Last weekend, on Saturday, August 28th, runners lined up on 94th Street next to Northern Playground for the Jackson Heights Mile sponsored by Awake NY. We all had such an amazing time organizing, volunteering, and running through the very heart of Jackson Heights. With the help of the NYPD and local Community Boards, we closed down traffic to 34th Avenue, the longest Open Streets path in NYC, for this one-mile race.
We worked with the 89th Street Tenants Unidos association to fundraise for the families displaced due to the 89th Street fire in their building, on top of dealing with the difficulty of the COVID-19 pandemic. All proceeds of the Jackson Heights Mile went to the fund and we successfully raised awareness of this issue to everyone who came from other neighborhoods to race the event. Thank you all for your contributions and please continue to support.
This event could not have happened without the effort and care of all the volunteers – thank you!
Volunteers went above and beyond to help petition in Jackson Heights every week leading into the race. They helped raise awareness of the race and its purpose. This led to more and more members of the community coming to us at our QDR tent on 34th Avenue asking for more information on how to sign up for the race and, more importantly, what they could do to further help the families of the 89th Street fire.
The day before the race and on race day, volunteers helped distribute bibs and the “Queens is the Future” t-shirts (which are available to purchase!) to all the runners. As you know, 34th Avenue gets a lot of traffic with MTA buses cutting through certain streets. While the NYPD did open those streets for the busses, during each wave those streets were closed. Thanks to the volunteers working with the NYPD, all runners sped through 34th Avenue smoothly.
This fast mile through Jackson Heights couldn’t have been possible with all the runners and clubs that came out: 718RUN, Brooklyn Track Club, Dashing Whippets, Forest Park Runners, LIC Runners, Lone Wolf Track Club, New York Harriers, North Brooklyn Runners, Running for Ayotzinapa 43, Streets 101, Team Wepa NYC, We Run Hollis, Woodside Sunnyside Runners, World’s Fair Run Crew.
We ended the mile races with the Community Champions Heat. Thanks to all the community leaders who came out and race this wave to celebrate what it means to be a part of this wonderful community that looks out for one another. After this wave, we heard speeches from State Senator Jessica Ramos, Shekar Krishan, Bryan Lozano of Homecoming, New Immigrants Community Empowerment (NICE) organizer Karla Hernandez, 34th Avenue Coalition Leaders Nuala O’Doherty and Jim Burke, Andrew Sokolov of the 89th Street Tenants Unidos association, and Josh Frankel the designer of the original mural and t-shirts.
Thank you all once again and we hope to make this an annual event with your help! And remember, Queens is the future!
The following is a race recap from our very own, Vikram Singh, at the Sri Chinmoy 12 & 24 Hour Race. That’s right, 12 and 24 hours! The race was held on June 12th and June 13th at Rockland State Park and it’s a great recap of having a strong mentality and not giving up when the going gets tough through any race.
The 24-hour timed race events are called “life in a day.” Just like the rollercoaster of life, people go through highs and lows throughout the event. While reading And then the Vulture eats you by John L. Parker Jr., the first story was about a 6-day timed event on a track that caught my interest. The book features stories about ultra-running in the 80s, which piqued my interest in timed events. Still, I don’t think I would have pulled the trigger to sign up for a race ‘till a QDR teammate, Dave Law, asked if I was interested in the 12 hours event at Rockland Lake. He had recently crushed his marathon time at the same loop, and I figured if he wasn’t tired of it after almost nine loops, maybe I won’t either. I also thought it would be mentally easier to run a 3-mile loop instead of a quarter-mile loop (most of these long-hour events are held on a running track).
My season so far consisted of the Hyner 50k in the wilds region of Pennsylvania and Rim to Rim to Rim (46 miles) in the Grand Canyon. With a long 10-hour hike in the Great Range of the ADK, I was pretty confident in my ability to spend time on my feet and keep moving. Unfortunately, I got rear-ended, and my car totaled two weeks before the race. It didn’t seem to affect me initially. Still, the following week was a stressful one dealing with the insurance and, combined with some long hours at the office, affected the quality of my recovery from workouts. My double-long run the weekend before didn’t go off too well, and I had some hamstring soreness on my left leg the days leading to the race. So I focused more on foam rolling the days before the race. I also started reading Let Your Mind Run by Deena Kastor, and it reminded me how important your mindset was. I took some of the lessons from the book to me on race day.
My strategy was pretty simple; I would jog for six minutes and walk for one minute. I debated this ratio a lot, but my goal was to keep moving, and I thought the one-minute breaks would help preserve my legs. Also, I thought it would be mentally easier when things got more challenging; I would simply tell myself to get through a 6-minute jog before getting a break. During the walk, I would try to mentally recharge and then make it through the next 6-minute jog. My A goal for the race was 60 miles, my B goal was 50 miles, and my C goal was to get over 40 miles.
Since I wasn’t in the mountains and had access to a small area along the course for my stuff, I decided to fuel up on real food during the race. On trail races where I have to carry my food, the weight to calories ratio is more of a factor, and I depend primarily on gels. Here I could always be 3 miles from my food and could motivate myself with having real food to look forward to eating. Unfortunately, I didn’t plan this out too well. I only had time to get a chipotle bowl, prepare a bagel with a veggie patty and a peanut butter sandwich. I also packed some Larabars, five ladoos, and some Enjoy-Life cookies.
I planned to get to the start around 7:15 am, set up, and then do some quick stretches and lie around, not spending time on my feet before starting at 8 am. Unfortunately, I got delayed and ended up getting to the race at 7:40 am. An overcast day in the low 70s made for ideal weather, especially compared to the weekend before. Still, on the drive over, the overcast looked more like a storm. While talking to a volunteer setting up, she mentioned spots with shade, but I failed to realize there were spots on both sides of the course. In my hurry, I simply placed my belongings in an area along the racecourse. I just didn’t want anything that would have required extra steps to get to. Besides my food, I brought three pairs of shoes and two chairs. One chair seated two people, and I used it as a table. Knowing that some rain was coming, I covered my food with a bag and kept my other shoes in a bag under a chair. It worked pretty well.
The start and finish line of the 12 and 24 hour race.
I walked over the start, not doing any stretches or a last-minute bathroom break due to lack of time. The race packet came with a bib belt where my bib was currently on. I checked in with the race director, who informed me about the counters -people who manually count a runner’s lap. He gave me an extra bib if I wanted to pin it to another shirt. I haven’t used a bib belt before, the only time I have considered using them was for triathlons, but I constantly just change to my singlet with my bib already pinned to it.
The start line was socially distanced, with tape markers separating people. Masks were required at the start as well. About 40 runners were doing the race split 50/50 between the 12 hours and 24 hours races. Another set of 12 runners or so were doing the 12 hours overnight race. I didn’t make it to a taped spot in time when the race started, so I just ran in, starting my watch as I crossed the start line. Since the bibs weren’t chip time but gun time, my watch was about 20 seconds behind. The start felt like any other race. As I started running, I immediately felt my left hamstring wiggle but felt good otherwise. It felt like the hamstring was in pre-cramp mode, as if it cramped up it would hurt, but then I would feel relief. A half-mile in, I was running behind three men who were talking. I overheard that this area we were passing was a good place to park your car. This parking lot was right next to the course, and there was a bathroom right there as well. I decided to make this the bathroom I would use if I had to go. Every step saved counts! For the first half of the loop, my jog for 6 minutes and walk for 1 minute worked reasonably well. I kept pace with many people who were also utilizing similar walk-run strategies. I didn’t make any effort to keep pace with anyone or follow or stay ahead; this was going to be my race.
The first loop went fast; running with the feel of the race environment with people made it easy. I made it through at a good pace and on track for the 60-mile goal. There were three-lap counters and one was assigned to each runner. This personal counter was supposed to make the race more personal to you. I didn’t feel it at first, but as the laps went down, it was lovely to have some people say your name and applaud you. My goal was to maintain a 12 minute per mile pace, and I effortlessly achieved that in my first loop. Based on my 50 mile PR at the 2018 Cayuga race, where I ran 50 miles on a hot day with 8,000 feet of elevation gain in 10 hours and 40 minutes, I thought it would be easy to get to the 60 mile goal. It didn’t seem far-fetched since this race was on the road on a flat course. Even with some loss of fitness, it should have been doable.
Slowly, the runners spread out, and by the close of the second loop, I was running alone. Now, the goal was to make a game out of running. I noticed the plants along the path and named some of them, noted the geese territory (sometimes a tense moment where I would keep a lookout to see if they would come flying at me). At one spot, two musicians were hired and performed 1970s rock about halfway in the course and their music echoed for a good quarter to a half-mile out. I heard that the organizers attempted to get more musicians but were unsuccessful. Then there were the rowing boats and, of course, there were the three aid stations—one about every mile. I created a list of things to look forward to on each loop. This is very different from trail ultras. Usually, when I’m not dodging rocks or roots, figuring out the straightest path, or deciding if I should charge or speed hike uphills, I wonder if I have enough food and water to make it to the next aid station. With this 12 hour course being on the road and well supported, all those variables were out leaving me to my thoughts.
On the third loop, I ran with an older runner. He said he has been doing 24-hour races for 40 years. He also mentioned that he once ran a 2:30 marathon. When learning I was doing the 12-hour event, he remarked that there was no 12 hour back in his day; only 50 miles, 100k, and 24 hours races. I noticed he left out the 50k distance as well. He emphasized to keep moving unless you need to go to the bathroom. Eventually, we parted ways as he wanted to say something to the band as we passed. Thanks to him, this third loop went pretty fast.
The race tracker for all runners.
At the start of my fourth loop, I ate a bagel with a veggie patty. It tasted great! Soon my feet started to hurt and I decided to wear toe socks for the race, something which was new. I think my fear of road ultras was creeping in and I was afraid of getting some sort of blister, so I broke the “never try new things on race day” rule. Thinking about this now, this is bizarre since I have run many ultras through streams and mud and never gotten a blister. Fatigue started creeping in too on this loop and I started to wonder if I should have stuck to my usual diet of gels. I changed my goal to something between A and B, 52 miles. I thought it would be nice to do two marathons but would be happy with over 50 miles. The race didn’t have any soda to my disappointment which is my usual go-to for sugar in ultras. As I finished the loop, I saw the main aid station tent have brownies. I took one and also ate two of the ladoos. Then I switched shoes and put on a music playlist I made years ago based on suggestions on Facebook.
My body felt renewed with the sugar rush and music, and I got out of the mental stump I was falling into. For the next loop, I ignored the walk breaks and also decided on every loop I altered between brownies and “magic” muffins. For fluids, I started alternating between cryptomax electrolytes and a homemade maple water drink. I started the race drinking six fluid ounces of water per loop, but when I started feeling tired, I decided I needed more electrolytes to make it easier to digest the water.
On the 8th loop, I ran with a man from NJ. His longest run was a 50k, and he was a 4:00:07 marathoner (so close to breaking 4 hours). He had done the virtual NYC marathon last year as well. He wasn’t too confident about how far he could get. I only caught up to him because he walked a loop with his wife. We finished our marathon distance together. We clocked a 6:02 marathon, my slowest road marathon! By now, the hamstring wiggle was gone, replaced by my feet hurting. He stopped to rest after we finished the loop. I changed my socks and shoes. The change of shoes felt great; each time so far, I felt like my feet were a bit fresher.
On the 11th lap, I caught up to two guys that were suffering. One asked if I was having fun yet, and I said it goes here and there. They were one lap ahead of me (because I heard their lap count as we finished a lap). They took long breaks, which I interrupted as they were on the verge of quitting and that gave me a goal; it motivated me to beat them. At the end of my 12th lap, I learned that this was their 13th and they decided to trash themselves to finish it. That motivated me to do my 13th and my 14th to “beat” them. A young kid also came up to me on this loop and wished me good luck in my 12 hours which lifted my spirits for a bit. The route passes by a few picnic areas, so seeing people enjoying their Saturday was a typical sight throughout the race.
After the 14th lap, though, I was back in the struggle bus. My feet hurt so much that walking was starting to feel hard. I wear pretty light cushioned shoes on trails and my feet could last pretty long thanks to the softer surface of trails. I resolved just to walk a loop. Fifteen minutes after making that decision, I received a text from Nancy that she and Abby were coming. I told Nancy about the race the day before, and she mentioned maybe coming to support. I tried to discourage it by saying it was too out of the way. It wasn’t like I didn’t want support, but I find it hard to ask when it’s just for me. I’m here selfishly running my race, and it doesn’t feel like I should inconvenience others. I texted back stating that I felt pretty dead already. My thought was that maybe letting them know that I was pretty done would discourage them from coming. Instead, I got a text telling me to hang on till they got there. Like magic, this turned on a switch to me, and all of a sudden, I felt revived. I ran the rest of the loop, completely ignoring the walk breaks strategy again. With the option to do how much you want to, I lost internal motivation to push through the pain once I felt pretty bad. With Nancy and Abby coming, that external motivation made me keep going. I wanted to keep trying till they came and then hope their presence could keep me going.
Passing the main tent and aid station for the 15th time, I started thinking that I might miss Nancy and Abby (I assumed I could only meet them at the main tent area) and soon started feeling discouraged and feeling pain again. Another well-timed text from Nancy said that she just parked at the first water aid station which was just a half-mile from where I was heading. I got my strength back up and made it to them. I know Nancy wanted to run with me, but Abby did the NYRR Mini 10K that morning and wasn’t sure if she was up for more running. To my surprise, she joined as well, and I ran the final loop with them. Talking to those two made the time click fast, and I didn’t notice the effort. Nancy brought a bottle of Gatorade which I gladly chugged down. I’ve wanted something like Gatorade the whole day. We met the man I talked to on my third loop and ran together for a bit. I was amazed at his ability to keep a conversation going. Passing the main tent, the race director advised me to make it to the next aid station.
At the end of the 12 hours, you only get credit for the last aid station you pass. I started talking with a man in the 24-hour race during my final push. He explained that he now just speed hikes the entire time and could still hit some impressive mileage. Looking at my watch, at about 200 feet from the aid station, I saw that I only had about 7 minutes to make it to the next one upon making this one. The next one was a mile away, so it wasn’t possible in my current state. I was barely keeping up with this guy’s hiking pace so I decided to walk it in. After making a weak effort at stretching, I got a ride from Nancy back to the start. I also got assistance packing up and loading the car, which I was very grateful for. I made it to 48.3 miles. Not what I thought I could do, but pretty satisfied with the effort.
I knew that the mental game is crucial in the sport of running. Even on a 5k distance, if you start feeling like you’re struggling and don’t think you could hold on, you won’t. I applied a few tricks but I was surprised at how motivating it was to have people come to support you. I went from someone struggling to walk to someone who could run pretty strongly from just the idea that someone would be there. The mind is such a fantastic factor in what we think might be our physical limits. I realized I was also afraid of running long distances on the road (7 years of trail ultras before taking on this road race) and that made me act in a way that wasn’t right for me. Going forward, I need to look at my mental game and preparation and not just focus on the act of running. And on a daily schedule, I will look further into how my expectations of workouts and runs should be so I can do my best on race day.
The following was authored by Coach Marie-Ange Brumelot. Along with Coach Medina, they have built a community of athletes working together towards their goals. It is, therefore, great to see that the encouragement she instills in others is matched by her own inspiring work ethic, attitude, and achievements. Even with so many goals achieved, there are many more right around the corner to work towards.
Through the Queens Distance Team, #FasterTogether family, and the driven NYC runner’s community, I have had the chance to grow as an athlete and always thrive for more. Everyone supports and motivates each other to keep moving forward and chase their own personal goals. This is gold.
Three months ago, at the Chicago Marathon, I achieved my A-goal by running a low 2:36. I was definitely happy with the performance but celebrating it with everyone is what really made it special. Achievements are only truly appreciated when shared with loved ones. It is later on when I realized that this was the second-fastest French marathon performance in 2019 that things started to sink in. With the Half-Marathon World Championships coming up in late March, I now set the chase of making my first National team.
I have had the goal of making a World team for some time, but never expected it to be a realistic possibility by 2020. But here we are. The training cycle towards the Houston Half-Marathon on January 19, 2020, was quite short but I believed it would be sufficient towards at least making the standard set by the Federation at 1:15:00. We took a couple of weeks to get back some lost aerobic fitness after recovering from Chicago and having fun pacing the NYC Marathon, and we focused on learning to run faster and embrace intensity. Everything worked out smoothly. We let the training talk for itself and set the A goal to sub 1:14:15 and A+ goal to sub 1:14:00.
Race day conditions were favorable despite a strong wind that would face us on the second half of the race. Aware of that, Dmytro and I did not worry much about coming out slightly fast through the first 10km. The second 10km was a battle against the unforgiving headwind. The pace had definitely slowed drastically. A quick time-check at the 20km mark, I was 24 seconds behind my split for my A+ Goal. I ran that 1.1km with the mentality that I could totally make up that time, sped up on this portion where the wind was not a factor anymore, and drove all the way through. I ran for every second, as if the clock would show 1:14:00 and I had to squeeze under. Finish Time: 1:14:12. The best I could do on the day and happy with this result. “A” goal achieved.
3+ min PR World Championships Standard met by 48 seconds. Current second-fastest French HM performance towards making the team, as of January 2020. And 100% confident that I can run a lot faster.
I am at a point in my running when I am slightly disappointed about not surpassing expectations. This comes from setting higher goals and having a better sense of my true abilities. I have to adjust my mindset and learn to appreciate more achieving the A goal. In each stage of a journey, things change and that is something to embrace.
I love the process and the community. Thank you for the endless support, warming congratulations messages, and all the love. What’s next? My eyes are set on making that team. Maybe I’ll squeeze in one more race to better my mark and increase my chances of making the team, or maybe not. That is still in the works. The team will be announced March 3rd, let’s see where I stand then!
Dmytro, Marie, and Luciano at the Houston Marathon and Half-Marathon expo
Thank you again, and cheers to fast miles for all of us in 2020!
*Congratulation to my loving husband for a smart and strong race finishing in 2:36:19, a 7-min PR! **Also, thank you to my favorite pacer, Dmytro, for the company, the help, and the blazing fast early miles!
The following was authored by Robert Sanderman, one of the hardest working athletes we’ve had the pleasure to train with since early 2019. Snowy days did not stop Rob from coming to QDR track workouts at Juniper Park in early 2019 and since then, he’s come a long way as an athlete and a teammate. We hope his story resonates with many who have ever felt intimidated to join any running group. You get as much as what you put into your running group. So, come out and surround yourself with other individuals who will push you further!
Rob trains with QDR coaches, Coach Medina and Coach Marie of Coach Medina NYC, who train athletes from any club. For further information regarding their plans, check out their site!
Before joining Queens Distance Runners (QDR), I was a very casual runner. I ran to supplement my strength training. My first race was the NYRR UAE Healthy Kidney 10K in 2013 and then the 2013 Brooklyn Half. I did them because a friend encouraged me to run with her and I was also inspired by my coworkers whose offices were decorated with finisher medals. At that time, I did not put a lot of thought and training into running. For the Half, I prepped by running 5 to 8 miles a week or so a few times before the race but that was the extent of my training. I always told myself that I would never hate myself enough to run a full marathon. During the Brooklyn Half, on May 18, 2013, I saw a sign that read “you are only half crazy.” I nodded in agreement as I tried to push through the last few remaining miles.
Then, on one fateful day in the Spring of 2018, my job informed me that they had spots for the 2018 TCS NYC Marathon. For whatever reason, I was like “why not?” This was my first time training, especially with a disciplined schedule (I used the Nike Training App and the NYRR Virtual Trainer). I thought that as long as I followed the plan, I would be fine. During the grueling “hot boy” summer training, I ran into an old college friend—Kevin Montalvo—while I was running in Central Park. He eagerly told me about his running club, Queens Distance Runners (QDR), and prompted me to join. This all happened within the seconds as I continued my stride past him and the QDR cheer station. “Sure”, I responded, but I later asked myself “why would I want to join a running club?” I was close to the end of my training and I didn’t want to do anything new. This would also be my first time joining a club so I was intimidated because I thought it would be an overly competitive environment.
Rob running with Luciano Medina Photo courtesy ofCoach Medina NYC
2018 TCS NYC Marathon
On November 4, 2018, I completed the NYC marathon—my first! To this day, it’s the best course I’ve run. The NYC marathon is a run across all the boroughs and each borough brings its unique energy. It is a thrill to run past the crowds. It’s as if you are a star in the biggest parade in the city. My goal was just to survive, a.k.a. finish, but I learned a lot from the experience.
I ran way too fast in Brooklyn. Therefore, I slowed down significantly after mile 9. By the time I made it to the Bronx, I only had enough in me to twitch a bit to the salsa and merengue emanating through the speakers. I was so happy I survived and finished at 4 hours and 16 minutes. Realizing that I might have improved my time if I started out slower, held a steady pace, timed my hydration, and did less zig-zagging on the course encouraged me to do another marathon and to set on my journey to improve my marathon time.
Spoiler!—I Joined QDR
In January of 2019, I somehow reconnected with Kev and realized that QDR held weekend runs 20 minutes away from my home in Jackson Heights. Therefore, I had no excuse. Upon my arrival to my first meet, we all introduced ourselves and took a group photo and began the run, which already gave me a “this is more than running” vibe. I usually ran by myself but that day I met new people—folks from the community—who enjoyed running. I spoke with people who ran several marathons, completed triathlons, and ran in races across the world. I thought I stumbled upon a group of professional Olympic athletes. It was incredibly encouraging and inspiring to learn of their past accomplishments and future goals.
I also connected in a different way: I had a professional connection with one of the runners. The “speed dating”-esque style of getting to know one another during a long run was pretty awesome. I soon realized that this was a great group of people with running goals ranging from leisure runs to triathlons. The familial feel of this group generated excitement to participate in future runs. Luckily for me, QDR created a training series for the 2019 Queens Marathon. That’s how I found my second marathon.
My goal for the 2019 QDR Queens Marathon was to finish under four hours. I thought this was achievable because through the winter training cycle, I learned a lot about hydration and pacing from my fellow QDR fam. Also, the regular QDR runs and the Strava app kept me honest. I never used Strava before signing up for QDR but I was motivated to see the running community getting it done, whether it’s a 5 a.m. easy run or an ultra-marathon. I eagerly branched out from the weekend long runs to join other groups throughout Queens where I met other great QDR members. Wednesday track workouts were my favorite because it was the first time I seriously incorporated track work into my training regimen (the Nike App had a few but I did those sporadically and in the neighborhood—I literally never ran on a track before). Thankfully, I was able to take advantage of the Queens Marathon training runs, which provided additional opportunities to run with other running clubs such as Woodside Sunnyside Runners (WSR). I learned a lot.
At the QDR Spring Marathon Tune-Up, on March 24, 2019, I surprised myself (and some of the folks in the pacing group) by finishing at an 8:17 pace per mile (ppm). The Queens Marathon was still a month away so I was encouraged by what I thought I could accomplish. On my last long run leading up to the marathon, I did 16 miles at an 8 min ppm. I felt ready!
On race day, April 21, 2019, I ran with the amazing 3:30 pace group. I felt strong the first 17 miles but then realized it was hard for my body to keep up. My legs felt heavy, I was dehydrated, and I started to feel a sharp pain in my side. My pace slowed significantly to the point where I transitioned from running to jogging to walking and finally standing. I stopped three or four times! This was devastating for me because I only stopped once, to use the restroom, at the NYC Marathon. I was further discouraged because I thought a significant amount of time had passed (my watch died at this point) and that I was not going to beat my 2018 NYC Marathon time, much less my sub 4 hour goal time. Although I am not a huge fan of looped courses, I was so grateful that day because I saw familiar faces (QDR members, loved ones, strangers with hilarious/motivating signs) multiple times as I ran through the loops. It also helped mentally to say to myself, “3 loops down, you are halfway there…2 more loops…1 loop to go…there is the Unisphere!” which pushed me to the finish. The expectation of knowing that your support group is in a specific spot was also comforting, unlike my NYC Marathon where I had no clue where people were (I didn’t see anyone I knew).
As I was struggling to jog it out, finishing the race instantly became plan A, B, and C. And I did just that. To my surprise, I somehow beat my NYC Marathon time by 30 minutes. I finished in 3 hours and 45 minutes.
Training with Coach Medina
Photo courtesy of Coach Medina NYC
I learned about Coach Medina NYC when I signed up for the Queens Marathon but it wasn’t until I was paced by someone who ran with him that I decided to look into it. I noticed at the marathon how Coach Medina and Coach Marie ran around the course cheering on the runners. Dwelling on why I stalled after mile 18 at the Queens Marathon, I figured it would not hurt to reach out to Coach Medina for tips. Although I have learned a lot since my first marathon, I figured I had a lot more to learn (and third time’s the charm). My new goal was to finish the 2019 Philadelphia Marathon under 3 hours and 30 minutes.
After signing up with Coach Medina at the end of May of 2019, a month after the Queens Marathon, I saw some big 5K PRs. This was a big deal for me because I never considered myself fast and although my goal was to improve my pace, I did not expect this type of progress. Unfortunately, after training with Coach Medina for roughly a month, I injured my calf (I rarely stretched and I slacked on my strength training although I ran fairly often). I couldn’t run for 6-7 weeks. This is the moment I realized I loved running. During my recovery break, running was constantly on my mind. I did everything I could to get healthy. Also, since I was new to running and didn’t know how common injuries were, I was concerned that my injury would have lasting negative effects on my ability to run.
However, I was super grateful for the Coach Medina group, QDR folks, and my physical therapist for counseling me through the injury. I started to take better care of my body: stretching before and after runs, foam rolling, and strength training. I try my best to keep this up now. After I was cleared to run, I did the Governor’s Island 10K on August 10, 2019. I planned to do an easy pace but I felt strong and ended up with a 6 minute and 36 second PR. I was ready to start training with the CMSub330 group again.
I greatly benefited from having coaches that worked with me through my injuries. Just like how I see QDR as a second family, I had this additional support group with the CM runners—particularly, the CMSub330 group (the group’s goal is to complete a marathon under 3 hours and 30 minutes). We pushed each other to be better, supported each other when we raced. I learned in a very short time that it was more than just running fast or hitting that target pace because training through the elements and witnessing all the hard work my teammates put into their training, I started to realize that we are making each other better—period! That means a lot.
Closer to my marathon date, I reinjured my left calf a few times but I was just grateful that I could still run and give my best effort. Towards the end of the training cycle, my runs were trending faster but I was concerned because my prior two marathons did not end as I hoped, although I was grateful for the PRs. I understood that I could not control everything that may happen on race day but I was less concerned because I knew I was going to sign up with Coach Medina again for the winter training cycle and that there would be more opportunities to hit my goal pace.
2019 Philadelphia Marathon
On race day, November 24, 2019, I was super excited because it was my first race in Philly and I heard great things about the course. I sweat easily and my body warms up super quick so I had to figure out what to wear during that cold and rainy day. I started off with the 3:20 pacer which felt like a very comfortable pace. I broke off at about mile 14 and still felt strong. I started to feel tired around mile 21 but I pushed since I was just trying to convince myself that 5 miles were nothing. My watch died (it’s a recurring marathon theme but I did not have one during the 2018 NYC Marathon) so I didn’t have the playlist that I spent weeks putting together and I was ignorant to my pace. I only knew that the 3:20 pace group didn’t pass me and that I was passing others on the course.
Mile 24 is when it got real. For some reason, I tried to convince myself that I did enough and could jog the last two miles to the finish line since I was on pace to finish under 3 hours and 30 minutes. Luckily for me, seeing QDR and WSR members, either cheering or running the course, gave me life. A little past mile 24, there was a large group of spectators cheering us on, and that gave me the energy I needed to push through. As I got closer to the finish line, when my energy was beginning to fade out again, I saw a WSR member, one of the first athletes I met at my first QDR run. Him yelling out my name and giving me a hi-five resulted in the push I needed to muster all that I had left to cross the finish line at 3:19:08–a 26 minute PR!
I would never have thought that my pace would have improved almost 57 minutes within a year. Qualifying for Boston was not a thought last year or earlier this year but now it seems more feasible. I’m surrounded by friends who inspire me to be better and people who have already accomplished the goals I am now setting for myself. QDR, the Coach Medina crew, WSR, and others have been essential to my growth and progress.
Cheers to having fun, building community, and chasing future PRs!
From Berlin we made our way to Chicago for the second World Marathon Major of the 2019 Fall season! What an exciting weekend it was for all of us. With over 30 runners, and even more friends and family members, Queens Distance was well represented in the Windy City. This year’s weather fared so well for the runners that many achieved big PRs, one more star closer to completing the six World Marathon Majors, and one more city to tick of the marathon bucket list.
Thanks to everyone who joined us in Chicago! From meeting up at the expo, to eating together, there were plenty of events to meet up. Since everyone flies into the city at different dates, with different time schedules, it is hard to coordinate. We’ve been told “sorry” before when teammates go to a race but cannot meet for events. Remember that there are no obligations to meet up. Doing the best to your ability is all we ask!
There were many, many big PRs this year in Chicago. Yes, the 30+ runners who participated in the 5K and the Marathon put in all the work but let’s not forget the supportive friends and family who came to Chicago! Running a marathon is an amazing accomplishment and that feeling is better when shared with everyone who has supported you through the training, through the bad races, through the PRs, through trying new nutrition or new workouts, they know everything you’ve gone through to make it this far.
This year’s QDR cheer stations were held at the same spots as last year but many went to their own spots to cheer for their loved one. This is fine and encouraged because it helped the runners; there were more chances to hear all the “Go Queens Distance!” shouts on the course. Sometimes, however, it may be hard to spot and take pictures of everyone. Take it from Mike Bocchinfuso who said
1. Cheering and supporting our FAM (and all runners) is a lot of fun and the smiles, seeing your crew cheese for photos, etc, are totally worth it. It’s definitely worth coming out if you can. 2. Tracking multiple runners AND handling photography is TOUGH. I have a new level of respect for the work that Albert and Jose put into their race photos that we get. Not that I got photos anywhere near their quality, nor did I put in the work they do, but I appreciate even more what they do even more now as Horse and Duck.
As hard as it may be, we will be there cheering for you! Not only is it fun, but it’s one of the most inspiring things you can do.
International Chicago 5K
First up for the weekend was the International Chicago 5K. This 5K is similar to the NYRR Abbott Dash to the Finish 5K as it celebrates all the countries who have participants in the Marathon. It’s one of those events where you see a lovely mix of culture in an athlete’s attire; one runner from Australia had an inflatable kangaroo on her back, a group of Japanese runners had cute anthropomorphic pineapples on their heads, and many had flags of their countries as capes.
For our teammates, many ran it as a shakeout for the Marathon. That means two medals for the weekend and a gorgeous beanie souvenier. Others raced it, like Edwin who cracked the top 10 overall in 17:10 and coming very close to a PR.
Get this, we had 30+ Queens Distance members run the Chicago Marathon! For a race outside of NYC, that’s incredible. Many teammates we spoke to were inspired by last year’s Chicago Marathon and wanted to have a go at it. For others, it was another chance at running it from deferring it last year. And for some it was their first marathon in a long time. We can only imagine the nerves everyone had leading up to the race!
Last year, the Chicago Marathon was a humid and rainy race. We know very well how those conditions can affect a race, just ask the three QDR co-founders who ran the race together (both Edwin and Kevin helping pace Maria). But this year, the weather was in everyone’s favored as it was a chilly and clear morning.
Marie-Ange Brumelot led the team coming in 20th place overall female with a time of 2:36:23! This is the fastest Marathon in QDR Women’s history and also the second fastest overall QDR Marathon time! It was a spectacular performance we will not forget and we know there’s more in the horizon from Marie and her husband, Coach Luciano Medina.
Just as amazing were all the other races. There were so many PRs that day; some by a few minutes and some by more than 30 minutes! Not everyone runs for a specific time goal, however, as a few were unfortunately pestered with injuries in the past months. We’re very glad to see that they are now healthier to complete the marathon without further hurting themselves. And, of course, some ran this race as a long run for other upcoming races!
We really love seeing everyone’s achievement and send everyone a huge congratulations on such a phenomenal day!
Full B.O.A. Chicago Marathon Roster:
Ana Soto Brian Wysocki Cannigia Laluw Chinedu Ogueri Christine Nasol Cinthya Sandoval Daryl Valerio David Dominguez Deki Yangzom Denny Moran Diana Wong Ellen Hoo Gloria Morales James Liu Jeff Munoz Jenny Hwang John Pierre Johnathan Tom Jonela Mola Jordan Lee Josep Betancourt Katrine Stroyberg Kieran Garvey Laura Pisani Marie-Ange Brumelot Michale McCaffery Nancy Silva Ray Valderrama Roy Menendez Sara Lee Victor Kyi Wiliam Wong