The Brooklyn Half memorializes its entrants
Ah, the Brooklyn Half! This used to be my favorite race, an un-ironic celebration of all things Brooklyn. Then it became my favorite race as an ironic celebration of a very specific Brooklyn, the Brooklyn of curated food trucks, craft beer, and made-for-Instagram photo ops.
So what happened this year? My lack of excitement was matched only by my lack of preparation. I was running, because, well, that’s what I do – but honestly, I would really have rather spent the morning birding.
In the end, I did a bit of both. Continue reading
Taking selfies while facing the sun, and racing in a keffiyeh: two bad ideas. (Photo credit: Lisa Maya Knauer)
I haven’t raced in six months and a day, and the Gaza 5K was the perfect way to ease back in. The emphasis of this race is on fundraising (to support community mental health services for kids in Gaza) and community. It doesn’t start on time, the course isn’t accurately measured, there are no mile markers, and the chaotic starting area is crowded with kids and strollers – but so what? How many other races do you know that culminate in a dabke dance party? Continue reading
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
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
This 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
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
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
Taking no chances: a pre-race finish line photo
Somewhere between my 2008 breast cancer diagnosis, my failed Boston qualifying attempt in 2014, and being wheeled into the medical tent after running 3:58:50 at the 2015 NYC marathon, I decided that Boston would make a fitting last marathon.
And while I’m reserving myself a little wiggle room to maybe possibly consider another go at the distance after my next significant birthday, it feels good to say “I’m done.” Continue reading
We’re here in Boston, enjoying the kind of weather that fills marathoners with abject terror: bright sun, 82 degrees and windy.
Fortunately, the temperature is expected to drop (albeit not enough) tomorrow, more clouds will move in, and the winds should die down . . . we hope. I fear, though, that Paul Ryan’s youthful marathon record will be safe from challenge by this 55-year-old woman this year.
Yesterday’s trip from New York Penn to Boston’s South Station was uneventful. “Don’t do anything before the race that you didn’t do in training,” the experts tell you. Since I ate like crap during training, I took that to mean I should start the trip with a doughnut from the new Underwest Donut kiosk in front of Penn Station. Continue reading
Something I thought I’d never do: post a finishing medal photo
Sometimes, despite your best efforts at self-sabotage, things just come together on race day.
A bit of background here. I will always remember the 2006 Crim in Flint, Michigan, as a perfect race. It remains my personal record for 10 miles (1:07:38); I placed third in my age group in a competitive field, and was among the top ten masters (against Russians who were no doubt doping); I ran negative splits, with the last mile (a 6:20-something) my fastest.
Much has changed over the last decade. I went through cancer treatment and chemo-induced menopause. The Big Three automakers – and with them, the state of Michigan – almost went belly up. I gave up on racing for a time, got married and moved to Brooklyn. The city of Flint had an emergency manager imposed on it, stripping its elected officials of their authority (and its citizens of their political power), and ended up with a poisoned water supply. I joined a new running club here in Brooklyn and started racing again.
But racing now is different. Continue reading