Smile Samantha! You Are Our Member Spotlight Of The Week!

Always with a smile, Samantha has been featured on many NYRR promo ads!

Another week has passed so itโ€™s time to shine the spotlight on one of our members! Today we are happy to shine that spotlight on one of our very first members, the always smiling, Samantha M.!

Samantha has always come to club gatherings with tons of energy, a positive attitude and of course her vibrant smile.

Samantha started running in 2001 in college when she felt she was overweight and as a result, it made her self-conscious. At the time she had an unpleasant dance teacher that would make her feel uncomfortable about her weight so she turned to running to prove that teacher wrong and feel better about herself. Little by little she would set small benchmarks for herlsef measured in city blocks.

When she’s no running, Samantha loves singing and dancing!

 

Eventually she had worked up to a mile and before she knew it she was running as far as 5 kilometers! As running became a healthy obsession, she would run at the gym on treadmills admittedly so she could watch trashy TV (lol). Ever increasing her mileage, she joined New York Road runners in 2012 and ran her first 5k that year. Fast forward to today, Samantha has run over 80 races with NYRR!

Being a runner since 2012, Samantha stumbled across We Are NYC Running club last year while training for the United NYC Half Marathon. Why would Samantha join a running club though after being a runner for 6 years and having success with it? Samantha points to the amount of support that she felt from strangers who shared the same common goal as her and had a true genuine love for running.

3rd from the right, Samantha was at the very first officialย club meet up!

Samantha was part of the first unofficial meet up of the club back at the 2018 NYRR Gridiron 4 miler run. That day she felt the group had something special just from spending 15 minutes together with the group before the 4 mile race. With many years of running already under her belt, she wanted to be part of something bigger where she could talk to people and not be judged. She remembers many years back still to that dance class teacher where she made to feel so small. Being a part of this club, she no longer feels that at all! Since joining the club, Samantha has loved being a member as she points to the many fabulous, strong, dedicated and down to earth people she has met. She adds that running a race is so much better knowing that you have a lot of people out there rooting for you and running with you. Just yesterday, Samantha ran her 22nd race as a member of We Are NYC Running Club as she ran the NYRR Gridiron 4 miler with the club and celebrated a year of running with her new found running family!

Looking forward, she continues to think about running the TCS NYC Marathon as a long term goal. For now she is concerned with committing time to train for a marathon as she knows the amount of time involved with it and she does not want to take that time away from her family, especially her three year old son Harrison. Speaking of her son Harrison, he himself has already run some races with NYRR. Samantha plans on continuing to have Harrison run more races this year while she continues to prepare for some more half marathons herself with the 2:00 time barrier as her ultimate goal!

Pictured here at the Bronx 10 Mile, Samantha ran 22 races with We Are NYC RC in 2018!

We are fairly confident that Samantha will break that 2:00 barrier if not at the NYC Half Marathon, perhaps the Brooklyn half marathon! Once she has done that, if she hasnโ€™t changed her mind about going for the TCS NYC marathon, she may just be content with continuing another fun hobby of hers โ€“ performing and singing famous Broadway musical scores on top of her radiator with her son Harrison!

Here are some words that some of our members had for Samantha!

Fellow Club teammate Marjorie

Fellow Club teammate Cesar

 

Stay Ahead Of The Pack

Thanksgiving is over and in a day or so, November will be completely behind us. Staring us right in the face is a month that many of us love to let loose in. Days off of work, celebration with family, various holiday parties and lots of food and drink make this month so dangerous that once it is over you hear the same resolution mantras year after year once December exits and January enters.

“New Year, new me!”

“Time to shed some pounds”

“This will be my healthiest year ever!”

Sound familiar? I don’t mean to sound like a scrooge at all. I will most definitely attend my share of holiday parties. In fact as I look at my calendar, I am very thankful for the multiple “ugly sweater parties” I will be attending and the various work gatherings I have on the calendar. At the same time however, I also cringe because I know that at all these events there will be a lot of food, alcohol and of course dessert that will be calling my name and without undoubtedly, I will answer that call!

With all of that said, I have accepted December for the health trap that it is. However, I did something a few years ago that I have repeated each December and I highly recommend to everyone. As I mentioned above, folks wake up on January 1, some hungover and others not, and realize “damn, I was bad in December”. The pants fit tight, the scale annoys them because of the number they see and the resolutions begin. But why do people wait til January 1?

Don’t Wait Until January 1!

 

Three years ago, the gym that I am currently a member of, Lifetime Fitness, opened up the location that I go to in Garden City. They opened their doors in the first week of December. When my family joined, I thought that maybe we should just wait til January because were we really going to go to a new gym in December? Boy was I wrong!

Since then, when everyone is making ” “January 1” their eureka moment, I would much rather stay ahead of the pack and pick December 1. Think about it for a second, would you rather wait until January once you have added 5, 10 or whatever number of pounds to your frame and work harder to take that off? Or is it easier instead to offset the gains as they come along? Don’t get me wrong, December will be bad, but by all means embrace the holidays! I know I will. By starting an exercise routine in December however, you will give yourself the opportunity to either gain very few pounds or if you are lucky, none at all! Simple logic also tells you that once the deadly month of December is over, it’s easier to lose a few pounds if you started working out in the beginning of December than to lose a lot of them if you wait until January. An added benefit of starting a healthy plan in December is that there is no one in the gym in comparison to January. It’s a given that EVERYONE will show up to the gym in that first week of January. December tends to be a ghost town in the gyms!

Get Ahead Of The Packย – Gyms Are Empty in December!

 

There is no rule that “New Year’s Resolutions” need to start on January 1. I know your schedule may look busy in December but I encourage you to find those gaps in your schedule. Trust me they exist. Further, I have always said that you do not need a block of two or three hors to get a workout in. Remember, some time spent on yourself is better than no time.!

Once again, get ahead of the pack and start now, believe me you will not regret it!

Got My Fill Of Turkey Trot

Its the Friday after Thanksgiving and I hope that everyone got their fill of turkey, pie and family! I know I got my full of all of those, but I also got my fill of “Turkey Trot”. As I referred to in one of my previous posts, “Turkey Trots” have been popping up in so many towns here in New York that it has become pretty easy to find one and to participate in one. The one that I ran, the Garden City Turkey Trot, took entries pretty much right up until the 10:00AM start of the race. When they were all said and done, close to 4,000 participants took part in the 5 mile race thru the streets of Garden City. A big salute to the committee that organized the race as they not only put onย  successful race, but they also gathered food for the local food pantry so that no one went hungry on this special day!

For me, this was the second year in a row that I participated in the race. Last year I ran the race and ran my fastest race pace wise that I had ran in 2016. In 2016 I completed the course in 38:39 (roughly 7:35 pace). What would this year have in store? I went into the race not being sure how I would do. I had not run a road race since the Staten Island Marathon back in the beginning of October. Since then I had cut back my running a bit. In turn, I have been increasing the amount of weights that I have been lifting at the gym. I’ve been strengthening my quads a bit more and my hamstrings and of course my upper body as well. Also adding to my uncertainty about my results Thursday was that my pace on my training runs had not been faster than 8:00 per mile in weeks. Lastly, it was a pretty frigid morning with the mercury barely getting above 32 degrees but the show must go on!

At the Start Line Of The Garden City Turkey Trot!

My first mile was a bit congested traffic wise. A lot of folks were up at the front of the start that probably didn’t belong there but its Thanksgiving, everyone is just thankful for running today! First mile was not bad. Clocked a 7:13 for the first mile. I vaguely remember my first mile in my previous year’s run being around 7:15 and I thought that was pretty fast. I did go onto slow down my mile pace over the next few miles. This year was going to be a bit different.

Mile 2 had its share of uphills after mile 1 had included down hills. As such when my split for mile 2 came in, I knew this was going to be a different day. My split was 7:12 for mile 2 with uphills! Mile 3 included the longest uphill of the race. My split for mile 3 was 7:13. That 3rd mile drained me a bit and I was eager to see how I would be after the 4th mile. A water station was set up in mile 4 but I declined it because I tend to splash when I take water at water stations and it was too cold to be wet!

In that mile, we passed by a large group of spectators that naturally gave us a boost. They accomplished their job. My split for mile 4 was 7:07. When I looked at the cumulative race clock as I passed by the 4th mile marker it was under 29 minutes and that was the race clock which meant my time was likely faster since I started a little bit behind the start line. At this point I thought to myself, unless I took a bullet in the last mile or collapsed, this was going to be a PR!

Then I set my eyes on a woman who was in front of me the whole race. The distance between her and I was consistently between 10-15 yards. She likely never saw me but some how every time I sped up, so did she. With about a half a mile left, I decided to end the song and dance between this lady and I. I blew past her but with a half mile left, I can tell you that the weight training I have been doing kicked in. I was afraid that I started my kick too early but my arms believe it or not helped to increase my strides. My quads helped keep my stride steady. With about a hundred yards left, my GPS mile split was announced in my head phones. 6:59! Damn – broke 7 minute on my lat mile split! Cumulative time was 36:12, more than two minutes better than last year! I couldn’t believe it!ย  I was exhausted after this race but I felt great! I didn’t envision running this fast at all but I will tell you that the weight training indeed helped. The legs felt stronger and pumping the arms led to longer strides down the stretch which undoubtedly led to a fast final two miles. I’ll say one final thing about this performance – it was fast for the distance but it was also fast period. My 5k split and my 4 mile split were both faster than I had ever run all out for either of those distances. Crazy right?

This race was not just special because of my time but also because of a couple of other factors. First, if you see my Under Armour Map My Fitness stats up above, I burned 723 calories. Guess who was having pie Thanksgiving night with zero guilt! Haha! But what really makes this race special is that my wife ran it. My wife is new to running and admittedly is not ready to tackle the distances that I do. As such, we don’t run together as she would rather I run ahead. I would want nothing more than to run with her but as I always tell lot of folks, run your race, not anyone else’s. Further my wife is an asthmatic, but let me tell you, that being an asthmatic does not stop her from running. As I have mention so many times, she has set out a goal to increase her mileage while controlling her asthma. She did a 5 k earlier this year and then we did a 4 mile run together in June. On Thursday she had signed up for the shorter version of the 5 mile race which was available, the 1.5 mile fun run. She was going to do this with my youngest daughter but when the weather was too cold, my daughter bailed and opted for staying in a warm bed on thanksgiving morning. This gave my wife the chance to take on the 5 mile race. An opportunity had presented itself and she seized the moment and crushed it. This is an amazing feat for her and I was ecstatic about being there to witness it. In a year she ran a 5 k, a 4 miler and a 5 miler. I had mentioned to her running a 10k earlier in the year and she gave me the look of “No way”. After Thursday I mentioned to her that she is just over one mile away in distance from that 10k and she couldn’t believe it. Her progress this year is truly an inspiration for people that say “I can’t run”. Oh yes you can!

Now that Thanksgiving is over and you know that the holidays are looming in December. Resolve for the next few weeks to get up and get out and burn some calories. Go for a run. If not start with a walk with a light jog. Remember, something is always better than nothing!

When The Wind Blows!

Sure it’s easy to read the title of this post and call it a day! Sunday it was blustery in New York. Winds were steady at about 25-30 miles per hour all day with gusts over 40 miles per hours. This was after a full day of rain on Saturday. If you recall my post from Friday, I needed to get a run into my schedule that wasn’t a treadmill run. I will admit, I was out pretty late on Friday night celebrating a friend’s birthday, so the rain on Saturday made it easy for me to skip a run on this day. In hindsight I regret not running on Saturday, Which meant I had to face the winds on Sunday.

If you are like me you woke up and saw everything blowing around. I took a quick trip to the bagel store and the route there and back usually sees a lot of runners taking a Sunday morning jog. Not today. I had doubts about taking that run. Gusts of up to 40 miles per hour kept rattling my window and taunting me. Knowing I have a race on Thursday coming up I asked myself, “what if we wake up Thursday and the winds are blowing then”. That was enough to get the running shoes on and head on out the door.

On A Windy Day, Consider Forgetting About Pace!

 

My five mile run was interesting to say the least. I thought I felt good on the first 2-3 miles of my run. I wasn’t going all out but I wanted to go fast enough to stretch my strides out as I went along in hopes of getting faster as the run went on. That didn’t quite happen when it was all said and done. My fastest mile was my 3rd mile and it started to get slower after that. That was simply due to the route I ran. It was an out and back loop. The wind was at my back on the first half. On the second half, it was like running into a wall. To the people driving by in cars, I probably gave them a chuckle. There were times I had to squint just to avoid leaves and debris from blowing around in my face. There were times were it was blowing pretty hard that I had to put my head down in an effort to barrel thru the winds. Those last two miles sucked. At the end it felt like an uphill climb for 2 miles even though it wasn’t.

But I stuck to my plan. I got a chance to test out how things feel when the winds blow. Next time I might wear some shades or goggles to keep the crap out of my eyes. Sure it was inconvenient to run in the wind but the debris swirling was a bit of an issue and something I learned next timeย I run in these types of conditions. Yes I said next time I run in these conditions. Ifย I’m sticking to aย plan and the winds are blowing on the day I have a run, screw it, I’m going out there. I equate it to running a hilly course, “the uphills will kill you but the downhills will kiss you.” The winds will smack you in the face but they will propel you also when they are at your back. Yes I know I didn’t make my analogy on the winds rhyme like I did with the hills but you got my point right??

Here are a few other things I took away as tips for the next time you or I have to tackle a windy run:

  • Consider wearing shades- debris will fly into your eyes
  • Don’t wear loose fitting clothing. I had a wind breaker on that was just flapping all over the place creating drag! Wear tighter fitting gear!
  • Be ready to have some mental strength. You can’t control the wind so don’t give into it!
  • Definitely consider doing a loop run so that not only will you have to run against the wind but you will also run with it at your back!
  • Forget pace. You will not run your normal pace on a windy day so don’t over exert yourself trying to nail it. Just cover the distance you need to on a windy day!

How about you? Did you stick to your plan this weekend? If you didn’t, there’s always a new time go start or make up for a day that was skipped. Brush off the hiccup in your plan and press on! Thanksgiving is coming and YOU KNOW you will eat more than you should. We all will. You have 3 days to offset what will inevitably go down on Thursday. Here’s your push – go do it