The Marathon is My Home

I ran my 20th marathon on October 7, 2018, in my hometown of Chicago. It was 21 years after running my first.

My previous marathon was also in Chicago, in 2015. Two events happened since then that taught me nothing was guaranteed, that we can’t take anything for granted. One was tearing my ACL on a freak bike accident. I remember after falling, face against the pavement on Kent Avenue, not knowing the severity of what had happened, staring down into the distance, wondering if I would run Tigerwolves in two days, and that, if not, I would certainly to able to run Doves in three days. I had been training for the New York Marathon. In reality, it was eight months until my next run. The other event was a boat that my wife and I owned and operated as a dinner boat, The Revolution, was hit by a tug and was damaged beyond repair. Our business ended because a Captain wasn’t paying attention to his surroundings. My running came to a halt because my bike wheel grazed another’s while riding, I lost my balance and fell, a block from my house.

You hear these annoying cliches, all of the time:

“Be present.”
“Treat each moment as if it could be your last.”
“Be grateful for the opportunities that you have.”  

But it’s impossible to truly and fully understand what they all mean until some event shows them to be true–specifically to you and to your life.

Surgery came–the operation required tendons being taken from my hamstring, magically turned into a new ACL, and then attached to place in my knee. Physical therapy and rehab ensued and continued. Eight months after my ACL injury, I ran outside for 2 clunky miles. I limped. I had lost the ability to jump on my leg that was operated on. My quad had shrunken with atrophy, despite my hours rehabbing.

Several months and miles later, I entered the lottery for the Chicago Marathon in 2018. It was a total lark. At that point, I had been able to run 35-40 miles a week and had run a half marathon. But maybe that was all I could do, now. I didn’t know. More miles were run, hours spent in the gym, visits to The Finish Line continued.

Chicago training started in June. I would think of each week as it’s own goal. I’ll just go week-by-week and see what happens. It’s an experiment. Everything is an experiment. Maybe what’s possible is bigger than I know. The weeks went by, mileage increased, new friends were made training, I told people I would know if I were running the marathon once I was at the starting line.

Two weeks before the race, I had actually booked my ticket to Chicago. The possibility was becoming more real. One week out, my IT band hurt without any warning. Stairs were hard, I tried to remain calm and do everything to recover.

Marathon Sunday.

My wife and I drove downtown, in the warm rain, from my parent’s house. I was meeting Matt and Aaron. I got out of the car on Michigan Avenue, the sight of runners flocking to the start. Their smiles, nervous laughter, foreign accents, mindless chit-chat. I’ve been in this scene before, but today it felt new. I cried a few tears, feeling such gratitude to witness this and believe I, too, belonged here on this day. I was about to take on this same journey as everyone here. If this was the end of the day for me, it would be enough. Just these few minutes of being here. The rain camouflaged my tears, I saw Matt and we hugged. He made fun of me, and everything felt right.

My goal for the race was to smile from mile 24 to the end. It was totally separate from any time goal, like that was for people in another universe to be concerned with. I had trained to run probably something between 3:35 and 3:40. Not my fastest, but that was irrelevant. Aaron and I would start the race together with the 3:35 pace group. I couldn’t believe this was happening. The last minute sorting out of yourself: gear check, waiting in line for porta-potties. The walk to the start line. The views of skyline. The pre-marathon music. The hope that each and every runner surrounding me has, in order to get to this point. My own story...one star in the galaxy of 44,571 others. My story here is just a speck. We are all little specks.

The early miles go by and Aaron and I try to settle into a pace. It is raining harder. I miss seeing my wife at mile 3. Our GPS splits are incomprehensible. We go by the Lakefront–where my friends and I would drive to during high school, in the darkness of summer nights in our parent’s cars.

Mile 7, mile 8. I still can’t quite grasp this is happening–I’m feeling as if this experience, in this race, after so many components of recovery and so many doubts, was opening a door to brand new landscape of meaning–one of gratitude. One that words don’t quite capture. It is the opposite of the pressure and the punishment we can put on ourselves as runners. Opposite of the feeling when we miss a PR by seconds, when our time doesn’t show what we believe we are capable of. When someone beat us who we thought we deserved to beat. I have, of course, thought those thoughts in races before, but it feels distant and fuzzy, as if they were from another person.

Miles 10, 11, heading back downtown. Aaron and I both miss our wives at the half-way point. Rain is pouring down. We are still in the beginning. It feels both ordinary and extraordinary.

Mile 18, and with it, Deirdre and her red hair and her bandana and her stride that is utterly and completely her own. My IT band has been hurting throughout the race when I’ve moved laterally, to water stops and back. At mile 20, someone jostles me and it flares up. I start to slow down, Aaron continues on at our previous pace. Deirdre tells me that each mile I am getting stronger, and I thank her for saying that, knowing each mile is slower than the last at this point. But it doesn’t matter. I am quiet and happy. We keep moving along. My family is waiting for me at mile 23, where they have seen me many times, so many versions of myself, at ages 18, 23, 28, 35, now 39. I search for them, we shout and smile when our eyes meet. A euphoric celebration in the span of seconds. I stop and walk for a bit to rub out my IT band. It’s almost mile 24. My only goal–smile from mile 24 to the end. There is wind, and here I am with everyone else, getting closer to the finish line. I don’t want it to end.

Mile 25 comes. The race officials spot everyone without a bib and Deirdre and I hug, saying goodbye. The right on Roosevelt, then the little hill. I used to watch the Fourth of July fireworks here when I was 15. I try to speed up, only as a formality. I can’t stop smiling. I don’t allow myself to cry until I’m done. 200 meters to go. I don’t want it to end.

The finish.

I think of Kelli, my wife, who has been with me through all kinds of moments in order to get here. I think of thousands of leg lifts, squats, jumps, planks, glute activations and of my physical therapist, Carly. I think of Aaron, hoping he has met his time. Hoping he is happy. I think of Matt, hoping he is also happy. I wonder if Lauren qualified for the trials. I think of my Mom and Dad, my sister, my brother-in-law, my nephew–who may one day run this race. I think of my beloved friends who I’ve made from the running team. I am so lucky. I can’t stop crying. My smile wants to break free from the frame of my face. It’s over. It has happened. I have finished my first marathon with my new knee. The sky is gray. The shimmering sea of the metallic sheets. My heart is big and full. I take some photos with the staged backdrops, just like new marathoners do. It is new for me now, too.

This is the space where I want to live.

The contours of humanity around me, the spectators cheering for strangers, the runners persevering on when the final miles feel truly impossible. The beauty of dreaming. The time between the start and the finish, getting more mysterious and unknown as each mile goes on–in it the capacity for pain, suffering, joy, hope, despair but always an absolute and total requirement of belief. A possibility to astonish oneself. The elasticity of meaning for each and every runner. Each and every speck.

I never want to forget this day, I tell myself. Allow yourself to be proud. Allow yourself to dream. Keep this feeling with you, as long as you can, despite your memory’s attempts to distort and diminish it. Write about it, if only to understand it, if only to preserve it.

3:37:48

Be present.


2018 Chicago & NYC Marathon Race Report - The Victory Lap!

This fall, I tackled the challenge of completing two marathons within four weeks, in Chicago and our great city of New York! The New York City marathon also marked an end to my two year tenure as NBR President & Team Captain. It's been a hell of a ride... physically, this was the first marathon training cycle I was able to stay healthy through in four years, mostly due to the training I did in our NBR group runs. I set a new personal record in Chicago and accomplished a new feat by crossing two marathon finish lines in one season. Concurrently, while serving as NBR leadership handling event planning, public relations, human resources and general maintenance for the club, I've been constantly reminded of the wonderful support network and community our team represents. This marathon season in particular, our best attributes were constantly on display. 

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Chicago marathon weekend, dozens of NBRs travelled to the windy city not only to run the marathon, but also to serve as 5k finishers, cheer squads, support networks, donut run & post-race organizers, partners in travel and celebration! I can't imagine there's any other run club on the planet that sends almost as many people to cheer and support their teammates as it does marathon runners to an out of town race. It is astounding, heartwarming and makes me excessively happy to be a part of the club and to call you all friends. While my travel to Chicago was a whirlwind, I was ecstatic when my NBR "Just Central" training partners Lisa & Pete managed to find me in the start corrals to joke around, take photos, offer words of encouragement and help shake out the nerves before the race. Even more touching was seeing Polly Jones and John Riccardi cheering out on the course - two club members who departed Brooklyn for a life in Wisconsin, but still made the effort to come out and support us all on race day! I ran the fastest 18 miles of my life through a rainy, but amazing race course, before hitting the wall around mile 19. My friend Anna Spinner caught up to me at a Biofreeze station & we cheered each other on to finish strong. About a mile later, NBR speedster and photographer Drew Reynolds was there to yell at me for walking (a fairly constant theme for me through both the Chicago and NYC races.) I laughed and charged ahead back into a RUN, eventually finishing with a 6 minute marathon PR, after four years of failed attempts. At the finish line, my frequent NBR cohorts and corral partners Kevin & Pete were waiting for me to toast beers to our PRs, and take celebratory photos. My post-race planning was effortless, as teammates Alena and Anne organized a great party at Ballast Point Brewery where the entire NBR squad celebrated our collective accomplishments with great beer and food for HOURS. (Polly even loaned me her NBR Warm-up jacket to wear and stink up, when I arrived in my singlet and heat sheet - if that's not camaraderie, I don't know what is!) I was beyond inspired to hear all my teammates' race day stories. A highlight was hearing that NBR training-mates Q and Becca both ran sub-three hour marathons for the first time, and did much of it TOGETHER. 

Upon returning home to Brooklyn, I was unsure whether I would honor my registration into the upcoming New York City Marathon a few weeks later. But after one easy and low-mileage week, I really felt great and had no problem getting back into my 50 mile per week marathon training regime. At the Front Runners Blue-Line Run where we preview the marathon course, I was able to comfortably run 18 miles along with several teammates, and was convinced I had it in me to get the job done at the NYC race.  

NYC marathon weekend has just come to a close, and was nothing short of spectacular! Saturday night was spent deliciously carb loading in Little Italy with the NBR teammates I trained most with this season, through hot, steamy and at times apocalyptic rainy conditions: Bev, Amit & Pete. The Sunday morning trek to the start line  was equally enjoyable, as we all met up together again in the Blue Start camp, along with Jenna, Luis and Liz. While getting pumped up in our Blue Wave 2 start corral, we even found a full stick of body glide on the ground, and hilariously passed it around for collective use. (The team that shares bodily fluids through body glide sticks is truly living the dream!) Under the cloudless sky and perfect temperature, at the sound of the start cannon and Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York," we slowly made our way to the start line and I traversed the Verrazano bridge alongside Liz Shea - it being her first NYC Marathon, she blissfully sighed "this is surreal," and I was ready to run! 

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Running, I did - starting about as fast and strong as I had a few weeks prior in Chicago. The race course was extremely crowded for several miles along 4th Ave and Lafayette, and being the shortest in the pack made it difficult to see much of the cheering onlookers. I did hear my name shouted out several times along the way, so I know my NBR teammates were there! While running alongside teammate Becky, she agreed the crowds were a bit much but had decided to stick in the pack, as I dodged and weaved down 4th Ave. I also ran alongside several NBRs looking happy and fresh in their singlets. (In case you didn't know, our club is HUGE.)  The Gospel choir that sang along Lafayette Ave., and the Lil Kim song "Lighter's Up" playing in my BedStuy neighborhood got me even more pumped to continue on the course. In Williamsburg, Rebecca and Katie were easily recognizable, as they are also short and at my eye level. We all excitedly screamed and jumped up and down. At our infamous mile 12 water table, the great Jose Lasalle announced my arrival on the megaphone, and all my beloved volunteering teammates glanced up from their watering duties and gave a shout! It was hard not to excitedly sprint through that tunnel... 

Unfortunately, between Mile 12 and the Pulaski bridge, my energy severely wained. It was overly optimistic to have started the race in similar fashion to the one I had completed just a few weeks prior. My NYC Marathon options were now two-fold: I would struggle through the second half of the race, or call it a day and be proud of what I had done in the month. I was ready to walk off the Pulaski and head straight to the G train to head home, when John Slaski strode up beside me. He asked how I was feeling and I told him I was about to quit. In wonderful Brooklyn fashion he said "Awwww, come ON!!! You got most of it done already. Just take it easy and finish!" In that moment, John's words were nothing short of heroic, and I decided to continue the race and just enjoy myself. (THANK YOU JOHN!)

And enjoy myself, I did! After waving hi to Alun in Queens, I slowly trekked onto the quiet Queensboro bridge, where I shouted and cheered for the runners around me, trying to keep everyone (and myself) pumped up! Along 1st Avenue at Mile 17, a pub was giving out dixie cups of beer - I ran up and asked for a full one, and someone hilariously delivered me a mug of beer instead. I stood at the side of the road, enjoyed what I think was a Pilsner, spectated and cheered others along the course. (I also made video to let my family know I was ok.) A little further down the road, Teammate Sarah Bacon was dressed in a bacon costume and I ran up to her screaming "BAAAAACCCCCOOOONNNN!!!!" I did some dancing in the Bronx, particularly when the DJ played "Jenny From The Block." Over the last 9 miles, several NBR teammates witnessed my strong walking capabilities and encouraged me on, including Radford, Kevin and most hilariously Annie, who got me to run again, straight into another person. (If anyone complains of a 5' girl tackling them on 5th avenue around mile 23, it was me.) So yeah... I ran-walked my way into and through Central Park, but did finish strong with a full-out run through 59th Street and up to Tavern on the Green! I'm not sure I ever had as big a smile on my face as at that race finish; I'm still stunned I finished in under 5 hours.  The fun I had over the course of the day continued with all of you at the after-party where I was thrilled to learn of all the incredible accomplishments and moments you all shared throughout the day. I even witnessed a group hug between our Grandmasters men, as they discovered they had collectively come in 2nd place of all the clubs competing!

This race was indeed my victory lap after an incredible season of training, an all-out wonderful year personally (I also started a new job,) and a happy end to my tenure as NBR President.  I could not have asked for a better experience or group of people to share all of it with! It has been a pleasure running, racing and representing all of you!!

NYC Marathon Team Spot Check-In: Ali Fenwick

 

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 ran the hurdles way back in high school but hadn’t done much running since when I first moved to the neighborhood in the fall of 2009. That’s when I first heard about the club from a roommate of mine. According to NYRR, it wasn’t until 2012 that I officially ran a race under the NBR flag and I can’t remember my first NBR training run but it must have made a good impression because since then, I’ve volunteered for four years at NBR’s NYC Marathon Mile 12 water table under the legendary leadership of Jose LaSalle and I lead the Community Outreach team that organizes volunteering opportunities for NBR members while also helping to manage NBR’s social media presence.

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.
This will be my first-ever marathon so it’s going historically well! Karina Christiansen agreed to be my coach after Radford Lathan told me to hire her and Karina’s calm and steadying guidance has been a godsend. (Sidenote: Listen to Radford, she is always right). Having a coach and a weekly prescription of workouts has taken the guesswork out of training for me and kept me accountable. I learned early on in July with a strained calf muscle that it is my job to show up healthy at the starting line. That week of NOT running was honestly the hardest part of marathon training, but I now know that the fitness lost by taking a few days off to heal an injury is not going to make a real difference in the end and is certainly not worth showing up at Fort Wadsworth hurt. An inflamed right knee that has recently forced me to take a break from running and turn to yoga and swimming in these last two weeks is really testing that conviction right now, but I feel confident I can make it to the starting line feeling good, which will be a win all by itself.

Which isn’t to say I don’t have goals - everything is a PR when it’s your first marathon, and I think I can realistically finish under 4:30:00, but I really have no idea what I will do. Somewhere along the way to training me for a marathon, Karina turned me into a (relatively) fast 5K and half-marathon runner! I smashed my previous 5K best back in August at a PPTC speed series race with an 8:01 milesplit and I ran my first sub-2 half at my hometown half-marathon in Ocean City, NJ, thanks to running with or chasing Marie Figueredo for most of the race. It was a 13 minute improvement on my previous best! So who knows, maybe I’ll surprise myself in the marathon too! Then again, I can see myself veering all over the course in distraction to see familiar faces and collect every high five I can get.

As far as a good long-run story, the Narwhals run to Rockaway Beach on a blazing hot July day this year, followed by jumping in the ocean and air-drying on the high speed ferry home left a real impression on me and showed me that long runs weren’t torture, but FUN. That was my first time running farther than half marathon distance, and I felt like a pioneer woman forging unknown territory, which is honestly the most exciting part of being a marathon newbie. Every long run you do is an all-time world record. I’ll miss that if I ever marathon again. 

Then there were several times my teammates straight up saved my life during a long run: Once when I tripped on a sidewalk because I forgot that when you run you have to pick up your feet and Seth Pompan, who was running in front of me, broke my fall. (Thanks and also sorry, Seth!) And the time that a group of us, including another Team Spot runner, Alisa Mead, hid under an awning right before the on-ramp to the Brooklyn Bridge when the sky suddenly turned black and our cell phones lit up with flood watch advisories as we found ourselves in the middle of a torrential downpour. A Florida native used to tropical weather, Alisa had the sense to halt the group before running onto the highest possible structure in the middle of a lightning storm and made us wait until the count between thunder and lightning was at least 10 before she’d let us venture out. Thanks for saving my life, literally and figuratively, NBR!

Other fun long run memories include not running at all: There’s the time Susan Juray, Ellie Frame and I stopped at the delightful Sunset Park Diner for a bathroom break halfway through a 20 miler and I bought a glazed donut to justify our use of the facilities. Donuts are the new energy gels, guys! Then there was the time I only had to run 16 miles while everyone else around me needed 18, so I hopped on a Citibike and designated myself as bike marshal for Anna-Sierra Anderson, Rachel Hazes and Jennifer Buonocore — dinging my bell and generally making an obnoxious racket to announce our presence as we traveled through Greenpoint. They asked me to sing out loud to distract them and it’s hard to remember lyrics when your brain is foggy after a long run, but I obliged and I think I did a pretty decent version of Tiffany’s “I Think We’re Alone Now” and Celine Dion’s “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now.” The setlist also included “Eye of the Tiger” and White Snake’s “Here I Go Again.” Passers-by apparently filmed it, so it must have been good.

(Pro tip: I learned early on from the wise wizard Jordan Harrison that riding a bike is the ideal cooldown after a long run. You’re moving, but using different muscles and not pounding your joints and it all helps flush out lactic acid, resulting in less soreness the day after. Also, sometimes I had to bike home because L train weekend shutdowns are the way we live now.)

3. Which NBR runs are you attending regularly to train? Are there any NBR members who inspire you to train hard (er)?
I love the camaraderie of the Monday Night Easy Run, the pure (and temporary) pain of Tuesday Night Tempo Runs and the occasional Tigerwolves ice cream sandwich or Moneghetti run, and without the Saturday Narwhals crew and occasional Sunday Funday jaunt, I would be utterly lost. Respect to the folks who can somehow embark on a 10+ mile run on their own, but I need the pod to get me out the door. Not to mention the great routes that someone else chooses. I’ve run to so many places I would never think to go - to Rockaway Beach, to Four Freedoms Park at the tip of Roosevelt Island, Astoria, around Greenwood Cemetery, to Red Hook, the Ridgewood Reservoir up in Highland Park, over the Brooklyn Bridge on a Saturday, and it’s been an adventure every time. Not only is is fun to explore new parts of the city, joining the weekend long runs takes all the stress out of choosing a route. If it were up to me, I’d probably have worn a groove into the pavement doing loops between my house and the other side of the Pulaski Bridge by now.

My fellow Team Spot recipient, Lilly Stevens inspires me. She’s the mom of a busy two-year-old, is pursuing a PhD, lives in the faraway land of central Brooklyn which make it harder to join long runs and she just never quits. And Vito Aiuto, who was training for the Brooklyn Marathon and stepped up when an extra NYC marathon team spot became available, is a warm, kind and easygoing presence on any run. Vito is a pastor and just today he texted me that he’s praying for my knee, which made my knee AND my heart both feel instantly better. And I look up to Alisa, who has a very even-keeled approach - she never seems to get worked up about the dumb details that obsess me (like what is the best way to put my name on my singlet, or should I put it on my bib?) and she has taught how important it is to just listen to your body. Don’t wear the sneakers that everyone has that hurt your feet. It’s okay to peace out a few miles into a run if you’re not feeling well. And if you want to run TWO marathons in one cycle, like she did tackling Berlin last month and now NYC, you can do that, too. She’s a total badass.

Long time NBR’ior Meg Duffy, who also happens to be my neighbor, has become a new running buddy and invaluable sounding board throughout this marathon training cycle and I’m so grateful for all the times she met me on the corner for a run, even on the most humid summer mornings. She also introduced me to Worksong Acupuncture on Driggs, which lets you pay on a sliding scale and which I have enlisted to help with my knee in this last week. Doing all the things!

And the North Brooklyn ‘Reckers Hood to Haven “roller derby” relay crew are my ride-or-dies and the back-of-the-pack Narwhals’ “Caboose Crew” are also my people. I think someone coined the term when a group of us —  Alisa, Seth, Susan and Rebecca Hirschklau —  made a stop at the Socrates Sculpture Park on the return leg of a long run. I love that this club makes room for everyone and every pace - NBR is truly what you make of it. You get out what you put in.

And once again, Karina is the best and even though she is a super fast fastie, she took the time to loop me in on her daily runs many more times than I ever expected her to, including waking up really early on a weekday to pace me on a 14 mile run before work once because I was out of town that weekend (Meg was there, too!). Karina taught me along the way that running isn’t about speed and fast times, it’s about time and relative effort, listening to your body and having fun. The speed and fast times follow. She once said, “There must by joy,” and I have adopted this as my mantra. If it’s a total grind, you’re doing it wrong. And I think that goes for anything.

4. What does it mean to be chosen by your peers for a coveted NBR  marathon team spot?  I feel SO honored to be have been chosen for a team spot. I’ve volunteered at the NBR Mile 12 water table for years and I’m a strong believer in legendary marathoner, Kathrine Switzer’s famous aphorism, “If you're ever losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon."

This year marks a decade of living in New York City for me and I think Marathon Sunday is the best day in the city the whole year - all your fellow New Yorkers from all walks of life let down their tough-guy guard for one day to cheer on a melting pot of strangers embarking on a 26.2 mile mission that amounts to what is a really difficult, dumb idea with a huge payoff at the end. Which is kind of what living in New York City is: a really difficult, dumb idea — but with magical rewards. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate ten years of the struggle and success of living in NYC than to run the marathon. It feels like a valedictory, like a this-is-your-life victory lap tour of the five boroughs. I will probably laugh or cry, or both. Probably at Mile 12 when I see all of my NBR teammates and almost definitely at the finish line.

It’s a little overwhelming to think about because as a spectator on Marathon Sunday, you feel weirdly proud of all these strangers who are all doing this insane thing and it feels so great to cheer, shout their names and get a laugh or a smile. It’s human connection. And no matter what’s going on in the world, you feel for a couple hours like maybe this crazy, sweet, vulnerable, fumbling, foolish human race is going to be okay. I can’t imagine how great it will feel to be on the receiving end of all those cheers, smiles and high-fives. I get emotional just thinking about it.

5. What do you plan on eating post-marathon? What about the night before?
Immediately post-marathon, I am going to have a bottle of the full-fat chocolate milk from Ronnybrook Dairy stand, which is at the McCarren Farmers’ Market every Saturday. And when I get back to the neighborhood, I want a Hot Breast fried chicken sandwich with biscuits and honey butter at The Commodore. The day before, I plan to eat the Japanese breakfast at Okonomi, which is such a delicious comfort food treat - rice, a runny egg, miso soup and delicious roasted fish. I’m told that lunch the day before the marathon should actually be your biggest meal, not dinner. So I might hit up Hummus Market in my neighborhood for their shakshuka with homemade warm pita and dinner will be a bowl of rice with whatever poké Gary at Acme Fish Co. comes up with that week. That has become my go-to pre-long run meal, borne out of many months of doing the Salmon Run and hitting up Fish Friday. You know I’ll be first in line at Acme on Friday, Nov. 2!

6. What inspires and motivates you to run this year's NYC marathon?
It’s a funny thing because I have a journalism background and I know that of all the stories that behind the 50,000 runners at this year’s race, "Woman Runs First Marathon" is not a headline. But even though my marathon journey isn’t a terribly good story, the decision to race and embark on the training it involves has represented a lot of change, growth and introspection for me. So I run for a lot of selfish reasons, but my mom is also a big reason why I chose to tackle this daunting distance. She was the healthiest person when she had a hemorrhagic stroke nearly 10 years ago and lost the use of her right side. She now walks with a cane, drives with a modified brake and steering wheel, taught herself to write and paint with her left hand and goes through her day without complaint - even though the sheer amount of effort it takes her to just get dressed in the morning would be enough to make most people give up. She’s too stoic to acknowledge that daily struggle, but her determination humbles me. I think all the time about how lucky I am that I am healthy and have working legs. I’m so grateful to get to use them to do something as hard as what she does every single day. 

7. In your head, what celebrity do you think you most resemble when you're running?
If I’m wearing my long-run braided pigtails, I probably look most like Pippi Longstocking. Or Anne of Green Gables when I wear a French braid and maybe Lara Croft, Tomb Raider, when I wear a braided ponytail. Any braided heroine of your childhood literary or movie dreams, really!

NYC Marathon Team Spot Check-In: Alisa Mead

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?  
NBR was a group I always saw at the NYRR races and alway noticed because I was in awe of the whole crew – everyone seemed super tight knit and and those black singlets make everyone look cool. I lived in Brooklyn Heights at the time so joining wasn't super convenient or really on my radar. I also ran alone for the most part and wasn't really into running with people at that time. When I moved to Williamsburg, I went on my first run, which was a Narwhals run (Kevin, who I had somewhat recently started dating, told me he was meeting people for a run... I didn't really know what to expect). It was a pretty big fail – It was pretty cold that morning and everyone was REALLY fast and I was just getting back into running and I must have lasted about a mile. I showed up for a bridge run another time, and was like, "this ain't so bad... this running with people stuff". I have been involved about two years, and started run leading last November. 

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 this year is going really good! I ran NY in 2014 to varying success and failure. I was injured a lot, I ran like I was trying to punch through the asphalt to the other side of the world. I was exhausted after every long run and needed days to recover from a long run. BUT I finished! 

This time around, I notice now my body is VERY different. Like, new bod who's this? I just need a nap and a beer and I am good to go after a long run, I am not injured. I think the biggest difference is I don't throw my feet down, its a lot more conscious to not run like I am mad at the ground. I also am a lot more form aware and take days of rest when I need to. The biggest help I think has been consistent cross training – I go to barre class weekly and it has really helped with core strength and muscle activation. This training cycle has also been a two-for-one (one cycle for two marathons!). My marathon training started early in the year to prepare myself for the Berlin Marathon which was just a couple weeks ago! So, I did a normalish cycle up to Berlin, am now ramping up a little, and will taper back down again a couple weeks before NY. I also hope to sneak in some more speed work. 

For Long runs, this was also my first time doing long runs with a group! It has been a blast! Summer Streets with the Caboose Crew... need I say more? We have literally been through every kind of weather pattern together, eaten all the snacks, run through every sprinkler. We did get stuck in a really bad storm and a small flash flood and had to huddle against the side of a dry-cleaner BUT we had the best time.  I can't wait to see Caboose Crew Take Care of Business in Chi town and NY!

3. Which NBR runs are you attending regularly to train? Are there any NBR members who inspire you to train hard (er)? 
I am always at Wednesday Night (beginner run I am a leader of, and sometimes I will 'double dip and do the 7:30 as well). This summer I have been consistent with Narwhals. I try to attend Monday Easy and another wildcard during the week as well but sometimes I do not make it home in time! As for Inspiration, I would have to say Liz and Seth! Liz has been so inspiring to watch – she is so dedicated, committed, and consistently challenges herself. Seth is inspiring as well: no matter how gross, awful, no good it is outside or whatever he has going on, he is there and does not let it affect him!

4. What does it mean to be chosen by your peers for a coveted NBR marathon team spot?  
This is a pretty amazing thing! I was honestly surprised and a little emotional when I found out. I really cherish being a part of this community and the relationships I have made from it. I wanted to run NY again and this was the little push I needed. Thanks, guys!

5. What do you plan on eating post-marathon? What about the night before? 
Post Marathon, I am not sure I will go with whatever I am craving, but I have a feeling it will be hot dogs and beer! While the beer might be in the shower, I don't think the hot-dog will translate well. The night before, I hope to visit my favorite Italian restaurant Il Posto Accanto in the East Village and having their "crack-atelli" (cavatelli dish that makes you believe in miracles) and whatever salad they have sourced that day from the farmers market. 

6. What inspires and motivates you to run this year's NYC marathon? 
Running NY in 2014 was one of the most impact experiences of my life. At the time, I was the only person around me that didn't believe in my ability to accomplish the race. I didn't even believe I completed it until I was home and showered! I want to run the race this time with the confidence knowing that I can and I will finish it. Running through your neighborhood, and your city is an experience like no other, and I am so excited to do it again. 

7. In your head, what celebrity do you think you most resemble when you're running?
Pass? I haven't gotten any celeb look alikes lately, but will revive them all now for the sake of this question: Selma Blair, Ginnifer Goodwin, Ruby Rose. I don't know if I look like any of them running but once at Starbucks (when I had a pixie cut) someone did think I was Ginnifer Goodwin. I told them my name and they didn't believe me and gave me one of those kind of winks. They wrote Ginnifer on the cup (clearly, Alisa was just a name I give to people to throw them off). 

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!"

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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.

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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.