a GLUKOS Energy Gel that I brought myself.
It’s worth noting that I didn’t carb-load whatsoever for this race, although I eat whatever I want, which includes carbs at every meal. My breakfast wasn’t anything that carb-heavy either: a slice of toast, 3-4 scrambled eggs and two sausages. As you can tell, I don’t go crazy about what I eat, ever, and that held true for my first half-marathon. I’m explaining this because at mile 11, for some reason, I took another GU gel, which should have been unnecessary since I got the sugar and carbs from the GLUKOS gel a few miles earlier. I think that I had burned through all of my carbs early on and that I was starting to transition to using my oxidative system for fuel, so I needed even more electrolytes and glycogen to stay focused. Or, I just wanted to try and push hard for the final two miles but I realized that’s a bad idea with my Tough Mudder looming.
After the race, I received one of my favorite medals, then came the onslaught of snack offerings. There was a protein Power Bar, bananas, water bottles, Nesquik chocolate milk, potato chips, Gatorade, and likely more items that I’m forgetting. There were photo booths with professional photographers taking pictures but unlike in OCR, they are not free. It makes you wonder if the free images in OCR are part of their overall marketing strategy. The post-race festival included a performance from headliner Here We Go Magic, a New York-based indie rock band. In the VIP section, there was food, beer, coffee, and quick massages. I saw Nev Schulman from the MTV show Catfish in the VIP area which I thought was random but also pretty cool considering you don’t often see non-athlete celebrities doing athletic things.
I had an amazing first half-marathon experience. The pre-race Central Park run session with Ward plus supplementing with GLUKOS during my “training” made it all the better. Participating in a Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon seems like a great way to spend time in a city while traveling. Going for the full marathon is a perfect reason to travel somewhere new. I’m not sure if I’ll ever run a marathon, but I know that I had a couple of more miles in me at the end of my first half-marathon. What was your first half-marathon? Or, would you ever consider running a half-marathon? Why/why not? Please comment below.
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