Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Activity Adventures: The Brooklyn Bun, 2012

I want to dedicate this bike, run & blog to my friend Anna - a blog reader and fellow cycle enthusiast who lives across the pond and who I had the pleasure of meeting & biking with on both of her trips to NYC. Happy Birthday, Anna!

This past Sunday I did an event called The Brooklyn Bun. This is a Bike + Run (thus, Bun, get it?) event in Prospect Park. I did this event last year, so I knew what to expect and I was looking forward to it because I remembered how much I enjoyed it last year. The course is simple - 4 full loops in the park on bike and then 1 loop on foot. (Note: A full loop is 3.3 miles, just slightly more than a 5K)

I got up obscenely early like I did for the NYCHalf, which is painful at first. But this strategy is working out great - both times I got ready stress free and was able to take my time getting to the event. It's totally worth waking up in the 4am hour for the luxury of not feeling rushed.

The weather was supposed to get VERY warm in the middle of the day but at 6am when I was leaving, it was only about 50 so I wanted to be covered, but not with anything too heavy. The technical long sleeve event shirt they gave out was perfect for these conditions -

I get up at 4:30 am for these things
I made sure to have a hearty breakfast at home before leaving - coffee with almond milk, a grapefruit, water, and my high fiber vegan pancakes with maple syrup and some vegan Canadian bacon. 

I left the apartment in darkness, riding to Prospect Park on my trusty cruiser -

still dark when I left the house
It was chilly enough for a jacket!
I love riding down Prospect Park West. There are so many beautiful homes-

some of the lovely architecture on Prospect Park West

riding on Prospect Park West with Grand Army Plaza behind me

How pretty is this street? (that's the park on the left)

a castle in Brooklyn
I love this castle!
I entered the park at the loop and was early for a change! That meant I had plenty of time to wander around and get ready for the event. First I found the transition area for my bib number -

hanging out in the transition area
If you're wondering about the transition area, the way it works is like this - for this event, we start off riding our bikes, but when we finish the bike portion of the event, we bring our bikes into our designated area and park. We have to prepare for the run portion of the event, so we also leave behind any items we don't need for the run (like our helmets) and some people change their shoes too, since they have different biking and running shoes.

the "transition" area
inside the transition area
I chatted with a few other cyclists before the start - a handful of them recognized me from other events, bike tours and even the Five Boro brochure last year. One of them said to another "She's famous!" and the other participant said "I know, I've seen her too". haha

Soon enough, we were told to get in line. At that time I consumed the Gu gel pack I brought then made my way to the starting line. I was pretty close to the front -

waiting to start
Only a few people ahead of me at the start
While waiting my turn, I looked to my right and couldn't get over the body on this guy. He looks like a machine, right?!

holy fit dude
dang, dude, you're crazy fit!
Before long, the event had begun!

I started off at a good clip but am always careful to pace myself, not giving too much to soon. I also wasn't sure what to expect from myself energy-wise because I was inexplicably drained the day before. I felt like I was biking in slow motion with Amanda the previous day. That morning, I took it easy on my bike ride to the park to try to conserve what I could. I thought I was doing pretty well. In fact, the first trip up that awful hill by Nellie's Lawn, I was surprised at how well I did.

Of course I was taking photos of myself and whatever else. After I took a self portrait, a guy passed me and said something about me not getting him in my photo. I quickly turned the camera on him and snapped away.

he was like "what, no photo of me?"
Oh, I got you. I'm quick with that camera!
I continued on the beautiful course inside the park...

I like to ride (and run) on painted surfaces and lines. You may have noticed this by now.
This event is different than any other bike event I do all year. All the other events are tours - where you take a relatively leisurely ride through the city. This event is actually considered more of a race. It's the only time I bike in sneakers and make a point to NOT take my time. I don't stop for anything. I really push myself as much as I can.

Though there are actual winners in this event, I don't expect to beat anyone in this race (wait till you read the hilarious results at the end!). For one thing, I obviously do not have a racing bike and to tell you the truth, I don't even enjoy going fast. But there is no reason to be leisurely at this event. Though Prospect Park is beautiful, there is nothing new to see. The event is being timed (as opposed to bike tours which are not) and I actually do want to push myself - so I can get the biggest bang for my buck cardio-wise and to see how I compare to last year or future years. So I did try to give it my all while I was riding.

Before long, one loop was completed and I had started Loop #2 -

Back at Mile 1
This was the 2nd time I passed the water station. The first time I passed them I didn't photograph them but I did ring my bell to get their attention and they all clapped and shouted support. This second time around they saw me coming. Again I rang my bell and they clapped.

2nd time passing the water station
Thanks, water station peeps!
Shortly after finishing my 2nd loop and starting my 3rd one I saw a massive crowd of people running. I thought WTF?! Those are people from the same event I'm doing?! They finished 4 loops in the time I did 2?!?!

It was humbling to say the least...

they're running already?!
You go, fast cyclists!
On my 3rd loop past the water station, the volunteers again saw me coming and got even more excited, clapping and cheering as they saw me approach. I love that!

3rd time passing the water station
me again!
After that water station is the dreaded hill by Nellie's Lawn, then at the top of that hill is an exit out of the park. This woman was standing at that intersection to direct us to stay on the course (left) and not go out of the park (right). I liked her pointing style!

I like her pointing style
She did a great job - very classy!
Before I knew it, my 3rd loop was over and I was about to start the 4th.

Passing the bike finish line for the 3rd time and taking a photo of the guy taking photo
I love biking!

It was my 4th and final bike ride past the water station and they erupted with applause and shouts even earlier. They saw me coming and they were ready! I loved this little cheering section!!

the water station peeps cheered for me every time!
You kids did a great job!
And finally - my last bike ride up that evil hill by Nellie's Lawn

don't wait for me - I'll catch up...
There is a man running in that above photo. You can barely see him, but he's just to the left of the wide white diagonal stripes. I'm pointing him out because he and I started to climb this hill at the same time - him on foot & me on bike. Before long, he flew past me. You can see I'm doing 6 mph here. He was doing 10 at LEAST. I kept thinking "I'm on a bike. He's on foot. I'll catch up to him."

I finally made it to the top of Nellie's hill and he was NOWHERE IN SIGHT! This guy was FLYING!

It wasn't until I made it half way around the loop that I finally saw him, caught up to him, and passed him. I wanted to tell him he was my freaking hero but didn't want to throw him out of his zone, so I said nothing as I passed him.

Then I heard "Hey! Great blog!".

OMG It was crazy fast guy! He knew ME! As I kept biking I tried to tell him "Dude, you're AWESOME!!!!"  Seriously - I had to bike over a mile before I could catch up to a runner!! I'm beyond impressed...

Last time passing Mile 3 marker while on bike. I was almost at the finish line and done with the bike portion.

Mile Marker 3
Finally I finished the bike portion!

I parked my bike as quickly as I could, and walked past dozens of other participants already wearing medals - laughing, joking, eating - it was obvious they had been done for some time. I didn't let that affect me, I thought it was funny. I took my sweet time transitioning, since I knew the events were timed separately. I went to the bathroom, had some water and a snack and eventually made my way to the runners starting line. My legs felt weird from pushing them so hard for a full hour and I had a feeling my body wasn't ready to run.

not my best run
Running... kinda
It was a totally weird run. I probably walked 40% of it. I'm not even sure what was bothering me. Sometimes my legs but mostly my breathing and heart-rate. My body just felt like it didn't want to be doing this anymore. I ran as often as I could but walked when I had to.

As I ran, I didn't see a single other runner with a bib on. Plenty of people were out on the course and in the park, but I was pretty sure I was the last event participant.

And when I passed my water station cheering peeps, I thanked them as I chugged a cup of disgusting Gatorade.

Eventually I made it to the finish line - for the 5th and last time!

finish line. for the last time.
boy am I glad to see you!
I crossed the line and received my medal from one of the lovely young volunteers -

handing out medals
thank you, young lady!
I went back to transition for the last time to retrieve my sweet girl and on my way out of the park, I asked someone to get a photo of me with my bike & my medal -

yay! all done!
another adventure with my best gal complete!
I left the park VERY hungry. I wasn't sure where I was going yet, but I knew food & water was going to happen.

Before leaving the park perimeter, I had to grab a couple of really stunning shots. First, my bike in front of this gorgeous tree in Prospect Park -

so pretty!
so much pink!
And then my bike with Grand Army Plaza in the background -

what a beautiful day!
I took a couple of shots while I had a very slow and easy ride home...

I love shadows!

Yes, I did wear my medal the whole way home
I stopped where else? Champs (Vegan) Family Bakery in Williamsburg - one of my favorite spots and the same place I went after the NYC Half Marathon. I indulged in an out-of-this-world vegan coconut donut. It was, no joke, the best vegan donut I've had to date. And I've been complaining about vegan donuts for a long time. (Also, for what it's worth, I'll take a donut over a cupcake anyday. Not that anyone asked...)

Vegan coconut donut & coffee
omg I could eat a bucket of that icing!!!

I got home really early, like before noon. But for some reason I was totally wiped out. I didn't intend to, but I spent the rest of the day and night in bed. I was just drained. I don't know if it was the heat or waking up so early or my allergies or what. I felt fine when I was doing the event but my body just didn't want to move when I got home, which is why this recap is so late. I slept on and off all day and didn't get out of bed until 5:30am on Monday! The good news is that I've felt better since, so I guess I needed it.

These are my heart rate stats for the day:

Bike to Prospect Park:
  • Total Time: 42 minutes 
  • Minutes in Cardio Zone: 28 minutes
  • Percentage of Time in Cardio Zone: 66.67%
  •  Average Heart Rate: 121
  • High Heart Rate: 140
  • Total Calories Burned: 249
  • Total Miles: 6.5
Bike portion of Bun event (4 loops in Prospect Park):
  • Total Time: 64 minutes
  • Minutes in Cardio Zone: 64 minutes
  • Percentage of Time in Cardio Zone: 100%
  •  Average Heart Rate: 143
  • High Heart Rate: 164
  • Total Calories Burned: 514
  • Total Miles: 13.2
Run portion of Bun event (1 loop in Prospect Park):
  • Total Time: 41 minutes, 20 seconds
  • Minutes in Cardio Zone: 41 minutes, 20 seconds
  • Percentage of Time in Cardio Zone: 100%
  •  Average Heart Rate: 158
  • High Heart Rate: 179
  • Total Calories Burned: 385
  • Total Miles: 3.3
Bike home from Prospect Park:
  • Total Time: 52 minutes
  • Minutes in Cardio Zone: 33 minutes
  • Percentage of Time in Cardio Zone: 63.46%
  •  Average Heart Rate: 122
  • High Heart Rate: 147
  • Total Calories Burned: 308
  • Total Miles: 8.5

Like I mentioned, this is a race and they keep score. So are you anxiously awaiting how I did as far as the official race results go?

Well, overall, I was 4th place! (...from last) Seriously - fourth from LAST! Stop laughing. Ok go ahead and laugh because it makes me laugh.

Only 3 people took longer than me in the total overall time across ages & genders -

Bun results
there I am!

Now I knew we were being timed for the events but one thing I didn't know - they TIMED our transition and that counted towards our total time!!! I took a really long time between biking & running! Not that it would have made a huge difference in my placement but I took nearly 5 minutes when I could have taken 1 minute. That 4 minute difference would have bumped me up 3 or 4 places. Oh well...

Other results? For women in my age category (40-44), I was in fifth place! But that's 5th out of the 5 women in my age group. Yes, that means I was last in my age category!

And for women, over all, I was in 2nd to last place.

After joking about my dismal stats on Twitter:

 But then my dear friend Marcus Woollen reframed this for me in the most beautiful way -

Well yes, Marcus, yes I did. I placed first! I'm a winner!!!! (Now where's my trophy for that?)

All joking aside, I really did have a lot of fun and enjoyed this event immensely. I hope they do it again next year because I'll be there again. But perhaps with a lighter bike to shave some time off my stats. :)

(PS: Thank you to EVERYONE who helped me reach & exceed my fundraising goal for Bike New York and the Five Boro Bike Tour! The signed WW Weeklys I promised will go out within a week. Seriously - thank you SO much!)


  1. Thanks for sharing! Sounds like great fun!!

  2. I think you are amazing for finishing this race again! Congratulations! The photos are lovely and you took the time to slow down and take them which would have affected your time :)

  3. Congratulations on coming in first in the cruiser division! Reading this awesome comment, I'm struck by two things. You ate vegan Canadian bacon, and you love donuts. Are you sure you're not Canadian? We would gladly make you one, if you're not.

  4. Congratulations on coming in first in the cruiser division! Two things that struck me in this inspirational post were that you ate Canadian Bacon (vegan, intriguing, what kind?) and a vegan donut. Are you sure you're not Canadian? We love both! LOL. Seriously, we can make you an honourary Canadian, if you aren't one already. Thanks for the blog.

    1. I'd love to be an honorary Canadian, thank you! I have many Canadian readers and I enjoyed my brief visit up there a few years ago :) The Vegan Canadian Bacon is here:

  5. Amazing achievement well done!

  6. I love the pink bike and pink trees!!

  7. Always such beautiful scenery.

  8. I so enjoy your photos of all the lovely scenery, they're almost as inspiring as the biking :)

  9. Thank you for the photos (and blog)..I've never been to NYC but I'm loving what I see. Through your eyes, I'm seeing your beautiful city. I commend you on completing the Brooklyn Bun .. that alone was fabulous. I truly appreciate your beautiful spirit. Keep doin' what you're doin'...I follow you on Twitter too and very much enjoy seeing your Tweets. Take care, ItaLatina.

  10. Great pictures and congrats on the great time for the Brooklyn Bun (love that combo name). I am getting inspired reading your blog as I (hopefully) get ready for my 1st 10k. I will follow you to keep being inspired.

  11. The picture with the tree in Prospect Park is flipping gorgeous!

    I don't mean to be creepy, but on my way to work this morning I think I saw you riding down Lexington Ave! I've been reading (albeit silently) your blog for years now so it made my day :D

    1. Thanks, and not creepy at all! I was flying down Lex this morning on the HK Cruiser (a little later than I would normally be riding). I've seen/met so many blog readers on that strip from 61st St to Grand Central. I'm so glad to have given you a little thrill! :)

  12. Great recap, Sheryl! I'm sorry I punked out on that event this year. Maybe 2013... I really want to do a little bike training before trying it again and I tend to spend all my exercise time running.

    Also, LOL about the transition timing! As I was reading that you took your time between the bike and run, I thought-- I'm pretty sure they time that area, too. Guess I was right! Well it will be an easy way to take 4 min off your time next year!

  13. Just found your blog- you're such an inspiration!!! I love your motivation! thank you for being so honest.

  14. Hey Sheryl--did you see this
    score for the plant eaters!

  15. This is a great race! I never heard of it! We have to do it next year!!! I love your photos!