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123rd Boston Marathon

Only a few days left until the 4th annual 2019 Queens Marathon, the Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) New York State Marathon Championship! This past weekend before the Queens Marathon was an exciting prelude to what is to come. Yes! We are talking about the Boston Marathon! Queens Distance went to mile 20 of the Boston Marathon to cheer on all the runners and especially our 13 beloved teammates.

The 123rd Boston Marathon was the last race of a long weekend held on Monday, April 15th Patriot’s Day. Before we go any further, we’d like to congratulate all our other teammates who also raced this past weekend.

Saturday, April 13th

B.A.A 5K, Boston
NYCRuns Queens Half & 5K
Helderberg to Hudson Half Marathon
Lake Sanoma 50 Miler, California

Sunday, April 14th

SHAPE Women’s Half Marathon
Paris Marathon, France
JFK Runway 5K
Spartan Race, Citi Field
Atlantic City Half Marathon, New Jersey
Belgrade Half Marathon, Serbia
Brookhaven 15K
Riverside Dash 15K, Sandford, Florida

Boston Marathon

Just a few years ago in 2016, Maria Wong and a handful of teammates ran the Boston Marathon. Edwin and Kevin went that weekend and biked from the halfway point until the finish line, cheering wherever possible. This year, 13 Queens Distance teammates trained through another frigid winter for this prestigious race. This is by far, the most stacked field Queens Distance has ever presented for the Boston Marathon.

This is the second of the World Marathon Majors races held each year and this race is very special place in the running community. This is a tough race to qualify for as many of us who try to “BQ” know. It is a goal many marathon runners seek and that many do not get. But that, in itself, is what makes chasing this unicorn special. Having this goal in mind, working towards it, perhaps failing, and eventually earning it makes toeing the starting line of the Boston Marathon a great achievement.

This marathon starts in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, an otherwise quiet New England town that becomes the epicenter for corralling thousands of remarkable runners all the way to the finish line in Boston. Just like last year, Queens Distance went to Newton and to the infamous Heartbreak Hill to cheer on runners as they prepare to tackle the last 10k of the race. Special thanks to Albert Tan of Horse and Duck Photo who came for the day to take amazing shots.


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Anibal Chehayab •3:00:49 Boston Marathon Debut 🦄

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Go to Horse and Duck Photo’s site for more race day photos!


It goes without saying but the weather is part of the race. Last year, runners ran through heavy rain and cold weather. This year, it was pouring in the early morning and around the start time the sun came out, and with that the humidity steadily increased. Still, the runners prevailed.

Here are the 13 Boston Marathoners who represented Queens Distance!

Women’s Team

Jona Molla
Caroline Nester
Irena Ocasio
Rinchen Pelden
Kaitlyn Richert
Deki Yangzom

Men’s Team

Anibal Chehayeb
Jeremiah Estes
Derek Hanson
Winston Mei
Eric Morris
Danny Rivera
Pablo Yax

Official results


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Deki Yangzom •3:25:02 Two Time Boston Marathoner 🦄 Representing 🇧🇹

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Until next year! And remember, right on Hereford, left on Boylston!

Queens Distance

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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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February & March 2019 Recap

February was cold. March gave us the start of the Spring racing season. Reflecting back on the past two months has given us a lot to look forward to this year and beyond. These are some brief highlights of the past two months with Queens Distance.

Group Runs

We hosted 21 group runs and 15 training runs which included speed track sessions and long runs. We owe one track day in particular to Alison Brennan who, with the help of her mother, shoveled snow off lane one on the track at Juniper Park. What dedication to training! This allowed us to make the most of a track workout the following morning. Another big thanks to Mario, Vikram, Mikey, and Gabor for biking along during training runs and for giving us their cars to store our bags. Without the help of each other, we wouldn’t have great training runs!

Relaxed group runs include the weekly Monday evening runs with Caroline Nester around Central Park, Tuesday evenings with Brian Wysocki, and Friday evenings with Mike Bocchinfuso in Forest Hills, the Kessel Run. Make sure to follow us on Strava or our calendar for future group runs.

QDR Five Year Anniversary Club Night Gala

Another magnificent year has gone by and we’ve all seen improvements not just when it comes to running. We’ve seen personal growth in many areas and we’re proud of our teammates. The QDR Five Year Anniversary Club Night Club was a special night to commemorate all our achievements and highlight members of all abilities. It’s not just about getting faster, it’s about believing in yourself to challenge yourself to new distances and goals. At the end of everything, we become a better athlete and a better person.

We celebrated runners who in the past year have improved the most, have made leaders of themselves, and have shown great character in our team. Best of all, the nominees and winners were voted on by our own teammates!

And, of course, it wouldn’t have been a surprising night if it wasn’t for the team also showing their gratitude to the co-founders by coming on stage and handing them bouquets and special Co-Founder Appreciation awards! It was a very touching moment and one we won’t forget.

Pictures courtesy of Horse and Duck Photo

Tokyo Marathon & NYRR Washington Heights 5K

The first World Marathon Major is now complete! As we head into the second Major marathon, the Boston Marathon, we’d like to give huge congratulations to David Dominguez, Julie Tran, and Maria Wong who represented QDR in Japan! We got a great glimpse into the Tokyo Marathon thanks to team captain Kevin who kept us up-to-date with everything that Japan had to offer; from the city to race day live feed, we felt like we were right there supporting (and petting bunnies if you followed Kevin).

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Meet your QDR Tokyo Marathon Class of 2019! This will be the 1st Tokyo Marathon for each of them. Remember the names, because it’s SHOWTIME. Leading off, from Kew Gardens, frequent QDR Volunteer David Dominguez @duhminguez! Batting cleanup, one of our favorite #beyondtheborough members, from the Lower East Side, Julie Tran @eastvillageveg! Finally, standing in at 5 feet, 4 inches, hailing from Jackson Heights, your Co-Founder of the Queens Distance Runners, Maria Wong @mwmaria! We’d like to wish everyone running the 2019 Tokyo Marathon an incredible experience! See you on our stories 🤗 #queensdistance #queensnyc🌎 #itsinqueens #qdrteamtravels #tokyomarathon #maytheforcebewithusall #running #marathon

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Japan is a half-day ahead of us which meant that on the evening of March 2nd, we had the chance to follow the marathon as we prepared for the first club points race of the year the following day. We headed up to Washington Heights for the NYRR Washington Heights Salsa, Blues and Shamrocks 5K. It was a warmer than usual morning and with everyone’s helped the Women’s Team came in 12th and the Men’s team came in 11th place! We really can’t wait to see what the rest of the year has in store for us regarding NYRR club point races!

United Airlines NYC Half

Wow, what can we say about the United Airlines NYC Half?! The course was slightly changed this year but we were all ready. The course now features five starting waves, more distance in Prospect Park, and a finish in Central Park that doesn’t pass through Cat Hill or the Three Sister hills on the west side. With that in mind, we came out big and had an amazing time.

One key highlight was that this race was Mario Silva’s first half marathon! As many of you can attest, running your first half is intimidating. But, when you have a team supporting you, that can help ease the nerves. As someone who graciously helps QDR out weekly, we were glad to be out there to support him and everyone else on the course.


Pictures courtesy of Pablo Yax in Times Square and teammates at the Scream Station

Big thanks to Pablo Yax who took pictures at Times Square, the volunteers at the last water station entering Central Park, and everyone who came to cheer at the Scream Station (including those who went after they finished their own race)!

QDR Races

In the past two months we hosted three races: For The Love of Queens 5K, Spring Forward 10 Miler and 5 Miler, and the 30K Marathon Tune-up. The For the Love of Queens 5K race featured (for the first time) a 10K relay where partners each ran 5K and the total time was added up. We had so much fun showing lots of love that day!

Spring Forward treated us with rainy and cold weather but all the runners persevered. Perhaps not the best indication of what the Spring weather has to offer us, but you make the best out of what you are given. Everyone who showed up definitely showed heart in those conditions. And the volunteers out there were amazing!

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Those Spring Forward Miles and Medals🏅 were 💯 earned! It’s that simple. Congratulations to each of our runners that came to Forest Park to brave the elements and the loss of 💤 ! While the weather made for less than ideal racing conditions, once again, the Queens Distance Race Management Team and Volunteers put their bravest face on to shine through yet again. Together in the efforts, we thank @elitefeats, @sacsplace, @stgypro, @horseandduckphoto, and @fhvac Running a Spring Marathon? Register for our Spring Marathon 30K Tune-Up on March 24th at Flushing Meadows Corona Park, the following event on our Calendar! #linkinbio📲💻 Here’s to a pleasant Spring! #queensdistance #queensnyc🌎 #itsinqueens #runners #queensrunning #elitefeats #forestpark #horseandduckphoto #racephotos

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Finally, we just recently held the QDR 30K Marathon Tune-up. As we progress further into Spring we see many runners peaking in their training for their marathon. This was a perfect opportunity for a marathon-pace effort run that also went on most of the Queens Marathon course. With pacers, Brooklyn Running Company, UCAN out on water stations, and a brisk morning, the 30K Tune-up met full expectations!

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#Repost @1runtoeat with @get_repost ・・・ These ladies were on 🔥🔥🔥this morning! Had so much pacing at the @queensdistance 30K Tune Up, and what a BEAUTIFUL day to be outside! #SPRINGATLAST 😍🌸🏃🏻‍♀️🌼🏃🏻‍♀️🌞

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Keep an eye out on our site’s calendar as well as on Strava for more group runs and training sessions. Make sure to also follow us on Facebook and Instagram for updates and news!


With all the talk about races in NYC, what about outside of NYC? The past two months had plenty of races in other cities that showed that we extend well beyond Queens, NYC. We saw members run in Zion, New Orleans, Phoenix, L.A., Washington D.C., Atlanta, and even in Kingston, Jamaica! For a full list of races outside of NYC where Queens Distance members ran in, check the list below.


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What an exciting weekend of QDR teammates racing in other cities and close to home. This past weekend we tracked @coachcorkyruns and @marathonernicole as they ran the Phoenix Marathon. There were also back-to-back days of racing in New Orleans from the 5K to the Marathon! earned 6th place female in the 10K, @nickddeuz PR-ed in the half, and @yovany87 earned 9th place overall in the marathon! Close to home, we had teammates run the Queens Cupid Chase 5K. Reminder: this upcoming weekend is our own 5K in Flushing Meadow Park! It’s great to see the organization of our fellow teammates as we race outside of home! It makes traveling and racing fun, and the support and friendly faces during races is welcomed. Congrats to everyone! #queensdistance #queensdistancetravels #rnrnola #pheonixmarathon #cupidchase5k #medalmonday #mondaymotivation #weekendrecap

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Keep an eye out on our site’s calendar as well as on Strava for more group runs and training sessions. Make sure to also follow us on Facebook and Instagram for updates and news!

Queens Distance


Here’s a list of events this past February and March, 2019 (pictures courtesy of various team members):


1 – QDR Friday Evening Group Run – Forest Hills, Kessel Run

2 – QDR Saturday Morning Long Training Run – Forest Park

        QDR volunteering for the QueensWay cleanup

3 – NYRR Gridiron 4M

        TARCtic Frozen Yeti 15 Mile race

        QDR Queens Marathon Group Training #6 – FMP 10 Mile Time Trial

4 – QDR Monday Evening Group Run – Central Park

5 – QDR Tuesday Morning Group Run – Jackson Heights Hill Circuit

        QDR Tuesday Evening Group Run – Astoria and LIC

6 – QDR Wednesday Morning Track Session – Juniper Park Track

        QDR Wednesday Evening Group Run – Flushing

7 – QDR Thursday Tempo Run – Flushing Meadow Park

8 – QDR Friday Evening Group Run – Forest Hills, Kessel Run

9 – Cupids’ Chase Queens

        QDR Saturday Morning Long Training Run – Forest Park

10 – Rock’n’Roll New Orleans Marathon, half, 10k, 5k

        QDR Queens Marathon Group Training #7 – Cross Borough Flushing Meadow Park – Alley Pond Park

11 – QDR Monday Evening Group Run – Central Park

13 – QDR Wednesday Morning Track Session – Juniper Park Track

15 – QDR Friday Evening Group Run – Forest Hills, Kessel Run

        QDR Friday Morning Group Run – For the Love of Queens Shakeout

16 – QDR For The Love of Queens

17 – Mile High Run Class with Coach Elizabeth Corkum

        El Paso Marathon

        PPTC Cherry Tree 10 M

18 – QDR Monday Evening Group Run – Central Park

19 – QDR Tuesday Evening Group Run – Astoria and LIC

22 – QDR Friday Evening Group Run – Forest Hills, Kessel Run

23 – Zion Half Marathon

        NYRR Al Gordon Brooklyn 4M

24 – Disney World Princess Half Marathon

        NYCRuns Central Park Half Marathon

        QDR NYC Half Last 11 Miles Preview Run

        QDR Queens Marathon Long Training Run #9 – 19 Miles, 16 in Queens, 3 in Manhattan – Urban Athletics

25 – QDR Monday Evening Group Run – Central Park

28 – NYRR Night at the Races 4

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We are smiling before cry from one mile.hard one ☝️

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1 – QDR Friday Evening Group Run – Forest Hills, Kessel Run

2 – Liberty Hospital Half Marathon, Kansas City, MO

3 – Tokyo Marathon

        NYRR Washington Heights Salsa, Blues, and Shamrocks 5K

One City Marathon, Virginia

4 – QDR Monday Evening Group Run – Central Park

8 – QDR Friday Evening Group Run – Forest Hills, Kessel Run

        QDR 5 Year Anniversary Club Night Gala

9 – Rock’n’Roll Washington D.C. Marathon, Half, 5K

        Mesa-Phoenix Marathon

10 – QDR Spring Forward 5M/10M

        NYCRuns Spring Fling 10K/5K

11 – QDR Monday Evening Group Run – Central Park

14 – QDR Thursday Track Session – Queensborough Community College

15 – QDR Friday Evening Group Run – Forest Hills, Kessel Run

16 – QDR Group Training #10 – Shake Out Run for the UA NYC Half

        QDR 5K Time Trial

17 – United Airlines NYC Half

        Kingston City Marathon, Half, 10K, 5K (Jamaica)

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A dream come true! 🇯🇲🏅🇯🇲 #bucketlist #kingstoncityrun #jamaica Dedicating this race to the amazing Jamaican people in my life who have inspired me to be the person I am today: – My teammate when I first joined track (2007-2009) @cooljayknight who always believed in me and pushes me to want to be better. So proud of you! 🙏🏼💯 – The GOAT @usainbolt for being a true champion of the people. 🥇🥇🥇 – And my great friend and former co-worker Lisa for always treating me like a son and always having my back. This trip wouldn’t have been possible without you and it’s truly an honor to finally be in your beautiful country! 👏🏼🇯🇲❤️ #onelove

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        Publix Atlanta Marathon, Half, 5K

18 – QDR Monday Evening Group Run – Central Park

21 – QDR Thursday Track Session – Queensborough Community College

22 – QDR Friday Evening Group Run – Forest Hills, Kessel Run

23 – Kings Park 15K

        Sleepy Hollow Half Marathon

24 – QDR 30K Marathon Tune-up

        L.A. Marathon

        Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle Chicago 8K

25 – QDR Monday Evening Group Run – Central Park

27 – QDR Wednesday Morning Track Session – Juniper Park Track

28 – QDR Thursday Track Session – Queensborough Community College

29 – QDR Friday Evening Group Run – Forest Hills, Kessel Run

30 – Footsteps for Progress 5K

        Two River Marathon and Half Marathon

31 – Love Run Philadelphia Half Marathon & 7K

        QDR Queens Marathon Long Training Run #11 – Queens Marathon Course Preview

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You Never Know Until You Tri

Like Lori in the previous blog post, Elsie Alonso also completed her first triathlon this past summer. What started as wanting to learn how to swim for fun turned into signing up for a triathlon after a year of swimming. Even after multiple obstacles along the way, like taking a bad fall during the bike leg of the triathlon, Elsie was determined to finish and earned the right to be called a triathlete.

It was January 2017 when I signed up to run the Honolulu Marathon in December of the same year. I had promised my friend Meredith who lived in Honolulu that I would pace her for her first marathon and I thought of no better time to do so than right after the New York City Marathon while my legs were still used to the mileage. At the time I signed up, I had already been to Hawaii a few times and the one restriction that kept me from enjoying the islands as much as I could was my inability to swim. I lived in Honolulu for 3 months in 2016 and while I watched Meredith swim, snorkel, and dive into water, I wished I could do the same. I promised myself that I would learn how to swim before the Honolulu Marathon.

That summer in 2017 I took a swimming class for adult beginners at the YMCA in Long Island City, Queens. On my first day I was surprised to learn I was the youngest of the groupnot including the high school senior that was teaching the class. One man was in his 70s which, like running and any other sport, reminded me that it’s never too late to be involved, to challenge yourself, and to achieve a goal. At the beginning of June I was “swimming” with a kickboard and by August I was backstroking, freestyling, and moving around the pool comfortably even if that meant doggy paddling. I was so happy I went from being someone who was terrified of not being able to touch the sandy underwater floor at the beach, to being someone who could jump into a pool and not sink. I didn’t want to lose this momentum so I became a member of the Flushing Meadows Corona Park Aquatic Center, where I still continue to regularly go.

Elsie (right) and her friend Emily.

While in Hawaii to run the Honolulu Marathon, I was definitely more comfortable in the water, but unfortunately was unable to do the ocean activities I wanted because of the rough waves during that time of the year. Bummed from those missed opportunities, I wanted to find something else to look forward to in swimming. My triathlete co-worker Emily mentioned a “sprint” triathlon to me that would be in June and I had no reason not to do it now that I knew how to swim. She talked me through everything I needed to know: the order of the triathlon (swimming, cycling, and running), what I should do during the transitions in between each sport, and she even trained with me on a few runs and a swim. 

The Hempstead Harbor Tri was in the middle of June 2018. I was nervous as the days approached because I wasn’t the strongest swimmer and I was new to swimming in open water. Despite knowing how to stay afloat and swim, I didn’t feel as confident in the ocean as I did when I was in a pool. In a pool, I knew the depth, had the floor lines guide me, and had an entire lane to myself. At the triathlon, it was a different story. But, as I waited to lunge into the ocean I felt oddly calmI wasn’t sure if it was because of Emily’s last pep talk on the beach, the fact that the way we were lined up reminded me of any NYRR race, or the fact that because I was going into unknown territory I didn’t know what to expect, thus I had nothing to fear.

This all changed once I was about 50 meters into the 500 meter swim. Like the start of any running race, people crowd at the start and the attempt to make it through becomes a challenge itself. It’s completely different doing the same in open water. I was in the middle of the pod when another swimmer pushed my head underwater as I was taking a breath and I took a huge gulp of water instead. I treaded water for a few seconds and was quickly aware of how far away I was from the beach and that I couldn’t touch or see the bottom of the bay. To stay calm I floated on my back and let everyone pass me before the next wave of swimmers started. I saw how far I was from the shore and instead of freaking out, I decided to float on my back and backstroke the rest of the way. This way, my head was above water at all times, but unfortunately had less of a sense of my direction.

I had to take a few breaks on the paddleboards of lifeguards to wipe my fogged-up goggles and check how far I had left to go. One of the lifeguards I latched onto saw how scared and upset I was and told me to take as much time as I needed. In a daze, I found myself telling her what led me to that pointhow I just began swimming, that it was my first triathlon, and how I wanted to be done already. In the middle of my rant she interrupted me and said, “Girl, you got this.” With that, I thanked her, left her, and kept backstroking. With about 100 meters to go I latched onto another paddleboard and the lifeguard told me he would take me to shore if I was struggling. Tired, I agreed. Before he began paddling I asked, “Will I be disqualified if you take me in?” He answered, “Yes, your race won’t count.” That said, I instantly let go of the board and kept backstroking all the way to the shore. The toughest part was over and I was glad to finally be on land and finish. Little did I know that the swim portion wasn’t the only challenge. 

Elsie finishing the run section of the triathlon.

In the transition area I grabbed my bike and peddled off. This portion of the tri was composed of two five-mile loops. I felt great, my legs were moving fine and I was conserving my energy for the run. I was following another cyclist for the final mile and during a turn in the last few meters she slipped and I followed her fall with my left side hitting the floor. My next memory was me sitting in an ambulance with an EMT flashing a light in my eye and noting down the identification number on my arm tattooed in Sharpie ink. He asked me my name, where I was, and my birthday. I answered his questions, but at that moment I had no idea why I was in the back of the ambulance. I used context clues (my triathlon suit, sneakers, and helmet) to realize I was in the middle of the triathlon. It was only after he began to bandage up my arm because of my bleeding elbow that I knew I fell. I looked at my Garmin to check my time and the screen was cracked. I refused to quit on land instead of in the water, which was where the real struggle should have been. I asked if I could continue and the EMT told me it wasn’t the best idea. I told him I was a marathoner and he finally obliged.

The next thing I knew, I was on the bike with tears in my eyes because my entire left side was throbbing, I didn’t know how much time I lost, and because at that point my last memory was driving to Emily’s house that morning to pick her up. After I parked my bike in my transition area, I ran to the start of the 5K course. In the middle of the run I caught up to the girl who fell in front of me. Her face triggered my memory and I started to piece events together. I saw she also had a bandage on her elbow and I asked her if she was alright. She said, “I just want this to be over.” I responded, “Same.”

I was beyond thrilled when I saw Emily, her boyfriend Ben, and Danny cheering for me on the two-loop course. I hugged Emily as soon as I crossed the finish line and we walked to the awards section. I was one of the last participants and by that time, the limited amount of medals were already distributed, but I walked away with a pint glass instead and was assured I would receive a medal in the mail, which I eventually did. Emily, who worked her butt off all year, won first place in her age group. It was a day of victories: hers, mine, and everyone who put in work that day. 

It was after the race that I realized I cracked my helmet when I fell and saw my bruised thigh and hip hidden under my triathlon suit. I took an MRI exam the following day as a precaution and was glad all was fine. 

Hempstead Harbor Tri finish photo!

Reflecting back on that race, as tough as it was for me, I consider it my greatest physical accomplishment and one of my proudest moments. What was initially a goal for me to learn how to swim turned me into a triathlete. Am I the strongest swimmer? Absolutely not, I just learned how to swim last year. Am I a strong cyclist? Absolutely not, I don’t own a road bike and had to borrow one for the race. Am I the fastest runner? Absolutely not, but I get the job done.

My determination to complete this triathlon was mostly an emotional effort and I would not have overcome my doubts if it wasn’t for my support system: Emily for putting my irrational fears in perspective (there are no sharks in Hempstead and there would be an abundance of lifeguards along the swim); Ben for waking up at the crack of dawn to lather himself in sunscreen and cheer us on as a bike course marshall; and Danny for volunteering so I can participate, driving my car afterwards because I couldn’t, and signing me up for previous races that were near-death experiences and prepared me for that day.

I don’t know how I want to surprise myself next, but I do know I want to complete another triathlon without any falls and especially as a stronger swimmer. I hope my experience inspires others to challenge themselves in ways they never imagined.

Elsie Alonso

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I Tried

Signing up for anything that you have never done before can be intimidating. Whether it’s your first race, first marathon, or first triathlon, the thought “can I do it?” always crosses the mind. But, even with all the bumps along the way, there’s no better feeling than accomplishing your goal. The following is by Lori Brown who completed her first triathlon and came in first in her age group this past summer!

For years family and friends kept telling me I should do a triathlon. After competing in a team triathlon last year and doing the swim leg, I got the bug and finally decided to sign up for a sprint triathlon this past August.

I’ve been a swimmer since I was 11 years old. I started swimming before I started running. I did both track and swimming in Highschool, so when it came time to choose which I would pursue in college I decided on swimming. I can’t pinpoint an exact reason why I chose swimming, but seeing my sister pursue it and going on college visits to meeting the coach and potential teammates, I knew it was for me.  When I graduated college, I also graduated from swimming. Mentally and physically I was done, and it was time to start running again. Knowing that I had what most would say the hardest part down; swimming, it made sense that I finally decided to give a triathlon a shot.

Since triathlon season is so short (I believe May through September) and it was a late decision to sign up for one, there weren’t many left to choose from. My sister and I wanted to do one together and finding a weekend we both had free was a challenge.  We signed up for the Sprint TOBAY Triathlon located in Oyster Bay, Long Island, that would take place at the end of August 2018. We had only signed up a few months beforehand.

Lori (right) with her sister.

The Training?

Well, I can honestly say I had no plan and not a ton of training was involved. After the Boston Marathon I knew I would need a rest from running, and I kept telling myself to sign up for the pool again (I swim at the Corona Park Aquatics Center). I needed to get back in swim shape, so I wouldn’t drown. I kept procrastinating and about a week after Boston I went for a run (more like a super light jog) and came down on my foot funny. Thinking nothing of it, while dealing with constant pain and swelling, 2 weeks later I decided to get it checked. The diagnosis, a sprained ligament in my ankle. What did this mean? Rest, ice, and physical therapy. That was my sign I needed to swim. I signed up for the pool and the indoor bike became my best friend. I did some light running and let it heal. About 4-5 weeks later the swelling was completely gone, so I started “training for the run.”

I don’t own a bike, so the stationary bike was my only option to get on one. A couple times when I was out in Hauppauge to see my parents, I used my mom’s hybrid bike to get outside and went on a few rides with my dad. That was the bike I would use for the race (not ideal). I never practiced any transitions, so on race day I hoped for the best.

There was just one more bump in the rode; a couple weeks or so before the triathlon I developed bad tendinitis in my left foot, I knew my only option was to get a cortisone shot (this wasn’t the first time). I made an appointment 3 days out and I was lucky that it was enough months since my last shot to get one. Unfortunately, it didn’t kick in as fast as it usually does, and the pain was there come race day (oh well, “I could survive a 5K” was my thinking).

A couple days before the race and after debating back and forth with myself I decided to buy a triathlon suit mainly because my sister bought one and I am super competitive (and wanted one myself). I was ready! Go big or go home right?

Race Day:

My parents, being as supportive as they are, woke up at 4:30am to drive my sister and I out to the race to cheer us on. Lucky for us the weather was perfect! We got there before sunrise and set up our transition area. I felt like a lost puppy. I had no idea what to do.  With my sister’s help I got my area set up and I was ready.

Smiling through the run section of the triathlon.


A visual of what the transition area looked like: there were a ton of bike racks in rows, with limited space between each bike. You are assigned a number to where you would mount your bike and prepare your area. In my area I had a towel to wipe off my feet, my sneakers, socks, my Garmin watch, a water bottle, my helmet, and my race number for the run, all strategically placed.

The Swim:

My sister, also a swimmer, knew we could try to stay together for the swim. We stood in the water shivering just a bit waiting for the gun to go off. The gun goes off and I immediately lose my sister, the water being so dark made it difficult to see. The other people kicking me also didn’t help. (Really it was a great time)!  Making sure the big orange buoys stayed to my left I passed a ton of people. When I got to the end and stood up out of the water, my sister was right in front of me. We were one of the first women out of the water. I ran out pulling off my cap and goggles, gave my parents a wave and transitioned to the bike. I wiped off my feet, put my sneakers, socks, watch and helmet on, dismounted my bike off the rack, and I was off.

The Bike:

I knew this section would be where I would lose ground. With the lack of a racing bike and not much practice I hopped on my bike and rode as fast as I could. The course involved some rolling hills. A few people zoomed past me. Toward the end of the bike section two girls in my age group (AG) passed me. I knew they were in my age group because each person has their gender and age marked on their arm and calf. In my head I knew I would catch them on the run. I made that a goal for myself. The bike ride came to an end, I hopped off ran with my bike back to the transition area, mounted my bike on the rail, took my helmet off, attached my bib, and transitioned to the run.

The Run:

Making the 20 minute 5K run look like a breeze.


After re-tying my sneakers and losing some time, I shot off. I saw my parents again, gave them another wave and a smile, and passed my sister immediately. The first 1.6 miles was completely uphill (pure torture). I passed the first girl in my AG who had passed me going up and the second girl when I was coming down. I now knew I was first in my AG. I took advantage of the downhill and picked up the pace. I saw the finish and started sprinting as fast as I could (knowing that there was free beer at the end). With a huge smile on my face, knowing I was about done, I saw my parents one more time, gave them yet another wave and smile and crossed the finish line, placing first in my age group.

I did it! First triathlon complete! Off to the beer! It was an amazing experience. I had so much fun and right there I knew I wanted to do more triathlons. The goal next year in 2019 is to do both a sprint and an Olympic distance triathlon (longer than a sprint; a mile swim, a 25 mile bike ride, and a 10k run), giving myself more time to train.  

My Advice:

Train for the swim section. The swim is really where you can gain or lose time. Get comfortable in the water. Swimming in a pool and swimming in open water are very different. If you have the ability to practice in open water, I would suggest that. Unfortunately, I was not able to do that.  I would also recommend practicing transitions, mine were slow and I lost a good amount of time. I watched a couple of YouTube videos on transitions which I found helpful, and I would recommend watching those as well in preparation. I would also highly recommend getting a triathlon suit, it makes your transitions faster since you can complete the swim, bike ride, and run in it. I got mine off Amazon.  My last piece of advice would be to just have fun doing it, and it is a great accomplishment!

Until next year!

Lori Brown