NYC Marathon Team Spot Check-In: Donald Williams

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?  

Let me start by advising you that I’m a bit of an introvert and not much of a joiner. I usually run alone with whatever is in my head as my constant companion. On a run through Williamsburg I believe in 2013, I saw a group of runners coming in the opposite direction. Some of them were wearing NBR gear. I thought that they were an interesting looking group. I looked up the club on line and decided I would like to join this club. I had belonged to another running club before (they will remain nameless) but due to some back issues I pretty much stopped running for about six years and did not renew my membership. I also had moved to a different neighborhood. 

As far as group runs, I have yet to participate since I live kind of far from NBR’s core neighborhood. So my next group run will be my first. What I do like though are the ample opportunities to do volunteer work with the club. This allows me to participate in the club and to give something back to an activity that I love.

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.

My marathon training is going well. I’m feeling strong and confident. I will admit that running in the hotter weather has been quite a challenge. What gets me through is that I’ve done this before. I last ran the marathon in 2011 and thought at the time that that would be my last one.

The itch came back so now I have to scratch it.

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

Unfortunately I can’t answer this question. This might sound corny but seeing an NBR shirt or singlet is quite motivating.

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

I mentioned before that I got the itch to do another marathon. I didn’t do 9+1 and did not get selected in the lottery. I figured I would just do 2019.

When the opportunity for a club spot came up, I figured I would apply. I honestly thought I was not worthy. However I was shocked and exhilarated when I was selected. It meant the world to me to be selected by my peers. The work that I put in paid off and now I was given the opportunity to abuse my body for the next several months. Believe me I really appreciate it.

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

Post marathon meal? Really not sure. Too far out to makeup my mind. 

The night before I will probably make a nice pasta dish and try not to eat too much. Also nothing weird or spicy.

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

I just want to prove to myself that at 67 years old I can still do this. Not expecting a PR but do expect to have a very good and satisfying experience.

7. In your head, what celebrity do you think you most resemble when you're running?

I would say Idris Elba but that would be a lie.

NYC Marathon Team Spot Check-In: Natalie Gleed

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 when I moved to Brooklyn about 3 years ago. I’d seen the singlets at lots of races and remember chatting to someone at the marathon expo who told me it was definitely the best team in New York. I don’t remember my exact first NBR run, but it was probably Monday or Wednesday evening as that’s what I most regularly attended for the first year or so.

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.

Training is going pretty well, I’m putting in more miles that I have for any previous marathons, but it’s still pretty average compared to some other NBRers! I’m also doing a lot more speedwork than I ever have before (thanks both TNTs - Tuesday Night Tempo and Thursday Night Track) and that’s definitely paying off. I join Narwhals pretty regularly and one of our first long runs this year also coincided with it being one of the first hot days, so no-one was really prepared for it. We ran down to Highland Park desperate to get to the water fountains, only to find that they hadn't been turned on yet for some reason. So we all end up at a gas station sharing Gatorade and water that we all chipped in to buy. Definitely a reminder that long runs aren't easy.

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

I’m definitely an evening runner, so I'll normally be at least one of Tuesday or Thursday night runs to get my speedwork in and I often make it to Mondays to run the best bridge. Then there's Narwhals to help me get the long run out of the way so I can enjoy the rest of the weekend. All the run leaders for those push me along and in particular Anthony Zhu always pushes me to run faster. I also have to say thanks to James Gray King who put together a training plan for me and several others making good use of his NBR sponsored coaching certificate.

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

It's obviously a great honor to be chosen! And it's definitely a motivator that I don't want to let the team down by performing badly on the day, so that is helping me get out there on the days where I'm tired or the weather isn't so great (and we all know there's been a lot of those this summer!)

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

It’s always a big bowl of pasta the night before a marathon, and weetabix (a British cereal) the morning of the race. Afterwards I will be eating whatever food there is at the NBR post-marathon party!

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

I’ve volunteered at the water table for the past two years and while that’s a brilliant way to spend the day it made me really want to get back out there and run again this year. I can’t wait to be on the other side of the table and hear all the cheers as I come through mile 12. There’s a group of us all planning to run together to hit a certain time goal so I’m sure that will be very motivating on the day too.

7. In your head, what celebrity do you think you most resemble when you're running?

I asked for opinions on this and the best suggestion was NBR’s very own celebrity triathlete Sean Laude, due to us both having farmer’s arms when we run.

NYC Marathon Team Spot Check-In: Laura McLaughlin

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 first joined NBR about six months after graduating college and moving to Bushwick. In early January of 2017, I impulsively googled “free running clubs in New York” – and the rest is history. That fateful, first run was with the Narwhals. The forecast called for a snowstorm at 10AM, long after the run’s conclusion, so I thought I could get away with shorts and a cotton sweatshirt. (Important context: I’m from California, so this whole “winter” exercise concept was quite new to me.) But the snow started far earlier than expected. Pretty quickly, I lost all feeling in my hands; by mile 5 my eyelashes were effectively frozen together. After 11 miles, I hobbled back over to my car, frigid but happy. However, I was dismayed to learn that I lacked the dexterity to retrieve my car keys from my shorts pocket. I ended up waiting a small eternity in the falling snow for sensation to come back. Despite the miserable experience that was thawing out (picture me, teeth chattering, frantically waving my hands in front of the heating vents), I was hooked. I couldn’t wait for my next NBR run.

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.

I started marathon training reluctantly. In June, the prospect of four months of 40+ mile weeks felt nothing short of daunting. But I’ve gotten back into the long run groove, and am starting to re-discover some of my favorite routes. It’s safe to say that I’m stoked to be training again. 

I’m using the Pfitizinger 18 week 55 mile/week plan for the first time. I’ve particularly enjoyed the medium long runs that incorporate about ten 100m strides for a little added speedwork. It feels great to switch up the long run monotony – and the sprints are so short! By the time you realize it’s painful, the interval is over. I think the point of these workouts is to strengthen different muscles and improve overall running form.

As for my favorite NBR long run: this past fall, I ran up to the Bronx to cheer on the Percy Sutton 5k Racers. It was one of my first-ever 19-20 milers and I felt great the whole way. The run was the first time I’d traveled that far north in the city (I’d never set foot the Bronx!) Plus, there was an excellent crew that ran for the entirety of the mileage – among them, Toni, Ashley, Chris and Angel. But ultimately, the beauty of the run was that it was wholly uneventful – a few hours of pure bliss on a beautiful fall morning.

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

I’m one of the leaders for the Wednesday Night Road Run (come out! We have a good time! I’m not biased!) It’s a nice mid-week ~5 mile run, onto which I can easily tack on extra miles to meet my training needs. Of course, I love the Saturday Narwhals run and try to go every weekend I’m in town. Narwhals and Sunday Funday are two of my favorite runs – not only do you discover new routes in the city, but the run easily doubles as a nice 3-hour chat with an NBR member you’ve never met. I also love the Bridge run because – well, coffee.

There are so many inspirational people in NBR. Without them ALL, I would have never considered (or been able to complete!) a marathon last year or think about another one this year. One of the most inspirational people that comes to mind is Toni Mayo. We started running long runs together last year, but now she just blows me out of the park. She’s willing to log hard, sweaty miles to meet her goals, and it clearly pays off. I’m hoping she runs Chicago so well that she’ll slow down to pace me for NY. 

And of course, I have to give a shout out to Yvan, who invariably tells me I can run faster (even when I’m not so convinced myself).

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

Being chosen for an NBR marathon team spot is a simultaneously humbling and terrifying experience. There are so many inspirational people on the team - people who show you what the human body is capable of.  They make New York ( especially North Brooklyn) feel more like a small town than a major city – whether in Central Park or Williamsburg, I can’t go on a run without bumping into familiar faces. Somehow, a love for running has forged the most eclectic, adventurous and welcoming community of which I’ve had the opportunity to be a part. It means the world to me to be able to represent this singular NBR community in November.

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

The night before, I plan on eating a huge bowl of ramen – the perfect carb-heavy meal for a fall day. Afterwards, you’ll find me eating my weight in fried plantains.

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

My biggest inspiration to run this year’s marathon is my love of the city – specifically, my love of running in this city. Before joining NBR, my knowledge of New York was limited to a half mile radius around my apartment in Bushwick. Running with the club has allowed me to experience NYC in a completely distinct and intimate way. The marathon, which will take me through all 5 boroughs, seems like the perfect opportunity to showcase my love for my adopted home.

7. In your head, what celebrity do you think you most resemble when you're running?

I had to consult outside sources for a suitable answer to this question, but perhaps Hillary Swank? That’s the comparison I get most often. Not that I’m complaining - I’ll watch “Million Dollar Baby” the night before for motivation.

NYC Marathon Team Spot Check-In: Lilly Stevens

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?  

Hi NBR!! I’d lived in Williamsburg as a life-long runner for about 5 years before I joined up with the team. I remember attending a Hellkatz Tuesday tempo workout, and Sue, Taylor, Matt and Anika were SO nice to me. Sue said, “Just keep showing up to workouts, you’ll get faster.” Boy was she right! I also began racing more heavily and began tracking my pace. Although my participation has waned since moving to central Brooklyn (and having a child), I’m still as committed as ever to complete my first full marathon in the fall.  

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.

So far, marathon training has been “lovely” (using coach Karina’s favorite word).  The long runs by myself, however, have not been. It’s such a bummer that I moved out of north brooklyn before signing up for my first full, because I can’t rely on the regular weekly runs to have the company on my LRs. That said, this weekend Karina has nicely offered to plan the Narwhals route so that Just Southies can join up for the longer mileage. As far as a workouts go, joining the Just South Tuesday Tempo team has been the single best source of pace-dropping for my whopper spring season, where I PRed each half marathon I ran from March to May.  Shout outs to Dimitri and Jen!!

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

I’d love to highlight coach Karina (Christiansen) who has agreed to be my marathon coach. I find her calm demeanor, occasional check-ins, and positive encouragement to be just the recipe I need to keep going.  There’ve been several times during humid/sweaty long runs where I kept repeating her phrase “there must be joy.” She also helps me work my parenting and dissertation schedule into my training plan. Karina is just the best and I’m so grateful that NBR brought us together.

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

It means just about EVERYTHING to me. I wear my singlet proudly when I go on long runs, and whomever I can brag to that I’m training, I make sure they know I got a team spot.  Moreover, one of the sources of strength that I pull from when I’m tired and slow is: imagining running through mile 12 on Nov. 4th and high-fiving everyone at the water table. Joe LaSalle, I’ll specifically be looking for YOU!!!

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

Hmmm, I love a good teriyaki chicken or white fish with brown rice and LOADS of sauteed veggies.  I usually do that as a recovery meal. However, the night after the marathon, I plan to go with my family to Glady’s Jerk Center (in my hood of Prospect Lefferts Gardens) and eat heaps of jerk chicken, rice, beans and DRINK ALL THE RUM PUNCH I CAN MANAGE!!!

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

My health, my son, my loving husband who has made sacrifices to help me get there, and also to my future self who can look back on this experience and say, “yup, Lil, ya did it.” I have also been close to tears while running half-marathons in the spring, just thinking about crossing the finish line in CP and what an empowering feeling that must be. Weirdly, imagining myself running the race has been a huge source of motivation.

7. In your head, what celebrity do you think you most resemble when you're running?

Lmao, what a question! Uh…. Olivia Munn? (cuz I’m super aspirational and verrrry humble)

Race Report: 2017 Philly Marathon

by Wataru Iwata

The challenge started when I crossed finish line at Boston Marathon in April 2017.
I had a feeling of accomplishment there, but at the same time, I thought I could achieve more.
So, I started the challenge to Philadelphia Marathon, thinking the course is a bit more flat and friendly than Boston, and the weather won’t be 70 degrees for sure.

The first thing I did was switch to Strava instead of Nike+ for my training tracking.  Nike+ was always giving me inaccurate mileage. I was always getting 1 mile recorded for every .9 - .95 mi  I ran, so I was only training 90-95% of what I needed. Soon, I got connected to bunch of NBR teammates and they started tracking my training and I got lots of encouraging words, kudos & etc. The "Strava effect" gave me quick results.

On May 20th, we had a one of the most important races for NBR - the Brooklyn Half. I was still in “semi-recovery” mode, as it was only 30 days after Boston Marathon, so I had no expectations. I went to the race without carrying my phone and not wearing any extra layers, so that I didn’t have to check my bag. (I had previous insight that Brooklyn Half bag check was notoriously hard to retrieve). Before the start, I spent some tiem with NBR LC guys feeling like one of “elites”.

When the race started, I was relaxed, since I didn’t have any real expectations. I was careful not to go too fast inside Prospect Park, and at the exit of Park I saw the NBR cheer squad. As I went down on Ocean Parkway, I had a “cut” on side of my abdominal.  Something I haven’t had in quite sometime.   I raised and lowered my arm few times and the “cut” went away.  That was when I realized my pace was 10 to 15 seconds faster than usual and I quickly did the math in my head.  10 seconds x 13 miles is 2minutes and change. "…wait, if I keep going for 4-5 more miles or so with this pace … I could PR!! " I finished the race in 1:26:54 - about 90 seconds faster than my previous PR set in 2003.

June 17th - Another Club point race, Queens 10K.  Boom, I hit another PR by 20 seconds. 40:30. August 26th - Percy Sutton 5K - another PR by 3 seconds. September 24th - Bronx 10 miles - another PR by 1 minute.  All of sudden, I had PR’d in almost every distance in 2017 except the full marathon!

In my mind, I had to PR in the marathon. Also, having a 1:26:54 half-marathon record, my previous marathon PR of 3:19 (Queens Marathon 2015, this was my BQ) is not quite up to standard. I started working harder and harder. In August, I ran 250 miles, September 270 miles and October 320 miles, something I have never done before. Going into Philly Marathon, my number one concern was to stay healthy. I told myself if I stayed healthy and injury free, the result will naturally follow. The night before the marathon, Q was kind enough to organize a team dinner.  In the last minute, I learned Becca (who is my closest performance rival) was going to run only 40 days after her Chicago 3:02 performance!! I‘ve been secretly comparing her performance against mine for sometime …

Date Race Becca Me
9/25/16 Bronx 10 Miler 1:08:32 1:07:39
12/10/16 Ted Corbitt 15k 1:01:57 1:02:34
5/20/17 Brooklyn Half 1:27:04 1:25:54
6/17/17 Queens 10k 40:43 40:30
8/5/17 Team Champs 33:17 33:05
8/26/17 Percy Sutton 5k 19:26 19:53
9/24/17 Bronx 10 Miler 1:06:09 1:06:34

Having seen her Chicago result of 3:02, I was like "Wow!! If she can do 3:02, I can do that too!"


On race day, we all woke up with rain and strong winds. NBR Philly resident, David Lam was so kind to offer lodging in Philly as well as ride to start area. Thank you David!! I arrived early (60 minutes) to the start area, but since it was raining hard I stayed inside the tent and couldn’t do all my regular routine (warm up, bathroom, etc).

About 20 minutes before the start, the rain finally cleared and I stayed on the bathroom line close to my corral. The line was moving slow and by the time I got out of porta-potty, my corral was already closed. So I stayed in next corral and told myself to relax and stay calm. One corral won’t make too much difference. I later found out that they do a staggered start (about 2 minutes lag for each corral).

"Ok", I thought. "Just subtract 2 minutes from each clock I see on the course." My game plan was to keep 7 min/mi pace for first 13 miles and see how I feel. If I felt good, I had a shot for a sub-3 hour race. Another goal was sub 3:10. I know that good results are often produced by either even pacing or negative splits, so I was careful not to go too fast in the beginning. My first 7 miles splits were: 7:29 (lack of warm up), 7:11, 7:10, 7:14, 7:20, 7:14, 7:04. Keeping a 7 min/mi pace was really tough on that day for some reason. I felt somewhat stale. The next 7 miles got even tougher: 7:24, 7:17, 7:41, 7:15, 7:06, 7:17, 7:16. Coming out of Central Philly to run along the river, we didn’t have anything to shield ourselves from the strong gusts of wind.

Next 7 miles: 7:30, 7:58, 7:32 ,7:35 ,7:38 ,7:42 ,7:23. When I started seeing push rims and Elite runners coming back from the u-turn at Manayunk, I just told myself to stay relaxed and do not fight that wind!

Final few miles: 7:28, 7:25, 7:54, 7:45, 7:48. I realized there weren't any clocks on the course here (or did I miss them?) I was just a few miles away from the finish line ,and told myself "It’s just 8 or 9 more laps of McCarren Park track." (We ran hundreds and hundreds laps during training). That was when I saw the NBR cheer squad for the 3rd or 4th time through the course. They moved around in very windy day to cheer in 3 or 4 different spots along the course! Thank you all!!!

When I crossed the finish line, the main finish line clock was showing 3:19 and change, and my Garmin showed 3:16 and change. I knew I PR’d but not within the 3 hours and single digits I was aiming for … I just didn’t have the pace to go 7 min/mi that day.


I am still digesting the result, setting my next target, and thinking of a training plan for the next race, but my initial refection is that my training had too much focus on mileage (quantity) and not so much on tempo runs (quality). Marathon running is about the art of pacing. It differs from person to person, how to train, how to approach the race … etc., and you can only learn from your own experiences.

Last but not least, I must mention what one of reasons I chose to run Philly is. One day in early summer of 2013, I noticed there was one message on my iPhone (I am a kind of person that hates leaving unread mail, or unplayed messages. I like to keep iPhone screen as clean as possible). I played it and it goes … “Hi this is Doctor _______.(couldn’t understand his name) from Thomas Jefferson Hospital, please call me at 215-XXX-XXXX." Initially, I thought it was some sort of sales call. Then, phone rang again and caller ID was showing 215 area code. I ignored the call. Another message was left. I thought to erase it, but I played it. It was same Doctor and this time, he said, “Do you have a sibling called _____? Please call back ASAP. This is an emergency." My heart started beating fast. I returned the call and found out my brother fell unconscious and had been taken to a local hospital where he lives in Bucks County. The hospital quickly decided they couldn’t handle the case, so he was transferred to Thomas Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia.

MRI's showed a large brain tumor in his forehead. Long story short, I rushed to Philly on the same day, and my brother was operated on by the super neuro-surgeon who operated on late Bo Biden, son of former Vice President Biden. The operation went superb.  My brother’s tumor was benign and he is now fully recovered and in good health, thank God!

I therefore dedicate this PR to my brother and all people who supported us in this 4 years. Thank you so much!!

Wataru Iwata, Proud and thankful member of NBR. November 2017.

2017 NYC Marathon Race Report #4: Quinn Batson

by Quinn Batson

Mike wore sunglasses at 5:30 in the morning cuz that’s the way he rolls when he runs. We headed for the 8th Street R station 300 yards away and found kin on the platform. The first we spoke to came from Italy. Fun fact: about 4,000 Italians run the NYC marathon each year, making them possibly the largest non-U.S. national group. To prove the point, our new Italian friend spoke Italian to the woman seated across from us once we got on the train, and she answered, in Italian, ‘how did you know?’

From the time we got out of the subway at the ferry, for the next six hours, it was hard to shake the image of cattle in a stockyard. Fortunately these cattle-people were friendly, and quite happy to be heading to slaughter. Still, even for a New Yorker, it’s an intense amount of humanity from start to finish.

The bus tour of Staten Island was interesting even without many people on the streets, and then we hit the start villages. Low-level stress hovers over the bathroom lines, and the bathroom lines are everywhere. Warming up usually seems like a good idea before a race, unless that race is the NYC marathon; for most, the first time you know you’re in the right place is when you’re standing on the bridge with your particular group of corraled cattle, an HOUR before the starting gun.

BOOM! That start cannon was less than 50 yards away and sent smoke everywhere. Most of us knew it was sending off the elite women, but it still jolted the calm out of us. Banter, jokes and random friend sightings filled the next half hour, and then the BOOM was for us.

I’ve known Mike for almost 40 years, and we raced each other in college. He’s still a little faster, but the plan was to run the first 10 miles together and feel it out from there. This race was as much about reconnecting as it was about running 26 miles fast.

My favorite part of the race is the Verrazano Bridge--all of it. The majesty of the view and the feeling of utter specialness for this one moment are heady stuff. That, and the peacefulness that never really returns once you hit the streets of New York.

I remember Bay Ridge, and I remember the bands from the bridge to downtown Brooklyn, some of them really good musicians. Once the runner streams merge at Flatbush, any sense of solitude is gone, and a new image of schooling fish replaces the cattle.

The next 2 miles are NBR territory, and the callouts for “NBR” or “Quinn” are heartening every time, even if I only see the caller every third or fourth time. At 10 miles, Mike keeps going the same speed, and I pull back a bit. It was fun to run together, but my brain has already turned the corner from “race” to “running”, and it will keep turning corners from here on in.

I can’t keep from smiling widely as I run through the mile 12 water station, even though I only actually “see” maybe 3 people manning the tables. The memory of doing the tables myself and a surprisingly warmfuzzy feeling for NBR just surge through me.

The next thing that surges through me is the desire to pee. I’ve never stopped to pee in a race, ever, so this is new--another corner. A mile later, I see bathrooms right before the bridge to Queens. Something about the way they face Away from the racecourse and have blue tape I have to duck under make this stop seem even more of a race violation. My breathing is way faster than it seems like it should be to pee, but the relief is sweet.

I head out relieved but even more relaxed about running fast, and this relaxation seems to feed on itself. I begin to slow steadily, unconcerned until Bruno passes me and I try to keep up and can’t. Now I’m thinking about food--any food, and I’ve turned another corner. Racing and hunger have never gone together, and hunger has taken over my brain. I patter up the 59th Street bridge and watch people I know are going “slow” pass me. As I get off the bridge, all I can think of is getting to a deli, but First Avenue has other ideas.

After what may actually be a mile of unbroken fences on both sides of the street, I finally stop in front of a woman standing in front of a deli, hand her 2 dollars, and say “could you buy me either a Coke or a chocolate milk?” She says sure, and half an orange and a banana appear magically while she is gone. I love you, New Yorkers. I thank woman one as she hands me an opened liter of Coke and begin drinking and walking up First Avenue, feeling absurd yet happy.

And yes, I drink that whole thing, in no particular hurry. I begin running at the next water table, where I may even take some Gatorade, too. And I’m running again. Until I’m not.

My brain has short-circuited and told my hamstrings to contract, continuously, as if I’ve been hit by a bolt of lightning and have no control over my body. And it PISSES ME OFF. I hope no small children were within earshot. I am not done yet, though. If walking is what I can do for now, walking is what I will do for now.

I turn yet another corner when I realize I am COLD and just want to get a shirt or something at the next medical tent. It seems to take several minutes for the nice woman at the medical tent to cut a piece of foil blanket for me, but I am quite happy to have it. I find I can hold it easily at my neck with one hand and run with the other, and I’m running again, even getting warmer, beginning to think maybe…BAM, the lightning strikes again. I swear even more, and I look like an angry tin soldier whose knees don’t bend, walking around in crazy circles.

It’s official; my body only has to tell me twice for me to believe it. I walk until I see the next race marshall at mile 18. I have to yell a bit to get her attention but feel I have done my racely duty by reporting my dropout. She fires up her phone to tell whoever needs to know, thanks me and assures me “It’s just 'notcher day.”


2017 NYC Marathon Race Report #3 - Toni Mayo

by Toni Mayo


My calendar just sort of falls into a black hole after November 5th. I still haven't entirely come down from the whole week. The fact that I don't need to check the weather every five minutes is still a bit weird. I'm also not terrified beyond measure anytime someone sneezes near me - just mildly grossed out, and there is definite flinching.

You'd think with my level of nerdiness that this was my first marathon, but it was number 5 for me, and my second time getting to run NY. I plan on doing many more marathons, and I really hope I don't lose that full on excitement, and just you know, 'run a casual marathon'. I think running is the only place I really let my geek out, and I'm totally fine with that.

I don't know what it is, but to me, marathoning is just absolute bliss. Let me re-frame that: it is hard, it is painful, but I can think of no other opportunity that I've had to work hard enough at something that is challenging, and make it doable, and fun. Does that make sense? Basically, I feel like I ran my face off, often in a billion degree weather, sometimes uphill, sometimes very early in the morning, and that meant I got to have the party of my dreams on November 5th. I also haven't done too many things that are quantifiable. For instance, I used to be an actor, so you spend weeks rehearsing, then you put on this production, and afterwords, you kind of know you did well, or that you blew it … but there was no real measure for success. I love that I am part of something now where I can see myself getting better, faster and more intelligent in racing. 

My goal this year was to run a 3:45. (My previous PR was 3:57 in Marseilles 2017.) So I set out doing what anyone with terrible game plans would do, and picked a training plan that peaked at 70+ miles per week (way more mileage than I'd previously run). On about day 10 of this plan, I was on a miserable midweek 12 mile run, and I bumped into Karina Christiansen and basically started crying about how tired I was already and that I didn't know what the hell I was doing. Shortly thereafter, I asked her to coach me - this was a very smart decision! Working with Karina had me scale back my mileage quite a lot, and to do specific workouts for speed, hills (ugh, terrible), and probably most helpful were long progression runs. Had I stuck to my own 'plan' I'd be running a million miles a week at the same pace and wondering why I wasn't getting faster. 

The day before the race I felt ready. I had actually done a taper. I had actually rested. I had actually hydrated. One problem- I'd also actually eaten carbohydrates- perhaps you've heard of them? Yeah, I thought race week would be a good time to introduce them to my system. So needless to say, the day before, I was having some, trouble that no coffee, jumping jacks, or voodoo would fix. Oh, you know what did fix it? Running 10 miles. But more on that later.

Mentally I was in a good place. I really felt that I had done everything possible to execute the race I wanted. I was also surrounded by the best people. I had so many NBR friends that I'd trained with and friends from out of town who flew in to run. The mass amount of support and texts I got from NBR people was just mid blowing. I guess I'd talked about the marathon a lot? Perhaps has posted a *few* training updates on Instagram? There really did seem to be a shared bond with everyone participating during the week leading up to the race, and not being alone with that anxiety and taper madness meant the world. I have no idea how I trained for previous marathons without a team.

And then it was Sunday. Despite the Marathon's agonizingly late start and difficult to get to starting line … everything was great. I saw so many friends on the ferry and in the start village, and aside from the fact that my body was refusing to function properly (carbs), I was pumped. 

I started out running with my friend Heather (an NBR who sometimes runs with South Brooklyn Runners!?) and we'd made a loose plan to keep things flexible and if we stuck together, great and if we didn't, great. Given the density of crowds, we really only stuck together till 4th Avenue. She went on to run a beautiful race! 

Oh man running through Brooklyn is just tops. Tops! I'm a born and raised New Yorker, so I had friends in so many different neighborhoods. My face literally hurt from smiling. I was on crack. And then getting to mile 12? Crack on Steroids. As I'd hoped, I bumped into tons of NBR people along the course, and it was like 'oh yeah, this is our home town run'. 


Oh right. Mile 10. I had to make a game-time decision to either run with an upset stomach, or sacrifice a minute + with a bathroom stop. I stopped, hence that happy look on my face in every photo.

I spent a few miles trying to make up some lost time, and then worrying a little that this would cost me, but mostly I stayed pretty even. The best part of the whole experience for me is that I really felt in the moment. I was aware of my watch but I wasn't future tripping. I really saw the crowds of people, which was overwhelming, and saw so many inspiring runners on the course. I just felt really lucky the whole time. 

Oh but then it was mile 23, and I felt a little less lucky, but I sort of blocked that out and then it was the turn on 59th street and was running. I've never had so much steam at the end of a marathon. I looked up and saw my parents right before getting to the finish, and they were screaming their faces off and my heart basically exploded.

I feel so lucky that I get to run with NBR and that I share a ridiculous passion with people as ridiculous as I am to enjoy this madness. I am massively thrilled for so many unbelievable NBR's marathons! So many inspiring people. Shoutout to Karina (who ran a mind-blowingly awesome race), and to everyone I ran Narwals with every week, you all make 20 mile runs look really good. Also we ran to the Bronx. And we ran to Coney Island (who else does that???) And of course the Wednesday Night Road Runners crew, you guys make the Pulaski bridge feel flat. 

Post marathon, I'm still pretty blissed out. I'm also on a juice cleanse because as stated earlier, I don't know how to make smart decisions. This falls into the 'what not to do after a marathon' category. I am happy because I feel like I've run a race without disclaimers, like "oh, I ran it in X time, but it would have been X if not for X" know? I just feel happy with what I did that day, an 8 minute PR will do that!

My only advice to people planning to run any marathon is to be pumped about your own race. I primarily run with people that are faster than me, and my PR times are lousy race times for them. But I can't let that mess with my head. I just have to keep trying to catch up to them. Everyone should run the NYC Marathon, because NY is ostentatious enough to start a marathon on an impossible to get to island, and it would finish on an uphill, because largely living here we have to fight for every square inch, and the marathon is no different. It is wonderful. 

2017 NYC Marathon Race Report #2 - Josh Hatcher

by Josh Hatcher


How many marathons have you run? Why did you decide to run NYC'17?

This was my fourth marathon, and my second NYC Marathon. The marathon is my favorite distance, and racing it is always a remarkable, spiritual journey. In my admittedly limited experience, there's nothing more spiritual than NYC. Marathon day in New York is a rare time when everyone seems to light up. There are over 50,000 participants in the race. Obviously the hardcore athletes among them are gung-ho about competition, and there's ample space to get competitive. But thousands of people who aren't super serious, or have maybe never even run a race before, are welcomed into this ritual. Folks who don't run, folks who don't pay the slightest bit of attention to this sport still get amped to watch and cheer. Whole neighborhoods of every borough enthusiastically welcome runners in. New York can often feel lonely and isolating, and it also has serious issues with segregation, so for a single event to so strongly bind the communities of the city together is extremely meaningful for me.

Tell us about your marathon training.

As with my last two marathons, I followed the 55-70 mile/week Pete Pfitzinger plan. "Advanced Marathoning," by Pfitzinger and Scott Douglas is, in my eyes, the bible for competitive marathon training. It includes some great, multifaceted training schedules, but also has whole sections devoted to seemingly every dimension of race prep, from pacing, to cross training, to nutrition, to figuring out how best to hold the paper cup so that you don't spill the Gatorade all over your face. My PR prior to this race was a high 2:46 from Chicago last year, and I made the arbitrary goal this year of going sub 2:40. NYC is a much tougher course than Chicago, and 6 minutes is significant, so this goal seemed very ambitious and possibly delusional. But, barring health issues, one is generally in solid shape to meet their goal if they follow the training schedules closely.

Due to such health issues, my overall training didn't go so well. The summer heat wasn't particularly bad, but I missed at least four weeks of training due to an ankle injury. It made me anxious watching my teammates cruise through a seemingly flawless training cycle, and to see them get stronger and stronger, while I was just trying to get healthy enough to go on a single long run without feeling like my foot had been put into a meat grinder. Once I got better, I accepted that there wasn't ample time left, and that I wouldn't be going sub-2:40. I had a very good last few weeks of training, but I still had little idea of what to expect. I decided that if I got any sort of PR, I'd be satisfied. It was sort of a bummer, but I figured it was better to be realistic than set myself up for disappointment or go out too fast and have to bail out.


Night before marathon - what was going on in your head? did you sleep?

I've got a pretty specific pre-race ritual, which basically involves domestically pampering myself over the course of several hours. I find it helps me sleep and keeps the nerves at bay. I get home super early so I don't have to rush through it. I put on a record and take a bubble bath. I will have run 3 or 4 miles easy that morning, and I do some foam rolling and light stretches to make sure my muscles are loose. I charge my Garmin, and put out my race clothes and bag with everything I need in it, so I don't need to think about it the next day. I make a cup of herbal tea. I cook up half a pound of plain pasta with a little oil and various spices. If it's still relatively early, I allow myself a single beer, but otherwise I drink water. I skim through the pre-race chapters in "Advanced Marathoning," particularly the sections about pre-race nerves, which calm me down. Then I curl up in bed around 9:30, set my alarm for 4:30, and read until I'm dozing off. It's an extremely romantic solitude.

Tell us about your 5 borough experience - how’d you start out? too fast, too slow, just right?

As I mentioned earlier, I had deemed my initial goal unattainable, but I still kind of wanted to hit it. So I was left without a really good idea of how fast I should go out. Generally I try to run my first mile slightly slower than goal pace, but what was my goal pace? Even though it still seemed unrealistic, I figured I would just shoot for a 2:42 marathon, which translates to about 6:12 pace. I got through the first mile in about 6:13 - OK, cool. The second mile of the marathon is straight downhill off of the Verrazano Bridge though, and it's an ongoing joke how everyone's second mile is absurdly and excessively fast. My second mile was around 5:45 pace, so I chalked it up to the downhill, and committed to calming down, and easing into a more conservative and relaxed pace. Thing is, the next few miles, which felt relaxed, were all slightly sub 6-minute pace. The crowd support up 4th Avenue definitely helped, and I expected the excitement to grow as I climbed into North Brooklyn and began seeing more of my friends. I started getting concerned I was getting too excited and setting myself up for implosion. But I kept feeling good. At some point, it dawned on me that if I kept this up, I could go sub-2:40, which was my initial goal. I decided to say screw it. I didn't have anything on the line with this race except my personal goal. I wasn't making any money or supporting my family here. Worst came to worst, I would fall apart, I would have to drop out, and life would go on.


First thought crossing? Did you hit your goal? Any regrets?

I started hitting the proverbial wall with around 4 miles to go, which is to be expected, especially given how brutal the last four miles of the NYC Marathon are. However, the final stages are relatively easy to mentally break up. For example, running parallel to Central Park from 110th to 90th Street is probably the most torturous point in the race, but it's only about a mile, so going into it, I kept telling myself "just get into the park, and then it'll get easier." Then, running across the base of the park on 59th Street, I told myself "just get to Columbus Circle and then there's less than a mile to go." The final 0.2 miles feels insurmountable in the context of the race, but you can see the bleachers ahead, at the start of the last straightaway, which makes it feel closer. Breaking up the course into pieces and duping yourself into thinking you're "basically done" after each section is a good way to stay sane in those last few miles. As I was running down the final straightaway, I saw the clock above the finish line tick from 2:39 to 2:40. I came in at 2:40:12, 12 seconds off of my initial goal, which I had deemed impossible, given my training. I was privately a tiny bit disappointed I didn't go under 2:40, but as a whole I was completely taken aback that I had come so close. Having resigned myself to maybe getting a small PR if I was lucky, getting that close to a seemingly unrealistic goal felt amazing.

Did you bleed? cramp?

One bloody nipple. I didn't even notice it until someone pointed it out at bag check. Adrenaline is great anesthesia for such things.

What race do you want to do next? (or not)

This time qualified me for the Berlin Marathon, so I decided to bite the bullet and register the next day. Pending any issues with my application, that will be my next marathon.

Any shoutouts? Who helped you along the way?

This phenomenal club we have is honestly the main reason why I still live in New York. The inclusivity of NBR allows for runners of all abilities to come together, train, and develop friendships. For this particular race, I feel especially inclined to shout out my teammates, Jack Mulvaney, Ben Leese, Alex Walsh, and Jeff Poindexter, with whom I trained a lot this summer and fall. Those four have instilled a sense of discipline in my training and really inspired me to work hard. They're also generally great guys and have become wonderful, supportive friends.

What advice would you give someone about to run the NYC marathon?

Just have fun. As competitive/team-based runners, it's easy to get caught up in the intensity of training and our goals and the pain and everything else. But remember that we do this for fun. I can't speak for everyone, but the less pressure I put on myself, the better I generally perform. The marathon is a unique race in that you're capable of feeling very good for a very long time. Don't take that for granted - soak it up and enjoy every minute of it. No better place to do so than on the loud, exciting streets of New York. Your fellow New Yorkers will have your back the whole damn way.