brooklyn half marathon
…aka a lesson in listening.
I decided to use this race as an experiment. I “signed up” last minute (and by that, my friend Emily gave me her bib – thank you again!) and went back and forth from trying to race, to running for fun, to somewhere in between. I decided I would go sans watch (!) and just run by feel and for fun — I wanted to really tune into how my body was feeling instead of relying on the numbers which “try” to do the same thing.
The verdict? It was insanely awesome. And look ma’ — my splits were insanely even:
I was in Wave 2 so crossed the start line at 36 minutes. I only took notice so I could figure out my finishing time – not try to calculate my splits throughout. The first half the course, from leaving the Brooklyn Museum to doing one loop of Prospect Park, was what I like to call “weave city.” I started pretty far back with a lot of people running 9-10 min/miles; I triiiied to creep up as far as I could to the beginning of Wave 2, but I was still behind what felt like thousands of people.
But because I had no watch and had no set expectations, I just had fun with it. Made it a game. If you picture a straight line, I was painting figure 8’s all over the course. Hopefully pretty ones.
But I was still listening. I remember Corey telling me during her 70.3 she’d continually ask herself, “How am I feeling? What do I need?” I tried this out at Eugene, but was in such a bad state I’d only tell myself “I am feeling like shit. And I need to stop.” Yet for this half-marathon, I gave it another go. By mile 5, my legs were a bit tired from weaving so much, but I told myself it was because of the weaving, not because of pace or lack of endurance. I said: “I’m feeling a little tired.” I need to start running in a straight line.” Other examples throughout:
I’m feeling great, I need to speed up.” (Mile 6)
“I’m feeling a little bored, I need to listen to ‘Mirrors.'” (Oh, miles 8-12 on the highway…)
I also did something very new to me: I stopped at almost every single water station. (And there were like a hundred of them?) The water stations were especially tricky — people literally would stop to grab a cup of H20 and I would nearly topple on top of them. But I found that gulping down some water made me feel better instantly (MIND BLOWN). At mile six I felt worlds better than mile 5, and decided to pick up the pace a bit to something that resembled a tempo pace.
I still made sure to only tune into how I was feeling. When I felt a little off, I took a Gu. When my legs felt a bit heavy, I focused on form and running in a straight line (I was still weaving…). I didn’t have a watch blinking in my face, so I didn’t have to worry about a pace too fast or a pace too slow . I had to worry about when I was feeling good and when I was feeling off, and how to change that.
It was so freakin freeing.
I was so pumped that at mile 12 I decided to spread my love with the camera man:
At mile 12 I once again re-evaluated how I was doing, and realized how much I still had left in the tank. This was super reassuring. I was wondering if I’d be able to find Steph along the course, and was SO STOKED to hear her cheer (lookin’ fly in her oiselle tank) right at mile 13.
To finish the course, all the runners had to climb up a small ramp to the boardwalk, yet people decided to stop and WALK. I was kinda mad; my Laura-gets-all-serious-about-running flips on at the end of races, and I once again was weaving through people up a metal ramp onto the board walk. But I made it.
I finished strong and happy — pretty much the complete opposite of Eugene. I took two gels and lots of water and gatorade, which made a huge difference, too. And the no watch thing? Crazy awesome. Never before have my splits been so even. Never have I felt so good during a race.
Now..I know I wasn’t going all out, so running harder would of made it, well, harder. But regardless… it’s a good learning lesson. Listen to your body. Don’t always stare at your watch. Fix your form, and remember to smile.
Oh, and always run half-marathons. They are so much more fun (…and shorter) than marathons.