How Harlem Run Helped Me Become a Runner

So, how do I begin to tell my running story? I was always athletic and into sports - baseball, softball, football... but never really considered myself a runner. In 2014, I started doing Spartan Races and I loved it. Climbing, running, and doing obstacle challenges for miles in the mountains of Pennsylvania, Jersey and Vermont was a rush for me. Difficult doesn't begin to explain the experience. It was amazing and dreadful all at the same time. Yet, I still didn't consider myself a runner.

... But then a friend invited me to run a 10k in Roosevelt Island and I thought for the first time about what it meant to be a "runner".  For all the years that I spent as an athlete, I took the sport of running for granted. I knew as I started to prepare for those 6 miles that I was in for a rude awakening. 


   As I began my very first 10k, I took off thinking it would be easy. By mile 2, I was done. I was running a 9 minute pace and ran out of gas very quickly. I ran-walked the rest off the way to the finish, but felt humbled by the experience. This is when I said to myself, 'Take your time buddy. Pace yourself, breathe, don't think too much. Keep going.' I finished the run, and knew that running was something I wanted to continue to challenge myself with.

 By 2016, I started doing less Spartan races and more NYRR races. I became a member learned about the 9+1 program which grants you entry to the NYC Marathon ... Even typing it gives me chills. While waiting at one of my 9 qualifying races, I noticed a super excited young lady who I now know as Lisa. She was smiling and seemed so positive and excited to run this race we had in Central Park.


I saw her shirt with the Harlem Run logo on it. I didn't really pay it much attention, but then I began to see her at more races and we became friends on Instagram. She invited me to run on Mondays and Thursdays. After months of seeing her Instagram pics, I decided to give it a try. Thank you, social media, for introducing me to the world of group running.

        When I decided to come to a run for the first time, I remember feeling nervous because I was going to meet new people I had never met before. As I arrived at 125th St for bag check, I noticed two females walking towards me, smiling, positive and just happy. I reached out my hand to greet them and one of them hugged me, I said to myself, 'Ok I guess we're hugging!' lololol her name was Alison the other was Raydime, and my Harlem Run life was born. 


      Being only 2 weeks away from the NYC Marathon, I feel more thankful than ever to Harlem Run for being so supportive and making me finally feel like a runner. I can't wait to run the streets of New York and rep this crew. I'm also extremely grateful to the Saturday Morning Run Crew, especially April for kicking my butt all year long. This will be my first NYC MARATHON and I'm feeling excited, scared, nervous, and determined. But ready. Let's get it done. 

- Abbie

Amir Figueroa5 Comments