T-2 Weeks to the Brooklyn Half Marathon

I’m suddenly realizing just how fast of a turnaround it’s been between the Jersey City Marathon and the Brooklyn Half Marathon.

I’ve recovered well after racing Jersey City – but it’s only been a couple of weeks.

At the start of this week, I’ll have less than two weeks to go to the Brooklyn Half. And by the end of the week, I’ll be able to start scoping out the weather forecast for race day.

Things have been going well, recovery wise. I’m feeling good. But my attempts at workouts and faster running have me a little worried that I need more time.

Unfortunately, there is no more time. So I’ll just have to go out and do the best that I can – and hope it’s enough.

The Plan for This Week

With three weeks of recovery behind me, this week is the closest things to a regular week of training that I’ll have before the upcoming race.

Last week, I got back up to 60 miles. I’m going to hang there. But last week, I didn’t have a full long run nor did I do a solid workout. This week, I’ll attempt both of those.

Here’s the plan:

  • Sunday: 16 mile long run, starting easy and progressing towards half marathon pace
  • Monday: Easy six mile trail run
  • Tuesday: Easy six mile trail run
  • Wednesday: Easy eight miles with strides
  • Thursday: 10 miles, with an I workout
  • Friday: Easy six mile trail run
  • Saturday: Easy eight miles

And here’s how things actually turned out.

Sunday’s Progression Long Run

My plan for Sunday was to start out at an easy pace, and over the last five or six miles progress down towards race pace. I was kind of playing it by ear, anticipating speeding up somewhere around mile 10-12.

There was rain in the forecast Sunday, but when I woke up it hadn’t started yet. It was cool and overcast. Decent running weather – but the rain was threatening to start at any minute.

I got going a little late. It was almost 9am when I got started. Needed to hit the snooze button a couple times … but once I got going, I felt great.

From the get go, I felt loose and quick. I ran out down the closed road through the Reservation, looped through downtown Millburn, and came back up. That long loop puts me back at the Reservoir at around mile 9.

I wore my armband water flask, and took a little sip of water every two miles. It wasn’t warm, and really I brought it so that I could wash down a single gel in the second half of the run – just like I will during the race.

The rain held off for a bit, but it started to mist around the halfway point. By the time I got back to the Reservoir, there was a steady, light mist. I got damp, but it wasn’t heavy enough to be all that uncomfortable.

As I got closer to the Reservoir, I realized there was some kind of event going on. I wasn’t sure if it was a race or something else. When I turned into the park, I ran by the pavilion and there was a large group of people huddled under the roof listening to a speaker. It was some kind of event for an Alzheimer’s related non-profit. I hoped I could finish up before they flooded into the path.

I ate my gel, took a swig of water, and kept going at an easy pace until I hit the 10 mile mark. I looked down at my watch – 1:24:15. Nice. Typically, the first ten miles on a steady/easy long run take me 1:26 to 1:27. So I was moving along at a good clip.

I picked up the pace slowly. For the next mile, I opened up my stride and sped up – but my breathing was still pretty easy and controlled. Lap split: 7:42. So far, so good.

Over the next mile, I sped up again. By now, my breathing was a little labored … but it still didn’t feel like I was running “hard.” Lap split: 7:17. Getting there.

Towards the end of that mile, I was on the opposite side of the Reservoir loop from the pavilion. I heard the group start their walk, and they moved out onto the path. When they started, I was about a mile from them – so I was hoping they’d have time to spread out along the path before I caught up.

I sped up again in the next mile, and I was starting to feel like I was really working. I looked down at my watch once, and I saw 6:30 or 6:40 as the pace. But I wasn’t too focused on the pace, I was still kind of running by feel. Things were going great, until I caught up to the walkers. At first they were kind of spread out, and then I hit a few clumps that were taking up the entire path.

I slowed down a little to weave in between them, and I eventually made it through the thickest part. When my watch buzzed, I saw the lap split was 6:50. I was probably going faster than that for part of the lap – but I certainly gave up some time trying to navigate the crowd.

I was hoping to do two more miles at a hard effort and then ease up for the final mile as a cool down. But towards the end of that next mile, I wasn’t feeling it. My legs were feeling a little heavy, and I just didn’t seem to be able to hold the pace any longer. My split for that lap was 6:53.

I tried to push on through the next mile, but within a hundred meters or so I knew I wasn’t going to be able to speed up significantly. It had been a good workout – so rather than push too hard, I decided to bail and jog it in. I took the last two miles nice and easy – ~8:30-8:45/mi pace.

On the one hand, this was a solid long run and workout. My pace during the easy portion had been great. But when I tried to press down to race pace, I couldn’t quite get there. Those four miles of progression were a good workout, but they aren’t quite the confidence builder I was hoping for.

Monday: Recovering on the Trails

I woke up Monday feeling stiff. When I rolled out of bed, I thought, “Oh yeah, that’s the feeling I’ve been missing.” Haven’t really felt this stiff and a little sore since my race.

Over the weekend, my wife’s car wouldn’t start. That threw a wrench in my morning routine, because I had to drop her off at work. But things worked out well enough that I had just enough time to drop her off, get back home, leave straight for my run, and then head out for an in person meeting.

When I started my run, the first bit was slow. It took a mile for me to loosen up, but that’s typical for the day after a solid long run. Once I hit the turnaround and came back, I started to pick up the pace a little bit. The last two miles were around 9:00/mi and they felt great.

Tuesday: More Easy Trail Miles

Tuesday was a more leisurely day. My wife’s car still wasn’t working, but her friend picked her up and took her to work with her. I had nothing pressing in the morning, so I could afford to sleep in a little and get a little extra rest.

Eventually, I woke up. Felt pretty good – the stiffness from the previous day was gone. I laced up my shoes and hit the trails. I warmed up quicker today, and the first mile wasn’t quite as slow. After the turnaround point, I was really zipping on the way home. I hit 8:40 for one of the splits.

My overall time for the morning: 55:14. That’s the fastest I’ve covered that six miles since the marathon. So that’s a good sign that my long run on Sunday wasn’t too hard.

A Soggy, Rainy, Wednesday

Wednesday morning, I was supposed to run eight miles before heading to the office.

I was expecting light rain in the morning. But when I got up to get dressed, I looked out the window and it was pouring. Raining cats and dogs, lightning and thunder, pouring.

Umm … yeah. No. Not going out in that.

I grabbed my laptop and headed downstairs to the treadmill. I just jogged an easy eight-ish miles while I caught up on a couple episodes of Clone Wars. I haven’t been on the treadmill since before the marathon – so it was nice to switch things up and enjoy a little TV.

The run felt good, and after an hour and ten minutes I wrapped things up. Took a shower and off to work.

Thursday’s I Workout

Thursday morning, I planned on running my only solid workout of this time period – a ten mile workout with 7×3 minutes at I (5k) pace.

I wasn’t keyed in on the pace too much, and my goal was really to just run by feel and keep it even. I programmed 5:55 to 6:20 into my watch. Ideally, I’d be able to do this in 6:00-6:05/mi pace, but 6:10-6:15/mi would be acceptable.

The weather was a little warm. It was in the low 60’s, and the sun was up. In retrospect, I definitely should have brought some water to drink.

I warmed up, and things were going smoothy enough. Two loops of the Reservoir, some strides, and some leg swings. I launched into the first rep – 6:08/mi pace. Breathing was even, and things felt pretty good.

The next rep was a little slower – 6:15/mi – but I was feeling comfortable. I hadn’t gone out too fast, like last week. If anything, I probably held back a little bit too much.

The next two reps were fine, but on the slow slide – 6:23 / 6:19 per mile pace. At times, I’d look at my watch and see 6:10-6:15. But I apparently wasn’t holding that the entire time.

I also noticed I was getting very thirsty. My mouth was dry. Definitely should have brought some water.

I struggled through the final three reps. #5/6 were ok – 6:21/mi. But the final rep, I dropped down to 6:27/mi. Overall pace: 6:19/mi.

Yet another disappointing workout. I should have been able to do this at 6:15/mi easy – and hit at least a few reps at 6:05-6:10.

In part, I think this can be attributed to dehydration. I don’t usually bring water along in the winter, but once spring time rolls around I need to start doing so. An easy run isn’t an issue, but an 80 minute workout is on the cusp.

But it still worries me that I can’t hit paces that I ought to be able to. If I were struggling the rest of the time, I’d think that I’d bounced back too quickly from the marathon and under-recovered. But my easy runs feel great. I’m breezing through runs at faster than usual paces, and my heart rate is under control.

Friday’s Easy Trail Run

I woke up Friday morning, and it was raining. Luckily, I didn’t have to be anywhere in person until the afternoon. So I started work early, got a few things done, and then I hit the trails after the rain let up.

With the foliage fully grown in, the rain didn’t really get down to the forest floor. The trails were damp – evidence of the harder rain earlier in the week – but I stayed quite dry.

I felt a little bit of fatigue from the day before, but overall I felt pretty good. After I warmed up in the first mile, my pace dropped down to 9:30/mi for a couple miles. Towards the end, I was running closer to 9:10-9:15/mi.

A decent pace for a recovery day.

We’re going down to Virginia to see our daughter at her track meet this weekend. So after work, we hopped in the car to head south.

What should have been a four hour drive took closer to six hours. First, we hit some traffic heading out of Jersey. Then, there was a bad accident on I-95 north of Baltimore.

The entire highway was shutdown for a bit to clear the accident. We sat still for about an hour before we finally crawled through a single open lane. We finally got down to the hotel after 11pm – and boy was I happy to move about.

Saturday – Exploring the Rail Trails of Northern Virginia

We’re staying at the Falls Church Marriot Falls View.

It’s a nice hotel. When we checked in, they bumped us up to the top (16th) floor. As Platinum Bonvoy members, we have access to the concierge lounge – including free breakfast. It’s literally a few doors down from our room, which is super convenient.

Nice perks, thanks in large part to my Marriott Bonvoy Chase Credit Card. If you travel a lot, look into getting one.

Instead of making my own coffee in the room, I rolled out of bed and grabbed a fresh cup from the lounge. I looked at the map to scout out where I was going to run.

It turns out there’s a great rail trail here – the Washington and Old Dominion Railroad Regional Park. If I ran about two miles north from the hotel, I’d hit the rail trail. I could then follow that either way for miles.

I walked out of the hotel and hit the road. I wore my FlipBelt and took my phone along, which I typically do now while I’m traveling. It’s a good thing, too, because I got turned around a few times on my way to the rail trail. It looked simple on the map, but it wasn’t.

Part of my route went through a townhouse development, and there was no way through for cars. But at the back of the development, there was a little path (yes, it looked like an actual, traveled trail through the woods) that cuts through to another development. From there, it was a couple more turns to the trail.

About 2 and a quarter miles in, I hit the rail trail and headed west. In the beginning, it runs along the highway. I had a beautiful (/s) view of the Capital Beltway.

After the path crossed the highway, though, the view improved. People’s backyards were on either side of the trail, but there was 50 feet or so of vegetation. It was overgrown with a variety of foliage and flowers on either side.

The weather was beautiful, and there were a lot of other people out on the trails. I passed a few other runners, some people walking, and a pack of bikers. People are very nice down here – lots of verbal greetings as I passed by.

Today was only an easy eight miles, so I turned around fairly quick. On the way back to the hotel, I threw in some strides. The run felt good, and I was averaging 8:00-8:30/mi once I warmed up.

Tomorrow, I’ll be back for a 16 mile long run so I’ll get to explore more of the trail.

Looking Ahead

Next week is the last week before the race. The Brooklyn Half is on Saturday.

I’ll do one last long run tomorrow – 16 miles with a progression towards the end. I’ll do a mini workout on Wednesday with a few 5 minute reps at race pace. And the rest of the week is nice and easy.

I’m not all that confident about the race – given my weak performances on workouts over the last two weeks. But I’ll just cross my fingers and hope for the best.

Hopefully the race atmosphere, my shoes, and a pack of people to run with will help pull me along to my goal. And if not, I’ll just enjoy a beautiful run through Brooklyn. I haven’t done a real half in a while, so even if I don’t hit 1:25, I’m almost guaranteed a PR of some sort.

Check back next week for a race report.

2 thoughts on “T-2 Weeks to the Brooklyn Half Marathon”

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.