• Teaching Virtual Yoga and Meditation During the Pandemic

    By: Maddie

    I like to look at quarantine as a period for us to be more thrifty with our time and technology, while taking advantage of the opportunity to work on those things we have really wanted to do, but have told ourselves we simply didn’t have the time, space, or energy to accomplish. 

    I was scheduled to lead yoga the day before the NYC Half for CHRC to aid in our race preparation. However, things quickly changed when first the race got cancelled, then our self-organized group half was cancelled, and finally my yoga class. It was really rough facing the reality that everything I was looking forward to or training for were all of a sudden not happening anymore, and this community that had become such a big part of my life this past year was forced to take a pause.

    Someone in the club had loosely suggested that I lead a virtual yoga class in place of my in person class. Initially I felt resistance, as I wasn’t ready for in person gatherings to stop altogether. However, a goal of mine I had held the past 2 or 3 years was to start my own yoga Youtube channel. I had made excuses and procrastinated in the past, telling myself there wasn’t enough time, I didn’t have the proper equipment, and it would be a lot of work to gain a following and stand out among other wonderful yoga videos already out there. 

    “If not now, then when?” Now more than ever was the perfect opportunity to start putting videos out there and building a following. Everyone is at home and craving these kinds of things. So, I hosted my first Facebook Live yoga video, and somewhere around 150 live viewers tuned in the first go! Some even made donations to the class. This was a very exciting and encouraging first step into the realm of virtual yoga. I was even able to give some of the money I received from the class to one of my housemates who was out of work and struggling financially. This felt really good to be of service not only to her, but to those feeling isolated at home and grieving the loss of social interaction. 

    Since then, I have been hosting virtual yoga about once or twice a week. I am starting to build a small following of regular attendees, and by keeping my videos posted on my wall, anyone can come back to rewatch later if they missed the live session. It’s a small step, and something I definitely will continue after the quarantine is over, now that I know it is possible! 

    Aside from my personal yoga, I am fortunate enough to continue my regular day job remotely as a SKY Schools teacher, leading online meditations for teachers, parents, and students. I am learning how to use technology to reach more people in places I previously did not think possible, helping people learn how to use their breath and body movement as a way to combat the stress this time brings and move through it with peace of mind. 

    So, what’s something you’ve always wanted to do but have been making similar excuses about as I once was? A hidden talent? An innovative business idea? If it is something you can share out, just know that people are waiting to listen, to watch, and to learn from you! Facebook live is a wonderful platform to get started, and you will have support from myself and the club! You got this 🙂 

    Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions or are needing some extra inspiration on how to get started and put yourself out there! You can shoot me an email at: maddie.hana.fontaine <at> gmail <dot> com . If you want to join in my free virtual Facebook Live sessions, send me a friend request on Facebook, and let me know you are part of CHRC! (Maddie Hana Fontaine). Finally, if you are interested in learning more about my nonprofit, SKY Schools, you can like our Facebook Page and check out our website: skyschools.org.

  • Madeline on Volunteering with Crown Heights Mutual Aid + Self Care

    Happy May, CHRC! Strange times we’re living in, right? On my end, for the past seven (?) weeks, things have been both incredibly mundane and incredibly stressful. I am privileged enough to continue working from home, and my friends and family have remained well, but like everyone else I am so concerned about the wellbeing and futures of our loved ones and neighbors. I have been saddled with more free time than I’ve had access to in a while, alongside the reduction of outside freedom we’ve all been experiencing, which has led me to have a lot of nervous energy (something with which most runners are abundantly familiar, I’m sure). With this energy, I’ve checked all the quarantine boxes: made sourdough, knit a whole sweater, adopted a kombucha SCOBY, made that frothy coffee thing everyone’s been talking about, ran too much as an attempt to dispel some of that nervous energy and promptly reinjured myself… And once the novelty of not having to commute and being able to work in my pajamas wore off, I quickly became bored and kind of despondent. In the weeks since, I’ve become more and more involved in local mutual aid projects, while trying out some new forms of self-care that I’d previously overlooked, and I’d love to share both with y’all.

    Back in March, when things first started looking dire for NYC, I heard rumblings on the internet about home sewists making masks to donate to hospital workers. I have a sewing machine but hadn’t dusted it off in a few years, but I figured that now was as good of a time as any to try to tame the beast once more. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been sporadically making masks (and a few scrub caps) using a variety of patterns (and hilarious fabric that I found on sale at Joann fabric), and donating them to my friends who work in healthcare for distribution to their coworkers. Recently, Crown Heights Mutual Aid put out a call for makers to donate masks for distribution within the community, so my mask-making energy has been reinvigorated and I’ve churned out (a solid, but paltry) ten/week for donation. 

    Crown Heights Mutual Aid’s main goal during this crisis has been to connect our housebound neighbors with the resources they need – namely, grocery delivery and financial assistance. I have done a few grocery deliveries to our elderly neighbors and each time have been blown away by how kind and thankful the recipients have been. I delivered groceries to my neighbor Olivia, a 67-year-old cancer survivor who lives alone, a few weeks ago, and since then we have been texting on and off – I think we both appreciate the extra human interaction. Because I am young, healthy, have abundant access to (homemade) PPE, and have the spare time, I am happy to brave the horrors of the pandemic grocery store lines to help out those who can’t leave their homes. 

    Through participating in the CHMA network, I’ve also learned a lot about the goals, structure, and history of mutual aid as a whole. In this particular political and economic climate, it’s easy to feel despondent and like there is no way to change things on a broad scale, but participating in mutual aid has been helpful to me in feeling connected to my neighborhood on a deeper level while working on the ground to help offset systemic inequity. If you are interested in learning more, check out these resources: 

    And of course, if you’re interested in joining Crown Heights Mutual Aid, find them on facebook and their website, and join their Slack channel. If you or someone you know needs assistance, you can reach out via phone or text at (917)341-7675 or email at crownheightsmutualaid@gmail.com

    In terms of self-care, like all runners, I’ve taken solace in the few miles I’ve been able to crank out at strange hours of the day and on unfamiliar streets. However, running has been less of a stress reliever than usual, due to the anxiety caused by running near others who aren’t covering their faces, and needing to dodge and weave around pedestrians in order to maintain six feet of distance. On top of all this, running with a face covering is challenging and uncomfortable, and I’ve been struggling with shin splints that just won’t seem to heal for the past few weeks. All of these factors have resulted in me dramatically reducing the amount I’ve been running, which is a shame – I had been training for a half marathon that was due to happen on April 19th, and now I’m nowhere near the weekly mileage I had been expecting to hit by this time in the year. Regardless, something good that has come with my increased time at home is the ability to commit to a 30-day yoga challenge. I have always enjoyed yoga, but rarely practiced at home, opting instead to get one really good workout at a studio, once per week. Now, I’m exploring the side of yoga that is consistent, committed, and grows slowly but surely with sustained practice. I’ve enjoyed spending just a small chunk of each day to learning more and growing slowly stronger and more flexible. I’m hoping that this new habit will be beneficial in my future running (fewer injuries???) and overall health! If you’re interested in joining me on a daily yoga challenge, I highly suggest checking out Yoga with Adriene – she has a few 30-day yoga challenges as well as specialized videos for runners! In terms of one-off classes, I’ve been loving Sky Ting’s livestreams as well as Mala’s live Yoga for Runners classes. 

    That’s all, folks! I miss running with CHRC like nobody’s business, and I can’t wait to get back to those leisurely long runs with the Chill Pace Group. But in the meantime, I hope everyone is staying safe, sane, and sanitized wherever you are, and that the running you’re able to do is keeping you feeling grounded in these trying times.

    Much love,


  • Meet Our Members: Hallie

    I started running as a way to stay active in college, not expecting to fall in love with it. I’d played sports my whole life, but I wasn’t passionate about them. I loved team things—soccer, choir, plays, class discussions. Running was something different. There were no assessments; no one cared how far or fast I’d gone. It was the first activity that felt like it was completely mine, and for a super neurotic, high-achieving kid, this felt like a revelation.

    Turkey Trot in 2017

    Since my love of running was tied up in being by myself, I never really ran with other people, except for the occasional social run with a good friend. But when I started training for the Philadelphia Marathon in 2017 (my first and so far only!), I found myself longing for a community of runners.

    I joined CHRC almost immediately after moving to Crown Heights in summer 2018. Since then, I’ve tried to go to Friday Five and Monday Miles as often as I can. My favorite group run was definitely the pub crawl Bo and John put together. I’m really hoping that can be repeated in some fashion once this is all over!

    Outside of running, I play ultimate frisbee, work at a literary agency, and lift regularly to prevent overuse injuries. I’m not always able to attend CHRC group runs, but I Iove being part of the community. I’ve wanted to find more ways to get involved for a while now, so this past January, I joined the run leader crew. I was hoping to start leading trail runs in March/April, but for obvious reasons that timeline’s been thrown off.

    Instead, I’ve gone back to my roots and re-embraced running alone. I feel immensely lucky to still be running at all—I know not everyone is in a position to do so. With all that’s going on, just being outside and able to move my body feels like a gift.. When I run, I’m able to connect with myself on a deeper level. I can accept any emotions that might come without judgement or fear. Running is cathartic for me; I’ve cried while running more times than I can count. Right now, when all of my emotions feel like they’e been pushed into high gear by the collective grief and trauma we’re facing as a global community, running is the best way I know to allow those emotions to wash over me and access the stillness that exists in the aftermath, if only for a moment.

    The pandemic is a resounding reminder of the fragility of everything—our systems, our connections with other people, our bodies themselves. It’s a reminder that we can’t take things for granted. I’ve been trying hard to remember each day to appreciate small joys, to create connections with others as often as I can, and to find peace in the body I live in. Community feels especially important right now, when we’re all separated. Although I’ve found joy in running alone these past weeks, I also miss running with all of you. CHRC has always been an extremely warm and welcoming space, and I’m so grateful for the ways it’s continued to function as a support system and source of joy in these difficult times.

    Pre-Run Selfie (day before the big 2-6)

    I’ve especially loved getting to see what everyone’s been up to with the Run and Done series. And although you might not have known it, you all helped me celebrate my birthday! In a perfect world, I would have marked the occasion (belatedly) by PR’ing in the Brooklyn Half. In this world, I got to post that day’s Run and Done. I loved getting notifications all day as everyone checked off their goals. Thank you for unknowingly celebrating 26 with me!

  • Aenne’s Backyard Ultra

    Runners are kind of crazy, right? Yes, in a good way. And what happens if you throw crazy times at crazy people? Well, let me tell you the story of (my) Quarantine Backyard Ultra.

    The starting “corral”

    Saturday, April 4 2020, 8:45 am EST. Some 2,000+ runners around the world log onto one of two massive zoom calls. Their cameras point at porches, garden gates, front doors, and treadmills. They show where every single one of us will start their respective 4.167 mile loops, every hour, for the foreseeable future. 

    The concept of the Backyard Ultra is simple: Every hour, you run 4.167 miles. You need to start at the ring of the bell at X:00 sharp. If you finish before the hour is up, you can collapse into a chair, eat, change your socks, nap, whatever makes you happy (or, as time pases: less miserable). If you do not finish within the hour, you DNF (did not finish). If you do not start the next loop when the bell rings, you DNF. When do you not DNF? When you are the last person finishing a loop. The concept is as beautiful as it is cruel.

    Everything is peachy after loop 1.

    So: Why did I get myself into this? The short answer is: why not? The longer one starts with an innocent post on CHRC’s facebook page, linking to the Quarantine Backyard Ultra event. I knew about the ‘original’ Backyard Ultra, a race hosted by the father of the infamous Barkley Marathon. I loved the concept and the fact that a woman (Maggie Guterl) had won it in 2019. I had been running 30+ mile weeks over the past month. I felt ready for a crazy running adventure.

    It was getting hot around loop 3.

    When I toed the “starting line” (aka the shoe rack next to the door) that Saturday, my initial goal was to finish 4 loops, just a bit more than the 14-mile long run I had on my regular schedule. Fortunately, the 4th loop was accompanied by such a runner’s high that I decided to start loop 5. At this point, my brain took a nap, or at least the part that should have been responsible for counting loops. It did not wake up until loop 6 had been finished, and that meant: 25 miles. My glutes were burning and my calves had transformed into a solid muscle-brick. But I was only one loop away from really accomplishing something. Surely, I could walk-run another loop?

    Done. So done, and so happy. Post-race picture.

    Yes, I could, and I did. For the better portion of this last loop, the giant smile on my face earned me confused stares from pedestrians. I DNFed after 6 hours and 50 minutes, 29.5 miles, 2 giant calorie bomb cookies, 1 banana, 2 bowls of rice, more than 1.5 liters of Gatorade, and an undocumented constant flow of water. My body was aching, my stomach was righteously upset, and an old blister on my left toe had swollen to a new record size. I felt amazing.

    I spent the remainder of that weekend lying on soft surfaces, constantly keeping an eye on the YouTube live-feed that showed the runners that had not yet DNFed. It was not until Monday (!) that Micheal Wardian won the Quarantine Backyard Ultra – after 63 hours and almost 265 miles on his feet. His prize: the golden toilet paper roll.

  • Meet our Members: Laura Holdrege

    Royal Laura Holdrege’s first long run with CHRC was a game-changer:

    “I hate running” and “I LOVE [playing] sports” have always been my refrains. I found a volleyball team before I found a job when I moved to NYC, so that should tell you something about my love for sports :). Running just to run, however, was never something I understood or was successful at doing. Sure, running is a key part of many sports, but running just to run?!? WHY would you ever do that?  I’ve always had such respect for runners and their willpower and self-determination to “run for the purpose of running.”

    In April 2019, I became aware of CHRC’s existence, went to the new member orientation, ran my first loop of Prospect Park, and met some nice people. I was looking for an inexpensive/free way to exercise and knew running was out of the question if I didn’t find people to run with. In August, I started frequenting the Monday and Friday group runs and was very happy and excited when I surpassed the greatest number of miles I’d ever run in one month (40 miles!). 

    At the CHRC holiday party in December, my goal for 2020 was to attend/run a Saturday long run, something I had yet to do. I considered making my goal to run a half marathon, but I decided to stick with something more realistic. I accomplished my goal the first chance I got in the new year, thanks to the support and encouragement from so many lovely CHRC people. Running 10 miles was the furthest I had ever run in one go, and I survived!! This accomplishment made the idea of a half marathon seem a LOT more doable than ever before and it snowballed from there. Since that long run, I committed to run the Brooklyn half, ran my first race (the PPTC Cherry Tree Relay with teammates Bo and Christiana), purchased my first running shoes and running watch, and entered the NYC marathon lottery (yes, something is wrong with me now!). 

    I still think I might hate “running just to run” by myself, but having such an amazing, fun, supportive and encouraging group of people to take my mind off the running part has helped me accomplish and aspire to more running goals than ever before. Last year when I moved to NYC there were a lot of unknowns, but let me tell you, getting up multiple times each week to run before work and signing up to run a half marathon never ever crossed my mind.

  • Meet our Members: Lauren DeFelice

    A warm welcome to new Royal, Lauren DeFelice, who started joining CHRC’s Tuesday Trots and Saturday long runs in January.

    Why do you run?

    I run for exercise and to meet others and explore my city. 

    What’s your favorite thing about running?

    I love when I get an actual runner’s high, that huge rush of endorphins when all the little aches and pains disappear and it’s just pure euphoria. 

    Why did you join CHRC?

    I’m new to the neighborhood, and I wanted to meet other runners and learn some cool running routes.  

    What’s been your favorite CHRC run/event/activity and why?

    I did a Saturday long run a few weeks back and we ran to Sunset Park for Dim Sum. Who doesn’t love ending at a good food destination? 

    What’s your favorite race and why?

    I love all trail races. To me, they are less intimidating than road races; the pressure isn’t so high and I’m too busy looking at my feet to think about all the miles. 

    What’s something you love to do when you’re not running?

     I have a huge travel bug. Every few months, I like to take a trip to a new place, whether it’s a new neighborhood in my city or another country. I love to explore.

  • Running My First Race: A Timeline

    This post is an excerpt from Christiana’s excellent post on Medium. You can read about her full morning there.

    5 AM: My alarm goes off. What kind of person chooses to wake up at 5 am on a SUNDAY to run a race in the frigid cold — which btw — SHE PAID MONEY FOR!?! This person. LET’S GO.

    5:15: Thinking about how much I’d like to poop before I leave the house.

    5:30: Still haven’t pooped.

    5:31: Please body, please poop.

    5:32: I poop.

    (to read about the rest of Christiana’s day, check out her post on Medium)

  • Kylie Dickson’s Report on her First NYRR 9+1 Experience

    What was your experience of doing NYRR’s 9 +1 program for the first time like?

    I first heard about the 9+1 program when I was attending a Zumba class at NYRR Run Hub. I struck up a conversation with a woman; excitedly I told her that I would be running my first race soon! She told me about NYRR group training classes and asked if I was running for 9+1 credit. She explained to me if I were to run 9 races and volunteer at one I would receive guaranteed entry at next years marathon. I had just began running at the time and idea of running a full marathon never crossed my mind. I entered my first race, the Italy Run (a 5 mile race seemed like the perfect place to start), and boy did I love it. The energy is electric, the camaraderie amongst runners is inspiring, the feeling of crossing the finish line—unmatched!

    The best part of running races, is meeting hundreds of people who share a common interest. As I ran more races, I began striking up conversations with other runners.  I enjoyed sharing my progress and love for running with people around me. I recall walking home from the Italy Run and I noticed two men who still had their bibs on. I asked them how they did- and they remarked they finished in somewhere around 30 mins. I congratulated them and told them I finished in an hour. I wasn’t demoralized but inspired, everyone has to start somewhere and I was just proud that I had the courage to start. For the rest of the day a smile was plastered to my face, as I told family and friends of my accomplishment. But this was only just the beginning.

    As I participated in more races, I would always get asked one question “Are you running the NYC marathon.” I decided to finally go on NYRR website and research 9+1 and the NYC marathon. I came to the realization that if over fifty two thousand people run the NYC marathon and finish it then I can too! I finished my 9+1 requirements in November and am excited to run the NYC marathon in 2020!

    Did you have any goals for the races? If so, what were they?

    When I ran my first race, the Italy Run in June, I had no goals other than to finish and have fun. The more races I ran and the more I trained I began to make small goals for myself. My goals starting off pertained to endurance. I wanted to increase the time I ran for. These goals were trying to run continuously for 1 minute, 2 minutes, and so on. My next goal pertained to speed and this is one I’m still trying to achieve. In 2020, I want to complete a 5k race in under 30 minutes.

    What was your favorite part about the 9 +1 program?

    There were so many parts of the program that I enjoyed. I especially loved how NYRR has races in all 5 boroughs with varying distances. The NB 5th Ave Mile and the Bronx 10 Mile were my favorite races by far. At the NB 5th Ave Mile, it was amazing seeing people of all ages and performance levels perform. The Bronx 10 Mile was my first long race and first emotional finish. It was pretty tough and hot! The cheers from the crowd really helped me to finish strong.

    Would you do it again?

    I would absolutely do 9+1 again! I had a blast running races this year and can’t wait for what’s in store for next year. There was no better feeling to ring the bell on my ninth race and to have achieved a goal I’ve been working so hard for.

    What advice/tips would you give to Royals wanting to do the 9+1 program?

    Go for it! I recommend starting with 5k races and increasing your mileage when you feel comfortable. Also, tell your fellow Royals that you are participating in 9+1! Having the support of your club mates during races will definitely help with pre-race jitters. In addition, there really is no better feeling than to see people you know cheering for you from the sidelines.

  • Liz’s 2019 NYC Marathon Report

    What was your race experience like?

    The 2019 NYC Marathon was, by leaps and bounds, the MOST FUN I have ever had running a marathon! This was my fifth marathon overall, but my first time running NYC. My previous four marathons were all small races, with barely anyone out cheering. And I’ve certainly never had anyone come out to cheer specifically for me. So I really don’t have the words to describe how it felt to run a marathon with so many friends and family out on the course that I had to carry a cheat sheet listing everyone’s locations! When I started to struggle with a flareup of my recurring IT band injury at mile 15, I set my mind to running from cheer station to cheer station, and that pulled me through when my body started to quit on me. 

    Other than the IT band problem, the whole day was pretty much perfect from start to finish. I rode the 5:30am ferry with fellow CHRC-ers Nicole and Thomas, we found Guillermo and Kelsey at the busses, Jimmy in the start village, and Brooke and Madeline just before I headed to the start corral. Having so many friends around definitely helped keep my nerves at bay, and made the long wait in the village fly by. That’s the best thing about being part of a club like CHRC — you’re almost guaranteed to find a buddy at any NYC running event.

    The NYC marathon is literally a 26.2 mile party through the streets of the best city in the world, and I really just tried to take it all in. Kelsey, Nicole and I ran most of the way together, and it was amazing to run as part of a little squad, with random spectators shouting “Yeah Crown Heights” at us. The feeling when the three of us hit the CHRC cheer station at mile 9, with my sister waiting at the end of the line holding a sign that I didn’t have time to read before I crushed her in a huge hug…well, I just want to capture that incredible joy in a bottle so I can dose myself with it when I’m feeling down.

    I’ve found that with my past marathons, I don’t remember much of the race. Once I fall into a good pace, the miles kind of blend together. But I remember EVERY. SINGLE. MILE of the 2019 NYC Marathon, and I will for the rest of my life.

    Did you train for this race? If so, how?

    I used McMillan Running’s Intermediate Marathon Training Plan, which is the same plan I’ve used for my most recent two marathons. And I followed it pretty closely. 

    Did you have any goals for this race? If so, what were they?

    My A goal was to just to embrace the experience of running NYC for the first time by running as happy as possible. And I totally succeeded.

    My B goal was to finish in under 4 hours. I missed this goal by 52 seconds; my IT band problem meant I couldn’t push as hard as usual in the second half of the race. But honestly I cared very little about my time goal.  I mean it when I say I ran this race just for my love of running and my love of NYC.  

    Did CHRC help you train for/run/celebrate this race? If so, how?

    I did most of my training on my own, but CHRC definitely helped me run & celebrate this race. I was lucky to have Nicole and Kelsey with me for most of the run. Even though it was sometimes hard to keep track of each other when the course got crowded, I was so proud to be running with these amazing women. I lost them for a while on 1st Ave, when my IT band started to be a real problem. I caught up to them just as we were about to cross into the Bronx, and hearing them shout encouragement at me as we pushed up the Willis Ave bridge made me proud to call them my teammates. 

    And of course CHRC helped me to celebrate the race! I’ve missed the post-race potluck the past two years since I was out of town running the Indianapolis marathon, so I was thrilled to make a triumphant return as a finisher!

    What was your favorite thing about the race?

    If I have to pick just one thing, then it’s definitely seeing my friends and family all along the course, especially my sister and parents. Having my own personal cheer squads out on the course honestly meant the world to me.

    My parents drove down from Albany to cheer, and caught me three times during the race: in Brooklyn  on 4th Ave & Bergen, and twice in Manhattan on 1st and 5th Aves. My mom put an old orange feather boa to hold up above the crowd to help me spot them, which was ridiculous but totally worked. And she made three different signs to hold, my favorite of which featured a picture of my dog, Meera. 

    My sister came all the way from Indianapolis just to cheer me on, and took on the challenge of catching me in four boroughs. She started at the CHRC station in Brooklyn, then caught me in Queens near the Court Street Station, in the Bronx at Grand Concourse, and in Manhattan on 5th & 97th! She also made separate signs for every stop, and all of them referenced my favorite musicals. Seeing her for the first time in Brooklyn – a moment captured by CHRC’s excellent photographer – well, I just don’t have the words to describe how that felt.

    What was the biggest challenge about the race?

    This was a hard marathon to run, but not for the reason most people think. Most people think it’s the bridges and hills that make NYC a challenging course. But I didn’t have a problem with those, because I spent all summer training them and I’m generally pretty strong on hills.  

    My biggest challenge was just how crowded the course was! It was almost impossible to settle into a stable, comfortable pace. I was constantly weaving around slower runners, runners stopping to hug their families, runners who were trying to get around other runners. The water stations were especially tight, even if I tried to just cruise through the middle without getting a drink. I expended a lot of energy trying to avoid tripping over or colliding with other runners.

    Would you run it again?

    Yes, absolutely. I’m hoping that I can convince my sister and brother-in-law to enter the lotto for the 50th Anniversary marathon in 2020.

    What advice/tips would you give to Royals wanting to run this race?
    1. Do it! Even if you never run another marathon, the experience of running 26.2 through this incredible city we all call home — while it throws a massive party just for us — is something every runner should experience at least once. 
    2. The bridges and hills aren’t as bad as people make them out to be.
    3. Come talk to me for all of the tips & tricks for staying warm in the start village.
  • Madeline’s 2019 NYC Marathon Report

    On Sunday, November 3rd, 2019, I checked marathon #2 off my list. My official time – 5:09:44 – was a 5+ minute PR from my first marathon! I also achieved so many intangibles, including maintaining a steadier pace, feeling stronger the whole way through, and finishing feeling relatively solid.

    This year was so wildly different than the last, and it all started with the training cycle. This past summer, I took my long runs so much less seriously than I had done so previously. My first sixteen/eighteen/twenty-milers of the season would not be the first of my life – they were just really really long runs. I knew I’d done similar distances before and survived (and sometimes even felt fine after) so I went into my weekly long runs with much less apprehension. I also had much more consistent company! The solid crew of Chill Pace Group (TM) members kept me from getting lonely on those long journeys across the borough (and beyond), and signing myself up to lead CPG runs kept me accountable. Due to these measures – social support and accountability – I was much more consistent with my long runs this summer, which certainly helped improve my endurance. I also threw in some speedwork and strength training alongside the regular runs this year, which may have helped with the overall feel of my race.

    Speaking to fellow CHRC members about their first and second marathons, so many people had mentioned that the mistakes they made during their first races informed them well enough to achieve massive PRs the second time around – 10, 15, 20 minutes, even! Because of this, I went in hoping to break 5 hours (which would put me at a little bit under a 15 minute PR). However, even though I had planned and trained more consistently this year, and knew to incorporate walk breaks much earlier in the race, I began running out of steam by the Queensboro bridge. By the time I hit 1st Avenue, I made the decision to reassess my plans so that I could finish the race with a PR while also not exhausting myself so much that I would end up injured and hobbling across the finish line. The final miles of the race still hurt, for sure, but the pain was different this year. It was all from exertion, not injury, and when I finished, even though I felt so, so tired and broken down, I knew I hadn’t done lasting damage, and that I would recover soon.

    Although I didn’t make a massive difference in time this time around, I have no regrets. I attribute my mindset during this race to many factors, including the lighthearted members of chill pace group, to the raucous support of my friends and family, and also to Brooke, my start buddy, who had made the decision to run the race for fun. Although we lost each other after the first few miles, once the going got tough, I kept going back in my mind to the conversation Brooke and I had had while crossing the Verazzano. We discussed what it meant to have our main goal of the day being enjoyment, how focusing on having a fulfilling experience while running would keep us buoyant and resilient, and how positivity and high fiving every cute kid we see is more motivating (to us, at least) than beating ourselves up over going slower than goal pace. Because at the end of the day, the Marathon is a beast, whichever way you look at it and however fast or slow you run it. It’s a daylong party and an assault on the senses and I am so, so glad that I went into it this year looking to soak up and cherish the whole experience.

    Yes, I concede that my future plans include getting faster, but I am still so happy with the outcome of this year’s race because, even though my PR was relatively small, I finished feeling so much better than I did last year. I was no longer sore after a few days of babying my legs and I didn’t catch the dreaded post-race cold that I suffered last year. Although I have entered the lottery for the 2020 NYC marathon, and will certainly run it if admitted, my main goals are to focus on speed and running shorter races, while adding some more yoga and strength training back into my weekly schedule. I’m hoping to build on my base of fitness from the past two years of marathon training cycles and come back for #3 stronger, faster, and even more optimistic.