NYC Marathon Team Spot Check-In: Jeff Skaar

Screen Shot 2019-09-10 at 8.31.27 AM.png

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 It’s a mixture of a few different things. 

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

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

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

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

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