Royal Race Report: Danielle Raso on the 2018 Brooklyn Half Marathon

While many stayed dry at home watching the royal wedding, 66 of us royals celebrated by running a half marathon in the rain. We may have spent most of the week dreading the rain, but it turns out quite a few of us did quite well with the terrible weather. Congrats to at least 10 of us who PRed through the storm, including Kelsey, Nicole, Liz (both M. and C.), Yael, Diane, Michael O., Jaimie, Anna B. and me.

Pre-Race: Tips for Running in the Rain

I developed a strong fear of racing in the rain from the 2017 Staten Island Half Marathon, which featured a complete downpour for the first hour and left me with blistered toes, an aching hamstring, shorted out headphones, and chafe lines everywhere. So after a week of refreshing the weather every 5 minutes, I figured out a couple of fixes that made my life a LOT better this time around:

    1. Keep your feet as dry as possible: By far the most miserable part of Staten Island was feeling the lining of my shoes and my soaked cotton socks sloshing around with every step. I put a change of socks in a ziplock bag in my pockets for the start line and changed in the corral. I was also VERY careful about puddles. Shout out to Priti, who ingeniously covered her shoes in clear plastic race bags!
    2. Keep the rain out of your eyes: Anna Raisch and I could be spotted starting this race in our matching team champs running caps:). I felt a little ridiculous in it, but didn’t have any rain in my eyes. So in summary, WORTH IT.
    3. Wear a poncho: Many people wore garbage bags at this race, especially in the beginning. I bought a packable plastic poncho, which was made out of such a light and breezy plastic that I didn’t get hot at all. I ran all 13 miles in the poncho and finished with a dry-ish torso. I also felt ridiculous in this, but my equally silly hat kept the hood in place.
    4. Wireless headphones: Though headphone running is discouraged by many, I would be lost without headphones. I know that for a fact because my waterlogged earbuds shorted out during a particularly heavy burst of precipitation at the beginning of the Staten Island Half. I would recommend water resistant headphones that are wireless, since the wires would be annoying with a poncho. Plus, Cardi B’s new album is 100% the only reason I finished this race happy.
    5. Synthetic Materials: I generally don’t feel that technical shirts and socks are necessary, but they make a huge difference in the rain. Cotton makes you feel wetter and colder, whereas technical materials don’t hold water against your skin.
    6. Check dry clothes: Checking a bag doesn’t always seem worth it when you’re so close to home, but for this race, dry clothes made lunch and the commute back a lot better. It was pouring even harder when we finished, so a warm jacket was very helpful.
During the race:

This race starts the way many CHRC training runs start–on Eastern Parkway. We begin by zigzagging back and forth from Grand Army Plaza, finally entering Prospect Park from the south end. Some people hate out-and-back parts of races, but I personally love getting to see other (faster) runners. Prospect Park’s greenery provided a welcome canopy to cover us from the rain and was a comfortable part of the race because of its familiarity. The hill at mile 5 is actually a rather steep hill, but it feels easy because we have all run up it hundreds of times. Once you’re out of the park, you’ve already run over half the race!

The run down Ocean Parkway can be a bit monotonous in scenery, but makes up for it by being incredibly flat. CHRC’s cheer station was located near mile 11, which was perfect motivation to keep moving quickly. CHRC’s cheering bananas braved the rain and kindly waited to offer even those of us who were in the back of the pack some banana hugs.

After passing CHRC, I was struggling to keep up my pace–a whole minute-per-mile faster than my previous PR. My sister was on the fence about coming to cheer me on from New Jersey, and had texted me before I started, telling me she wasn’t going to come because of the rain. I had missed several calls from her during the race because all of my electronics were far too wet to be working well. Much to my surprise, my sister showed up somewhere before mile 12 and ran the rest of the race with me from the sidelines in her rain boots and long parka! She kept me going strong to the end and held onto some of my soaked clothing that was weighing me down. Never underestimate a good last mile pacer!

After the Race:

Some went to get pizza together, a CHRC annual tradition. I got lunch with Anna, another CHRC wave 2 finisher, and met a contingency of our club for a drier and more rested post-race celebration later that evening.

My final post-race move was going home and buying the remaining NYRR races so that I can qualify for the NYC Marathon next year. Just a year ago, I was seriously doubting that I could run Brooklyn, my first half marathon. Even three half marathons in, I never thought I would want to run a whole marathon, let alone actually be able to. That’s the upside, the beauty of running in terrible conditions.

If I could do this and still finish happily, with a 13-minute PR, then I knew I probably could run a marathon. Whether you had a great time last weekend or this race totally sucked for you, I hope you walked away with a similar sense of accomplishment!