The pre-race party is still my favorite part of the NYRR Airbnb Brooklyn Half Marathon. It is hands down the best bib pick up – live bands, food trucks, and local brews against the back drop of the Brooklyn Bridge and lower Manhattan. Two years ago, I went the Thursday before the race. The weather was amazing and I got there in time for the sunset.
This year, I wasn’t able to get there until Friday evening (the night before the race). While I wasn't able to party, I did have time to appreciate how much this area has changed, from the new footbridge to the revitalized Pier 2 to the new hotel with amazing view of the city. Grimaldi’s and Juliana's are still there, with lines out the door, but there are a ton of new food options. If you’re visiting from out of town, or want to be a tourist in your own city, get to Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Now for the race. I almost didn’t run it. The thought of waking up at 4 AM after scarfing down tacos at 9 PM and barely sleeping 6 hours, only to run 13.1 miles sounded...well…like the worst idea ever.
I was texting with a few friends who didn’t get why I wasn't into it. They were PUMPED. They got me out of my funk. This is a really cool race – the finish line is in Coney Island on the boardwalk! I had trained enough to finish. The weather was supposed to be close to perfect. I was out of excuses.
I ended up running.
Regarding race strategy, the advice is to hold back at the beginning. It’s a packed start and you’re quickly in Prospect Park, which has a decent amount of hills. Once you exit, you still have half the race left, but it’s net downhill so you want to save yourself for the back half.
Now what did I do IRL? I always do hill training, even for flat races, either by running Central Park or more recently, running my new hilly route on the W&OD trail. I would absolutely recommend hill training for this race. The Prospect Park hills are very manageable…if you hill trained. The hardest part of the race for me is actually after leaving the park. I find miles 8-12 pretty boring and seemingly endless (where is the darn ocean?!). I really struggled my first time, so I did three things that significantly helped me this race. (1) I loaded an awesome playlist (2) I “counted down” the streets, knowing that Z wasn’t the end of the race but close enough and (3) played the keep up with the random runner. I had about three runners I tried to stay with until the end – people who were very consistently pacing and didn’t look like they were struggling. The last thing, which I pretty much always do at the end of a race, is not think in miles, but in time. I usually do this 2-3 miles from the end. I just keep saying only 24 minutes left, 16, 10…
I didn’t PR. However, I PR’d the course and got darn close to my PR (see my race results on Strava). I was incredibly proud of myself and so thankful for my friends who encourage me.
Would I recommend running this race? If you’re ok with an early wake up time, then yes.
If you do run, get there very early if you’re in wave 1. I check a bag because I’ve lived far from the finish, so I shoot to get there by 5:45 AM latest. I know it’s early but it’s worth the peace of mind.
Kate Scott is an avid runner, who has completed three marathons and numerous half marathons. She travels frequently, most recently to Toulouse and Bordeaux in France. She currently lives in Northern Virginia and is a certified public accountant.