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A Runner’s Diary: A Race In Brooklyn

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If a tree grows in Brooklyn, well, a race and the recent Jingle Bell Jog in Prospect Park, Brooklyn proved it!

The Jingle Bell Jog was the first race that I had been to that was hosted by the New York Road Runners (NYRR). And you know what? It was the best event yet!

Prior to the race, I went into the city to pick up my number and the t-shirt. I picked it up at the NYRR headquarters on 89th between Madison and Fifth in Manhattan. I was so impressed with the operation. It was so well organized and well thought out. Numbers were upstairs and the t-shirts were downstairs. The t-shirts were dry fit long sleeve running shirts. This was the first “free” shirt I actually liked. The t-shirts are usually cotton that shrink in the wash and could be thrown away after two or three washings. I was also given bells to put on my sneakers.

The day of the race, I was nervous and scared. I didn’t want to hurt my shins more from running. I wasn’t listening to my orthopedist’s advice. I also didn’t listen to my trainer. I had to run this race to get back on track for the half marathon in Disney.

I picked up my running partner Marti at 7:00 am and we drove to Brooklyn. An hour later, we were looking for a spot.

Prospect Park was beautiful. It was the first time I had ever been there. As we were walking to the park, we met another runner. She looked at both of us and said, “You need to pull the tab off the bottom of your number. Otherwise, you won’t be cool.” We quickly pulled of the tabs!

Then we entered the park. I laughed when I saw tons of Santas, reindeer, elves, and Christmas trees. There were so many people dressed up. It was funny to see some of these folks running in these huge bulky costumes.

At the start of the race, we were put into “corrals” according to time. I was just glad to see that we weren’t in the last group. I know it doesn’t matter. And I know the point for me is just to do the race and finish it. That is my personal accomplishment. But, you know how it is. There’s a little competitiveness in all of us.

After the Star Spangled Banner, the race officially started. As usual, the first mile was tough. It was uphill. I just couldn’t stop breathing heavy. The air was extremely cold and it actually hurt going down my lungs.

“You’re in panic mode,” my running partner said. “Just calm down.”

I was in panic mode. I was so scared that I would get hurt and that was the last thing I wanted.

At the second mile, I started to relax. Before I knew it, the race was over. The four miles went fast.

At the finish line, the NYRR offered everyone green bagels, apples and a cup of hot chocolate. We took the bagels and started to eat them. Marti was swinging her bagel when suddenly I saw her pull away. “That dog just ate my bagel,” she said.


“Yes, and why is there a dog on a leash at the finish line?” she said.

I gave her half my bagel and we laughed all the way to the car.

By the way, I came in at 49:47 at a pace of 12:29 coming in at 3709th place out of 4103. I was proud of myself. I didn’t come in last and there were plenty of people behind me… This was another personal best!

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About Hilary Topper

  • Birgit Nazarian

    Over here in Ohio my daughter and I ran a Holiday Run last weekend in pouring rain and then drove home in a blizzard! Every year during our holiday race the weather is terrible, the hot chocolate is mediocre but we still have a wonderful time and it’s a fun holiday tradition, plus Garmin says we burned over 500 calories! How many sugar cookies is that? 🙂

  • Hilary Topper

    Thanks for sharing… It’s amazing how much food there is after a race. I was wondering why I’ve been gaining weight instead of losing weight!

  • Lily Zajc

    Congrats on the race. I grew up in Brooklyn and used to go to Prospect Park as a kid – lovely place! I love the apres-race food. My first 5K in Bellport ended at the Beach, where they handed out Haagen-Dasz bars at the finish line! On the other hand, after finishing a race I ran in a downpour in Falmouth, MA, I downed 2 hot dogs with soggy buns in 2 minutes, marveling at how delicious they were to a hungry, drenched runner.