• 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.

  • Bernard’s 2019 NYC Marathon Report

    Before 2019, I would not consider myself a runner.  Sure, I had run while playing other sports (e.g. soccer, basketball), but the running, while necessary, was more incidental. Fast forward to late-February 2019, after entering the NYC Marathon lottery 3-4x, I finally “won.”  In the late winter/early spring, I slowly increased my running as I set out to read as much as I could about running a marathon generally and running the NYC Marathon in particular.  Once I settled on a training program, I focused on getting myself in running shape in order to tackle some of the longer distances required in the first few weeks of the plan.  As summer began, I also sought out opportunities to run with others and stumbled upon CHRC via social media.  I had the good fortune of running with CHRC on several long runs during the course of the training season and sincerely enjoyed meeting members old and new and learning a bit about them and their running careers.  With the exception of one long run on a particularly hot and muggy Friday evening through the East Village, the training itself was surprisingly enjoyable.  As the training progressed and I felt more and more confident that I would be able to at least finish the marathon, I started thinking about more specific goals and how to accomplish them.  Fortunately, with a few weeks left before the marathon, I was able to run the Staten Island half (thanks for the bib CHRC) with several CHRC members and it helped solidify some of my goals.  At this point, I thought if I did my best, I might be able to finish the race under 4 hours, a time that months before seemed completely out of reach.  Thanks in large part to the CHRC Saturday long runs and the CHRC NYC Marathon info session in late October, I arrived on Staten Island on November 3 feeling confident that I knew what I needed to do and how to get it done.  By far, my favorite part of the run was running near my house, near mile 8-9 where I had all of my family waiting for me at mile 8 and then CHRC at mile 9.  Four weeks after the marathon, I’m searching for my next run . . . and I’ll be training for it with CHRC.

    If I could do the race all over again, I would do the following:

    1. Orient myself to the location of the starting corrals.  I waited in the cold for 3 hours doing nothing and then sprinted to my corral and arrived just after it closed.
    2. Fuel better. I did not consume enough calories during each of my long training runs and on marathon day, I faded towards the very end due to insufficient fuel.

    That being said, I would run it again in a heartbeat. Thank you CHRC for the support and community.

  • Madeline’s Marathon Training Journal

    September Edition

    Hi folks! Happy October! As of this writing I am in Week 12 of my training plan on the path to the 2019 NYC Marathon. Here’s update #3:

    Ups: In August, I ran 125 miles. This is the highest mileage month I’ve had – ever – and part of the motivation for hitting that milestone was because I finally wanted to receive the ‘August Running Distance Challenge’ badge on Strava. Whatever works, I guess! For most of September, I felt really on top of my training, and the cherry on top of each week was the long run. I always have a blast running with or leading CHRC’s Chill Pace Group, and everyone who’s joined us has contributed to an awesome and supportive team. One week, I was the leader and only member of CPG, but surprised myself by running a 16-miler solo and honestly kind of enjoying it! Regardless of company, entering into each long run with the goal of treating it like a journey of exploration rather than a workout has been really beneficial in making the higher distances palatable. 

    Downs: For the past ten days or so, I’ve been really slacking on my mileage. In my defense, I moved apartments over the weekend and did so without hiring movers, so I was waaaay too tired to run my long one. I had also signed up for the Bronx 10 mile but did not end up running it because I still had more moving to do when the big day came around. Consequently, I’m feeling kind of down on myself, but I’m trying not to internalize it too much. I was sore enough and beat up enough from moving furniture all weekend that the extra rest probably did me good. 

    Dos: If you’re looking to get new shoes before the NYC Marathon, now is the time to do so. I got a new pair of Brooks Ghost 12s a few weeks ago, and have been rotating them with my trusty old Ghost 11s. This way, I’m getting used to my new shoes without wearing them down too quickly. 

    Don’ts: Drink half a bottle of wine the night before a long run. Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything…

    That’s all for now! Less than a month left until the marathon!

  • Madeline Breda’s August Marathon Training Journal

    Hello all! It’s time for my second check-in of the marathon training season. As of today (8/26) I am in Week 7 of my training plan, and feeling good!

    Ups: A few weeks ago, I took a brief vacation to visit my boyfriend’s family in Pennsylvania. While there, I had the pleasure of exploring the country roads and rural trails of suburban Reading. It was a nice break for my legs to run on soft trails through the forest, and it inspired me to try out some trail running in Prospect Park in the future! In addition, I really enjoyed running summer streets this year – I love doing my long runs as a food tour and stopping for free fuel (Cliff bars! Coconut water! Nuun galore!) along the way. Although the route itself is monotonous, the crowds of happy runners and bikers out and about on Saturdays in August makes every long run a pleasure.

     

    Downs: Since I’m using a different training plan than I did last summer, I’m taking longer to ramp up in mileage this time around. I think back to this time last year and I had already banged out a few 13+ mile long runs, whereas just a few days ago I ran 13 – the longest long run this training season. Because of this discrepancy I’ve been feeling nervous about my preparation: am I increasing my mileage soon enough? Will I be ready in time? Regardless, I know I need to trust the process. The NYRR Virtual trainer has served me well for my past few half marathons and I’ve heard rave reviews from those who have used it as a marathon training tool in the past (s/o Áine for the suggestion).

    Dos: Keep wearing that sunscreen, folks! And don’t forget electrolytes! A few weeks ago I made the mistake of insufficiently rehydrating following a long run, then going on to spend the afternoon running around in the sun, which led to a night of nausea and headaches. No fun.

    Don’ts: Neglect your rest days. If I am unusually active the day following a tough long run in hot, humid weather, I feel totally depleted by the time my next week of training rolls around. I need to do better at taking it easy – strategically.

    That’s all for now! Good luck with your training and stay cool out there!

  • Kelsey Drain’s Marathon Training Report

    I’m on round two of marathon training after running the 2017 Philadelphia Marathon. On the streets of New York City this fall, I hope to run a faster time so I’m trying to take this training thing more seriously (i.e. actually do the prescribed weekly track workouts and tempo runs). So far, six weeks in, I’ve completed all of the miles and most of the workouts. I’m also trying to be consistent with stretching and foam rolling, which can be a real struggle when you’re exhausted and hungry all the time (see below). Long runs in August were easy because Summer Streets is like Christmas for runners, and it only feels right to be out there with CHRC.

    Ups: I’m definitely feeling stronger. I’d kept consistently running 20-30 mile weeks since I recovered from the Philly Marathon in late 2017, so I thought I was in pretty good shape, but I was wrong. Marathon training started kicking my butt from week one — but it’s supposed to be hard, right? I’m feeling the benefits of those miles and workouts on my long runs now. Another great discovery: the Red Hook track.

    Downs: I’m exhausted and hungry all the time, but I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. I feel like I’ve been constantly force-feeding myself and drinking more water than I did all winter.

    Do: Have a Garmin — especially if you’re trying to hit certain times on the track or tempo paces. I love my Apple Watch and the freedom it gives me to run without my phone and still listen to music, but it’s not totally equipped for what I need. It’s funny to think that during my first round of marathon training, I actually had a Garmin (RIP) and didn’t take advantage of these capabilities that I’m now longing for. Tune in next month for how my training has changed (hopefully benefitted) after I invest in a new GPS watch.

    Don’t: Run more than 800 miles in one pair of sneakers, even if you have really good insoles.

    Thanks and stay tuned!
    – Kelsey

  • Madeline Breda’s July Marathon Training Journal

    Hello fellow running royals – Madeline Breda here! This summer is my second time training for a marathon, and this November I will be running the NYC Marathon for a second time. I learned a lot during my last training block and this time, I’m trying to implement some changes in my strategy that ~I’m hoping~ will help to alleviate some of the issues I faced when racing last November.

    As of today, I am almost done with my second week of the 16-week training plan.

    Ups: The simple fact of this being my second time training for a marathon makes the whole thing feel more manageable and less scary. This summer, I am using NYRR’s 16-week virtual training plan and I already feel more self-assured than I did last year, when I Frankensteined together Liz M’s training template with multiple popular online beginner plans. It feels good to be only following one plan that gives very clear instructions and automatically updates workouts and goal paces with each new Strava upload. I’m consistently doing speed and tempo workouts for the first time ever, thanks to the guidance of the virtual trainer and the tracking abilities of my new Garmin Forerunner 235.

    Downs: This being my second time around the marathon training block, I’m finding that – along with my increased confidence and familiarity with the process – comes a comparative lack of enthusiasm. Last summer, each long run over 13.1 miles marked the longest distance I had ever run in my life! The novelty was exhilarating! Now, I’m struggling to find the same excitement in my training. Switching things up a bit by adding speed work and yoga have been helping a little.

    Dos: Hydrate! Wear sunscreen! Wear a hat! Be smart in the heat – take the day off or take it easy during your workout if you’re really feeling the heat (I stopped every mile or so during my most recent long run to drink water and let myself cool off in the shade). Also, DO include strength training. I’ve been slacking on this front recently, but I’m positive that including just a bit more strength training in my plan this year (which is more than the almost-zero amount I did last summer) will help protect my knees on the big day AND help improve my overall running efficiency. My goal is to do yoga 1x/week at the studio, and include knee-strengthening PT exercises and stretching after some runs or at night before bed.

    Don’ts: Under- OR over-do it. Last summer, I made the same mistake a few times: I skipped a regular run or two during the week, then tried to make up the mileage/intensity by lengthening my long run or doing a taxing workout on the days immediately abutting my long run day. This process left me absolutely beat by the time my next week of training came around, and the cycle would inevitably continue. I would be too tired to do my regular run on Monday, and would end up trying to make up for it over the course of the week. This summer, I’m trying to adhere as best as possible to the training plan (e.g. no skipping planned workouts) but ALSO trying to be more forgiving when I do have to miss a day, and not trying to make up for it later in the week.

    That’s all for now, I’ll catch y’all in August!

    – Madeline

  • Elizabeth Tromans on the Front Runners New York LGBT Pride Race

    What was your race experience like?

    Wow, this race was hot! I’ve never enjoyed a popsicle quite so much as I enjoyed the frozen goodness at the finish line of this race.

    Aside from the heat, however, I very much enjoyed the overall lively and positive atmosphere. It truly felt like a celebration, which is its purpose! I also enjoyed Jessie’s tutu, that Heather and I had matching rainbow compression socks, Bess’s commitment to the shorts rainbow by getting a new pair of shorts for a color we were missing, Mary’s enthusiastic sass in the team photo, and everyone’s overall positivity. It is such a happy coincidence to me, also, that Allison and Jessie and I always, including at this race, get assigned to the same coral and can have a laugh before setting off.

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

    I did not train per se, but I did enjoy many a Monday Miles and Friday Five with the CHRC crew per my normal schedule! There were also the solo runs in between, which these days feel rather lonely, I must admit.

    What was your favorite thing about the race?

    My most favorite thing about this race was the shorts rainbow! Inspired by the good CHRC-ers come before, with minimal last-minute planning we managed to pull off quite the colorful spread. My second favorite thing (yes, the shorts rainbow beat this) was that we set a new world record for the largest ever Pride race, anywhere in the world. I find it quite special not only that NYC gets to claim this title, but that CHRC was a part of it.

    What was the biggest challenge about the race?

    Did I mention the heat? So sweaty…

    What advice/tips would you give to Royals wanting to run this race?

    Dress up! Have fun! Don’t go expecting a personal record in the dead heat of summer, but have the mindset that this race is meant to be a chance to celebrate the amazing LGBTQ+ community in New York City and around the world, so make it just that – a celebration!

  • Amanda Crain on the Cheer Squad

    Running through the CHRC Cheer Station in Brooklyn during the 2018 TCS New York City Marathon gave me a boost that’s hard to put into words. For miles after the cheer station, I thought back to all of the screams, high fives, and excited cheering that was coming from all of my friends at the Cheer Station. I get goosebumps today just thinking about that moment, and how it really helped to carry me through that race. For me, it was a special enough moment to have stuck with me through today, and to have stuck with me while I was making a transition in my life after that marathon.

    Let’s back up here. I had decided that the 2018 marathon season was going to be my season. I’d been trying for almost 8 years to sub-4 in the marathon, and I wanted this to be my year. I had the support of my CHRC teammates, my training partner Liz, and the great Coach Nate, and I wanted to get it done. And as it turns out, the support system that CHRC helped to put into place for me really was the secret sauce; I went sub-4 not once, but twice that year, within six weeks of each other. And although in NYC I had the CHRC physical cheer station, when I ran Berlin six weeks earlier, I had the incredible virtual cheer station of all of my teammates back home, some of whom woke up at an ungodly hour to wish me luck and congratulate me. The power of this club, and the support of an excellent cheer station, both IRL and virtual, is very real.

    I knew that after my 2018 marathons, I had to take a break from running. My body was giving me signs that it needed a break, and I had some health concerns that I needed to address during 2019. However, I hated the idea of giving up my Friday Fives, my Saturday Long Runs, my Speed Sessions at Bed Stuy Flyers, and all of the friendships that I had developed since joining the club. So, I turned to cheering, the other side of running. The club had given so much to me, and I wanted to give back to the club by trying to grow the cheer community that we had.

    During the first half of this year, I’ve had such a blast supporting the team from the sidelines. Seeing everyone’s smiling (or maybe struggling) faces come around a curve in Central Park, being able to give someone a little boost to carry across the finish line, or standing out on Flatbush Avenue for the NYC Half or Ocean Parkway for the Brooklyn Half with a chorus of cowbells tracking teammates coming by, it’s all been an amazing experience. Even riding the subway up with the team, giving them a bit of energy (since hey, I don’t have to save mine for running), talking through pace plans, hydration strategies, and discussing each hill of the course, it’s all the stuff us runners love to do, and we can continue to share those experiences together.

    We even took the cheer station out of town, setting up shop at the Broad Street Run 10-Miler, where I was the lone banana cheering on a rainy, cold day. Searching the crowds for the CHRC uniform, getting ready to take a video of a friend crushing his or her race, having a banana to banana moment, it can all make several hours go by in a flash. Not to mention, when you are dressed up like a banana on the sideline of a course, you get a whole lot of comments, smiles, shouts, and sometimes confused looks. It’s a good time.

    Convinced yet? Come out and join a cheer station if you aren’t running a race. It’s a great way to spend a morning and to feel engaged in the community! Still not convinced? How about this: you can always count on Jessie to bring an excellent snack selection! And now, also thanks to Jessie, we have a super snazzy and official CHRC banner, which makes us easy to spot.

    On a personal note, remember those health issues that I discussed earlier? I wanted to share that I’m doing great now, I’m back to running a little bit, and Tony and I are expecting our first child in December 2019! We hope to continue to support the club and one day bring baby Crain/Lee to cheer everyone on at a race!

  • Kelsey Drain and Brooke Shaffner on the Charlie Horse Half-Marathon Trail Run

    Kelsey: On a warm, sunny Friday afternoon, Brooke and I hopped on the train to New Jersey — a halfway point between Brooklyn and Reading, Pennsylvania. We picked up my car from my parents’ house in NJ and Brooke was an excellent co-pilot on our 2-hour drive to Reading. We were looking forward to a Memorial Day Weekend getaway that included spending a night in an Airbnb in Reading and running the Charlie Horse Trail Half Marathon in Birdsboro Waters Preserve the next morning.

    Saturday was race day and the weather was perfect. I was feeling good and excited after a (surprisingly) delicious Mediterranean feast for dinner the night before and some fresh morning coffee. Brooke and I were both coming off of road half marathons (She got an amazing PR!), so we were confident in our fitness but still had some pre-race jitters about tackling new terrain.

    Once we got to the race and parked, we promptly boarded a classic yellow school bus at 8:30 a.m. with a bunch of stinky runners — it smelled overwhelmingly like sweat, sunscreen, and bug spray. The Charlie Horse half marathon is a point-to-point race, so we were all heading to the start as a pack. “Have you done this race before?” seatmates asked each other, trying to gain insight into the unique course. “You’re from Brooklyn?!?” we got asked a couple of times.

    About 200 runners toed the start line. We were all ready to cross two creeks, battle a mile of mud, and complete the course mapped as 14.2 miles long. After the start whistle blew, we ran down abandoned roads, over an old canal, across rolling hills, through multiple parks, and even through Charlie’s property. Charlie was the founder of this race 22 years ago and still plays an active part in organizing it. Brooke and I ran most of the course together, chatting on the trails and enjoying banana slices at aid stations, and we finished within minutes of each other.

    After crossing the finish line, Brooke and I were elated to reflect on the experience with new friends while everyone waited in line to rinse off all the mud with a hose. We were all insanely muddy — my back was so dirty that Brooke had to hose me down like a horse getting a bath. The water was so cold that I couldn’t catch my breath. Some very smart women in line before us even brought shampoo and soap, and we soon regretted not taking them up on their offer to share. When we got back to NJ a couple of hours later, I took one of the most refreshing showers in my 27 years of life.

    Brooke interviews Kelsey:

    BS: What was your experience with trail running before this race?

    KD: I had only done one trail race, Run the Farm in 2017, at which I had a great time! I was training for my first marathon, so was wary of pushing my speed because I wanted to stay injury-free. It was a really fun experience with the CHRC team and an awesome excuse to escape the city.

    BS: What scared you about trail running?

    KD: I was a bit worried of mis-stepping on the uneven ground and getting an injury before the start of marathon training season. I’d gained confidence and strength after Brooke and I did two training trail runs leading up to the race. Completing the trail half marathon felt like such an accomplishment, especially since Strava clocked 15 miles, but doing it without injury also felt like an achievement.

    BS: What was the actual experience like? Favorite parts? Least favorite parts?

    KD: The actual experience was really fun and felt like an adventure. I didn’t have any time goals so was just trying to have fun and take it all in. The weather made it extremely pleasant and the varying course kept my attention.
    My favorite parts were simply being in the woods getting some fresh air and talking to new people. We made a couple of pals on the course and it was really nice to chat with fellow runners. My least favorite part was definitely the mud! The whole time I was anxious about getting to the mud that I’d heard so much about on the school bus. I’m proud that I completed it, but will be satisfied if I’m never that muddy again.

    BS: What was the recovery like afterwards?

    KD: I was insanely sore for about three days. Waking up the next few mornings was painful, and I tried to embrace a little break from running afterwards to recover.

    Kelsey interviews Brooke:

    KD: You’ve run many trail races before — how did this compare?

    BS: I’d done Run the Farm (5 miles), Leatherman’s Loop (10k), and the OutdoorFest relay at Staten Island (a few 8k loops with long breaks in between). Running a trail half-marathon was my goal this year. Royals’ descriptions of the Breakneck Ridge Half-Marathon, which left some of them pretty broken, had me a little scared, but the Charlie Horse Half was a comparatively easy course and as you said above, we felt pretty good when we finished.

    The trail terrain was both easier and more varied than the Leatherman’s Loop and Run the Farm trails. It varied from rolling gravel to forest floor that wasn’t too rocky or tangled with roots. We ran about two miles on the road near the end of the race before we returned to the trails for our finish. I’d thought that this road portion would be the easiest part of the race, but it was 2 ascending miles up a never-ending hill. Typically a headphone-dependent runner, I was surprised at how quickly most of the race passed chatting with you and the other runners and enjoying the forest scenery. That 2-mile uphill road-race portion was the only part where I missed my music, but I kept chugging along slowly, not wanting to lose my momentum.

    The creeks we ran through weren’t as high as the Leatherman’s Loop creeks this year, but the mud we ran through was pretty deep and thick, and then there was the Spartan-race style mud challenge near the end where course marshals made us slither on our backs under a tree branch through a mud pit. We really needed that hose-off at the end!

    KD: How was the half marathon distance different on the trails than on the road?

    BS: Mentally, it was a lot looser. At the Brooklyn Half the weekend before, I’d focused on staying with a pacer and keeping my pace consistent. This trail half-marathon was a fun romp through the woods and of course running it with you made it more fun. I didn’t carry my phone (my only pace-tracking device) or worry about pace. Much of it was single-track, so it would have been silly to worry about pace. Navigating the terrain, chatting with people, and enjoying a beautiful day in the woods were all that occupied my mind. The beautiful scenery and changing terrain made the miles go by before I knew it.

    KD: How did you prepare for the race?

    BS: You helped me organize two really fun practice trail runs. On Easter Sunday, we took Metro North up to Cold Spring, walked from the train station to the trails, and ran the 5.5 mile Bull Hill Loop. It was pretty rocky and steep, so we had to hike-run it. Then we took Dave Gibbons’ recommendation and did our second practice trail run in Rockefeller State Preserve. On May 11th, we took LIRR to Tarrytown and caught a quick Uber to the preserve. We ran about 9 miles on the rolling gravel paths and saw baby deer and lots of sheep along the way. We lucked out on great weather for both our practice runs and our race. Being dog fanatics, we made it our equally important mission to pet ALL the happy hiking dogs! Both of our practice runs were such lovely getaways from the city. I felt like we’d gone on a little va-cay and returned to Brooklyn refreshed and restored.

    KD: Would you do this race again? Try a different trail half marathon?

    BS: It might be fun to run this race again and be the ones preparing the newbies on the school bus for the course, but there are so many trail runs out there that offer a chance to explore a new place and run through a different landscape that I think I’d like to try a different one next time.

    KD: What’s next? Ready to take on longer trail distances?

    BS: If the terrain were like Charlie Horse, I think I’d be up for a trail marathon. But first I’d like to try a different trail half, perhaps one with more elevation like the Bear Mountain Endurance Challenge, or even Breakneck Ridge, though the stories about that one still scare me!

  • Rebekah Tonthat on Leading Trail Runs

    How did you become a trail run leader and what has your experience been like?

    I started running with CHRC around December or November. I met a CHRC member at the Staten Island Half, and I thought it would be a good idea to check out runs with different groups. CHRC had one of the most “friendly” schedules for me (7:45 Tuesday stamina night, 11 am Sunday trail run) that felt like I could still have a life and not be rushing to or from work.

    I started doing the trail runs, led by Josh, Kay, James, and Joey. Everyone was super welcoming. And of course, Joey’s Wild Bill impression is an unforgettable experience.

    I had absolutely no intention of becoming a trail leader. I remember in my early days that there was no set trail leader one Sunday and I showed up at the same time as a couple of brand new people, who all looked at me expectantly. I immediately regretted disclosing any prior knowledge of the run or of CHRC, as they took it for granted that if I knew the course (I didn’t) and would lead the way. I ran off, quite literally, and felt sort of bad… but not as bad as I would have had I led a pack of runners in circles in the woods.

    Over time, I became more comfortable with the paths off the main loop. One day I was talking to Liz Marvin about trail running and I offered to put my name down, as I noticed there were a couple of trail runs that had no leaders. I figured that I would be running on Sundays solo anyways–why not with company? I’m not the fastest runner, which worried me, but I figured at the very least, that some people would stick together and some would split up. Without Facebook, it was my way of saying, ‘I’ll be here, if anyone wants to show up’.

    A real eye-opener was how much time, work, and dedication goes into organizing these runs on a consistent schedule (which is something I really appreciate!). The CHRC group has made it as easy as possible to be a leader, from checking in about whether I’m still willing to lead after a day of inclement weather, to posting on Facebook for me. As someone who is social media free, I appreciate their tolerance for my quirks.

    What’s different about the trail runs?

    The Lookout Hill stair repeats. I love running the trails, with or without people. But there’s something special about a light rain or fresh dew, when it’s misty out and the trees are green and you’re leaping up these broken stone stairs that feel endless, that always makes me feel like “Eye of the Tiger” is playing.

    It’s also good to mix it up, and I like that this strength training aspect (which you can opt into or out of!) is a part of the trail runs. On a recent trail run, a very nice, if bemused, family gave us a spontaneous ovation on our second round of stairs.

    Why should I go trail running?

    Because being out in nature is amazing! There’s a small family of (friendly-ish) black squirrels that live by Bartel Pritchards, which are always an exciting sighting.

    I personally find trail running to be a little easier on some minor injuries and it’s always an interesting physical puzzle to navigate around obstacles. Mentally, it’s more stimulating and relaxing for me to get into the rhythm of things and really feel in touch with the park. It’s always been a great, welcoming and friendly group of people.

    What if I trip and fall?

    Fear on technical paths is a real thing, especially in certain races or on new terrain. I still pause when scaling or moving down steep slopes. I have a better sense now of how the ground is going to react, but that bit of hesitation can really hold you back! James Bennett once told me that it was easier to do it quickly and let your body make the decisions for you while I was clinging to some rocks on a hillside– great advice in the moment that I’m *still* completely unable to follow.

    Anything you’d like to share with potential trail runners?

    Let me know what you’d like to do. I’m always open to new routes, more stairs, or even an extended trail run.

    Please know: my greatest fear is losing you. All paces welcome–I’m happy to take it at any speed (except really, really fast. Josh, just go ahead.)