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2019 Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run & 5K Run-Walk

Welcome to another edition of Ed’s Calm Corner! This post will be a post-race edition instead of the usual pre-race posts.

Queens Distance just had another amazing weekend with teammates participating in many races in and outside of NYC. Races included the St. Louis Marathon, the President Lincoln’s Half, Rockaway Spring Half, the Boomer’s Cystic Fibrosis Run to Breathe 4 Miler, and others. I, for one, participated in the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile race in Washington D.C. along with Vikram Singh, Cathy Huang, Valerie Lores, Abilene De Jesus, Cannigia Laluw, Jessica Peralta, and Diana Wong. Jose Donado, who is coming back from injury, raced and WON the 5K event in D.C.!

At the expo the day before the race, we met with Deena Kastor, American record holder in the marathon, who signed my bib and Diana’s copy of her book, Let Your Mind Run. It’s a personal favorite running book and one that helped me realize that everyone has untapped potential to achieve more than they think is possible. We’ve seen this recently. Many teammates are about to run a marathon very soon (Boston, New Jersey, Queens!) and their training has been excellent. Kevin and I keep an eye out on everyone and it’s exciting to see all the progress and achievements being accomplished.

At the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile race, I was not the fastest runner on the field but I succeeded in overcoming self-doubt, earned a personal best, and gained so much from the experience. The training cycle leading up to the sub-58 minute race was tough, but it contained many miles filled with happiness. The following few tips are not for the physical part of training, but more the mental aspect of training which I hope can be useful for experienced runners and new runners attempting longer distances.

Queens Distance right before the start of the race!

Enjoy the training cycle

Many runners run for fun but many run with big goals in mind. These are goals that get us up early in the morning to run and make us plan our yearly calendar in 18-, 16-, or 12-week cycles. Many of these goals won’t be achieved for years, and that’s okaybig goals are meant to be broken down into smaller goals that we can reach one at a time.

With a goal comes the commitment to train and have a schedule, one that may not always seem flexible for anything life throws in your direction. One of the most important things I learned this past cycle was to enjoy all aspects of training and not be so strict about it. For me, this meant that taking a trip to Zion, Utah for a half marathon and not running for a week (but hiking instead) before another race was acceptable.

I was worried about losing fitness that week leading up to the Washington Heights 5K but it turned out well in the end. The hiking made up for the lack of mileage as cross-training. You don’t always need to run many miles; you can enjoy a trip and still make gains. Reflecting back, the Washington Heights 5K was a club points race and that added unneeded pressure.

Don’t be too hard on yourself

There were plenty of times in the past when I was hard on myself leading up to training sessions or long runs, meticulously planning what I wanted to do. This time, I was more relaxed and often decided on a workout right before it was executed. It’s not that I wasn’t serious about training, it’s just a more relaxed mentality.

Each training cycle is different and sometimes you can’t hit a pace in a workout that you were able to execute weeks or months before. Fitness is different each cycle and knowing you are feeling well can be better than hitting a pace in a workout. So when sessions don’t go well, let it go, the road will always be there.

Acknowledge that training runs won’t always go as expected

There was one key long run workout I did to prepare for the ten mile race (2x3k, 3x2k, 5x1k) which I did not complete. The first part of the workout went much better than I expected it to go. When starting the last part, unfortunately, I could not move my legs to the pace I wanted to hit. I called it a day but did not consider it a failure. I reminded myself how well the first part went and that was more than enough to cheer me up.

Completed workouts that go well feel great, but they are not always the key. One workout won’t define your training. Whether it’s a great workout or a bad one, when you toe the line to your race you are showing who you are based on multiple weeks of training. So, when you miss a workout or it doesn’t go well, that’s just another reason to make the next one better. I would not recommend trying to “make up for it” and doing it the next day but instead letting it go and keep with the training schedule.

Photo courtesy of Cheryl Young

Keep to your race plan

For the past two races I had trouble making up race plans. Should I be conservative or more aggressive? Whether you make up a training plan for yourself or your coach gives you one, stick with it. The coach knows you well enough to know you can execute the plan. They believe in you, now it’s your turn to believe and achieve.

Signed copy of Let Your Mind Run by Deena Kastor

The later miles in a race will always be difficult. For a marathon it can be the last six miles, for a half the last three, for this ten miler it was the last two miles. Whether it was a good day or a bad day, my plan was to give everything I had for those last two miles and I stuck with it.

Don’t rely on the watch too much

Sticking with a plan means having a pace you want to hit. The best way to keep track of it is with a watch but sometimes it can backfire. I’ve had races where I wasn’t hitting the pace and I panicked. Any small amount of panic can cause bad results.

Sometimes, like at the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile race, the watch will read faster splits. Perhaps you need to slow down to a pace you know you can more comfortably hit. But, if you are having a great day and the faster-than-expected splits are feeling good, then why not keep going? The watch can unconsciously set a limit on what you think you should run and not what you are capable of.

Remember why you run

The Cherry Blossom Ten Mile race was gorgeous. As you made turns you could see monuments in the distance and as you went on the straightaways there were cherry blossoms on each side of the road. During mile three or four of the race I reminded myself why I was running the race, who I was running for, and what I wanted to get out of it. You can be fueled with thoughts of “I need to get this time” or “I need to beat this person” but I don’t believe that will get you far. Whatever or whoever you think of, make sure it makes you smile. Just ask Eliud Kipchoge how much smiling helps him in a race.

Photo courtesy of Jessica Peralta

Failure happens to all of us. Bad failure is hard to deal with. Good failure motivates us to be better. Set the bad thoughts aside and put your heart out there. And remember, you have a whole team behind you!


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Pablo Gear

Note: Read the Spanish translation below. Lee la traducción al español abajo.


Back in 2016, our team had a casual group run to Little Neck to celebrate Thanksgiving and be grateful for another year that we’ve been together. Leading up to the run, I was talking to future member Pablo Yax who seemed apprehensive of the distance we were running. It turns out that the casual 10 mile run was one of Pablo’s longest, and at the time, hardest run he had done then. Being timid, Pablo was quiet for most of the run and the language barrier made it hard for him to join in some group conversations. But, being Queens Distance and a diverse team in Queens, some of us switched to conversations in Spanish. After warming up to us, we encouraged him to keep coming out and running with us.

As the years go by, we see our team grow in numbers and grow closer together. What you put into the team is what you gain from it and Pablo is no exception to this. The following is an interview I had with Pablo in late September and one that highlights the diversity we have in Queens, what it means to work hard towards a goal, and what developing as a person looks like.

As Pablo and I enjoyed Bareburger in Forest Hills (it was Pablo’s first time there!) he told me of his time back in Sololá, Guatemala. He arrived to NYC about 16 years ago and has enjoyed the New York community since then. Pablo came to the running scene just recently, two years ago, in one of our group runs and has since flourished into a very adept and fast runner—his fastest marathon is 2:51 in the D.C. Marathon earlier this year!

If you’ve seen Pablo race, it’s “con todo”—with everything. He’s one to show grit at the end of a race and go into what many teammates now call “Pablo Gear”—that extra gear found late in a race when the going gets tough. So how did all of this come about? It turns out that Pablo did not play any sports growing up but he and his two brothers did play some soccer. His father and siblings were exceptionally good players but Pablo was not. Fast forward many years and he comes to run with us and then races his first 5K and first race ever at our QDR 5K Championships.

Pablo after the QDR 5K Championships

When I asked him what motivated him to start running and keep on running, he thought long and hard. For many of us, the reasons why we run can be as easy as “I want to beat a certain time”. For some, running is a means to change one’s lifestyle for the better. For Pablo, he use to smoke five years ago, eat unhealthy foods, and sleep very little. Now, through running, he’s motivated by his change in habits for a better lifestyle.

Pablo at the Rock’n’Roll Brooklyn Half

Since his first race, he kept training and attempting longer distances. It was at the 2016 Rock’n’Roll Brooklyn Half where he realized that he had potential for longer distances. As he recalled, that race he ran without proper running shoes or even a watch and he managed a 1:27 time! He remembers that race very well because after resting for half an hour, he tried to walk home but both his feet cramped up. It was a struggle going home but at the end of the day he enjoyed the experience.

Pablo also enjoys the longer distances because they are not as intense as the 5K and he feels he’s capable of doing well in the long distance that is the marathon. He brought down his time from 3:12 at his first and our very own Queens Marathon in 2017, to 3:00 at the Baltimore Marathon (where he went to with a QDR teammate), to 2:57 at the TCS NYC Marathon, and finally to 2:51 at the Washington, D.C. Marathon.

When Pablo is not training for these races, he’s out working in construction and enjoying concerts. Some of his favorite concerts he’s been to have been at Bob Dylan, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Allman Brothers Band, ZZ Top, and Hombres G concerts. In fact, back in June he went to an Hombres G concert and that same night traveled to Boston to race the B.A.A 10K in the morning! As he told me, you have to do what you love even if it means only sleeping a few hours. It’s hard to have those opportunities and we have to make the most out of our time.

Pablo at a Bob Dylan concert

Like most of us who run year round and find injuries inevitable, Pablo battled a knee injury which took him out for about half a year. With cross training and strength workouts, he gained an appreciation for running and being healthy. Now that he’s back on track, Pablo’s next goal is the Philadelphia Marathon in November. It’ll be his second time in Philly as he recently went there with a QDR teammate for the Philadelphia Half where he boasts a time of 1:20!

Being Guatemalan, he’s inspired by Guatemalan racers like William Julajuj who ran a 2:18 in the Rotterdam Marathon. Pablo was a top runner from Guatemala at the 2017 TCS NYC Marathon and we know Pablo will keep pushing and placing high for his home country. One of the few things that reminds him of home is food, and one of his favorite restaurant that most closely resembles food from home is Luna de Xelaju in Jamaica, Queens.

We finished off our burgers by talking about what we were grateful for and what we hoped for the future. We can’t control life’s unexpected situations, but we can control our attitude towards what is given to us. Pablo thanked his athletic lifestyle because it has helped him live a healthy life and it gives him reasons to live, and now he intends to keep running as long as his body allows him to.


QDR wishes Pablo the best of luck for all his future races and goals!

Follow Pablo on Instagram.


En 2016, nuestro equipo tuvo una carrera casual corriendo hacía Little Neck para celebrar el día de acción de gracias y agradecer otro año en que estamos juntos como equipo. Antes de la carrera, estuve hablando con el futuro miembro Pablo Yax, quien estaba nervioso por correr tantas millas. Ahora sabemos que esa carrera de 10 millas fue una de las más largas para Pablo, y en ese tiempo, una de sus más difíciles.  Por su timidez y la barrera del lenguaje, Pablo se quedó callado y no participó mucho en las conversaciones. Pero siendo Queens Distance, un equipo de mucha diversidad en Queens, algunos de nosotros empezamos a conversar en español. De esa manera, Pablo se animó más y lo invitamos a que volviera a correr con nosotros.

Con el pasar de los años, hemos visto a nuestro equipo crecer en números y mantenerse unidos. Lo que uno da al equipo es lo que uno gana y Pablo no es una excepción. Lo siguiente es una entrevista que tuve recientemente con Pablo al fin de septiembre y una que señala la diversidad de Queens, lo que significa trabajar duro por una meta, y el desarrollo como persona.

Mientras Pablo y yo comíamos en Bareburger en Forest Hills (fue su primera vez!) él me platicó de su tiempo en Sololá, Guatemala. El llegó a Nueva York hace 16 años y ha disfrutado de la comunidad desde entonces. Pablo empezó a correr recientemente, hace tres años, en una de nuestras carreras y se ha vuelto en un corredor hábil y rápido. Su mejor maratón es de 2:51 en el maratón de Washington, D.C. este año!

En el maratón de Baltimore

Si has visto a Pablo correr, él corre con todo. El corre con determinación y con algo que sus compañeros han nombrado “Pablo Gear”—su modo de correr al final de una carrera cuando todo se siente difícil. ¿Cómo fue que empezó todo esto? Pablo no participó en prácticas de atletismo cuando era joven, pero él y su hermanos si jugaron un poco de fútbol. El jugaba fútbol pero no era tan bueno como su papá y sus hermanos que eran muy buenos. Después pasaron muchos años y él empezó a correr con Queens Distance, compitiendo en su primer 5K y primera carrera en nuestro QDR 5K Championships.

Cuando le pregunté qué es lo que le motivaba para correr, el lo pensó por mucho tiempo. Para la mayoría de nosotros, las razones por correr pueden ser tan fáciles como “quiero romper un récord”. Para algunos, corriendo es una manera de cambiar nuestras vidas por lo mejor. Para Pablo, el fumaba hace cinco años, comía comida chatarra, y dormía pocas horas. Ahora, él está motivado por sus cambios a una vida más saludable.

Desde su primera carrera, el ha seguido entrenando y corriendo más distancias largas. Fue en el 2016 Rock’n’Roll Brooklyn Half donde el se dio cuenta que podía correr distancias largas. Como el me dijo, él no corrió con zapatos adecuados ni mucho menos con un reloj y todavía corrió 1:27! El se acuerda muy bien de esa carrera porque al finalizar la carrera, descansó por media hora y cuando quería ir a su casa, se le entumecieron los pies con calambre. Aunque le costó tanto llegar a casa, fue una experiencia inolvidable.

1 horas y 27 minutos para Pablo en el Rock’n’Roll Brooklyn Half

A Pablo también le gusta la distancias largas porque no son tan intensas como el 5K y siente que puede mejorar su tiempo mucho más. Pablo ha demostrado mucha promesa en el maratón, mejorando su tiempo de 3:12 en 2017 en el Queens maratón, a 3 horas en Baltimore (donde fue con un compañero de QDR), a 2:57 en el TCS NYC Marathon, hasta finalmente lograr 2:51 en el maratón en Washington, D.C.

Cuando Pablo no está entrenando para estas carreras, él está trabajando en construcción y disfrutando de conciertos. Uno de sus favoritos conciertos son los de Bob Dylan, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Allman Brothers Band, ZZ Top, y Hombres G. En junio, Pablo fue a un concierto de Hombres G y esa misma noche, viajó a Boston, para luego correr el B.A.A. 10K en la mañana! Como el me dijo, aveces tienes que hacer lo que amas aunque pierdas sueño. Es difícil tener esas oportunidades y tenemos que hacer lo más que podamos con nuestro tiempo.

Pablo en un concierto

Así como muchos de nosotros que corremos todo el año y nos lastimamos, Pablo se lesionó la rodilla, lo cual le dejó sin correr por seis meses. Con otros tipos de entrenamiento, él aprendió a valorar corriendo y estar con buena salud. Ahora que está de vuelta, la próxima meta de Pablo es el maratón de Philadelphia. Será su segunda vez en Philly, su primera fue hace poco con una compañera de QDR cuando corrió el medio maratón de Philadelphia en 1:20!

Pablo es guatemalteco y se inspira mucho por otros corredores guatemaltecos como William Julajuj que corrió 2:18 en el maratón de Rotterdam. Pablo fue unos de los mejores corredores guatemaltecos en el 2017 TCS NYC Marathon y nosotros sabemos que seguirá luchando y logrando mejores tiempos por su país y por si mismo. Una de las cosas que lo recuerda de Guatemala es la comida, y uno de sus restaurantes favoritos es Luna de Xelaju en Jamaica, Queens.

Los dos terminamos nuestras hamburguesas hablando de lo que estamos agradecidos y por lo que esperamos para el futuro. No podemos controlar las situaciones inesperadas, pero sí podemos controlar nuestra actitud por lo que se nos da. Pablo le dio gracias al atletismo porque le ha dejado vivir una vida saludable, con ganas de vivir, y él seguirá corriendo hasta que su cuerpo lo permite.


Pablo, Queens Distance te desea todo lo mejor en todas tus próximas metas!

Sigue a Pablo en Instagram.



Special thanks to Jessica Peralta and Guadalupe Cariño for the Spanish translation review and to Jose Donado for the cover image.

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Hoka One One Long Island Mile – NYRR 5th Avenue Mile

Welcome to Ed’s Calm Corner! Kevin, team captain, has given me the “Ed the Calm” nickname a while back, due to my same “calm demeanor” when running easy or intensely. What started as giving a few quick tips before a race has turned into a series of advice and general knowledge sharing in Queens Distance Facebook group. I am not the fastest or the most knowledgeable runner, but the hope is to pass along course knowledge, general advice, and anything in between, to help one be more confident before a race.

The mile.

We’re all familiar with the mile. We have all run plenty of miles before and we will run plenty more. For those well into their marathon training, hitting mile after mile in our long runs and workouts is commonplace. But, have you ever just ran one mile as fast as you possibly can? It’s one of the biggest physical and mental challenges you can set out to accomplish, because once you’re hurting, finding the motivation to keep going can be hard. Luckily, you can find comfort knowing that Queens Distance will be there to push you along. And, if you’re running the NYRR 5th Avenue Mile this weekend, you already know we’ll be out there cheering at the ¾ of a mile mark!

Hoka One One Long Island Mile

Photographed by Jose Donado

I had the pleasure of attending the Hoka One One Long Island Mile at Bay Shore High School Wednesday night along with Jose Donado, Michael Remache, Daniel Rivera, and Bryan Guzman. We arrived to find a calm setting as more and more runners began to settle in. It was a beautiful evening with a slight breeze, if you were just spectating; those running had to deal with the humidity and the nerves that come with racing on a track. We progressed into the night and first up was Michael who ran a 5:59 mile! Another heat went off and Danny and Bryan were getting ready. Unlike the 5th Avenue Mile, the Hoka One One Long Island Mile was broken up into pace heats; the first heat was a 8-to-10 minute pace goal group and the last heat was a sub 4:30 minute pace group. The gun went off and they broke off again, Danny finishing in 4:58 and Bryan in 5:06 (a new personal best)!

Daniel Rivera,

Photographed by Jose Donado

It was a tough night with the humidity affecting the runners, but at the end of it all, we had a lot fun running, watching the elite runners race, and talking about the next big goal: the 5th Avenue Mile. What to expect on race day? A downhill for the first 400 meters, an uphill for the second 400 meters, another downhill for the third 400 meters, and then Queens Distance cheering as you begin the last 400 meters until the finish!

The QDR Scream Station at the 3/4 mile mark!

Just like in the previous years, Queens Distance will set up on 5th Avenue and 65th Street, right by the ¾ mile mark. We chose this spot because, as you can see the finish line on the horizon and as you probably think you’re fading, the scream station will help you find an extra gear to finish the last 400 meters as strong as possible. Make sure to stay on the right side of the street!

Claudia Rivero, Jose Donado, Kevin Montalvo, & Nicole Freeman at the NYRR 5Th Avenue Mile 2017

To go back to a previous point, why would you think you’re fading after the halfway point? Because it certainly feels that way and, as I’ve talked to others about, the third 400 meters into the mile can make you or break you. One just has to hold on to dear life as the pain starts to kick in and the rate perceived effect rises. As I’ve told my younger brother plenty of times, “One moment of pain is worth a lifetime of glory.” That quote is attributed to Louis Zamperini, a World War II veteran who ran the 5000m distance in the 1936 Berlin Olympics and also known for being a Japanese prisoner of war survivor. Coincidentally, it was Zamperini’s brother who told him that right before Zamperini left for the 1936 Olympics. It was something that resonated with me while reading his story in Unbroken.

So, as you head towards the final part of any mile race, remember that the pain will be over soon, not to give up, and keep pushing. Embrace the pain. Sure, maybe you won’t be competing at the Olympics (for now) but a mile is a mile; a 5-minute mile is the same distance as a 9-minute mile. We all have different goals but the struggle to reach that goal is the same.

Take it from the first two runners who broke the 4 minute barrier in 1954. John Landy, the second person to break 4 minutes in the mile, attempted and failed numerous times to break that barrier. After a few attempts he even thought it was be impossible. It wasn’t until Roger Bannister broke the 4 minute barrier in 3:59.4 that Landy was later (in about 6 weeks) able to break the 4 minute barrier.

Come race day, don’t set any limits, just run your best. One of my favorite memories from the 2017 5th Avenue Mile was seeing my mom run her first mile race. She was hoping to break 11 minutes and when she finished she was so surprised that she finished in 9:45! The Mile is not just for the fastest but also for those courageous enough to challenge themselves.

If you have time after your race on Sunday, stay to watch the Elite Men and Women races and take a picture with them after the race!

Ginia Guzman’s signed QDR hat by Jenny Simpson!


Best of luck!