Form Tip: Run Faster—and Stay Alive Longer!—with Quiet Feet

Imagine, like you should fairly regularly, that it's the end of the world and you need above-average survival skills to make it in the every man/woman for him/herself post-apocalypse wilds.

You’ll want to not only run fast, but quietly.

Loud footsteps are often an indicator of braking: Your joints are not flexing enough to carry the impact of each stride into the next one, but instead are redirecting your forward momentum into shockwaves that move up through your body. And you don't want to brake!

Can you hear Kaitlyn’s footsteps? Didn’t think so.

Can you hear Kaitlyn’s footsteps? Didn’t think so.

If you or your running partners can hear your footsteps clearly, you'd probably starve in our scenario—or more likely, you'd be food for something else. 

Particularly on hard surfaces, quieter running means you’re making less contact with the ground—and that is one idea that most experts seem to agree on that increases speed and efficiency, and reduces injury. 

Tips for the hunt:

  • Think foot "lift" instead of foot "strike"

  • Reduce the amount of time that each foot touches the ground

  • Avoid the dreaded forefoot!

  • Increase the bend at your ankles—work on flexing them when your feet hit the ground

  • Push the road backwards without any braking action

  • Remember you are sneaking up on your victim!

  • Aim for continuous motion: imagine you're a wheel

Want more great form advice? Check out NBR’s form run in Prospect Park every Wednesday night!

Competing in the Millrose Games—the Oscars of Track & Field

In the winter of 2001, when I was 14, my mom showed me a story in the sports section of The New York Times. A senior from Northern Virginia had just become the first American high schooler to ever break 4:00 for the indoor mile. He did it at a track on 168th Street in Harlem—the Fort Washington Armory. His name was Alan Webb.

That race was a flashpoint for me; I’d started running cross country in the fall, but from that moment on I decided I was another breed of runner: a miler. I went out for indoor track the next year and just squeaked under 5:00 for 1600 meters. I was a world apart from Alan Webb, who was by then a freshman at the University of Michigan, but what I’d run felt respectable, too, in its own way.

Though I ran other events, at the end of a meet usually struggling through the two mile for a few points, I stayed focused on the mile. Racing it indoors, in particular, thrilled me; flying around those tight turns always heightened the drama. Then, sometime during my sophomore year, I became aware of the ultimate indoor meet, the Millrose Games, where the best high school, college, and pro runners gathered for a glamorous day of what looked like the Oscars of track and field. Even the name Millrose had such poetry: It was the Pennsylvania country estate of the meet’s founder, department store magnate Rodman Wanamaker (who was also, I learned, the first person to play the Star-Spangled Banner at a sporting event). It became my goal to one day run there.  

NBR’s Greg Clark at the start of his 1200 lead-off leg

NBR’s Greg Clark at the start of his 1200 lead-off leg

From its founding through my high school and college days, Millrose wasn’t at the Armory; it was held at Madison Square Garden, on a quirky, 180-yard, 11-lap-to-the-mile track known for its spongy surface—in his novel Once A Runner, John L. Parker Jr. said it was like green pound cake. But there was undeniable pageantry to racing at the Garden, in a meet broadcast live on NBC with commentary by luminaries like Frank Shorter (who, like all the other officials, wore a tuxedo). The meet had been held every year since 1908; in the early days, when you could still smoke at Millrose, officials simply asked spectators to extinguish their cigarettes before the last event, the Wanamaker Mile. And so, far above the runners getting in their last strides, clouds of smoke could be seen wafting to the rafters.

I was never fast enough to run in the high school mile at Millrose. I think you had to break 4:20 indoors, or maybe you just had to be asked. I still don’t know. And that’s probably why the race has always held such an allure for me. From my dorm room at Woodberry Forest, a boarding school in the Virginia countryside, I studied the great Millrose miles—Mike Starr’s dogfight with Miles Irish and John Carlotti, in 1983, when he controlled the entire race from the front, wildly accelerating and decelerating, refusing to let anyone pass him, holding off half a dozen challenges before sprinting home in a 57 second last 400; Eamon Coughlin’s string of Wanamaker victories, seven in all, that earned him the nickname “Chairman of the Boards.”

I was a couple years out of college the first time I actually went to watch Millrose, in 2011, the last year it was held at the Garden. Some college teammates met me there, including Andy Kifer, who later introduced me to NBR. We were glad to catch the final Millrose at the legendary venue. But it seemed to be a down year. The two mile was embarrassingly thin, the guys at the back of the pack hardly faster than we had been. Those were the wilderness years for American distance running, but had things really gotten that bad? Then came the Wanamaker Mile.

I still remember the fog spreading out from the tunnel, the strobe lights raking across the track, the procession of milers trotting out, waving to the crowd—Lee Emmanuel, David Torrence, Deresse Mekonnen, Bernard Lagat. The race wasn’t that fast by Millrose standards—it was won in 3:58—but it was almost operatic, the tension mounting with every lap. When Mekonnen outkicked Lagat, I could have cried.

We kept going to Millrose every year, Andy Kifer and I. Lagat never won again, but we were there a few years later when he set a world best in the 2000m—an obscure distance, sure, but it was still incredible to see him run a 3:57 mile en route, at age 41. And we were there that same afternoon when Alan Webb ran his last pro race, a 4:06 in the B heat of the mile, barely faster than he ran as a high school sophomore. It was an anticlimactic end to a career that never quite fulfilled its early promise, but it was nice to see him sign off on the same track where he’d first broken 4:00. Even the announcer, Ian Brooks, was the same.  

Almost five years later, in December, I learned we could enter the Men’s Club Distance Medley Relay at Millrose. NBR is mostly a distance team, with people training for 5Ks and halfs and marathons (as you do in your late 20s and 30s and beyond), while the DMR consists of four short- and mid-distance legs: 1200, 400, 800, and 1600 meters. But we do have some speed on the roster. Jeff Poindexter ran a 49 second 400 in high school. A long time ago, sure, but still: 49. Ned Booth was running some crazy track workouts this fall. Conor Lanz had run a 3:42 for 1500m in college, the equivalent of a 4:00 mile. That was during the Bush Administration, I know, but he looked fit ... And we were living in the Ciaranaissance, a year of magical thinking when anything felt possible.

Now, there was reason for caution, too: Some research told me the field would be fast to quite fast: The New York Athletic Club and the Central Park Track Club both had Olympians in the mix, and a few teams could field sub-4:00 milers on their anchor legs. But we were getting faster, too, and I’m prone to impulsive decisions. So I wrangled some ringers for the 400 and 800 legs and entered us with a seed time that didn’t feel totally outrageous.

I’ll admit, riding the A train up to 168th Street on Saturday morning, I wondered whether I’d made a mistake. The start lists had been released, and NYAC had Brycen Spratling on the 400, a two-time Olympian and the American record holder in the 500m. Somehow the University of Pennsylvania was in the race—I hadn’t anticipated going up against college kids. And Tracksmith’s team—were these guys pros? I didn’t want to get lapped. By the time I entered the Armory through the green athletes’ doors on 170th Street (a first for me), I was praying we could just keep things respectable.

But as soon as the starter led us onto the track, I knew we would. NYAC had scratched, for one thing. But I also had confidence in our team. Although Greg Clark has been training for the 5k and the half, he stepped up to run the 1200 leadoff leg, and he ran it smart, going out in 2:07 for the 800 and holding on for a solid 3:14. Mike Larkin, who coaches with a former teammate of mine at the Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, was good for a 52 second 400, closing the gap between us and 7th place. Tom Selvaggi ran a strong 1:59 for the 800, catching two guys. (Tom’s a fifth-year senior at Stevens; I would’ve felt vaguely guilty about this had Penn not been in the race.)

Alex Hoyt finishing the 1600m anchor leg

Alex Hoyt finishing the 1600m anchor leg

By the time I got the baton for the 1600m leg, we were suddenly in the race. Ned called splits—31.7 for the first 200 (too much adrenaline), 63 for the first 400 (still too ambitious). But by 800 I’d settled into a rhythm, going through in 2:09, and I caught a couple guys. Tracksmith’s anchor leg passed me on the last lap, but I managed to stay within a second of him, crossing the line in 5th out of 8 teams. We’d run 10:25, not too far off my seed time. And James Chu told me I’d split 4:19.8—faster than I ran in high school, close to what I ran in college. His training has rejuvenated me to an amazing degree, but still, I was shocked.

I stumbled upstairs to meet my friends Trish and Sam and Andy Kifer in the balcony, and for the next few hours, in a stated of blissed-out delirium, I watched heat after heat of races I otherwise would’ve ignored: the Suburban Boys High School 4x800, the Fastest Kid in the World 55 meters, the Mixed Master’s 4x400. Later in the afternoon, the real fireworks started, and it was the best Millrose I’ve ever seen. Donavan Brazier took down Johnny Gray’s 26-year-old American record in the 800, and Ajee Wilson followed suit in the women’s 800. Konstanze Klosterhalfen, a 21 year old from Bonn, Germany, soloed a staggering 4:19 in the women’s Wanamaker Mile. And in the men’s, Yomif Kejelcha ran a 3:48.46, missing Hicham El Guerrouj’s world record by a hundredth of a second.

But the race that captivated me most was, as always, the boys’ high school mile. A senior from Virginia took it out hard, going through 800m in 2:05. He’d been third last year, the announcer said; he seemed determined to win it now. And it looked like he would—he had a 20-meter lead at the bell. But in a blanket finish, three boys caught him at the line, all four of them running 4:09. Last place was 4:17, fast enough to win some years.

As a 32 year old, you don’t want to be comparing yourself to high schoolers. It’s not a good look. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t doing the back-of-the-envelope math from my balcony seat, thinking about whether I could get into the high school mile next year. Probably not. Not quite. But it’s nice to have another race on the horizon, even if it’s only the Men’s Club Distance Medley Relay.

And for four-odd minutes it was also nice to be transported back to the winter of 2003, lining up on the blue-gray indoor track of Fork Union Military Academy, going head to head with the great Kippy Keino, son of the gold medalist, just back from the Millrose Games. He was going to beat you, that was certain. But you were still growing, you were getting faster all the time. You might be able to close the gap in the season ahead. And that’s one great thing about running: You still can.


NBR Takes Home Awards and Inspiration from NYRR Club Night

The NBR table at NYRR Club Night

The NBR table at NYRR Club Night

On Thursday last week, I had the chance, along with a number of NBR folks, to go to the NYRR club night. For those who don’t know, this is an awards show that New York Road Runners puts together to celebrate the achievements of local clubs. It segues into a moderately awkward dance party (I’m English, all dancing is awkward!).

We had a number of runners nominated, and already knew we had won a few team awards. Most awards are given out to the best runners in their age group (in batches of 5 years—20-24, 25-30, etc).

After eating a serving of tater tots that would make Napoleon Dynamite proud, the event got under way. We had a loud NBR table and the cheers for our runners were palpable in each award we had someone nominated in.

The list of individual nominees was:

Women 35-39

Angela Ortiz

Lauren Perkins

Men 55-59

Alun Williams (repeat nominee from last year!)

We got even louder when Angela went on to win her award. She has had an incredible year, qualifying for the olympic trials, PR’ing, and outright winning races!

The team awards placings were fantastic also:

Open A Women

4th Place!!!

Open A Men

5th Place!!!

50+ Men

2nd Place!!!

As we sat there, it really struck me how amazing these achievements are. As a free-for-everyone running club, we were strongly in the rankings in a great deal of categories. This takes the hard work and dedication of so many people throughout the year and helps put those team stats emails into context. The 50+ men was particularly fun to see announced since a lot of them were with with us on Thursday, including our newest recruit, Masamichi.

Overall, as a celebration of NYC running, and of our team, it was a great event. The part that really impressed me however was just how incredible the folks with the higher age awards were. It felt like the numbers just kept cycling up, including men and women in their 70s and 80s who had run more than 20 NYRR races in the last year. As someone who got into running a bit later in my life, it was truly inspiring to see all that they continue to achieve, and really made me realize the role that running can play in my life for the long term. I left feeling very inspired and a little less annoyed at having to run in the terrible cold weather the next day. 

Oh, and as an English awkward dancer, I briefly danced awkwardly. It wasn’t pretty. Bring on the NBR Gala!



February Runner of the Month: Seth Pompan

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Seth Pompan showed up to his first NBR run in November 2016, the day after that year’s New York City Marathon. Having completed a couple of marathons in 2012 and 2013, he’d caught an itch to attempt another. But he’d only do it if he could train with a group.

Today, Seth loves the sense of community he’s found through NBR. “I love the support we provide each other, because out there on the road, we’re all in the thick of it trying to do our best,” he says. As a kid whose gym teacher once informed his mom that he’d never be able to run a mile, Seth appreciates that the club helps him both attain his running goals and give back to the community through volunteering at races and places like the food bank. “Even though I ran on my own for years, I don’t think I considered myself a ‘runner’ until I joined NBR.” 

Favorite race distance: The half marathon. “It’s a distance that you have to dedicate yourself to training for, but you can still walk to brunch or the bar afterwards. You’ll find me at both most likely.”

Favorite NBR run: Monday Night Easy Run (he’s one of the run leaders). “It was my first run with NBR, and I always like how there’s a mix of experienced runners just looking for a shakeout run and a lot of beginners who are just starting out. Also, our paces are usually pretty conversational, so I treat it as a social run. I also have to make special mention of Saturday Narwhals with the Caboose Crew we formed. I always say I don’t love the actual marathon, but I do enjoy the training, and part of that was hanging out all summer with the 10min/mi group getting into those double-digit long runs.”  

Favorite race: Liverpool Half Marathon. “It was awesome to run down Penny Lane and past Strawberry Fields, by all these places referenced in Beatles songs.” 

Showing off the medal after the Liverpool Half Marathon

Showing off the medal after the Liverpool Half Marathon

Best running memory: “There really is no better memory than finishing your first marathon and realizing you’re allowed to stop moving, but recently there was another time where everything mostly came together.  Two weeks after the Chicago marathon, my friends James, Natalie, Liz and Anthony convinced me over drinks to sign up for the NYC Runs Brooklyn Half as an experiment to see if I could turn slower distance training into speed. Day of the race, I put everything I had into it and ran great until the last 5K which were the hills of Prospect Park. I’m struggling up the big hill, and all of a sudden, Caitlin finds me in the park and starts pacing me.  When I get to the top of the hill, Carrie is there cheering. Literally half a mile from the finish my hamstring locks up, I have to stop and stretch on Caitlin, and hobble to the finish. I missed beating a five year PR by 44 seconds, but it was okay. It was a special experience realizing I had the confidence to push myself, and that my friends and teammates were there for me and had my back.” 

What running’s taught him: “It reinforces the notion that if you put time and effort into something, you’ll see results. I’ve also used running as another way to get out of my comfort zone. Whether it’s a race or a different type of run or distance, there’s always a way to challenge yourself.”  

Favorite post-race food: “There hasn’t been anything better than eating Chicago-style hot dogs after PRing the Chicago Marathon.”  

Favorite piece of running gear: The NBR singlets made for the Naragansett Beer Running Festival. “It has a running beer can on it, which sums up that trip and my running philosophy perfectly.”

Favorite music to get pumped up for a run: LCD Soundsystem. “I grew up playing drums and guitar, so my running playlist is a lot of ‘90s rock to which I subtly (or sometimes not so subtly) air drum or guitar to.”

Favorite pro runner: “I don’t follow the pro scene that much, but I was in Berlin cheering on some NBR friends when Eliud Kipchoge broke the marathon world record. He ran by us in a blur, but you couldn’t not be excited to see him live.”

Favorite running social media account: Peter Ciacca’s Instagram. “I entered NYRR races soon after I started running, and up until a few months ago, he was always the voice going over race instructions before the start gun. I had no idea he was this tatted up former music manager. Now he’s retired, but it’s fun seeing his adventures around the world.”

Advice for running newbies: “Just keep at it and it literally doesn’t matter how fast you get there. It could take a while to get to a groove where you don’t need to stop or to get to your desired pace. You have to allow it to happen over time. Oh, also, don’t forget the body glide. #chafingisreal”

Current running goals: To PR at the NYC Half, go for sub-2 at the Brooklyn Half, and then PR at the Chicago Marathon again in October. “Maybe have some fun, too. I’ve rarely had time or speed goals, but I’ve decided this will be my year to set some ambitious goals for myself.” 

Fun fact: “I grew up a very heavy kid and was not very active. In like 6th grade, my gym teacher gave me a bad grade because I basically couldn’t do laps around the soccer field and said something to my mom like, ‘He’ll never be able to run a mile.’ I always dedicate a mile in my races to him. Living well is the best revenge. Also, full disclosure, I started running just so I could impress a girl who had recently run a marathon. That never worked out, but I obviously kept up with the running.” 

Coaches Corner: Train for a 5K with Becca Ades

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Looking to nail a faster 5K? Look no further than NBR coach Becca Ades. She’s developed a 12-week training plan specifically for the 5K distance, adapted from legendary coach Pete Pfitzinger’s program. And she’s leading an NBR training group to help runners gear up for the Boston Athletic Association’s 5K (which takes over Beantown’s streets just two days before the Boston Marathon).

With a PR of 17:36, and a few recent local 5K wins under her belt, Becca loves the versatility of the distance: It can be a low-key fun run, or a serious test of your speed—and grit.

“And at the end of the day, if things don’t go as planned, you have what, six minutes to get through? That’s nice, too.”  

She created a program of speed, tempo, and lactate threshold workouts for runners who are serious about putting in the work to get a faster time.  

The furious intensity of 5K races pushes you past lactate threshold pace, with your body relying on its anaerobic system. Which means you need to train for it differently than you would for longer distances where you’re running more slowly and using your aerobic system.

“You will work your way up from both the top end (speed work) and the bottom end (tempos), and gradually start putting your 5K together through different track pace work and short time trials,” Becca explains.

Her other 5K tips?

Have a goal pace in mind. “This will help you mentally prepare during the workouts and give you the confidence you need for race day.”

Find a pacing strategy that works for you. “Word on the street is the best 5Ks are run with a fast first mile, slower second mile, and fast third mile. I think when I’m in the best shape, I view the 5K as a one-mile race: You’re running the first two miles at pace to get to the last mile and hold on for dear life. Prefontaine once famously said, ‘No one will ever win a 5,000-meter by running an easy two miles. Not against me.’ So, you know, take everything with a grain of salt ☺”

Once you hit the start line, believe in your training, execute your race plan, and be your biggest supporter. “If things turn south, set mini-goals during the race, like, ‘I’m going to keep up with the guy in the orange shirt,’ or ‘I’m going to push as hard as I can to the big red building.’ The same things you do in a workout, do in a race.”   

Want to join Becca’s training group? Email her at rebecca.ades@gmail.com.

Becca Ades

Team Stats Look Back

It’s been 10 years since the three runners sharpied “NBR” on their shirts and raced as a team. In 2009, 76 runners raced under NBR that year. That number grew to 596 in 2018.

 

NBR has been getting a lot more masters runners out to races. There were 8 in 2009 and 140 in 2018.

 

NBR has been consistently adding new members. Thank you New Member Coordinators and Run Leaders for always being so welcoming!

 

This goes for masters runners too. Note that the chart below only includes runners who first join NBR as Masters and not runners already on NBR who turn 40.

 

NBR continues to have a big presence at NYRR races with 2418 finishes last year with 588 of those finishes from Masters runners.

 

The most popular distance in 2018 was the half marathon with 586 finishes. The half has a big lead all time too with 4185 total finishes.

 

Cumulatively, NBR ran 21,658 miles last year and masters runners ran 5,334 of those miles! That’s almost enough to run around the world. Maybe we’ll get there next year.

 

And here are the runners that go beyond 9+1 and helped us get those total miles up.

 

In NYRR’s Club Points standings, NBR finished 5th and 4th in the Open A Men and Women’s categories. This means we’ll be taking home top 5 award plaques! For Masters 40+, NBR finished 5th and 12th. And in Masters 50+, NBR finished 2nd and 22nd. There’ll be another plaque for NBR in the Masters 50+ category. Below are number of points races each runner has scored in. There are usually 3 or 5 scorers per race, but NBR dozens of runners score and dozens more who also trained and finished just outside the top spots. Thank you to everyone who showed up and raced throughout the year!

Happy 2019 and good luck on all your races!

-Logan

NYC Marathon Recap: Wataru Iwata

After finishing 3:16:51 at the Philadelphia Marathon in 2017, I was poised to do more “fast runs” in my training.

When I met Meb at the NYC Half expo in 2017, I asked him, “What is the most important training for a 3:15-3:20 guy to try to break 3:00.” His immediate answer was “long tempo runs!” So, one thing I changed in my training schedule was to join the Local Competitive Group runs on Saturdays.

We usually meet at the BP gas station by Kent Avenue/Williamsburg Street West around 8-8:30am and run for 10-15 miles. The pace depends on who joins on any given day, but is usually between 6:30-7:30/mile. It was bit intimidating at beginning, as 6:30/mile is pretty much my hard race pace. But my basic approach was:  “If you want to race like LC guys, you need to train like LC guys” and this was perfect for the “Long Tempo Runs” I needed.

After 6-8 Saturdays in January and February, my plan was going well leading up to the NYC Half Marathon in mid March. I not only crossed the 10K mark 10 seconds faster than my PR (ok, it is mostly downhill to Manhattan Bridge from GAP…) and I came to finish within 30 seconds of my half marathon PR I set in the 2017 Brooklyn Half. The NYC Half Marathon course is lot harder as you need to tackle Central Park Cat hill & West Side rolling hills at the last 3-4 miles, whereas the Brooklyn Half you do hills at the beginning and it ends with a long downhill for the last 6 miles.

I had registered for the Rotterdam Marathon for mid April, which is a pancake flat course (Kipchoge had won in 2014 with 2:05) and I was feeling confident of shaving some serious minutes off 3:16. However, a few days after the NYC Half, disaster hits me.

The last snow of winter 2017-18 with wet snow…

I was walking my dog and slipped and fell in such strange way that overstretched my left ankle. I never felt that kind of sharp pain that so at first I thought I broke my ankle! Long story short, I couldn’t run for 3 months, missing not only Rotterdam, but important club point races like the Brooklyn Half Marathon & the Healthy Kidney 10K.

Just few days before the Queens 10K in June, I started jogging lightly and “jogged” in Queens 10K race. In the 3 months that I couldn’t run between March and June, I was really frustrated, as with any injury, you really don’t know how soon you can resume running. I tried to be positive as I had more time to do core and upper body training. I always thought I am built “too light” and strength training could benefit my running.

I also resumed LC Saturday runs in July and, again, that built lot of confidence leading to the Bronx 10 Miles and Staten Island Half Marathon. In the Bronx 10 Miles, I improved my previous year’s PR by 50 seconds. I shaved 45 seconds off my 2017 Brooklyn Half Marathon record for a 1:26:09 in the Staten Island Half.

I was feeling confident of improving my PR in the New York City Marathon, but in any Marathon, pacing is the key to success. I was debating within myself how fast I should go on first 10 miles. If I go too fast, it might end in disaster but if I go too conservative, I won’t achieve good result… Huge dilemma… I thought I am not quite ready to go sub 3 (at least in the NYCM course), so I set my target to somewhere around 3:05:00.

In the meantime, the NBR G-Masters [Grand Masters] group were in a quest for podium finish in annual standing. We had 2 key injury drop outs in Bronx 10 Miles and also facing only two participants (Gregg Baldinger & myself) in NYCM, which meant “no points” in that race.

Only at the last minute before the race, we recruited a new member and we went to the race with 3 participants. This meant, I couldn’t afford an “all or nothing” race strategy. I not only wanted good results for myself, but also for the team.

Gregg and I discussed very similar strategy of starting first 10 miles at 7:00/mile pace and see how we are feeling. From all prediction apps (based on training mileage, pace and recent race time), my realistic goal was somewhere between 3:05-3:09.

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(RACE)

Mile 1: 8:27 (Uphill on the Verazzano Bridge and no warm up.) It’s really hard to properly warm up in these large event as we are escorted to corrals in the way that there is no space to move around (this is something I need to remember for future). I wasn’t sure if my GPS was working properly, so I paid no attention to first mile pace.

Mile 2: 6:31 (Downhill on Bridge)  Wasn’t really sure if it was GPS fail or actual pace. So, no attention paid here either. I just didn’t want to trip and fall on the downhill and some uneven ground and some discarded layers of clothing.

Mile 3: 6:54 

Mile 4: 6:48

Mile 5: 6:42

Mile 6: 6:51 Through the street of Bay Ridge, Sunset Park to Downtown Brooklyn, I spotted several of my friends and so far, the pace was good and I was feeling comfortable. Just paying close attention to be in good rhythm. The weather was perfect with no wind and good temperature.

Mile 7: 6:46 

Mile 8: 6:56 Received my first Maurten from Seth. Thank you, Seth!!

Mile 9: 6:57  

Mile 10: 6:54  

Mile 11: 6:55

Mile 12: 6:58 Best feeling seeing all my team mates @ mile 12 water table!  Thank you for cup of water, Zoe!!

Mile 13: 6:55 Going up and down on Pulaski Bridge, I started feeling bit of discomfort in my ankle.

Mile 14: 6:56

Mile 15: 7:16 Queensborough Bridge. Didn’t hit my mile pace target, but still not panicked. I kept myself composed.

Mile 16: 7:18

Mile 17: 7:02 

Mile 18: 6:59 Getting back to my target pace but starting to feel some pain around my ankle…...

Mile 19: 7:04

Mile 20: 7:14 Pain getting worse all over my lower body

Mile 21: 7:09

Mile 22: 7:08

Mile 23: 7:24 Climbing 5th avenue hill was most difficult point of the race 

Mile 24: 7:4 I was in maximum pain around here climbing 5th Avenue’s long uphill

Mile 25: 7:45 Getting inside of Central Park, I started feeling cramp in my calf and thighs and couldn’t keep the pace in fear of cramp “popping” to end my race. I had to be cautious.

Mile 26: 7:45 Last climb from Columbus Circle to finish line, I saw Gregg passing me and shouting to finish strong. Thank you Gregg for last push.

Finish: I finished in 3:07:44, 5 seconds behind Gregg.

Thank you, Gregg for pacing (each other), pushing (each other) and encouraging (each other)!! We will repeat duel next year! It’s about a 9 minute PR and I was happy to achieve the 3 hours and single digit I was aiming for, but I also wanted to go little faster.

My first reflection was that from mile 23, I started losing strength and started cramping. It could have been over pace in the beginning, up and down on multiple bridges, or other reasons, but I pledge to work more on my strength training (i.e core, lunges, squats, calf raises etc). My other reflection is that, because I had to skip Spring Marathon in 2018, I had bit of anxiety over 26.2 mile pace management. I will also keep on doing Saturdays LC runs and try to keep up with lead group, aiming for a sub3 race in Spring 2019 Marathon! Last but not least, I wanted to thank all people that support not only this wonderful event, but also running in general, my team mates, volunteers and my family.  Also, thanking God, I am healthy enough to challenge 26.2 miles of adventures we all love!

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The Marathon is My Home

I ran my 20th marathon on October 7, 2018, in my hometown of Chicago. It was 21 years after running my first.

My previous marathon was also in Chicago, in 2015. Two events happened since then that taught me nothing was guaranteed, that we can’t take anything for granted. One was tearing my ACL on a freak bike accident. I remember after falling, face against the pavement on Kent Avenue, not knowing the severity of what had happened, staring down into the distance, wondering if I would run Tigerwolves in two days, and that, if not, I would certainly to able to run Doves in three days. I had been training for the New York Marathon. In reality, it was eight months until my next run. The other event was a boat that my wife and I owned and operated as a dinner boat, The Revolution, was hit by a tug and was damaged beyond repair. Our business ended because a Captain wasn’t paying attention to his surroundings. My running came to a halt because my bike wheel grazed another’s while riding, I lost my balance and fell, a block from my house.

You hear these annoying cliches, all of the time:

“Be present.”
“Treat each moment as if it could be your last.”
“Be grateful for the opportunities that you have.”  

But it’s impossible to truly and fully understand what they all mean until some event shows them to be true–specifically to you and to your life.

Surgery came–the operation required tendons being taken from my hamstring, magically turned into a new ACL, and then attached to place in my knee. Physical therapy and rehab ensued and continued. Eight months after my ACL injury, I ran outside for 2 clunky miles. I limped. I had lost the ability to jump on my leg that was operated on. My quad had shrunken with atrophy, despite my hours rehabbing.

Several months and miles later, I entered the lottery for the Chicago Marathon in 2018. It was a total lark. At that point, I had been able to run 35-40 miles a week and had run a half marathon. But maybe that was all I could do, now. I didn’t know. More miles were run, hours spent in the gym, visits to The Finish Line continued.

Chicago training started in June. I would think of each week as it’s own goal. I’ll just go week-by-week and see what happens. It’s an experiment. Everything is an experiment. Maybe what’s possible is bigger than I know. The weeks went by, mileage increased, new friends were made training, I told people I would know if I were running the marathon once I was at the starting line.

Two weeks before the race, I had actually booked my ticket to Chicago. The possibility was becoming more real. One week out, my IT band hurt without any warning. Stairs were hard, I tried to remain calm and do everything to recover.

Marathon Sunday.

My wife and I drove downtown, in the warm rain, from my parent’s house. I was meeting Matt and Aaron. I got out of the car on Michigan Avenue, the sight of runners flocking to the start. Their smiles, nervous laughter, foreign accents, mindless chit-chat. I’ve been in this scene before, but today it felt new. I cried a few tears, feeling such gratitude to witness this and believe I, too, belonged here on this day. I was about to take on this same journey as everyone here. If this was the end of the day for me, it would be enough. Just these few minutes of being here. The rain camouflaged my tears, I saw Matt and we hugged. He made fun of me, and everything felt right.

My goal for the race was to smile from mile 24 to the end. It was totally separate from any time goal, like that was for people in another universe to be concerned with. I had trained to run probably something between 3:35 and 3:40. Not my fastest, but that was irrelevant. Aaron and I would start the race together with the 3:35 pace group. I couldn’t believe this was happening. The last minute sorting out of yourself: gear check, waiting in line for porta-potties. The walk to the start line. The views of skyline. The pre-marathon music. The hope that each and every runner surrounding me has, in order to get to this point. My own story...one star in the galaxy of 44,571 others. My story here is just a speck. We are all little specks.

The early miles go by and Aaron and I try to settle into a pace. It is raining harder. I miss seeing my wife at mile 3. Our GPS splits are incomprehensible. We go by the Lakefront–where my friends and I would drive to during high school, in the darkness of summer nights in our parent’s cars.

Mile 7, mile 8. I still can’t quite grasp this is happening–I’m feeling as if this experience, in this race, after so many components of recovery and so many doubts, was opening a door to brand new landscape of meaning–one of gratitude. One that words don’t quite capture. It is the opposite of the pressure and the punishment we can put on ourselves as runners. Opposite of the feeling when we miss a PR by seconds, when our time doesn’t show what we believe we are capable of. When someone beat us who we thought we deserved to beat. I have, of course, thought those thoughts in races before, but it feels distant and fuzzy, as if they were from another person.

Miles 10, 11, heading back downtown. Aaron and I both miss our wives at the half-way point. Rain is pouring down. We are still in the beginning. It feels both ordinary and extraordinary.

Mile 18, and with it, Deirdre and her red hair and her bandana and her stride that is utterly and completely her own. My IT band has been hurting throughout the race when I’ve moved laterally, to water stops and back. At mile 20, someone jostles me and it flares up. I start to slow down, Aaron continues on at our previous pace. Deirdre tells me that each mile I am getting stronger, and I thank her for saying that, knowing each mile is slower than the last at this point. But it doesn’t matter. I am quiet and happy. We keep moving along. My family is waiting for me at mile 23, where they have seen me many times, so many versions of myself, at ages 18, 23, 28, 35, now 39. I search for them, we shout and smile when our eyes meet. A euphoric celebration in the span of seconds. I stop and walk for a bit to rub out my IT band. It’s almost mile 24. My only goal–smile from mile 24 to the end. There is wind, and here I am with everyone else, getting closer to the finish line. I don’t want it to end.

Mile 25 comes. The race officials spot everyone without a bib and Deirdre and I hug, saying goodbye. The right on Roosevelt, then the little hill. I used to watch the Fourth of July fireworks here when I was 15. I try to speed up, only as a formality. I can’t stop smiling. I don’t allow myself to cry until I’m done. 200 meters to go. I don’t want it to end.

The finish.

I think of Kelli, my wife, who has been with me through all kinds of moments in order to get here. I think of thousands of leg lifts, squats, jumps, planks, glute activations and of my physical therapist, Carly. I think of Aaron, hoping he has met his time. Hoping he is happy. I think of Matt, hoping he is also happy. I wonder if Lauren qualified for the trials. I think of my Mom and Dad, my sister, my brother-in-law, my nephew–who may one day run this race. I think of my beloved friends who I’ve made from the running team. I am so lucky. I can’t stop crying. My smile wants to break free from the frame of my face. It’s over. It has happened. I have finished my first marathon with my new knee. The sky is gray. The shimmering sea of the metallic sheets. My heart is big and full. I take some photos with the staged backdrops, just like new marathoners do. It is new for me now, too.

This is the space where I want to live.

The contours of humanity around me, the spectators cheering for strangers, the runners persevering on when the final miles feel truly impossible. The beauty of dreaming. The time between the start and the finish, getting more mysterious and unknown as each mile goes on–in it the capacity for pain, suffering, joy, hope, despair but always an absolute and total requirement of belief. A possibility to astonish oneself. The elasticity of meaning for each and every runner. Each and every speck.

I never want to forget this day, I tell myself. Allow yourself to be proud. Allow yourself to dream. Keep this feeling with you, as long as you can, despite your memory’s attempts to distort and diminish it. Write about it, if only to understand it, if only to preserve it.

3:37:48

Be present.


2018 Chicago & NYC Marathon Race Report - The Victory Lap!

This fall, I tackled the challenge of completing two marathons within four weeks, in Chicago and our great city of New York! The New York City marathon also marked an end to my two year tenure as NBR President & Team Captain. It's been a hell of a ride... physically, this was the first marathon training cycle I was able to stay healthy through in four years, mostly due to the training I did in our NBR group runs. I set a new personal record in Chicago and accomplished a new feat by crossing two marathon finish lines in one season. Concurrently, while serving as NBR leadership handling event planning, public relations, human resources and general maintenance for the club, I've been constantly reminded of the wonderful support network and community our team represents. This marathon season in particular, our best attributes were constantly on display. 

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Chicago marathon weekend, dozens of NBRs travelled to the windy city not only to run the marathon, but also to serve as 5k finishers, cheer squads, support networks, donut run & post-race organizers, partners in travel and celebration! I can't imagine there's any other run club on the planet that sends almost as many people to cheer and support their teammates as it does marathon runners to an out of town race. It is astounding, heartwarming and makes me excessively happy to be a part of the club and to call you all friends. While my travel to Chicago was a whirlwind, I was ecstatic when my NBR "Just Central" training partners Lisa & Pete managed to find me in the start corrals to joke around, take photos, offer words of encouragement and help shake out the nerves before the race. Even more touching was seeing Polly Jones and John Riccardi cheering out on the course - two club members who departed Brooklyn for a life in Wisconsin, but still made the effort to come out and support us all on race day! I ran the fastest 18 miles of my life through a rainy, but amazing race course, before hitting the wall around mile 19. My friend Anna Spinner caught up to me at a Biofreeze station & we cheered each other on to finish strong. About a mile later, NBR speedster and photographer Drew Reynolds was there to yell at me for walking (a fairly constant theme for me through both the Chicago and NYC races.) I laughed and charged ahead back into a RUN, eventually finishing with a 6 minute marathon PR, after four years of failed attempts. At the finish line, my frequent NBR cohorts and corral partners Kevin & Pete were waiting for me to toast beers to our PRs, and take celebratory photos. My post-race planning was effortless, as teammates Alena and Anne organized a great party at Ballast Point Brewery where the entire NBR squad celebrated our collective accomplishments with great beer and food for HOURS. (Polly even loaned me her NBR Warm-up jacket to wear and stink up, when I arrived in my singlet and heat sheet - if that's not camaraderie, I don't know what is!) I was beyond inspired to hear all my teammates' race day stories. A highlight was hearing that NBR training-mates Q and Becca both ran sub-three hour marathons for the first time, and did much of it TOGETHER. 

Upon returning home to Brooklyn, I was unsure whether I would honor my registration into the upcoming New York City Marathon a few weeks later. But after one easy and low-mileage week, I really felt great and had no problem getting back into my 50 mile per week marathon training regime. At the Front Runners Blue-Line Run where we preview the marathon course, I was able to comfortably run 18 miles along with several teammates, and was convinced I had it in me to get the job done at the NYC race.  

NYC marathon weekend has just come to a close, and was nothing short of spectacular! Saturday night was spent deliciously carb loading in Little Italy with the NBR teammates I trained most with this season, through hot, steamy and at times apocalyptic rainy conditions: Bev, Amit & Pete. The Sunday morning trek to the start line  was equally enjoyable, as we all met up together again in the Blue Start camp, along with Jenna, Luis and Liz. While getting pumped up in our Blue Wave 2 start corral, we even found a full stick of body glide on the ground, and hilariously passed it around for collective use. (The team that shares bodily fluids through body glide sticks is truly living the dream!) Under the cloudless sky and perfect temperature, at the sound of the start cannon and Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York," we slowly made our way to the start line and I traversed the Verrazano bridge alongside Liz Shea - it being her first NYC Marathon, she blissfully sighed "this is surreal," and I was ready to run! 

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Running, I did - starting about as fast and strong as I had a few weeks prior in Chicago. The race course was extremely crowded for several miles along 4th Ave and Lafayette, and being the shortest in the pack made it difficult to see much of the cheering onlookers. I did hear my name shouted out several times along the way, so I know my NBR teammates were there! While running alongside teammate Becky, she agreed the crowds were a bit much but had decided to stick in the pack, as I dodged and weaved down 4th Ave. I also ran alongside several NBRs looking happy and fresh in their singlets. (In case you didn't know, our club is HUGE.)  The Gospel choir that sang along Lafayette Ave., and the Lil Kim song "Lighter's Up" playing in my BedStuy neighborhood got me even more pumped to continue on the course. In Williamsburg, Rebecca and Katie were easily recognizable, as they are also short and at my eye level. We all excitedly screamed and jumped up and down. At our infamous mile 12 water table, the great Jose Lasalle announced my arrival on the megaphone, and all my beloved volunteering teammates glanced up from their watering duties and gave a shout! It was hard not to excitedly sprint through that tunnel... 

Unfortunately, between Mile 12 and the Pulaski bridge, my energy severely wained. It was overly optimistic to have started the race in similar fashion to the one I had completed just a few weeks prior. My NYC Marathon options were now two-fold: I would struggle through the second half of the race, or call it a day and be proud of what I had done in the month. I was ready to walk off the Pulaski and head straight to the G train to head home, when John Slaski strode up beside me. He asked how I was feeling and I told him I was about to quit. In wonderful Brooklyn fashion he said "Awwww, come ON!!! You got most of it done already. Just take it easy and finish!" In that moment, John's words were nothing short of heroic, and I decided to continue the race and just enjoy myself. (THANK YOU JOHN!)

And enjoy myself, I did! After waving hi to Alun in Queens, I slowly trekked onto the quiet Queensboro bridge, where I shouted and cheered for the runners around me, trying to keep everyone (and myself) pumped up! Along 1st Avenue at Mile 17, a pub was giving out dixie cups of beer - I ran up and asked for a full one, and someone hilariously delivered me a mug of beer instead. I stood at the side of the road, enjoyed what I think was a Pilsner, spectated and cheered others along the course. (I also made video to let my family know I was ok.) A little further down the road, Teammate Sarah Bacon was dressed in a bacon costume and I ran up to her screaming "BAAAAACCCCCOOOONNNN!!!!" I did some dancing in the Bronx, particularly when the DJ played "Jenny From The Block." Over the last 9 miles, several NBR teammates witnessed my strong walking capabilities and encouraged me on, including Radford, Kevin and most hilariously Annie, who got me to run again, straight into another person. (If anyone complains of a 5' girl tackling them on 5th avenue around mile 23, it was me.) So yeah... I ran-walked my way into and through Central Park, but did finish strong with a full-out run through 59th Street and up to Tavern on the Green! I'm not sure I ever had as big a smile on my face as at that race finish; I'm still stunned I finished in under 5 hours.  The fun I had over the course of the day continued with all of you at the after-party where I was thrilled to learn of all the incredible accomplishments and moments you all shared throughout the day. I even witnessed a group hug between our Grandmasters men, as they discovered they had collectively come in 2nd place of all the clubs competing!

This race was indeed my victory lap after an incredible season of training, an all-out wonderful year personally (I also started a new job,) and a happy end to my tenure as NBR President.  I could not have asked for a better experience or group of people to share all of it with! It has been a pleasure running, racing and representing all of you!!

NYC Marathon Team Spot Check-In: Ali Fenwick

 

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 ran the hurdles way back in high school but hadn’t done much running since when I first moved to the neighborhood in the fall of 2009. That’s when I first heard about the club from a roommate of mine. According to NYRR, it wasn’t until 2012 that I officially ran a race under the NBR flag and I can’t remember my first NBR training run but it must have made a good impression because since then, I’ve volunteered for four years at NBR’s NYC Marathon Mile 12 water table under the legendary leadership of Jose LaSalle and I lead the Community Outreach team that organizes volunteering opportunities for NBR members while also helping to manage NBR’s social media presence.

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.
This will be my first-ever marathon so it’s going historically well! Karina Christiansen agreed to be my coach after Radford Lathan told me to hire her and Karina’s calm and steadying guidance has been a godsend. (Sidenote: Listen to Radford, she is always right). Having a coach and a weekly prescription of workouts has taken the guesswork out of training for me and kept me accountable. I learned early on in July with a strained calf muscle that it is my job to show up healthy at the starting line. That week of NOT running was honestly the hardest part of marathon training, but I now know that the fitness lost by taking a few days off to heal an injury is not going to make a real difference in the end and is certainly not worth showing up at Fort Wadsworth hurt. An inflamed right knee that has recently forced me to take a break from running and turn to yoga and swimming in these last two weeks is really testing that conviction right now, but I feel confident I can make it to the starting line feeling good, which will be a win all by itself.

Which isn’t to say I don’t have goals - everything is a PR when it’s your first marathon, and I think I can realistically finish under 4:30:00, but I really have no idea what I will do. Somewhere along the way to training me for a marathon, Karina turned me into a (relatively) fast 5K and half-marathon runner! I smashed my previous 5K best back in August at a PPTC speed series race with an 8:01 milesplit and I ran my first sub-2 half at my hometown half-marathon in Ocean City, NJ, thanks to running with or chasing Marie Figueredo for most of the race. It was a 13 minute improvement on my previous best! So who knows, maybe I’ll surprise myself in the marathon too! Then again, I can see myself veering all over the course in distraction to see familiar faces and collect every high five I can get.

As far as a good long-run story, the Narwhals run to Rockaway Beach on a blazing hot July day this year, followed by jumping in the ocean and air-drying on the high speed ferry home left a real impression on me and showed me that long runs weren’t torture, but FUN. That was my first time running farther than half marathon distance, and I felt like a pioneer woman forging unknown territory, which is honestly the most exciting part of being a marathon newbie. Every long run you do is an all-time world record. I’ll miss that if I ever marathon again. 

Then there were several times my teammates straight up saved my life during a long run: Once when I tripped on a sidewalk because I forgot that when you run you have to pick up your feet and Seth Pompan, who was running in front of me, broke my fall. (Thanks and also sorry, Seth!) And the time that a group of us, including another Team Spot runner, Alisa Mead, hid under an awning right before the on-ramp to the Brooklyn Bridge when the sky suddenly turned black and our cell phones lit up with flood watch advisories as we found ourselves in the middle of a torrential downpour. A Florida native used to tropical weather, Alisa had the sense to halt the group before running onto the highest possible structure in the middle of a lightning storm and made us wait until the count between thunder and lightning was at least 10 before she’d let us venture out. Thanks for saving my life, literally and figuratively, NBR!

Other fun long run memories include not running at all: There’s the time Susan Juray, Ellie Frame and I stopped at the delightful Sunset Park Diner for a bathroom break halfway through a 20 miler and I bought a glazed donut to justify our use of the facilities. Donuts are the new energy gels, guys! Then there was the time I only had to run 16 miles while everyone else around me needed 18, so I hopped on a Citibike and designated myself as bike marshal for Anna-Sierra Anderson, Rachel Hazes and Jennifer Buonocore — dinging my bell and generally making an obnoxious racket to announce our presence as we traveled through Greenpoint. They asked me to sing out loud to distract them and it’s hard to remember lyrics when your brain is foggy after a long run, but I obliged and I think I did a pretty decent version of Tiffany’s “I Think We’re Alone Now” and Celine Dion’s “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now.” The setlist also included “Eye of the Tiger” and White Snake’s “Here I Go Again.” Passers-by apparently filmed it, so it must have been good.

(Pro tip: I learned early on from the wise wizard Jordan Harrison that riding a bike is the ideal cooldown after a long run. You’re moving, but using different muscles and not pounding your joints and it all helps flush out lactic acid, resulting in less soreness the day after. Also, sometimes I had to bike home because L train weekend shutdowns are the way we live now.)

3. Which NBR runs are you attending regularly to train? Are there any NBR members who inspire you to train hard (er)?
I love the camaraderie of the Monday Night Easy Run, the pure (and temporary) pain of Tuesday Night Tempo Runs and the occasional Tigerwolves ice cream sandwich or Moneghetti run, and without the Saturday Narwhals crew and occasional Sunday Funday jaunt, I would be utterly lost. Respect to the folks who can somehow embark on a 10+ mile run on their own, but I need the pod to get me out the door. Not to mention the great routes that someone else chooses. I’ve run to so many places I would never think to go - to Rockaway Beach, to Four Freedoms Park at the tip of Roosevelt Island, Astoria, around Greenwood Cemetery, to Red Hook, the Ridgewood Reservoir up in Highland Park, over the Brooklyn Bridge on a Saturday, and it’s been an adventure every time. Not only is is fun to explore new parts of the city, joining the weekend long runs takes all the stress out of choosing a route. If it were up to me, I’d probably have worn a groove into the pavement doing loops between my house and the other side of the Pulaski Bridge by now.

My fellow Team Spot recipient, Lilly Stevens inspires me. She’s the mom of a busy two-year-old, is pursuing a PhD, lives in the faraway land of central Brooklyn which make it harder to join long runs and she just never quits. And Vito Aiuto, who was training for the Brooklyn Marathon and stepped up when an extra NYC marathon team spot became available, is a warm, kind and easygoing presence on any run. Vito is a pastor and just today he texted me that he’s praying for my knee, which made my knee AND my heart both feel instantly better. And I look up to Alisa, who has a very even-keeled approach - she never seems to get worked up about the dumb details that obsess me (like what is the best way to put my name on my singlet, or should I put it on my bib?) and she has taught how important it is to just listen to your body. Don’t wear the sneakers that everyone has that hurt your feet. It’s okay to peace out a few miles into a run if you’re not feeling well. And if you want to run TWO marathons in one cycle, like she did tackling Berlin last month and now NYC, you can do that, too. She’s a total badass.

Long time NBR’ior Meg Duffy, who also happens to be my neighbor, has become a new running buddy and invaluable sounding board throughout this marathon training cycle and I’m so grateful for all the times she met me on the corner for a run, even on the most humid summer mornings. She also introduced me to Worksong Acupuncture on Driggs, which lets you pay on a sliding scale and which I have enlisted to help with my knee in this last week. Doing all the things!

And the North Brooklyn ‘Reckers Hood to Haven “roller derby” relay crew are my ride-or-dies and the back-of-the-pack Narwhals’ “Caboose Crew” are also my people. I think someone coined the term when a group of us —  Alisa, Seth, Susan and Rebecca Hirschklau —  made a stop at the Socrates Sculpture Park on the return leg of a long run. I love that this club makes room for everyone and every pace - NBR is truly what you make of it. You get out what you put in.

And once again, Karina is the best and even though she is a super fast fastie, she took the time to loop me in on her daily runs many more times than I ever expected her to, including waking up really early on a weekday to pace me on a 14 mile run before work once because I was out of town that weekend (Meg was there, too!). Karina taught me along the way that running isn’t about speed and fast times, it’s about time and relative effort, listening to your body and having fun. The speed and fast times follow. She once said, “There must by joy,” and I have adopted this as my mantra. If it’s a total grind, you’re doing it wrong. And I think that goes for anything.

4. What does it mean to be chosen by your peers for a coveted NBR  marathon team spot?  I feel SO honored to be have been chosen for a team spot. I’ve volunteered at the NBR Mile 12 water table for years and I’m a strong believer in legendary marathoner, Kathrine Switzer’s famous aphorism, “If you're ever losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon."

This year marks a decade of living in New York City for me and I think Marathon Sunday is the best day in the city the whole year - all your fellow New Yorkers from all walks of life let down their tough-guy guard for one day to cheer on a melting pot of strangers embarking on a 26.2 mile mission that amounts to what is a really difficult, dumb idea with a huge payoff at the end. Which is kind of what living in New York City is: a really difficult, dumb idea — but with magical rewards. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate ten years of the struggle and success of living in NYC than to run the marathon. It feels like a valedictory, like a this-is-your-life victory lap tour of the five boroughs. I will probably laugh or cry, or both. Probably at Mile 12 when I see all of my NBR teammates and almost definitely at the finish line.

It’s a little overwhelming to think about because as a spectator on Marathon Sunday, you feel weirdly proud of all these strangers who are all doing this insane thing and it feels so great to cheer, shout their names and get a laugh or a smile. It’s human connection. And no matter what’s going on in the world, you feel for a couple hours like maybe this crazy, sweet, vulnerable, fumbling, foolish human race is going to be okay. I can’t imagine how great it will feel to be on the receiving end of all those cheers, smiles and high-fives. I get emotional just thinking about it.

5. What do you plan on eating post-marathon? What about the night before?
Immediately post-marathon, I am going to have a bottle of the full-fat chocolate milk from Ronnybrook Dairy stand, which is at the McCarren Farmers’ Market every Saturday. And when I get back to the neighborhood, I want a Hot Breast fried chicken sandwich with biscuits and honey butter at The Commodore. The day before, I plan to eat the Japanese breakfast at Okonomi, which is such a delicious comfort food treat - rice, a runny egg, miso soup and delicious roasted fish. I’m told that lunch the day before the marathon should actually be your biggest meal, not dinner. So I might hit up Hummus Market in my neighborhood for their shakshuka with homemade warm pita and dinner will be a bowl of rice with whatever poké Gary at Acme Fish Co. comes up with that week. That has become my go-to pre-long run meal, borne out of many months of doing the Salmon Run and hitting up Fish Friday. You know I’ll be first in line at Acme on Friday, Nov. 2!

6. What inspires and motivates you to run this year's NYC marathon?
It’s a funny thing because I have a journalism background and I know that of all the stories that behind the 50,000 runners at this year’s race, "Woman Runs First Marathon" is not a headline. But even though my marathon journey isn’t a terribly good story, the decision to race and embark on the training it involves has represented a lot of change, growth and introspection for me. So I run for a lot of selfish reasons, but my mom is also a big reason why I chose to tackle this daunting distance. She was the healthiest person when she had a hemorrhagic stroke nearly 10 years ago and lost the use of her right side. She now walks with a cane, drives with a modified brake and steering wheel, taught herself to write and paint with her left hand and goes through her day without complaint - even though the sheer amount of effort it takes her to just get dressed in the morning would be enough to make most people give up. She’s too stoic to acknowledge that daily struggle, but her determination humbles me. I think all the time about how lucky I am that I am healthy and have working legs. I’m so grateful to get to use them to do something as hard as what she does every single day. 

7. In your head, what celebrity do you think you most resemble when you're running?
If I’m wearing my long-run braided pigtails, I probably look most like Pippi Longstocking. Or Anne of Green Gables when I wear a French braid and maybe Lara Croft, Tomb Raider, when I wear a braided ponytail. Any braided heroine of your childhood literary or movie dreams, really!