5k SoleMate Spotlight: Kara

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Today we're shining a spotlight on Kara Steger, a Girls on the Run NYC 5k Volunteer who's also raising funds for GOTR programming! Kara, we are excited to see you at the 5k and grateful for your support to help us reach more girls!

Why did you decide to be a SoleMate fundraiser for Girls on the Run NYC in addition to volunteering at this fall's 5k?
I participated in my first Girls on the Run 5k this past summer. I had so much fun just giving as many girls as possible a high five and seeing the looks of joy and accomplishment on their faces, that I knew that I would be a part of all of the Girls on the Run races thereafter.

What does the Girls on the Run mission mean to you?
Running is a solo sport that allows you to time to think and reflect and grow as an individual. You can set personal goals and accomplish those goals or you can just run to have time to yourself that nobody else can infringe upon. Running can also be something that is shared with a group or team that enables you to socialize but also teaches you the importance of rooting for your peers to meet their goals. I think the Girls on the Run program teaches girls from a young age how to (a) set goals and achieve them (b)  take time to reflect on life and be thoughtful about every step one takes and (c) to remember to cheer for others to succeed. These lessons are not only worthwhile but invaluable.

Tell us a little bit about your running history!
I come from a running family: my mom and sisters and brother all run and even my dad runs a little. I was more of a drama/debate/student government nerd who discovered the joys of running later in life. I may never be as fast as my sisters (although I hope one day to be as fast as my sisters), but I have found that running every day and running marathons once or twice a year gives me personal goals that I can always work towards. When my job is frustrating or something is not going my way, running is always there and the results and benefits are measurable in a way that so many things in life are not. Everyone should have something that offers that type of certainty in life.

What do you do to be healthy, confident and joyful?
I run every day. I also eat healthy most of the time which makes me feel less guilty that French fries and ice cream sundaes are my favorite foods. Not having to feel guilty about eating the French fries and ice cream when I want them makes me feel pretty joyful.

What words of encouragement would you share with a girl participating in her first 5k?
As cliched as it may sound, the most important thing is to enjoy the experience. If you run for the fun of it (I call it the “Forrest Gump” method of running -- to just run the way you want to run and enjoy the journey), the race will feel like a victory. Also, you will be with a bunch of other people who are also out there to enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that comes with running and finishing a race, and their joy will be contagious. Soak it in. 

SoleMate Spotlight - 2017 NYC Marathon: Angela Singh

Today we're shining a special spotlight on our 2017 TCS New York City Marathon SoleMate, Angela Singh! Angela is running her first marathon for Girls on the Run NYC.

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Why did you decide to be a SoleMate for the NYC Marathon and fundraise for Girls on the Run?
I’ve wanted to run for the NYC Marathon, as it’s been a dream for a while, and when I saw people finish the NYC Marathon last year, I was inspired to set this race as a goal, not just tuck it away on my “bucket list.” I did some research before the marathon, and the moment I found out that Girls on the Run was an organization for which people could run/raise funds, I was ecstatic! I’ve been working with Girls on the Run since 2015, when I first was introduced to it, and I knew that raising funds for this organization would give meaning to training for and completing this race.

What does the Girls on the Run mission mean to you?
I love that Girls on the Run teaches young girls the skills to be confident, successful, and strong, all through running. It’s so important for girls to feel empowered and confident at a young age, and elementary/middle school can be challenging and confusing times for girls, since they are constantly surrounded by media that tells them what is cool or how to be beautiful. Girls on the Run teaches girls about their self-worth and that they are so much stronger than they think. By running for them, I myself have learned how to be a better person, both mentally and physically. This organization has taught me about the joys of running and how to be confident in myself.

Is this your first marathon?
Yes, this is my first marathon! I’m really excited to run this, because it’s been a dream for a while to be able to complete a marathon, and to run it in the city that I love? Even better!

Favorite place to run?
I usually run in Riverside Park and then continue on Cherry Walk, going downtown as far as I can and then looping back. During races, I like running in Central Park, varying my loops to keep things exciting, and yes, I’ve even come to appreciate Harlem Hill!

Favorite time of day to run?
I like running in the early morning, right before the sun rises. There aren’t too many people out there, so it’s just you and the open road. You can go as fast (or as slow) as you want, there’s no one to judge you. After running, I also feel like I’ve earned that morning coffee Frappuccino from Starbucks!

Favorite post-run snack/meal?
Nesquik chocolate milk – it’s the perfect amount of carbs and protein after those long runs, and the colder it is, the more refreshing it is.

Favorite running accessory?
It’s a tie between my Garmin Forerunner 235, which keeps me on track while running, and my iPod shuffle – all my jams are on there, and it helps me get into my “zone” while running.

Favorite pump-up running song?
“Stressed Out,” by Twenty One Pilots. It’s an awesome song that has a great beat for running, and I can feel myself running faster every time it begins to play.

Group or solo run?
Personally, I like running solo. Since I’m a bit slow (10:30/11:00 min/mile pace), I like having my own time to get into my “zone.” [Editor's note: your healthy pace is awesome!]

When you get tired, what makes you keep running?
I think of the reasons why I got into running in the first place and look back on how much it’s helped my health. I remember the girls and the mission of Girls on the Run, which helps to keep me going.

Tell us a little bit about your running history!
When I was younger, I used to hate running, instead focusing on sports that worked on the upper arms, like softball. However, about 17 months ago, I was overweight and not athletic at all. I was almost on the verge of becoming diabetic, so I made a promise to myself and my family that for my health, I’d lose weight. From that moment on, I spent the summer of 2016 running a 5K everyday on the treadmill, changed my diet, and since then I’ve lost 45+ pounds! Running became a hobby of mine after that summer. A high point of my running career happened this past January, when I finished my first half marathon in Disneyland, and since the beginning of 2017, I’ve done many various NYRR races (5Ks, 10Ks, etc) and 7 half-marathons (my most recent one I ran for Team Project Purple).

What do you do besides running to keep yourself healthy, confident and joyful?
I make sure my diet is balanced and mainly sugar-less, which definitely helped in my journey to lose weight. Recently, I’ve taken up Flywheel classes, and have truly enjoyed cycling indoors as a way to substitute some running sessions. To destress, I knit, read, visit museums, listen to music, and see movies.

Any other fun facts you want to share?
I’m currently a student at Columbia University, working on my masters in Biomedical Engineering. I was also an undergraduate at Columbia, and a member of the Iota Chapter of Gamma Phi Beta while I was there. Through GPhi, my sisters and I were very involved with Girls on the Run, from being coaches for the girls during their training season to cheering them on at the end, when they’d finish their season by running a 5K. I’m also a proud NYCFC fan, and a huge Star Wars nerd.

What words of encouragement would you share with a girl starting with Girls on the Run?
One quote that I keep in my head while running is that “No matter how fast or slow you go, you are still lapping everybody on the couch.” The moment you get out there, you’re a runner! Don’t worry about your speed or your time, it’s all about the strength to finish.

Any fundraising tips for fellow SoleMates?
Share your fundraising link to Facebook, Instagram, and share the reason why you’re running with your friends and family. Post special milestones you reach in fundraising, or when you’re about to reach a milestone…who knows? You might get an extra donation from your friends or family just to reach that milestone!

Thank you for all your support of Girls on the Run, Angela! If you want to donate to Angela's fundraising efforts, click here.

SoleMate Spotlight - 2017 NYC Marathon: Carol Banks

Today we're shining a special spotlight on our 2017 TCS New York City Marathon SoleMate, Carol Banks! Carol is running her fifth marathon for Girls on the Run NYC.

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Why did you decide to be a SoleMate for the NYC Marathon and fundraise for Girls on the Run?
I have been involved with Girls on the Run for 15 years, coaching, graphic design services and generally telling everyone what an amazing organization it is.

What does the Girls on the Run mission mean to you?
Girls on the Run is important to helping young girls realize how strong, smart and amazing they are, by having fun, making friends and learning to love running to take care of their health through out life.

Is this your first marathon? If no, how many have you run?
This is number 5 (NYC twice, San Francisco, Honolulu). Training this time has been much different than when I was younger. I've learned lessons in appreciating where you are and not being disappointed. 

Favorite place to run?
Trails with some hills. 

Favorite time of day to run?
6AM. 

Favorite post-run snack/meal?
Anything, but I try to get some protein!

Favorite running accessory?
Wireless headphones.

Favorite pump-up running song?
Shoot there are so many!

Group or solo run?
At least one other person, who talks a lot, so they can entertain me along the way : )

Tell us a little bit about your running history!
I ran on a track team from 7-10 years old and a little in High School. On my 30th b-day, my boyfriend broke up with me and I was laid off. A friend said, "I am training for a marathon and raising money for Leukemia and Lymphoma Society." So I signed up for something to do to not think about everything. Never thinking I was a long distance runner. I learned that everyone is a long distance runner if they practice. {...}

I have been running for the last 5 years with a run club here in Colorado called Revolution Running. Love it, they support and love every type of runner! 

To this day, the first 60 minutes of running is the worst...I can't breath then my knees hurt, and then finally I settle in and have fun! : )

What do you do besides running to keep yourself healthy, confident and joyful?
Kaia Bootcamp, Kick Boxing, Pilates, wine with friends, trying to get into Yoga, asking my husband how my butt looks, because he always says it looks great : ) (even when I think it doesn't)

Any other fun facts you want to share?
I've done 2 half Ironman triathlons. We have a guinea pig named Brownie.

What words of encouragement would you share with a girl starting with Girls on the Run?
The cheer. "Girls on the Run is soooo much FUN!"

Thank you for all your support of Girls on the Run, Carol! If you want to donate to Carol's fundraising efforts, click here.

SoleMate Spotlight - 2017 NYC Marathon: Camille Mainolfi

Today we're shining a special spotlight on our 2017 TCS New York City Marathon SoleMate, Camille Mainolfi! Camille is running her second marathon for Girls on the Run NYC.

Why did you decide to be a SoleMate for the NYC Marathon and fundraise for Girls on the Run?
Truth be told, I decided with only 8 weeks before the marathon which was two days before the registration deadline with NYRR to run the marathon again. I was very lucky to find Girls on the Run. I believe in signs and was fascinated to find out about the organization and how we are connected on a daily level. I am a Title 1 Math teacher for the NYC DOE and my students are the ones that Girls on the Run take under their wing.

What does the Girls on the Run mission mean to you?
My favorite part of the mission statement is the word “confident”. I find that today, so many young girls are lacking this quality. To have confident women teaching young girls the skill is priceless.

Favorite place to run?
I enjoy running in my neighborhood. Nothing like running the streets of Staten Island and having your friends honk as you run past.

Favorite time of day to run?
I am not a morning person in general but do enjoy an early morning run. Gives me lots of motivation for the rest of the day.

Favorite running accessory?
I always have my headphones and have to chew gum.

Favorite pump-up running song?
All I Do Is Win. DJ Khaled.

Group or solo run?
I do most of my runs solo.

When you get tired, what makes you keep running?
The running high I will have knowing that I pushed through and finished.

Tell us a little bit about your running history!
I became serious about my running around three years ago. In 2015 I ran my first race. The NYRR Brooklyn Half Marathon. Since then I have run numerous races from 5k’s to Full Marathons. This summer I came in second place in my age group for The Triple Crown run series on Staten Island. It was an amazing accomplishment.

What do you do besides running to keep yourself healthy, confident and joyful?
I kickbox multiple times a week at Tiger Schulman to keep myself healthy. Confident, I surround myself with positive people that enjoy life. Joyful, watching my two boys play travel baseball and ice hockey. They keep me quite busy.

Any other fun facts you want to share?
I do love coaching other runners and that is something I would like to pursue in the future.

What words of encouragement would you share with a girl starting with Girls on the Run?
Remind yourself daily that you need to be happy in this world. Only those that are happy can make others happy. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Win or lose.

Any fundraising tips for fellow SoleMates?
Share your daily accomplishments with friends and family.

Thank you for all your support of Girls on the Run, Camille! If you want to donate to Camille's fundraising efforts, click here.

SoleMate Spotlight - 2017 NYC Marathon: Jennifer Neumann

Today we're shining a special spotlight on our 2017 TCS New York City Marathon SoleMate, Jennifer Neumann! Jennifer, a Michigan resident, is running her second marathon for Girls on the Run NYC.

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Why did you decide to be a SoleMate for the NYC Marathon and fundraise for Girls on the Run?
A group of us from my running group, GP Runners, entered the NYC Marathon lottery. Several got in through the lottery and the others who didn't, including me, decided to run by raising money for charity. I wanted to pick a charity that resonated with me and Girls on the Run was an easy choice!

What does the Girls on the Run mission mean to you?
Young women today face so many challenges. Learning confidence, the importance of staying active (for both physical and mental help), and learning to support their peers goes a long way to helping pave a path to success in adulthood. My participation in track and cross country, in a very supportive team environment, was invaluable. I welcomed having the opportunity to help more girls participate!

Favorite place to run?
I most often run the streets of Grosse Pointe, Michigan and my favorite spot there is along Lakeshore Drive, which follows Lake St. Clair. I also really enjoy running in and around Detroit, touring the city's street art and waterfront.   

Favorite time of day to run?
It's not necessarily my favorite, but as a working parent, early morning is the only time I can fit it in!  Most days I go at 5:15 a.m. On the weekend, I get to "sleep in" until 7 sometimes!

Favorite post-run snack/meal?
I tend not to be hungry after long runs, but normally eventually make my way to a plant-based protein powder shake to which I add spinach, half of banana, and a scoop of peanut butter!

Favorite running accessory?
Music! (And my running buddies.)

Favorite pump-up running song?
Lose Yourself, Eminem 

Group or solo run?
95% of the time I am running with anywhere from 1 to 20 other people. We have a great Facebook based running group in my hometown where various runs at various starting locations and times and paces are posted on a daily basis. There is always someone to run with and we really motivate each other to get out there.

When you get tired, what makes you keep running?
Knowing I'll feel better when I am done, knowing I'd be disappointed in myself if I stopped, hearing my high school coach in my head "smooth and strong" or what my kids used to chant when I would be pushing them up a hill in the jogging stroller "go mama, go mama, go!"

Tell us a little bit about your running history!
I ran track and cross country in high school...was middle of the pack at best....kept at it off and on but wasn't committed to it again until after I had my second child. I ran my first half 6 months after she was born in 2011 and have run at least two a year since then. Then decided tackling a marathon before I was 40 sounded like a good idea....hence the Detroit full in 2016.

What do you do besides running to keep yourself healthy, confident and joyful?
I actually spend more time doing Syphus Training (which is a high-intensity interval training) than running, especially in the winter. I find it keeps me in great cardiovascular condition and the strength I've built really helps on things like hills.

I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, escaping to northern Michigan when I can, and being outside in the sun.

But, with my busy work schedule, most of my health, confidence, and joy comes from my 5 a.m. runs or sessions at Syphus...

What words of encouragement would you share with a girl starting with Girls on the Run?
Running is a lifelong adventure that will bring you more confidence in yourself, help you create lasting and meaningful relationships, and is a great way to explore a new city when you begin to travel as an adult!

Thank you for all your support of Girls on the Run, Jennifer! If you want to donate to Jennifer's fundraising efforts, click here.