It all started with a friend’s birthday request: “l”Let’s run a race instead of going out. I found a half marathon in Bay Ridge with a MEDAL on my birthday. Let’s do it.”
The first to sign up was Scott. He had gotten an injury two years ago that sidelined his fitness goals. Finally feeling confident enough to start running again, he was looking wanted a half to train for. Next was Nicole, Brenda (the birthday girl) and Shari. There was a great group signed up and we started training.
December races are difficult to train for. There’s a high possibility of inclement weather, multiple holidays and holiday parties to contend with, and sometimes training isn’t able to be your first priority. Also, the cold weather seems to be the perfect catalyst for injury. Due to all of the above, only Scott and I were able to run the race.
We knew it would be a smaller race that was held along the water, but that’s the only thing we really knew. We picked up our bibs the morning of the race, so we got there early. We should have brought coats and hand warmers because it was FREEZING on the pier. The wind cut right through you and almost everyone’s feet and fingers were numb by the time we started.
Everyone was huddled under an overpass trying to stay warm or staying in line for the portapotties. Everyone was in great spirits and there were even spectators!! They called for all runners to line up in front of the start line (which was marked as the finish so that was slightly confusing). There were no defined start groups, so we were all huddled together (also for warmth). Their performer of the national anthem didn’t show up, so the runners, along with the emcee, sang it together. While I feel bad that they had a no-show it was kind of a special moment to be on the veteran memorial pier singing together. We happily started with a sound of the air horn and we were off.
Including the Holiday Half, I’ve run 16 half marathons since 2010. Each had their own purpose and goals. A wise person told me that you can’t PR in every race, sometimes you should just race to enjoy the feeling of racing. So, Scott and I decided to run together. It was his first race back and our first as a married couple, so I wanted it to the be first half we ran together. He wanted to either run the whole thing or finish under 2:30. We took a few walk breaks, but we finished strong with a time of 2:27:07.
Race price: 5: $40 for a half marathon? That’s unheard of.
Race Organization: 4: there weren’t any signs on the course to dictate where your path should head, more on this later, but we knew when and where packet pick ups were, received reminder emails the week of the race and were easily made aware of the race start. It’s almost everything you could ask for.
Level of Communication from race organizers: 4: just a registration confirmation email, reminder email the week of with bib packet information and clear directions on race day.
Race course: 2.5: it was advertised as fast and flat with two out and backs and great views. They didn’t over exaggerate about the views but flat courses can be killer on your legs. I kept running sideways and backwards to wake other parts of my muscles up, but my calves, ankles and feet still were sore as all get out by the time we finished. Also, there were no mile markers along the course, but some were spray painted on the concrete. It was clear that this was not the only race to do that. There were multiple markers for the same destination; I think I saw three 1 mile markers. Also, there was a fork around overpass stairway and we weren’t sure to go around or through. In addition, the entire back of the out-and-back was three-ish miles into some of the coldest wind I’ve ever run into. It was so cold I had to put my jacket back on and I am a notorious overheater.
Swag (in the race packet): 3: we were given XL reusable tote and an extra cotton shirt.
T-shirt: 4: a short sleeve charcoal shirt with a fantastic logo. (Excuse my breakfast in the photo. It was the only thing handy to keep the shirt from flying off the table due to the wind)
Medal: 5: THIS MEDAL IS GORGEOUS! Even the ribbon is perfect.
Spectator Support: 4: There were less than 500 runners, along the windy water, in DECEMBER. You can’t expect spectators in these conditions and there were almost no one out there, but the ones that were there put their heart into cheering on the runners. My favorite was a 4-5 year old girl cheering on a bench along the course. I high fived her and she acted like it was the coolest thing in the world that’s happened to her.
Post race swag: 4: Bagel, water, bananas, potato chips (a new one for me, but I understand replenishing the salt in your system) and a discount to a local restaurant.