It took me 2 hours and 36 minutes to finish Saturday’s Brooklyn Half Marathon, which put me right under a 12-minute mile, but I was proud to join more than 20,000 runners and hundreds of onlookers in celebrating Brooklyn at its very best.  I was in the rear starting blocks in front of the Brooklyn Museum (one of my favorite architectural landmarks in Brooklyn, not to mention an amazing, well-curated collection of world art that you’re missing out on if you’ve never been).  The energy in the starting blocks was buzzing, and I saw a number of Boston hats and t-shirts in the crowd, and it was such a privilege to join in this mass showing of enthusiasm, pride, and strength in who we are both as individuals and together as this amazingly diverse group of people.

We ran from the Brooklyn Museum out and around Grand Army Plaza, where Cheer New York (NYC’s own activist volunteer cheer squad) was out in full force to cheer everyone on.  Musicians came out to play guitar, banjo, mandolin, and drums for us along the way, and even Cookie Monster and a giant chicken were out xylophoning for us next to a water station.  We ran the loop in Prospect Park, where historical markers note that some two hundred years ago, an early battle in the American war for independence was fought here.   The  hills hurt, but the exertion was simply a point of pride, a celebration of all that I’m able to endure and accomplish as an individual, as well as this beautiful moment in our history where we can come together to run in Brooklyn while so much of the world is yet in so much turmoil.  It’s an incredible thing if you think about it–and I did think about this and so much more over 13 miles.

The long stretch down Ocean Parkway was dotted with cheering onlookers, men in prayer shawls with their families coming from Shabbat services, and medical tents offering a respite for those who were struggling out on the course.  My final three miles felt like they lasted forever, but after the turn onto Surf Avenue at Coney Island, the energy started buzzing again.  The Cyclone–the wooden rollercoaster that has been a Coney Island institution since the 1920s–was clattering with cars of screaming riders, and the rides at Luna Park were all in operation and full of people, which was an astonishing recovery since Superstorm Sandy’s devastating impact on Coney Island just seven months ago.  I might’ve cried, but it was far too exciting to run up to the boardwalk and finally make it across the finish line.  A great day, and a great way to celebrate the best borough of the greatest city in the world!

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