marathon spot

Team Spot Check-in: Martin Branch-Shaw

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

MBS: I moved to Brooklyn four years ago from Manhattan (where I had lived since the ‘80s). Having recently divorced, I sought community. I have been a runner most of my life (with the exception of a decade of decadent and questionably self-destructive, but wildly creative years in the East Village). It seemed a natural decision to seek out other runners. NBR’s visible and enthusiastic presence at local running events made it an easy choice. My next step, being a bit of an introvert, was to actually join. I spent a year waffling! Finally, I came to a Saturday Morning Bridge Run on a cold, grey, late December morning. I remember being a little intimidated – I was clearly older than the group assembled at the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge. Regardless, I felt welcomed and soon meet other runners who juggled active professional lives, training, travel and in some cases, children. This is where I felt the strongest connection, as I am unapologetic about the bond running has formed between my son and I (and I do go on!). 

NBR: How is marathon training going? Are there any specific workouts that are really moving things along for you? 

MBS: I believe I am the last recipient of an NBR New York City Marathon Team Spot leaving me roughly 40 days to train and taper by way of preparation! My son, Harry, is transitioning from PSAL to NCAA (Div 3), his mileage had to double so we spent the summer training. Now that he is at college, I typically log over 50 miles a week for no other reason than love of running. I’m comparably slow-ish, but feel prepared nonetheless. My favorite NBR runs over the past three years have been Monday and Wednesday nights – socially, these runs attract fantastic people. My most important night (and I am remiss in not attending lately due to my work schedule), is Thursday night track – it hurts, but if you want to get fast, do it. Thursday nights these days I am running lonely hill repeats in Prospect Park! I ran a Sunday Funday Long Run this past weekend, which was amazing with pace groups ranging from 7s to 10:30s. Like most runners, I am my own worst enemy; running with a large group is great for keeping you out of your own head and calming the voice that is nagging you to stop. This particular run, so close to race day, proved to be cautionary: I became dizzy at mile 18 and realized that my diet the day prior and morning of, compounded by my lack of adequate hydration, spelled possible disaster on race day. I often neglect the obvious and, again, advice and support from the group is awesome. 

NBR: Tell the NBR world a good long run story. 

MBS: A Facebook headline for Outside magazine caught my eye this morning, it read, “every long run should be a micro-adventure” (or something like that). That said, I don’t think I have a single long run story. What I do have is a collection of anecdotes. This is a favorite: I am notorious for tripping over cracks in the sidewalk. This is due, in part, to my shuffling gait and less than perfect eyesight. On an early summer long run, I tripped over a particularly hazardous protruding tree root on Willoughby St. I don’t mean an elegant tumble, I mean backpack spilling, water bottle smashing, knee skinning slide. Locals from the building I fell in front of watched in disbelief. On the return leg of this particular “out and back,” I made a mental note to avoid this hazardous spot but became distracted at the last moment and tripped regardless (I swear, same spot!). This time the locals helped me to collect my belongings and get back on my feet. (I noticed recently that, though not repaired, the sidewalk has been painted with fluorescent paint by way of warning). The upside (apart from new friends to high five as I pass) is I habitually scan the sidewalk or trail looking for potential danger – as a result, I have found $86 and a quite nice Lamy fountain pen over the course of the summer! Are there any NBR members who inspire you to train hard(er)? I was recently invited to join the Men’s Local Competitive Group. There are so many fast NBRiors and each and every one inspires me. Is it okay not to name names? There are dozens of competitive, encouraging, inspiring athletes. I am especially inspired by the Masters group for obvious reasons, both men and women. Since upping my training and being involved with NBR, I find I am running personal bests over times I had posted 12 or 13 years ago! 

NBR: What does it mean to be chosen by your peers for a coveted NBR Marathon Team Spot?

MBS: Naturally, it means so much. I hadn’t even imagined myself running NY again and was very excited to volunteer at the water table for my third consecutive year. To receive the late team spot email put my office at a temporary standstill until a registration glitch had been resolved. The New York Public Library has many runners on staff! I think what means the most to me is to be recognized by so many folks whose degree of dedication to the group and the sport is unparalleled – the volunteer committee, team captains, race coordinators and tireless run leaders. I’m stoked (and nervous!).

NBR: What do you plan on eating post-marathon? What about the night before?

MBS: Pre and post-race diet is a huge topic of discussion in our household. I am a long-time vegetarian so several days before race day I will begin eating carbs (tons of pasta). I find beet pesto (Meb’s recipe from Runners World) and penne tossed with sautéed beet greens and a side of avocado with miso and ginger dressing works for me. It gets boring after a few nights but better than problems mid-race. In the name of full disclosure, I’ll probably drink an IPA of some sort, too! Morning of: bagel with peanut butter, banana and honey. Classic! I dislike gels but will carry 3 salted caramel Gu (pinned to the waistband of my running shorts). GuBrew for hydration and electrolytes pre, during and post. Post-race: I find it hard to eat after a long run/race. Chocolate almond milk with yoghurt and banana is good for recovery. I also like vanilla almond milk, kale and date smoothies. (And more beer!) 

NBR: What is your running spirit animal and why? 

MBS: I love this question! My spirit animal is definitely a dog. A mixed, bully breed. Pit and
boxer mix is very close to my heart. Maybe not the fastest animal but tenacious, gentle
and loyal – and very competitive when challenged.

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Team Spot Check-in: Brinda Ayer

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

BA: Unlike many of our teammates, I've never lived in North Brooklyn and didn't have much geographical reason to get involved with NBR. But I would always see the team roll so deep at NYRR races, each runner looking strong and swift and like he or she was having the time of their life. I'd never been on a sports team of any kind before, but the idea always intrigued me—great support, both on and off the roads, and a pretty sweet singlet. So when was training for the Brooklyn Half by myself this spring, and saw a random Facebook event for a long training run hosted by NBR, I decided to check it out. It took place in April and it was still really cold out and I was so out of shape. I couldn't even make it up the Williamsburg Bridge without stopping! But several amazing people in my pace group high-fived me and encouraged me to keep going anyway, and so I eventually ended up at Urban Rustic afterward, where I met Jessica and Anne and Mary and a bunch of other wonderful people. Y'all haven't been able to get rid of me ever since! 

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

BA: Marathon training is going really well! As many of you may know, the race I originally planned to run and have been preparing for was the Philadelphia Marathon on November 20—two weeks after NYCM. And now, I've been lucky enough to get a spot for New York, so the plan has changed in a great way! As I tend to suffer from severe FOMO, I ended up starting my training alongside the people getting ready for New York, so fortunately, won't have to adjust my schedule too much to race two weeks earlier than planned. 

As for long runs, I've been running with a pod of trusty Narwhals most weeks, but have gone rogue a few times when my schedule hasn't aligned with the team's; it's, unsurprisingly, much harder to stay motivated when you're by yourself and the miles don't fly by nearly as quickly as in the company of good friends. Memorable long runs for me were of course the hot and humid ones down Summer Streets, and the one I forced myself to do after Fifth Avenue Mile—measuring at about 17.5 miles, it was the longest run I'd ever completed in my life at the time, and, what do you know, I've lived to tell the tale. 

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

BA: I try to go to TNT as much as possible, as well as Just South Wednesday morning runs (JS represent!), Hellkatz track, and, like I said above, Narwhals. It's such a treat to be able to hang out with your friends and get fitter and faster at the same time, all before the sun rises. As for inspirational NBR members, oh man, there are WAY too many to do this list justice. But Jessica, Emma, Nancy, Kalli, and Sophie are just a few of the incredible women from whom I've learned so much and aspire to be more like. 

 

NBR: What does it mean to be chosen by your peers for a coveted NBR Marathon Team Spot?

BA: It's probably one of the biggest honors and coolest opportunities I've ever been afforded, and especially so because this is my first marathon! Since I moved to New York three or so years ago, I've entered the lottery and haven't won a single time. So getting this spot after I had resigned myself to just running it next year, via 9 + 1, was an enormous surprise and delight. I'm more than a little terrified, but I absolutely cannot wait! Thanks a million, NBR!

NBR: What do you plan on eating post-marathon? What about the night before?

BA: I'll use any excuse I can to eat pasta, so it's convenient that spaghetti is an effective pre-race food. And probably a cookie, because #carbs, if anyone wants to make the trek to Levain with me the night before.

BA: Post-race: I think the better question is, what WON'T I eat? 

NBR: What is your running spirit animal and why?

BA: Just South feral cat for sure! 

 

Team Spot Check-in: Sue Walsh


Update: It's September 3 and I haven't run in 4 weeks now after a what-should-have-been-nothing bike accident, only two or three hours after I originally wrote my Team check in. I fell after my wheel hit another bike's wheel, tearing my ACL completely and creating what my Doctor says is a "complex tear" in my meniscus. I've been mobile for the past 2.5 weeks, but limping so much that I'm starting to get tendinitis in my hip. So my PT at The Finish Line asked that I try to practice walking, a full gait with my injured leg. Heel, then roll on your forefoot, than push off. Running seems like the furthest thing from my capabilities, like the person who was training for the marathon, who lead Tempo Tuesday and Doves was a different person than who I am now. We never know when our lives change, when nothing can turn into something and that something can turn into unknown. When our expectations deviate in a dramatic way than what we thought would be. Being injured, in a way that limits your mobility and independence, changes the way you experience the world, producing choices in how can handle it. Resisting it is futile: it won't produce a new ACL for me, it won't magically fix my meniscus. All I can do is whatever it takes to care for this awesome knee, who after 37 years has supported me through 19 marathons, tens of thousands of miles, helped my femur recover from a fracture 33 years ago, helped my hip recover from surgery 6 years ago. It is without question that I'm not running the marathon, but you all can wager with confidence that I'll be cheering for everyone who is. See you on the streets...sometime!


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

SW: My first run with Tuesday Tempo AM, about 5.5 years ago. I joined to get back into racing after recovering for a while from hip surgery. I thought, "Hey I'm in pretty good shape, I'll be okay." But got majorly crushed on the Kent Ave Speedway. But I made a commitment to myself, to keep coming back. And I still want to keep coming back. 

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

SW: Training is going pretty well. Last year, I tore my glute medius and it's still giving me problems. I'm also experiencing pain in the hip that I had surgery on. (If only I could understand why I love doing this activity that sometimes feels like is destroying my body!) I'm feeling a little apprehensive, but getting more info from my doctor this week. This will be my twentieth marathon and sometimes I still feel like such a beginner. Many times, I've felt the best workouts were just long runs with as many miles at marathon pace as possible. A pretty literal workout for the race. But I've also been trying to do easy runs at an honest easy pace, so wondering how that will affect things. And, of course, I'm a devoted Tigerwolves and Doves runner. I've been leading them for 2 years with no intention of stopping. 

Long runs so far this year have not been memorable. But, man, I've had some absurd runs in the past. Including one in Stockholm, where I had no watch, no phone, no map. Was planning on running 12 miles. I thought I was on one island, but had unkowningly crossed a small river and was on another. I had no idea where I was. The sun was setting. It was February. I had my Nike Free's on. There were increasing amounts of ice, so sometimes running was like not even an option. Just sliding. No one was around, it was wilderness. (An awesome part of Stockholm is it's partly urban and partly wild.) I found myself in a pet cemetery, dating back to the 1800s. I kept running / walking / sliding in what ended up being circles, trying to just keep it mentally together and came across a gentleman with a cane and an old fisherman's sweater. It was a moment of cinema. There was no option except to ask him where to go, and in true kindness, he gave me clear instruction. I found my way off the island and sprinted like 5 miles back to the city center. Another memory is last summer, running with Matt Schenker, breaking down and crying on Flushing Ave after 16 miles in 85/90 degrees with maybe 90% humidity. I just stopped, with my head in my hands, tears uncontrollably running down my face, and was like 'why are we doing this to ourselves??' So he still makes fun of me for that. 

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

SW: I normally go to Tigerwolves, Doves, sometimes Hellkatz, sometimes Narwhals. Inspiration is not hard to come by on this team. Any workout I've come to, there's always people who inspire me. If I had to choose some names, Marie Barnett is always an awesome source of optimism and energy and she happens to be a beast on the roads. And has probably one of the toughest jobs I can imagine. My fellow Doves ... Rebecca, Emma, Miriam. Matt Schenker, who I run with a lot, is super inspiring. We trained for Chicago last year together, but now every race he does he's further ahead of me! Now we can only do easy runs together and I tell him he only does it out of pity for me. :) It's a pity run. Then you see Ben Leese on Strava running something insane, like over 100 miles a week with easy runs at like 6:30 pace or something equally outrageous, knowing he has a family and an intense job. And you're just like WTF. So, so many awesome people to witness and to know. 

NBR: What does it mean to be chosen by your peers for a coveted NBR Marathon Team Spot?

SW: I feel 100% grateful. Truly. Thank you! When I joined this team, I only wanted to come out and run, get faster, hopefully qualify for the Boston Marathon. It was very much just about 'me'. But now, I love being a part of this larger team. I love leading Tuesday Tempo and Doves. I would say I love the 'community' of NBR, but that's such an annoying word full of baggage and cliche. Instead, I just perceive it as a huge group of friends who help each other through running, get faster, feel better, whatever. Now, maybe it's not as important to be obsessed with my own performance, as we all are naturally programmed to be, but instead be obsessed with everyone else's. Maybe age changes you in this way. And the friendships I've made on this team, I hope they will last the entirety of my life.

NBR: What do you plan on eating post-marathon? What about the night before?

SW: Post marathon? Depends how the race goes, if I feel like celebrating. :) But if it's good or if it's bad, I'll definitely have some brews. 

Before? Probably something simple. Rice / pasta / veg. Nothing complicated. 

NBR: What is your running spirit animal and why?

SW: TigerDove. For obvious reasons. 

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