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Race Report: 2017 Philly Marathon

by Wataru Iwata

The challenge started when I crossed finish line at Boston Marathon in April 2017.
I had a feeling of accomplishment there, but at the same time, I thought I could achieve more.
So, I started the challenge to Philadelphia Marathon, thinking the course is a bit more flat and friendly than Boston, and the weather won’t be 70 degrees for sure.

The first thing I did was switch to Strava instead of Nike+ for my training tracking.  Nike+ was always giving me inaccurate mileage. I was always getting 1 mile recorded for every .9 - .95 mi  I ran, so I was only training 90-95% of what I needed. Soon, I got connected to bunch of NBR teammates and they started tracking my training and I got lots of encouraging words, kudos & etc. The "Strava effect" gave me quick results.

On May 20th, we had a one of the most important races for NBR - the Brooklyn Half. I was still in “semi-recovery” mode, as it was only 30 days after Boston Marathon, so I had no expectations. I went to the race without carrying my phone and not wearing any extra layers, so that I didn’t have to check my bag. (I had previous insight that Brooklyn Half bag check was notoriously hard to retrieve). Before the start, I spent some tiem with NBR LC guys feeling like one of “elites”.

When the race started, I was relaxed, since I didn’t have any real expectations. I was careful not to go too fast inside Prospect Park, and at the exit of Park I saw the NBR cheer squad. As I went down on Ocean Parkway, I had a “cut” on side of my abdominal.  Something I haven’t had in quite sometime.   I raised and lowered my arm few times and the “cut” went away.  That was when I realized my pace was 10 to 15 seconds faster than usual and I quickly did the math in my head.  10 seconds x 13 miles is 2minutes and change. "…wait, if I keep going for 4-5 more miles or so with this pace … I could PR!! " I finished the race in 1:26:54 - about 90 seconds faster than my previous PR set in 2003.

June 17th - Another Club point race, Queens 10K.  Boom, I hit another PR by 20 seconds. 40:30. August 26th - Percy Sutton 5K - another PR by 3 seconds. September 24th - Bronx 10 miles - another PR by 1 minute.  All of sudden, I had PR’d in almost every distance in 2017 except the full marathon!

In my mind, I had to PR in the marathon. Also, having a 1:26:54 half-marathon record, my previous marathon PR of 3:19 (Queens Marathon 2015, this was my BQ) is not quite up to standard. I started working harder and harder. In August, I ran 250 miles, September 270 miles and October 320 miles, something I have never done before. Going into Philly Marathon, my number one concern was to stay healthy. I told myself if I stayed healthy and injury free, the result will naturally follow. The night before the marathon, Q was kind enough to organize a team dinner.  In the last minute, I learned Becca (who is my closest performance rival) was going to run only 40 days after her Chicago 3:02 performance!! I‘ve been secretly comparing her performance against mine for sometime …

Date Race Becca Me
9/25/16 Bronx 10 Miler 1:08:32 1:07:39
12/10/16 Ted Corbitt 15k 1:01:57 1:02:34
5/20/17 Brooklyn Half 1:27:04 1:25:54
6/17/17 Queens 10k 40:43 40:30
8/5/17 Team Champs 33:17 33:05
8/26/17 Percy Sutton 5k 19:26 19:53
9/24/17 Bronx 10 Miler 1:06:09 1:06:34

Having seen her Chicago result of 3:02, I was like "Wow!! If she can do 3:02, I can do that too!"

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On race day, we all woke up with rain and strong winds. NBR Philly resident, David Lam was so kind to offer lodging in Philly as well as ride to start area. Thank you David!! I arrived early (60 minutes) to the start area, but since it was raining hard I stayed inside the tent and couldn’t do all my regular routine (warm up, bathroom, etc).

About 20 minutes before the start, the rain finally cleared and I stayed on the bathroom line close to my corral. The line was moving slow and by the time I got out of porta-potty, my corral was already closed. So I stayed in next corral and told myself to relax and stay calm. One corral won’t make too much difference. I later found out that they do a staggered start (about 2 minutes lag for each corral).

"Ok", I thought. "Just subtract 2 minutes from each clock I see on the course." My game plan was to keep 7 min/mi pace for first 13 miles and see how I feel. If I felt good, I had a shot for a sub-3 hour race. Another goal was sub 3:10. I know that good results are often produced by either even pacing or negative splits, so I was careful not to go too fast in the beginning. My first 7 miles splits were: 7:29 (lack of warm up), 7:11, 7:10, 7:14, 7:20, 7:14, 7:04. Keeping a 7 min/mi pace was really tough on that day for some reason. I felt somewhat stale. The next 7 miles got even tougher: 7:24, 7:17, 7:41, 7:15, 7:06, 7:17, 7:16. Coming out of Central Philly to run along the river, we didn’t have anything to shield ourselves from the strong gusts of wind.

Next 7 miles: 7:30, 7:58, 7:32 ,7:35 ,7:38 ,7:42 ,7:23. When I started seeing push rims and Elite runners coming back from the u-turn at Manayunk, I just told myself to stay relaxed and do not fight that wind!

Final few miles: 7:28, 7:25, 7:54, 7:45, 7:48. I realized there weren't any clocks on the course here (or did I miss them?) I was just a few miles away from the finish line ,and told myself "It’s just 8 or 9 more laps of McCarren Park track." (We ran hundreds and hundreds laps during training). That was when I saw the NBR cheer squad for the 3rd or 4th time through the course. They moved around in very windy day to cheer in 3 or 4 different spots along the course! Thank you all!!!

When I crossed the finish line, the main finish line clock was showing 3:19 and change, and my Garmin showed 3:16 and change. I knew I PR’d but not within the 3 hours and single digits I was aiming for … I just didn’t have the pace to go 7 min/mi that day.

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I am still digesting the result, setting my next target, and thinking of a training plan for the next race, but my initial refection is that my training had too much focus on mileage (quantity) and not so much on tempo runs (quality). Marathon running is about the art of pacing. It differs from person to person, how to train, how to approach the race … etc., and you can only learn from your own experiences.

Last but not least, I must mention what one of reasons I chose to run Philly is. One day in early summer of 2013, I noticed there was one message on my iPhone (I am a kind of person that hates leaving unread mail, or unplayed messages. I like to keep iPhone screen as clean as possible). I played it and it goes … “Hi this is Doctor _______.(couldn’t understand his name) from Thomas Jefferson Hospital, please call me at 215-XXX-XXXX." Initially, I thought it was some sort of sales call. Then, phone rang again and caller ID was showing 215 area code. I ignored the call. Another message was left. I thought to erase it, but I played it. It was same Doctor and this time, he said, “Do you have a sibling called _____? Please call back ASAP. This is an emergency." My heart started beating fast. I returned the call and found out my brother fell unconscious and had been taken to a local hospital where he lives in Bucks County. The hospital quickly decided they couldn’t handle the case, so he was transferred to Thomas Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia.

MRI's showed a large brain tumor in his forehead. Long story short, I rushed to Philly on the same day, and my brother was operated on by the super neuro-surgeon who operated on late Bo Biden, son of former Vice President Biden. The operation went superb.  My brother’s tumor was benign and he is now fully recovered and in good health, thank God!

I therefore dedicate this PR to my brother and all people who supported us in this 4 years. Thank you so much!!

Wataru Iwata, Proud and thankful member of NBR. November 2017.

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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Picture This: What Volunteering at the NYC Marathon Looks Like

With less than four weeks to go before NYRR closes volunteer registration for the 2016 NYC Marathon, we thought we’d take this opportunity to re-live some of the fun and excitement from last year’s volunteer shenanigans. How? Through photos, of course—take a gander!

For those of you who’ve never volunteered at a race before, or who’ve never volunteered with NBR, here’s your chance to see what the fuss is all about. Not only is it a great way to give back to your team, it's the best spot to watch the marathon up-close. For the more seasoned volunteers among you, we invite you to take a walk down memory lane and remind yourself how rewarding volunteering can be, and why it’s so important.

When you’re done perusing the photos, we hope you’ll feel inspired to register for this year’s race. The Mile 12 Fluid Station is located at Bedford Avenue and North 12th Street in Williamsburg. Signing up is easy-peasy. Just create a NYRR account or sign in through your existing one. If you need help or have questions, feel free to email us, or ask Lilly Stevens, Rachel Rose, Logan Yu, John Riccardi, or any of NBR’s leadership.  

We hope to see you there! 

- Rachel

Thanks for the photos, Ken!

NBR Pride Run Thanks

by Jeffrey Correa

Dear NBR,

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!

Best,


Jeffrey Correa
NBR Board President

Brooklyn Half Marathon Report

by Lisa Coyle

Running the Brooklyn Half as an NBR was truly an amazing experience. I did not PR, but I definitely ran faster than expected and very much enjoyed my 1st Brooklyn Half and trip of hopefully many more to Coney Island!


My running time is not as as important (especially compared to all of your accomplishments) as
being a part of what may be the coolest group of runners I have ever met (and I have been
running since before quite a few of you were born.) It is refreshing to find a group that is not only
very dedicated, supportive and fun to hang out with, but also appreciates that every distance is
important. We all have different strengths and there seems to be a disproportionate emphasis
on marathons in recent years in most running groups.


Anyway, it was truly an honor to run as a North Brooklyn Runner. I have not really run with a team in almost 20 years, but I never remember it being this fun even when I lived in Ireland and trained on a steady diet of Guinness! I would like to thank everyone for being so welcoming from including me in a pace group to sharing donuts, jalapeno margaritas, pabst blue ribbon tshirts,
and race blankets at the awesome beach party....Keep up the great work and I really hope I can officially move back soon so I can race, train, time speed workouts and cheer for NBR a lot more on a regular basis!

A Race of Firsts

by Rachel Rose

The 2016 Brooklyn Half marked many “firsts” for me:

  • My first post-injury race (and therefore my first race since January)
  • My first actual half-marathon (the only other comparable race I’d ever done was a 20k in Paris last year; I was supposed to have run the NYC Half in March, but alas, my injury kept me sidelined)
  • My first time donning that sexy NBR singlet
  • My first time running a race as a proud member of NBR
  • My first time experiencing the splendor that is the receiving-end of NBR’s devoted Cheer Squad!


I won’t bore you with a mile-by-mile recap of my lightning-fast run that resulted in a
2:20 finish (insert laughter here ☺), but I will say a few things about the experience
overall—including what it meant to me as a new NBR member, and as a runner who’s still actively recovering from injury. (My leg is throbbing as I type this, in fact. Another round of physical therapy on Wednesday morning! Wee!)


The Backstory


I’m not a natural-born runner. Growing up I’d always disliked running for running’s sake, but in my late 20's / early 30's, some personal matters compelled me to start dreaming of running a marathon someday. A pipe dream, for sure—yet something I nevertheless decided to add to my Bucket List.

It wasn’t until 2014 that I promised myself I’d start hitting the pavement. One mile was hard back then— hard! Two miles? I thought it impossible. (And it almost was.) But eventually, I could run 3 miles. And then four. And then six. By 2014, I’d run a handful of 5K races and my first 10K.


In October 2015, I ran that 20k in Paris I mentioned. (Well, maybe “ran” isn’t the right word; I finished it, but barely, as I had food poisoning, including fever and all the other noxious side effects that come along with gastrointestinal upset. And, uh, let’s just say it didn’t help that there was only one—ONE!—portapotty along that entire course!) In November and December 2015, I ran a few other NYRR races and had an absolute blast. So much so that in December, I decided I’d start working my way toward achieving my marathonian pipe dream: I’d do the 9+1 program with NYRR and run the 2017 NYC Marathon. That’s when I joined NBR. (It’s also when I got injured. Go figure.)

The Here & Now

Fast forward to May 2016. As a member of the team for all of five months now (who ironically hasn’t really been able to run with the group very much) to have finally mustered up the courage to get out and run the Brooklyn Half this weekend was a big deal for me! Still recovering from my injury, I wasn’t sure my leg would hold up for 13.1 miles. And badly out of shape (for obvious reasons), I wasn’t sure my me would hold up! The race was therefore not an easy physical or mental feat. I had to walk a few 30 seconds here and there, and - having over-hydrated while waiting in my corral - I absolutely had to use the restroom around mile 8.
But darn it, I finished the race. While my time may be far from noteworthy for many of you, for me, just the fact that I finished at all is noteworthy. And I’ll tell you what: I couldn’t have done it without the ongoing support of some of NBR’s finest members, both new and old (many of
whom I now feel privileged to call personal friends). I couldn’t have done it without
the energizing hoots, hollers, claps, and cowbells of our devoted Cheer Squad at Mile
3 (especially Ali Fenwick who, with her hands cupped around her mouth, screamed
“GOOOOOOO RACHEL!!!!!” as I passed! What a great feeling!). I couldn’t have done it
without Mike Hill at Mile 13 who, with his warm wisdom and steady conviction, gave me me just the extra bit of confidence I needed to finish those last 800 meters.


I will never be a fast runner. My “fast” for many of you, is slower than molasses oozing down a wall. Once my injury fully heals and I’m back in shape, 2:20 may still be all I’m capable of running in a half-marathon. Who knows? But, here’s the thing: I’m cool with that. And as I learned firsthand at the Brooklyn Half this weekend, NBR, with its big open arms and acceptance of runners of all levels, is cool with that, too.


Another fabulous “first.”


With much gratitude,
Rachel