Race Day Planning For The United NYC Half Marathon!

So you are running the United NYC Half Marathon? Congratulations are in order because this race is not easy to get into! Now that you have gotten into the race, running and completing the race is not the only thing that you may have to worry about. Preparing for this race physically, mentally, emotionally and logistically can be a huge task. With this course being new, no matter how many races you have run in New York City, no one has ever run this course before! Those that will run the race this year will be the first ones ever to tackle this version of the course. In fact there are portions of this course that have never had any race run over them!

Over the last couple of months, I’ve hosted a United NYC Half Marathon Facebook group and we’ve discussed so many topics about this race. From training, to travel accommodations, to diets, to race prep, to holding local group runs and even hiring two coach buses to take some of us to the start line of the race! We’ve covered so much in that group and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it! (side note, we have similar groups open now for the Popular Brooklyn Half Marathon and the New York City Marathon!)

So I thought I would put this article together for everyone to benefit from the discussions that we have had in this group. It targets out of towners running the race as well as native New Yorkers. It’s a long read but I think there is something for everyone in here!

Getting Your Race Day Bib and the Expo

Getting your bib at the Expo is only the beginning of the fun!

Whether you are traveling in from out of town or whether you live here in New York City, you will have to make your way to the Half Marathon Expo. For those that live in the New York City area who are accustomed to picking up their race day bibs at the NYRR Run Center, that will not be an option this time around. Further, you will not be able to pick your bibs up on the morning of the race either! That makes it super important that you plan some time either on the Thursday (11:00am – 9:00pm), Friday (11:00am – 9:00pm)  or Saturday (9:00am – 6:00pm) before the race to make it down to the Expo. The Expo is located at 125 west 18th street, New York, NY 10011 (between 6th and 7th avenues).

When heading to the Expo, give yourself some time to be there. Getting your number and race shirt should be quick, but there is usually a lot of fun little things for your to see or do there. A race pacer booth will be set up so that you can speak with race pacers to talk about strategy to meet your desired goal time. I was able to confirm with NYRR that you will be able to pick up a “race pace” bracelet at the expo to help you keep pace with your desired goal time. These are several different bracelets each with a different goal time. The bracelet then tells you the mile splits you will need to hit in order to run that bracelet’s goal target time. Among other things to do at the expo is look for your name on the wall of runners, take some pictures or do some shopping from the racks of merchandise they are sure to have! The official race dear gear sponsor New Balance will be on hand with some giveaways as well! Whatever it is, just give yourself some time at the Expo! You won’t regret it!

If you can’t fit some time in to get to Expo yourself, there is an option to send someone as your proxy to get your bib. That involves having your proxy bring a copy of your photo ID, with your name matching the name attached to the bib. Your proxy should also have a copy of your race day confirmation form. Your race day confirmation form can be found by logging into your NYRR account. While this is an option, you will miss all of the fun at the expo!

Know Your Transportation To The Start Line!

This is the first year that the course will start in Brooklyn and end in Manhattan. As such you will have to plan out your traveling plans in order to get to the starting line on time! The race is on a Sunday morning which means New York City subways will be operating with less trains than they usually do on Sunday mornings. This means give yourself lots of commuting time if you will be riding the subways to the race that morning. Recently New York Road Runners Club released a detailed diagram of Prospect Park and where runners will need to go to enter the starting corrals. Based on that diagram below, it looks like the Q, 4 & 5 trains are the preferred subways to take the start of the race. One important thing to note, even though it is advertised that the race will start in Grand Army Plaza, runners will have to enter the corrals on the other side of the park over by Flatbush Avenue & Empire Blvd. Make note of that and make sure you travel to the right location! Traveling to the Grand Army Plaza station will only make you walk all the way around to the start of the corrals.

Diagram of the starting line for the United NYC half!

One thing that I STRONGLY urge you to do is check out the service advisory section of the MTA website. They are notorious for scheduling track work or other maintenance that can severely affect train service on the weekend. The last thing you want to do is be on your way to the race, only to find out that morning that the train you planned on taking that morning was not working! Plan ahead! To assist with that, the MTA actually has a “Trip Planner” available. This trip planner takes into consideration any service advisories that may be in play that day. I tested this a couple of weeks back when I did my trial run of the course (click here to read my review of the course!). The day I used the Trip Planner, there were service advisories for the subway lines I used that day. The trip planner told me about them and factored them into my traveling time. I got to the starting line to meet my group for the trial run on time with no issues just as the trip planner had planned it out for me! For reference the name of the subway stops you can travel to are in the graphic above. Enter those subway station names into the trip planner along with the station you are traveling from.  It works – use it!

Aside from subways, NYC taxi cabs, Uber & Lyft are an option. Just keep in mind, traffic to that area will be heavy. Further street closures in Brooklyn leading up to the park may snarl traffic. Give yourself some time if you plan on taking some form of car service to the start! As for driving yourself, I strongly suggest against it. 25,000 people will be heading to the start area. I tried to park at Prospect Park a few weeks ago for a race that only had 5,000 participants and it was chaos on that day! Imagine having 5 times the number of runners and trying to look for parking! Leave your car at home!

Planning Your Day Before The Race

Many folks will be traveling into New York City specifically for the race. If you are like many of these folks, you might be getting to New York on Thursday, Friday or even Saturday. If you are lucky enough to get in Thursday or Friday, do your moving around the city those days. Saturday is March 17th, also known as St. Patrick’s Day! Manhattan is full of parade goers and party goers looking to seek a celebration or two in honor of the famous Irishman! The festivities always seem to end up in an abundance of alcohol being consumed so if you had your heart set on going to a restaurant or bar in Manhattan on this Saturday, just know that it may full of festive party goers enjoying St. Patricks’s Day. Further, getting around town may be tough on the day before the race as the parade route goes right up 5th avenue, smack dab in the middle of Manhattan. As I mentioned, plan your day on Saturday accordingly to work around the St. Patrick’s Day congestion.

There is no question that the St. Patrick’s Day Parade is the most popular parade in New York City and one to enjoy if you are ok with having a couple of drinks. But for the person who has trained for weeks in preparation for 13 miles on Sunday, you might want to skip the festivities this year. If you need to unwind with some beverages, seek out hotel bars or lounges who will likely not allow St Patrick’s Day revelers into their establishments. Better yet, by a bottle of wine or a 6 pack and sip comfortably and responsibly in your hotel room if you absolutely must, although personally, I recommend you save it for AFTER the race!

Dressing For The Race & Bag Check

What to wear come race day morning?

Weather in New York City in the month of March is extremely unpredictable. There have been 70 degree days in March and there have been insane snow storms in the month of March. In 2017, the race was run on the heels of a pretty strong snow storm during the week leading up to the race. The temperature at the start of the race was 30 degrees. While the temperature could be cold at the beginning, it could warm up rather quickly as the race progresses as well. So how does one dress??

I suggest to wear some layers to the race that you will be comfortable parting with. There are close to 25,000 runners competing in the United NYC Half Marathon. This means that the bag check won’t be close to the starting line. In fact if you look at the graphic of the starting area above, the bag check is before you even enter the secure zone. Think hard about what you want to check in and what you will be able to bring with you thru security and to the starting corral. Keep in mind that you can only check in a clear bag. NYRR wants to see the contents contained in your bag. Also, I have confirmed with NYRR that your bag will be transported via courier to the finish line at Central Park so don’t worry about having to come back to Brooklyn to get your stuff! Check your bag in with confidence!

In terms of other items allowed past security, water bottles in excess of one liter will not be allowed. Camelpacks are also not allowed either. To be honest, those likely aren’t even needed. The race course will have a water station just about every mile along with some water stands that will include Gatorade. There is even a “Powebar Gel” station in mile 7.

The security check point will include a metal detector and you will pass thru it like you do at an airport. Your cell phone, keys, money, etc., will go in a dish and then they will wand you and you will go thru a metal detector. All of this means that if you’re checking items into the bag check, you will have to do it early to give yourself enough time to get thru security. This could cause your wait in the corral to be anywhere from 30-60 minutes.

Going back to how you should dress, you will want to stay warm in the corrals for this period of time. This is where the extra layers come into play. Remember, it will be anywhere between 7am – 8am when runners start since there are two waves. Once your wave starts, you can peel a layer or two off and part with them by placing them in one of the several donation bins that will be lining the starting line area. That’s right, you won’t be seeing those items again, so plan accordingly!

Going back to checking in your items at the bag check, one thing to consider when packing your check-in bag, is that it may be cold or rainy this day. Consider packing a dry  or warm change of clothes in your check in bag for after the race. The last thing you want to have happen is to be standing around after the race in cold or wet clothes. You can easily duck into a portable john to get out of those wet clothes if you choose after you retrieve your checked in bag. If you despise portable bathrooms like some folks do, you can head over to the New York Road Runners Run Center (320 West 57th street b/w 8th & 9th avenues) which is not too far from the finish line to use some of their changing rooms there.

As of the writing of this article, the temperatures are expected to range from the low 40’s at the start of the race, to the low 50’s thru out the race. That’s not cold. Rain is in the forecast as of now, but lets hope that pushes away! I would still plan to wear a couple of layers to the stating corral only to peel them off when the race begins.

Get To Know The Course

img_0822Finally, the course itself! As mentioned earlier, this year New York Road Runners Club decided to change the course route that had been in effect for several years. For the first time ever the race will start at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn and will finish in Central Park. The reason for the change is because the race is getting bigger each year and they are looking for a wider course and one that has a larger finish line and finish area. Logistically also, finishing in Central Park allows them to keep the finish area open longer so that runners don’t have to worry about having to finish their race under a certain time.  If you have ever run this race before, it will be all new for you just as it will be for someone who is running the race for the first time!

The course map is just above. If you have run this race before you will notice that this course has a lot more hills than the previous version of it. What make it worse is that a lot of the hills are towards the end of the race. If you look at the elevation chart at the bottom of the below graphic, miles 8 thru the end of the race are a series of climbs most of them which will be in Central Park. Just before that there is a stretch of 7th avenue from 42nd street up until the entrance of Central Park which is all up hill. If this stretch may look familiar to those who have run this race before thats because the race used to run the opposite way down 7th avenue after you exited the park. This year, you are running a slow steady climb for 15 blocks before you get into Central Park! If you haven’t thrown in hill work into your training, now may be the time! For a more comprehensive review of the course, you can read the review I wrote up after I did an actual trial run of the course a couple of week ago. You can find that article here!

The Finish Line.

You made it 13.1 miles to the finish in Central Park – CONGRATULATIONS! You’re not done yet! Once you are done with the race, you will still have about a half mile walk. During that walk, family will not be allowed in this half mile are as it is considered a “runners only” area. Family can watch you finish the race during the last mile. See the graphic above and note that they can enter the park on the west side the park via two entrances. They will not be able to meet you however on there other side of the finish line.

Once you have crossed the finish line, you have approximately a half mile walk that will lead you to the southern exit of the park close to Columbus Circle. I highly suggest, that you meet with family away from the park after the race. The area around Columbus Circle will be pure chaos. During your half mile walk you will get your recovery bag, water, and of course, your well deserved medal! There will also be stations set up to take post race pictures with your medals or your friends. Medical tents and bathrooms will be available during this half mile walk as well. It may be a half mile, but trust me, it will pass by really quickly!

Speaking of medals, make sure to get your medals ENGRAVED after the race! I confirmed with NYRR that medal engraving will be available immediately after the race at the NYRR Run Center on Sunday from 10am – 5pm. If you are not in the mood to stand on line to get your medal engraved after the race, medal engraving will also be available at the run center on Monday 3/19 from 12pm – 7pm and on Tuesday 3/20 from 4pm – 7pm. Unfortunately medal engraving is only for NYRR members. However there is nothing stopping you from becoming a NYRR member before the race to not only take advantage of free engraving but to also take part in their future races. Of course as an alternative to all of this, you can also get your medal engraved else where.

In Closing

I am a stickler for logistics. I put this together because so many of you worked hard to prepare for this race and I don’t want to see you throw it away because you thought you could pick up your bib on race day morning or you took the wrong train to the start or your dressed incorrectly. You deserve better than that! Now go out there are crush this NYC Half Marathon!

If you found this information helpful, then I am glad I could help. As I mentioned earlier, if you happen to be running either the Popular Brooklyn Half Marathon or TCS New York City Marathon, I have similar group discussions going on now. Here is the one for the Brooklyn Half and here is the one for TCS NYC Marathon Why not join these groups and get in on all of the information being exchanged there!

For more information about running in general in New York City, make sure to follow me on Instagram @catrunsnyc_2018 or on Twitter @catrunsnyc ! Also while you are at it, check out our running club We Run NYC Running Club! It is a running club that is open to all levels of runners with one common bond – that they simply love running in New York City!


It awaits you!

Trial Run Of The United NYC Half Course

This past Sunday I had the opportunity to tackle the United NYC Half Marathon course with members of my We Run NYC Running Club. Minus the nasty cold rainy weather I have to say that I was ecstatic about our run!
Grand Army Plaza

Picture of the start area for the United NYC Half!

As for the course itself, as many know, the NYC Half Marathon course has changed from previous years. For the first time this year the course starts in Prospect Park Brooklyn and ends in Central Park. Based on our run, here is my analysis of the course followed by my advice on how to tackle this course.
The course starts off heading north on Flatbush Avenue with a nice, long, steady gradual downhill. The downhill itself is about one mile long. Strava measured this mile to be a decrease in elevation of about 96 feet. I have to admit, this is a nice wide road with lots of local shops. I am 99% positive that this stretch of the course is going to be filled with spectators on race day. With that said, these spectators, along with the 20,000 plus runners that just started around you are going to give you one hell of a boost of adrenalin! The temptation to unleash a fast mile is going to be huge! I will say, it is very important to resist that temptation because you have a long way to go and some challenges ahead.
The second mile has a very small but short incline. It’s a relaxed mile that will lead you right onto the Manhattan Bridge. This is where your work and challenges will start.

Manhattan Bridge Awaits!@

Once you get on the Manhattan Bridge there is a long steady climb onto the bridge until you get to the middle. Your total climb will be around 90 feet. This slow steady climb is given back as you come off the bridge and make a right onto Canal Street. The decline in elevation continues until you go east thru Chinatown and to the FDR drive.
Full disclosure, today for this next stretch, we had to alter our route from the official route because the official route will take you onto the FDR drive. Obviously, we couldn’t get the FDR drive closed, so we chose to run over the overpass on Delancey Street to the other side of the FDR and ran along the water via the promenade up until 35th street. Distance wise this was the same as running on the FDR however where we ran on Sunday it was completely flat along the water. As we were running however we noticed that there were some steep elevations on the FDR drive in particular around the 10th street. This elevation essentially makes the FDR Drive go from street level to an elevated roadway. I wish I had the elevation measurements on this but just be prepared for an climb during this stretch on the FDR drive!
FDR42nd street

There are several increases in elevation on the FDR Drive stretch!

I believe that we are scheduled to get off of the FDR at 42nd St. Going west on 42nd street, we started out flat until we got to 3rd avenue. I can tell you that once again you will be begin a climb of about 40 feet until you get past 5th avenue. Here you will begin a small gradual run downhill that will take you around the corner onto 7th and up to around 45th street – that’s about a half mile of gradual downhill. Enjoy that stretch as much as possible because there is more work ahead! Once you approach 45th street on 7th Avenue, you begin an approximate one mile climb up that will take you up another 40 feet in elevation and will leave you right at the entrance to Central Park.
This should prepare you nicely for what awaits you in Central Park. You will enter Central Park after completing 9 miles. Once you enter the park, a series of small uphills and downhills will await. Nothing too drastic. That is until you get to around 72nd street on the East side. This is where Cat Hill awaits you. You will climb over 50 feet in elevation over a span of a little over a half mile. For our trial run on Sunday we were not that winded when going up Cat hill. I think it was adrenaline from entering the park and knowing that we were not that far away from the finish. After Cat hill you will enjoy close to a mile of rolling down hills which includes a turn onto the 102nd street traverse to head to the West Side of the park. Choose your effort here wisely because when you come back around on the West side, you will have more uphills awaiting you!
cat hill Central Park

Make sure to “smile” at the Cat as you go up her hill!

When you turn off of the traverse and onto Central Park West, you will have a little over a mile left. How you tackle that mile will be tricky. As soon as you turn onto West Drive you will be met with another long uphill. This one will take you up another 60 feet in the span of about a half of a mile. Once you get to the top of that hill, you will have a small down hill rest and then you will climb a short hill again. Coming into the 70’s on the west side you will be headed down hill one last time and this time, into the finish line!
Our total elevation today according to Strava, was about 450 feet and I think on race day it will be more because of the FDR drive span that I mentioned above. This United NYC Half marathon is nothing like the previous version of it. A personal record is not impossible on this course, but its also not easy! How you attack this course will be key. Go out hard too early and you will pay the price on the many hills. If you wait too long to attack Central Park, your pace leading up to that may be too slow.

Be inspired by Grand Central as you run by on 42nd street!

In looking back on the course after digesting it on Sunday, my suggestion is to definitely hold back in the first two miles and start working a bit as you start your climb over the Manhattan Bridge. Keep working the exit off of the bridge as well as your time in China Town. Once onto the FDR you can hold back again in my opinion as this stretch of the run may be a little draining. Remember the elevation of the FDR, it goes from street level, to elevated road way. The pivotal part of the race for me will be the stretch from the FDR on 42nd street until you enter the Park, which is a little bit over 2 miles. This stretch, while it does have some uphills, presents slow gradual uphills, that are definitely ones that you could run at a good clip without getting drained, especially since there are downhills here as well. Further the adrenalin of running by the United Nations (42nd street & FDR drive), Grand Central Terminal (42nd street & Lexington Ave) and of course Times Square, should carry you strongly thru a solid two miles. This will set you up for the final four miles in the park where you will have to tough it out and give it all of you have on the uphills. Keep in mind, you will also enjoy those down hills and the crowds will undoubtedly push you to the finish line.
Again, this course is in no way impossible but it’s nothing compared to the previous version of the United NYC Half Marathon. It is definitely more challenging. Has anyone else run the course out there? What was your take on it? Less than three weeks remain til the big race. Are you ready?
We organized this race through the online Facebook group that I coordinated specifically for the United NYC Half. If you would like to join that page you can find it here. Hope this was somewhat helpful in your preparation for the race!
I wanted to take the opportunity to thank those folks that came along for the run. Originally we had 28 confirmed but the weather rightfully causesd some cancellations so kudos to the 12 that did come out! (pictured below)
Good luck to all running the United NYC Half Marathon on 3/18!

Cold Weather Racing Planning

Just when I had started to get accustomed to winter running, New York City gets mired in an epic cold spell that shifts the weather from just regular winter weather to borderline dangerous winter weather. I sincerely don’t remember the last time the mercury was above freezing. We are 10 days into winter and we have already had four instances of snow. If this trend continues, we are in for one heck of winter. I’ve written before about cold weather running but how about when you have to race in extreme cold weather like the type that we are having in New York City?

The temps on my cold weather run on Tuesday – wind chills of 7 degrees!

This Saturday, I will be taking part in the New York Road Runners Joe Kleinerman 10k in Central Park. The forecasted high for the day on Saturday is 16 degrees. I don’t even want to speculate what the wind chills will feel like. With the race expected to start at 8am, I can assure you that we will not be starting the race at the high temps for the day!

In anticipation for this, the last couple of days, I decided that it was imperative to run in these frigid conditions. When I ran my 5k on Monday, the wind chill temps were 0. Tuesday night when I went for a jog, wind chills were 7. During those runs I had the luxury of stretching indoors and then stepping out just before my race/run. That isn’t a convenience that I and other runners will have come Saturday in Central Park. During the last two days I’ve been thinking a lot about before during and after the race, I came up with some other bits of precaution in my mind that I thought might come in handy if you find it essential to run a race in this weather.

Ready to race on Saturday despite the cold!

Pre-race Wait

Think about the duration of time you will be in the cold prior to the race. As I mentioned above, it is highly unlikely you will be able to hang out in a warm area up until race time. There are races where organizers will make you stand in your corral for 30-60 minutes. Call your organizers and find out how long you will have to be in your corral and plan your pre-race accordingly. For my race Saturday, I am hoping to stretch by the bag check area up until 15 minutes before race time with lots of clothing on and then strip off some layers, check them into the bag check, and jog to the start line to keep warm.

Pre-race Gear

Consider bringing clothes along with you for the pre-race that you will likely part with just before the race or during the early stages of the race. Let’s face it, you will want to stay warm as long as possible before you really get into race mode and no one can blame you for wanting to keep extra layers on as long as possible. That old baggy sweatshirt that you never wear anymore may be perfect to wear to the start line and rip off and just discard it at the start line or on the course. Further, some race organizers have charity collection bins where they will take items like this from you and donate.

Your Warm Up

Your warm up before a race is so crucial. I know that all you want to do before a race in these conditions is bundle up and stay warm. In below freezing temps however, your muscles need the warm up even more. With the cold air your muscles will contract easier and that is when injuries occur. If you have a warm up stretch routine, go thru the routine 2-3 times in this weather to ensure your muscles are stretched out to handle the cold.

Race Gear

What you wear once the race has started is crucial. The type of weather that I am referring to here is below freezing and closer to 0 degrees. In my opinion the extremities are very important. Thick non cotton socks, some gloves and a hat are a must. Your core is important but you don’t want it to be too bulky. 2-3 layers should suffice with the layer closest to your skin being a moisture wicking non cotton material. I know that most runners, myself included, are big fans of running in shorts even if it is cold. In my opinion, this is not the weather for shorts even if it is my preference for a race. In fact, studies have actually shown that below freezing, it isn’t wise to have your legs exposed to the cold air especially in longer races. The cold air lowers the temperature in the outer fibers of your legs by a few degrees. This contracts your muscles and it deprives them of oxygen. That in turn increases the use of much needed glycogen. The use of your muscles also slows when their temperature drops. I can tell you on Tuesday when I ran my longer run, I felt my legs getting heavier at the end, and I had tights on! In my opinion, leave the shorts at home in these conditions!

Dress accordingly in this weather!

Nutrition During The Race

Just because it is colder, don’t think that you don’t need the water. You definitely do! Hydrate well before the race! Also increase the amount of carbs that you take before the race. In the cold your body will go thru it’s carbs much faster since it will use them in an effort to stay warmer. I noticed this between my two cold runs on Monday and Tuesday. On Monday I took a GU carb gel before the race and felt strong the entire race and never really cold. Tuesday I didn’t take one of the gels and I actually started feeling cold by mile 4 despite the fact that it was warmer on Tuesday by about 10 degrees. My plan for Saturday will likely be to have two Gu gels. One before the race and one after mile 3. For what its worth, I also just love the taste of the GU Banana/Strawberry gels. (lol)

Post Race Clothing

What you do after the race may be just as important as at any point before or during the race. Because of my runs on Monday and Tuesday, I’ve given my post race gear a lot of thought and I will definitely be packing accordingly. Despite the cold weather you will likely be sweating or if you are not, the warmth of your body will without question cool down. This is when you need to take action. If you have built up a sweat on that bottom layer, try to get it off of you as soon as possible. Pack a couple of dry layers for after the race. Look for a portable bathroom and slip into a dry layer as soon as possible. I’m also thinking of packing an extra hat, extra gloves and extra socks. All of these items are likely to build up sweat during your race and you want to remove these as soon as possible as well. Of course the easiest solution would be to jump into a warm car as soon as possible but if you are like me on Saturday in the middle of Central Park in Manhattan, who won’t have that availability. This means you will need to do most if not all of the above right after you finish your race.

Extreme cold weather doesn’t mean that the race will result in a poor outcome. It does however mean more planning is needed, and well that’s just the reality of it. I know it’s hard enough sometimes to just focus on your race plan but the last thing any of us need is hypothermia or frost bite. Follow the above and you should be ok to race in extreme cold. Who knows, you might even PR in this weather! If you do, I would love to hear about it!

Looks can be deceiving – NYC is in a nasty cold spell!

Monday Motivation – Starting A Run Plan!

Good Morning blog world! It’s a Monday and the sun is out! Sure there is snow on the ground but let’s not allow that to foil our plans. If you have been thinking about getting a running workout started, let’s not let the weather steer you wrong. If you are ever going to take one word from me take this. The hardest part of the whole process is taking that first step out of the door. Once you are out there your body will adjust and that cold weather that you were concerned with won’t be much of a concern.

Now that you have taken my word on that, here are some simple steps that I recommend new runners keep in mind as they get acclimated to the whole process. These are steps that I myself followed a few years back when I started  running again. Like many of you, my schedule is busy. Once you have a job, a family, children, friends and whatever else, it gets hard to get into a routine. I totally get it. But that doesn’t mean all hope has to be lost. If I can get it done, I know you all can get it done!

  • Before you take a step running wise, commit to yourself that this is YOUR journey. You don’t have to run at anyone’s pace or beat any certain times. This journey is yours and you are the master of your goals!
  • Once you have committed to my first point above, do set a goal for yourself. It can be as simple as running a mile without stopping or it could be running a 5k. It’s not easy to recommend a standard goal because everyone has different capabilities and fitness levels. Therefor I will say this, in general, your goal should challenge you but should also be something attainable. Set a reasonable time frame for your goal of somewhere between 1-2 months. Need a race to run?  Check my race calendar on my blog here! (sorry NYC area only!)
  • Here is the most important part in my opinion, particularly for busy folks. Schedule your workouts! People starting to run say “I think I will try and run 3-4 times a week”. Three to four times a week is great but saying just that, leaves things too open ended. Instead of saying 3-4 times per week, schedule those 3-4 times per week and tell your family and/or friends about your scheduling so that you don’t run into scheduling conflicts with your workouts. This may sound funny, but when I schedule my workouts, I set aside time slots and send calendar invites to my wife so that the time is blocked out on her calendar so that she doesn’t try and have me run errands or handle the kids during those times. Too often we “say” we will run but then “something” comes up! I found scheduling workouts to be very effective to meeting your goals!
  • If you have a mobile device download one of the well known running apps that exists. Two of my favorites are Map My Fitness by Under Armour and Strava. These apps run with the use of the GPS on your mobile device and can track your runs as well as the times and splits. I know I previously said not to worry about running a certain time, but tracking your own workouts will help you monitor your progress. These apps are free to use and both have premium options to add on. Basic tracking of your workouts is free. Don’t have a mobile device? Pick up an inexpensive stop watch on Amazon and log your runs in a small running diary of sorts.
  • Another very important tip that many people over look is stretching. I know we are pressed for time, but please please please do not by pass your stretching. If you are short on time, shorten your run but get your stretching in. Five minutes of stretching will go a long way especially if you are new to running. Remember, your muscles are new to this do. The last thing you want to do it build up the motivation to start a running plan and then get injured. Here are some key stretches that I do myself before I start a run.

Running Stretches

  • When running, run at a pace where you can hold a conversation. If you are running and you are out of breath and cannot hold a conversation, then you are starting out too fast. I have mentioned to many beginners that the number one thing to focus on at the beginning is your breathing. Never mind your legs or pace or anything else. If you lose your breathing tempo, everything else will follow suit.
  • As hard as it may be, don’t think of running as a bad thing. So many people never see it thru but the feeling at the end of meeting your goals when running is euphoric. For many it is a feeling that not many other daily things can bring.

I will leave the ‘starting out” tips at that for now as I don’t want to bombard beginners too much. As always if you have any questions or concerns, feel free to reach out to me!

Experienced runners, have any tips for new runners starting out? Share them in the comments section!

Have a great week everyone!!

United NYC Half Facebook Group


March and the United NYC Half Will Be Here Before You Know It!


The calendar says that it is only November but I already have the United Airlines New York City Half Marathon on my mind. I ran the 2017 version of the race earlier this year and while I know I have not run the full New York City Marathon, I can tell you that the United NYC Half was a lot of fun and I was very impressed with the organization and promoting done for the race.

This year, they have decided to change the course up and make this a true New York City Half Marathon. In previous years, the race was run exclusively in Manhattan. This year, the race is starting in Brooklyn, and going over the Manhattan Bridge and into Manhattan up the east side, thru Times Square and ultimately ending in Central Park. Many people have expressed their excitement over the new course as it gives the race a mini feel of the New York City Marathon.

New Course Starts The Race In Brooklyn & Ends It in Manhattan!


One thing that I do remember about the 2017 NYC Half was the vibe that I felt days before the race at the expo, before the race on race day and of course during the race itself. I realized running this race, that there is a strong running community out there. When you come across another runner, you can usually engage in lots of conversation. Soon you find that some of your concerns, your excitements and other feelings that you thought were unique to you, are actually shared by other people.

So in the spirit of the running community, I decided to start a Facebook group that is dedicated to the 2018 version of the United NYC Half. The group is closed but just request to join the group and you will be allowed in. You can find that group here – 2018 United Airlines NYC Half Marathon. I started this because I remember getting ready for the race and not knowing what to expect, not knowing where to go, not knowing what to wear and so many other things. Now as a returning runner, I still have questions running thru my head about this race. Clearly this group can serve as a benefit to any runner so hopefully I will see you in the group if you are indeed running the race.

The group belongs to all those running the race, its not just my group. If you have a question or comment – fire away! Hope to see and meet some new faces running the 2018 United Airlines NYC Half Marathon!

MarathonFoto Always Captures Great Shots!

A Marathon Of Inspiration!


Shalane Flanagan Wins The Women’s Race! (photo credit USA Today)

The 2017 installment of the New York City marathon has come and gone. I must say that there were so many great emotions for me personally during the last week because of the marathon and I didn’t even run the race! From the race week activities, to just visiting the finish line and to hearing the stories of so many friends that ran the race, it has been a great week to just take it all in.

When the race finally began, I decided to “watch” the race for the final time hopefully in some years to come. I literally say on my couch from about 9am until 2pm which is when channel 7 ended their coverage. I was engulfed by all of the stories coming across the broadcast. One of the ones that really got me emotional was the story of Beverly Ramos, an outstanding female runner from Puerto Rico, who completed her marathon  training in Puerto Rico after the wrath of hurricanes Irma & Maria had left the island in shambles. With the suffering that her country was enduring, Beverly pushed on and was determined to run the marathon. Her interviews on the broadcast were pretty emotional. She may not have finished as well as she would have wanted but she came to New York, competed, and is likely going home to Puerto Rico a champion. 


In his final race, Meb collapses at the finish line (photo credit – NY Daily News)

Then there was the story of Meb Keflezighi. Most of you probably know it. The storied American marathoner is calling it quits after this race. For a while, he teased us all a bit during the marathon as he ran with the lead pack and he may have even taken the lead once or twice. Nevertheless, the 42 year old marathon legend would finish in 11th place in his 11th NYC Marathon. Adding more suspense was that he collapsed right after the finish line. He was fine, just exhausted from giving the marathon that he loves so much, all that he had left in his body. He will be missed on the NYC marathon scene, at least by me.

Shalane Flanagan talking to children before the start of NYRR Percy Sutton Kids race in August.

Then of course there was Shalane Flanagan. Oh how she has lifted so many young girls spirits. Being a youth amabasador for New York Road Runners club, Shalane was a favorite for alot of kids on Sunday, including my 7 year old daughter who got to meet her back in the Percy Sutton 5k in Harlem back in August (see my pic above from that day!). Shalane was at the starting line for the kids races that day high fiving all of the kids before they sprinted to the finish line. Fast forward back to Sunday’s marathon, watching her with my daughter from the couch was pretty awesome as she broke the tape to become the first woman in 40 years to win the New York City Marathon. Hoisting the American flag with a huge smile on her face was not only a much needed proud moment for Americans but INSPIRATION for so many young girls. 

Then there was the fun aspect for me to track some celebrities from my couch with the New York Road Runners app. I got a kick out of watching Kevin Hart go out at sub 3:30 pace only to see him cramp up and finish in 4:05. I remember thinking “man Kevin Hart is going to CRUSH this”, but this is the marathon and it will test you! I also saw Tiki Barber and Prince Royce run a steady race and I am hoping that when I run the marathon in 2018, I can at least run faster than the three of them did!



Peg Trager from Minnesota Finishes on Crutches (photo credit – Mike Waterhouse)

However none of these stories hit my heart and soul like the ones that ABC News 7 posted on their website earlier today. I ask you all to give this article a read and take some time to read the stories of the runners WHO NEVER GAVE UP. These aren’t experienced professional runners or folks in tip top shape. They came to this race wanting to finish. When water stations were empty and abandoned and when people no longer lined the course to cheer them, they continued. When nightfall fell they didn’t waiver. When their bodies told them “No mas”, their mind and their spirits told them to continue. Read these stories, they all finished the race! This is why running is SO POWERFUL and why it is my wish for all of you to experience the power of overcoming something you didn’t think you could do and being proud of it! Once you read these stories, if only one of you will get up and make a vow to make yourselves better, then my mission was accomplished for the day!

Always believe in yourselves just like the 50,000 plus that crossed the finish line on Sunday did! If your up to it, join me and let’s crush the 2018 NYC Marathon ir any other race together! 

The Emotions Of A Runner

This race moves participants in so many ways!

I wasn’t planning on a Friday after 5pm post but then this afternoon happened. I walked to Central Park today because it was gorgeous out. I had read that the finish line for the New York City Marathon was finally complete so I figured I walk over to Central Park. 
The weather was beautiful out so uptown I went on 6th Avenue from my office at Rockefeller Center. Halfway on my walk up 6th avenue at around 54th street, I’m waiting for the light to change, and I see a young woman running towards me. I looked, I looked again more intently and I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was one of my favorite runners currently on the circuit, none other than Brenda Martinez. I COMPLETELY FROZE for 3 seconds. I watched her run by and thought about asking for a selfie. Then I  had all of these thoughts

“maybe she was on a final training run for the Abbot 5k Dash To The Finish- you can’t ask her for a selfie- what if you mess up her training run and she loses because of you- what if you stir up attention to her and she gets mobbed?” 

Recognized Brenda b/c she was still wearing the shirt in the pic she posted about an hour earlier lol

By the time I asked all those questions in my head – she was gone. Running down 6th ave- it was good to see you Brenda! But i continued my walk smiling because I had seen one of my favorite runners up close. Pretty damn cool!

The marathon – truly a global affair!

Onwards I went to Central Park! I made  it to the finish line and what first  struck me were all of the flags from all of the countries being representee at the marathon. How beautiful that sight was. How beautiful it must feel coming up that final uphill running between all of those flags.
Finally I made it to the finish line. I felt ecstatic about being able to see it. There was excitement because there were people meeting and discussing their plans for meeting their family members after the race. There were news reporters interviewing people about the race. So much buzz and optimism! Then I started to long for running this race on Sunday. Maybe I was teasing myself going to the Pavilion, Expo and now the finish line all in one week. But then I thought “screw this- I’m a runner and this is our Super Bowl, Our World Series, I’m going to celebrate”. 

Next time I see you, I cross you with hands held high!

While I still felt feelings of wanting to run the race. I started to chat with people that were taking pictures with their numbers and with their families. Heck I implored people to get into the pics with their families on a couple of occasions and I snapped the pictures for them. I congratulated them for getting the opportunity to run th best race in the world and wished hem nothing but luck!

On my way out, I turned back because I saw Fred. Fred Lebow that is. The grandfather of the NYC Marathon has his famous stature just to the left of the finish line. I snapped a pic of Fred and literally said “thanks Fred”. Without him he won’t have this race, we don’t feel these emotions and we would never be able to say the words “New York City Marathon”.

I keep saying I will see you next year, but getting closer to the race this year has me more motivated than ever!

Once again good luck to all of those running this beautiful race on Sunday!

The father of the NYC Marathon – Fred Lebow