Posts tagged Harlem USA
Captain Kai's NYC Half 2016

NYC Half 2016.

Running late was a good warmup. As I was approaching the entrance to the park, I felt like I was walking into airport security. After all that I still showed up to an almost completely empty corral. While I was warming up, I looked over and spotted my buddy Kevin who I always see running track on Facebook. We chatted about race strategies and complained about cold. It was definitely colder than what I am comfortable with on race day.


There goes the anthem, the horn sounds, and we are off. People were going for it. Lots of heavy breathing going up the first and second rolling hills. I had to keep telling myself that I am running my own race and I need to focus on me. I spent the entire time in the park listening to my breath, glancing at my watch every now and then to check on my pace.

I have to say, I was kind of disappointed when I didn't see the #HRCheerSquad at the FDB Circle. I was really looking forward to seeing the crew. But as I turned the corner on Harlem Hill, I saw them and got the best rush of energy! Alison on the megaphone and #WholeTeamHere. I think I caught them off guard haha, love those guys. But, who's the guy in the green morph suit though?

Photo Courtesy of @suniemi227 via Instagram

Photo Courtesy of @suniemi227 via Instagram

I exit the park, the worst part of the race is over. I'm now running in the shadows of the skyscrapers, so according to my research I should be about half way through. I'm a couple of seconds behind my goal pace, but I have time to catch up. It's go time! In Times Square, I see kids getting ready to earn their own medals in the kids races.

A guy was holding a sign that said "WORST PARADE EVER." Haha funny stuff. Westside highway, I'm still behind goal pace. I can't slow down now, gotta stay focus and drink Gatorade. The highway seems awfully quiet, where is everybody? Regardless, I still have to handle business.

Next stop, Freedom Tower. They were right, the tunnel was a tad longer than I anticipated. I almost ran out of gas and barely made it out. That hill exit though.. Ran by Gilbert from Frontrunners with about 600 meters to go and he said "Go Kai!" So I did. I broke 3 personal records today.

The Men of Harlem Run

A few weeks back, we wrote about the Women of Harlem Run - Alison, Kayla, Lisa, and Raydime - and their passion for running, community-building, and empowerment. This week, we want to give a special shoutout to the Men of Harlem Run. For as much as the ladies do for the movement, our four male leaders also work tirelessly to make Harlem Run a fun, unique, interactive, and inclusive experience. 

It's not easy to put your entire heart and soul into being a leader of a running group. As you all know, every one of these men does things outside of Harlem Run; full-time jobs, school, other volunteer work, and maintaining a social life. But still, they knew that there was something special about this movement and so they all work tirelessly to make Harlem Run a place people want to be. We want to give it up to the Men of Harlem Run! Without you guys, our runs just wouldn't be the same. So who are they?


Amir was one of the first people to start coming to Harlem Run a few years back, after hearing about the group through word of mouth in the neighborhood. Amir and Alison had an instant connection and similar interests in community-building and using running as a vehicle for social change. Amir's passion for working with teens is evident, as you will often see him running with his mentees during our runs.  Best known at HR for leading the #WalkItOut Crew (although we all know he can easily lead the 7minute pace group as well!), Amir's calm yet trustworthy presence makes everyone feel welcome and eager to keep coming back week after week. 

Kai found out about Harlem Run through and knew almost immediately that this group was going to be something amazing. Kai uses his loud, powerful voice and witty sense of humor to reach out to people in the community and encourage them to come out to our runs. Although he can be seen leading group runs of 100+ people, there is something about Kai's demeanor that makes each and every individual feel like they are exactly where they belong. Greeting everyone with a friendly hug, Kai lets everyone know that we are more than just a run club, we are a family.

Joe was introduced to Harlem Run over one year ago when he was invited by his close friend and fraternity brother, Amir. Born and raised in Hell's Kitchen, Joe never would have imagined that he would grow so close to the Harlem community. We all know that Joe is a very fast runner (#Mister305), but what sets Joe apart is his belief that everyone has the ability to be great. He treats the people who run sub-5 minute miles with the same dignity, courtesy, and respect as those who bravely come to the walking group for the first time. That kind of energy is what we are all about in Harlem Run, and it is another thing that makes our movement so unique.


Logan, everyone's favorite 12-minute pacer, is a longtime friend of Alison's. He started coming out to runs and soon got addicted to the positive energy and camaraderie that he found. Known to some as The Closer, Logan can usually be found in the 11/12 minute pace group running with the back of the pack. This is a job that Logan takes seriously, because he knows how hard it can be to start running with a group even when you feel you may not be fast enough. The perfect mix of humor, encouragement, and just a little bit of tough love, Logan makes sure that no one is left behind. 


These men are provide just a glimpse into all of the awesome and inspiring people we have who show up to our runs. But they do so much for our movement and community. So Men of Harlem Run, thank you for being you!

Running With a Purpose

I started running in 2012, but it was purely by accident. I was working as a Corporate Senior Paralegal and my firm entered the Chase Corporate Challenge 5k in Central Park. I was tasked with the position of organizing the event for my coworkers. Not only did I organize it, but I also decided to run at the last minute.

I was initially a little nervous because I had never ran in my life, but it turned out to be the best experience of my life. I finished in 35 minutes - I couldn't believe it! This small race changed my life forever and launched me into the fitness world. I was 37 years old, 160 pounds, and classified as overweight. I wanted to make a significant change in my life, so I started researching running clubs and ways to fundraise while running.

One day at work, my coworker, who happened to be ex-Giants player, Amani Toomer's sister, overheard my conversation in the cafeteria and asked if I would be interested in doing the "Back to Football 5 K Run" with her brother. She told me that this race would benefit his charity, The Diabetes Foundation. I remember almost fainting and mind muttering "OMG omg omg Amani Toomer!"

I kept my cool, however, and accepted. Just a few months later, Amani Toomer and I ran for his charity in Central Park. I finished in 32 minutes beating my previous time by 3 minutes. Or as they say in "runner's terms" I PR'd... And even beat Amani Toomer who came in at 38 minutes! Luckily he was cool about it and we laughed about my accomplishment. 

Running for charity and making a difference for such an admirable charity really got me inspired and I decided this was my destiny. I love running, I love giving back, and I love helping people. So why not?! My running career began shortly after my race with Amani. I teamed up with local running groups, found a charity that meant something to me, and I started training that very same fall for my first half, the Nike Women's Half Marathon in May 2013!

I decided to make my first half marathon memorable and to make a difference by making it count. I set a lofty goal for myself of $3,000 to raise money for leukemia research. After hosting several fundraiser parties, happy hours, and getting support from family and friends, I not only hit my goal, but I went $2,000 above what I anticipated! It was so rewarding to know that I had worked towards fundraising over $5,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I knew that running changed my life, but now I knew that my new hobby also changed others lives. 

I then set off to Washington DC to run my first race, feeling pumped and ecstatic that I was running to save lives! It was one of the best times of my life and helped me discover my passion for running. My official time in the race was 2:07, and along the way I earned a Tiffany necklace presented by firefighters at the finish line. What else could you ask for?! Not even two weeks later, I ran my second half in Brooklyn. I knew that I was hooked on running, and I haven't stopped since. 

My journey towards becoming a runner and learning how to give back to the community in the process has been breathtaking and epic. It has also led to me develop lifelong friendships with so many other runners. Becoming a part of Harlem Run during the process has made my experience that much more meaningful. I am still an active fundraiser and my purpose and calling is to end cancer! With the help of my running friends and family, I know that I will continue to run with fight and never give up!