I can't think of Brooklyn, New York without thinking of three things: Jay-Z, the Beastie Boys and Last Exit to Brooklyn by Hubert Selby Jr. Maybe because they all have "Brooklyn" in their respective titles, but mostly because I imagine that if I was ever going to move to New York, I'd want to live in Brooklyn. And since moving to New York wasn't in my near future, I'd have to settle for a weekend and a half marathon in my hypothetical/imaginary New York home.
I'd heard about the Airbnb Brooklyn Half, but it wasn't really on my radar to run this year. That all changed after having dinner with a group of journalist in January. I shared that I had heard good things about the race, but hadn't really thought about making the trip to run it.
Everyone stopped. Their eyes widened and they each, in their own way, told me it was a race I had to run and to register immediately. Like immediately. With the race already sold out, my friends at New Balance did me a solid and hooked me up with an entry. SCORE!
But first, a little about the iconic Airbnb Brooklyn Half:
The first Brooklyn Half took place in 1981, and it’s been on the NYRR annual calendar ever since. In the early years the course started at Coney Island. Peter Ciaccia, NYRR’s incoming president of events and TCS New York City Marathon race director, had the idea of reversing that and treating runners to a spectacular finish on the boardwalk, which became a reality in 2009. A post-race celebration gained momentum, especially in 2013 following the area’s devastation by Hurricane Sandy. This year runners and their loved ones continued the tradition of reuniting at Tom’s Coney Island, Peggy O’Neill’s, Nathan’s, and other iconic Coney Island establishments. (from www.nyrr.org)
Fast forward to last week and I arrive in New York to run not only my first Brooklyn Half, but my first half marathon since 2012. Yes, you heard me, IN OVER TWO YEARS. (But I totally have a great explanation for the hiatus. We'll talk about that in my Fierce & Flawless series starting in a few weeks).
Like any good race weekend, I started it with a party! I headed over to the New Balance Pre-Race Party at the Brooklyn Bridge Park to pick up my race bib.
Now, the same journalist that insisted I run the Brooklyn Half, told me it's more similar to a huge party, than an actual road race. I assumed they were exaggerating. I'd experienced the ol', "It's like a party" method of convincing before. But when I say this was a party, IT WAS A PARTY. There was a DJ right in the middle of packet pickup (which was also complete with foods trucks, putt-putt golf for the little ones) and there was a huge green space where you could lounge, drink and dance. Alas', I had found my people! Now, THESE were the runners I wanted to hang out with! Maybe, I should move to Brooklyn......
After picking up my race packet, I headed over to New Balance's exclusive pre-race party, also complete with food and literally the sickest DJ I've ever heard. I tried to take a few pix of all the scrumptious nibbles, but I ate it before I had a chance. LOL Funny how that happens.....
Now, let's get down to the nitty gritty. The race. With only a 3.5 hour time limit, it was definitely a fast course. While, we weren't blessed with perfect weather, it was still a great day. Prospect park was a bit hilly, but there were some GREAT declines to coast down. After a loop around Prospect Park, we headed straight down Ocean Parkway to Coney Island (about 5 miles). Crowd support was amazing and my fellow runners were the best! As, always it was a complete Black Girls RUN! takeover! From the race course, to the water stops, we were out in full force.
The finish was just as epic as you rounded the corner onto the boardwalk. And the post-race party was amazing! All in all, I'd it give it a 9.5 ONLY because of the unfavorable weather. Do yourself a favor and register as SOON as 2016 registration opens up. You never know, you might see me there again!