Race report: 2018 Popular Brooklyn Half (May 19, 2018)

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Defending my home turf (photo credit: Luke Redmond)

Let’s begin by contemplating the marketing genius who connected this race, which routinely sells out in less than an hour, to its new title sponsor, Banco Popular. Was it the result of a caffeine, doughnut and Gatorade-fueled spitballing session in a New York Road Runners conference room? Did someone at Banco Popular, possibly a runner themselves, come up with the idea? Or was it – as my friend Michael, who has some tenuous family connection to the world of marketing consultants, tells me is most likely – the handiwork of a professional branding matchmaker?

However it happened, this popular race is now officially Popular.  Continue reading

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Race report: the NYC Gaza 5(ish)K (March 24, 2018)

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Photo credit: Murray Rosenblith

How can you not love an event that bills itself as a combination 5K and dabke party? I ran this race two years ago, missed it last year, and was thrilled to be running it again. It’s less a race than a community celebration . . . for Brooklyn’s Palestinian-American community, primarily, but also the larger Arab community, the Muslim community, Jewish peace activists and various and sundry other folks. While I was shamefully lax in my fundraising this year (by which I mean, I didn’t fundraise at all), other participants raised thousands of dollars for mental health services for kids in Gaza.

The first indication that this race is going to be a little different is the fact that a “light breakfast” (I’m quoting from the official schedule of events) is served beforehand. The starting time is approximate – hey, it starts when it starts – and so is the distance. Two years ago, we ran a smidgen over 3 miles; this year, we ran a full 3.3 mile loop of the part. There are more walkers than runners, and even among the runners, it was evident from the starting area chatter – “I hope I can finish . . . how will we know how far we’ve gone?” – that many were running their first 5K. (Or better – given the vagueness of the course measurement – their first 5ishK.) Continue reading

Race report: Prospect Park Track Club Cherry Tree 10 Miler (February 18, 2018)

710BB4E2-3CA6-46E2-81A2-DA2A35CA7295This race, sponsored by the best running club ever, is a President’s Day weekend tradition. Its official name alludes to the legendary honesty of Brooklyn battler (and father of our country) George Washington. Its unofficial name – “the race for the hardcore” – alludes to the fact that mid-February can be a pretty miserable time of year for three full loops of Prospect Park.

Not yesterday, though. The snow that had fallen overnight was already melting in the bright sun and 40-something temperatures, and the park roads were mostly – but not entirely – clear of slick spots by the race’s 10 am start. Conditions, in other words, were perfect: comfortable, but just sloppy and slick enough to justify taking it easy.

More races should come with built-in excuses. Continue reading

An eater’s guide to the NYC marathon course – 2017 edition

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It will also make you hungry.

Not running the marathon this year? Aren’t you the lucky one! While the runners are suffering (and oh, how they will be suffering – sure, they’ll be all smiles in Brooklyn, and some will be grinning and pumping their fists as they cross the finish in Central Park, but somewhere between, believe me, they will suffer), you can be eating. And exploring some great neighborhoods. And cheering, too, of course.

2017 is the third edition of this guide. You can find the 2015 and 2016 versions here and here. Rather than repeating myself, I’m letting these two posts stand on their own merits, with minor updates (closings, in particular, are noted). To get a full sense of your options, as well as general race viewing advice (and some great writing, of course), do check out these older posts.

So what’s new this year? Continue reading

Back in the game

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Classic Williamsburg

I started running again, tentatively and furtively (what my doctor and physical therapists don’t know won’t hurt them, right?) at the end of July. My arm felt fine; my legs felt like two tree stumps. Those first 3 and 4 mile runs left me as spent as a 16-miler at the end of an 80-mile training week.

The big concern, of course, was that I’d take another fall and re-damage my mostly, but maybe not totally, healed humerus. But after surviving two scary falls while walking – once on a metal cellar grate, once on the polished terrazzo sidewalk of some fancy Manhattan building, both slicked with rain – my latent fatalism came to the fore, and I decided: screw it. If I’m going to go down, let me go down running.  Continue reading

And then she fell . . .

At roughly this time exactly a week ago, I was a mile in to a planned 10-mile run – over the Brooklyn Bridge and then across to the Hudson, returning, I hoped, before the day grew too godawful hot – when one of my shuffling feet caught an uneven square of Carroll Gardens sidewalk and I went airborne.

There was no righting this fall, I knew in that long moment. There was only the sickening suspense of not knowing how bad it would be, and what part of my body would hit the ground hardest.
Continue reading

Race report: my 2017 Brooklyn Half experiment

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The post-finish scene on Coney Island

Here’s an idea: let’s see what happens when someone trains hard all winter for a spring marathon, runs said marathon, then takes the next month off (logging only easy, stop-and-start birdwatching miles, mostly in quarter mile increments, with a longest steady run of, oh, let’s say 4 miles, and no speedwork) before racing a half marathon.

World of pain, or demonstration of the lasting aerobic benefits of marathon training?

I didn’t set out to conduct an experiment last Saturday – the Brooklyn Half is one of my favorite races, and I just wanted to run the damn thing – but the circumstances more or less created one. Continue reading