In September of 2018, I received a phone call from one of our runners asking if she should sign up for the Berlin Marathon; knowing several others were considering it, and having had an amazing experience in 2017, I said âdefinitely!" And you know what - let's all go!" Fast forward a year and over 50 BKTC runners had applied, entered and made the trip to Germany, together alongside dozens of friends and New Yorkers from Old Man Run Club, Distance Project NYC, WRU Crew, OSR and others.
While there, it seems as though we ran into a New Yorker around every corner. Ultimately, after the rain stopped we came together to celebrate the culmination of the long June-September training cycle all on the same rooftop in downtown Berlin. Thank you to Daniel Medina, Minh Huyen Nguyen, Kraft Runners, Berlin Braves and Nike Berlin for hosting us!
Why did you start running?
I had enough of baseball once I had to try and hit against high schoolers and track was a team sport I wouldn't get cut from that I was actually (sort of, kind of, maybe) good at. I had heard all my dad's high school track and cross country tall tales so I was always interested in trying it for myself.
What music do you listen to while running?
Lots of hip-hop and rap, some 90s-era punk and ska to keep the dream alive, Springsteen, a bunch of podcasts—I love lots of different music so it really all depends on my mood and the run. Sometimes I just want to zone out, other times I need an energy boost. I recently did a 10-miler to nothing but Broadway tunes. I was running through the streets doing the high kicks and jazz hands.
What do you think about on the run if you don’t run with music?
My family, plans for the weekend, what's for dinner, work (though I try not to), "I don't trust that dog keep it away from me," mile splits and running math, "Which route will I run this time?," "If I turn back here will I hit enough miles for today?", goals, visualizations of my next race.
What is your most memorable race?
NYC Marathon 2017. That was the first full year for BKTC as a club, first Moonshot, Breaking2—a lot of running things came together that year and the hype for that race was huge. Then I lost my job out of nowhere on the Thursday before the race. My wife, Stephanie, was around 7 months pregnant with our son and we were in utter shock. There was no way not to let it affect my marathon. It was the most emotional race I've ever run. Stephanie came running out onto the course with me around Mile 22, trying to hype me up and let me know Mit was about to jump in and pace me to the finish line, and I had to stop and pull her to the sideline and just give her a hug and shed a few tears. About a mile or so up the road, just at the Park entrance, I heard my aunt, uncle, and cousin cheering for me and did the same thing. I was hurting so badly and didn't want them to see me limping along, they were so hyped. I remember feeling like everyone was pulling for me extra hard on account of what had happened and it meant so much that I just had to let them know I was okay, I was going to make it. I'm getting emotional thinking about it right now. I managed a big 8-minute PR that day in spite of everything, and I found out I'm a lot stronger than I thought I was. Dan Diaz said to me afterward, "Pressure makes diamonds and you're rich AF." I'm not an optimist by nature but I turned a negative into a positive that day and that feeling has stuck with me, and I hope it always will.
What advice would you give to new runners?
Don't think about it too much, keep it fun, do you. Don't believe the hype, believe in yourself.
Who would you like to go on a run with? Why? UVA men's basketball coach Tony Bennett. He's pretty much my favorite person on Earth right now (family excluded) and such an incredible coach and motivator—the ultimate testament to the power of positive thinking, faith, and self-belief to achieve any goal. I feel like he'd teach me a lot and empower me to keep striving. Not to mention he's also a total dreamboat. Lots of engagement on those snaps.
Who are your favorite athletes? Active or all-time?
I've had many. Eliud Kipchoge, Meb, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Patrick Ewing, Malcolm Brogdon, Chris Long. Honorable mention: Charlie Conway, Rocky Balboa, Benny "The Jet" Rodriguez.
What do you admire them?
These athletes are favorites of mine from all phases of my life, from being a fan as a kid to being a student and alum with a ton of college pride to being an athlete trying to emulate the best in the world. One thing they all have in common is they show up every day and compete their asses off. You never know how a game or race is going to play out but with those guys you know you're going to get their very best no matter what and that's what I ask of myself. And Benny pickled the Beast. Legends Never Die.
What artist would you go on tour with?
Share an embarrassing running story:
If I have to, I guess it should be running related. Once in a backyard football game, maybe around age 10 or 11, I scooped up a fumble and high-stepped the length of the field for a touchdown. In the wrong direction. I was "Wrong Way Schiff" the rest of that school year.
Favorite social media:
Favorite sports movie?
What is the last book that you read?
Once A Runner
What are you pre-race rituals?
How has running changed you?
It's made me the guy who says, "It's not that far, we can just walk there."
What sneakers do you run with? Why?
Whatever feels good and I can find at the outlets to stock up on multiple pairs for the year. Currently rotating Nike Pegasus, Zoom Fly, Adidas Adios for speed work, and 4% on Race Day.
What is the last movie that you saw?
Unintentionally watched Blockers on HBO. I liked it, don't @ me. Or do, maybe that's a popular opinion. I told you, I don't know movies.
What race are you looking forward to? Why?
Berlin Marathon. I've only run NYC so I'm pumped to run a new race in a new place. It's also my fifth wedding anniversary so I'm excited to experience Berlin with Stephanie and look back on our journey so far. Plus what the hell else have I been training for all this time?
Do you have a running mantra?
I say a lot of stuff to myself over the course of any long run but one mantra I heard recently that I plan to steal is "Stay in the fight." Shoutout to Ron Runs NYC.
Guilty pleasure on cheat day?
Too much cake and ice cream. Although I don't really do cheat days, I do what I want.
Dream running vacation: Running from my lounge chair into the ocean and back to my chair for a drink.
What was your first race? What do you remember about it?
Eighth grade was a long time ago but I can remember one of my first track races (I think it was an 800), stepping to the line, feeling the nervous adrenaline rush, and doing whatever I could to stick my nose in the race for as long as possible.
Favorite race distance?
The Mile. It just feels like the most fundamental, classic distance. It's the first, if not only distance most people ever run, on a track or otherwise. It's so easy to get your head around and understand, yet so hard to endure. That's running to me. I always look forward to testing myself at one hard mile each year to sort of mark another turning of the calendar and try to break my high school PR, which for a long time I thought would be impossible. Marathon is life but I dunno, track was my first love. #bringbackthemile
Finish these sentences:
If a runner wants to break the ice with me they should ask about… That time Virginia won the NCAA Hoops National Championship.
Running has… opened me up to people and memories I never would have known otherwise, and I'm deeply grateful for that.
My crazy dream is to….. run a marathon as a family — and have us all catch that unicorn.
âBKTC Member Marta Fenollosa:
Marta is an architect originally from Barcelona, who now now lives in Washington DC.
Why did you start running?
Iâve always been very active and into sports. I am a happier person when I exercise. But when I moved to New York, it was impossible to meet up with people to play basketball or tennis, sports that I practiced a lot back at home. I started running around Prospect Park as a way to stay fit (and channel all the craziness of NYC) and soon got addicted.
What music do you listen to while running? Why?
I donât usually listen to music when I run. Occasionally I might take off the dust of my headphones in a long run if I am running alone. But even if I do, music has been substituted by podcasts. They trick my brain more effectively, because you know a song is 3, or 4 minutes long, while a podcast can go on for hours! It helps losing sense of time, something very useful on a 2+ hour run.
What do you think about on the run if you donât run with music?
Running has become sort of my meditation time. Some days I reflect on how the day went; others I create mental âto doâ lists for the next day. Most of the time I just look at my surroundings and think of very banal things.
Most memorable race? Why?
Running the Boston Monsoon in 2018. I am extremely proud of finishing that race. One of the hardest things I have ever done, both physically and mentally. It took me a long time to be able to run on the rain again!!
What's your least memorable race?
My second NYC marathon. I thought I knew what I was doing because I had run it the year before and I didnât train as much as I should have. The last 10 miles were the worst. I stopped more times that I can count, and I barely made it to the finish line. It was one of most humbling races that make you respect the distance again.
What advice would you give to new runners?
ENJOY IT!! Running should be all pleasure. Some friendly competition here and there is always good, but donÂ´t let it get into your head. Every step, every mile, every race is for you, no one else.
Who would you like to go on a run with? Why?
My great grandfather Wilfredo Ricart. He was a very well-known engineer, famous for his car designs. A lot of people consider him a genius and it would have been super interesting to hear his view of the world. Sharing a run with him would have been awesome!
Who are your favorite athletes?
Rafa Nadal, who just won his 23rd grand slam title!! Insane! He is an amazing athlete; he has achieved absolutely everything but, at the same time, he has never lost the right perspective on the important values of life.
Whatâs your favorite movie?
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, even though I havenât seen it in ages! Maybe it is not as good as I remember...
Whatâs your favorite running route?
A 10 mile run in Menorca, an island in Spain where Iâve spent most of my summers. ItÂ´s the right combo of trails and road, and it finishes in a tiny beach where you can just dip into the water and let your muscles relax. Itâs heaven.
Share an embarrassing running story:
I got lost on my first leg of Speed Project. I had my route memorized and it was a super simple leg, but somehow the nerves played me. It was 5 am in the middle of LA and I had missed a turn. When I finally found someone and asked if I could use her phone, she started running in the opposite direction! Luckily my instincts kicked in and I remembered the area was a gridâ¦ and I eventually found the van. It wouldnât have been a good start for our team!!! Luckily, it ended up being just a minor hick up (in case you did not follow the race, we broke the female record by 5h!!)
BKTC Member Ben Chan:
He runs in hot pants, donated one of his kidneys and takes on everything from the Mile to Ultramarathons.
Why did you start running?
Before donating one of my kidneys in May 2012 my friends and I signed up to do an obstacle course mud run in October. I ran my first 5K the week before surviving 12+ miles of obstacles and mud on October 20, 2012. My friends and I had a lot of fun, but we agreed that it would have been more enjoyable if we actually trained and got in shape. So that’s when I started running- sometime at the end of 2012. Prior to donating I avoided running. At first I ran to get in shape for obstacle course races and 5ks and 10ks, and then I did a Ragnar Relay in September 2013. Our team had a theme and I ran all three of my legs in my underwear. One of my teammates suggested that I run a marathon, so we signed up to run the 2014 Los Angeles Marathon. I did my first training run after Thanksgiving dinner 2013. I ended up running four marathons in 2014.
What do you think about on the run?
I focus on being present. Running is my time to turn off the screens and tune out everybody else. I try not to look at my watch while I’m running. I try to take in my surroundings and listen to what my body is telling me. Sometimes negative thoughts creep in- doubt, fatigue, somebody else’s annoying music from their crappy portable speaker or way to loud headphones. When I hit rough patches, one of my mantras that I say is “You are here. You are doing this.” That pulls me back into the moment.
Most memorable race? Why?
Hard to pick just one. The firsts- first road race, first marathon, first underwear run, are memorable. The ones that stick out the most for me are the ultras. Every race has a beginning and an end, but ultras have the longest middles with the most plot twists. When you train for races up to the marathon distance, the goal is to either avoid the dreaded wall or to overcome one wall. Running an ultra means overcoming multiple walls. I’ve been to some very dark places. I mistimed sunset at the 2015 World’s Toughest Mudder, a 24-hour obstacle race. That year the race was in the desert in Las Vegas and there several water obstacles and crossings. At night it gets so cold that participants run the course wearing wetsuits. I started the race wearing a Speedo, and I thought I could get another lap of the course in before sunset. I was wrong. It got dark while I was still on a Speedo lap. There was one obstacle that required us to wade into water and then climb up a rope and maneuver into a pipe. A lot of runners had a tough time not just getting up the rope, but standing in the cold water waiting to climb up the rope. Participants were getting pulled left and right for hypothermia. A medic saw me shivering and told me that if I continued shivering he was going to pull me from the race. I took 2-3 minutes to the mentally compose myself, got a really warm bear hug from one of my friends, and then I got myself up the rope and into the pipe. The organizers eventually closed the obstacle because so many folks were getting pulled right there. That was only the halfway point on the course. There was so much freezing water left. I was cold, wet, and wondering why I was putting myself through this. But I kept on moving forward. Eventually I made it back to my tent in the pit area. I put on my wetsuit, but before I could head out for another lap, my wife laid on top of me to warm me up. I kept going. That’s the coldest I’ve ever been.
Moments like my friend giving me the bear hug to warm me up and my wife laying on top of me to save my race are the kinds of things that happen in ultras.
Least memorable race? Why?
After a while, all the 5ks, 4-milers, and 10ks in Central Park start to blend together. I still enjoy them for what they are - opportunities to practice patience when I’m running a fall or winter race in and get asked “Aren’t you cold?” by 110 different runners.
What advice would you give to new runners?
Be present at your runs. Music can be helpful, but it can also be a crutch. Practice running by feel. Create a definition of success for yourself that isn’t strictly tied to numbers. Social media and advertisements for running gear present an idealized version of running that separates Instagram worthy moments of triumph from the rest of running. The “rest of running” is the majority of running. Heavy legs, soreness, tough days, doubts- are part of the entirety of the running package. Commit to the process of running and accept all the moments, bad and good.
BY INES MADRID
Kelly Roberts started to run to save her own life. After the tragic and unexpected loss of her brother Scott, running became the therapy and helping hand she never imagined.
In dealing with her grief, she also discovered how she didn't love her own reflection in the mirror.
And in the process, she founded the Badass Lady Gang and She Can/And She Did running groups. In addition to marathon plans, community runs, and coaching, the platforms encourage women of all shapes and sizes to find their inner athlete.
Kelly is currently training for the Chicago Marathon, where she is hoping to earn her Boston Qualifying time. In the middle of marathon training, she shared her experience on the path to how loving yourself frees you to live your best life.
1. When did you begin to love and embrace your body, and decide to challenge the stereotypes of what a female athlete should look like?
I don’t think it happened in a moment. Most of my life, I was obsessed with weight loss like pretty much every other woman I've ever known. I wasn’t athletic, so an athletic build wasn’t something I thought to aspire to. I didn’t want muscle, I just wanted to be a 00 or look like Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and Destiny’s Child. But I didn’t really understand or take a sledgehammer to our traditional feminine beauty ideals (thin, nice, quiet, spend your money on appearance and take up as little room in the world as possible) until I ran a marathon. It was the first crack to that construct and two years later, when I started chasing a BQ, it finally fell apart.
I’d bought into the lie the food industry sold us that weight loss is as simple as calories in versus calories out and if you were overweight, it's because you weren’t working out enough. And there I was, eating a healthy and balanced diet, running 40+ miles a week, cross-training and strength training, and I was still a US size 10/12. I didn’t understand why I wasn't losing weight even though I was eating healthier and running stronger than I'd ever run in my life. I finally decided I was tired of feeling sad and disappointed every time I saw my reflection or a picture of myself.
By Ines Madrid
Power Malu learned two major life lessons by watching his father live and die. The first lesson came through running when he was around six or seven years old. Power would accompany his father, Luis Angel Viera, on his training runs to the East River Track. The elder Viera -- who arrived to Manhattan’s Lower East Side in the 1960s from Puerto Rico -- was a boxer.
Power would jog along the track with his father doing drills, and then run back to the only neighborhood he has ever called home. The LES was among several neighborhoods throughout New York City where Puerto Ricans settled after leaving the island. Power, who considers himself a Nuyorican, grew up in a neighborhood where the language, music and food kept the connection to the island alive.
When his dad arrived, he lived on Allen and Eldridge Street. He then met his mom, Nereida Rodriguez Jimenez, who had also moved from Puerto Rico, and lived on Essex and Grand. After they were married, they settled in the Masaryk Towers to raise their three children.
“The impact and contribution of Puerto Ricans in New York and the United States goes as far back as when they enlisted to fight in World War II,” Power said. “My parents came here looking for work and opportunities as many did after them.”
The elder Viera supported his family by being a boxer during Power’s formative years. His father’s dedication to boxing, running, and overall fitness was a defining building block for Power, whose many titles include: director of special events and programming with Overthrow Boxing gym, captain of the urban running crew Bridgerunners, artist, activist, and unofficial LES historian.
“By watching my dad work on his craft, I really saw the benefit of being active, and following your calling, regardless of what others want you to be,” Power said. “He was my biggest supporter.”
That love for and dedication to fitness - mixed with his hosting skills perfected at SOBs in New York, performing with The Roots, and writing for MTV’s Lyricist Lounge - helped Power learn how to command a crowd, prompting his uncle to give him the first part of his nickname. Power added Malu after an NFL player he admired, Troy Polamalu, who also used his career to fight for causes and shared the same powerful hairstyle.
From an early age, Power had a natural desire to want to make everyone feel at ease, was always eager to mediate conflicts and to provide support when needed. But if you ask him, he gets the most joy away from the spotlight, such as when he is in the back of the pack helping new runners who have dared to run with Bridgerunners for the first time.
Their weekly Wednesday runs are about conquering bridges, jumping into traffic, and crisscrossing parks. All in good fun, often with a dose of history about the neighborhoods runners find themselves in.
In his official duty as ‘the sweeper,’ Power makes it his mission to get every runner to feel welcome, appreciated, and wanted. The most important aspect of running for Power is that it is a community effort that teaches everyone that their own power to help has no limits.
“Power is a natural leader and motivator. He is the person that will start a revolution,” said Cedric Hernandez, co-founder of Bridgerunners. “Power is that selfless guy you want on your team, he cares deeply for the community, and for him running is not about speed, it is about bringing people together.”
Power first became an organizer early in his life: When New York City found itself the flashpoint for many racial issues during the 1990s, he volunteered with Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, where Power learned how to mobilize people.
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