Taeya's NYC Marathon Race Report

by Taeya Konishi Schogel

Since my mind wasn't all set for this marathon to beat my previous time, I was so relaxed, that on race day I was waiting for the train to get to the ferry terminal and realized that I forgot my throwaway clothes.  Luckily there was a deli right there so I bought trash bags. That was good news.  Then I got to the train and realized that I wasn't wearing my Garmin. Oops, I forgot it!  Since I was running with Miguel, I was ok without a watch. After that everything was fine.

I was worried that I couldn't carry 3 gels and 2 salt packets that Miguel gave me. I put some under my gloves, and some in my shorts pocket. I was holding one of the salt packet for easy access, but because I was wearing gloves and thanks to the wind, I lost one of my salt packets before reaching mile 2 :(  Then, I don't know at which mile I took one of the gels, but at that point I was carrying my last salt packet in my hands while taking the gel and water.  Somehow I lost this unopened packet AGAIN!  Then on Lafayette avenue my shoe lace came untied, at this point I was thinking "Great!  What else can go wrong in this race!?" I had to step aside and tie my shoe. Then, I kept going. Since I didn't have a watch and was going by feel, Miguel kept yelling at me that I was going too fast. Thanks to him, I kept the pace we were supposed to run at. The cheers from spectators were awesome! Especially the voluncheers at mile 12! Then I lost him on the Queensboro bridge.

At this point I was worried I was going too fast or too slow. I didn't know my pace that well. Then at mile 23 all of a sudden, I had a super sharp pain in my stomach. I really had to go to the bathroom, but just sucked it up and kept going thinking it's going to pass. It didn't pass, but I just had to reach the finish so I could use a bathroom. I reached the finish and didn't even look at the clock. My mind was focus on finding a bathroom. Sure enough there weren't any.  One of the volunteers told me they were outside of the exit zones ... great! I walked to pick up my stuff and felt like that walk was endless! Finally, I got to my stuff. I stretched for a bit and was trying to look up my time on the phone. It only showed me a prediction time of 3:15 so I was happy as I was shooting for somewhere between 3:10-3:20. As I received texts from friends, I had to text Angela and Linda to ask what my finish time was as I had no idea. They told me the time. It was nice to know that it went better than expected. But seriously what a hot mess I was!

Thanks again for cheering!  It's always so nice to see familiar faces thru out the course!

2016 NYC Marathon Water Table Report

by Mary Harvey

This was my fourth consecutive year working the water table with NBR, and the first time my pops joined. So you guys know, he asked me if he could join us last year right after the marathon. Duh. Yes.


I asked pops what it was like, as an outside(ish) person coming in to this, and he paused for a moment, and told me he had been thinking about it, and he was so impressed by the experience that he had no criticism. Everyone was kind and welcoming. People stepped up and filled in exactly where they were needed as soon as they saw a task to be done, whether it was filling cups, hauling trash, raking, or searching for keys.


I have to add that it was an amazing experience to have so many people wish my pops a happy day as he turns 70. Thank you all so much for including him!

NYC Marathon Race Report

by Becca Ades

I’ve had the same marathon goal since I was 16 years old watching the local Burlington City Marathon. Sub 3:00. It was the ultimate distance AND time. What could be better? It was goal so lofty that I didn’t attempt it for the next 16 years.

Not until I qualified for the NYC Marathon with the Staten Island half (with 8 seconds to spare baby!). It was time to get serious. And serious I got. I ran the NYC half and spent the better part of last spring trying to chase down a 1:25 Brooklyn (I’d been around the block enough to know the race predictor for a sub 3:00). That was not to be. 12 hours before the starting gun, I was diagnosed with a femoral neck stress fracture. The remedy: no exercise for 6-8 weeks. My heart sank.

I was able to start running again in early August. I was under strict orders not to go below 8-minute miles, and I could only increase my mileage by 10% a week. Things were all dandy and fine until I got my Pfitzinger book and realized that HOLY F***! I was already into week 12 and only up to 24 miles. I had to make a choice: I could follow doctor’s orders and maybe run a marathon for fun OR I COULD GO MARATHON OR BUST. The choice was quite simple. My mileage doubled in the next week.

The more I trained, the more magic I realized I would need for race day. Every week I improved, but I wasn’t where I wanted to be. Marathon pace felt hard, workouts felt hard, every running task I completed felt harder than it should. It wasn’t until a few weeks before the marathon, that I began to feel like myself again. I ran Matt Schenker’s crazy workout (the one with 800s at 5k pace sandwiched by 15 minute tempos at half pace), and I hit it out of the ballpark. Maybe I could actually do it? The 3:00 marathon was in reach for someone as crazy as me.

Race day came.  I had the ten-ten-ten plan from Jose.  The gun went off, and I executed.  The first ten miles I cranked out 6:50-something after 6:50-something mile.  I felt great!  The magic fairy dust had arrived after all!  I was really going to do this!  And then around mile 11, a familiar feeling came—one I knew from the half.  The pain in your hamstrings that tells you, I got you for another two miles. 

    I pulled it together for Bedford Avenue.  It was the most beautiful mile I had even run.  I passed Broadway and heard Linda.  I passed South 2nd and saw Ciaran, Blake, and my college roomie, who had driven down from Montreal.  The road was littered with friends!  I smiled as I passed North 10th and saw mile 12.  Jose saw me and announced my arrival on the megaphone.  I felt like a superstar.  I grabbed water from Shawn, and it was the best cup of water of the marathon!  I crossed the half at 1:30:59. 

    People told me about a wall at mile 22 or 23.  Some people mentioned it at mile 18.  NO ONE TOLD ME ABOUT THE WALL AT MILE 16.  Queensboro was a lonely, lonely place.  I took my only three walking steps on that Great Gatsby bridge.  And then, from behind me, I heard someone say, “Hey, you’re Lacey’s friend.”  And because even in the depths of my own self-pity, I knew better than to be caught walking, I started jogging (note: jogging, NOT running).  “You got this,” she said.  

    Little did she know how little I had this distance.  The pity fest came back stronger than before.  I’m not a marathon runner I told myself.  The furthest I go is the half.  I thought about how it was bullshit that there was no way to drop out of the race on the Queensboro except for jumping. For the majority of First Avenue, I was angry at how many people were there.  Somebody cheered “run, NBR,” to which I belligerently replied, “I AM RUNNING.”

I did some math in my head.  I had done the half in 1:30, which meant I had 2:00 to do my second half in and still get under 3:30.  I decided I could reasonably accomplish this by running seven minutes and walking three.  I’m not sure how I arrived at this conclusion, but it gave me great, great comfort.  

    This took up the rest of First Av, and I made it to Willis Av Bridge.  Some dude said, “How you feeling, North Brooklyn?” and I replied, “I feel great!” because I had promised myself I would say this no matter what.  “I haven’t been able to feel my legs for the last three miles,” said the dude.  We ran in silence for the next 50 feet.   

    A single lady greeted us halfway up the bridge, “Welcome to the Boogie-Down Bronx!” she said sweetly.  I heard reggaeton on the other side.  People were handing out orange slices. I looked down at my watch (I had considered throwing out my watch in a fit of anger earlier but had decided it would be an empty, expensive gesture), and I saw a 7 as the first number.  Maybe this race is not lost.  I smiled for the first time since Queens.  It felt like hope.

    I had a cheer squad before the bridge back to Manhattan, and I picked up the pace because…they didn’t have to know I was having a shit race, right?  I passed the bridge and was about to slow back down, when I saw Polly, John, and Co.  FUUUCK, I have to be a show-off again.  “Go, Becca!!!” And then a magical thing finally did happen: the wall of doom cracked: I could run again.

The last 6 miles felt like I’d been reborn.  I had a full-blown second chance.  I knew I wasn’t going to get my goal.  I didn’t have that miracle to fall back on.  But I could cheesily give it the best I had.  At mile 23 I looked down at my watch.  It said 2:54:00.  That meant if I ran 3 ten-minute miles, I could finish in 3:24.  It gave me a reason to pick it up.  I remembered the fifth avenue mile hill wasn’t that bad during the blue-line run, and I told myself that as I ran up it. Night Owl’s worse.  F***ing positive thinking was my only super power.  Once I hit the park it’s all down hill!  Then it’s just 4 laps of the track!  I cried when I saw mile 25.  

Central Park South blew my mind.  I could see the finish.  There were no tricks left!  I looked down at my watch.  I was in the 3-teens.  This was much, MUCH better than expected.  I sprinted from Columbus Circle and collapsed at the finish line. 

My finishing time was 3:16:50. 

I hadn’t hit my goal, but I ran the race the only way I knew how.  The only way I was ever going to run a marathon.  Chasing the sub 3.  

And who knows, I may even try it again sometime.

Team Spot Check-in: Martin Branch-Shaw

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NBR: Tell us a little bit about how you came to be part of NBR. What was your first run? How long have you been involved? 

MBS: I moved to Brooklyn four years ago from Manhattan (where I had lived since the ‘80s). Having recently divorced, I sought community. I have been a runner most of my life (with the exception of a decade of decadent and questionably self-destructive, but wildly creative years in the East Village). It seemed a natural decision to seek out other runners. NBR’s visible and enthusiastic presence at local running events made it an easy choice. My next step, being a bit of an introvert, was to actually join. I spent a year waffling! Finally, I came to a Saturday Morning Bridge Run on a cold, grey, late December morning. I remember being a little intimidated – I was clearly older than the group assembled at the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge. Regardless, I felt welcomed and soon meet other runners who juggled active professional lives, training, travel and in some cases, children. This is where I felt the strongest connection, as I am unapologetic about the bond running has formed between my son and I (and I do go on!). 

NBR: How is marathon training going? Are there any specific workouts that are really moving things along for you? 

MBS: I believe I am the last recipient of an NBR New York City Marathon Team Spot leaving me roughly 40 days to train and taper by way of preparation! My son, Harry, is transitioning from PSAL to NCAA (Div 3), his mileage had to double so we spent the summer training. Now that he is at college, I typically log over 50 miles a week for no other reason than love of running. I’m comparably slow-ish, but feel prepared nonetheless. My favorite NBR runs over the past three years have been Monday and Wednesday nights – socially, these runs attract fantastic people. My most important night (and I am remiss in not attending lately due to my work schedule), is Thursday night track – it hurts, but if you want to get fast, do it. Thursday nights these days I am running lonely hill repeats in Prospect Park! I ran a Sunday Funday Long Run this past weekend, which was amazing with pace groups ranging from 7s to 10:30s. Like most runners, I am my own worst enemy; running with a large group is great for keeping you out of your own head and calming the voice that is nagging you to stop. This particular run, so close to race day, proved to be cautionary: I became dizzy at mile 18 and realized that my diet the day prior and morning of, compounded by my lack of adequate hydration, spelled possible disaster on race day. I often neglect the obvious and, again, advice and support from the group is awesome. 

NBR: Tell the NBR world a good long run story. 

MBS: A Facebook headline for Outside magazine caught my eye this morning, it read, “every long run should be a micro-adventure” (or something like that). That said, I don’t think I have a single long run story. What I do have is a collection of anecdotes. This is a favorite: I am notorious for tripping over cracks in the sidewalk. This is due, in part, to my shuffling gait and less than perfect eyesight. On an early summer long run, I tripped over a particularly hazardous protruding tree root on Willoughby St. I don’t mean an elegant tumble, I mean backpack spilling, water bottle smashing, knee skinning slide. Locals from the building I fell in front of watched in disbelief. On the return leg of this particular “out and back,” I made a mental note to avoid this hazardous spot but became distracted at the last moment and tripped regardless (I swear, same spot!). This time the locals helped me to collect my belongings and get back on my feet. (I noticed recently that, though not repaired, the sidewalk has been painted with fluorescent paint by way of warning). The upside (apart from new friends to high five as I pass) is I habitually scan the sidewalk or trail looking for potential danger – as a result, I have found $86 and a quite nice Lamy fountain pen over the course of the summer! Are there any NBR members who inspire you to train hard(er)? I was recently invited to join the Men’s Local Competitive Group. There are so many fast NBRiors and each and every one inspires me. Is it okay not to name names? There are dozens of competitive, encouraging, inspiring athletes. I am especially inspired by the Masters group for obvious reasons, both men and women. Since upping my training and being involved with NBR, I find I am running personal bests over times I had posted 12 or 13 years ago! 

NBR: What does it mean to be chosen by your peers for a coveted NBR Marathon Team Spot?

MBS: Naturally, it means so much. I hadn’t even imagined myself running NY again and was very excited to volunteer at the water table for my third consecutive year. To receive the late team spot email put my office at a temporary standstill until a registration glitch had been resolved. The New York Public Library has many runners on staff! I think what means the most to me is to be recognized by so many folks whose degree of dedication to the group and the sport is unparalleled – the volunteer committee, team captains, race coordinators and tireless run leaders. I’m stoked (and nervous!).

NBR: What do you plan on eating post-marathon? What about the night before?

MBS: Pre and post-race diet is a huge topic of discussion in our household. I am a long-time vegetarian so several days before race day I will begin eating carbs (tons of pasta). I find beet pesto (Meb’s recipe from Runners World) and penne tossed with sautéed beet greens and a side of avocado with miso and ginger dressing works for me. It gets boring after a few nights but better than problems mid-race. In the name of full disclosure, I’ll probably drink an IPA of some sort, too! Morning of: bagel with peanut butter, banana and honey. Classic! I dislike gels but will carry 3 salted caramel Gu (pinned to the waistband of my running shorts). GuBrew for hydration and electrolytes pre, during and post. Post-race: I find it hard to eat after a long run/race. Chocolate almond milk with yoghurt and banana is good for recovery. I also like vanilla almond milk, kale and date smoothies. (And more beer!) 

NBR: What is your running spirit animal and why? 

MBS: I love this question! My spirit animal is definitely a dog. A mixed, bully breed. Pit and
boxer mix is very close to my heart. Maybe not the fastest animal but tenacious, gentle
and loyal – and very competitive when challenged.

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OMG: Last-minute Running-A-Marathon Tips

by Cherie Yanek

This is adapted from the North Brooklyn Runners workshop from the 24th of October, where we shared our ideas on how to prep for the marathon. As the Educational Member Program Coordinator, I provided framework and ideas; everyone also shared their own great tips. While this is geared towards the NYC Marathon, you can apply many of the tips to any marathon. Ultras break all the rules, so many of them won't apply...unless, of course, they do!

BEFORE THE MARATHON

Last minute tapering...

  • You can't cram in all the last minute training. These last two weeks, it's about maintaining your fitness and resting. Don't try anything new, don't exhaust yourself in workouts.
  • Add in a bit of speed if you can - but nothing you won't recover from. Your mileage should be cut way down - 1/3 of peak to even 1/4 of peak. Less is best.
  • If you haven't trained properly, tell yourself that under-training is better than over-training, because with over-training you risk injury.

Nutrition

  • Eat normal food, nothing out of control new.
  • Old school carb deprive/carb load is out. 
  • You don't want to carb load with too many carbs. Sorry, you really don't need to eat 18 bagels.
  • Low fiber the day before. If you have stomach issues, pay attention to the fiber you eat. I know a runner who (no joke) does a liquid diet the day before races because of her stomach issues. (Sounds miserable to me, but she swears by it).
  • No beets the day before. No. Just no.

Marathon Expo

  • Try to go earlier so you don't tire yourself out.
  • Buy new clothes/gear is okay; using it race day might not be a great idea.
  • Usually cheap place to buy gels - but so is Amazon Pantry. You pay $6 for a box and you fill it with goods. But don't buy new snacks to try marathon day. No new clothing or shoes for race day!

The Night Before

  • Remember - Daylight Savings - fall behind!
  • Set as many alarms as you possibly can. 
  • Try to get lots of sleep all week long - it will make up if you don't sleep well the night before the race.
  • You should have been hydrating all day long (and all week long really) but stop drinking an hour or two before bedtime. You don't want to wake up to pee 12x.
  • If you can't sleep, try to relax. Meditate, rest as well as you can, maybe even read (but nothing too stressful ... like don't read articles about the current state of politics in the US).

MARATHON DAY

Breakfast and Coffee

  • Only have coffee if you know it works. (Coffee makes you poop)
  • Low fiber breakfast - no more than 9 grams of fiber.
  • Hydrate - but maybe stop drinking an hour or so before you get on the bridge.
  • Hydration and coffee make it easier to poop.
  • A little bit of protein for breakfast w your carbs. Some examples: peanut butter on toast or bagel, banana pancakes (Don't those sound delicious?), maybe even maple pecan oatmeal (small portion, or a smoothie.

At Fort Wadsworth

  • Stay warm. Bring throw-away clothes to stay warm. Hideous is fine, as long as it's warm.
  • Keep your bib on the bottom layer.
  • They have tea, coffee, bagels, & bars - but don't try anything you haven't had before.
  • Keep a disposable water bottle to carry with you into your corral.

First Few Miles - Halfway

  • Use a pace bracelet (available at the expo) to keep track of your pace.
  • Try to stay even to your pace.
  • Don't get too excited too early.
  • High fives are fun, but don't waste time high-fiving everyone.
  • Tell spectators to wear bright clothing or carry a specific balloon or sign - it's HARD to see them, and for them to spot you.
  • Tell friends and family to track you with the app.
  • If someone loves you, they can see you three times! By Atlantic Terminal, go onto 1st ave up in the 90's, then go to 5th ave to see you one more time before they meet you at the finish.
  • Set mini-goals (vs. "I have to run 12 more miles, shoot me...."): the next water stop, the crowds at 1st Avenue; seeing my BFF at mile 20; that huge TV screen in the Bronx; etc.
  • Grab your cup - pinch it twice if you can.
  • If someone wants to cheer for you, tell them chances are, you might be choking on water right after the aid station, so they shouldn't wait right there.

The Wall

  • Get your calories in early. 100-300 calories is recommended every hour. Most people take a gel every 45 minutes or so (and take it with water).
  • Regular nutrition can help prevent the wall. If you start to bonk, liquid nutrition will be absorbed faster - and thus help you climb out faster. Gels are great because they contain more calories than Gatorade
  • Send a friend to the Bronx - helps to have someone to look forward to.
  • Set a goal - running in honor of a family member or friend - it's easier to dig deep for someone else than yourself. (I ran in honor of my Uncle Jimmy who died of leukemia. Seeing all of the TNT peeps meant a lot to me that year he died.)

The Finish

  • Last mile feels like forever, but the crowds at the bottom of the park ROCK.
  • Don't look at your watch at the finish - it will ruin your finishing photo (and how can you get your photo on the bus then??). The will have your exact time online by the time you're ready to look anyway.
  • Have your family meet you in the family meeting area.
  • If you have a drop bag, add some sandals, socks, and a complete change of clothes. Also, add a tasty snack with some protein if you are picky or if you want something more delicious post race.
  • Drink lots of water.
  • Change your clothes if you can or at least get that wet sports bra off.

AFTER THE MARATHON

  • Go run the next day. You will hate me for saying it, and it can be the slowest run you've ever done (seriously, 16 minute miles is fine), but just get out there and DO IT. You'll get some of that crap out of your muscles and feel better. Then, take off the next week if you really want.
  • You will want to eat everything in sight - the next day too. Protein helps with muscle recovery. Try to eat 15-30 minutes after you're done - something with protein.
  • Get lots of sleep. You just trashed your body and your immune system is shaky - get lots of sleep.
  • The engraving on your medal the next day is pretty freaking cool.
  • Pick out your next marathon!!!!

REFLECTIONS ON RUNNING MY SIXTH MARATHON: A CHICAGO RACE REPORT

by Sean Laude

My recounting of this year's Chicago marathon begins four years ago, after I crossed the finish line at the 2012 edition of the race. The three hours and twenty-six minutes it took to run my first marathon did a number on my legs. I could not stand up under my own power, so a very helpful volunteer had to cart me the half-mile or so back to bag check. I was in a world of pain, but I felt ecstatic. I was filled with the idea that anything is possible. Less than two months later, I moved to Brooklyn.

Many of you know that I grew up in Chicagoland and repeatedly espouse the virtues of the CTA, the serene beauty of running along Lake Michigan, and why deep-dish is the ultimate form of pizza. As one of the weirdo kids who “played” cross-country and track, the mythos of marathon distance was embodied in that local event that ran every second Sunday in October. I hung posters of Khalid Khannouchi and Paula Radcliffe from their record-breaking runs on my bedroom wall, no less than 26.2 miles from where they broke the tape in Grant Park. As far as I knew, it was THE marathon - no other race compared in my youthful imagination.

In 2013, I ran it again, proudly sporting the emblem of our favorite bridge. I made the trip the last two years to cheer on my friends and wave high the NBR flag. A sense of hometown pride overcame me at the end of a 20-mile run before last year's race, and I declared that If I failed to run a BQ in the upcoming NYC marathon, I would sign up to run Chicago again. Unfortunately, (or very fortunately) the twin forces of unseasonably warm weather and an ungraceful shuffle up Fifth Avenue made that declaration binding. The clock started ticking the moment my post-race haze cleared - while donning the $250 poncho and trundling down the subway stairs at 72nd street.

I have worked with a coach for the past two seasons to help me improve my triathlon game. This year I let him sketch out my marathon season as well (I had only a scant nine weeks to turn around all my cycling and swimming fitness and focus it exclusively on the run). For the greater part of the last two years, I instructed him to leave holes in my schedule on Tuesdays and Thursdays for me to fill in with tempo and track, respectively. Part of working with a coach is putting your trust in his schedule and letting him fill those days with unorthodox workouts. Up through the end of successful tri season, I had also run massive PRs in the 5k, 10k, and half. Gaining that elusive marathon PR after my disastrous NYC attempt last year would be a fitting conclusion to this season. I was willing to give it a shot and really commit to structured long-distance training for once.

Race morning I felt as ready as I have ever been, that is to say: full of excitement, doubt, and carbs. Our Chicago crew had done a fantastic job tucking into Midwestern-sized piles of food the days before the race - four of my meals yielded another meal-sized bag of leftovers. Josh Hatcher and I travelled to the race together, meeting up with Evan, Daeha, and Lavar on the train. The trip to Grant Park was pleasant compared to the rigamarole of getting to Fort Wadsworth, and we had a moment to enjoy the sunrise before hitting the streets in the crisp autumn morning. Josh, Evan, and I met up with Joe and Crow in the corrals and we positioned ourselves in the crowd, near one of two large three-hour pace groups. They announced the elites and it seemed like the starting horn went off without much fanfare.

Words cannot describe what it feels like to push yourself at a pace for longer than you ever have before, the metaphor of wheels about to fall off a race car notwithstanding. Chicago is obscenely flat, the scenery interesting and the crowds incredible and loud. All of that fed a newfound focus that drowned out a mounting fatigue that ebbed and flowed in the terra incognita between miles 13 through 19. On a lonely stretch of road before Pilsen, I caught up to Evan Cooper and gave him the best-but-probably-incoherent encouragement I could muster (we're now 1-1 at the distance after he passed me in Harlem last year).

I very literally threw down the gantlet at mile 20, tossing my gloves at some unsuspecting spectators. They say the “race” doesn't begin until 10k remains, but I'm inclined to call it an "exercise in sheer will to get your legs to move". I was so intensely focused that I missed Emily, Tom, and Sara cheering around mile 23, but heard, dream-like, Chris and Magda screaming my name along Michigan Avenue. The pace group I glommed onto most of the race slipped away and the other one blew by shortly thereafter, but I was intent on finishing the race on my own.

The course has a gentle incline in the last 400 meters before turning into the finishing chute, but this joke of a hill turned cruel by a stiff headwind off the lake. A Dashing Whippet dropped the hammer in this final stretch and I somehow summoned the kicking power to match his stride. All the emotions of finishing hit me long before I even crossed the line, bursting out as a simultaneous cry of joy and roar of pain past the timing mat:

THREE HOURS, TWO MINUTES, ELEVEN SECONDS

Nearly a four-minute PR. An eleven-minute improvement over my last Chicago effort. A Boston Qualifier. I stopped, landed stiff-legged, and felt my right glute collapse. I could not keep moving under my own power, so a very, very nice volunteer helped walk me through the finish line area to collect all my post-race survival needs (special thanks to Joe Chan for fetching me extra Gatorade). I was stiff and getting cold, but I felt ecstatic. I grabbed a beer and the celebration really began.

Marathons are unreasonably difficult; I will not be disappointed if my time doesn't make the cut-off for Boston. I’m still searching for bigger reasons to dedicate myself to the distance other than a jacket with a questionable color palette or to rise to the expectation that you should be good at this distance because you can run a fraction of the distance very fast. I get the magic of running to Boylston Street. I can imagine the sense of accomplishment finishing a marathon or ultra every other weekend. My own reasons will find me at some point. Until then, I will be there, cheering for you at the side of the road, you mighty, galloping mares and stallions racing towards the finish line.

I'm touched by the number of people who tracked me and offered encouragement and congratulations from afar - your support meant the world to me. I would not have had such a great experience without my Chicago crew - I sincerely hope you enjoyed all my long, pizza-themed emails.

Finally, to NBR: you are my running family - keep being incredible. Thank you all and I'll see you on the run soon!

 

Chicago Race Report - WE ROLL DEEP

by Beverly Walley

This race isn’t only running a marathon. It’s an NBR experience.  Sean Laude, Nancy Lin, & Matt Goodman curated a Chicago tour de force. Big thanks to them for making sure the crew had options for the fun stuff that comes along with a race weekend.
 
H.J. & I opted to stay in the Loop area so that we would have an easy walk to the start line at Grant Park. Without a subway, ferry, & bus trip, my brain invented reasons to be anxious — like having a borderline panic attack when my watch read 7:00 AM instead of 6:00 AM. I started sprinting for bag check.  H.J. had a non-reaction, “Why are you getting all weird? Do you think it’s 7 AM?” Lesson learned: my Garmin does not auto adjust for time zones.
 
The point being it is easy to roll up to the start of the Chicago marathon. Plus, they have a famous fountain to stretch by and a million port-o-potties. They do not, however, have Dunkin Donuts coffee everywhere. Anyway, we ran into Casey Baxter and made some poor stranger take a million photos of us.
 
My start was in Corral E, which was the last red corral. It took about 10 minutes to cross the mat. I tried to get to the 3:45 pace group in my corral, but was finding it too congested. I took a line for the outside and ran behind two girls. They had obviously trained together and had all their splits planned out. Their chitchat was stressing me out. I felt like an unintentional creeper, so I passed them and the 3:45 pace group. Gulp.
 
The beginning miles weaved through downtown Chicago. Lots of people cheered from the bridges so looking up was very fun. I noticed my first “If Trump can run, so can YOU!” sign — I think that was by far the most popular sign on the course. I didn’t notice much else until I ran into Matt Goodman someplace on LaSalle St. We had a brief hello and I kept picking up my pace. Matt asked me “Are you trying for this pace?” And I replied with the dumbest of all marathon answers, “I don’t even know what pace I am going. I feel good, so I am gonna go with it and hope it lasts.”
 
I ended up running into another 3:45 pace group…probably for corral D or C. At this point, I figured, “I should hop into this pack and hang on.” We ran steadily, but I really hated it. It felt claustrophobic with too many people bunching up, big guys bumping into me, and, honestly, running slowly. As soon as the road widened at a water stop, I passed the group. I thought, “This is going to come back to bite you at mile 22.”
 
Next thing that I clearly remember is the amazing NBR cheer squad! I saw Tom Essex & Emily Hafner.  Then I ran smack into Madeline Muzzi. She was looking really strong. I waved and she yelled, “What are you trying for?” Truthfully, I wasn’t paying attention to my pace. I hadn’t looked at my watch yet, so I repeated the same dumb thing, “Running by feel. Feeling good, so I am gonna go with it and hope it lasts.”  Anyone that has run a marathon will tell you this is a completely stupid strategy.
 
At the halfway point, I decided to look at my watch for the first time since the 7 AM EST /6 AM CST debacle. It read 1:47.  I have run 1:47 half in a marathon before, so I wasn’t overly concerned. I was thinking positively and hoping that my pace would hold to mile 20. Then I planned to see what the last 10K would bring (and I was expecting it would bring pain.)
 
The second half of the Chicago marathon entered a good neighborhood block party, but then the spectators really thinned out. We ran into a warehouse/industrial zone. I was expecting to fall off my pace soon, so I started downing Gatorade and stockpiling gels. The weird thing was that I still felt great and no one was passing me so I rolled with it.
 
I hit Chinatown. Loved it! By far my favorite part of the course—the streets narrowed and they had some dope drumming.  The rhythm was automatic. It reminded me of NYC. Then I had the best thought ever… you will not hit hills coming out of this section! And I saw the cheer squad again! I distinctly remember Emily and Sara Dirks with little plastic feet.
 
I ran into Sarah Murphy, flying despite being injured, and Meg Duffy, persevering despite serious cramping. I saw Magda cheering on the right hand side of the road. I was surprised and excited to see her. We roll deep with runners and spectators! Finally, I allowed myself to look at my watch again and thought, “OMG! They aren’t kidding about tall buildings messing with GPS signals.” It was not humanly possible that my time could be correct.

Casey, Bev, & H.J.

Casey, Bev, & H.J.

But then it hit me — no one was really passing me. I was definitely ahead of a 3:40 pace group. I never saw a 3:35 group, so I had to be somewhere sandwiched between them. For my age, 3:40 is a BQ. Basically, I was sitting on my big chance and the realization that it was the clock versus me. Normally I would choke.
 
But not knowing the city or the landscape really helped me. As I approached the final mile, I imagined a Thursday night track workout. As the distance signs reduced, I thought, “You can do anything for 400 meters.”  This was the biggest hill in the course as it was up a highway on-ramp. Whatever… I heard Jose’s voice in my head screaming, “Run through the finish. Run through the line.”
 
Crossing the line, I looked at my watch, still feeling shock. I looked at the race clock, did some math, and started crying.  If my math was correct (a big if) I ran 3:36:54. My PR was 3:50:51. Not wanting to look totally insane, I pulled it together, got my medal, my heat sheet, and a free Goose Island.
 
Two sips into that beer I was like, “Nope, I can’t drink this yet.” So I had two PRs on Sunday, the race and I tossed a free beer. I got my phone and heard from so many NBR people. I really got emotional that so many of you cared to track me. Thank you! I think your positive energy helped me pull off a great race!

Team Spot Check-in: Brinda Ayer

NBR: Tell us a little bit about how you came to be part of  NBR. What was your first run? How long have you been involved?

BA: Unlike many of our teammates, I've never lived in North Brooklyn and didn't have much geographical reason to get involved with NBR. But I would always see the team roll so deep at NYRR races, each runner looking strong and swift and like he or she was having the time of their life. I'd never been on a sports team of any kind before, but the idea always intrigued me—great support, both on and off the roads, and a pretty sweet singlet. So when was training for the Brooklyn Half by myself this spring, and saw a random Facebook event for a long training run hosted by NBR, I decided to check it out. It took place in April and it was still really cold out and I was so out of shape. I couldn't even make it up the Williamsburg Bridge without stopping! But several amazing people in my pace group high-fived me and encouraged me to keep going anyway, and so I eventually ended up at Urban Rustic afterward, where I met Jessica and Anne and Mary and a bunch of other wonderful people. Y'all haven't been able to get rid of me ever since! 

NBR: How is marathon training going? Are there any specific workouts that are really moving things along for you? Tell the NBR world a good long run story. 

BA: Marathon training is going really well! As many of you may know, the race I originally planned to run and have been preparing for was the Philadelphia Marathon on November 20—two weeks after NYCM. And now, I've been lucky enough to get a spot for New York, so the plan has changed in a great way! As I tend to suffer from severe FOMO, I ended up starting my training alongside the people getting ready for New York, so fortunately, won't have to adjust my schedule too much to race two weeks earlier than planned. 

As for long runs, I've been running with a pod of trusty Narwhals most weeks, but have gone rogue a few times when my schedule hasn't aligned with the team's; it's, unsurprisingly, much harder to stay motivated when you're by yourself and the miles don't fly by nearly as quickly as in the company of good friends. Memorable long runs for me were of course the hot and humid ones down Summer Streets, and the one I forced myself to do after Fifth Avenue Mile—measuring at about 17.5 miles, it was the longest run I'd ever completed in my life at the time, and, what do you know, I've lived to tell the tale. 

NBR: Which NBR runs are you attending regularly to train? Are there any NBR members who inspire you to train hard(er)?

BA: I try to go to TNT as much as possible, as well as Just South Wednesday morning runs (JS represent!), Hellkatz track, and, like I said above, Narwhals. It's such a treat to be able to hang out with your friends and get fitter and faster at the same time, all before the sun rises. As for inspirational NBR members, oh man, there are WAY too many to do this list justice. But Jessica, Emma, Nancy, Kalli, and Sophie are just a few of the incredible women from whom I've learned so much and aspire to be more like. 

 

NBR: What does it mean to be chosen by your peers for a coveted NBR Marathon Team Spot?

BA: It's probably one of the biggest honors and coolest opportunities I've ever been afforded, and especially so because this is my first marathon! Since I moved to New York three or so years ago, I've entered the lottery and haven't won a single time. So getting this spot after I had resigned myself to just running it next year, via 9 + 1, was an enormous surprise and delight. I'm more than a little terrified, but I absolutely cannot wait! Thanks a million, NBR!

NBR: What do you plan on eating post-marathon? What about the night before?

BA: I'll use any excuse I can to eat pasta, so it's convenient that spaghetti is an effective pre-race food. And probably a cookie, because #carbs, if anyone wants to make the trek to Levain with me the night before.

BA: Post-race: I think the better question is, what WON'T I eat? 

NBR: What is your running spirit animal and why?

BA: Just South feral cat for sure! 

 

Team Spot Check-in: Sue Walsh


Update: It's September 3 and I haven't run in 4 weeks now after a what-should-have-been-nothing bike accident, only two or three hours after I originally wrote my Team check in. I fell after my wheel hit another bike's wheel, tearing my ACL completely and creating what my Doctor says is a "complex tear" in my meniscus. I've been mobile for the past 2.5 weeks, but limping so much that I'm starting to get tendinitis in my hip. So my PT at The Finish Line asked that I try to practice walking, a full gait with my injured leg. Heel, then roll on your forefoot, than push off. Running seems like the furthest thing from my capabilities, like the person who was training for the marathon, who lead Tempo Tuesday and Doves was a different person than who I am now. We never know when our lives change, when nothing can turn into something and that something can turn into unknown. When our expectations deviate in a dramatic way than what we thought would be. Being injured, in a way that limits your mobility and independence, changes the way you experience the world, producing choices in how can handle it. Resisting it is futile: it won't produce a new ACL for me, it won't magically fix my meniscus. All I can do is whatever it takes to care for this awesome knee, who after 37 years has supported me through 19 marathons, tens of thousands of miles, helped my femur recover from a fracture 33 years ago, helped my hip recover from surgery 6 years ago. It is without question that I'm not running the marathon, but you all can wager with confidence that I'll be cheering for everyone who is. See you on the streets...sometime!


NBR: Tell us a little bit about how you came to be part of  NBR. What was your first run? How long have you been involved?

SW: My first run with Tuesday Tempo AM, about 5.5 years ago. I joined to get back into racing after recovering for a while from hip surgery. I thought, "Hey I'm in pretty good shape, I'll be okay." But got majorly crushed on the Kent Ave Speedway. But I made a commitment to myself, to keep coming back. And I still want to keep coming back. 

NBR: How is marathon training going? Are there any specific workouts that are really moving things along for you? Tell the NBR world a good long run story. 

SW: Training is going pretty well. Last year, I tore my glute medius and it's still giving me problems. I'm also experiencing pain in the hip that I had surgery on. (If only I could understand why I love doing this activity that sometimes feels like is destroying my body!) I'm feeling a little apprehensive, but getting more info from my doctor this week. This will be my twentieth marathon and sometimes I still feel like such a beginner. Many times, I've felt the best workouts were just long runs with as many miles at marathon pace as possible. A pretty literal workout for the race. But I've also been trying to do easy runs at an honest easy pace, so wondering how that will affect things. And, of course, I'm a devoted Tigerwolves and Doves runner. I've been leading them for 2 years with no intention of stopping. 

Long runs so far this year have not been memorable. But, man, I've had some absurd runs in the past. Including one in Stockholm, where I had no watch, no phone, no map. Was planning on running 12 miles. I thought I was on one island, but had unkowningly crossed a small river and was on another. I had no idea where I was. The sun was setting. It was February. I had my Nike Free's on. There were increasing amounts of ice, so sometimes running was like not even an option. Just sliding. No one was around, it was wilderness. (An awesome part of Stockholm is it's partly urban and partly wild.) I found myself in a pet cemetery, dating back to the 1800s. I kept running / walking / sliding in what ended up being circles, trying to just keep it mentally together and came across a gentleman with a cane and an old fisherman's sweater. It was a moment of cinema. There was no option except to ask him where to go, and in true kindness, he gave me clear instruction. I found my way off the island and sprinted like 5 miles back to the city center. Another memory is last summer, running with Matt Schenker, breaking down and crying on Flushing Ave after 16 miles in 85/90 degrees with maybe 90% humidity. I just stopped, with my head in my hands, tears uncontrollably running down my face, and was like 'why are we doing this to ourselves??' So he still makes fun of me for that. 

NBR: Which NBR runs are you attending regularly to train? Are there any NBR members who inspire you to train hard(er)?

SW: I normally go to Tigerwolves, Doves, sometimes Hellkatz, sometimes Narwhals. Inspiration is not hard to come by on this team. Any workout I've come to, there's always people who inspire me. If I had to choose some names, Marie Barnett is always an awesome source of optimism and energy and she happens to be a beast on the roads. And has probably one of the toughest jobs I can imagine. My fellow Doves ... Rebecca, Emma, Miriam. Matt Schenker, who I run with a lot, is super inspiring. We trained for Chicago last year together, but now every race he does he's further ahead of me! Now we can only do easy runs together and I tell him he only does it out of pity for me. :) It's a pity run. Then you see Ben Leese on Strava running something insane, like over 100 miles a week with easy runs at like 6:30 pace or something equally outrageous, knowing he has a family and an intense job. And you're just like WTF. So, so many awesome people to witness and to know. 

NBR: What does it mean to be chosen by your peers for a coveted NBR Marathon Team Spot?

SW: I feel 100% grateful. Truly. Thank you! When I joined this team, I only wanted to come out and run, get faster, hopefully qualify for the Boston Marathon. It was very much just about 'me'. But now, I love being a part of this larger team. I love leading Tuesday Tempo and Doves. I would say I love the 'community' of NBR, but that's such an annoying word full of baggage and cliche. Instead, I just perceive it as a huge group of friends who help each other through running, get faster, feel better, whatever. Now, maybe it's not as important to be obsessed with my own performance, as we all are naturally programmed to be, but instead be obsessed with everyone else's. Maybe age changes you in this way. And the friendships I've made on this team, I hope they will last the entirety of my life.

NBR: What do you plan on eating post-marathon? What about the night before?

SW: Post marathon? Depends how the race goes, if I feel like celebrating. :) But if it's good or if it's bad, I'll definitely have some brews. 

Before? Probably something simple. Rice / pasta / veg. Nothing complicated. 

NBR: What is your running spirit animal and why?

SW: TigerDove. For obvious reasons. 

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