North Brooklyn Runners: A Community Running Group Serving Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Bushwick, and Beyond!

Running and “loving” it by nbrwebjohn
February 23, 2016, 7:45 am
Filed under: Inspiration, Members, Pain, Uncategorized

Spring isn’t quite here, but we let ourselves settle into the welcoming suspension of disbelief. Here in Santa Fe, most of the lingering snow and ice has melted, the sun’s been shining fiercely in cloudless blue skies and we’ve had a week or two of nearly 60-degree days. This is the kind of weather that makes you want to be outside all of the time, and for me, it’s the weather that makes me excited to “get back in the swing of things” as I say. Now past the long holiday season of Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, and birthdays that came with travel and cold weather, excuses are running low and I’m getting antsy to get outside.

I’d had big hopes to the do the Bandera Trails 50K in early January, riding high on the post-TransRockies fitness and “I can do anything good!” mentality that it left me with, but I started a new job in a kitchen and my body and energy took a beating, winter set in and that was it.

My usual last-ditch running efforts are commuting the 2.5-3.5 miles to and from work a couple of days a week, but I was aching to get off the busy roads and into quieter territory. In the “off season” I’ve really been trying to convince the running part of my brain to believe that any running is better than no running. I think I’m nearly there. With the light lasting a bit later every day, I’ve managed to get in a few late afternoon / early evening runs, some only 2 miles — running the uphill stretch of road from our house to the trailhead and back.

Ha! My first run up the road in a long while reminded me, painfully, of what cardio loss at altitude feels like. I stopped and walked a few times trying to calm down that pre-heart explosion feeling, but I got through the first few short runs without incident. I came in the door and begrudgingly did a plank on the rug for some indeterminate amount of time.

I’ve been making myself run as often as possible, for any distance I have time or energy for— I haven’t quite gotten to five miles yet— but as I told Misha, I have to make myself do this until I just do it and like it. That’s usually how I come out of a no-running period.

I mean, I “want” to go for a run. But I also really want to take a long shower, put on my pajamas, eat cookies, and watch 3 hours of Netflix—and the attraction of the latter is much hard to resist. I know myself well enough at this point that if I just make myself to do a bit of running very regularly, eventually I will remember and feel all of the reasons I do it. And like it.

Today, I finally made it onto the trails. Running on the trails again feels like home. Everything is familiar, but also new again. I’ve lost the innate feeling of how far it is to the next junction and have to check the map. I’m relatively comfortable on my feet, but I look at the ground more that I did last time I was out here, months ago, not quite trusting. I’m all alone and I keep thinking I’ll see a hiker with their dog around the next turn, but the faint tinkling sound I hear is not a dog collar, but just the house key in my pocket.

Running and “loving” it

It’s the first of my runs lately where I actually like it, when I’m not quite ready to go home yet. I love the solitude on the trails, the being so close to nature, and I sometimes get lost in it, until footsteps coming up behind me wake me up, get me a little excited to connect with another runner. But then, the footsteps I think I hear is an idea chasing me, an idea I’ve had before, but I’m not sure I’m quite ready to commit to.

-Aja Marsh

Runner Safety Forum by nbrwebjohn
January 8, 2016, 9:00 am
Filed under: Apparel, Events, Gear, Injuries, Inspiration, NBR Goings On, Pain, Workouts

January 20th, 2015
Wednesday – 8:30 PM (after Wed Night Run)

McCarren Park Recreation Center
776 Lorimer Street, Brooklyn, NY 11222
(between Bayard & Driggs, right across from the track)


Safety is an important, and often overlooked, concern when running on city streets, in large groups, with various paces, sometimes in cold temperatures. Please join our NBR Runner Safety Forum following the Wednesday night road run on January 20th. The forum will be led by our very own safety expert Steven Kvalheim! Bring your own tips too – everyone should come ready to talk about safe running, ‘running etiquette’, and discuss ideas they have to make us all safe on the mean streets of North Brooklyn.

Facebook Invite.

Steve’s Safety Notes.


How to Buy a Pair of Running Sneakers Workshop by nbrwebjohn
November 19, 2015, 10:00 pm
Filed under: Apparel, Events, Gear, Injuries, Inspiration, NBR Goings On, Pain, Workouts

howtobuyshoesDecember 2nd 2015
Wednesday – 8:30 PM

Brooklyn Running Company
222 Grand Street, Brooklyn, NY 11211

(Seriously, you need to go to this!)

Proper shoe fitting is one of the most important aspects of successful, pain-free running. At Brooklyn Running Co. we pride ourselves on excellent knowledge of running footwear and foot mechanics, using several methods of stride identification and bio-mechanical data to fit you in the ‘Perfect’ running shoe for your stride.

Join us for a free information session on December 2nd for a night of complimentary food, beverages, and a presentation about how to choose the right footwear and what it truly means to get fitted with a running shoe. We’ll be answering any questions you may have, whether it’s about heel-to-toe drops, minimal vs. maximal cushioning, or even about how to get your favorite shoe colorways from your favorite shoe companies- we’ll be there to answer it all!

P.S. This is right after the Wed night road run – come on over all deliciously sweaty and learn about sneakers.

Facebook Event.

Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture for Runners Workshop by nbrwebjohn
November 11, 2015, 10:00 am
Filed under: Injuries, Inspiration, NBR Goings On, Pain, Workouts

Thursday, November 19thAcupuntureWorkshop
8:30 PM (after Thursday PM Track Workout)

Brooklyn Athletic Club
8 Berry Street, Brooklyn, New York 11249

Many runners have described how running makes them feel whole: mind, body, and spirit moving in unison. Chinese Medicine agrees. It views the individual as a whole being with the mind, the body, and the spirit, interconnected and supported by an underlying energy system.

This talk will cover some of the basic questions you have about Chinese Medicine and acupuncture. Does it hurt? Not really. Does it work? Many runners swear by it. How does it work? We’ll cover that. We’ll talk about the esoteric and practical elements of Chinese Medicine and how they can be used to create a balanced running lifestyle. And we’ll touch on some common running injuries (plantar fasciitis, IT band syndrome, hip tightness, etc) and how these can be treated with acupuncture and acupressure. Also on the menu is off-season maintenance, which will include a few delicious recipes that use Chinese herbs to address some common running ailments.

Bio: Stephanie Raine Lee is a New York State licensed acupuncturist and board certified Chinese herbalist. She works at Worksong Community Acupuncture* located on Driggs and McGuinness. A graduate of PCOM (Pacific College of Oriental Medicine), she has a Master of Science in Traditional Oriental Medicine and makes an amazing roast chicken. She’s experienced in treating muscle pain, anxiety, insomnia, fatigue, gastrointestinal discomfort, and gynecology – and she wants to see you heal yourself. Outside of Worksong, she maintains a private practice in Middle Village and a food blog called The Herby Kitchen.

*Community acupuncture’s main goal is to serve the community and make acupuncture available and affordable to everyone. Come and visit us!

Facebook Invite.

Chicago Marathon 2015: Race Reports by nbrwebjohn
October 26, 2015, 10:00 pm
Filed under: Inspiration, Marathon, Members, NBR Goings On, Pain, Races, Running Tips

Three views on 2015 Chicago: Matt Schenker, Thomas Boardman, and sort of personal, non-traditional thing by Sue Walsh.

Matt Schenker

chic2014MattBI had only been to Chicago once before and I loved it, and I was really looking forward to running through the city. I had trained much harder for this marathon, my second, than my first, and I felt relatively good going into it, apart from some tightness in my hip.

The forecast that day called for a high of 76 degrees, which was disconcerting, but the weather was perfect in the morning, around 55 degrees. My hotel was near Grant Park, so I was able to just walk over to the start. After having done the NYC marathon last year, it was nice to not have to go through any extensive travel beforehand. Sue and I warmed up together before the start and it almost felt like any normal NYRR race.

The start of the marathon is great, because you feel like you are in a canyon with the entire city around you. I especially loved going through the tunnel right at the start. The first 5-6 miles flew by. Running downtown is electric, and the views as you cross the water are great. I was running a little faster than I had planned, but I felt good, so did not worry much about it. Along the way, I chatted with a few NBR’iors who were racing. I started feeling the tightness in my hip at mile 7, and then it just went away. Maybe it was in my head. Miles 8-10 were really beautiful, with good crowds. I saw family at mile 11.5, and was feeling great at that point.

I caught up to the 3:20 pace group right around mile 13, and decided to fall in line with them, since I was going for sub 3:20. My previous mile had been way too fast, so it was good to force myself into a rhythm. I battled stomach cramps for about a mile, but thankfully they went away while I was chatting with someone from the Whippets. The next several miles kind of rolled by. I distinctly remember thinking at mile 16, “only a DOVES run left.” I was looking out for my family again mile 19, but they just missed me. It still helped me because it gave me something to look forward to.

chic2014MattAThe second half of Chicago is decidedly less cool to run through than the first, and of course, the increasing mileage doesn’t help. Plus, the fact that I didn’t know the city very well made it hard for me to breakdown the course into landmarks, so once I got above 20 miles, it started to become a monotonous game of just looking for the next mile. I was still with the 3:20 pacers at this point, and they helped me chug along. Mile 21 – just a Team Champs left now.

Somewhere between miles 22 and 23, I hit the wall hard. My pace only slipped a little, but the miles started to seem interminable. I was just desperate to stop. I started trying to figure out if I could walk for a while and still break 3:20, but then my rational voice would kick in and tell me that I was crazy and to keep going. Once we turned on Michigan avenue for the last 3 miles, it was a crushing struggle. Plus, it was now in the mid to high 60s and the sun was beating down on us. The 3:20 pace group started to pull away from me slightly, but my scrambled brain knew that 3:20 was still in reach. With this in mind, I just kept telling myself that if I stopped I would be so disappointed in myself and it would taint all of the work I had done. The mile markers exacerbated the difficulty. There was a 39K marker, which only served to make me question how I could run another 3k. Then a marker for mile 25, and mile 25.2. I see two of my cousins, and give them the weakest possible thumbs up imaginable.

Finally, we turned off Michigan Ave. and onto the little bridge which is basically the only hill in the race. Yet it felt like I couldn’t even keep my body moving up it. But once I reached the top, I knew I was home free. I turned into the park with about 3:18:15 and finished just under 3:19. I had so little left that I needed help walking at the finish. I couldn’t even revel in finishing because I was too out of it. Only after ten minutes of eating and drinking slowly did I come back to myself. This race was a very different experience than my first marathon – somewhat less joyous and more workmanlike – but despite how hard it was, I still loved it.

Thomas Boardman

chic2014TomBI was a bit anxious going into race weekend because I had only been able to put together about a six week block of actual marathon training. But one benefit of the truncated training was showing up to the starting line feeling as fresh and uninjured as I have even been for the start of a marathon.

Out of the four marathons I have now run, including two of the other majors, Chicago was by far the least stressful as far as ingress and egress from the starting/finish areas goes. I woke up real early, ate a couple donuts, a bagel, and a banana, and walked out of my hotel and right into the starting area. After a brief wait through the initial checkpoint, getting to the starting corrals was a breeze and once there had a reasonable amount of space to stretch and congregate with fellow NRB members, Oran, Emily, and Lloyd.

chic2014TomAThe first 18 or so miles of the race felt great. The weather was cool, the buildings tall and casting welcome shade, but around mile 19 or so I started to feel the heat and sun, and running became a bit more strained. Around the same time I began the delirious late in a race math, asking myself “okay, I need to bring it home at X pace to come in below my target time” but not trusting my mind’s ability to calculate correctly 20 miles in with the sun beating down. I had to grind hard through miles 20 through 25, but then found an extra gear for the final 1.2 mile stretch and actually brought it in at my fastest mile pace of the whole race. I crossed the finish at 3:18, not quite as fast as I had hoped, but still a five minute PR, so I’ll happily take it.

Overall, Chicago is a great race and I fully recommend it to anyone that wants to run a major marathon and is looking to run a fast race. The course is as flat as a course can be, the organization is top notch, and the crowd support is all you could hope for out of a major city. One frustrating note, because a good deal of the race takes place in the downtown Chicago area underneath very tall buildings, the GPS on my Garmin was WAY off for a good deal of the race, which made pacing a bit difficult.

A big thank you to everyone in NRB and especially the folks from the Monday through Thursday evening runs/workouts.

Sue Walsh

chic2014sueAIt would be impossible not to approach this marathon without approaching my own history. Eighteen years earlier, I ran Chicago, my first marathon, when I was 18, a freshman in college. My roommate was planning on running and thought, since I ran track and cross country in high school (with unremarkable results), I could do it, too. We signed up the day before using pen and paper. We toed the line, the next morning, with no chips or timing technology, except the sound of the gun. I wore silver Nike Air Max shoes and a cotton shirt from a high school race. I had completed a single long run of 16 miles and ran 25 miles a week. This was 1997.

Chicago 2015 was my 19th marathon. Chicago 2014 was a surprising race and incredible experience (which—going into it—I had vowed was my last marathon), I was easily convinced to sign up again. Last year, at mile 22, I thought, ‘This is the final time I will be running a ‘mile 22’ again’. At mile 26, I thought ‘Savor every aspect of this, what I’m seeing, what I’m hearing, how many emotions am I feeling, what life looks like in this exact moment. You’ll never be here again.’

I’ve stopped looking at my watch when I’m running. My interests have shifted more towards the things which cannot be measured, things that may not have a clear beginning and ending, stuff that’s more ambiguous than not. Training had gone well, I’ve had some on and off issues with my back and hip, but planned on accepting it, as it was, and mentally moving on. Race morning, I did what I had done 18 years prior. I had coffee, oatmeal, Gatorade, in my parent’s unchanged kitchen. It was supposed to get warm at the later stages of the race, which freaked me out. (Warmer races have not been good for me.) One aspect of the marathon, that I have thought of often, is the singular experience of it: how each of us views our training, our expectation, our nervousness as the only story, even though it’s within the totality of tens of thousands of other runners.

My Mom drove me downtown, I met Matt. The startling line, porta potties, drinking water, some nervous energy (that part gets easier with experience, but is still significant). I drank too much, trying to get a jump start on managing the upcoming heat. I peed right before the race. Then I had to go again at mile 2, but I didn’t want to stop and lose the time. Mile 3 or so, I saw Matt, which meant I was going too fast, and I tried to slow down and run with the 3:25 pace group, settle into some pack running. It would be just like Doves, I told myself. I felt strong and avoided the bathroom. Twelve miles later I still had to go, I was getting cramps, realizing I was passing each water station, without taking anything, as if I had lost the ability to make any decisions but letting the race happen to me. Mile 18 comes and I finally stop to pee, losing not too much time. 3:25 pace group is gone. Cramps persist. My hip is aching to the point where I can’t ignore it. Mile 19 comes, and with it, the moment when you make a decision that dictates how the rest of the race will unfold, pretending you still have authority over it. I stop, abandoning my race. I don’t know what’s next. I stretch and drink something.

Mile 20, 21, 22 slowly come and go, passing without definition. The 3:30 pace group passes me. My parents wait for me at mile 23, I stop and try to be objective. “Mom, Dad, this isn’t the race that I had planned for!” I smile and tell them I’ll head to the med tent at the end and get some ice for my achy ‘good’ hip (the other, I had surgery on 5 years earlier). I resume running and try to reframe the disappointment I feel in this specific day––forgetting that it’s actually still evolving and not complete––and try not to torment myself for making such dumb, novice mistakes as not going to the bathroom, not drinking for so many miles. (How many times have we been told to hydrate? How many marathons have I run?) As runners, we all have the capacity to quietly and privately punish ourselves, when our ‘results’ don’t confirm where we want to be. I try to convince myself I can define the meaning of this event, any way I want to. (See David Foster Wallace’s speech This is Water) The sun is beating down. We pass an old printer I used to work with at my first design job, 15 years ago. I wonder about what changes about a person, what remains constant. An image of a Russian doll comes to mind, each doll containing another version of itself. The 3:35 pace group passes me. The right turn comes from Michigan Ave onto Roosevelt, then a left on Columbus, entering Grant Park, where I used to watch the Fourth of July fireworks in high school. I think of all of the possibility you have at that moment of life, but aren’t able to recognize or understand. My commitment to finishing is so flimsy, it’s almost arbitrary, but it happens. I forget to stop my watch and don’t know my finish time.

There are times when we all wonder why we do this. Why all of the early mornings, why enduring the self imposed sting that the commitment of training can give us. Why the pressure on ourselves. Why the sacrifices. And sometimes, there are no obvious answers. We forget we have a choice, that running is not forced upon us by anyone but ourselves, we can stop racing, training, running at any moment. That maybe 19 marathons is enough. That my best could very well be behind me. The role of running, like any long term relationship, changes throughout the course of your life. My hips would probably prefer chess as a hobby. I should focus more on my career, teaching design, the boat, learn to let myself relax, finally clean my closets, address the lists of mundane tasks that provoke no interest…

But, of course, I’ve already entered the lottery for Berlin next year.

Last Minute Marathon Tips Coffee by nbrwebjohn
October 21, 2015, 9:00 am
Filed under: Events, Injuries, Inspiration, Marathon, NBR Goings On, Pain, Running Tips

October 24th, Saturday
Sweet Leaf135 Kent Ave New York, NY 11211

lastminmarathonCome for the Bridge Run, stay for the coffee and marathoning tips!

After the bridge run (which meets at 9 a.m. at the Roebling entrance to the Williamsburg Bridge – but don’t worry, we run over to Bedford to the pedestrian path), we’ll be running over to Sweet Leaf135 Kent Ave New York, NY 11211. It will be just like a regular coffee run, except this time, we’ll talk marathoning (bc um, the NYC Marathon is the following week!).

It will be just like a regular coffee run, except this time, we’ll talk marathoning (bc um, the NYC Marathon is the following week!).

We’ll talk:
–what you can do BEFORE the marathon to prep
–what you can do DURING the marathon to run your best race
–what you can do AFTER to recover

There will be handouts: Tips Before During After a Marathon

Come for the run, stay for the coffee & tips. BRING YOUR OWN TIPS TOO.

Facebook Invite.

Functional Strength Training (Pre-Marathon Version) Workshop by nbrwebjohn
September 28, 2015, 2:00 pm
Filed under: Marathon, NBR Goings On, Pain

Wednesday, September 30th
8:15PM ish

McCarren Park Track after Wednesday Night Road Run

OR RAIN SPACE: Brooklyn Athletic Club: 8 Berry Street, Brooklyn, New York 11249

Functional Strength Training (Pre-Marathon Version!)Let’s do this! After the Wedneday night road run on Sept. 30th (so come around 815, 830, we’ll start whenever the sweaty runners come back – and bonus, our speaker is running w us, so come to the run and get your questions answered mid-run!!!) – a workshop on pre-marathon strength training:

Functional Strength Workout led by Mike Riccardi of Finish Line Physical Therapy
Wednesday, Sept. 30, immediately following the NBR run (so 815, 830)

Most runners don’t think they have time to do strength workouts in the midst of regular training – but you do! It’s as simple as spending 10 to 15 to 20 minutes (depending on the amount of time you have) after an easy run. Learn running tips, key strength exercises and stretching techniques from the experts at Finish Line Physical Therapy to keep you injury-free, especially in these final weeks leading up to fall marathons. Following the group run, Mike Riccardi of Finish Line will lead the team through a few simple (yet powerful) strength exercises that are a easy to incorporate post-run.

Bio: Mike Riccardi earned his Doctorate of Physical Therapy degree from Springfield College and has been part of the Finish Line PT staff since 2014. He is recognized as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and will be a Fellow of Applied Functional Science (FAFS) from the internationally acclaimed Gray Institute once he graduates from the program in 2015. Mike has played soccer his whole life — including two years in college — and has been a recreational runner since high school, preferring Tough Mudder & Spartan Races. Call him a distance running convert? Not so fast, although he did finish his first half-marathon earlier this year.

We’ll be at McCarren Park at the Track!!!

Facebook Invite.