Team Spot Check-In: Taeya Konishi Schoge

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 started to run at the end of 2009 because a friend wanted to race a 5k which I've never ran that far at once and seemed way too far.  Started one mile at a time and in 2010 I learned about NYRR and signed up for a couple of races.  At the races I kept noticing the cool singlets that NBR folks were wearing.  I eventually googled NBR, as I was looking to join a team to hopefully learn something about running, but took awhile to join since I thought NBR was too fast for me.  I also noticed Anna McCusker at races and she inspired me and thought to myself "I want to be as fast as she is one day".  It was around the 2010 NYC Marathon that Asics put together a group run at Sports Authority which I signed up for.  I went to that alone, but I left that event making a friend, Marynella, who was so nice and convinced me to join the team.  My first NBR run was Tuesday Night Tempo with Katie Winther and Brian Cicero.  I can't remember the exact workout but we were running around the track and thought I was going to die.  I've been with NBR since Oct. 2010.

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 ok, some weeks are great and others aren't. I wish I had more dedicated time for training, but since my son was born, priority shifted and constantly I have to coordinate with my husband's busy schedule to find time to run.  Sometimes my job also takes over my time away from training so I have to be flexible/realistic with my goals.  I would love to run more, but I have to be creative with my runs such as instead of dedicating a day for tempo run and another for a long run, most of the time I end up combining them and keeps me in check.  I don't have a really good long run story, but a few years ago I ran the Tokyo marathon and a guy in full on Godzilla costume beat me. We crossed the finish somewhere in the 3:05 range so I was amazed not only with him, but I was also puzzled when I picked up my bag that some guys were already changed in their regular clothes and having a smoke...these smokers also beat me. 

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

I lived closer to Just South and then moved closer to McCarren that I used to go to the morning runs on a regular basis, but now living further away sometimes I join the Thursday morning or evening track or SFR.  I am inspired by many of the NBR members who are out there at races giving their very best and how dedicated they are to their training and find time to volunteer.

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

I am so honored to represent NBR at this year's marathon, we are such an awesome team!!   

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

I am probably going to eat onigiri (Japanese rice balls).  The night before I am going to have rice with grilled salmon. 

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

The NYC Marathon is one of the more exciting courses that I have run. There is an enormous energy from the crowds that line the many diverse neighborhoods the course winds through.  And of course I LOVE passing through the best water station of the entire course, Mile 12; it rejuvenates me :) 

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

Sorry can't think of one, probably some cartoon character?

Race Report: Berlin Marathon 2017

by Jen Herr

On September 24th, I accomplished the impossible (and perhaps foolish) by completing the Berlin Marathon with a yet-to-be diagnosed knee injury. My story in achieving this starts in February of 2015, when training for another destination marathon and being stricken by a sacral stress fracture. After 8 weeks of rest and recovery, I was physically able to start the 2015 Salzburg Austria Marathon and ran 8 miles of it before dropping out. I was thankful for my health, the race experience in a beautiful setting, and the vacation that followed – yet was still bummed I didn’t finish what I had originally set out to accomplish. Upon my return stateside, I began a slow and healthy return to a rigorous running regime which lead to 2 full years of racing PR's at nearly every distance … except for the marathon. 

In 2016, I trained hard and attempted twice to beat my marathon best time. At the Spring Copenhagen Marathon, it was 85 degrees on race day, and in our hometown race, the NYC Marathon, knee pain plagued me around mile 20, preventing me from running the final 10k. Feeling deflated by the hard and time consuming training I’d put in for a year, which only led to sub-par results, I vowed not to run anymore marathons. I stuck to racing half-marathons (and shorter distances) for seven months, continuing on my PR streak. Then, the hilarious occurred …

An email informed me I was selected in the lottery for the 2017 Berlin Marathon. Had I even signed up for the race? Was I drunk or half asleep when I did so? Though I had pledged not to take on another marathon, and had no recollection of signing up for the challenge, the opportunity to run the famed, fast course in the wonderful city of Berlin that I had previously visited & loved was not one which could easily be dismissed. My adventurous spirit kicked in, I asked my boyfriend “any interest in going to Berlin?” and next thing I knew, I was registered to run the marathon with a flight and hotel booked. YIKES.

Training for the big day in Berlin started in May as soon as the Brooklyn Half-Marathon was over. (Or as soon as I recovered from the flu which plagued me on Brooklyn Half day.) As I had been consistently improving my pace and weekly mileage for the previous 6 months, I decided to go hard in my training with the Advanced Hal Higdon Marathon plan as my course of action. This included 6 days a week of running, speed & hill work, and a total three 20 mile long runs. As always, I enjoyed the discipline of getting my training done alongside my NBR Teammates early on Tuesday mornings with the “Just Central” crew, at Thursday Night Track, the Saturday morning Bridge Run and the Sunday Funday long runs. Disaster struck in June, however, when I stupidly chose to do a solo 16 mile long run to Coney Island on a very hot day, while wearing RACING FLATS. By the following Tuesday, I was diagnosed with peroneal tendonitis, had my foot in a boot and took a 2 week hiatus from training. When I returned to running in July, I managed to finish the first of my 20 mile long runs alongside some wonderful NBR-iors at Sunday Funday, but was overcompensating on my right leg for the left foot which had tendonitis. During the week, I felt pain in my knee as I walked up and down stairs, or depending on how I stood or adjusted my weight when walking. I managed one more 12 mile run to Ikea alongside my Berlin Marathon-mate H.J Kim, then could no longer push past the pain – I had trouble even slowly jogging a mile. In late August, with a few weeks left to Berlin, I stopped running entirely. 

Instead of running, I joined a new gym, and began a rigorous schedule of stretching, yoga and weight training (particularly on my quads and glutes.) I did sets of running drills, telling myself not to touch the treadmill, hit the pavement or even jog the track until I could get through a full set of drills without pain. Thanks to the recommendation by fellow NBR-ior, Heather Elgin, I also got a particularly violent sports massage that involved Chinese methods of torturously scraping the flesh of my right quad and calf in the weekend prior to race day. With all the cross training and treatment, days off from running turned into weeks - the Berlin Marathon was days away and I had not run in nearly a month. I confided in my NBR teammates and family that I had no intention of finishing the marathon, but would merely start, do an easy few miles and then enjoy my time in Berlin, similar to my experience in Salzburg, Austria. 

In the last couple days before heading out to Germany, my boyfriend Maurice, who’s usually unphased and unconcerned by my running escapades, asked me if I would still get a race medal if I did not finish the Marathon – of course I wouldn’t. The medal itself didn’t mean much to me, but his question was symbolic. Would I feel satisfied by my experience of the marathon if I did not finish? It occurred to me that I hadn’t had knee pain while walking for several weeks. And since I hadn’t actually done any running in a while, who was to say I COULDN’T run a good portion of the race? The smallest kernel of hope was planted within me, that I could potentially finish the race, and we flew out to Germany. 

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Once in Berlin, Maurice and I celebrated the start of our vacation with a fancy seven course dinner and a fantastic night out dancing in East Berlin. This involved LOTS of drinking and expended a lot of energy less than 36 hours before the marathon start gun, but still having limited expectations of the race, I threw caution to the wind.

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On Saturday morning, possibly while still drunk, I met my NBR teammates Gregg, Alissa, Bev and H.J. for the marathon sponsored Breakfast run to the Olympic Stadium. This ended up being the highlight of my marathon weekend. Running at a very slow 10:00-11:00 minute pace alongside H.J. and Alissa, I ran for the first time in a month - 4 miles (uphill) through the beautiful Berlin cityscape. The magnitude of running into the stadium, and encountering all its surrounding history (Jesse Owens’ track records inscribed in the stadium walls just a few hundred feet away from the relic of Hitler’s spectator box from the 1930s,) along with the delicious German pastries served at the end, might have been enough to satisfy my need for running greatness on the trip. But … later on at our team carb-loading dinner, Maurice again asked about that marathon medal. And NBR teammate Alissa told me “you can definitely finish!” We went back to our hotel room for an early night, and I dozed off still unsure of what I would accomplish in the morning. 

Race morning was fantastic! I woke up and quietly got dressed and bibbed-up, social media'd that I’d be heading out to start the race with limited expectations, enjoyed a small healthy German breakfast of muesli and fruit in our hotel and then trekked through the beautiful Tiergarten to my start corral. I didn’t even mind the rain showers which came and went. The start of the Berlin marathon is a lot like attending a Football game. There were organized cheers, chants, music and claps that blasted out on humongous screens set up in the corrals to keep the crowd pumped and motivated in spite of having to wait around for the start. It was hard not to feel inspired. 

When my Wave 3 start came around, I slowly jogged the first miles out of the Tiergarten at 10:00-11:00 minute pace. I didn’t feel knee pain, but also didn’t feel capable of going any faster. I knew I needed to maintain a 14:00 minute pace or better the stay in the race, as the finish cut-off time was 6 hours, so felt confident and a bit shocked when I was able to maintain the 10:00-11:00 minute pace for the first 5k … then the first 10k … then the first 15k … then a half-marathon! Knee pain was starting to set in before the half-marathon mark, but every time I hit one of the 5k mat markers, I envisioned my Mom at home in New Jersey at 5:00 AM, tracking me on her computer. It occurred to me that I was giving her a small thrill every time I hit one of those mats. This idea of making my Mom happy and proud convinced me that it was worth trying to finish the second half of the race by any means necessary, even if it meant walking the remaining 13.1 miles in the rain.  

I did a bit of run-walking up to mile 14 until my knee pain was persistent, then slowed down fully to a walk. For a few miles, I didn’t pay attention to the pace of my walking, or the crowds yelling at me to run. I chatted with fellow Americans at the back of the pack from Atlanta and Harlem, as well as a runner from the Caribbean and an ex-pat originally from Boston (we talked sports rivalries.) We all commiserated that we were not quite up to the task of running the whole race, but would get to the finish somehow! Most of those other racers did manage to pick their pace back up into a run, leaving me in the dust, but I continued on …

Around mile 18, it occurred to me that my walked miles were too slow, and in order to finish the race in under 6 hours, I needed to pick up the pace and complete each remaining kilometer in 14 minutes or less. Anyone who thinks quickly walking half a marathon is any easier than running … please understand, you are actually taking more steps when you walk. I still hit a wall around mile 20 when it started to feel like I had no flesh left on the soles of my feet and was power walking on bloody stumps. And yet, I persisted. The Berlin marathon has markers at every kilometer, and I was managing to tick them off at almost EXACTLY 14 minutes a piece. Scared that I was cutting it too close, I focused intently on 1 kilometer at a time and achingly picked up the walk pace to around 13:45. As I finally made it to the last 5k and into the Potsdamer Platz neighborhood, I started getting emotional, realizing that finishing was in reach, yet was still pretty far away by both time and distance as a walker. I promised myself that no matter how terrible it felt, I would RUN the final distance of the race, through the iconic Brandenburg Gate and into the finish line back in the Tiergarten. The course marshalls started breaking down the course, opening the roads back up to cars, and I pushed on.

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Eventually, I rounded the corner in the fancy shopping district of Berlin, and could see the Brandenburg gate. On numb and bleeding feet and a still sore right knee, I managed to pick up and start RUNNING back at 10:00 minute pace with a huge smile on my face. The crowds leading into the finish of the race were now severely diminished, but I fist pumped, smiled and waved at everyone still there to see me race the best that I could into the finish. (My race photos came out pretty fantastic thanks to that final push!) I finally crossed the finish line around 4:00 PM, in five hours and fifty-five minutes – just five minutes shy of the 6 hour cut off. There was minimal support staff at the finish, a single person was left to drape me with my race medal and there were no ponchos left to give me warmth, and yet I had never felt happier, higher or prouder of finishing a marathon! 

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Upon finally meeting up with my fellow NBR marathon racers (who all had stellar performances!) at a Beer Garden for some well-earned celebrations with pints, currywursts and stuffed-baked potatoes, I remarked that my marathon experience felt a little ridiculous, but also that I would not have been able to sit with my teammates to enjoy the post-race festivities if I didn’t also have that medal around my neck (Maurice had been right.)

My completion of the Berlin marathon will serve as continued motivation to me in all aspects of my life, in a way that no other running or race experience has before. When I set goals, the process to achieving them does not always work out as planned.  But I’ve now proven to myself in spades, that when I am determined to accomplish something, I will find a way to get it done one way or another. 

I am extremely thankful to have shared the trip to Berlin with Maurice and my incredible NBR Teammates. The marathon there and all it’s surrounding events and cultural opportunities are not to be missed – I highly recommend that if you ever have the opportunity to participate in this race (hopefully healthier and better trained than I was,) YOU SHOULD DO IT! ☺

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Team Spot Check-In: Chris Ithurburn

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? 

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CI: I was introduced to NBR by my wife Erika as she was following the Google group for some time before we ever showed up for a workout.  We had started to run as a way to spend time together as she trained for the NYC Half. I wasn't really focused on any training and only really did a couple of 5k's and triathlons for fun. I eventually signed up to do the SF Rock n' Roll Half with her family and decided I needed to get serious about training.  I first tried out Thursday Night Track in November 2015 and really enjoyed the committed group of regulars that I would get to know very well (Caitlin Shu, Jenn Herr, Jose LaSalle, Sean Laude, Ken Allen among others).

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. 

CI: The training has its ebbs and flows.  Some weeks I enjoy pushing myself, but it can be a mental struggle sometimes to focus on each workout.  That said, I'm not really following a strict plan so I tend to pick workouts based on my schedule.  The longer Tempo workouts tend to pay the most dividends in my training so I can push myself beyond what I thought capable.

As for long run story, my first real long run was a Narwhals 11 miler back in April. I wasn't sure if I would be able to keep up, knowing who was running, and really appreciated Karina Christiansen holding back and making sure I didn't die on the course.   

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

CI: Well I just started as a run leader for MNER (yay Anna, Caitlin, Colin, Russel and Seth!), so that has been my go to for running from work and joining up.  Thursday Night Track is the best to test your speed, then pizza and beer afterwards. The members I regularly run with are Q, Nate Diaz, Carly Lissak, Maddie Hanley, and Lauren Tarte during Track/Tempo workouts because they are all faster than me and really push me harder than I could ever do myself.  For long runs, I have to thank Mary Harvey for the hours of company and all of the pep talks to keep me confident and sane about doing my first marathon.

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

CI: I am truly honored to represent our club and am humbled by all of the work that goes into making NBR AMAZING!

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

CI: For the night before: I will probably make a huge vat of pasta carbonara.  For after? I had joked with Pete Schwinge that we should go to Peter Luger after the marathon, but that could be the best/worst idea ever.

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

CI:  Well I have never run a marathon before - so there is that. This is the hometown race.  I have really enjoyed watching and volunteering at the water table in years past. Based on where I was going for my training, I felt that I should do it at least once, possibly for the only time. 

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

CI: Paul Rudd?

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Team Spot Check-In: Angela Ortiz

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 started running/racing in 2010 after I admitted to a friend that I had been a runner in high school, and he dared me to run a 4 miler in Central park with him. The race felt awful, as it was my first race in 10 years or so, but I guess I kind of liked it because I kept signing up for more. At each race I'd see more and more NBR singlets in the crowd, and the people wearing them looked like a fun bunch. So I joined the google group and bought a singlet. But I was overwhelmed with the amount of options for runs, at first. I had no idea what a tempo run was. I hadn’t done a track workout in a decade. So, my first run with NBR was actually a race, the 2011 Coogan’s (Salsa, Blues and Shamrocks) 5K. I passed Jen Daniels in mile 1 and she offered encouragement (“Nice job NBR!”). She continued to offer encouragement when she easily cruised past me a few minutes later in mile 2. Despite feeling like I was running backwards, I remember thinking, mid-race, about how nice it felt to be part of a team, finally.

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 has been going well so far (knock on wood)! We’re six weeks out so there is still some work to do, but I’m feeling pretty good at this stage. I spent the bulk of the late spring/summer working on shorter distances, so I came into this training cycle with a fair amount of fitness and strength that I can, hopefully, harness into a decent marathon build-up. I’m only doing a ten week training cycle for NYC, which I’ve never done before - so we’ll see how it pans out. 

I did 2x4 miles at marathon pace this week and I was surprised that it felt really, really good, despite the higher mileage and harder workouts I’ve been doing in the last few weeks. I’m optimistic that the shorter training cycle will keep me from burning out as we get closer to the race, which has happened to me before when I’ve started training too far out. The marathon mindset is sometimes difficult to wrap your head around; you just have to accept that you’re going to be running everything on tired legs and it’s going to be a difficult task to just stay focused. But those things are easier to accept when you feel like you’ve just started training and you’re already six weeks out!

I don’t really have any great long run stories because my long runs these days tend to just be 789,478,586.4 loops of Prospect Park. It’s hilly, it’s convenient, there are water fountains, and there’s no jumping on and off sidewalks or dodging traffic, just strollers and cute kids on wobbly bikes. I just think about the workout and the loops don’t bother me too much. Plus, the ninth time you pass the same group of folks on a park bench they start shouting encouraging things at you (at least that’s what I hear in my tired stupor) - so there’s a convenient built in cheering section.

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

Because of my wonky schedule and my Just South location, I can't usually make it up to runs at McCarren. I have been known to occasionally crash a Wednesday morning Just South run, and during the summer, the Second Friday donut run was definitely a favorite. 

I see Lauren Perkins working hard in Prospect Park every day. She seems to set goals and go for them without making excuses, and that’s motivating. But I admire anyone who I see consistently working smart and working hard. I like stories about people who set their sights high and make sacrifices in order to get themselves there. I’m a fan of anyone I see getting out and gutting it out every day, doesn’t matter if you’re “fast” or not. I’m sure this describes a lot of people on NBR whose stories I don’t have the privilege of knowing, but it’s awesome to see people on the team giving it their best at races. Anyone who puts on their shoes every day and grinds it out is inspiring to me.

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

It’s humbling! It’s a privilege to represent NBR and to be part of a team that does great things within themselves and within the community at large. 

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

The night before is always chicken and rice or sometimes chicken noodle soup and bread. After the race, I generally crave a burger and a beer.

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

I’ve run NYC only once before and I felt like it was time to give it another shot. My race in 2013 was transformative in a way. I experienced that day as a full-on journey from start to finish; running by my neighborhood in south Brooklyn, up past McCarren and the best water table on the course (big ups to mile 12!), over the bridges into Manhattan where more friends were waiting on 1st and 5th aves. It was kind of like “This Is Your Life” but with sweat and blisters, and the big reveal at the end is that you aren’t going to die when you push yourself really hard.
 
NYC marathon day is hands-down my absolute favorite day in the city, so much support and kindness on display in a city that can sometimes be a challenge to live in. I just wanted to be a part of that this year.

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

I feel like I should look like Jenny Simpson, but in reality it’s probably more like Phoebe from Friends.
 

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Race Report: 2017 Brooklyn Mile

by Meg Boushie

"On your marks. Get set..." Then the sound of a gun.

These are cues far too familiar for most runners. However, no matter how many times one competes in any race distance, it seems they are also some of the most anxiety provoking words one anticipates on race day.

I cannot recall the actual call outs prior to the 2017 Brooklyn Mile. Nor can I recall if we actually had a gun, or a horn, or even a kazoo. All I recall is my heart pounding in my throat, my breathing suddenly residing in my brain, and my legs feeling like Jello. Everything in my body seemed out of place as the rat race started for the iconic distance even non-runners can conceptualize.


Let's back it up for a second. My relationship with running has had roller coaster ups and downs over the past decade. In high school, I ran track to keep in shape for soccer. Track workouts gave me stomach aches just thinking about them. Confidence in my abilities was non-existent. How could my coach see so much potential and believe in me when I could not even believe in myself? Every single race, I knew where I would fall: second to last place. The Mile, in my mind, was something that would never be conquered for speed or time goals. It was something I just "had to finish". I had no idea this mentality was what set me back at the time, and that this caused me to be my own worst enemy.

Flash forward. The first time I stepped onto McCarren Park for Thursday Night Track in June 2017, the heart palpitations started, just as they did eleven years before. Even though I had been running (and actually enjoying it) for about six years (after a three-year hiatus post high school, of course), standing at that starting line was like staring my biggest fear in the face.

This time though, something was different. Having fellow NBR-iors by my side, I no longer felt alone in my running relationship. I had support, advice, cheers, and smiles that pushed me, but also taught me what I was lacking in the past: to trust myself and my abilities.

Soon, speed workouts became a part of my weekly routine. I found myself looking forward to these workouts, and to giving everything I had for each and every sprint. Because this time around, it was not the track that was crushing me, but me that was crushing the track.


At bib pick up before the race, a race sponsor encouraged all participants to take a Polaroid, write their name on it, along with their goal time. Then, after the race, racers would cross out the goal time and write the actual. Internally competitive (and probably more externally than I care to admit), I knew that writing that goal time was something serious. It meant I had to commit to it.

A fellow NBR-ior and friend had convinced me to sign up for this race in February. He also was picking his bib up, and writing his goal time. He was not only a seasoned runner, but a seasoned Mile runner; literally the complete opposite of me. Still, supportive human he is, he asked what goal I would be setting for myself.

Not batting an eyelash, I told him exactly where I thought I should be on race day. "6:04," I told him. "But in my heart, all hopes and dreams point to maybe, just MAYBE getting closer to 6 minutes flat."

He looked at me like I had two heads. "No", he told me. Clearly a hard "No", too. "5:59", he said.

The alarms and firecrackers and bells and whistles started going off in my brain again. It was my turn to return the raised eyebrows. In my mind, I was still 16-year-old Meg who would never be able to fathom getting that kind of time.

Then, something just clicked.Twenty seven-year old Meg had that light bulb DING DING DING moment. I had worked for this, I had the capability, and HECK YES I was going to break 6. I grabbed the black Sharpie on the table without a second thought and wrote the famous last words (number): 5:59.

"On your marks". There I was, steadying my breathing, quickly visualizing in my head what it would feel like in just a few minutes when I would cross the finish line and break this goal. Here, on race day, things were no longer out of reach. Here was the opportunity 16 year old Meg had always dreamed of, and reality set in, where 27 year old Meg was going to take it. Full speed, no regrets, and hey, if I crashed in the process, it was only a few minutes of crashing and burning. What was the worst that could happen?

The gun (or whatever noise machine it was) went off, and the rat race began. Before I knew it, I was already at the quarter mile mark: 1:23. Wait, I'm sorry; what? Then, the half mile mark: 2:44. Come again?

Now, from this point on, I am pretty sure I blacked out, but I do remember one thing: the screaming cheers from the NBR cheer section (because they are awesome and amazing), and keeping two specific runners within a few strides of me. Then, suddenly, it was over and I stopped my watch. It was over. As quickly as the rat race began, there we were at the moment of truth. I glanced at my watch. 5:50. Fighting back tears of joy (and pain), I had done something I truly never thought possible, and I could not have done without the overwhelming support that NBR is.

When the final times were released, I knew my time would be slightly off, so I was ready for anything within about three seconds of the time I had clocked. I also would have been happy with any time I received at that point. I waited for my smartphone screen to load the results, and almost fell off my chair when I scrolled all the way to the right for chip time: 5:48.

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Even though Meg at 16 is a very different human than Meg at 27, one thing has stayed the same: running will always be something that challenges me. NBR entered my life at a very specific time for a very specific reason, and I will be eternally grateful for that and all it has given me. With that, I may now be a Mile-loving convert, and may even fall in love with running all over again.

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Team Spot Check-in: Greg Doerk

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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 here from California in fall 2015 after a long hiatus from running.  By Spring 2016 I was hoping to recover some speed and make some friends, so a running club seemed like a good idea.  After looking at several clubs online, I showed up at the Saturday morning bridge run – a bit out of the way since I live just outside NYC on Long Island.  Still, I couldn’t have found a better club so I haven’t looked 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. 
 
It is going reasonably well.  I had been focused on triathlons for a while, so I was doing a lot of cross-training, and increasing my weekly running mileage has turned out to be harder than I remember.  The Narwhals long runs on Saturday mornings have been crucial to helping me here. 
 
Actually I have been joining Narwhals runs since last year.  I remember the first time I ran through Summer Streets on a Narwhals run; on another run through Queens on a blazing hot day, a playground with a spray shower near the turnaround was a godsend!
 
This doesn’t count as a marathon training story or a long run story per se, but the Lake Wawayanda Ragnar relay was unforgettable.  Doing it with NBR folks turned 3 days of non-stop rain into a great experience – and props to Chris Wheeler for bringing us pizza even though he was too injured to run.  
 
3. Which NBR runs are you attending regularly to train? Are there any NBR members who inspire you to train hard (er)?
 
I am attending Narwhals regularly, and I go to Thursday night track as much as possible.  Track is great for getting my speed up, though the post-race routine of pizza and beer are also helpful motivators ;-)
 
It’s hard to say which NBR members particularly help me train harder, since I’m sure I’ll be leaving some out.  I can say that trying my best to keep up with Carlos, Etienne, and Sean certainly makes me faster, while others like Quang (“Q”) motivate me by the example of their dedication.
 
4. What does it mean to be chose by your peers for a coveted NBR marathon team spot? 
 
Honestly, it’s a huge honor! I love training with NBR and the NYC marathon is one of the most exciting events of the year for NYC.  NBR has helped me make friends, adjust to life on the east coast, and get in the best shape I have been in for years, so I think there is a lot than I can (and should) give back. 
 
5. What do you plan on eating post-marathon? What about the nite before? 

After the race, I will eat all of the food.  >2600 calories is pretty much carte blanche… The night before, I won’t be too creative or adventurous so likely pasta with chicken and tomato sauce – which I will be eating the whole week.  I’ll probably skip the single beer I usually have with dinner on the night before.

6. What inspires and motivates you to run this year's NYC marathon?
 
I tried to run a marathon almost a decade ago, but I got a stress fracture.  Since then, I’ve been pretty nervous about trying it again on my own, but I feel that it is something I can definitely accomplish with NBR.  Plus having a group of people in NBR who are so motivated is the best peer pressure one can have, especially when many are training alongside you for the NYC marathon, or Chicago.
 
7. In your head, what celebrity do you think you most resemble when you're running?
 
When I’m running hard, I usually doubt that I look my best.  So while I’d like to think I would resemble Ryan Gosling or similar, I feel more like Zach Galifianakis.
 

Team Spot Check-In: Nate Diaz

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? 

Coming from Colorado, it took me a while to get used to the idea of running in the city. I work with Lauren (Tarte) and knew she was a runner. I asked her if she knew of any good clubs and she recommended NBR and Max's Wednesday night form run, calling it her "gateway drug". I went to my first Wednesday night run late last summer and have been hooked on NBR ever since.  

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 really kicking my butt. I hate the Williamsburg Bridge hill workout at Tuesday Night Tempo, but I'm starting to see the results. It's getting to the point in the season where it's hard to maintain a social life outside of training. Fortunately, with NBR you have a lot of people in a similar boat who understand your crazy early bedtime and need to always be eating.

Last Saturday may have been the best day of running in my life! I ran up to meet Saturday Narwhals for their run through the amazingness that is Summer Streets to Team Champs. Quang (Ton), Vito (Aiuto), Emily (Hafner), and Greg (Doerk) dragged me to 16 miles. We made it to Central Park in time to catch the end of the men's race, grab a quick coffee, and cheer for the women. Afterwards, Logan (Yu), James (Gray-King), Danielle (Sussingham) and I leisurely Citibike'd back through Summer Streets. I then bumped into Ricardo on the subway home. He helped get me started on the second run of my double. Then, after a quick lunch and shower, it was back to the tiki party to celebrate the awesome performances at Team Champs.

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

My training with NBR revolves around attendance at runs featuring food. Emma and Kalli's Donut Run is a favorite. Thursday Night Track (and post-track pizza & beer) is the workout I attend most often; I can't count the number of times Jose, Madeline, Logan or Ken have encouraged or pushed me when I've felt like quitting. Recently, Becca and Anna finally prevailed on me to join them and Michael and Sean for tacos and the #PMREVOLUTION at Tuesday Night Tempo. I also have really enjoyed the monthly volunteering NBR does at the food pantry. 

For speed workouts I've been lucky to run with and pushed by a strong group of mostly women, who are way faster than me. Becca (Ades) before she re-found her speed, the late Anne (Barry) before she moved to Texas, Madeline (Hanley), Sophie (Tholstrup), Tom (Essex), and of course Quang "Q" Ton.

Bev (Walley) has been my Just South buddy since the beginning, keeping me going when I was just getting back into running.

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

It's very exciting!  It took me a while to get involved in the running community in NYC but I'm glad that I found the great people of NBR. I'm so happy to have the chance to train and race alongside (and behind) all of you. It's humbling to be part of such an inspiring, knowledgeable, friendly and supportive team.

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

All of the food! Doughnuts, beer, ice cream - come to think of it, that's not much different from how I'm eating now…

The night before the marathon you'll find me with a bag of Trader Joe's Honey Wheat Pretzels Sticks in one hand, bottle of water in the other.

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

Those days when it's hard to get of bed or leave the office knowing that I'm going to have to put the running shoes on, it makes it so much easier knowing that there's a group of (crazy) people ready to pound out the miles with me. Seeing the hard work and dedication everyone on this team puts into running is very inspiring. Having your teammate hurting right next to you and yet still pushing you for just one more lap, one more hill, one more mile, or one more doughnut is incredible motivation. I can't wait to see everyone on Staten Island and at mile 12 on race day! 

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

I imagine when I run, I look like if you were to combine Jim Carrey in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and Robin Williams from his Live on Broadway special. You'd be left with one awkward, sweaty-ass man.
 

NBR Beginner & Drills Clinic

Thanks to everyone that came out to North Brooklyn Runners' Beginner & Drills Clinic on July 15th, and thanks to Shawn and Karina for giving us all some great training advice! If you missed it, here's Karina's notes from the clinic!

Drills for Distance Runners: Training Neuromuscular Pathways

Most of us are training for longer distance road running, whether we are trying to set a new half marathon PR or running for the fun of it. Adding up those miles, we are constantly developing our aerobic system – how well our body can use oxygen. 

But there is another component to running that doesn’t usually get a lot of attention – the neuromuscular system. A few signs that you need to work on your neuromuscular fitness: you feel sluggish in speed workouts, you feel weak running uphill, or your breathing is under control during tempo runs, but your legs feel heavy. Sound familiar?

The neuromuscular system refers to the channels of communication between the brain and muscles. A primary goal of neuromuscular training is to develop new (and better!) connection to the muscles involved in running by practicing the components of efficient running form. This helps us as runners in all sorts of ways.

  • Practice makes permanent. It has been said that practice makes perfect, but that isn’t quite true. Actually, practice makes permanent. In that case, we should really say: perfect practice makes perfect. When we do drills, we exaggerate motions of an efficient running form in order to develop those neural pathways. It will help send the necessary signals to the muscles that need to fire to maintain that good form. Practicing good form through drills will build the neuromuscular foundation for good form in the rest of our training.  
  • Resisting Fatigue. Training our neuromuscular system helps us run more efficiently and keep that good form even as we tire during a race or a long run. 
  • Get fast.  You need to be able to move fast to run fast. Drills train our feet to move quickly, without all the demands of an interval workout on the track. Sprinting itself is a neuromuscular workout (no surprise why these drills come from sprinters!), but we can practice quickness through drills while still focusing our training to the specific demands on longer distance racing. 
  • Build strength and coordination. Drills help develop muscles in your feet and lower legs, improving agility and power. Greater strength and mobility may help us resist injury from overuse and poor form. 

Dynamic Warm up and Running Drill Progression:

The best time to do most running drills is when you are warming up for a run, particularly before any kind of high intensity effort. You can also do drills as a cool down from an easy effort. Something important to remember: practice makes permanent. If you are too tired to do these drills with proper form, you will actually be defeating the purpose of the workout! Once you notice that you’re not able to maintain proper form, it is time to stop. 

1. Dynamic Stretching Warm Up

+ Knees to Chest

+ Walking quad stretch

+ Cross leg hamstring stretch

+ Walking stretch lunge

+ Arms circle back, knees up to chest

2. Form Drills

+ A Skips

+ High knees

+ Butt kicks

+ Quick feet

+ Strides 

Articles for further reading:

Brooklyn Half Marathon Course Strategy

Last Saturday, NBR members and USATF level 1 certified coaches Angela Ortiz and Karina Christiansen led our members through a training run with tips on half marathon racing and pro tips for the Brooklyn Half course. Even if you missed the training session, you can read their great tips here!

 

Brooklyn Half Tips:

* Give yourself plenty of time to get to the start. You'll have to go through security, and bag check for each wave closes 50 minutes before the wave start(!). Corrals (usually) open at 6am, and corrals close 20 minutes before the wave start (as of last year).

* There are bathrooms in the corrals, so you don't have to worry about using them before you settle into the corral.

* There are water stations in between the mile markers until mile 8, at which point they appear at every mile marker.

* There is a PowerGel station at mile 8, but unless you are ok with surprises, don't try anything new unless you've been training with these.

* The stretch along Ocean Parkway is long and unshaded, so if it's sunny, some find it helpful to wear a visor or sunglasses.

* Afterwards, join us at the NBR Beach party! Details TBA.

Course Notes/Strategy:

* If you are new to running or half marathons, try to run based on effort. In the first 1-7 miles, you should be moving at an effort that feels mostly easy, saving your energy for those final miles. Ideally, you should be able to speak a full sentence and have a conversation while moving, without gasping for breath.

* If you know your pace, or are going for a PR, you should still work with a conservation mindset in the first half. Energy spent running under pace in the hills, is energy you won't have at mile 10, when you'll need it most. Once the hills are out of the way, then, depending on how you feel, it's time to shift into another gear.

* The only big hill in the course is at mile 4.5 and goes up for a little over 800m (about 70ft of elevation gain). Focus on leaning into the hill, driving your knees high, and pumping your arms. After this the course is mostly downhill!

* Use the big downhill just after mile 6 to mentally recover and reset for the last half of the race.

* Right around mile 7 there is a tiny uphill going up the on ramp to Ocean Parkway. It doesn't even register on the NYRR elevation map, but it can take the wind out of your sails if you're not expecting it!

* After mile 7, if you are moving based on effort, you can think about kicking it up a notch, if you feel it. Your effort should still feel controlled, but your breathing cadence will be quicker, and you should only be able to speak a few words at a time.

* If you know your pace, you should maintain your pace as closely as possible until mile 8, and then try to think about dipping underneath, using the energy stored from not going out too fast in the first half.

* Miles 9-12 are where you'll need to focus most. Keep your head and gaze up, shoulders down, arms pumping back and forth (not across your body), knees lifting, pushing all the way through your foot and off the toes, using your glutes to power you to the finish. Focus on someone ahead of you and reel them in. Look into the distance for the Belt Parkway overpass and the subway overpass. Once you see these you're close to the finish!

* In the last mile you'll want to kick it into your final gear. Your effort should still be controlled, but your breathing will be quick and you shouldn't be able to speak more than a word at a time. Think about finishing strong.

* The ramp leading up to the boardwalk at Coney Island is made of wood and therefore can be springy and uneven (it can also feel very long even though it's probably not more than 10-15 meters!). Be sure to lift your knees/feet.

* Once you make the right turn onto the boardwalk, give it your best effort until you cross the finish line. Look up and smile for your finish line photo! You did it!

Click here for Runners World's guide on how to pace you first half-marathon

Click here for a guide on planning your pacing mile by mile.

Race Report: Mogadishu Half-Marathon

by Sophie Tholstrup

While you guys were registering blistering times and smashing PRs in Central Park this weekend, NBR's lesser known Just East chapter was moving at a significantly slower pace in temperatures hot enough to melt metal at the Mogadishu Marathon. 

The first marathon to be held in the country since the outbreak of civil war in 1991, this was the creation of a couple of young British military guys stationed here, who run for London's Midnight Runners back home. They wanted to celebrate Somali running talent and try to break the narrative of drought, IED attacks and conflict with a more hopeful story. The marathon is also helping to raise much-needed funds for the drought response - more on that below!

The race is named after Samia Yusuf Omar – a Somali Olympic runner who  competed in Beijing and dreamed of doing the same in London in 2012. Tragically that was a dream she never got to fulfill. She drowned in 2011 making the hazardous crossing to Europe as a refugee.

More than 200 runners from over 30 countries competed over a 5 mile, 15 mile and 26 mile course inside the protected international area surrounding Mogadishu airport. Diplomats, peacekeepers and even Olympians braved the extreme conditions, scrambling over sand dunes, navigating barbed wire fences and fortified compounds, one particularly important military colleague even running with his own armed close protection team. 

32 Somali runners - including members of the Olympic team - competed, and proved that even when the rest of us are complaining that our faces are melting, SERIOUS speed is possible. Particular props to the Somali women, who smoked the competition in the 5 mile race wearing long yellow polyester trousers and modified headscarves.

IMG_1374.JPG

I probably shouldn't mention this, since there were only about 6 women running and I covered several miles at more of a death-shuffle than a recognizable running pace, but since this is likely the only time in my life I will ever get to say this.... first female half marathon finisher in the house!

This race was the textbook definition of type two fun. It was unbelievably hot. The friendly water table volunteers had, I later discovered, been briefed to ask borderline-looking runners questions to check whether they were delirious. Military medical crews kept a beady eye out from the back of ambulances for runners whose brains had started cooking. Several runners were told to stop, but I think each and every one of them disobeyed orders and trudged to the finish. At one point I spotted a man with a hose spraying filthy graywater onto the ground and dived underneath it for a moment's relief. But it was WONDERFUL! I ran with Ugandan peacekeepers, Italian diplomats and Ecuadorian aid workers, high-fived Olympic hopefuls and race walkers in full makeup. An Indian soldier critiqued my running form, and I fangirled deliriously at young Somali women in head-to-toe yellow polyester  running faster over 5 miles than I could manage over 100m.

I got asked to deploy to Somalia to go and help out with the drought response while - and I say this with shame - skiing in the Alps. I jumped on a plane with a suitcase full of ski gear, had a four-day crash course in avoiding/ surviving kidnap, how to stop blood loss if someone's leg gets blown off and what to do if you find yourself being horrible to your colleagues (drink more water), and then turned up for work in the UN's Drought Operations Centre. The operations centre is full of aid workers on laptops, scrabbling for data on who needs what where, what's being delivered and where the gaps are, trying to ensure aid get to those who need it most as quickly as possible. I sit next to the water guy, behind the protection lady and am constantly bothering the food people. It's a strange deployment, in that we sit in an air conditioned shipping container in a walled compound protected by peacekeepers, and we feel a long way from the people we're here to help. Running a race with elite Somalia athletes doesn't change that, of course, but coming together around a love of running was a really powerful experience in lots of ways.

Somalia - already reeling from years of conflict - is in the grips of a devastating drought, with a real risk that the country will slip into famine in 2017. More than half the population - 6.2 million people - are in need of assistance, as failing rains have driven food shortages across the country. The drought has caused massive livestock death, and forced a quarter of a million people to leave their homes and walk for days into urban centres in search of food and water. Nearly one million children are at risk of deadly malnutrition, and cholera has swept across the country, infecting 12,000 people since the start of the year. In 2011, famine killed 260,000 people across the country, and aid organisations and the newly-installed government are working frantically to avoid a repeat of history.

I know there are a million calls on your goodwill and hard-earned cash, but this is a real case where every dollar makes a difference. It costs around $90 to feed a family of seven for a month, and around $100 to provide lifesaving treatment to a seriously malnourished infant. All money raised will go directly to the organisations making the most impact here on the ground. If you're looking for a direct and efficient way to help avert famine, please do give what you can: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/sophie-tholstrup

Here's hoping that there are many more marathons in Mogadishu's future and that, as the situation here improves, these will move out of protected compounds and onto the streets, with anyone and everyone free to participate.

I'll be back in the Greatest Borough soon, and can't wait to see you all. 

NBR love,

Sophie