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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.

Meet Anselm Lebourne (Master’s World Record Holder) by nbrwebjohn
May 1, 2015, 4:00 pm
Filed under: Events, Inspiration, Races, Running Tips, Triathlon

May 4th, MondayAnselmLe
8:30 PM

Brooklyn Running Company
222 Grand Street, Brooklyn, NY 11211

All NBR members are welcome to join Anselm for a presentation followed by a question and answer session. He will focus on leadership, motivation, and hard work. Learn about the discipline, determination and focus that enabled him to become a preeminent master’s runner.

Gain tips that can help your running. Anselm’s training focuses on speed, strength, and flexibility. His workouts, even his distance runs, are done on the track, or turf. His long, including recovery, runs are done at sub 7:00 minute pace. Anselm’s workouts are structured with minimal recovery between intervals. Anselm incorporates stretching, drills and calisthenics into his workouts.

….And…he’s totally awesome.  Here’s why:

● 14 masters world records. Five set in the 2014/2015 indoor season.
● 8 world championship gold medals.
● 8 U.S. championship gold medals
● USATF athlete of the week January 2015.
● In March, at age 55, ran a 4:34.79 world record for the mile.

Other: college professor, radio show host, founder of a running academy.
His motto is “hard work beats talent if talent does not work hard.” Because of his disciplined approach to training, diet and his understanding of the human body he stays injury free.

FOOT FUN! Awesome Foot Workshop by nbrwebjohn
November 30, 2014, 12:30 pm
Filed under: Events, Inspiration, Pain, Races, Running Tips, Triathlon

NBRFeetFunWorkshopHealthy feet are essential to running great!

Dr. Morgano will be discussing common runner’s issues such as foot pain, tendonitis, muscle strains, injury recovery, blister avoidance, blackened toenails, shoe gear and so on. The evening talk will open to all questions so bring your topics of concern to the table. If there is time, and interest, Dr.Morgano will also discuss and demonstrate muscle testing as a way exploring what is best for one’s own body, including self testing one’s own running, work and casual shoes.

December 8th, Monday
8:00 PM

Greenpoint Reformed Church
136 Milton St., Brooklyn, NY 11222

Why: Because if you don’t care for your feet, you can’t run. also, black toenails are hideous. (paint them hot pink if you get them! that’s my tip, not dr. morgano’s!)
Who: Dr. Morgano and YOU and everyone else in NBR!
How: Come by after the beginners’ run, nice and sweaty, or just stop by after work, or before the night owl run. bring your feet and your questions!

(P.S. If you questions about a specific pair of shoes you have, bring them!!!!)

Bio: Dr.George Morgano works as an integrative podiatrist who combines western medicine with eastern modalities, biofeedback, body alignment, foot interpretation and reflexology. Dr.Morgano is practicing in SoHo, Manhattan. To schedule a consultation for podiatry care or one of the other therapies call (917)239-9995 or visit his website at for more information.

Facebook Invite.

The Marathon. OMG. No, really, it’s going to be okay. Workshop! by nbrwebjohn
October 6, 2014, 8:00 pm
Filed under: Events, Injuries, Inspiration, Marathon, NBR Goings On, Pain, Running Tips

October 16th, Thursday
McCarren Park Track after Thursday Night Track Workout.

James Chu, Zandy Mangold, and Russell Marks are three NBR coaches who offered to speak from their experiences, research, and knowledge about THE MARATHON!

Note: this event will happen right after the speed workout, so you’ll have to delay your drinking at The Nest until 9:30p.m. It will be OUTDOORS so if running the workout, bring a long-sleeved t-shirt so you are not cold while we put on this workshop. Especially neat, Zandy convinced Hammer to donate a bunch of goody bags so free treats, yay!

James will be talking about when training doesn’t go as planned (ie due to injury, life getting in the way, or impromptu marathon debut without training). He’ll also enlighten us on how to just have fun and loosen up time goals or completely abandoning them (I think we all could benefit from that!).

Russell will talk about how nutrition is key to a good marathon (Note from Cherie – I hope this includes lots of cookies). He’ll also highlight how to taper, and why goals are important, and how you can best achieve it.

Zandy will discuss the mental aspects of pushing beyond what you think you are capable of plus nutrition and pacing tips and how to maintain your good lucks when running far and fast.


Russell Marks ran track and cross country in high school and was coached by a Hall of Fame coach. He continued his running in college and was coached by a NCAA Hall of Fame Coach. He is a USA Track and Field Level 1 certified coach. Russell ran the NYC marathon in 2011 and 2013 and qualified for the Boston marathon with his time in 2013.

James Chu ran competitively in high school and was a Connecticut indoor track state champion at 800 meters. James continued running in college at Princeton University. James is a USATF (USA Track & Field) Level 1 certified coach and an NBR member for over 4 years. James made his marathon debut at NYC last year.

Zandy is awesome and recently ran his first 24 hour race, placing 5th USATF runner. He’s run in lots of deserts in multi-day races and enjoys running with lots of stuff in his backpack. He is sponsored by Hammer and they’ll be providing neat bags for attendees!

Facebook Invite.

Kick Clinic Recap by nbrwebjohn
August 29, 2014, 8:00 pm
Filed under: Inspiration, Running Tips, Workouts

NBRKickClinic2014 (10)As a follow up to the Kick Clinic, Theresa and James have put together an excellent write-up with some key points, great things to keep in mind regarding form, and even some links for further study and practice. I’m printing this out and keeping it on my desk. It’s that good!


Once again, a huge thanks to these two, and to all that came out.



“remember, you always have something left”

One of the most salient qualities of the race that differentiates it from the workout (or any other measured hard effort) is the opportunity it provides to “go to the well” – to reach beyond a previously established personal limit and set a new one.

Every runner has the capacity to dig deeper and reach higher. While some runners have a higher fast-twitch muscle count and therefore natural speed, anyone can increase their top-end speed.


Acknowledging that the mental, psychological, and physiological systems are inextricable, the purpose of this clinic is to provide a set of tools designed to engage and re-train our neuromuscular pathways to develop greater running efficiency and quicken the recruitment of fast-twitch muscle fibers during a fatigued state.


Practice: (Practice, practice, practice. Learn by doing. Muscle memory!) It’s the common denominator between the fastest elites and the most recreational competitors. Because we are retraining neuromuscular pathways, the benefit of doing these exercises is only as great as the level of dedication you put into them.

Mindful: It’s not about “working harder”, “gutting out” or “enduring more”.  When it comes to this practice, train your brain to think “finesse”, “lightness”, “quick, quick, quick”… These are the mantras at the root of speed. It’s not about total force generated, rather about the quickness of that force generation. The less time your feet linger on the ground the less opportunity you give gravity to weigh you down.

Decisive: In the basketball, soccer, football players all use this same mindset and neuromuscular training to shake-n-bake defenders with juke and spin moves for that element of surprise. They practice these moves – the running equivalent is the kick. The element of surprise is achieved by being at the ready to attack, pounce, accelerate. Your first move should be your last move. Completely demoralize the opponent to mount a response.

Coordination: The kick is a holistic coordination of mind and body. Sharpening the reaction time between them helps to hardwire an automated response so the brain and the body act as one. Hence these exercises are intended to challenge higher level motor coordination, mental concentration, and rhythm. Improving your moves on the dance floor won’t hurt your performance on the track.

NBRKickClinic2014 (1)


  • Lean forward from the ankles. Use gravity to your advantage.
  • Always be on the balls of your feet. (case in point: milers in the 4:05-4:45 range, forefoot strikers spend 161 milliseconds on the ground, midfoot strikers spend 169 ms, and heel strikers spend 192 ms)
  • Legs reacting off the ground. According to Newton’s 3rd law, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
  • Shoulders, neck, and face relaxed.
  • Arms counterbalance the legs. When your legs say “no” make your arms say “go”!
  • If you watch sprinters’ arms, they don’t lock at 90 degrees. they are allowed to swing down and back. the opposite reaction is that the knees drive up and forward.
  • Optimal muscle and tendon tension – elastic energy storage to snap, crackle, pop off the ground
  • Stiffer muscle will store more energy than a looser muscle (like a rubber band)
  • Rapid stretch and contraction of muscles/tendons
  • Achilles stores 35% of kinetic energy and tendons in arch of foot store 17%. without these 2 mechanisms, VO2 required would be 30-40% higher
  • In order to properly utilize elastic mechanisms, the body must be in optimal position and muscles/tendons trained (through drills, sprints, plyometrics) to be at the ready and take action
  • Heel strike does not utilize achilles-calf complex
  • Stride rate and stride length directly contribute to speed

NBRKickClinic2014 (2)



Because the objective of this is to increase power and speed under fatigue and stress, it is important that the exercises are completed at the end of a run in a pre-fatigued state to maximize their impact. Incorporate once or twice/week on medium run days modified version after workouts at more advance stages of development. Never after long runs.

  1. 35/50 min medium effort run
  2. Speed Development Set: Each rep is done twice over roughly 25 meters always capped off by a light stride out.
  • Forward Arm Circle – relaxed arm swing back and forth or complete rotation with a light skip: example
  • A-Skipbeginner – walk it out, intermediate – skip, advanced – with a few steps running / key is to get your foot back to the ground quickly: example + advanced example
  • B-Skipbeginner – walk, intermediate – skip, advanced – with a run / key is focus less on the kick up and out, but to get the foot back down and claw back (again balls of your feet is the main point of contact with the ground) example + advanced example
  • Butt kick – continuous or with a few steps of running in between alternating legs / get the balls of your feet down to the ground quickly and back up: example
  • Ninja – walk or with a few steps of running / kick foot up to opposite hand and alternating sides: example
  • Spring Stomp – start by hopping lightly on both feet (both feet touch the ground at the same time) then bend and lift alternating leg twice as fast so that it comes up higher and moves faster to get back down and land at the same time as opposite foot: example (first drill)
  • Bounding – more explosive drills. perhaps best saved as a plyometric exercise of its own with hops and rocket jumps / maximize ratio of ground reaction force to ground reaction time

Stride: Hardwiring muscle fiber recruitment into running form

  • lean forward from the ankles; tall, straight back, engaged core, relaxed shoulders/neck/face
  • 6-8 second micro acceleration with every step
  • 3-5 second all out
  • as soon as you hit top speed, come out of it gently and end with a light jog emphasizing quick feet
  • walk back
  • repeat 6-8 times

NBRKickClinic2014 (12)


Wind Down:  7-10 min jog/walk if time


plyo drills

Couple great Running Times articles:

A Lethal Kick

Get Your Speed On

Couple others on sprinting and speed development:



NBRKickClinic2014 (11)

PS.  I think someone at Competitor was at the Kick Clinic.



Got Kick? by nbrwebjohn
August 13, 2014, 10:14 pm
Filed under: Events, Injuries, Inspiration, NBR Goings On, Pain, Running Tips


The Mindful Practice of Engaging and Developing Your Latent Power

Want to harness your body’s hidden resources?


August 23rd, Saturday, 10:00AM
McCarren Park after the Saturday Bridge Run!

Sign up HERE

Come join NBR members Teresa McWalters (All-American) and James Chu as they share practical strategies for increasing power and finding that extra gear to improve race performance. This information is useful at any level, and all paces are welcomed!

Sign up HERE

Questions? Email: