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Brooklyn Half Course Elevation, Details and Tips

I know you all have been asking me for a post like the one I did for the NYC Half/Marathon, but I don’t think we need something that long for this race, but still, here you go… Not sure I am an expert on this one (I don’t go to Brooklyn enough!) but this will be my NINTH Brooklyn Half in a row, and all my GPS data matches, and I do have 7 years of race reports I can check back on (which helps a lot to write this!).

First, get excited, here’s a few of my pictures, more on the links below.

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COURSE DESCRIPTION

With this cheating sheet you won’t be surprised or  have any reason to fade off in the second half. This  course is easy to take on, quite similar to the NYC Half actually, but faster (there’s less hills, no wind in the second part, and a faster last mile -NO TUNNEL!)

  • Green is DOWNHILL (fast!!!)
  • RED is UPHILL (careful!)
  • and YELLOW is FLAT (you got this!)

nyrr airbnb brooklyn half course elevation profile

This is what the elevation profile looks like:

Brooklyn Half Elevation

If you want to click on the course elevation and get more details (so you know exactly where everything is on the map) that’s all here. I compared the last two years and I got the same (160.65 ft elevation vs 162.03 ft, but pretty similar).

HOW to run this race?

Part 1:

Race starts (awesome sight of the Brooklyn Museum) downhill, for a half mile, then up for another half mile while you run towards the Grand Army Plaza (which you’ll run around), then up and down again.  Something to look forward to on the second mile is the rest of the runners in front or behind you. I love turnarounds, heeeey heeeeey everyone!

These red parts are not big HILLS ok? Nothing to worry about, check up the elevation on the chart above, and you’ll see. Very very manageable and sweet.

Course is very scenic and pretty quiet until you get to the Prospect Park Hill (there’s only one) (does it even have another name???) a bit after Mile 4.5. It’s looong and you can’t see where it ends but it’s also not super bad. Check the elevation above again (almost comparable to Harlem Hill). You have a nice down after the hill another tiny bump in the course and then you’re in the clear. All downhill or flat from here. Seriously, the bumps (can’t call them anything else, they’re NOT hills!) are done before Mile 6!!!

Part 2:

Part 2 is when you crank up the heat (STFU!). The race is flat or downhill past mile 6 so you have a lot of room to play with. I’d run the first part very carefully (aka slowish) so you can spread your wings in the second part. You could start part 2 right after the hill in Prospect Park, right before Mile 6. I like to start when I exit the park because, mentally, it’s an easier break. Park: slow. Not Park: FIRE!!!

Once you exit the park (Mile 7), you will be in Ocean Parkway all the way until the last mile of the race. There’s a steep downhill into the parkway, be ready for it! Just past that, it’s OPEN, it’s wide, there’s tons of space and people to chase down. This is the best part, because you can really go crazy here. Some people will tell you it’s boring and there is nothing to look at, etc. It’s a highway, it might be… There’s less spectators than in the park, it’s quiet and it’s just a STRAIGHT LONG road to the finish. But it is, to me, an amazing opportunity to zone out, drive hard and bring it in. Choose a runner ahead (not the one right there, the other one!) and focus. Or count down the avenues (they’re lettered!). Once you make the right turn, you’ll have about half a mile, you make a left at some point, go up a ramp, and a right into the boardwalk to run about 200 meters (in the boardwalk!) straight to the finish line!

Other tips and things you should know:

  • Pre-Race Party is a blast. Bring your friends. Come with time to enjoy BK (pics here and here from 2016), there’s food vendors, drinkies, and cool Brooklyn gear to buy (start saving now!)
  • On race day, take your time to get to the start. Weekend trains can be more sporadic so plan for it, ok? If you don’t want to plan: leave early and follow ANY runner. We are all going to the same place. No Race Before The Race!
  • Every year they’ve had portapotties inside the corrals. Lifesaver.
  • Last year they had these big water dispensers at the start. Bring your own bottle!
  • Course is really fun. you’ll see a lot of locals and teams cheering. Holla back!! Have your own party on the road.
  • It can be crowded in the first few miles. Please be careful and try to not use headphones. It  really really spreads out in the second part and you might miss the coziness of the park.
  • Bring sunglasses, or a hat/visor: the 2nd part doesn’t have a lot of shade.
  • Boardwalk running can be tricky so please watch your step and pick your feet up a bit more than usual, ok?
  • Don’t trust your cell phone to find people after the race. Make specific plans on where to meet people as cell service might be spotty out there in old Coney (worst for some than others based on your provider).
  • Also bring swim-wear, a beach picnic is a must after you pick up your medal and some funnel cake (or  hot dog from Nathan’s Original store if you will!)

Weather:

It’s tricky. Either it’s great to race in (40s, 50s) or great to have a picnic at the beach after (60s and over). Either way, it’s a win win!!

Historical data for reference:

  • 2016: 58 degrees, humidity 60%, wind 5 mph
  • 2015: 62 degrees, humidity 76%, wind S 5 mph
  • 2014: 58 degrees, 67% humidity, wind NW 10 mph.
  • 2013: 59 degrees, 72% humidity, wind SE 3 mph
  • 2012: 58 degrees, 56% humidity, wind calm.
  • 2011: 55 Deg., 96% Hum., Wind 5mph
  • 2010: 58 Deg. 86% Hum. Wind 6mph

If you go to the corresponding race report (below) you’ll see what I wore each year (and if it was a “racing or beach” year!)

Pacing bracelet

It’s here. Adjusted for the course, though you can adjust it as you like.

More and more here:

Questions? Comment know below and I’ll answer!

Am I missing something? also lmk below!

Can I ask you for something? After the race, would you come back and let me know how it went, or what went right/wrong, or what you’d add to these tips?

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2015 Brooklyn Half Race Report. Where do I even start?

Well, at the start line of course! The expo was fantastic, as usual, the race was great (minus baggage!) and my performance… well, I had so much fun trying not to melt… the weather was the big question mark leading up to the race… Is it going to rain?  I prefer rain to that stooopid humidity that doesn’t let you breathe… so, yeah, rain please! And then maybe sunny and hot after so we could enjoy the beach with the team? That’d be the perfect scenario really!!

coney island beach picnic dashing whippets

2014, sunny post beach picnic!

I had done this race a few times, had to go back and check, 5 times!

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SIX Brooklyn Half Marathon in the bag!

This was my 6th… so I feel like I have the course down, plus, you know I do all the crazy drawings and pace bracelet, and math… hey, planning is the FUN part!

Juan and I woke up at 3:50, left our apartment in the Upper East Side by 4:30 am to get on the 4:46 4 train to the start. There was another train 20 minutes later but it’d be too close to baggage closing and we don’t like to stress so we got very little sleep in exchange for the “no rushing” deal. The 4 train left us like a block from baggage at about 5:30… and then we had an hour and a half to kill where we caught up with pretty much all 26K runners and everyone who was working and volunteering.

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Anthony loooooooves pacing!

The biggest advantage of showing up so early?? Brand new portapotties!!!! I got in there twice, all smelled nice and was clean… so wonderful. The stuff dreams are made of. I prefer all of this luxury to an extra hour of sleep. And if you know me, there’s nothing NOT MUCH better than sleeping to me.

Anyway, Juan and I got into the 3rd corral LONG before there were lines in the porta-potties and saw a lot of friends and team-mates. Blaise and Patricia were meeting us there and Juan was going to run with them for a bit. We had a lot of time to discuss pleasantries like the course and mile splits. I was going for 1:39, or 1:40 but with the 100000% humidity I started to doubt I’d get under 1:40. I do ok in the heat, but I suck in the humidity, it just zaps me out for some reason. Anyone knows why? It must be a low-blood pressure thing. I was doubting myself, thinking about starting slow and just coasting. We’ll see, I thought.

We hear the national anthem, then Mary speaks: her last race!! UGH, I am beyond upset that she’s leaving, but I am sure things will be ok. I just hate change 😉 and I really like her. Peter and Mary blow the horn and I see the all my team mates and Juan go off. Bye bye. I hold back a bit. This was my plan if the weather let me know ma thing:

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I didn’t know if I could bit my NYC Half time (1:39 something) but why not try? Then, the humidity attacked. I felt it early on, half a mile in and I was DYING. MELTING. I just was burning up, same thing that happened last year, also half a mile in, at the Boston Marathon. I was roasting inside and wanted to take all my clothes off and jump into the ocean (but we gotta get there first?!?). I actually thought about taking the singlet off but it’s a mess with the bib there… so I gave up and as soon as I saw the first water stop I started the dives. I was throwing 3 cups of water on me (or as many as I could gracefully grab) per table. I really felt like giving up and slowing down. I didn’t think I could even go sub 1:40 so why bother?

Mile 1: 7:39

Mile 2: 7:50 So far so good.

I told myself to keep trying, maybe it’d start raining and things would get better. They didn’t get better, but you know, we all play those tricks on ourselves… What kept me busy: it was waaay too tight in the first two miles, and quite busy and messy until about mile 5 when things started to open up a bit, but definitely crowded. I almost got tripped a few times. UGH. Almost like the NYC Half. Also, I saw a lot of Whippets pass me on those first 3-4 miles, and a lot of people in general.But I already know how that works, so I don’t stress: 90% of them come back later.

Mile 3: 7:21

By Mile 4, I run into Marie Whickam, I love seeing her, we run a bit together until I saw a water table and I had to take another shower, which was adding many many seconds (at least 10) per mile. After a quarter mile, I caught up back to her again. I kept seeing this team mate, Adam, who was running quite even pace, so I tried to follow him too.

Mile 4: 7:44 not enough water!

I was having 1 cup of Gatorade per mile (which is INSANE!!!!! I know!!!) and all the water I could throw on me. Then, at the next water stop I decided I couldn’t wait anymore. I decided I would have my gel right there. I only had one but if the Gatorade was helping so much, maybe I needed the gel asap.

Mile 5: 8:12 where I had brunch

As you can see, per the pace, I had to stop to eat and drink…  Wow, the gel worked like a charm… I caught up to Marie in a second, and then Adam too. I was ON FIRE. It made me feel SO much better. I don’t tend to have gels or that many Gatorade in a half but apparently I really needed it. I felt like I was speeding up a lot as I left the park.

Mile 6: 7:56 still digesting

Soon I left Adam and I started picking up a LOT of people. There wasn’t anyone passing me anymore and I made a point, at mile, 8 to grab another gel at the gel stop and eat it. I just didn’t want to feel like I was dying again… I kept picking people up. SO MANY. I love this long stretch of the race…

Mile 7:21 let’s do this!

Mile 8: 7:26

Mile 9: 7:20

I saw a few team-mates on my way and chatted them up a bit. We were all feeling it a bit and I just felt like I had to keep pushing. Around here I saw Blaise going about 8 pace and I asked WTF and told him to come with me. He was shooting for 1:33, so it was shock to see him there. I am not sure if he tried to follow, but he didn’t, he didn’t have a good race.

Mile 10: 7:14

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Shot from last year… when I run it a bit less worried with time!!!!

Mile 11: 7:14

AH, a tiny little mist. Not quite rain but something!!! I felt so grateful!!! I knew I was close and I just had to close it in. But I wasn’t sure if I had enough for a really fast last mile. I started looking at the pace bracelet and I saw I as a few seconds behind. Nothing a 6:30 mile can’t fix… but I doubted I had that me.

Mile 12: 7:04 is that a mini rain I am feeling???

My team was there! Scott shouted “Pick it up Elizabeth” I smiled and pretended to go faster but… I probably I did a fast 400 there and that was it. Michelle gave me high five, thank you guys!

Mile 13: 7:02 slippery boardwalk, let’s do this!

Finish: 1:39:10

Well, there you have it. I tried my best (in the last 100 meters!) to go sub 1:39 just because, but didn’t happen. Whatever! 16 seconds faster than the NYC Half earlier this year, but given the weather (and how I felt), I’ll TAKE it. Also, I was a bit overweight. I know you can’t tell and I look amazing and all that, but my scale doesn’t lie, and the chafing in between my tights is REAL too. OUCH. Actually, that’s how I usually know I put on some weight; it hurts there. I blame the little Miami vacation the week before (mental note, vacations are AFTER the race, not before!!!!). So, these are not excuses, just a way to measure how happy I am with my time (maybe 30 seconds extra for the weather, and 5 seconds per each extra pound… it’s a flat 1:38 in my head!!!). I am still FAR FAR FAR from my 1:37 PR but if I can bang out a 1:39 consistently, how can I really complain??? I am not far.

Stats Time:

Finish time: 1:39:10 Average Pace: 7:34

Previous PR: 1:37:35 From: March, 2013

Age Grading: 68.60% 

Overall Place: 2511 of 26,482

Gender Place: 443 of  14,216

Age Place: 35 of 1,403

Wait a second… 35th in my AG out of 1403??? What? that’s insane.

Another way to look at my splits:

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Seems about right, I would have loved for the last 5K to be a bit faster but the rest seems ok. Now,  I’ll say this to ALL OF YOU who run: 90% of you are starting WAY too FAST. You know what I mean. Look at your splits. I know it’s hard to hold it in, but it pays, I promise you!!! You want proof?? proof you say? There’s so much!!! (I like to do this exercise once in a while to remind myself during races why I need to let people go in the early miles). These are the 12 people who finished with me, in 1:39:10 exactly, 6 before, 6 after.

nyrr3

I am the orange, so you don’t get lost. We all finished at the same time, right? the fun part is WHERE they all were at the 10K mark. If you think about it, that’s the slowest point of the race, the 2nd 5k is the hardest, you just climbed all the hills this race has, so, if you’re going to slow down, that’s when you’d be at your slowest point, and save your speed for the last 5 flat and fast miles right? Ok, look, I was at 48:39 by 10K, ten out of those twelve were one or two full minutes ahead of me. That is a lot in a 10k, and a lot more in this type of course (where that 2nd 5k, the 10K point should be your slowest). Seven of those twelve where still one or two minutes ahead at the 15K mark, the rest started to drop back. By the finish, I had closed on all of them. I know this because I saw a lot of people passing me earlier on than I caught later, but this shows a LOT. Only two out of those 12 were able to hold it past the 10K mark. Don’t ever forget this, you now have proof that people that go out too fast will come back to you. Even if you don’t believe negative splits is the way to go, at least even effort should do it, and in this course, your first 10K is the slowest of the two… any questions!??!?!?

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As soon as I crossed the finish line, I got my third hug from MaryW of the week, saw Richie, then Patricia, then Keith… and soon Juan. And it started POURING. Now??? now you’re going to pour on me!!??!?! WTF!!!!!! whatever….

We got some mylar blankets, pretzels, apple, and kept going towards baggage… and then… a scene worse than the humidity: major chaos at baggage. Actually, it needs caps: MAJOR CHAOS AT BAGGAGE. If this was Fox news, it’d be a: THE BAGGAGE SH!TSHOW type of headline. I seriously considered going home wet and cold but I really needed my phone and keys… It was such a clusterf*ck, I’d consider not bringing a bag if the weather was better next time. A MESS. There was just one truck for 2 thousand people, corral 2 and 3. The first UPS truck (0 and 1) was fine, the 4-5 was fine… OURS was A MESS. There was a mob of about 300 (500??) people shouting and putting their bibs up in the air. Shameful. Truly awful. And stinky, of course.

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From left: My apple and I, Juan, Patricia, Blaise

Juan and Blaise didn’t have a great race but Patricia KILLED it. She had been doing 1:36 since September in about 5 halves, so frustrating! She did 1:33!!! As we train together, that means, I can now start shooting for 1:36!!! haha, thanks Patricia, her PR is my incentive!

Eventually we grabbed our bags, warmed up, and walked to the train. I wanted a Boston creme from DD but it was too crowded. Rain = No beach post race picnic. We just hobbled home, showered and skipped to Bareburger, as usual after a race.

Oh well. If you run Saturday, I don’t know if you saw, there were MANY runners down. Passed out, getting CPR, a friend told me there were 6 runners in the Coney Island ER alone, so I can imagine it was quite bad. I can’t be the only one affected by that humidity. A really good friend of mine hobbled the last mile and a half just trying not to pass out. So scary. Just promise me you’ll always keep an eye on your health instead of your speed first, ok? So many people fainted, that could have been any of us. Also remember to update your emergency info and buy a road id!!!

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And now… I wasn’t really expecting much from this race. But I will, come Fall go for IT. I really want to PR. well, I would like to. That means, sub 1:37. I will shoot for 1:36. And do whatever it takes to get there by September.

Before I close the door though, three weird things: this was probably the first race in years that I don’t have one picture on the course!!! I got a tan on my legs, you can clearly see the short’s line. I had my headset on the whole time but I didn’t feel like listening to music. I tried twice but it was throwing me off so I must’ve listened to music for about 20, SO WEIRD.