I always enjoy running races in my home borough of Brooklyn, so I was super excited for the Brooklyn Half Marathon presented by New Balance. I have run this race several times now, and it has gone through many course and field size changes. When I heard this year it would be sponsored by New Balance, I knew it would be a big deal and have an enhanced race experience. They increased the field size to a whopping 25,000 people, and every runner would receive a New Balance tech shirt and finisher medal. The biggest change of all was the addition of the Brooklyn Half Pre-Party, a bib pick-up event with a festive atmosphere and even a beer garden!
The Pre-Party was in an awesome space called the Tobacco Warehouse right under the Brooklyn Bridge in the DUMBO neighborhood. New Balance was selling cool gear like biker-type Brooklyn Hats, track jackets and more. There was a DJ, Instagram photo booth, local merchants selling food, and a beer garden. The weather was perfect and there were even fireworks over the Brooklyn Bridge! I really enjoyed seeing my friends and teammates.
Fast forward to race day, Saturday, 5/18. I got up early and ran about a mile from my home to the start line near the Brooklyn Museum of Art. It was awesome not to have to rely on public transit that day (especially because the trains are mostly messed up on weekends), and just use my own two legs! I saw my friend Wams at the start line, as well as teammates JWah, Ellen, Henry and Maggie.
The air was cool and crisp, and I was excited about running on my home turf.
I also knew that Shane and I were looking forward to attending the GoogaMooga food festival together after the race, so that was a bonus perk post-race.
The race went off, and I started running at a fast clip. I think the first two miles I was running at 8:20 pace, since I was pacing with another Dashing Whippets team member. I saw some friends cheering at Grand Army Plaza and that added fuel to my fire!
The first loop of Prospect Park was fine, then came the dreaded “Alphabet Avenues” down Ocean Parkway, a 5-mile straightaway that basically went from Ave A to Ave X. I ran my PR at the 2011 Brooklyn Half, and I realized that I was on pace to break my PR, or at least come close.
My legs were hurting, but I wanted to push hard and finish strong on the boardwalk. I ran it in for 1:52:29. It was a PR by 5 seconds! I was ecstatic.
I met Shane at the finish line and also saw my friends Rick, Lauren and Ben. The family reunion area was a bit of a walk from the finish line, and unfortunately my craving for a Nathan’s hot dog and smoothie went unsatisfied. I heard Nathan’s was closed due to a kitchen fire, and my favorite stand, Denny’s Ice Cream, was closed in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Unfortunately, many businesses were closed or still hurting months later. Shane and I settled for some Dunkin’ Donuts treats and headed to Prospect Park for the GoogaMooga food festival.
The Great GoogaMooga
Thanks to my sister, I was able to get a pair of tickets to the Saturday GoogaMooga festival. I entered the lottery for tickets, but wasn’t one of the winners. Glad it still worked out!
This year, it was a three-day festival and last year, it was only two days. Last year, the GoogaMooga had an inauspicious start due to long lines for food, heat, and long lines for alcohol tickets the first day. I went on the second day and volunteered, and I had a great time. I remember having a softshell crab sandwich from Vinegar Hill House and a “Bee Sting” (chili oil and basil) pizza from Roberta’s, and those were my two favorite dishes.
We got in through the gates around noon without any lines or hassle, and we headed to the Lexus tent for a photo opp and some free GoogaMooga trading cards. Those were pretty neat–the cards had chef’s bios on them and a sticker, like an old-fashioned bubblegum prize pack.
Shane and I met up with my friend Susan and we started visiting the booths.
Here’s what we tried:
1) Brooklyn Soda Works: raspberry basil soda–pretty good.
2) Roberta’s pizza: pepperoni personal pizza–very good, crust was thin and perfectly crispy
3) The Lobster Place: half a lobster. Good and cheap, was served with melted butter
4) M. Wells Dinette: Oysters bolognese with grated white truffle–this was the star of the show and the best dish we had! It was a delicious take on the oyster and the truffle added a richness to it
5) Joe Coffee–cold brew, best coffee ever
6) Bromberg Bros/Blue Ribbon: fried chicken–it was ok, the chicken was a bit dry
7) Mother-in-Law’s Kimchi: soba noodles with kimchi–I liked this
8) Umami Burger: The other star of the show–I had the truffle burger and it was so good! The bun was fluffy, meat was perfectly cooked
9) Melt Bakery: Snickerdoodle ice cream sandwich–this was excellent, tasted cinnamony goodness
10) Baked: brownie–was amazing, very rich
We also indulged in the wine tent–$20 worth of tasting tickets was more than enough. A lot of bartenders were generous with their pours. Overall, even with a little bit of drizzle/rain, the festival was awesome, and the tastings were reasonable from $8 to $12 a plate. The organizers took feedback to heart and organized the booths to minimize waiting (only the Umami burger required a 10-minute wait, there were no lines for anything else). Sadly, Day 3 was cancelled due to terrible weather, so many of my friends didn’t get to go. Hopefully, the festival will be back on next year! It was a fulfilling day of Brooklyn goodness–race + food festival equals a happy runner!