nyc marathon

2017 NYC Marathon Race Report #4: Quinn Batson

by Quinn Batson

Mike wore sunglasses at 5:30 in the morning cuz that’s the way he rolls when he runs. We headed for the 8th Street R station 300 yards away and found kin on the platform. The first we spoke to came from Italy. Fun fact: about 4,000 Italians run the NYC marathon each year, making them possibly the largest non-U.S. national group. To prove the point, our new Italian friend spoke Italian to the woman seated across from us once we got on the train, and she answered, in Italian, ‘how did you know?’

From the time we got out of the subway at the ferry, for the next six hours, it was hard to shake the image of cattle in a stockyard. Fortunately these cattle-people were friendly, and quite happy to be heading to slaughter. Still, even for a New Yorker, it’s an intense amount of humanity from start to finish.

The bus tour of Staten Island was interesting even without many people on the streets, and then we hit the start villages. Low-level stress hovers over the bathroom lines, and the bathroom lines are everywhere. Warming up usually seems like a good idea before a race, unless that race is the NYC marathon; for most, the first time you know you’re in the right place is when you’re standing on the bridge with your particular group of corraled cattle, an HOUR before the starting gun.

BOOM! That start cannon was less than 50 yards away and sent smoke everywhere. Most of us knew it was sending off the elite women, but it still jolted the calm out of us. Banter, jokes and random friend sightings filled the next half hour, and then the BOOM was for us.

I’ve known Mike for almost 40 years, and we raced each other in college. He’s still a little faster, but the plan was to run the first 10 miles together and feel it out from there. This race was as much about reconnecting as it was about running 26 miles fast.

My favorite part of the race is the Verrazano Bridge--all of it. The majesty of the view and the feeling of utter specialness for this one moment are heady stuff. That, and the peacefulness that never really returns once you hit the streets of New York.

I remember Bay Ridge, and I remember the bands from the bridge to downtown Brooklyn, some of them really good musicians. Once the runner streams merge at Flatbush, any sense of solitude is gone, and a new image of schooling fish replaces the cattle.

The next 2 miles are NBR territory, and the callouts for “NBR” or “Quinn” are heartening every time, even if I only see the caller every third or fourth time. At 10 miles, Mike keeps going the same speed, and I pull back a bit. It was fun to run together, but my brain has already turned the corner from “race” to “running”, and it will keep turning corners from here on in.

I can’t keep from smiling widely as I run through the mile 12 water station, even though I only actually “see” maybe 3 people manning the tables. The memory of doing the tables myself and a surprisingly warmfuzzy feeling for NBR just surge through me.

The next thing that surges through me is the desire to pee. I’ve never stopped to pee in a race, ever, so this is new--another corner. A mile later, I see bathrooms right before the bridge to Queens. Something about the way they face Away from the racecourse and have blue tape I have to duck under make this stop seem even more of a race violation. My breathing is way faster than it seems like it should be to pee, but the relief is sweet.

I head out relieved but even more relaxed about running fast, and this relaxation seems to feed on itself. I begin to slow steadily, unconcerned until Bruno passes me and I try to keep up and can’t. Now I’m thinking about food--any food, and I’ve turned another corner. Racing and hunger have never gone together, and hunger has taken over my brain. I patter up the 59th Street bridge and watch people I know are going “slow” pass me. As I get off the bridge, all I can think of is getting to a deli, but First Avenue has other ideas.

After what may actually be a mile of unbroken fences on both sides of the street, I finally stop in front of a woman standing in front of a deli, hand her 2 dollars, and say “could you buy me either a Coke or a chocolate milk?” She says sure, and half an orange and a banana appear magically while she is gone. I love you, New Yorkers. I thank woman one as she hands me an opened liter of Coke and begin drinking and walking up First Avenue, feeling absurd yet happy.

And yes, I drink that whole thing, in no particular hurry. I begin running at the next water table, where I may even take some Gatorade, too. And I’m running again. Until I’m not.

My brain has short-circuited and told my hamstrings to contract, continuously, as if I’ve been hit by a bolt of lightning and have no control over my body. And it PISSES ME OFF. I hope no small children were within earshot. I am not done yet, though. If walking is what I can do for now, walking is what I will do for now.

I turn yet another corner when I realize I am COLD and just want to get a shirt or something at the next medical tent. It seems to take several minutes for the nice woman at the medical tent to cut a piece of foil blanket for me, but I am quite happy to have it. I find I can hold it easily at my neck with one hand and run with the other, and I’m running again, even getting warmer, beginning to think maybe…BAM, the lightning strikes again. I swear even more, and I look like an angry tin soldier whose knees don’t bend, walking around in crazy circles.

It’s official; my body only has to tell me twice for me to believe it. I walk until I see the next race marshall at mile 18. I have to yell a bit to get her attention but feel I have done my racely duty by reporting my dropout. She fires up her phone to tell whoever needs to know, thanks me and assures me “It’s just 'notcher day.”


Team Spot Check-In: Angela Ortiz

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

I started running/racing in 2010 after I admitted to a friend that I had been a runner in high school, and he dared me to run a 4 miler in Central park with him. The race felt awful, as it was my first race in 10 years or so, but I guess I kind of liked it because I kept signing up for more. At each race I'd see more and more NBR singlets in the crowd, and the people wearing them looked like a fun bunch. So I joined the google group and bought a singlet. But I was overwhelmed with the amount of options for runs, at first. I had no idea what a tempo run was. I hadn’t done a track workout in a decade. So, my first run with NBR was actually a race, the 2011 Coogan’s (Salsa, Blues and Shamrocks) 5K. I passed Jen Daniels in mile 1 and she offered encouragement (“Nice job NBR!”). She continued to offer encouragement when she easily cruised past me a few minutes later in mile 2. Despite feeling like I was running backwards, I remember thinking, mid-race, about how nice it felt to be part of a team, finally.

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

Marathon training has been going well so far (knock on wood)! We’re six weeks out so there is still some work to do, but I’m feeling pretty good at this stage. I spent the bulk of the late spring/summer working on shorter distances, so I came into this training cycle with a fair amount of fitness and strength that I can, hopefully, harness into a decent marathon build-up. I’m only doing a ten week training cycle for NYC, which I’ve never done before - so we’ll see how it pans out. 

I did 2x4 miles at marathon pace this week and I was surprised that it felt really, really good, despite the higher mileage and harder workouts I’ve been doing in the last few weeks. I’m optimistic that the shorter training cycle will keep me from burning out as we get closer to the race, which has happened to me before when I’ve started training too far out. The marathon mindset is sometimes difficult to wrap your head around; you just have to accept that you’re going to be running everything on tired legs and it’s going to be a difficult task to just stay focused. But those things are easier to accept when you feel like you’ve just started training and you’re already six weeks out!

I don’t really have any great long run stories because my long runs these days tend to just be 789,478,586.4 loops of Prospect Park. It’s hilly, it’s convenient, there are water fountains, and there’s no jumping on and off sidewalks or dodging traffic, just strollers and cute kids on wobbly bikes. I just think about the workout and the loops don’t bother me too much. Plus, the ninth time you pass the same group of folks on a park bench they start shouting encouraging things at you (at least that’s what I hear in my tired stupor) - so there’s a convenient built in cheering section.

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

Because of my wonky schedule and my Just South location, I can't usually make it up to runs at McCarren. I have been known to occasionally crash a Wednesday morning Just South run, and during the summer, the Second Friday donut run was definitely a favorite. 

I see Lauren Perkins working hard in Prospect Park every day. She seems to set goals and go for them without making excuses, and that’s motivating. But I admire anyone who I see consistently working smart and working hard. I like stories about people who set their sights high and make sacrifices in order to get themselves there. I’m a fan of anyone I see getting out and gutting it out every day, doesn’t matter if you’re “fast” or not. I’m sure this describes a lot of people on NBR whose stories I don’t have the privilege of knowing, but it’s awesome to see people on the team giving it their best at races. Anyone who puts on their shoes every day and grinds it out is inspiring to me.

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

It’s humbling! It’s a privilege to represent NBR and to be part of a team that does great things within themselves and within the community at large. 

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

The night before is always chicken and rice or sometimes chicken noodle soup and bread. After the race, I generally crave a burger and a beer.

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

I’ve run NYC only once before and I felt like it was time to give it another shot. My race in 2013 was transformative in a way. I experienced that day as a full-on journey from start to finish; running by my neighborhood in south Brooklyn, up past McCarren and the best water table on the course (big ups to mile 12!), over the bridges into Manhattan where more friends were waiting on 1st and 5th aves. It was kind of like “This Is Your Life” but with sweat and blisters, and the big reveal at the end is that you aren’t going to die when you push yourself really hard.
NYC marathon day is hands-down my absolute favorite day in the city, so much support and kindness on display in a city that can sometimes be a challenge to live in. I just wanted to be a part of that this year.

7. In your head, what celebrity do you think you most resemble when you're running?

I feel like I should look like Jenny Simpson, but in reality it’s probably more like Phoebe from Friends.


Team Spot Check-in: Greg Doerk


1. Tell us a little bit about how you came to be involved with NBR. What was your first run? How long have you been involved? 
I moved here from California in fall 2015 after a long hiatus from running.  By Spring 2016 I was hoping to recover some speed and make some friends, so a running club seemed like a good idea.  After looking at several clubs online, I showed up at the Saturday morning bridge run – a bit out of the way since I live just outside NYC on Long Island.  Still, I couldn’t have found a better club so I haven’t looked back.
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. 
It is going reasonably well.  I had been focused on triathlons for a while, so I was doing a lot of cross-training, and increasing my weekly running mileage has turned out to be harder than I remember.  The Narwhals long runs on Saturday mornings have been crucial to helping me here. 
Actually I have been joining Narwhals runs since last year.  I remember the first time I ran through Summer Streets on a Narwhals run; on another run through Queens on a blazing hot day, a playground with a spray shower near the turnaround was a godsend!
This doesn’t count as a marathon training story or a long run story per se, but the Lake Wawayanda Ragnar relay was unforgettable.  Doing it with NBR folks turned 3 days of non-stop rain into a great experience – and props to Chris Wheeler for bringing us pizza even though he was too injured to run.  
3. Which NBR runs are you attending regularly to train? Are there any NBR members who inspire you to train hard (er)?
I am attending Narwhals regularly, and I go to Thursday night track as much as possible.  Track is great for getting my speed up, though the post-race routine of pizza and beer are also helpful motivators ;-)
It’s hard to say which NBR members particularly help me train harder, since I’m sure I’ll be leaving some out.  I can say that trying my best to keep up with Carlos, Etienne, and Sean certainly makes me faster, while others like Quang (“Q”) motivate me by the example of their dedication.
4. What does it mean to be chose by your peers for a coveted NBR marathon team spot? 
Honestly, it’s a huge honor! I love training with NBR and the NYC marathon is one of the most exciting events of the year for NYC.  NBR has helped me make friends, adjust to life on the east coast, and get in the best shape I have been in for years, so I think there is a lot than I can (and should) give back. 
5. What do you plan on eating post-marathon? What about the nite before? 

After the race, I will eat all of the food.  >2600 calories is pretty much carte blanche… The night before, I won’t be too creative or adventurous so likely pasta with chicken and tomato sauce – which I will be eating the whole week.  I’ll probably skip the single beer I usually have with dinner on the night before.

6. What inspires and motivates you to run this year's NYC marathon?
I tried to run a marathon almost a decade ago, but I got a stress fracture.  Since then, I’ve been pretty nervous about trying it again on my own, but I feel that it is something I can definitely accomplish with NBR.  Plus having a group of people in NBR who are so motivated is the best peer pressure one can have, especially when many are training alongside you for the NYC marathon, or Chicago.
7. In your head, what celebrity do you think you most resemble when you're running?
When I’m running hard, I usually doubt that I look my best.  So while I’d like to think I would resemble Ryan Gosling or similar, I feel more like Zach Galifianakis.

Team Spot Check-In: Nate Diaz

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? 

Coming from Colorado, it took me a while to get used to the idea of running in the city. I work with Lauren (Tarte) and knew she was a runner. I asked her if she knew of any good clubs and she recommended NBR and Max's Wednesday night form run, calling it her "gateway drug". I went to my first Wednesday night run late last summer and have been hooked on NBR ever since.  

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

Training is really kicking my butt. I hate the Williamsburg Bridge hill workout at Tuesday Night Tempo, but I'm starting to see the results. It's getting to the point in the season where it's hard to maintain a social life outside of training. Fortunately, with NBR you have a lot of people in a similar boat who understand your crazy early bedtime and need to always be eating.

Last Saturday may have been the best day of running in my life! I ran up to meet Saturday Narwhals for their run through the amazingness that is Summer Streets to Team Champs. Quang (Ton), Vito (Aiuto), Emily (Hafner), and Greg (Doerk) dragged me to 16 miles. We made it to Central Park in time to catch the end of the men's race, grab a quick coffee, and cheer for the women. Afterwards, Logan (Yu), James (Gray-King), Danielle (Sussingham) and I leisurely Citibike'd back through Summer Streets. I then bumped into Ricardo on the subway home. He helped get me started on the second run of my double. Then, after a quick lunch and shower, it was back to the tiki party to celebrate the awesome performances at Team Champs.

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

My training with NBR revolves around attendance at runs featuring food. Emma and Kalli's Donut Run is a favorite. Thursday Night Track (and post-track pizza & beer) is the workout I attend most often; I can't count the number of times Jose, Madeline, Logan or Ken have encouraged or pushed me when I've felt like quitting. Recently, Becca and Anna finally prevailed on me to join them and Michael and Sean for tacos and the #PMREVOLUTION at Tuesday Night Tempo. I also have really enjoyed the monthly volunteering NBR does at the food pantry. 

For speed workouts I've been lucky to run with and pushed by a strong group of mostly women, who are way faster than me. Becca (Ades) before she re-found her speed, the late Anne (Barry) before she moved to Texas, Madeline (Hanley), Sophie (Tholstrup), Tom (Essex), and of course Quang "Q" Ton.

Bev (Walley) has been my Just South buddy since the beginning, keeping me going when I was just getting back into running.

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

It's very exciting!  It took me a while to get involved in the running community in NYC but I'm glad that I found the great people of NBR. I'm so happy to have the chance to train and race alongside (and behind) all of you. It's humbling to be part of such an inspiring, knowledgeable, friendly and supportive team.

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

All of the food! Doughnuts, beer, ice cream - come to think of it, that's not much different from how I'm eating now…

The night before the marathon you'll find me with a bag of Trader Joe's Honey Wheat Pretzels Sticks in one hand, bottle of water in the other.

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

Those days when it's hard to get of bed or leave the office knowing that I'm going to have to put the running shoes on, it makes it so much easier knowing that there's a group of (crazy) people ready to pound out the miles with me. Seeing the hard work and dedication everyone on this team puts into running is very inspiring. Having your teammate hurting right next to you and yet still pushing you for just one more lap, one more hill, one more mile, or one more doughnut is incredible motivation. I can't wait to see everyone on Staten Island and at mile 12 on race day! 

7. In your head, what celebrity do you think you most resemble when you're running?

I imagine when I run, I look like if you were to combine Jim Carrey in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and Robin Williams from his Live on Broadway special. You'd be left with one awkward, sweaty-ass man.

Team Spot Check-in: Martin Branch-Shaw

Caked at VCP.jpg

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.


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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