Tuesday, November 24, 2015

12th race of 2015: Brooklyn Rock 'n' Roll 1/2 Marathon

12th race of 2015: Rock 'n' Roll Brooklyn 1/2 Marathon

A Preface to all September through November entries:
 For those of you who've been regular followers of Get Back UP Today you will know that I've always tried to finish a Race/Event blog before the next race or event. Unfortunately this year has been a challenging one for me due mainly to the major surgery I had in the Spring. While in many ways I "got back up" quickly over the initial 2-month recovery time, I slowly began to realize that total healing can take a lot longer. I've had to reconcile myself with the fact that healing doesn't necessarily proceed on a linear trajectory but instead can be a roller-coaster of progress and setbacks. I can reassure you that I'm doing very well on my path to a complete recovery but with having to squeeze so much into the second half of the year--and with my main focus on taking care of myself at every stage of my healing journey--something had to get placed on the back burner. This blog was that "something". So, in an effort to catch you up on all of my adventures in 2015, but in a manner that still leaves me with time and energy for all of my continuing events,  I will shorten my entries to  "photo-diary"-style featuring each weekend's highlights until I have brought you up to speed. Some of these will be out of chronological order, please forgive! Thank you for your understanding and for being a loyal reader!    --Beth

Friday, October 9th:

A beautiful day to fly into New York, where I chose JFK airport for its proximity to Brooklyn. Jim has been in the NYC area for a few days working with his customers here so luckily I get picked up at the airport for a change--thanks, Jim!

I actually travel to NYC at least once a year, though I haven't been to Brooklyn since the inaugural Rock 'n' Roll event here in 2013. That year there was only a 10k and this year we'll be running the inaugural 1/2 marathon...2 inaugural RnR races in Brooklyn!

For the 10K in 2013 we actually stayed in Manhattan and took the subway over for the race events but this time we're staying on Brooklyn's west side hoping to see more of the borough.

There are so many beautiful sights in Brooklyn, the view out of the back
of our hotel not being one of them. :-)
We chose the hotel for its proximity to Prospect Park and to the subway (also, price was a factor!) and were quite happy with our decision. Though not fancy, the Kings Hotel is located in Sunset Park on the west side and was quite clean, with free parking, free wi-fi, free breakfast and just 3 blocks from the subway. The price was more along the lines of a Greensboro hotel, not your typical NY-priced property!

First stop of the day was the Expo where we picked up our race packets. We opted to drive because traffic wasn't an issue mid-day and the Expo Center was in the northernmost neighborhood of Brooklyn called Greenpoint. We happily learned that most of the 'hoods in Brooklyn offer plenty of free parking--another plus when compared to Manhattan. I accidentally left my phone in my backpack, in the trunk of our rental car, so I didn't get any photos from the Expo...sorry.

Our next plan was to explore, eat and enjoy this beautiful afternoon in Brooklyn...though I had to remain on-call for any potential media opportunities.

This is a neighborhood (or collection of neighborhoods) affectionately referred to as BoCoCa, short
for Boerum Hill/Cobble Hill/Carroll Gardens. It's just north of Gowanus and we spent our afternoon and evening
walking throughout these four areas. From our hotel this was about 4 miles, or 15-minutes by car due to neighborhood traffic.

Each time I travel to a city I like to explore different neighborhoods to get a better feel for the entire place. It's really tough to try to see everything in just a few days so we always concentrate our time in 1 or 2 select areas. Last time we spent more time in the DUMBO and Prospect Heights neighborhoods, we chose this trip's focus utilizing internet recommendations. Here are 2 sites I used this time:

Due to the fact that I was up at 3am this morning, with most
of my time spent in airports and on planes, I was ready for a real
meal in a real restaurant. We found this place and read some good
reviews, so Zaytoons was gonna be lunch!

We got here just as they were setting up. By the time we finished the
whole place was full of customers.

Jim and I decided to try several things and share them for a totally
vegetarian meal. I'm a big lentil soup
fan--I make it often at home--so I thought I'd try their version. Indeed, it
was tasty and quite different from my own, tasting more like split pea soup
to me but we both really enjoyed it.

We opted for the Zaytoon Combo meal where we could select 5 things...these were our selections:
Hummus, Stuffed Grape Leaves, Babaganoush, Turkish Salad and Labneh (descriptions are shown in a
photo below). 

The soup came with an order of freshly-made Pita bread: TO. DIE. FOR.
(it was so good we ordered another basket!)

This isn't even half the menu but we never got past this page. We LOVED everything, especially the prices,
which like our hotel were so reasonable for what you got--no matter what city you order in.

We had a tiny bit of room left after sharing the soup and combo platter
so we decided to share an order of the house made falafel. Again, this too
was delicious.

These lasted maybe 5 minutes. Maybe.

For the rest of the day and early evening we walked around the neighborhoods exploring houses, shops and sights. My phone's Mophie charger died on me (unfortunately not revivable this time) so I took limited photos in order to save the battery life for my on-call duties if needed. Here are a few of the shots I did take before pocketing the phone:

Lots of cool independent shops in this area of Brooklyn.

Unintentional message, but I like it!

We're walking northwest along Court Street here, still in the BoCoCa area.

I wish we had as many fresh seafood vendors in Greensboro as I've seen here in NY.

A strong storm popped up, so we popped into the closest pub for refuge. 
When the rain let up, about 15 minutes later, we went in search of a dinner spot. By now we'd been walking around for about 4 hours. We stumbled upon this place, http://www.dassara.com/#home-2,
and when the owner invited us in as we were reading the posted reviews we decided to give it a try.

I ordered a wonderful beet salad with avocado and a ginger-soy-white truffle dressing. As my pre-race
protein I got a side of perfectly soft-poached eggs....

...the eggs were so silky and so fresh they almost didn't seem like eggs.

I neglected to get the photo, but Jim had the Tuna Sashimi Rice Bowl. Both of us enjoyed our dinner here.
Saturday, October 10th: RACE DAY!!!

We thought that a 5:00am wake-up call would be fine in order to get to the start line in plenty of time for the 7:00am race.

Here are things you should always do if you're running in an event that's new to you!

1) Expect bigger crowds and traffic tie-ups than on a typical, non-event day in whatever city you're in.
2) Plan accordingly.
3) Always scout out your public transit stops/terminals/exits/entrances at least a day before the race.
4) Have a backup plan for your ideal public transit stops/terminals/exits/entrances at least a day before the race.
5) If you need help, ask some sort of PROFESSIONAL for directions/advice (police officer, subway attendant, race official, etc.).
6) If you ask a NON-PROFESSIONAL, be prepared to receive INCORRECT information.
7) If you're in a major city, or "hot spot" for national security interests, pay strict attention to race day rules/procedures and expect security to be enhanced and enforced.

We did 4 of these 6 and I'll leave it at that.

Hmmm...no trains northbound from this station this morning.

Thankfully, because we did 4 out of 6 things right, we got through security and to the VIP area in just enough
time to use the potty, drop our official gear check bags AND get a quick selfie before heading out to the start line.
From left, our gypsy pals Kevin, Joe & Mindy.

As soon as we left the library for the start line corrals we found 2 more of our Gypsy pals,
Ron and Susan Carino. I'm always amazed that without any formal plans to meet, our running friends (a totally
informal group of Rock 'n' Roll regulars we affectionately call "gypsies") seem to find each other with ease.
I'm guessing we must emit a certain pheromone of "Crazy" that attracts us to one another...
Here's a link to Ron and Susan's blog, always more interesting and better written than mine!

They just announced that our friend, Jim Diego, will be singing the National Anthem now.
Go, Jim, go!
I'm gonna say that the girl behind me in the dark green shirt is SUPER excited to
hear Jim Diego, rather than sleepy.

And we're off! We're shuffling along in Corral 5 towards the starting line,
you can barely see the banner in the background.

And, we're NOT off! Hmm..we came to a complete stop and stayed here for 30 more
minutes. Apparently there was an issue in securing one of the streets along the course
 so, for runners' safety, they held us here.
(For the keen observer, you've noticed that I'm now wearing a pink, long-sleeved sweatshirt
that I was not wearing in the other photos. It was so chilly here and I was shivering so bad that I grabbed
someone's discarded sweatshirt along the fence. I guess everyone ahead of us
thought we were starting (as did we) and they dropped their layers early. Well, I'm not too proud to
take advantage of the situation. I was totally snug in my new find--and it smelled of
sweet, clean laundry detergent--so thank you to the woman who left it behind for me!)

This is the view through the chain-link fence to my immediate left as we faced the
starting line. This is the same fence that offered me the sweatshirt. Behind the fence they're
setting up for today's Brooklyn Farmers Market. 
At 7:30am the race was officially underway. I would've taken photos of the course but due to my aforementioned Mophie-failure I needed to conserve battery life for an expected post-race interview. I will say that I thoroughly enjoyed this course, all very flat except for a few hills near the finish in Prospect Park. (For the record, Jim thought it was a relatively easy run but had hoped for some more scenic views of Brooklyn.) Here's a link to the course if you're interested in the details:


I ran the first 4 miles or so with Mindy but she's been dealing with a knee issue so she opted to take some walk breaks to avoid aggravating it further. After that I ran into Joe Harris and Kevin Gonzalez on course, then caught up with everyone else at the Finish Line Festival in Prospect Park:

Meet legendary Harriette Thompson who, at 92 years old, is the oldest woman to
complete a full marathon. She did this at the Rock 'n' Roll San Diego race
this past June. She told me that she's got a foot injury currently but came
to the Brooklyn event to cheer and support the Team In Training runners.
A real honor to meet you, Harriette!!!

I'm missing out on my Training For Warriors class back home right now, but I'm
sporting the tee shirt proudly and collecting my Heavy Medals. Today I got the bonus
medals, Beast of the East (for doing 3 or more East Coast RnR's this year) AND the
Headliner Medal (for doing 9 RnR's so far this year).

Kevin "no Bacon" Gonzalez, celebrating a good race. Congrats!

Great to run with you, Mindy--congrats on toughing it out on that bum knee!

"VIP Joe" Harris is all smiles after a great run today too. Kudos! (He is also sporting the Beast of the East, but
he's actually on number 13 RnR Half's so he's got all the Heavy Medals except one, the Hall of Fame, which
he will get in 2 more races.)

A perfect day in Prospect Park, made better by the fact that Nate Ruess is the headliner for today's free post-race concert.

Ladies and gentleman, meet your winners of today's event. Yes, they all get medals but apparently
don't wear them. :-)  They also get flowers and plaques...REAL race bling! Congrats to all the elite runners!
(See below that the men's winner was only 1 second faster than the runner up.)

Top Men

1Birhanu Dare Kemal01:05:02
2Mengistu Nebsi01:05:03
3Mekuria Abebe Sihine01:05:38
4Ben Bruce01:06:51
5Jonny Wilson01:07:53
6Joseph Carpenter01:09:19
7James Brisbois01:09:27
8Jason Lakritz01:10:18
9Jesse Schneider01:12:15
10Jason Holder01:12:55

Top Women

1Salome Kosgei01:15:51
2Valentine Kibet01:16:26
3Lesley Higgins01:20:07
4Bridie McCarey01:21:06
5Leigh Sharek01:22:25
6Lisa Raske01:23:36
7Michelle Rafferty01:25:33
8Theresa McCabe01:26:04
9Kendall Lyons01:26:05
10Emily Santeler01:27:50
Jim Diego, singer of today's anthem. He's also scheduled to
sing before next month's New York Marathon. Great job, Jim!
As the concert was wrapping up and all the runners were leaving the park, I still had not connected with a local reporter for a scheduled interview. Jim and I had a 3:00 flight out of JFK--and we had to be out of the hotel by 11:00am--so we had to improvise a new plan. Jim took off back to the hotel (he walked the 2.5 miles after just running 13) and packed up for both of us, checked out, then tried to make it back to the park with the car. Meanwhile, I helped guide the reporter through the maze of the park via phone. Eventually she made it--by about noon--and she caught her breath and then got our Get Back UP Today message out to her viewers.
Thank you, Katie, for helping us spread awareness in the NYC area!

Jim was able to make it back just as Katie was starting the interview. When we were done we had to race back to the car and then right to the airport. Luckily Jim was able to park about a mile away so it was a quick jog back to the rental car.

Next to where Jim parked I spotted a bumper sticker with a poignant message...

It's faded, but it does say "I (Heart) Sweden"...and since my awesome braces are made in
Sweden, I heart Sweden too!

We were pulling out of Prospect Park towards the airport at 1pm.
I changed in the car on the way to the airport and we managed to return the
car, check our bags and get through security just as our flight
was boarding. This was a close one! (And no, I didn't shower after the race.)

The Brooklyn Medal (and bottle opener)...

Beast of the East Heavy Medal...of which I did
all four events: Philly, VaBeach, DC and Brooklyn.

...and the Headliner Heavy Medal.

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