In December of 2012, Kaitlyn McCrystal ran a loop of Brooklyn’s Prospect Park for the first time. It was the NYRR Jingle Bell Jog, and it was one of her first races ever. She’d just started running and was still trying to figure out how much of her life she could devote to the sport.
But she’d caught the running bug, and before long she was training for the More Magazine/Fitness Magazine Women’s Half-Marathon that spring. She became “pretty obsessive” about it and set her sights on completing as many of the 2013 NYRR Five-Borough Series as she could.
McCrystal averaged 20 to 30 miles per week, training along the New Jersey waterfront near her Hoboken apartment. She broke two hours for the first time at the 2013 Brooklyn Half, her third race at that distance. Her 1:53 finish hinted at some natural talent—which surprised her, since she was never allowed to run while growing up.
A lifelong dancer, McCrystal, now 27, had always been told not to run by her dance instructors, who wanted her to avoid injuries like shin splints. But after graduating from college, where she’d double-majored in dance and communications, she no longer danced regularly, and she realized that she missed the athletic outlet she’d always taken for granted.
“I tried different things, but nothing gave me the kind of release I used to get from dance until I found running,” she says.
McCrystal ran four of the 2013 NYRR Five-Borough Series races, setting a half-marathon PR of 1:51 at the Staten Island Half-Marathon last October. This year, she’s on track to complete all five, but the Brooklyn Half is special to her. “I absolutely love it,” she says. “It’s really cool to see more of Brooklyn and get to run through the park. I’d never been to Coney Island before last year’s race.”
She’s aiming for 1:45. “It’s a jump,” she admits, “but I’m excited to see what I can do.” Regardless of her time, she’s going to continue her post-race tradition of taking her family and friends to Radegast Hall & Biergarten in Williamsburg, where they’ll “really get the party started.”