For the Love of Harlem (Run)

I have had an eleven year relationship with Harlem and it just keeps getting better and better with time. The love and energy that we have poured into one another in the community is nothing short of amazing. At times, I smile and think, 'Jeez you have this much feelings towards a place?' However it makes sense - I went to college in Harlem, started working my first "real" job in Harlem, met my now-fiancé in Harlem, and found Harlem Run. All in all Harlem has been good to me.

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Distance running has not always been for me. I've always been an active individual willing to try new things and ready to take on a challenge, but running - aside from a 10-12 minute warmup on the treadmill - was never a real thought to me ... But, flashback to 2016 to a vision board party at my home where my friend, Lindsie, places on her vision board: 5k, 13.1, 26.2 and asks me to journey with her. Reluctant with a bit of intrigue and for solidarity purposes, it goes on my board too.

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My first "official" run was the NYRR Percy Sutton 5K in Harlem in August 2016. I remember finishing that race and feeling an incredible high. I was so proud because I did not stop once and I was pacing my co-worker before I even knew what "pacing" was in the running community.  On this day I also won 2 tickets to see the Color Purple Musical on Broadway at the race festivities.  

I thought to myself, 'If running is always like this then I'm definitely doing it again!' I signed up for more runs but quickly realized running isn’t always glorious. Running is downright hard and ugly at times while still being powerful and emotional. It is just you and your thoughts, you and your body, and it can be daunting for some. Through running I gained even more control of my mind and body. I found that I could will myself to do anything.

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 Still on a runner's high I thought 'Hey, why not enter the drawing for the NYC United Half Marathon? It’s not like you're going to get selected."  Well, I got in and was both excited and terrified. How am I going to run 13.1 miles?  I've only run 4 miles max! 

Enter stage right: Harlem Run. I slid into Alison M Desir's DM aka "Powdered Feet" inquiring about running with Harlem Run.  I showed up and was met with a smiling face by a fellow runner who said, "It's only my 4th time here but you're going to love it." Thanks, Lindsey.  I ran with Alison and Raydime to Central Park where we met the larger group for 7pm.

Shortly after, the famous question arose; "Is it anyone first time tonight? Raise your hand."  In keeping with the New Year spirit we were then told to turn to our neighbor and tell them what you plan to do more of this year. I turned to Mona and I said "I plan to run with Harlem Run on a consistent basis." I showed up the following week and I kept showing up. In showing up I created bonds with the most amazing people and if for nothing else for this I am truly grateful.

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Before I knew it August 2017, my running anniversary, was here. While reflecting I realized I had    completed 2 half marathons - United Half and Brooklyn Half - and will qualify for the NYC Marathon.  Running the Percy Sutton 5K in 2017 was so exciting for me. I felt I came full circle from that first "official" run and it had so much meaning .

I PR'd in more ways than one.  I improved on my time. I received the best hardware ever - bling bling - from my best friend ever and gained a run-family like no other.

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I would have never imagined running would become such a staple in my life and continue to bring me immense joy.  I'm happy I stuck with that New Year Resolution.  Thank You Harlem Run for being accepting, kind, and all-around bad ass. Thank you for being a part of my story. Thank you for being a part of my life.

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-Jodie K Alexander

Becoming Friends with Running

Running was never my friend. I grew up in Wisconsin and played every sport under the sun, but thrived the most in football, lacrosse, and rugby. I only looked at running as a punishment for poor play or mistakes made while on the field. But I’ve found that the desire to be a competitive athlete didn’t just subside once I hung up my football cleats after my college football career.

After college, I needed another athletic outlet, but wasn’t 100% sure where to find it or what it would be. I played in a couple of flag football leagues, which were fun, but organizing recreational sports for adults is waaaaaaaay too much work for the reward. I have also moved across the country four times in seven years (Chicago, Houston, Milwaukee, New York City) after undergrad, so that didn’t leave me with a solid understanding of the sports scene in these cities.

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So, what was I to do? Hope that the ever-inconsistent pickup basketball game found me? Doubtful. Try and bribe strangers to come play catch with me? Maybe a fun idea, but it’s a bit of a stretch. I thought I might be doomed to a sportless existence until I saw some sweaty and smiling faces wearing Harlem Run shirts while I was out for a walk one evening in Harlem. I asked the two ladies about their shirts, and they let me know it was a great run crew in Harlem, and I should check it out. “They meet on Mondays and Thursdays,” they said. I figured I can swing that!

So Monday rolled around, and I found my way to Harlem Shake to meet the crew. I was surprised with the large numbers of people who showed up. “All of these people came here to run…. voluntarily?,” I thought. Then the run began. Mind you, at this point, I wasn’t exactly in top long distance running shape, and I hadn’t run any distance in well over six months. Regardless, as I typically do, I got a bit ahead of myself and ran with the nine-minute pace group. For those who don’t know the nines, they are the second fastest pace group at Harlem Run. Long story short, I got smoked. I didn’t even make it half way. But I finished.

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Fast forward a year, I now run with the seven-minute pace group, have lost about 15 pounds, and have run a half marathon. And I’m currently qualifying for the 2018 NYC Marathon. Long story short, I am very happy I found Harlem Run, or I suppose that Harlem Run found me. I guess running is my friend now. Never say never.

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- Will

Pumping on the Run

I was excited to be in Harlem running my first race just three months after giving birth to my daughter Madison. The Harlem One Miler was where I would start my new journey as a mother of two beautiful girls. There were many emotions running through my mind that morning. I was eager to be in the streets running again with friends, but scared to have to pump in public.

As I walked towards Marcus Garvey Park, a little bit of panic set in. I started to think, “What time do I have to pump? Where do I pump? I hope strangers don’t yell at me while I’m pumping this time”. As I made my way to bag check I saw a few friendly faces that I knew and instantly felt better. It was as if a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.  

I kept looking at my watch, knowing that I would have to pump and be finished before the men’s second heat started. I walked away and sat on a bench in the park. I wanted to be close enough where people could see me, but far enough where I could pump and not feel embarrassed. My dear friend Vanessa initially sat with me but then walked away to get a closer look at the finish line.

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I felt scared again as I watched her walk away and realized that I forgot my cover at home. Eeek! Now what? I did the best that I could to put my breast shields on without exposing too much of myself. In fourteen minutes flat I finished pumping and managed to do so without flashing anyone. I would call that a success!!

Everyone at the run instantly made me comfortable and ready to tackle this race. I made my way to the start line and looked for my running boo, Dawn, who had agreed to pace me. While waiting for the race to start, it began to rain. I hate running in the rain! I remember hearing Dawn say, “Slow and steady wins the race." As we ran she would periodically ask me how I was doing and I would respond by saying “Okay”. I was so out of shape I  barely muttered a few words at a time while running.

At times I felt like my heart beat was louder than her voice. My lungs were weak and I could tell because my breathing was not controlled. I knew if I wanted to finish this race strong I had to focus. On various corners of the race there were volunteers and spectators cheering us on, smiling and ringing cow bells with excitement. It lifted my spirits to have so much support from the community and runners alike.

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Being a running nursing mother has its challenges. It’s far from and easy and most people don’t understand it if they have not had to experience it first-hand. I’ve had to pump in bathrooms stalls, cars, storage closets, on public transportation and anywhere else when duty calls.

What has helped me through this challenging time is the love and support I constantly receive from family, friends and sometimes even strangers. A few weeks ago, I was volunteering with New York Road Runners and met another volunteer who had recently started running.  I excused myself as it was time to express milk and she asked if she could come with me and keep me company. Her simple gesture made that moment pumping in Central Park so much easier. I thanked her over and over again as we walked over to the park benches.

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I often get messages from loved ones saying how I’m doing a great job and to keep up the good work. My friends, family and my amazing running community will never know how much their support means to me. Their words of encouragement help me get through the moments when I’ve felt like quitting. But because that one person smiled and said “Mish, you're doing amazing”, I kept going.  Because they gave me a high five and said keep it up, I ran up that hill.

I attended a Monday night run a few weeks after the Harlem One Miler. Some of the other runners were surprised to learn that it was my first Monday Night Run with them. Throughout my run I struggled - my lungs were struggling for air and my legs felt heavy. I knew the run would be hard, but I showed up knowing I would get the support I so needed from my Harlem Run friends.

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I was one of the last runners to finish. Everyone was standing in a line handing out high fives.  I was not ashamed to be last. I was proud of myself for being just three months post-partum and out there running.

Nursing in public will always be a challenge. The world does not always agree with this method of feeding for one’s child. But with the love and support from my family and friends it has been much easier for me. They all stand strong with me and remind me that I am not alone. I have a huge support system that supports what I do for my daughter Madison and for myself. And for as long as I have their support, I will continue to be brave and run and nurse my beloved.

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- Michele

Monday Night Runs: From a Newcomer's Perspective

If I'm to be completely honest, I've always hated running. I always found it dull and punishing, yet I once felt the same way about fitness before I found myself hooked. Just like most people, I started working out in high school as a means to lose weight, and for a long time I’ve managed to get myself in the gym to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

As time went on, I began falling in love with the entire journey and learned so much about myself. This taught me discipline and independence ... Working out became personal, it was the one thing I did for myself. And most importantly, I found self-confidence.

I’ve tried it all and although I hated running, I tried to incorporate it into my routine to try to switch things up, but I just could not commit to it. I remember dreading the run days in my CrossFit classes, especially the random 5Ks they’d throw in. Anything over a mile made me sick to my stomach. But it was through that experience I learned running is like anything else in life, the key is consistency.

For a long time, I convinced myself that running isn't for everyone and certainly not for me. I now realize this was just an excuse, and this somehow became a light-bulb moment for me. So, I came to Harlem Run to give running a chance and I mean really give it a chance. I was ready to tackle a major weakness of mine and face the pavements.

Being active has the most positive impact on my mood, productivity, and overall livelihood. In the past, I feel I've failed each time I tried running on my own but I've always wanted to overcome and try to push myself. When a friend of mine referred me to Harlem Run, the thought of being around experienced runners gave me anxiety and was intimidating at first, but my experience so far has been so great. I attended my very first session a few weeks ago for a Thursday speed workout, quickly followed by a Monday night run the following week. I left both sessions feeling accomplished and inspired... oh and SURPRISED that I did not pass out!

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My first two sessions with Harlem Run definitely boosted my confidence in running and I love that there are so many paces to choose from on the runs. This eliminates the pressure to keep up with others and the fear of failure. It's also amazing to witness a community of different individuals who are all on a healthy journey of their own. Being that I am a new member and did not come with any friends of my own, I felt welcomed and was fascinated by how friendly and supportive everyone is.

I truly believe the camaraderie in any sport/physical activity is what makes it incredibly fun. I plan to continue attending many more sessions with Harlem Run. Fitness taught me many things that I was able to apply in other areas of my life. I look forward to learning a lot about running and being more aware of my body. Right now, my main goal is to increase my endurance so that I am able to set real goals for myself and work towards achieving them. I'm excited for what's to come and look forward to reaching some milestones of my own.

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- Nabila

Harlem Run News - August 2017

Interested in a spot in the 2018 NYC Marathon?

We've got you covered. For anyone interested in obtaining an entry into this year's NYC Marathon (Note: you will have to pay for the entry once selected). We have a special contest to help us make the selection. Starting to today and ending on 8/25, follow the instructions below:

  1. Follow us on Instagram (@HarlemRun) and Twitter (@Harlem_Run)
  2. Post ten (10) separate times about what excites you most about running in the NYC Marathon
  3. Use the hashtag #HarlemRun and #HR_NYCM

The winner will be announced August 28th. We look forward to your selection!

MXMRelay 2.0

We are less than two-weeks away from the second installment of our friendly competition that will have teams running through the streets of Harlem and  hitting some iconic spots. Teams are forming, and some have been releasing their team names. Remember the details of the route will be sent out the Monday before (i.e. August 14th)....REGISTER HERE

Next month, we are returning to Detroit and we hope you are ready. We'll be starting from the Under Armour Brand House, and running along the riverfront. Join us for a pop-up mile where there will be raffles, a shopping discount, gear for sale and more. For more info CLICK HERE.

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*NEW GEAR ALERT*
Tonight, during & after #MonNgtRun, we will be selling a new women's tank and a men's shirt. It will be available via big cartel tomorrow. Sizes are limited, so be sure to scoop up a shirt/tank (or two or three) for you and your loved ones. 

FinishLine Spring Running Summit 2.0 Takeaways

Last month, Philippa and I had the honor of attending Finishline's Spring Running Summit 2.0. This summit could not have come at a better time in my life as I am preparing to begin my training for my fist marathon and still feel like a novice within the world of running.  The summit covered areas such as your training, nutrition, recovery, and sports psychology. The biggest highlight and take-away from this summit is how important each and every factor is in contribution to YOU running long term and preventing injuries.

Here were some of the breakout sessions we attended and things learned from the day.

Training and Recovery: Coaches Jason and Andrew

Coaches spoke about the importance and focus of prehab and rehab. They expressed doing things more intelligently and training for life, not just a race. They also talked about preventing burnout. 

How do you create a training plan/s? Here were some questions they suggested you ask yourself in creating and/or choosing a training plan that is geared towards you and injury prevention.

-What are your goals?

-What are your obligations? What are the ones this year?

-How do you structure your training? Your days?

-What do you do for recovery?

Any specifc time goals or PR?

What does your training week look like?

What about cross training? How often? What about non-running things?

What is your life schedule?

What is your recovery schedule?

Being realistic with your goal setting was one of the most important points made throughout the summit, as well as being okay with modifying your plan as needed, depending on life obstacles or how you are feeling.

GOALS

Create SMART goals. Be specific, make sure the goal is measurable, attainable for you, realistic for you to achieve this goal, and time specific. Be okay with modification along the way.

Common Stressors

Life tends to get in the way at time of our training. This can cause fatigue, illness or even burn out. Stressors such as work, family, relationships, illness, new job, new child, peer pressure from other runners, FOMO from other runners, and social media are just a few. However, apps such as Strava and Instagram can be huge motivators.

Coaches addressed that importance of looking at your lifestyle, especially all your common stressors, before committing to a plan. Importance was also addressed about allow listening to your body and allowing yourself to recover when you are feeling fatigue or tired.

One the biggest take ways from the coaches was that training plans are stressful and that it's okay to miss a workout and NOT MAKE IT UP during your training plan. Additionally, it was stressed by coaches that everyone’s 20 miler is different from runner to runner and the same can be said for recovery. Coaches advised that it’s more important to pay attention to the time spent on running then the actual mileage, so 3 hours run instead of a 20 mile run. Also - don't take into account what everyone else is doing! 

Recovery plays a huge role in training as well. This includes foam rolling, wrapping, compression sleeves, stretching, and 3D mobility. Recovery has to be part of your training. It was addressed that its best for you to run 5-10 minutes less and use that time to warm up/stretch then to run a full 50 or 1 hour run.

Always listen to your body and pay attention to how you feel and understand when your body needs a break and take it easy. It's important to not over train, allowing yourself to know when you can push and when not to.

Nutrition

What is consumed during training has a large impact on your training and recovery.  There are 3 stages to healing:

  1. Inflammation-blow ups within the body that last for a few days

  2. Proliferation that can last up to 3 weeks , while body is making new cells and can get weak and also can lose more muscles

  3. Remodel and regeneration that can last up to an year while the body is repairing itself and creating new cells and old ones being repaired and body is promoting a lot of repair.

There was great discussion around what food can be consumed to help improve blood flow and the function of immunity cells. Some ideas provided were to consider more fruits, veggies, increase intake of omega 3 and 6 along with intake of amino acid and whey protein. The importance of avoiding such pills like Advil was stressed as these pain killers interfere with the body’s natural healing process and impact injuries.

It was advise to consume more of the formerly mentioned items especially fruits and vegetables such as 1) Broccoli 2) Apples 3) Citrus Fruits 4) Papaya 5) Pineapples 6) Red Grapes 7) Garlic 8) Turmeric 9) Apricot 10) Mangos 11) Red Pepper 12) Spinach 13) berries 14) kiwi 15) Pecans 16) Walnuts.

Dr Mercer also stressed the importance of eating. Just because you are exercising less due to injury or more due to training, you need to eat and eat high proteins and Omegas’. As formerly mentioned, the items suggesedt are very important and help in cell creation and repairs in a faster rate as well as body consumption of these things such as fats and protein. It was suggested that we should be consuming food every 3-4 hours.

-Lisa

Harlem Run, #UnlikeAny

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Hello everyone! If you have been following us on social media, you'll know that last week was a big one for us. We want to dedicate this blog to our founder, Alison Désir. This past week, Under Armour launched their new global campaign, #UnlikeAny, that celebrates the accomplishments of female athletes who defy the odds and persevere. 

Among the faces of the campaign are Misty Copeland, Natasha Hastings, Jessie Graff, Zoe Zhang, and our very own ... Alison! Harlem Run leadership is so proud of everything Alison has achieved in the running community thus far, and there are certainly more exciting things to come. Be sure to check Alison out on the Under Armour website, read her story, and of course follow her (and us!) on social media for all other updates. Again, we are so proud of you, Alison!!

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Last week was also a memorable week for us, as Alison and Captain Amir got engaged! Yes, that's right - as if last week couldn't have gotten any better. At the launch of Alison's new global campaign, Amir got down on one knee and put a ring on it! Best wishes to our captains as they take on the next chapters of their lives. We can't wait to see where the world takes you!

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Running, My Unexpected Outlet

“Wait. Wait. Come and do WHAT?”

That was my response, as I stood there drenched in sweat, out of breath, wide-eyed, and with my mouth open, staring at my friend as we finished our weekly cardio-aerobics class. The instructor just announced to us that she was moving away, and that this would be our last class. We had both been attending this same fun, challenging class for the past two years, and had looked forward to it every week. Needless to say everyone was heartbroken for it to end.

“Aww … You should come check out this run group. They meet the same time as this class. It would be a great replacement,” suggested my friend, who had noticed my sad disposition.

I stood there, looking in the huge gym mirrors in front of us - slightly overweight - as I had gained weight after being put on hormonal medicine by my doctor -- which I later stopped taking because of the poor side-effects. Also, after just leaving a toxic and unhealthy relationship and experiencing major career uncertainty, I was feeling a bit disconnected. Overall, I just wasn’t myself.  I knew I had to act fast and try to bounce back to a healthier state of being.

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It just didn’t seem logical - asking me, who was a girly girl that lived for her high heels, fancy dresses, and makeup - to do something athletic. Even though I had taken dance classes off and on throughout my life, had done musical theater and other performing arts, I was FAR from THAT type of world - sweat, Gatorade, physical endurance - a world that felt like something straight out of a commercial.

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Well. Alright. I had nothing to lose. I could at least give it one try until I find another class. Then I simply don’t have to go back. No worries. Right? ............. WRONG!

Well to my surprise, not only have I really grown to enjoy the sport of running, I find it quite meditative. Throughout all the heavy breathing, discomfort, and accelerated heart beats, I find myself in a state of solitude - mentally solving certain problems and coming up with new creative ideas. Hitting a “reset” button somewhere deep within.

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As my feet hit the concrete *POMF*...*POMF*… I’m thinking to myself, “Hey maybe I should go to my boss and ask for the raise”... *POMF**POMF*, “Ya know Katherine, I think it’s time to actually end that toxic relationship” ... taking long deep breaths as I’m pushing myself, putting one foot in front of the other …*POMF* ... POMF*... "Hey, why don’t you submit your art to that festival? You’ve got admirable work out there.”

Just like the little engine that could- I think I can, I think I can. Wait. I KNOW I can. The next thing you know, I’m heading towards the finishing point, steps away. Feeling GREAT!!

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So not only did I also go back the NEXT Monday, I started showing up on Thursday nights for speed work too! Then later, found an awesome, encouraging, and dependable run/walking partner on Saturday mornings (and our group is slowly growing)! That’s now, what 3 days a week? Whoa. (Smiles)

And it just keeps getting better. I’ve now gone from run/walk to a 12min running pace and will be running my very first 5K in July. There’s really no better way to get in shape than with a wonderful community of supportive runners who push and encourage each other, both on the track and off.

 At THIS rate, I’ll be running the New York City marathon! Well, not so fast … lol. ONE goal at a time.

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-Katherine 

Harlem Run Newsletter - July 2017

Hello there!  We are excited to now bring our newsletter to you ON THE BLOG.  We will continue to use our mailing list on occasion but, for now, stay tuned right here for the latest on the movement.

Tonight is #MonNgtRun

July, 10, 2017
Bag check @ Harlem Shake by 6:55pm
Meet up @ Marcus Garvey Park by 7pm

#UAMtRunning

The first location this month, will take place at Cascade Volcano. Seven distances will be available for you to choose from: 50K, Marathon, Half-Marathon, Marathon Relay, Vertical Challenge, 10K and 5K.

Cascade Volcano - Bachelor, Oregon
Saturday, July 22, 2017
FOR MORE INFORMATION

#MXMRelay 2.0

The time has come for your chance to dethrone our last year's champtions, Dem Harlem Boyz. Teams of 4 (no less than 2) will run 26.2 miles collectively through Harlem. The location of the starting line and route will be revealed the Monday before the race (i.e. Monday August 14th). Stay tuned, but most importantly register ASAP. The field is limited to 15 teams.

Date - Saturday, August 19, 2017
Time - 9:00AM
REGISTER HERE

#MyTitleIX Chat @ NYRR Run Center

Whether you weren't able to attend the chat or only caught a portion of it, we have you covered. Check out the video above. Follow the hashtag #MyTitleIX via Twitter and Instagram to see the epic photo recreation of the 1967 Boston Marathon by Marshall Roach.

April & Aubrey featured in Women's Running

Last week, April and Aubrey, our favorite running duo, were featured in Women's Running Magazine. They were interviewed by Alexi Pappas before TrackTown USA's Summer Series 5K at Icahn Stadium. Follow the link below, comment and share their inspiring story. 

FULL ARTICLE