by Taeya Konishi Schogel
Since my mind wasn't all set for this marathon to beat my previous time, I was so relaxed, that on race day I was waiting for the train to get to the ferry terminal and realized that I forgot my throwaway clothes. Luckily there was a deli right there so I bought trash bags. That was good news. Then I got to the train and realized that I wasn't wearing my Garmin. Oops, I forgot it! Since I was running with Miguel, I was ok without a watch. After that everything was fine.
I was worried that I couldn't carry 3 gels and 2 salt packets that Miguel gave me. I put some under my gloves, and some in my shorts pocket. I was holding one of the salt packet for easy access, but because I was wearing gloves and thanks to the wind, I lost one of my salt packets before reaching mile 2 :( Then, I don't know at which mile I took one of the gels, but at that point I was carrying my last salt packet in my hands while taking the gel and water. Somehow I lost this unopened packet AGAIN! Then on Lafayette avenue my shoe lace came untied, at this point I was thinking "Great! What else can go wrong in this race!?" I had to step aside and tie my shoe. Then, I kept going. Since I didn't have a watch and was going by feel, Miguel kept yelling at me that I was going too fast. Thanks to him, I kept the pace we were supposed to run at. The cheers from spectators were awesome! Especially the voluncheers at mile 12! Then I lost him on the Queensboro bridge.
At this point I was worried I was going too fast or too slow. I didn't know my pace that well. Then at mile 23 all of a sudden, I had a super sharp pain in my stomach. I really had to go to the bathroom, but just sucked it up and kept going thinking it's going to pass. It didn't pass, but I just had to reach the finish so I could use a bathroom. I reached the finish and didn't even look at the clock. My mind was focus on finding a bathroom. Sure enough there weren't any. One of the volunteers told me they were outside of the exit zones ... great! I walked to pick up my stuff and felt like that walk was endless! Finally, I got to my stuff. I stretched for a bit and was trying to look up my time on the phone. It only showed me a prediction time of 3:15 so I was happy as I was shooting for somewhere between 3:10-3:20. As I received texts from friends, I had to text Angela and Linda to ask what my finish time was as I had no idea. They told me the time. It was nice to know that it went better than expected. But seriously what a hot mess I was!
Thanks again for cheering! It's always so nice to see familiar faces thru out the course!
by Mary Harvey
This was my fourth consecutive year working the water table with NBR, and the first time my pops joined. So you guys know, he asked me if he could join us last year right after the marathon. Duh. Yes.
I asked pops what it was like, as an outside(ish) person coming in to this, and he paused for a moment, and told me he had been thinking about it, and he was so impressed by the experience that he had no criticism. Everyone was kind and welcoming. People stepped up and filled in exactly where they were needed as soon as they saw a task to be done, whether it was filling cups, hauling trash, raking, or searching for keys.
I have to add that it was an amazing experience to have so many people wish my pops a happy day as he turns 70. Thank you all so much for including him!
by Becca Ades
I’ve had the same marathon goal since I was 16 years old watching the local Burlington City Marathon. Sub 3:00. It was the ultimate distance AND time. What could be better? It was goal so lofty that I didn’t attempt it for the next 16 years.
Not until I qualified for the NYC Marathon with the Staten Island half (with 8 seconds to spare baby!). It was time to get serious. And serious I got. I ran the NYC half and spent the better part of last spring trying to chase down a 1:25 Brooklyn (I’d been around the block enough to know the race predictor for a sub 3:00). That was not to be. 12 hours before the starting gun, I was diagnosed with a femoral neck stress fracture. The remedy: no exercise for 6-8 weeks. My heart sank.
I was able to start running again in early August. I was under strict orders not to go below 8-minute miles, and I could only increase my mileage by 10% a week. Things were all dandy and fine until I got my Pfitzinger book and realized that HOLY F***! I was already into week 12 and only up to 24 miles. I had to make a choice: I could follow doctor’s orders and maybe run a marathon for fun OR I COULD GO MARATHON OR BUST. The choice was quite simple. My mileage doubled in the next week.
The more I trained, the more magic I realized I would need for race day. Every week I improved, but I wasn’t where I wanted to be. Marathon pace felt hard, workouts felt hard, every running task I completed felt harder than it should. It wasn’t until a few weeks before the marathon, that I began to feel like myself again. I ran Matt Schenker’s crazy workout (the one with 800s at 5k pace sandwiched by 15 minute tempos at half pace), and I hit it out of the ballpark. Maybe I could actually do it? The 3:00 marathon was in reach for someone as crazy as me.
Race day came. I had the ten-ten-ten plan from Jose. The gun went off, and I executed. The first ten miles I cranked out 6:50-something after 6:50-something mile. I felt great! The magic fairy dust had arrived after all! I was really going to do this! And then around mile 11, a familiar feeling came—one I knew from the half. The pain in your hamstrings that tells you, I got you for another two miles.
I pulled it together for Bedford Avenue. It was the most beautiful mile I had even run. I passed Broadway and heard Linda. I passed South 2nd and saw Ciaran, Blake, and my college roomie, who had driven down from Montreal. The road was littered with friends! I smiled as I passed North 10th and saw mile 12. Jose saw me and announced my arrival on the megaphone. I felt like a superstar. I grabbed water from Shawn, and it was the best cup of water of the marathon! I crossed the half at 1:30:59.
People told me about a wall at mile 22 or 23. Some people mentioned it at mile 18. NO ONE TOLD ME ABOUT THE WALL AT MILE 16. Queensboro was a lonely, lonely place. I took my only three walking steps on that Great Gatsby bridge. And then, from behind me, I heard someone say, “Hey, you’re Lacey’s friend.” And because even in the depths of my own self-pity, I knew better than to be caught walking, I started jogging (note: jogging, NOT running). “You got this,” she said.
Little did she know how little I had this distance. The pity fest came back stronger than before. I’m not a marathon runner I told myself. The furthest I go is the half. I thought about how it was bullshit that there was no way to drop out of the race on the Queensboro except for jumping. For the majority of First Avenue, I was angry at how many people were there. Somebody cheered “run, NBR,” to which I belligerently replied, “I AM RUNNING.”
I did some math in my head. I had done the half in 1:30, which meant I had 2:00 to do my second half in and still get under 3:30. I decided I could reasonably accomplish this by running seven minutes and walking three. I’m not sure how I arrived at this conclusion, but it gave me great, great comfort.
This took up the rest of First Av, and I made it to Willis Av Bridge. Some dude said, “How you feeling, North Brooklyn?” and I replied, “I feel great!” because I had promised myself I would say this no matter what. “I haven’t been able to feel my legs for the last three miles,” said the dude. We ran in silence for the next 50 feet.
A single lady greeted us halfway up the bridge, “Welcome to the Boogie-Down Bronx!” she said sweetly. I heard reggaeton on the other side. People were handing out orange slices. I looked down at my watch (I had considered throwing out my watch in a fit of anger earlier but had decided it would be an empty, expensive gesture), and I saw a 7 as the first number. Maybe this race is not lost. I smiled for the first time since Queens. It felt like hope.
I had a cheer squad before the bridge back to Manhattan, and I picked up the pace because…they didn’t have to know I was having a shit race, right? I passed the bridge and was about to slow back down, when I saw Polly, John, and Co. FUUUCK, I have to be a show-off again. “Go, Becca!!!” And then a magical thing finally did happen: the wall of doom cracked: I could run again.
The last 6 miles felt like I’d been reborn. I had a full-blown second chance. I knew I wasn’t going to get my goal. I didn’t have that miracle to fall back on. But I could cheesily give it the best I had. At mile 23 I looked down at my watch. It said 2:54:00. That meant if I ran 3 ten-minute miles, I could finish in 3:24. It gave me a reason to pick it up. I remembered the fifth avenue mile hill wasn’t that bad during the blue-line run, and I told myself that as I ran up it. Night Owl’s worse. F***ing positive thinking was my only super power. Once I hit the park it’s all down hill! Then it’s just 4 laps of the track! I cried when I saw mile 25.
Central Park South blew my mind. I could see the finish. There were no tricks left! I looked down at my watch. I was in the 3-teens. This was much, MUCH better than expected. I sprinted from Columbus Circle and collapsed at the finish line.
My finishing time was 3:16:50.
I hadn’t hit my goal, but I ran the race the only way I knew how. The only way I was ever going to run a marathon. Chasing the sub 3.
And who knows, I may even try it again sometime.
by Sean Laude
My recounting of this year's Chicago marathon begins four years ago, after I crossed the finish line at the 2012 edition of the race. The three hours and twenty-six minutes it took to run my first marathon did a number on my legs. I could not stand up under my own power, so a very helpful volunteer had to cart me the half-mile or so back to bag check. I was in a world of pain, but I felt ecstatic. I was filled with the idea that anything is possible. Less than two months later, I moved to Brooklyn.
Many of you know that I grew up in Chicagoland and repeatedly espouse the virtues of the CTA, the serene beauty of running along Lake Michigan, and why deep-dish is the ultimate form of pizza. As one of the weirdo kids who “played” cross-country and track, the mythos of marathon distance was embodied in that local event that ran every second Sunday in October. I hung posters of Khalid Khannouchi and Paula Radcliffe from their record-breaking runs on my bedroom wall, no less than 26.2 miles from where they broke the tape in Grant Park. As far as I knew, it was THE marathon - no other race compared in my youthful imagination.
In 2013, I ran it again, proudly sporting the emblem of our favorite bridge. I made the trip the last two years to cheer on my friends and wave high the NBR flag. A sense of hometown pride overcame me at the end of a 20-mile run before last year's race, and I declared that If I failed to run a BQ in the upcoming NYC marathon, I would sign up to run Chicago again. Unfortunately, (or very fortunately) the twin forces of unseasonably warm weather and an ungraceful shuffle up Fifth Avenue made that declaration binding. The clock started ticking the moment my post-race haze cleared - while donning the $250 poncho and trundling down the subway stairs at 72nd street.
I have worked with a coach for the past two seasons to help me improve my triathlon game. This year I let him sketch out my marathon season as well (I had only a scant nine weeks to turn around all my cycling and swimming fitness and focus it exclusively on the run). For the greater part of the last two years, I instructed him to leave holes in my schedule on Tuesdays and Thursdays for me to fill in with tempo and track, respectively. Part of working with a coach is putting your trust in his schedule and letting him fill those days with unorthodox workouts. Up through the end of successful tri season, I had also run massive PRs in the 5k, 10k, and half. Gaining that elusive marathon PR after my disastrous NYC attempt last year would be a fitting conclusion to this season. I was willing to give it a shot and really commit to structured long-distance training for once.
Race morning I felt as ready as I have ever been, that is to say: full of excitement, doubt, and carbs. Our Chicago crew had done a fantastic job tucking into Midwestern-sized piles of food the days before the race - four of my meals yielded another meal-sized bag of leftovers. Josh Hatcher and I travelled to the race together, meeting up with Evan, Daeha, and Lavar on the train. The trip to Grant Park was pleasant compared to the rigamarole of getting to Fort Wadsworth, and we had a moment to enjoy the sunrise before hitting the streets in the crisp autumn morning. Josh, Evan, and I met up with Joe and Crow in the corrals and we positioned ourselves in the crowd, near one of two large three-hour pace groups. They announced the elites and it seemed like the starting horn went off without much fanfare.
Words cannot describe what it feels like to push yourself at a pace for longer than you ever have before, the metaphor of wheels about to fall off a race car notwithstanding. Chicago is obscenely flat, the scenery interesting and the crowds incredible and loud. All of that fed a newfound focus that drowned out a mounting fatigue that ebbed and flowed in the terra incognita between miles 13 through 19. On a lonely stretch of road before Pilsen, I caught up to Evan Cooper and gave him the best-but-probably-incoherent encouragement I could muster (we're now 1-1 at the distance after he passed me in Harlem last year).
I very literally threw down the gantlet at mile 20, tossing my gloves at some unsuspecting spectators. They say the “race” doesn't begin until 10k remains, but I'm inclined to call it an "exercise in sheer will to get your legs to move". I was so intensely focused that I missed Emily, Tom, and Sara cheering around mile 23, but heard, dream-like, Chris and Magda screaming my name along Michigan Avenue. The pace group I glommed onto most of the race slipped away and the other one blew by shortly thereafter, but I was intent on finishing the race on my own.
The course has a gentle incline in the last 400 meters before turning into the finishing chute, but this joke of a hill turned cruel by a stiff headwind off the lake. A Dashing Whippet dropped the hammer in this final stretch and I somehow summoned the kicking power to match his stride. All the emotions of finishing hit me long before I even crossed the line, bursting out as a simultaneous cry of joy and roar of pain past the timing mat:
THREE HOURS, TWO MINUTES, ELEVEN SECONDS
Nearly a four-minute PR. An eleven-minute improvement over my last Chicago effort. A Boston Qualifier. I stopped, landed stiff-legged, and felt my right glute collapse. I could not keep moving under my own power, so a very, very nice volunteer helped walk me through the finish line area to collect all my post-race survival needs (special thanks to Joe Chan for fetching me extra Gatorade). I was stiff and getting cold, but I felt ecstatic. I grabbed a beer and the celebration really began.
Marathons are unreasonably difficult; I will not be disappointed if my time doesn't make the cut-off for Boston. I’m still searching for bigger reasons to dedicate myself to the distance other than a jacket with a questionable color palette or to rise to the expectation that you should be good at this distance because you can run a fraction of the distance very fast. I get the magic of running to Boylston Street. I can imagine the sense of accomplishment finishing a marathon or ultra every other weekend. My own reasons will find me at some point. Until then, I will be there, cheering for you at the side of the road, you mighty, galloping mares and stallions racing towards the finish line.
I'm touched by the number of people who tracked me and offered encouragement and congratulations from afar - your support meant the world to me. I would not have had such a great experience without my Chicago crew - I sincerely hope you enjoyed all my long, pizza-themed emails.
Finally, to NBR: you are my running family - keep being incredible. Thank you all and I'll see you on the run soon!
by Beverly Walley
This race isn’t only running a marathon. It’s an NBR experience. Sean Laude, Nancy Lin, & Matt Goodman curated a Chicago tour de force. Big thanks to them for making sure the crew had options for the fun stuff that comes along with a race weekend.
H.J. & I opted to stay in the Loop area so that we would have an easy walk to the start line at Grant Park. Without a subway, ferry, & bus trip, my brain invented reasons to be anxious — like having a borderline panic attack when my watch read 7:00 AM instead of 6:00 AM. I started sprinting for bag check. H.J. had a non-reaction, “Why are you getting all weird? Do you think it’s 7 AM?” Lesson learned: my Garmin does not auto adjust for time zones.
The point being it is easy to roll up to the start of the Chicago marathon. Plus, they have a famous fountain to stretch by and a million port-o-potties. They do not, however, have Dunkin Donuts coffee everywhere. Anyway, we ran into Casey Baxter and made some poor stranger take a million photos of us.
My start was in Corral E, which was the last red corral. It took about 10 minutes to cross the mat. I tried to get to the 3:45 pace group in my corral, but was finding it too congested. I took a line for the outside and ran behind two girls. They had obviously trained together and had all their splits planned out. Their chitchat was stressing me out. I felt like an unintentional creeper, so I passed them and the 3:45 pace group. Gulp.
The beginning miles weaved through downtown Chicago. Lots of people cheered from the bridges so looking up was very fun. I noticed my first “If Trump can run, so can YOU!” sign — I think that was by far the most popular sign on the course. I didn’t notice much else until I ran into Matt Goodman someplace on LaSalle St. We had a brief hello and I kept picking up my pace. Matt asked me “Are you trying for this pace?” And I replied with the dumbest of all marathon answers, “I don’t even know what pace I am going. I feel good, so I am gonna go with it and hope it lasts.”
I ended up running into another 3:45 pace group…probably for corral D or C. At this point, I figured, “I should hop into this pack and hang on.” We ran steadily, but I really hated it. It felt claustrophobic with too many people bunching up, big guys bumping into me, and, honestly, running slowly. As soon as the road widened at a water stop, I passed the group. I thought, “This is going to come back to bite you at mile 22.”
Next thing that I clearly remember is the amazing NBR cheer squad! I saw Tom Essex & Emily Hafner. Then I ran smack into Madeline Muzzi. She was looking really strong. I waved and she yelled, “What are you trying for?” Truthfully, I wasn’t paying attention to my pace. I hadn’t looked at my watch yet, so I repeated the same dumb thing, “Running by feel. Feeling good, so I am gonna go with it and hope it lasts.” Anyone that has run a marathon will tell you this is a completely stupid strategy.
At the halfway point, I decided to look at my watch for the first time since the 7 AM EST /6 AM CST debacle. It read 1:47. I have run 1:47 half in a marathon before, so I wasn’t overly concerned. I was thinking positively and hoping that my pace would hold to mile 20. Then I planned to see what the last 10K would bring (and I was expecting it would bring pain.)
The second half of the Chicago marathon entered a good neighborhood block party, but then the spectators really thinned out. We ran into a warehouse/industrial zone. I was expecting to fall off my pace soon, so I started downing Gatorade and stockpiling gels. The weird thing was that I still felt great and no one was passing me so I rolled with it.
I hit Chinatown. Loved it! By far my favorite part of the course—the streets narrowed and they had some dope drumming. The rhythm was automatic. It reminded me of NYC. Then I had the best thought ever… you will not hit hills coming out of this section! And I saw the cheer squad again! I distinctly remember Emily and Sara Dirks with little plastic feet.
I ran into Sarah Murphy, flying despite being injured, and Meg Duffy, persevering despite serious cramping. I saw Magda cheering on the right hand side of the road. I was surprised and excited to see her. We roll deep with runners and spectators! Finally, I allowed myself to look at my watch again and thought, “OMG! They aren’t kidding about tall buildings messing with GPS signals.” It was not humanly possible that my time could be correct.
But then it hit me — no one was really passing me. I was definitely ahead of a 3:40 pace group. I never saw a 3:35 group, so I had to be somewhere sandwiched between them. For my age, 3:40 is a BQ. Basically, I was sitting on my big chance and the realization that it was the clock versus me. Normally I would choke.
But not knowing the city or the landscape really helped me. As I approached the final mile, I imagined a Thursday night track workout. As the distance signs reduced, I thought, “You can do anything for 400 meters.” This was the biggest hill in the course as it was up a highway on-ramp. Whatever… I heard Jose’s voice in my head screaming, “Run through the finish. Run through the line.”
Crossing the line, I looked at my watch, still feeling shock. I looked at the race clock, did some math, and started crying. If my math was correct (a big if) I ran 3:36:54. My PR was 3:50:51. Not wanting to look totally insane, I pulled it together, got my medal, my heat sheet, and a free Goose Island.
Two sips into that beer I was like, “Nope, I can’t drink this yet.” So I had two PRs on Sunday, the race and I tossed a free beer. I got my phone and heard from so many NBR people. I really got emotional that so many of you cared to track me. Thank you! I think your positive energy helped me pull off a great race!
by Jeffrey Correa
I just wanted to take a moment to thank you all for the extraordinary commitment you all make every year to the Pride Run. I'm so proud of our team, particularly in light of the recent tragic events in Orlando, for making this race such a huge priority for the club. Special thanks to our amazing "Voluncheer" squad.
For me, the Pride Run is especially important, as it is in a sense, my "spiritual" anniversary with NBR. (Many) years ago, when I was in middle school, I ran cross country and really loved it. Unfortunately, when I moved on to high school, I started out with our cross country team and encountered a significant amount of bullying because I was gay. Sadly, that experience made me leave running and all sports behind.
Just a few years ago, I decided I wanted to start running again. I knew I needed the support of a team, and assumed that based on previous life experience, I should just join the Front Runners as I knew that I wouldn't encounter significant bias and harassment.
I registered for the Pride Run, and spent a couple of months training. I wasn't that fast, or that strong, but it felt great to get out and participate.
As I finished the race, walking around with friends, I noticed a very lively group of runners on the side of the hill. They all seemed to be having a great time, and I especially noticed their singlets and shirts that said, "North Brooklyn Runners". I thought, "I live in North Brooklyn, maybe I should check them out instead."
When I got home that afternoon, I did a search for NBR, and joined the Google group.
Flash forward a few years and I now have the honor and privilege of serving you all as the Board President of NBR.
I love this club precisely because of what we demonstrated today, and demonstrate every day. No matter how old or new you are, fast or slow you are, if you run marathons or 5K's, and no matter who you love, you belong here. This club's commitment to making every member feel included is the best part of who we are. I'm so grateful for the love and support of my teammates, and hope that you all feel that too.
Thank you for creating such a welcoming environment at all of our runs, races, and social events. It means so much to people, more than you probably know. And, thanks again for your participation in this year's Pride Run. I'm so proud to be a part of this club, especially in a moment when we all need to come together and care for and support each other.
Wishing you all a very festive Pride weekend, and look forward to seeing you out on the road very soon!
NBR Board President