Race report: 2019 Gaza 5.5K and dabke party

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Taking selfies while facing the sun, and racing in a keffiyeh: two bad ideas. (Photo credit: Lisa Maya Knauer)

I haven’t raced in six months and a day, and the Gaza 5K was the perfect way to ease back in. The emphasis of this race is on fundraising (to support community mental health services for kids in Gaza) and community. It doesn’t start on time, the course isn’t accurately measured, there are no mile markers, and the chaotic starting area is crowded with kids and strollers – but so what? How many other races do you know that culminate in a dabke dance party? Continue reading

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A non-running race report: the 2018 NYC marathon

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Runners (and their shadows) in mile 13

Here it is, at last: my report on this year’s NYC marathon from the spectators’ side of the police tape.

As you may recall, I’d mapped out a plan in advance that would take me from Park Slope to Bay Ridge (with a stop in Sunset Park) to Greenpoint to Long Island City to East Harlem to the Upper West Side. I executed my non-running race plan much better than I’ve ever executed any of my actual running race plans. You could even say I hit my “A” goal.

I also learned a lot, and am already making plans for 2019.

Here’s how it went down. Continue reading

2018 NYC Marathon spectator’s guide to Brooklyn (and Queens)

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I’ll be there.

It’s back, for the fourth consecutive year!

To help you have the best possible marathon-viewing experience, I’ve compiled pointers from my own past races – those I ran (2005, 2006, 2009 DNF, 2014, 2015) and those I watched (2007, 2011, 2013, 2016, 2017). This summer and fall, I ran the course (in manageable segments), seeking out interesting places to stop for a bite to eat and something warm (or cold – one never knows what kind of weather the first Sunday in November will bring) to drink.

This guide, like the three before it, is unabashedly Outer Borough-centric. That’s true for several reasons. First, I’m an Outer Borough kind of gal. Second, the crowded viewing spots along First Avenue and Central Park don’t require a guide; they’re where people go by default. Third, and most important – I honestly believe that your viewing experience will be better here. You’ll be closer to the action, and also closer to the real spirit of the race, and of the city.

Plus, the eating is way better.  Continue reading

NYC Marathon spectator training report

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Yes, but will it be open by the first Sunday in November?

It’s September! Were I running the 2018 NYC Marathon, this would be my monster month: I’d be piling on the miles, trying to live right, and generally being an extremely boring person. But just because I’ve retired from marathoning doesn’t mean I’m not training. Now, though, my training is focused on being the best possible spectator (and possibly coaching others toward their own personal spectating bests).

To that end, I set out on this steamy Labor Day morning to run a (small) portion of the marathon course. I’ll be doing a lot more of that over the next month and a half, aiming to publish an all-new course guide in the second half of October. In the meantime, here are some teaser pictures from today’s training run.

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What, no beetroot?!?

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Sacks of flour and poppy seeds (not pictured) leave me hopeful that this in-the-works-for-over-a-year Shelsky’s outpost will in fact be opening soon.

Race report: 2018 Popular Brooklyn Half (May 19, 2018)

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Defending my home turf (photo credit: Luke Redmond)

Let’s begin by contemplating the marketing genius who connected this race, which routinely sells out in less than an hour, to its new title sponsor, Banco Popular. Was it the result of a caffeine, doughnut and Gatorade-fueled spitballing session in a New York Road Runners conference room? Did someone at Banco Popular, possibly a runner themselves, come up with the idea? Or was it – as my friend Michael, who has some tenuous family connection to the world of marketing consultants, tells me is most likely – the handiwork of a professional branding matchmaker?

However it happened, this popular race is now officially Popular.  Continue reading

Race report: the NYC Gaza 5(ish)K (March 24, 2018)

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Photo credit: Murray Rosenblith

How can you not love an event that bills itself as a combination 5K and dabke party? I ran this race two years ago, missed it last year, and was thrilled to be running it again. It’s less a race than a community celebration . . . for Brooklyn’s Palestinian-American community, primarily, but also the larger Arab community, the Muslim community, Jewish peace activists and various and sundry other folks. While I was shamefully lax in my fundraising this year (by which I mean, I didn’t fundraise at all), other participants raised thousands of dollars for mental health services for kids in Gaza.

The first indication that this race is going to be a little different is the fact that a “light breakfast” (I’m quoting from the official schedule of events) is served beforehand. The starting time is approximate – hey, it starts when it starts – and so is the distance. Two years ago, we ran a smidgen over 3 miles; this year, we ran a full 3.3 mile loop of the part. There are more walkers than runners, and even among the runners, it was evident from the starting area chatter – “I hope I can finish . . . how will we know how far we’ve gone?” – that many were running their first 5K. (Or better – given the vagueness of the course measurement – their first 5ishK.) Continue reading