13 miles in Brooklyn: Passion and Pride

this goes here:

Goddamn, I love that song. 

 

I am a firm believer that people don’t change. They mask what they are, but they don’t change. Brooklyn hasn’t changed either, nor have Brooklynites. 

I’ve always been a straight shooter. I don’t believe in sugar coating things. It’s not my way, nor is it the way of my home, my borough, my people. 

Brooklyn, though it’s now trendy to associate it with Hipster facades, isn’t that. Nor was it the dystopian shithole it was made out to be in the spike lee joints of the late 80’s and early 90’s (Crooklyn, anyone?).

Brooklyn IS everyone. It’s complex. It’s simple. It’s everything to everyone. I could wax poetic about my home for days, weeks, months. I was born here. I’ll die here.  As the warrior poet Taz once remarked “Brooklyn Born, Brooklyn Bred and lord willing one day Brooklyn Dead.” 

That’s the ‘Borough that’s thorough’ in a nutshell. There’s a civic pride here unlike anywhere else. You may not understand it, but you aren’t supposed to. Does the crowd of your local sports team just sing song the name of the locale they play in for the duration of the game? This is where you say #Brrrrrrrroooooooooookkklllyyynnnnnnn.

I’m a runner, I’m a Brooklynite. 

Thus, this race, the Brooklyn Half, spoke to me. My buddy BestWorst had helped me build my distance up to where I was not actually sweating a Half Marathon distance. 

It was amazing to see 25k+ participants in the blocks for a half marathon. This was easily the largest race I’d ever partaken in. It stretched from the perimeter of Prospect Park to the boardwalk of Coney Island.

It was phenomenal to enter the corral repping the colors of Front Runners New York and talk with a bunch of those folks and feel a kinship with NY’s only LGBT running group. 

speaking of kinship: I’ve determined BestWorst and I may have been seperated at birth. 

 

In the 2 hours, 53 minutes and 13 seconds it took me to traverse the course, I had a lot of time to think about various things.

Firstly, I reflected on friendship. BestWorst (who was also running this race) and Kat (who wasnt because she had other race and grown up obligations) essentially saved my life. I am forever in their debt. They took an unmotivated schlub and brought me back into the land of the living, reinvigorating my natural passions for hockey and softball by supplementing them with passions for stuff I swore I’d never care about: excercise and running. 

BestWorst took this weekend as an opportunity to remind me of every promise I’d defiantly made to her and since broken: “I’ll never join a gym, that’s stupid.” “I’ll never run a half marathon, that’s stupid.” Seeing her reaction to actively doing both with me was pretty wild. She reveled in it, frankly.

The leg strength has been the biggest source of my running heading in the right direction. The Arm strength is pretty much for vanity (and softball, which is a mere 3 weeks away!). But those were the first two muscle groups i targeted. I should have started with the core as BOTH my mentors told me, but im a buffoon and have the listening skills of roadkill. 

Anyhow, this leg strength kept me painfree for the duration of the race. i need to build my stamina to take a crack at a sub 2:30 half, but I think I can, and if Thomas the Tank Engine taught me nothing else, belief is the first and hardest step.

I thought about how far these friendships brought me. It was a year ago this month I ‘ran’ my first 5k. It was putrid, painful and I sucked. Now? I’m reasonably certain I can get under 35 minutes for a 5k. That may not sound like much to you, but it means the world to me. In addition to seeing times go down, I’ve seen my distance go up. I can now comfortably handle a half marathon and will before the year is out, tackle my first marathon. This is because I believe in me and what I can do, that’s what every step is built on. That improved self worth and faith doesn’t happen however, without a bedrock of belief from others. These two ladies, Kat the HockeyMom and BestWorst both believed in me when I didn’t want to. I was doing this whole running thing to get better at sports I care about. Now it’s the sport I care the most about (granted, talk to me in 3 weeks when I’m on the rubber and yelling about a strike call i wanted). That belief was a trust, in what they saw being something better. And I’m not at the end of the road yet, because, and this was a hell of a revelation: There’s always another mile to add on to the journey. It doesnt have an endpoint. All you need is a starting point. I had mine, with a friendly push out the door.

 

The second thought that came to me, around mile 8 or so was HOME. The realization that I would pass my house around mile 11. The Brooklyn-ness of the entire ordeal was amazing. The omnipresent Brooklyn Dodger hats. The attitude. The old adage about home never leaving your heart was coursing through my veins. This was magical to me. It also brought things oddly full circle to me, as I ran past the prk i worked in for eons, then my house, then my gym, and ended exactly where that first 5k had a year ago. How far I’ve come… and how far I still have to go.

 

Brooklyn will never, ever be what they say it is. It will always be my home. it’s why i am who i am. everything about this weekend recharged me. The friendship, the fun, the food. Brooklyn is part of New York City, yes, but Brooklyn doesn’t survive because of that. New York does. New York’s heart may be Manhattan and that’s great for them. But Brooklyn is her legs. And the legs feed the beast. 

 

Brooklyn, I love you.

 

PS: BestWorst is my hero and i love her.