My seventh race was the Take Your Base 5-Miler, presented by NYCRuns, the American Heart Association, and the Brooklyn Cyclones, on June 30, 2012. This race was exactly one week after the first-and-only-other 5 mile race that I had run, the Front Runners Lesbian and Gay Pride Run. The race took place in Brooklyn, along the Coney Island boardwalk. I was reeeeally excited about this, because not only was I going to have the opportunity to run the entire stretch of the world-renowned Coney Island boardwalk, but the last stretch of the race was around the baseball field of MCU Park, which is where the Mets Farm Team, the Brooklyn Cyclones, play! How cool is that?!
Take Your Base!
The proceeds from the race benefited the American Cancer Society. There were 800 runners in the race, and over $20,000 was raised for the ACS through the Take Your Base 5-Miler, which is awesome [many runners chose to fundraise in addition to paying their registration fee]. I’ve participated in and have fundraised for Relay for Life since 2009, which also benefits the American Cancer Society, so I was pumped to participate in another fitness-related event that supported the organization.
Brooklyn Fights Cancer!
I picked up my race materials the Thursday before the race. Packet pickup was being held at a running store in Park Slope that I frequent. That night, I was meeting up with a new friend, Megan, that I had met through the power of the interwebs, to discuss the ins and outs of a New York City based queer running group called Front Runners [which is the organization that hosted both the Brooklyn Pride Run and the Front Runners Lesbian and Gay Pride Run]. I had been seriously considering joining based on the encouragement [/harassment] of a few coworkers, and wanted to learn more about what I would be in for when I was ready to take the plunge. It turns out, she was running the race, too! We planned to meet in the Park Slope area of Brooklyn so that it would be convenient for me to pick up my race stuff before we met up. The race registration fee included a Brooklyn Cyclones jersey [they ran out of appropriately sized shirts, so I got a bigger one and gave it to my grandfather] and a ticket to a Cyclones game the night of the race [which I ended up skipping out on, but more about that later].
I was a liiiiiiittle grumpy the morning of the race. I didn’t sleep well, because the people that live below me were blasting music until 4:00AM in the outdoor courtyard behind my apartment. I asked them super politely to turn it down, and may or may not have called 311 after they didn’t, in an effort to get it under wraps, with no luck. The whole situation was extremely frustrating, because I’ve lived in my apartment for over two years, and this was the only time in which anyone had made as much as a peep post-10:00PM! I ended up closing my windows to muffle some of the sound, which transformed my apartment into a sauna. It was bad news bears. When my alarm went off at 5:30AM, I was tired, grumpy, and stressed out.
…thankfully, the trip down to Coney Island went smoothly. It took just over an hour to get there. My friend Amy, who was also running the race [and who ran part of the Front Runners Lesbian and Gay Pride Run with me], spent the night at my place to get a head start to the trek to Southern Brooklyn. It was a nice change to have company during my commute to a race, as up ’til this point I’ve always made the trip alone. Shortly after we arrived at the Stadium, this photo happened:
We made our way over to the starting line, and my face was dripping in sweat just from standing around waiting to start. It was HOT. I’m talking, like, 90 degree hot. The sun was beating down on all of us like it was nobody’s business. Everyone at the start was joking about hot it was, which was fun, and somehow seemed to make the heat more tolerable. I really enjoy the camaraderie that runners have with one another. I love being a part of that, which is an awesome unexpected unintended consequence of starting and being on this journey. It has since become one of my favorite things about running — being a runner.
After what seemed like forever, the gun [actually, it was more like a bullhorn] went off and it was time to go. The course started on Surf Avenue, outside of the Coney Island Boardwalk, and after about a quarter of a mile of running, we were dumped onto the Boardwalk via one of the main entrances. Amy and I ran the first 2 miles together, and, as we were running, I kept trying to remember why I was so freakin’ excited to run on the Boardwalk. I clearly did not think this through!
At the start.
The Boardwalk is a VERY. DANGEROUS. PLACE. The planks of the boardwalk are old and deteriorated. Some pieces of the wood are completely missing. There are nails popping up everywhere. Shit is uneven. It seems that every summer, Coney Island USA is in danger of shutting down, so there’s no money available to fix ‘er up. In the first half mile stretch of the Boardwalk, we saw two people fall, and at least another half dozen people trip and catch their footing before they fell, too. After seeing folks that appeared to be much more fit and agile than me fall, I became very nervous that I would fall, too. Up until that point, I had yet to sustain any running-related injuries [and, thankfully, the same holds true today], and I plan[ned] on keeping it that way. I ran very cautiously, being sure to look down at the ground where my feet were landing to protect myself. This, between the intensity of the sun beating down on my face, made this run, honestly, kind of miserable.
Around mile 2, I had to pee. BAD. This was a good excuse to split off from Amy, because it was getting increasingly harder for me to keep up with her pace. I stopped by the men’s room located in the center of Coney Island Beach, did my thang, splashed A LOT of cold water on my face, and headed back out to join the crowd. I couldn’t believe how hot it was.
Eventually, the Boardwalk of Coney Island becomes less like a boardwalk and more like actual ground, which was news to me since I had never actually made it down that far down the Boardwalk before! I started to feel a little better about my life at that point, since I didn’t have to worry too much about falling face down on the Boardwalk and scuffing up my pretty mug. At the end of the Boardwalk, we turned around to run the same route in reverse to make the trek back towards the Stadium. This was a relief not only because I knew that I must be more than halfway there, but also because the little breeze that there was was hitting me in the face, rather than [barely] caressing my back.
Have I mentioned how incredibly HOT it was? I wasn’t exaggerating in the least when I said that it was over 90 degrees…it really was! It’s hard to explain how I was feeling during the run. I was having a really good time, and, of course, was so happy to be running, but I was simulatenously feeling pretty miserable. My chest felt like it was going to cave in from the humidity. I had never really felt that sensation before, and it kind of freaked me out. I stopped twice during the race to walk [not counting my potty pit-stop], which bummed me out a bit because I thought I was past that part in my journey, but I cut myself some slack given the circumstances.
Some photos from running the Boardwalk:
Mural outside the New York Aquarium.
Mural outside the New York Aquarium.
I was elated when I saw the exit of the Boardwalk that would lead me to the finish! As I made the turn off of the Boardwalk en route to the Stadium, I heard/saw an ambulance in action, which made my heart beat a little faster. Towards the end of races, I always find myself reflecting on how fortunate I am for my health, how incredibly grateful I am for being able to reach my goals in this way, how proud I am for where I am now, etc., but the sights and sounds of the ambulance put those feelings into overdrive.
The end is in sight! View of stadium lights from the Boardwalk.
Running the last stretch of the race on the field was a pretty cool experience. I had envisioned that we were going to be running along the inner part of the field, by where the bases are, but the course took us outside the perimeter of the entire field, just inside the boards in the back of the outfield. I snapped a few pictures while on the field making my way to the finish:
I love the lawn designs on baseball outfields!
Iconic structure on the boardwalk via the field.
After I crossed the finish, I went on a hunt to find Amy. I found her at the top of the stadium, waiting in line for water [...the post-race amenities were an absolute mess], and joined her. I needed water…BAD. And, so did everyone else. I was complaining a whole lot because of how potentially dangerous it was to keep people that just ran 5 miles in 90+ degree weather waiting for water! Thankfully, after about TEN MINUTES of waiting, we finally got some. I grabbed a banana and an apple, she grabbed hot dog, and we headed over to the stands to chill out and watch the awards ceremony.
We had planned to spend the whole day on Coney Island so that we could go to the Cyclones game that night, but we didn’t end up making it! After spending a few hours on the beach, having lunch at an awful pub just outside the boardwalk on Surf Avenue, and being in the heat all day, we were done with all-things Coney Island by 2:00PM, and opted to head home instead of staying for the game. Which, in all honesty, was probably for the best, seeing that I was running the Queens 10K the next morning [more about that soon]!
Post-race, pre-bathing suit!
A few days after the race, I received this E-mail from NYCRuns:
HA! That isn’t right…
The next day, I received this E-mail:
I know better than anyone that math is hard!
Yes, that sounds more like it…
Take Your Base was a personal worst for me in terms of time [and probably in terms of a few other things, too], but, nonetheless, it was a good experience, and another notch on my runner’s belt. Until next time!