Myrtle Beach Marathon Recap: Wataru Iwata

When I was 5 or 6 years old, I enjoyed flying kites.

The Myrtle Beach marathon reminded me of those old days flying kites.

Marathon training is like winding the line for the kite, making sure that the line is the right weight, not broken, not entangled and long enough to fly your kite as high as you can.

The race itself is like patiently unwinding your line, according to wind speed. Sometimes the wind dies down, sometimes it gets gusty.

Each mile, you carefully unwind the energy and everything you prepared, covering the distance with the right pace, making sure that you don’t waste unnecessary energy, telling yourself not to get carried away or too excited. Also, if you are in competitive battle, you don’t want to show how much extra line you have left to your friend until the right moment.

When I watched the Tokyo Marathon live stream on Saturday night, Suguru Osako, arguably best Japanese marathoner today, training with Nike Oregon Project, started his race positioned at the back of lead group, as usual.

It looked all “in control” until half way. He looked calm and composed. He looked so lean—different from Yuki Kawauchi, who is built stronger. Suguru looked even more shaved than when he finished third in the 2017 Boston Marathon (his debut race) and when he broke Japanese record with 2:05 in Chicago 2018.

Around mile 18, he started slowing down and soon started walking with his shoulders shaking. It clearly looked he had hypothermia, probably due to very low body fat percentage, like Galen Rupp, Shalane Flanagan and many other elite athletes who suffered last year in famous rainy and windy Boston Marathon.

I thought to myself, Maybe the line he chose for his kite was too fine. (Who am I to judge though?)

Going back to my race….

Until last year, I used to do only two marathons per year. Typically one marathon in the spring and another in fall. But this year, I wanted stir things up a little bit and challenged myself to start the year with two spring marathons. 

Myrtle Beach was my first on March 2, and I plan to run New Jersey on April 28.

Preparing for this double marathon, I have been running about 70 miles per week since the beginning of December.

As I approached the date of Myrtle Beach, I almost felt like I didn’t want to give up my 70 miles a week streak .

At the same time, I was bit lazy with my speed training—in the cold weather, I never felt comfortable doing intervals. I was drifting from the leader pack on Saturday’s local competitive long tempo runs. Maybe I was doing bit too much volume, and not enough quality, but I told myself this was part of experience, and I would try and see.

Doing two marathons eight weeks apart is a new experience for me, and I am only halfway through.

I decided to use the Myrtle Beach Marathon as a continuation of my long run training.

I have been increasing my longest long run:

  • 12/15 13 miles

  • 12/23 17 miles

  • 1/5 17 miles

  • 1/12   17 miles

  • 1/19   19 miles

  • 1/26  19 miles

  • 2/2   20 miles

  • 2/9   16 miles (setback week)

  • 2/16  21 miles

  • 2/23  22 miles

So I aimed to do a 26 mile “long run" at the race, starting with sub 7 minute/miles and seeing how long I could hold the pace without proper pre-race “tapering” or a lot of speed training.

The first 14 miles went as I planned, in the  6:55-7:05 range. (Carefully unwinding my line: Some miles had a tail wind, some miles a head wind. I was always asking my body how I felt.)

From miles 15 to 20, I was still within 10-15 seconds of my target (except for mile 17, when we had a slight incline and head wind at the same time).

From mile 21, I started thinking, Do I unwind the line same way I was doing? Or do I save? In a way, these were sort of negative thoughts. I wanted to have more or less “seamless” training to the New Jersey Marathon.

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I started easing a little bit and took it to the end. Finishing miles are always tough in the marathon, but I wasn’t suffering like I was in the NYC marathon when I was climbing the 5th avenue “wall” and entering Central Park.

It almost felt serene. There were many fewer spectators than the NYC marathon, many fewer volunteers. I never noticed any spectator shouting “NBR.” I told myself, “Okay, this is a long training run.”

When I crossed the finish line, I received my medal and heat sheet, but I didn’t really need it. I continued jogging to the area where they were giving pizza, donuts and bananas.

I grabbed a few bites and continued walking to my hotel (Courtyard by Marriott), which was two minutes from the start/finish area. I knew I only had a hour to check out at 11 am.

I could have nicely asked for a late check out. But I didn’t really want to bother. I did 20 minutes of my routine stretching and yoga, took a 20-minute hot shower and I didn’t really feel any of the pain and calf cramps I usually feel after 26.2.

I didn’t really unwind the line I had. My kite didn’t fly as high as it should have. But it was okay. My time was 3:08:16, about 30 seconds slower than my PR in NYC.

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It was a perfect 60 degrees and flat course, but I am feeling confident that I “saved.”

I usually run the next day to flush out the lactic acid but I usually can’t run faster than 9:00/mile since my legs are tight. But, this time, I felt fine doing 8:00/mile. I ran from my home in Dumbo to the West side, up to 14th Street and caught the subway.

Now, my real challenge starts. I have eight weeks to first rest my body, then start training hard with long tempo runs, intervals, supplemental core and strength training to get myself ready to fly my kite the highest I can in New Jersey on April 28th.


Myrtle Beach Marathon 

PROS:

  • weather was nice.

  • flat course

  • easy travel (90-minute flight) from NYC

  • good number of fluid stations. 

CONS:

  • would be better if spectators didn’t smoke

  • mile markers were little off

  • didn’t have an energy gel until mile 22

March Runner of the Month: Kaitlyn DiBello

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Kaitlyn DiBello started running 17 years ago, first as a mid-distance runner/long jumper, then a steeplechaser in high school and a 5k/10k and cross country runner in college. Before moving to Brooklyn she was a head cross country and track coach.

So when she arrived in the neighborhood in July 2017, she was looking for a team to run with, and fell right in with NBR. “Most of my best running memories have come from being a part of this team,” she says. “Even though we’re competitive, at the end of the day we celebrate each other’s successes no matter how big or little they are.”

Today, as the coordinator for NBR’s women’s local competitive team, Kaitlyn is currently aiming to break 3 hours in the NYC marathon. But she’s not the kind of person who feels like one goal is enough: “I’d also love to break 19 minutes in the 5K, break 40 minutes in the 10k and run a sub 1:25 in the half.” Oh, and she dreams of one day qualifying for the Olympic trials in either the marathon or 10k. Her strategy for getting there? Training crazy hard with NBR. “I honestly I wouldn’t be half the runner I am without this team.”

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Favorite race distance: Marathons and half marathons! I love the feel of pushing myself and doing something I love for miles upon miles. But I’ll always have a special place in my heart for a good 5k or 10k, especially on the track.

Favorite race: The NYC Marathon and the NYC Half. The fact that the whole city is out there cheering you on is such a surreal feeling. It is always an honor to represent both NBR and Brooklyn in those races on the streets we train on every day.

Favorite NBR run: Either Tuesday Night Tempo or Thursday night track. I love pushing myself with the team and the promise of pizza afterwards is always great. But in summer Narwhals and local competitive definitely become favorites, especially when we get to hit summer streets.

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Best running memory: Finishing the 2018 NYC marathon. It was my second marathon and I set out to qualify for Boston. I had trained on and knew the course. As I passed my co-workers and teammates on Bedford Ave, I knew I was in a good position. With my parents cheering me on when I hit 1st Ave I knew I had to keep pushing. Having teammates throughout the whole city, especially on 5th Ave, helped me overcome the tougher pieces. I really knew I had a chance when I passed mile 24 and saw my mom jumping up and down and my dad yelling at me to keep going. As I rounded to the finish I could feel the excitement build, and had tears in my eyes when I crossed the finish line in 3:06. I immediately thought of my grandfather. He was one of my biggest supporters and had cheered me on at every single race. Once that medal was placed around my neck I dedicated it and my race to him knowing how happy he would have been for me. The best part of the race was checking my phone and seeing how many teammates, friends and family members had texted me either during the race or after with congratulations. Knowing that they had been with me the whole time made the accomplishment that much sweeter.

What running’s taught her: That anything is possible. If you told my 10-year-old self that I’d be a marathoner, I would have thought you were crazy. But now I know that no dream is to big. Knowing that every ounce of work I put in allows me to get better pushes me to work hard. It has also reminded me to stay humble, to keep dreaming and setting new goals.

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Favorite post-race food: Anything with chocolate, and a good cup of Irish breakfast tea! I have a big sweet tooth. I also love having a superhero muffin from Shalane Flanagan’s cookbook on hand.

Favorite piece of running gear: My garmin. It feels weird to not have it there. I’m also a huge Asics fan and can’t go wrong with either my GT-2000s or DS trainers which have seen their fair share of blood, sweat and tears. Those who really know me know that I’m never seen without a pair of shorts and a tank top on—regardless of the weather.

Favorite songs to run to: I have a whole playlist that I will gladly share with anyone who wants it! I always have to start with either “The Champion” or “Good Girl,” both by Carrie Underwood, “Miami 2017” by Billy Joel, “Heartland” by Celtic Thunder or “Land of Hope and Dreams,” “Hard to Be a Saint in the City” by Bruce Springsteen or “I Want It All” by Queen.

Favorite pro runners: Shalane Flanagan, Deena Kastor and Paula Radcliffe. Having watched these ladies over the years I have learned how to not only be a better runner but also how to train smarter and how to pick myself up after I fall. Seeing how they have collected themselves after a downfall and remained true to who they are and celebrated their successes just proves to me that if you dream it and work hard, you can achieve it.

Favorite running social media account: Brooklyn Running Company. Though I may be biased since I work there part-time.

Best advice to running newbies: Don’t quit! Running is all about being patient and sticking with it. Continue to work hard, and find a running partner. Also sign up for a race or set a goal. I have found that when I have a targeted goal in mind, I train smarter. One thing I was always told is that if you’re not enjoying it, then you need to fix something. Make sure you find the fun of it.

Want to nominate an NBR member as Runner of the Month? Send the board nominees along with a brief description. The dimensions looked for are: performance, improvement, participation, volunteering and support. A runner does not need to fulfill all of those categories, but it’s a good starting point. We will feature runners from any pace, showcasing the breadth of our team—from our inspiring top scorers with incredible performances to brand new runners hitting significant running milestones. 

Celebrating NBR's 10th Anniversary!

Hello all! For our tenth anniversary, we wanted to celebrate the individuals who run for this team. We have started a video series, which will feature all kinds of our awesome runners so we can learn more about who we are and what the team represents. 

The first one features your current board of directors, to give a sense of what is important to us and help everyone know us a bit better. The next one will feature other folks on the team—maybe you! Please reach out if you'd like to be interviewed! It's easy and fun. And you get to come to my office and eat a bunch of snacks :) 

We are aiming to have four videos, one released each quarter. 

We want to recognize all of the incredible runners on NBR. What better way than going straight to the people who make this team great? 

Form Tip: Run Faster—and Stay Alive Longer!—with Quiet Feet

Imagine, like you should fairly regularly, that it's the end of the world and you need above-average survival skills to make it in the every man/woman for him/herself post-apocalypse wilds.

You’ll want to not only run fast, but quietly.

Loud footsteps are often an indicator of braking: Your joints are not flexing enough to carry the impact of each stride into the next one, but instead are redirecting your forward momentum into shockwaves that move up through your body. And you don't want to brake!

Can you hear Kaitlyn’s footsteps? Didn’t think so.

Can you hear Kaitlyn’s footsteps? Didn’t think so.

If you or your running partners can hear your footsteps clearly, you'd probably starve in our scenario—or more likely, you'd be food for something else. 

Particularly on hard surfaces, quieter running means you’re making less contact with the ground—and that is one idea that most experts seem to agree on that increases speed and efficiency, and reduces injury. 

Tips for the hunt:

  • Think foot "lift" instead of foot "strike"

  • Reduce the amount of time that each foot touches the ground

  • Avoid the dreaded forefoot!

  • Increase the bend at your ankles—work on flexing them when your feet hit the ground

  • Push the road backwards without any braking action

  • Remember you are sneaking up on your victim!

  • Aim for continuous motion: imagine you're a wheel

Want more great form advice? Check out NBR’s form run in Prospect Park every Wednesday night!

Competing in the Millrose Games—the Oscars of Track & Field

In the winter of 2001, when I was 14, my mom showed me a story in the sports section of The New York Times. A senior from Northern Virginia had just become the first American high schooler to ever break 4:00 for the indoor mile. He did it at a track on 168th Street in Harlem—the Fort Washington Armory. His name was Alan Webb.

That race was a flashpoint for me; I’d started running cross country in the fall, but from that moment on I decided I was another breed of runner: a miler. I went out for indoor track the next year and just squeaked under 5:00 for 1600 meters. I was a world apart from Alan Webb, who was by then a freshman at the University of Michigan, but what I’d run felt respectable, too, in its own way.

Though I ran other events, at the end of a meet usually struggling through the two mile for a few points, I stayed focused on the mile. Racing it indoors, in particular, thrilled me; flying around those tight turns always heightened the drama. Then, sometime during my sophomore year, I became aware of the ultimate indoor meet, the Millrose Games, where the best high school, college, and pro runners gathered for a glamorous day of what looked like the Oscars of track and field. Even the name Millrose had such poetry: It was the Pennsylvania country estate of the meet’s founder, department store magnate Rodman Wanamaker (who was also, I learned, the first person to play the Star-Spangled Banner at a sporting event). It became my goal to one day run there.  

NBR’s Greg Clark at the start of his 1200 lead-off leg

NBR’s Greg Clark at the start of his 1200 lead-off leg

From its founding through my high school and college days, Millrose wasn’t at the Armory; it was held at Madison Square Garden, on a quirky, 180-yard, 11-lap-to-the-mile track known for its spongy surface—in his novel Once A Runner, John L. Parker Jr. said it was like green pound cake. But there was undeniable pageantry to racing at the Garden, in a meet broadcast live on NBC with commentary by luminaries like Frank Shorter (who, like all the other officials, wore a tuxedo). The meet had been held every year since 1908; in the early days, when you could still smoke at Millrose, officials simply asked spectators to extinguish their cigarettes before the last event, the Wanamaker Mile. And so, far above the runners getting in their last strides, clouds of smoke could be seen wafting to the rafters.

I was never fast enough to run in the high school mile at Millrose. I think you had to break 4:20 indoors, or maybe you just had to be asked. I still don’t know. And that’s probably why the race has always held such an allure for me. From my dorm room at Woodberry Forest, a boarding school in the Virginia countryside, I studied the great Millrose miles—Mike Starr’s dogfight with Miles Irish and John Carlotti, in 1983, when he controlled the entire race from the front, wildly accelerating and decelerating, refusing to let anyone pass him, holding off half a dozen challenges before sprinting home in a 57 second last 400; Eamon Coughlin’s string of Wanamaker victories, seven in all, that earned him the nickname “Chairman of the Boards.”

I was a couple years out of college the first time I actually went to watch Millrose, in 2011, the last year it was held at the Garden. Some college teammates met me there, including Andy Kifer, who later introduced me to NBR. We were glad to catch the final Millrose at the legendary venue. But it seemed to be a down year. The two mile was embarrassingly thin, the guys at the back of the pack hardly faster than we had been. Those were the wilderness years for American distance running, but had things really gotten that bad? Then came the Wanamaker Mile.

I still remember the fog spreading out from the tunnel, the strobe lights raking across the track, the procession of milers trotting out, waving to the crowd—Lee Emmanuel, David Torrence, Deresse Mekonnen, Bernard Lagat. The race wasn’t that fast by Millrose standards—it was won in 3:58—but it was almost operatic, the tension mounting with every lap. When Mekonnen outkicked Lagat, I could have cried.

We kept going to Millrose every year, Andy Kifer and I. Lagat never won again, but we were there a few years later when he set a world best in the 2000m—an obscure distance, sure, but it was still incredible to see him run a 3:57 mile en route, at age 41. And we were there that same afternoon when Alan Webb ran his last pro race, a 4:06 in the B heat of the mile, barely faster than he ran as a high school sophomore. It was an anticlimactic end to a career that never quite fulfilled its early promise, but it was nice to see him sign off on the same track where he’d first broken 4:00. Even the announcer, Ian Brooks, was the same.  

Almost five years later, in December, I learned we could enter the Men’s Club Distance Medley Relay at Millrose. NBR is mostly a distance team, with people training for 5Ks and halfs and marathons (as you do in your late 20s and 30s and beyond), while the DMR consists of four short- and mid-distance legs: 1200, 400, 800, and 1600 meters. But we do have some speed on the roster. Jeff Poindexter ran a 49 second 400 in high school. A long time ago, sure, but still: 49. Ned Booth was running some crazy track workouts this fall. Conor Lanz had run a 3:42 for 1500m in college, the equivalent of a 4:00 mile. That was during the Bush Administration, I know, but he looked fit ... And we were living in the Ciaranaissance, a year of magical thinking when anything felt possible.

Now, there was reason for caution, too: Some research told me the field would be fast to quite fast: The New York Athletic Club and the Central Park Track Club both had Olympians in the mix, and a few teams could field sub-4:00 milers on their anchor legs. But we were getting faster, too, and I’m prone to impulsive decisions. So I wrangled some ringers for the 400 and 800 legs and entered us with a seed time that didn’t feel totally outrageous.

I’ll admit, riding the A train up to 168th Street on Saturday morning, I wondered whether I’d made a mistake. The start lists had been released, and NYAC had Brycen Spratling on the 400, a two-time Olympian and the American record holder in the 500m. Somehow the University of Pennsylvania was in the race—I hadn’t anticipated going up against college kids. And Tracksmith’s team—were these guys pros? I didn’t want to get lapped. By the time I entered the Armory through the green athletes’ doors on 170th Street (a first for me), I was praying we could just keep things respectable.

But as soon as the starter led us onto the track, I knew we would. NYAC had scratched, for one thing. But I also had confidence in our team. Although Greg Clark has been training for the 5k and the half, he stepped up to run the 1200 leadoff leg, and he ran it smart, going out in 2:07 for the 800 and holding on for a solid 3:14. Mike Larkin, who coaches with a former teammate of mine at the Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, was good for a 52 second 400, closing the gap between us and 7th place. Tom Selvaggi ran a strong 1:59 for the 800, catching two guys. (Tom’s a fifth-year senior at Stevens; I would’ve felt vaguely guilty about this had Penn not been in the race.)

Alex Hoyt finishing the 1600m anchor leg

Alex Hoyt finishing the 1600m anchor leg

By the time I got the baton for the 1600m leg, we were suddenly in the race. Ned called splits—31.7 for the first 200 (too much adrenaline), 63 for the first 400 (still too ambitious). But by 800 I’d settled into a rhythm, going through in 2:09, and I caught a couple guys. Tracksmith’s anchor leg passed me on the last lap, but I managed to stay within a second of him, crossing the line in 5th out of 8 teams. We’d run 10:25, not too far off my seed time. And James Chu told me I’d split 4:19.8—faster than I ran in high school, close to what I ran in college. His training has rejuvenated me to an amazing degree, but still, I was shocked.

I stumbled upstairs to meet my friends Trish and Sam and Andy Kifer in the balcony, and for the next few hours, in a stated of blissed-out delirium, I watched heat after heat of races I otherwise would’ve ignored: the Suburban Boys High School 4x800, the Fastest Kid in the World 55 meters, the Mixed Master’s 4x400. Later in the afternoon, the real fireworks started, and it was the best Millrose I’ve ever seen. Donavan Brazier took down Johnny Gray’s 26-year-old American record in the 800, and Ajee Wilson followed suit in the women’s 800. Konstanze Klosterhalfen, a 21 year old from Bonn, Germany, soloed a staggering 4:19 in the women’s Wanamaker Mile. And in the men’s, Yomif Kejelcha ran a 3:48.46, missing Hicham El Guerrouj’s world record by a hundredth of a second.

But the race that captivated me most was, as always, the boys’ high school mile. A senior from Virginia took it out hard, going through 800m in 2:05. He’d been third last year, the announcer said; he seemed determined to win it now. And it looked like he would—he had a 20-meter lead at the bell. But in a blanket finish, three boys caught him at the line, all four of them running 4:09. Last place was 4:17, fast enough to win some years.

As a 32 year old, you don’t want to be comparing yourself to high schoolers. It’s not a good look. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t doing the back-of-the-envelope math from my balcony seat, thinking about whether I could get into the high school mile next year. Probably not. Not quite. But it’s nice to have another race on the horizon, even if it’s only the Men’s Club Distance Medley Relay.

And for four-odd minutes it was also nice to be transported back to the winter of 2003, lining up on the blue-gray indoor track of Fork Union Military Academy, going head to head with the great Kippy Keino, son of the gold medalist, just back from the Millrose Games. He was going to beat you, that was certain. But you were still growing, you were getting faster all the time. You might be able to close the gap in the season ahead. And that’s one great thing about running: You still can.


NBR Takes Home Awards and Inspiration from NYRR Club Night

The NBR table at NYRR Club Night

The NBR table at NYRR Club Night

On Thursday last week, I had the chance, along with a number of NBR folks, to go to the NYRR club night. For those who don’t know, this is an awards show that New York Road Runners puts together to celebrate the achievements of local clubs. It segues into a moderately awkward dance party (I’m English, all dancing is awkward!).

We had a number of runners nominated, and already knew we had won a few team awards. Most awards are given out to the best runners in their age group (in batches of 5 years—20-24, 25-30, etc).

After eating a serving of tater tots that would make Napoleon Dynamite proud, the event got under way. We had a loud NBR table and the cheers for our runners were palpable in each award we had someone nominated in.

The list of individual nominees was:

Women 35-39

Angela Ortiz

Lauren Perkins

Men 55-59

Alun Williams (repeat nominee from last year!)

We got even louder when Angela went on to win her award. She has had an incredible year, qualifying for the olympic trials, PR’ing, and outright winning races!

The team awards placings were fantastic also:

Open A Women

4th Place!!!

Open A Men

5th Place!!!

50+ Men

2nd Place!!!

As we sat there, it really struck me how amazing these achievements are. As a free-for-everyone running club, we were strongly in the rankings in a great deal of categories. This takes the hard work and dedication of so many people throughout the year and helps put those team stats emails into context. The 50+ men was particularly fun to see announced since a lot of them were with with us on Thursday, including our newest recruit, Masamichi.

Overall, as a celebration of NYC running, and of our team, it was a great event. The part that really impressed me however was just how incredible the folks with the higher age awards were. It felt like the numbers just kept cycling up, including men and women in their 70s and 80s who had run more than 20 NYRR races in the last year. As someone who got into running a bit later in my life, it was truly inspiring to see all that they continue to achieve, and really made me realize the role that running can play in my life for the long term. I left feeling very inspired and a little less annoyed at having to run in the terrible cold weather the next day. 

Oh, and as an English awkward dancer, I briefly danced awkwardly. It wasn’t pretty. Bring on the NBR Gala!



February Runner of the Month: Seth Pompan

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Seth Pompan showed up to his first NBR run in November 2016, the day after that year’s New York City Marathon. Having completed a couple of marathons in 2012 and 2013, he’d caught an itch to attempt another. But he’d only do it if he could train with a group.

Today, Seth loves the sense of community he’s found through NBR. “I love the support we provide each other, because out there on the road, we’re all in the thick of it trying to do our best,” he says. As a kid whose gym teacher once informed his mom that he’d never be able to run a mile, Seth appreciates that the club helps him both attain his running goals and give back to the community through volunteering at races and places like the food bank. “Even though I ran on my own for years, I don’t think I considered myself a ‘runner’ until I joined NBR.” 

Favorite race distance: The half marathon. “It’s a distance that you have to dedicate yourself to training for, but you can still walk to brunch or the bar afterwards. You’ll find me at both most likely.”

Favorite NBR run: Monday Night Easy Run (he’s one of the run leaders). “It was my first run with NBR, and I always like how there’s a mix of experienced runners just looking for a shakeout run and a lot of beginners who are just starting out. Also, our paces are usually pretty conversational, so I treat it as a social run. I also have to make special mention of Saturday Narwhals with the Caboose Crew we formed. I always say I don’t love the actual marathon, but I do enjoy the training, and part of that was hanging out all summer with the 10min/mi group getting into those double-digit long runs.”  

Favorite race: Liverpool Half Marathon. “It was awesome to run down Penny Lane and past Strawberry Fields, by all these places referenced in Beatles songs.” 

Showing off the medal after the Liverpool Half Marathon

Showing off the medal after the Liverpool Half Marathon

Best running memory: “There really is no better memory than finishing your first marathon and realizing you’re allowed to stop moving, but recently there was another time where everything mostly came together.  Two weeks after the Chicago marathon, my friends James, Natalie, Liz and Anthony convinced me over drinks to sign up for the NYC Runs Brooklyn Half as an experiment to see if I could turn slower distance training into speed. Day of the race, I put everything I had into it and ran great until the last 5K which were the hills of Prospect Park. I’m struggling up the big hill, and all of a sudden, Caitlin finds me in the park and starts pacing me.  When I get to the top of the hill, Carrie is there cheering. Literally half a mile from the finish my hamstring locks up, I have to stop and stretch on Caitlin, and hobble to the finish. I missed beating a five year PR by 44 seconds, but it was okay. It was a special experience realizing I had the confidence to push myself, and that my friends and teammates were there for me and had my back.” 

What running’s taught him: “It reinforces the notion that if you put time and effort into something, you’ll see results. I’ve also used running as another way to get out of my comfort zone. Whether it’s a race or a different type of run or distance, there’s always a way to challenge yourself.”  

Favorite post-race food: “There hasn’t been anything better than eating Chicago-style hot dogs after PRing the Chicago Marathon.”  

Favorite piece of running gear: The NBR singlets made for the Naragansett Beer Running Festival. “It has a running beer can on it, which sums up that trip and my running philosophy perfectly.”

Favorite music to get pumped up for a run: LCD Soundsystem. “I grew up playing drums and guitar, so my running playlist is a lot of ‘90s rock to which I subtly (or sometimes not so subtly) air drum or guitar to.”

Favorite pro runner: “I don’t follow the pro scene that much, but I was in Berlin cheering on some NBR friends when Eliud Kipchoge broke the marathon world record. He ran by us in a blur, but you couldn’t not be excited to see him live.”

Favorite running social media account: Peter Ciacca’s Instagram. “I entered NYRR races soon after I started running, and up until a few months ago, he was always the voice going over race instructions before the start gun. I had no idea he was this tatted up former music manager. Now he’s retired, but it’s fun seeing his adventures around the world.”

Advice for running newbies: “Just keep at it and it literally doesn’t matter how fast you get there. It could take a while to get to a groove where you don’t need to stop or to get to your desired pace. You have to allow it to happen over time. Oh, also, don’t forget the body glide. #chafingisreal”

Current running goals: To PR at the NYC Half, go for sub-2 at the Brooklyn Half, and then PR at the Chicago Marathon again in October. “Maybe have some fun, too. I’ve rarely had time or speed goals, but I’ve decided this will be my year to set some ambitious goals for myself.” 

Fun fact: “I grew up a very heavy kid and was not very active. In like 6th grade, my gym teacher gave me a bad grade because I basically couldn’t do laps around the soccer field and said something to my mom like, ‘He’ll never be able to run a mile.’ I always dedicate a mile in my races to him. Living well is the best revenge. Also, full disclosure, I started running just so I could impress a girl who had recently run a marathon. That never worked out, but I obviously kept up with the running.” 

Coaches Corner: Train for a 5K with Becca Ades

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Looking to nail a faster 5K? Look no further than NBR coach Becca Ades. She’s developed a 12-week training plan specifically for the 5K distance, adapted from legendary coach Pete Pfitzinger’s program. And she’s leading an NBR training group to help runners gear up for the Boston Athletic Association’s 5K (which takes over Beantown’s streets just two days before the Boston Marathon).

With a PR of 17:36, and a few recent local 5K wins under her belt, Becca loves the versatility of the distance: It can be a low-key fun run, or a serious test of your speed—and grit.

“And at the end of the day, if things don’t go as planned, you have what, six minutes to get through? That’s nice, too.”  

She created a program of speed, tempo, and lactate threshold workouts for runners who are serious about putting in the work to get a faster time.  

The furious intensity of 5K races pushes you past lactate threshold pace, with your body relying on its anaerobic system. Which means you need to train for it differently than you would for longer distances where you’re running more slowly and using your aerobic system.

“You will work your way up from both the top end (speed work) and the bottom end (tempos), and gradually start putting your 5K together through different track pace work and short time trials,” Becca explains.

Her other 5K tips?

Have a goal pace in mind. “This will help you mentally prepare during the workouts and give you the confidence you need for race day.”

Find a pacing strategy that works for you. “Word on the street is the best 5Ks are run with a fast first mile, slower second mile, and fast third mile. I think when I’m in the best shape, I view the 5K as a one-mile race: You’re running the first two miles at pace to get to the last mile and hold on for dear life. Prefontaine once famously said, ‘No one will ever win a 5,000-meter by running an easy two miles. Not against me.’ So, you know, take everything with a grain of salt ☺”

Once you hit the start line, believe in your training, execute your race plan, and be your biggest supporter. “If things turn south, set mini-goals during the race, like, ‘I’m going to keep up with the guy in the orange shirt,’ or ‘I’m going to push as hard as I can to the big red building.’ The same things you do in a workout, do in a race.”   

Want to join Becca’s training group? Email her at rebecca.ades@gmail.com.

Becca Ades

Team Stats Look Back

It’s been 10 years since the three runners sharpied “NBR” on their shirts and raced as a team. In 2009, 76 runners raced under NBR that year. That number grew to 596 in 2018.

 

NBR has been getting a lot more masters runners out to races. There were 8 in 2009 and 140 in 2018.

 

NBR has been consistently adding new members. Thank you New Member Coordinators and Run Leaders for always being so welcoming!

 

This goes for masters runners too. Note that the chart below only includes runners who first join NBR as Masters and not runners already on NBR who turn 40.

 

NBR continues to have a big presence at NYRR races with 2418 finishes last year with 588 of those finishes from Masters runners.

 

The most popular distance in 2018 was the half marathon with 586 finishes. The half has a big lead all time too with 4185 total finishes.

 

Cumulatively, NBR ran 21,658 miles last year and masters runners ran 5,334 of those miles! That’s almost enough to run around the world. Maybe we’ll get there next year.

 

And here are the runners that go beyond 9+1 and helped us get those total miles up.

 

In NYRR’s Club Points standings, NBR finished 5th and 4th in the Open A Men and Women’s categories. This means we’ll be taking home top 5 award plaques! For Masters 40+, NBR finished 5th and 12th. And in Masters 50+, NBR finished 2nd and 22nd. There’ll be another plaque for NBR in the Masters 50+ category. Below are number of points races each runner has scored in. There are usually 3 or 5 scorers per race, but NBR dozens of runners score and dozens more who also trained and finished just outside the top spots. Thank you to everyone who showed up and raced throughout the year!

Happy 2019 and good luck on all your races!

-Logan

NYC Marathon Recap: Wataru Iwata

After finishing 3:16:51 at the Philadelphia Marathon in 2017, I was poised to do more “fast runs” in my training.

When I met Meb at the NYC Half expo in 2017, I asked him, “What is the most important training for a 3:15-3:20 guy to try to break 3:00.” His immediate answer was “long tempo runs!” So, one thing I changed in my training schedule was to join the Local Competitive Group runs on Saturdays.

We usually meet at the BP gas station by Kent Avenue/Williamsburg Street West around 8-8:30am and run for 10-15 miles. The pace depends on who joins on any given day, but is usually between 6:30-7:30/mile. It was bit intimidating at beginning, as 6:30/mile is pretty much my hard race pace. But my basic approach was:  “If you want to race like LC guys, you need to train like LC guys” and this was perfect for the “Long Tempo Runs” I needed.

After 6-8 Saturdays in January and February, my plan was going well leading up to the NYC Half Marathon in mid March. I not only crossed the 10K mark 10 seconds faster than my PR (ok, it is mostly downhill to Manhattan Bridge from GAP…) and I came to finish within 30 seconds of my half marathon PR I set in the 2017 Brooklyn Half. The NYC Half Marathon course is lot harder as you need to tackle Central Park Cat hill & West Side rolling hills at the last 3-4 miles, whereas the Brooklyn Half you do hills at the beginning and it ends with a long downhill for the last 6 miles.

I had registered for the Rotterdam Marathon for mid April, which is a pancake flat course (Kipchoge had won in 2014 with 2:05) and I was feeling confident of shaving some serious minutes off 3:16. However, a few days after the NYC Half, disaster hits me.

The last snow of winter 2017-18 with wet snow…

I was walking my dog and slipped and fell in such strange way that overstretched my left ankle. I never felt that kind of sharp pain that so at first I thought I broke my ankle! Long story short, I couldn’t run for 3 months, missing not only Rotterdam, but important club point races like the Brooklyn Half Marathon & the Healthy Kidney 10K.

Just few days before the Queens 10K in June, I started jogging lightly and “jogged” in Queens 10K race. In the 3 months that I couldn’t run between March and June, I was really frustrated, as with any injury, you really don’t know how soon you can resume running. I tried to be positive as I had more time to do core and upper body training. I always thought I am built “too light” and strength training could benefit my running.

I also resumed LC Saturday runs in July and, again, that built lot of confidence leading to the Bronx 10 Miles and Staten Island Half Marathon. In the Bronx 10 Miles, I improved my previous year’s PR by 50 seconds. I shaved 45 seconds off my 2017 Brooklyn Half Marathon record for a 1:26:09 in the Staten Island Half.

I was feeling confident of improving my PR in the New York City Marathon, but in any Marathon, pacing is the key to success. I was debating within myself how fast I should go on first 10 miles. If I go too fast, it might end in disaster but if I go too conservative, I won’t achieve good result… Huge dilemma… I thought I am not quite ready to go sub 3 (at least in the NYCM course), so I set my target to somewhere around 3:05:00.

In the meantime, the NBR G-Masters [Grand Masters] group were in a quest for podium finish in annual standing. We had 2 key injury drop outs in Bronx 10 Miles and also facing only two participants (Gregg Baldinger & myself) in NYCM, which meant “no points” in that race.

Only at the last minute before the race, we recruited a new member and we went to the race with 3 participants. This meant, I couldn’t afford an “all or nothing” race strategy. I not only wanted good results for myself, but also for the team.

Gregg and I discussed very similar strategy of starting first 10 miles at 7:00/mile pace and see how we are feeling. From all prediction apps (based on training mileage, pace and recent race time), my realistic goal was somewhere between 3:05-3:09.

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(RACE)

Mile 1: 8:27 (Uphill on the Verazzano Bridge and no warm up.) It’s really hard to properly warm up in these large event as we are escorted to corrals in the way that there is no space to move around (this is something I need to remember for future). I wasn’t sure if my GPS was working properly, so I paid no attention to first mile pace.

Mile 2: 6:31 (Downhill on Bridge)  Wasn’t really sure if it was GPS fail or actual pace. So, no attention paid here either. I just didn’t want to trip and fall on the downhill and some uneven ground and some discarded layers of clothing.

Mile 3: 6:54 

Mile 4: 6:48

Mile 5: 6:42

Mile 6: 6:51 Through the street of Bay Ridge, Sunset Park to Downtown Brooklyn, I spotted several of my friends and so far, the pace was good and I was feeling comfortable. Just paying close attention to be in good rhythm. The weather was perfect with no wind and good temperature.

Mile 7: 6:46 

Mile 8: 6:56 Received my first Maurten from Seth. Thank you, Seth!!

Mile 9: 6:57  

Mile 10: 6:54  

Mile 11: 6:55

Mile 12: 6:58 Best feeling seeing all my team mates @ mile 12 water table!  Thank you for cup of water, Zoe!!

Mile 13: 6:55 Going up and down on Pulaski Bridge, I started feeling bit of discomfort in my ankle.

Mile 14: 6:56

Mile 15: 7:16 Queensborough Bridge. Didn’t hit my mile pace target, but still not panicked. I kept myself composed.

Mile 16: 7:18

Mile 17: 7:02 

Mile 18: 6:59 Getting back to my target pace but starting to feel some pain around my ankle…...

Mile 19: 7:04

Mile 20: 7:14 Pain getting worse all over my lower body

Mile 21: 7:09

Mile 22: 7:08

Mile 23: 7:24 Climbing 5th avenue hill was most difficult point of the race 

Mile 24: 7:4 I was in maximum pain around here climbing 5th Avenue’s long uphill

Mile 25: 7:45 Getting inside of Central Park, I started feeling cramp in my calf and thighs and couldn’t keep the pace in fear of cramp “popping” to end my race. I had to be cautious.

Mile 26: 7:45 Last climb from Columbus Circle to finish line, I saw Gregg passing me and shouting to finish strong. Thank you Gregg for last push.

Finish: I finished in 3:07:44, 5 seconds behind Gregg.

Thank you, Gregg for pacing (each other), pushing (each other) and encouraging (each other)!! We will repeat duel next year! It’s about a 9 minute PR and I was happy to achieve the 3 hours and single digit I was aiming for, but I also wanted to go little faster.

My first reflection was that from mile 23, I started losing strength and started cramping. It could have been over pace in the beginning, up and down on multiple bridges, or other reasons, but I pledge to work more on my strength training (i.e core, lunges, squats, calf raises etc). My other reflection is that, because I had to skip Spring Marathon in 2018, I had bit of anxiety over 26.2 mile pace management. I will also keep on doing Saturdays LC runs and try to keep up with lead group, aiming for a sub3 race in Spring 2019 Marathon! Last but not least, I wanted to thank all people that support not only this wonderful event, but also running in general, my team mates, volunteers and my family.  Also, thanking God, I am healthy enough to challenge 26.2 miles of adventures we all love!

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