Race Report: Chicago

Miriam Beyer

When I was six, my mother took me on the train to Chicago from our home in Michigan. Our destination was the Thorne Miniature Rooms at the Art Institute, a dollhouse-lover’s dream. When we got off the train at Chicago’s Union Station, my mother asked if we could walk to the museum. “It’s a little far, but I know you can make it,” she assured. We walked the mile, me gaping at the unfamiliar urban sidewalks and she navigating the busy pedestrians. After the museum, we walked back to the train station, and I remember my mother being proud. “She walked to and from!” she told others later.

Thirty-some-odd years later, my mother cheered for me on those same sidewalks, at miles 2, 13, 17 and 26 of the 2019 Chicago Marathon. Next to her in the bright cold was my stepfather, Chris. When they met he lived in Chicago, in a garden apartment in the Ukrainian Village neighborhood. They visited each other when they could, and eventually he moved to Michigan to be closer to her. When he did, my mother started rousing me out of bed two to three mornings a week to meet him to run. There were fewer things I wanted to do at age 14 than run the sidewalks with my mother and her boyfriend, but I realized later she brought me as support, a second opinion. Is this guy the real deal?  

Twenty-some-odd years later, they are still happily married. As I shivered in Grant Park waiting for the marathon start, I realized how thrilled I was they were there. And I realized how often I think of my mother when I run. She found herself, in her mid-thirties (before Chris), as a single mother with an emptied bank account and three children at the peak of their needs. Instead of collapsing, she assessed the shattered pieces around her, picked up the closest two, put them together and moved forward. When I hit a dark patch, particularly in a marathon, I think: Pick up two pieces. Put them together. Move forward.

I hit dark patches in this year’s Chicago Marathon. I wish I could narrate them better, but the truth is I remember little about the actual race. It had been a few years since I’d done a major marathon, and I forgot what it’s like to always be jostling, always be negotiating your space among other runners, always have noise and activity and spectators. I missed a little bit of that solitude and contemplation that comes in a smaller race. But I also appreciated the energy of a big race and how it fuels you, and distracts you. Hey, hey you! Yeah you! Pick up the pieces! Go!

A few days before the race, I read an article about Eliud Kipchoge’s sub-two-hour marathon attempt. The author, Ed Caesar, wrote, “When [Kipchoge] is running smoothly, it looks as if his thumbs are brushing lint from the lapels of his dinner jacket. (His thumbs are the equivalent of a poker ‘tell’; you know Kipchoge is in trouble when he stops brushing lint.).” It’s such an elegant, beautiful, effortless image, and I remember thinking of it often during Chicago, trying to emulate it. And of course, by the time Chicago began, Kipchoge’s attempt had become accomplishment, beyond awe. It was a joy to race on a weekend when our sport captivated the world. As President Obama tweeted, “Yesterday, marathoner Eliud Kipchoge became the first ever to break two hours. Today in Chicago, Brigid Kosgei set a new women’s world record. Staggering achievements on their own, they’re also remarkable examples of humanity’s ability to endure—and keep raising the bar.”

I had scrupulously layered for the outdoor wait at the marathon’s start, shrouding everything except my shoes and feet, which were numb for the first few miles when we started running. They thawed, and I felt great. At the half, I didn’t feel great, but then around 17 I did again, top of the world. At 21, I still did. At 24, I didn’t. I saw teammate Aaron at the final turn, and he yelled, “Let’s do this Miriam!” It was a good boost. I finished in 3:15:59, a 56-second masters PR. How sweet it is.

Aaron and I were just about to take a photo with our foaming Goose Island 312 finish-line beers, when first one calf and then both seized in cramps. The volunteer in the spotter booth blared through her megaphone, “Runner down!” and two medical staffers appeared and began vigorously massaging my legs. It was terrifying and painful, and unusual – I’d never experienced it after a race. I grimaced and groaned and writhed on the ground, until the spasms subsided after a long minute or two. I’m very grateful to Aaron for staying by and seeing me through. Teammates. NBR.

I found my parents in the lobby of the Congress Hotel across the street from Grant Park. They were sweet and congratulatory, and we left the hotel and meandered the sunny streets to the L. “We had so much fun!” my mother enthused. “I haven’t been up that early in years!” Chris added. My mother held her phone and proudly showed me her step count for the day, well into the thousands after all the moving and cheering of the morning. In her red knit cap and fleece jacket, she suddenly looked to me like a little kid. A little kid covering distance on the roads and sidewalks of Chicago, with excitement, enjoying the pride. 

Race Report: Berlin Marathon

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Another wet one.

So many mixed feelings with this one. But I learned a lot—about myself, my running, my body, what I need.

I felt strong going into to the race. I hit my times at 5k and 10k. But after I passed 15k I thought it’d be an off day. My stomach wasn't right from the start, even though I took every precaution I could think of! I was thinking about my stomach during the early part of the race, and also my pacing. All I was thinking about was my pacing. Trying to make sure I stayed on track for the sub-4:00. I was so preoccupied with it, but I kept pretending I wasn't, reciting “run your run” to myself. I dealt with the stomach pain and kept pushing.

I crossed the half marathon mark at what I thought was 1:59:21, though the marathon tracking app says it was 2:00:30. I was about 3 minutes off the pace I wanted but figured I had plenty of time, and a reliable back half to make that up—I had just wanted to give myself a buffer. All I had to do was negative split, which is what I did in Tokyo, in awful conditions.

But shortly after the half is when the whole race fell apart for me. I had been monitoring my pacing and breathing, and pulling back when I was getting too far ahead of myself, but at some point, the pullbacks weren't doing the trick. My quads, and eventually my hip flexors, started—something. Not quite cramping, not quite seizing—they were just sore. I had a hard time keeping good form and felt like I was shuffling.

Of course, at some point after 10k, it started raining. For context, I have run every star in the rain—2017 NYC, 2018 Chicago, 2019 Tokyo—the latter in a downpour for the entire race. I've run nearly all my halfs in the rain, too, and countless training runs. I can run in the rain, and I know how to do it successfully. I want to say that it had no effect on me, but I think this time it did. I couldn't find a good line for most of the day. The course was PACKED for long stretches. Constant heel clips. I certainly felt like I was weaving more than I wanted to—even though I was doing everything in my power to stick to the tangent. I also had major trouble fueling. I took my gels at the proper intervals (every :35, more frequent than in the past), but there weren't always water stations to take them with, and this definitely limited the positive impact they could've had on my energy stores. As it was, I started feeling depleted around the time I should have—after 2 hours.

At some point, I shifted my mindset and gave up on sub-4:00. First I downshifted to 4:05, but stopping in the final 10k blew that goal. This would’ve been my second consecutive 8-minute PR, so of course, I liked the symmetry of that. So then I downshifted to 4:10, figuring it was a nice round number, and i could be a “single-digit 4-hour” guy. That eventually became dicey, too—and unfortunately, I had to start focusing on simply beating my PR of 4:13, which was no guarantee. I was disappointed, but had a lot of time (too much time?) to think about it! I hit the wall for my legs probably around mile 17 or 18. I’m not really sure why, actually. I’ve done longer training runs, and I’m strong.

As expected, once I was within 2 miles, I could easily calculate what I needed to do, and fortunately I'm good at rising up and speeding up in those moments. The final 1.2k I booked it, particularly that final .2. I crossed where i thought I had an even 4:10, but my calculations were off, so I just beat 4:11. We’re going to count it as 4:10 anyway. By the time I crossed, I was so relieved to be done that I didn't really even think about the surgeries, the anniversary of them, the fact this was my fifth marathon, 4th major, I PRed all of them, they were all in the rain, etc. etc.  I just wanted the clock to stop.

Of course, after a few minutes, the emotions came—as they did for so many other people I saw nearby, and for so many of my previous races.

After a long finish area milling about, and a long walk home, I had some time to reflect on this one, and while I’m mixed about it—I do have some positives, and some overall takeaways:

  1. Strength and flexibility were severely lacking this cycle. I felt it. I didn't feel I had the reserves of strength the way I did in Tokyo. And mobility/flexibility/stretching/foam rolling is sorely needed (pun intended) to be put back in the regimen.

  2. I PRed. This is a PR course. I’m happy about that. The bar is lowered once again. Was it possible to hit a 13 MINUTE PR here, and get sub-4:00? Maybe. But perhaps it was too ambitious. I looked too much into the paces of my training runs, and assumed they would just carry over.  They did for a while, but not once I started getting depleted.

  3. Run your run. Cannot stress this enough. I enjoy having goals, but today they distracted me. It’s all I thought about. I didn’t take in the sights, the history, the crowds, the moment. I missed out on that part of this race. Let go of 4 hours. Just worry about doing your best, finishing strong, and hopefully beating your last time. You just ran the fastest course in the world and set a PR—its HIGHLY LIKELY your next marathon will be slower than this. So get used to that feeling.

  4. I definitely felt alone on the course. It felt like a training run. I missed having supporters (besides Jaclyn, of course).

  5. The conditions had an impact on me today. Maybe not a lot, but it crept into my head.

  6. All of the above led to an overall diminished focus. Perhaps I am being too hard on myself, but I didn't feel as locked in today as I normally would be.

I’m proud of this race. I did my best—I unspooled all the energy. And I’m thrilled I PRed. It shows the progression of training. 4 hours will have to wait for another day. I didn't quit today—though it was quite difficult to keep going at some points. But I didn't quit, I had the resolve to push forward. And now I’m two away from that precious Six Star!


Race Report: The Hamptons Marathon

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Background: Though I live on Long Island, I grew up in the ‘Burg, and was excited to learn that a running club (complete with the bridge logo!) was operating in my old neighborhood. I was excited to join, and I enjoy participating in events when I can.

When I was a boy, we often had foot races on the street. Corner to corner. Sewer to sewer. I always gravitated toward longer distances. I most enjoyed challenging friends to a race around the block, going in opposite directions, start/finish at my stoop on Montrose Avenue. We’d high-five as we passed each other, gauging who was ahead and how fast we needed to go to win. Most often the winner was me, and with that a distance runner emerged from the streets of Williamsburg!

Race Report: I just completed the Hamptons Marathon on September 28. I blew up horribly but learned something. I simply went too fast, too soon. I came in a little under-trained (not enough long runs) due to a knee injury. The race conditions, though, were perfect for me. So, planning to take some time off after the race to deal with my knee, I knowingly committed the classic sin of pushing the marathon pace too fast. I came in shooting for 3:40. If I had been smart and patient at 8:30/mile I might have made it. Yet no—I went out at 8:00 per, 10 miles in 1:20. I felt really comfortable, too, so I stayed at that pace. Around 18-19 miles I noticed my heart rate creeping up. Bad sign. I came through 20 in 2:40, but was preparing to slow down.

No preparation was necessary. I didn’t hit the wall—the wall hit me—with a force never experienced in decades of marathoning. I literally seized with cramps, overpowering and debilitating in their intensity. Like being tazed, alternately and bilaterally between hamstrings and calves.

The last 6 miles went like this: walk, jog, seize, stop. Repeat.

I finished in 3:55, far from my best. Disappointing but educational. Points to consider: Undertrained? A little. Under-hydrated/not enough electrolytes? Probably. Poor race-day strategy? Absolutely.

Now here’s the big takeaway. I’m 62 years old and still running (and racing) with purpose. My wife was at the race to encourage and support me. Big plus. I was able to do several easy recovery runs over the next week. So I’ve kept it all in perspective. My Olympic dreams are long gone :) but my desire to run (and race) remains strong. Expanding my horizons with NBR has been part of a running renaissance for me. Bridge runs, Mile 12 Water Table, McCarren Track Meets, Brooklyn Mile—all great fun. Hope to see you guys again soon. Thanks for keeping running alive in Brooklyn!

NYC Marathon Team Spot Check In: Carrie Cody

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

I joined NBR in the early months of 2017 after Googling "Running clubs in Brooklyn." I've always run for exercise and fun, but wanted to meet people in the 'hood and have something to motivate me to do more. My first run was TNT, and it was already drizzling when I left my apartment, but I'd put off attending a run for a couple weeks, so I forced myself to go. I was waiting under a tree wondering if the run would get cancelled when Becca Ades and about five dudes arrived and cheerfully announced the run was on. By the time we got to Kent it was driving rain, the kind where you can barely see; Becca and the other runners (who were waaaaay faster than me) high-fived me at every pass, and when I finished they were all huddled in the rain on Kent waiting for me, and I was like, okay, these people are the real deal :) It took me a little while to really become a part of the NBR community, but now I count some of my teammates as my closest friends.


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

It's going! I sort of pieced together my own plan based on a couple I liked. It's honestly a lot harder than I imagined, and I'm really grateful to have so many fellow runners in the same boat. I was trying to hit Tuesday Night Tempo every week, but it's been harder to do Tuesday speed work as my weekend long runs have started taking their toll. I go to Thursday Night Track every week (just became a run leader too, shameless plug!), and Narwhals, which I'd never run before marathon training, but has been really instrumental in getting me through my long runs. My first 16-miler was with Narwhals—it was the last weekend of Summer Streets and it was just incredible—the great group I ran with, the feeling of community that comes from joining other runners while we had the streets to ourselves, all the great water stops—I never thought I could have such a blast running long in high 80 degree weather.

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

Monday Night Easy Run, Tuesday Night Tempo when my legs cooperate, Thursday Night Track, and Narwhals have all been staples of my training cycle. Oh man, it's a long list, but my lil' squad—Liz Shea, who always has a positive 'tude and chants my name during every run we do together; Anthony Zhu, who's my running buddy outside NBR runs; Seth Pompan, who's been thru a lot this year and still keeps coming back for more; James Gray-King, who's heard me ask "Am I supposed to be this sore though?" almost every week since August and acts like running a marathon is the most enjoyable thing I'll ever do; Nat Gleed, who helps me be faster just by trying to keep up with her; and Sara Cohen, who's about the happiest person I've ever witnessed running a marathon. I love you all! <3

4. What does it mean to be chosen by your peers for a coveted NBR marathon team spot?

I can't even say how grateful I am—after having a great first half of 2018, I was sidelined with an injury in August and couldn't complete my 9+1. NBR and its amazing members are what inspired me to run a marathon in the first place—something I NEVER thought I would do in my lifetime, and I was low-key devastated. My injury really took it out of me, I got pretty depressed and mentally and emotionally run down, but it turns out in NBR, you're still in good company with other injured runners. I can't say enough how much it meant to have my teammates continue to motivate and boost me up during the whole lengthy injury recovery process, all culminating in this gift that keeps on giving. :)

5. What do you plan on eating post-marathon? What about the night before?

Post: probably a burger and fries and all the beer. The night before a race, I like the orecchiette w/ sausage and broccoli rabe from Scalino in Greenpoint. It's pretty reliably no muss-no fuss and has gotten me through some races.

6. What inspires and motivates you to run this year's NYC marathon?

Cheering and volunteering at multiple marathons, both NYC and elsewhere for people I know and love has been really motivational for me. I love that an entire city can come together to celebrate the months of literal blood, sweat and tears these runners have spent on their training. Running it myself, as my first marathon on my hometown turf will be so physically, mentally and emotionally rewarding. Also my sister Emily, who I planned to train and run my first marathon with before I thought my injury was gonna make that an impossibility. She's been an incredible inspiration and my rock both while I was recovering and during our training cycle, and watching her train has made me try harder to stay positive, even when I want to quit a run.

7. In your head, what animal (real or fictional) do you think you most resemble when you're running?

Oh lord, maybe a T-Rex? The short arms and torso, stomping down too hard on my feet always, sometimes known to yell.

October Runner of the Month: Ryan Pattie

Until September 2016, Ryan Pattie hadn’t run a mile since middle school. Then a friend told him how much running had helped her—she described it as “free therapy.” So Ryan laced up some sneakers, and squeezed out “a 12-minute-plus mile during which I'm sure I stopped once or twice before dry heaving at the end,” he says.

Although he joined the NBR Google Group soon afterward, it took another year before he got over his “stage fright” enough to actually meet up for a group run. Today, he remembers what it felt like to be brand new, so makes a point of reaching out to new faces. He’s also become NBR’s co-treasurer (along with Natalie Gleed), has volunteered at multiple races and sometimes jumps in as a substitute run leader for the Wednesday Night Beginner’s Run.

He tackled his first marathon—the Kentucky Derby Festival—in April and keeps scoring new PRs. “I've come a pretty long way, and that's awesome to reflect on.”

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What he does when not running: “My wife, Ilona, and I love to travel, cook and EAT. We got married in Spain this summer and ate all of the pintxos—and then we spent a few days in Lisbon and ate all of the pasteis. We're hoping to visit her family in Poland this summer and that means pierogis, kielbasa and pączki. One of these days, I may run enough miles per week to justify all of it. I also love watching English and European soccer and I won't say no to a 9 am kick-off pint or two.”

Favorite race distance: “I don't think I've found it just yet but I definitely prefer running anything in cold weather. Anything over 80 degrees is just straight-up evil.”

Best running memory: “This year's Fifth Ave mile. I was coming off a bad foot sprain that I got in Portugal and hadn't been running at all for a few weeks. I was basically going to go through the motions to get the 9+1 credit. Ilona kept telling me, ‘Don't get hurt worse, just take it easy.’

“I arrived late and was in the back of the pack. It was so crowded that we were all still walking for a few seconds after passing the starting line. Frustrated with the traffic, I weaved around and finally got some space (side note: it boggles my mind how the fast people can run so close together). For the first quarter-mile, I was going entirely too hard for someone trying to ‘take it easy’ but it just felt so great to actually be running again. At the halfway point, it still felt good and the crowd noise was getting me pumped to keep up the pace. After the 3/4 mark, everything went fuzzy and sour-tasting and I hit the wall as other guys were passing me left and right, but I knew from prior races and training with NBR that I had enough in the tank to hang on. Even with the injury and the lack of conditioning, I threw everything that I had down for that race and I was just as pleased after that mile as I was after my first marathon...and I got a 20+ second PR to boot!”

Favorite running route in NYC: “I ran my first couple of races in Prospect Park so I still think of it as home (along with McCarren).”

Running-related superstitions: “I have to check that the stove is off and the door is locked behind me about 3-4 times before a run. I swear it's not OCD! Also, I have to say goodbye to our cats, not that they give a damn.”

Favorite post-race food: “Chocolate milk.”

Pattie at the finish of his first marathon: Kentucky Derby Festival in April. “My wife made a little tag with my name on it but nobody actually yelled it, but I did have a few people yell out, Go Brooklyn!”

Pattie at the finish of his first marathon: Kentucky Derby Festival in April. “My wife made a little tag with my name on it but nobody actually yelled it, but I did have a few people yell out, Go Brooklyn!”

Song that makes him want to run: "‘Sabotage’ by Beastie Boys.”

Favorite running social media account: “Eliud Kipchoge's Instagram because he is a fellow Tottenham Hotspur fan. He's also pretty decent at running.”

Worst part about being a runner: “It's petty as hell but my poor toenails have seen better days. I lost three after my first marathon and Ilona just experienced her first casualty. If that's the only downer I can really think of, we're doing alright (although she took it *much* harder than I did).”

Best advice to running newbies? “Don't be intimidated out there. Make some running buddies and ask lots of questions—the more you're connected, the harder it is to drop off the face of the planet. Finally, do yourself a favor and leave the headphones at home (at least from time to time). I never realized how hard I was pounding the pavement until I forgot them once and my knees have thanked me ever since.”

Current running goal: “My wife and I are both doing NYC this year—first time for me and it's her first ever marathon. I got hurt during training so I'm doing my best to catch up now. I don't really think I have a PR in me right now so I think I'll just enjoy the race as much as I possibly can. After that, I would love to do Chicago because I lived there for 10 years before moving to Brooklyn. I don't think any of my Chicago friends would have ever guessed that I'd be into running marathons.”


October Runner of the Month: Sarah Mallory

Sarah Mallory is one of those runners who consistently inspires her teammates with her positive energy. When she joined North Brooklyn Runners in June 2018, she had no intention of getting into racing, and definitely no plans to run a marathon—she just wanted to make some friends.

To her surprise, she ended up clocking some impressive race finishes. “I truly had no idea what I was capable of in this sport until I joined NBR,” says the co-leader for Wednesday Mourning Doves. “But truly all of the beautiful friendships I've made surpass and outweigh any personal running accomplishments by far.”

An artist and art teacher currently getting her masters in social justice and art education at NYU, she recently designed the NBR Chicago Marathon singlet—which she’ll be wearing when she races her hometown marathon later this month. “Apparently I will cross the Chicago River five times during the race. I've been researching the river and thinking a lot about how rivers have a history of being places for journeys, hardships and transportation. I'm not exactly sure yet what it will feel like (if anything) to run over water that is so rooted to the place where I am from, but it feels special. I can't wait.”

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How she initially got into running: “I was totally on little kids track and cross country from like age 6. And I ran in middle school and high school.”

Sarah’s self-portrait

Sarah’s self-portrait

Favorite race distance: “I think the marathon?! Definitely not the 10k. I'm still trying to figure the marathon out and see what I can do with it. The marathon feels like a big project that requires a lot of labor, and working on it, for me, draws parallels to art-making.”

Song that makes her want to run: “‘Long Walk to D.C.’ by the Staple Singers.”

Best running memory: “Probably my first (and only so far!) trail race?! I raced the Breakneck Point half marathon last fall. The course was super vertical and technical; it took forever (a full 2+ hours longer than a road half). It was unlike anything i've ever done. The trail community was super cool and nice and really invested in eating snacks (which I love!). I ended up getting second place, and I was completely shocked! I had no idea I was doing well at all because I was mostly alone in the woods trying to find all the little pink flags that marked the route.”

Favorite running route in NYC: “Anything that takes me to Prospect Park and ends with coffee and pastries.”

Running superstition: “Pre-race Tina Turner usually.”

Best advice to running newbies: “I think a lot of people, especially adults, are reluctant to take up running, particularly if they have had a bad experience trying it before. I think getting used to the breathing can feel uncomfortable, and that turns a lot of people away. New runners need to keep in mind that not all of your runs should be at your maximum effort. Runners run different speeds and distances at different times. Running can feel slow and comfortable (and this way you can talk with your friends!).”

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NYC Marathon Team Spot Check In: Hunter Underwood

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

I moved to Williamsburg in December 2018 and actually had immediate plans to run with NBR. I had run with a few of the Manhattan-based running clubs without establishing a real connection while jealously eyeing the NBR singlets from afar. My first run was January 1, 2018, with an early, hungover edition of MNER where I met Anna McCusker, Caitlin Shu and Seth Pompan whom I am still friends with. As we struggled and burped our way down Kent Avenue, I knew that I had found my people. 


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

It's...going. My work schedule makes it really hard to consistently follow a training plan, but I have been progressively increasing my weekly mileage and long runs. I also bike quite a bit to work, which I think helps.  In a way, I think the freedom and flexibility of no official plan has been good for me because I tend to be very hard on myself at baseline. I knew that if a had a very specific plan I would miss days and workouts and become too frustrated with the process. Mentally, I am telling myself that this is already a thousand times better than my plan for my last marathon, which was absolutely zero training.

My favorite workout, although not tailored specifically to the marathon, will always be Canova K's.  I also utilize the Mile High Run Club classes quite a bit. The hardest part of any track/tempo workout for me is the mental focus required to hold onto your paces. I find that Mile High helps me get some work in after a long day while simultaneously mentally checking out and relaxing my brain.  I also am a huge fan of Flywheel for cross-training (which has helped a lot for shorter distance)

Kev Grev and Caitlin Shu are the most familiar with my best NBR long run story that happened last weekend and have been sworn to secrecy. Let's just say that unfortunate gastrointestinal mishaps require creative solutions.


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

It is hard for me to make the NBR runs in general these days, but I am trying to show up to Narwhals when I can.

Kiana Hamzehdoost (my partner a.k.a. my roommate) inspires me to train harder every single day! She approaches her own training plans with so much thought and executes them with such discipline. She helps me get through my long runs and often talks me out of bailing. She encourages me to lace up my shoes and get out the door when I am trying to make every excuse to skip a run. Until recently, she would carry water and gels for me on long runs but I am slowly warming up to the idea of doing it myself.  There truly is no way I could make it to the starting line of the marathon ready to go without her support.

James Gray-King horrifies me more than inspires me with his love for the marathon, but maybe (hopefully not) this will change after I run NYC.


4. What does it mean to be chosen by your peers for a coveted NBR  marathon team spot?  

It means a lot! Getting a team spot basically gave me the only chance I'd ever have to run the marathon as I work too many weekends to effectively do 9+1. Furthermore, the fact that I have an NBR spot holds me accountable on those days when even Kiana couldn't convince me to run. If you dream it, you can do it!

5. What do you plan on eating post-marathon? What about the night before?

I will be on an all beer diet after the marathon. If my math is correct, I will need at least 11 standard beers to replete the calories burned. The night before will either be Italian out with NBR friends if I'm feeling it. If I'm not feeling it then we will proudly continue our traditional pre-race Annie's mac & cheese at home on the couch while watching trash TV.

6. What inspires and motivates you to run this year's NYC marathon?

Although I've run this distance before, this will be my first marathon under the NBR banner. Despite not enjoying the training at times, I do overall enjoy the satisfaction that comes from finishing something that's difficult. While cheering for Kiana last year I thought it was amazing that the entire city of New York had a completely different vibe on marathon day. With the cogs of NYC ever moving, it is nice to think that just for one day, even if just for a few hours, the city shuts down for us all to show up and give it our all. I'm looking most forward to that instant catharsis that can only come from running 26.2 miles and not a moment before.

7. In your head, what animal (real or fictional) do you think you most resemble when you're running?

Does Steve Buscemi count as an animal? :(

NYC Marathon Team Spot Check In: Lisa Larson

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

I’ve been running with NBR for about two years. I joined a couple of months after I started running because I don’t know how to do anything half-assed or just for fun and figured if I was running I needed to be all in. I am a former professional ballet dancer and after about a year of retirement I needed something else physical to consume all of my time. The first NBR run I attended was WNRR and without having any context for what the team was about aside from its pretty metal website, I was terrified I wouldn’t be able to keep up. There were definitely some faster runners there, and it was that pressure to catch them or at least to catch up that kept me coming back.

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

Marathon training is….going? I don’t know how to say this without sounding disconnected from the marathon hoopla but currently it very much just feels like another compartmentalized part of my day. I’ve gotten up to a 16-mile long run which is further than I’ve ever run and I feel proud of that, but its very much just one aspect of my life. It’s a huge time suck, but its not all-consuming in the way that I thought that it would be. I started a new job in breast cancer research on the same week that training started, and that has been physically and emotionally draining. I think it’s a blessing because it’s provided me some perspective and some balance with my running. I’m working with critically and chronically ill people all day every day. The running task feels very easy compared to that. That said, I think that finding time to cross train has been crucial to staying healthy and attending TNT has made those medium runs a lot easier to get done when I’m exhausted. As for a good long run story, I just ran 16 miles with Sean Laude as my bike escort offering water and gels the whole way. My mind starts to get weird at around mile 14 so having his company and persistent cheer got me to the end of a particularly hilly run.

Photo by Jody Bailey @run.photography

Photo by Jody Bailey @run.photography

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

I have to mention TNT again here. Track work intervals have always come easy to me but the concept of a tempo run to a new runner can feel somewhat daunting. TNT is a really inclusive group that makes each runner feel accomplished at the end of their run and it’s that positivity that keeps me coming back. For runners who inspire me to train harder, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my amazingly supportive partner, Sean Laude. He is great at reminding me how capable I am when I lose sight of my abilities. He doesn’t ascribe to a theory of excessive praise but his words are always genuine and his ability to be present for me pushes me to want to make him proud and allows me to recharge when I’m losing focus. The other NBR runner who inspires me daily is Kevin Vargas because he is equally diligent in his training and his recovery which so many runners forget to do. He is also generous and humble despite his insane running talents and paced me to a five minute half marathon PR in May!

4. What does it mean to be chosen by your peers for a coveted NBR marathon team spot?

I’m humbled, because I think these spots should go to someone who exemplifies what it means to be an NBRior. I mostly wake up, try to excel in my career, be a decent partner to Sean, squeeze in a few runs, and make the world a little bit better and kinder in the process. Most days I think I fall short, as we all probably do. We’re all human and trying our hardest and I think that is what this team is all about. We’re all people with our plates full trying to give a little something to the run community and I’m honored to be here. 

5. What do you plan on eating post-marathon? What about the night before?

Post-marathon I’ll eat as many calories as I can get into my mouth that day, and then aim to do a more refined celebratory dinner later in the week when I’m not full of GU. Maybe an omakase menu or something similar to remind me to slow down and unwind. Before the race I stan a pizza all to myself, preferably from Bravi Ragazzi in Bed Stuy (with anchovies for the extra salt!). 

6. What inspires and motivates you to run this year's NYC marathon?

My dad is who inspires me to run this marathon and who inspires me to get out the door to train on my worst days. He passed away from cancer about a year ago and grew up running cross country for Trinity School here in the city. He would have loved to watch me run the marathon so I’m doing this for him, in his memory. He is also why I am reminded every day to have gratitude for a body that lets me push it in so many ways even when I feel sore or tight or run down. 

7. In your head, what animal (real or fictional) do you think you most resemble when you're running?

This is the hardest question! I’ve been sitting on it for about a week and then while running the trails of suburban Chicago this weekend a small creature skittered in front of me and I found my answer. I’m definitely a chipmunk. The can go fast for short distances, are small, and just a little bit skittish. I also have a lot of cheek (literally and figuratively) and enjoy being out in the woods.


NYC Marathon Team Spot Check-In: Jeff Skaar

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

 After 6 years in Yorkville, I moved to Brooklyn in December 2012, shortly after Hurricane Sandy, landing one door down from the Turkey’s Nest—the one that now has the hideous façade. I never even thought about joining a running group until I saw some insane people having a great time on a track that had been freshly shoveled for the occasion. Soon after, I stumbled on the NBR website, recognized a friend from college….and still waited 6 months to join a Wednesday Night Road Run in the fall of 2013. I became a regular and, by 2015, a run leader. I started attending more NBR runs once I started working from home in 2014, as a natural cap to my day. I was a WNRR leader until January 2017, when the developer with poor design taste and the looming L shutdown precipitated a move to Crown Heights. Since then, I’m a part time visitor to the mothership, returning each Sunday morning to lead Sunday long runs. As a PM runner, Wednesday Form Run is (currently) the only organized NBR Just South run at night, and with Max’s retirement, I signed on to leading WFR in 2018. 

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

2019 has not been a good year.  A lingering back issue essentially wiped out 6 months of running.  For quite some time, my running was limited to abbreviated SFR and WFR routes. Getting back into shape in the summer is the worst, and only recently, in cooler weather, have I been able to step back and realize that I am making progress. I’m not a planned workout person, and I don’t run high mileage. My best gauge of fitness is hills. I’ve called out Union Ave as a favorite in the past, but moving south has shifted Green-Wood Cemetery higher on the list. I recently called an audible with the 7mm group on SFR to do a hillier route in Prospect Park and Green-Wood, and it felt surprisingly good for 18 miles. I hope that continues.

Good long run stories?  Do they exist?  What’s the cut-off for long?  I did find Boston 2018 amusing and enlightening. At a certain point, when it is miserable and cold, with hail and headwinds, you just have to laugh. I don’t think anyone else around me was amused. Same with Finger Lakes 2017—once soaked, covered in mud, in a torrential downpour, and running through streams of cow manure, there is not much else to do, other than laugh. 


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

I’m obviously at SFR and WFR most weeks, but the goal is to feel comfortable running up to McCarren and rolling right into track or tempo workouts. Although I wouldn’t say I’m fully there yet, you may have seen me recently at the track or TNT

There are lots of amazing/inspiring NBR runners, although moving south and the separate LC runs mean that my view is now more limited than before. I should start with all the NBR run leaders, past and present. We have a lot of people leading multiple runs, but I’ll highlight two I see on a regular basis. Jen Herr currently leads three different runs (Bed Stuy, Bridge/coffee, and SFR), and Alen Shapiro has led WFR for many years (look at the NBR website photo!). I know we have many dedicated runners, but watching Quang Ton (Q; current runner of the month) and his rapid improvement has been fun/impressive. He’s gone from 8:30 mm WNRR to 6:40 mm marathoner. 

I won’t restrict the list of people I run with to just NBR—one of the great things about NBR is that we welcome anyone to our runs, regardless of pace or affiliation. I am thinking specifically about the weekly sub-7mm pace group at WFR that includes Julian Rosow (NBR), Riccardo Bianchi (Brooklyn Road Runners) and Anthony Kerrigan (South Williamsburg Running Club) as regulars. I’ve also been known to join a rare November Project workout or relay team. 

4. What does it mean to be chosen by your peers for a coveted NBR marathon team spot?  

I am honored to have been selected, but there are many people that give time and effort to NBR who are more deserving. I don’t mean to be flip, but it really means that many deserving candidates won the lottery, qualified through some other route, or are not interested in running the marathon. Run leaders, board members, coordinators, and other volunteers—we have so many people contributing to NBR.

5. What do you plan on eating post-marathon? What about the night before?

If I eat at all after a long run, I have to eat within 30 minutes, which means I’ll be stopping into a Manhattan bodega for a protein bar (if the finisher bag doesn’t have something that works). Beyond that 30-minute window, I won’t be interested in food for at least 3 hours, maybe more. By the after party, I should be plenty hungry though. Beer and/or whiskey will also be on the menu. 

The meal before the marathon will be motivated more by fear than past experiences. I’ve done long runs/races after diverse meals (spicy, fatty, random, etc.) and been just fine. However, I’d rather not tempt fate, so I’ll stick with some uncomplicated pasta.

6. What inspires and motivates you to run this year's NYC marathon?

 It’s a mixture of a few different things. 

  1. I want to run NYC on my terms. The last time I ran NYC, I hadn’t run much for the 1.5 months prior due to a sprained ankle that occurred on my first WNRR back after a hip injury that had already cost me training time. I was running mostly pain-free (and most of the swelling came after), but I was nowhere near being in shape. Combined with my penchant for starting too fast, the back half of the race was less enjoyable than I hoped. This time, I’d like to be able to enjoy the race more. 

  2. There a few things that I would consider together based on my general lack of racing. Before the back woes, the plan was to try for sub-3 hours, figuring it isn’t going to get any easier as I get older.  (As of now, I have no idea if this is achievable this year.)  I would also like to run Boston in something other than a nor’easter and need a new qualifying/registration time, having missed a registration time by about 40 seconds in the 2018 monsoon. Boston was a great experience, but I’m guessing it is 10X better in better weather. I don’t race often, so NYC would allow me to accomplish multiple goals in one race. 

  3. Although we have many faster masters runners, I don’t believe we have that many registered for NYC. It is not inconceivable that my time might actually help NBR scoring. (In shorter races, there is very little chance that I’m helpful.) 

7. In your head, what animal (real or fictional) do you think you most resemble when you're running? 

I have absolutely no idea. I know I run more upright than I should (WFR week 10–forward tilt!), my arms tend to cross the midline (WFR week 4–arm swing!), and I’m fairly large for my speed……maybe Pedals the bear (RIP)?

September Runner of the Month: Louise O'Neill

The first time Louise O’Neill tried to join a running group, it wasn't very enjoyable. “I wasn’t fast enough,” she says. “I left before the run even started.” She mentioned the experience to a couple of friends who happened to be NBR members. They told her things would be different if she tried NBR. “I wasn’t sure,” she admits. “I stalked the Google Group emails for a few months.” But when she finally turned up, she really enjoyed it—and kept coming back week after week.

That was early 2017, and she’s been running with the club ever since. She’s trained for two NYC marathons with the group runs, and for most of this year, she’s helped lead the Wednesday Form Run in Prospect Park.

She’s proud to be an NBR member. One of her most notable memories was when she raced in Narragansett last year: “I overheard the local people talk about the people from Brooklyn. They wanted us to come back.”

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What she does when not running: “I’m a structural engineer and I specialize in existing and historic buildings. It allows me to see a lot of New York and use math, which are my two favorite things. I like to hike, travel, read and make lists. My current list is to see all 50 states, so far I’m on 33.”

How she initially got into running: “I have a FOMO problem. All my friends at work ran, so I convinced myself I could, too.”

Favorite race distance: “10 miles. It’s the best part of a half marathon but long enough to be fun.”

Best running memories: “Team Russell Simmons. TNT. Thursday morning track with Bev involving coffee or animals. Prospect park loops with Caitlin, or many long runs with the Caboose Crew.”

Smiling with an NBR crew before the NYC Marathon

Smiling with an NBR crew before the NYC Marathon

Favorite running route in NYC: “West Side Highway, Red Hook track or Prospect Park”

Her race day superstition: “I need a McDonald’s coffee before a race —it’s normally the only place open. Anytime I don’t have it, the race goes really badly.”

What running has taught her: ”Just because you didn’t like something at school doesn’t mean you will never like it. Supportive people make a real difference.”

Favorite post-race food: “Pizza.”

The song that makes her want to run: “I’m not a music person when I run, but ‘New York, New York’ at the start of the NYC Marathon is the best run song.”

Favorite running social media accounts: “Shalane Flanagan, NBR and nycrunningmama—she runs, has children and has a job and is really inspiring.”

Worst part about being a runner: ”Sweat and the time commitment. And people telling you it will ruin your knees/joints/soul—I just reply that I’ll take my chances.”

Best advice to running newbies: “Run with other people, but you only need to compete with yourself.”

Current running goal: “To PR in Chicago—sub-4 is my stretch goal.”