SoleMate Spotlight - 2017 NYC Marathon: Shirley Chang

Today we're shining a special spotlight on our 2017 TCS New York City Marathon SoleMate, Shirley Chang! Shirley 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?
Running has been really influential in my life growing up, providing me with some of my closest friends and support group, and drilling the practice of positive thinking into my core. I wanted to challenge myself and set a personal goal of running a marathon. After being a spectator last Marathon Sunday, cheering runners on, and feeling the excitement and immense spirit tremoring through the city, I knew I HAD to run the NYC Marathon and experience the awesomeness first-hand. I’ve been involved with Girls on the Run since college (Finger Lakes/Onendaga Council) and the mission of the organization has always hit home with me, so it was the clear choice of a charity to run for!

What does the Girls on the Run mission mean to you?
Confidence in my own abilities has developed throughout my life because of the strong women surrounding me. It’s hard during the weird, impressionable years of elementary/middle school to identify your self-worth when there are so many factors telling you otherwise. Teaching girls at a young age to build each other up instead of bringing one another down creates an environment in which they realize that they are capable of so much. Seeing a goal through to accomplishment is so rewarding when you know how much work you’ve put into it, how you were able to overcome hardships, and how your friends and mentors were there to support you along the way.

Is this your first marathon? If no, how many have you run?
This is my first marathon. It has been a goal of mine for a few years and I finally decided, “what am I waiting for?” and stopped pushing it off out of fear of the mileage.

Favorite place to run?
For weekday morning runs, Prospect Park is like an amazing escape with all the other runners and beautiful sunrise peeking through the trees. For longer runs, I love running on along Riverside Park because you can keep going for such a long stretch without stopping — which is hard to find in the city.

Favorite time of day to run?
I’ve grown to love running in the mornings and having the sunrise with me. It’s such a peaceful time of day and a great way to kick off the day before work. I feel more accomplished when I can go about the rest of my day without needing to worry about fitting in a run later!

Favorite post-run snack/meal?
A fruit + peanut butter smoothie and a bacon, egg & cheese.

Favorite running accessory?
My flip belt! I can store all my necessities in there and love that it doesn’t bounce.

Favorite pump-up running song?
"Take Me Out" by Franz Ferdinand

Group or solo run?
Solo runs are my favorite way to clear my head. But group runs are great when I’m feeling burnt out and need a little push!

When you get tired, what makes you keep running?
This sounds cheesy but I remember why I’m running in the first place! If I can keep going, it shows all the young girls that they can keep going to, even if they’re not watching me when I’m on my runs. It also helps to think that, with each step, I’m getting closer to food :)

Tell us a little bit about your running history!
I realized that I loved to run in 5th grade when I was one of the few people who enjoyed running the mile in P.E.! I joined cross country and track in middle school and then was a sprinter in high school. Once I got to college, I continued to run for fun as a way to stay healthy and explore new places and started running half marathons. I’ve run four half marathons so far, even one in a full-on blizzard in Syracuse, NY!

What do you do besides running to keep yourself healthy, confident and joyful?
I really enjoy doing yoga to stretch out those muscles that tighten up as a runner. I also love trying new foods, listening to music, hanging out with friends, and try to get any chance I can to be at the beach!

Any other fun facts you want to share?
I spent six days while studying abroad to bike across Northern Spain on El Camino de Compostela with a friend! We were able to bike from dawn to dusk, passing through little villages, farmland, and cities, and stay at many hostels along the way as “pilgrims.” Little did we know the first three days were more pushing our bikes up rocky mountains than actually biking! It was the most unique, testing, and rewarding experience.

What words of encouragement would you share with a girl starting with Girls on the Run?
Be proud of yourself and have fun! You’re doing and learning awesome things and all your hard work will pay off!

Any fundraising tips for fellow SoleMates?
Share your training and fundraising goals with everyone! I sometimes feel like I’m bombarding people with all my social posts about my marathon training and fundraising asks, but then I come across many friends who don’t even realize that I’m running in November!

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

SoleMate Spotlight - Brooklyn Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon: Sarah Chew

Today we're shining a special spotlight on our Brooklyn Rock n' Roll Half Marathon SoleMate, Sarah Chew! Sarah is a Girls on the Run Coach, and is running her third half marathon for Girls on the Run NYC.

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Why did you decide to be a SoleMate for the Brooklyn Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon and fundraise for Girls on the Run?
I have been a longtime admirer of the work that Girls on the Run does throughout the country. I have seen firsthand how much of a positive impact this program can have on girls and how they carry the lessons they learn in this program throughout the rest of their lives. I was so excited that this year I was able to be a part of Girls on the Run as a SoleMate and a coach at a school in NYC!

What does the Girls on the Run mission mean to you?
I believe that every girl has the power within herself to live a happy, confident, fun, and healthy life. It is our obligation as people, regardless of our gender, age, or location, to do whatever we can to help girls find the power to live the life that they deserve.

Is this your first half marathon? If no, how many have you run?
This will be my third half marathon but my first one in New York!

Favorite place to run?
In the city, my favorite place to run is definitely Riverside Park. It is so much quieter and calmer than Central Park and there are SO many cute dogs.

Favorite time of day to run?
I am a morning runner. I prefer to get out early and finish before most people have had their morning coffee. 

Favorite post-run snack/meal?
A peanut butter and banana sandwich (with a lot of peanut butter)!

Favorite running accessory?
My GPS watch! I don't know how I ever lived without a watch that tells me how far I have run and what my pace is. 

Favorite pump-up running song?
I think it would have to be Countdown by Beyoncé. 

Group or solo run?
I do most of my runs solo but sometimes it's nice to run with someone a little faster than me to push me to pick up the pace!  

What shoes do you run in?
I have tried almost every brand of running shoe but I am currently running in Saucony.

When you get tired, what makes you keep running?
Me! I definitely talk to myself when I run and when a run gets tough, I remind myself to keep breathing and putting one foot in front of the other. One of my favorite things to say to myself while running is “my race, my pace.”

Tell us a little bit about your running history!
I played a lot of sports growing up but wasn't much of a runner. Everything changed when I got to college and I fell in love with running my freshman year. But, it wasn't until after college that I decided to run my first half marathon and I have my former boss/close friend to thank for that! As a lifelong runner with many distance races completed, she was a huge inspiration for me to complete that first 13.1! 

What do you do besides running to keep yourself healthy, confident and joyful?
Well, I am a coach with Girls on the Run this season which definitely keeps me healthy, confident, and joyful. I also like taking walks in the park with my boyfriend and love exploring new farmers markets on the weekend. 

Any other fun facts you want to share?
If you ever see a girl on a run with a neon pink, yellow, and orange backpack, that's me! You can always spot me in a crowd :)

What words of encouragement would you share with a girl starting with Girls on the Run?
Always remember to have fun!

Any fundraising tips for fellow SoleMates?
Try to have other people share your link on their social media because it can help increase your reach!

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

SoleMate Spotlight - 2017 NYC Marathon: Gloria Noel

Today we're shining a special spotlight on our 2017 TCS New York City Marathon SoleMate, Gloria Noel! Gloria is a SoleMates Committee Member, and 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?
Running the NYC Marathon has been on my “bucket list” since I graduated from college, so I was excited to tackle this goal while financially supporting an organization that I have volunteered with and gotten to know through my role on the SoleMates Committee over the past year. Knowing that I’m supporting Girls on the Run with my charity runner spot has motivated all parts of my training and kept me accountable!  

What does the Girls on the Run mission mean to you?
I love that Girls on the Run inspires young girls to develop social, emotional, and physical awareness. Feeling “healthy, confident, and joyful” is so important, especially at a young age. 

Favorite place to run?
I love running in Central Park. The loops make it easy to add mileage up and I have quickly learned where all of the water fountains are!

Favorite time of day to run?
I’ve recently become a morning run person. I love having my run done before most people are awake – it makes me feel extra accomplished (and occasionally justifies treating myself to an iced coffee).

Favorite post-run snack/meal?
After electrolytes and plenty of hydration, I love everything bagel breakfast sandwiches and Bloody Mary’s.

Favorite running accessory?
Bright pink sneakers.

Favorite pump-up running song?
Anything by Beyonce or Jay-Z works well, but all of my friends know that "Before He Cheats" by Carrie Underwood makes it onto any running playlist I make because it's just SO good.

Group or solo run?
I hadn’t been on many group runs before marathon training, but now I LOVE them. Training with other SoleMates and new running friends has made the miles go by quickly and easily.  

When you get tired, what makes you keep running?
Encouragement from other runners and the thought of brunch! I have also gotten into the habit of posting about my runs on social media (Instagram stories, Facebook, etc.) as an accountability tool. Since my friends know I’m running, I’ve got to get my miles in!

Tell us a little bit about your running history!
I ran cross country in high school in western Massachusetts but stopped running regularly when I came to college in NYC at Barnard. I started running again after graduation and decided I wanted to run a half marathon because it felt "just crazy enough" to tackle. Three half marathons later, I signed up for the NYC Marathon.

What do you do besides running to keep yourself healthy, confident and joyful?
I love other workout and yoga classes, but non-exercise related self-care for me includes spending time with friends, spending time outside in nice weather, and reading a little bit every day.  

Any other fun facts you want to share?
This summer, I went on an epic road trip from NYC to LA with two friends. Along the way, I squeezed in my training runs and workouts in Dunmore, WV; Louisville, KY; Austin, TX; Alpine, TX; and Santa Monica, CA. Seeing a city by running it is my new favorite way to explore!

What words of encouragement would you share with a girl starting with Girls on the Run?
Have fun everyday learning something new with your friends.

Any fundraising tips for fellow SoleMates?
Social media is a great way to remind your network that you are training. Quick posts or stories allow others to witness your marathon journey. When you make a fundraising ask, your friends and family will have already seen some of your hard work. They will also know that once they make a gift to your campaign, they can continue to expect to receive updates on social media. 

Thank you for all your support of Girls on the Run, Gloria! If you want to donate to Gloria's fundraising efforts, click here. You can also follow Gloria's journey to the marathon via Instagram @gloria_noel.

SoleMate Spotlight - 2017 NYC Marathon: Jordan Zimmerman

Today we're shining a spotlight on our 2017 TCS New York City Marathon SoleMate, Jordan Zimmerman! Jordan will be running her third 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 a runner for years and have always admired the drive and dedication of my many friends who not only ran long distances, but put their money where their miles were to support something they truly believed in. Two years ago, I joined my current company, Edrington Americas. We might sell booze for a living (Scotch whisky, mostly), but the truth of the matter is that Edrington is owned by the Robertson Trust, Scotland’s largest charitable trust—which trickles down to me in the form of available annual double-matching for funds raised for a charitable cause. My CEO constantly drives home the mantra, “Find your why.” It didn’t take long for me to ask myself, “Why aren’t you taking advantage of this amazing professional perk to help others? You already know your why.”

What does the Girls on the Run mission mean to you?
Girls on the Run is a celebration of the strength, self-confidence, and self-worth that a supportive and active community can build. I spent my formative years in a community focused on female aesthetics, and I internalized the pressures to be “perfect” in a way that led me down a dark path of depression, eating disorders, and a number of other challenges. Running is different—it shows that regardless of race, ethnicity, shape, size, income, or cultural background, as long as we keep putting one foot in front of the other, we all cross the same finish line. I now consider New York City my adopted home, and I want to help show every young girl in this city that she, too, has intrinsic value and self-worth. Girls on the Run is an amazingly powerful tool to make that happen. I can’t wait to cross the finish line in their name.

Is this your first marathon? If no, how many have you run?
This will be my third marathon. I ran New York last year (my first) and am about to embark on my second in this year’s Bank of America Chicago Marathon. [Editor's note: Have a great run in Chicago this weekend!]

Favorite place to run?
I have two answers here: The first is here in my (adopted) home borough of Brooklyn—the Brooklyn Bridge at sunrise. It’s calm, peaceful, and relatively solitary, which makes passing a fellow runner that much more meaningful. I’ve given many early morning high-fives to running strangers, as well as found myself profoundly moved by the most beautiful bird-eye views of sunrises over what I truly believe to be the best city in the world. The second answer? The gravel roads of the Scottish highlands. Just dairy cows, sheep, and the occasional whisky distillery. Trail shoes required.

Favorite time of day to run?
First thing in the morning! I need to pound the pavement to clear the grog and set myself up for a focused, successful day ahead. And hey, let’s face it: I work in the liquor industry, so I’ve most likely had a dram or two by 6PM. While I’m sure it’s possible to put in the miles post-cocktail, I’m not sure they’d be the most coordinated.

Favorite post-run snack/meal?
Because I work out in the morning, I relish in coming home to the perfect, and perfectly complicated, protein shake. We’re talking organic whey protein, maca root powder, camu camu, hydrolyzed collagen, MCT oil, and sea salt, among other things depending on my mood. I find it really important to reward myself with food that truly rewards my body. But, when I want to throw that all out the window after a double-digit day, let’s be honest: chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream for the win.

Favorite running accessory?
Over the ear headphones. I have no desire to run without strong bass and a good downbeat. Friends always ask me how I stick to a desired pace. The answer is that I specifically (okay, okay, obsessively) curate my running playlists based on beats per minute. When the carb-loading, foam rolling, and fuelling strategies fail, the steady beat gives me the support I need to power through.

Favorite pump-up running song?
That’s so difficult! Top few at the moment are "Seven Nation Army" by the White Stripes, "The Way You Used to Do" by Queens of the Stone Age, "Remember the Name" by Fort Minor, "Everything is Everything" by Lauryn Hill.

Group or solo run?
Solo. Although the thrill of seeing a friend and receiving a word of encouragement along the course is invaluable.

What shoes do you run in?
Saucony ISO Triumph. C/D width, and 2 sizes larger than my normal shoes. I finally found the winning formula! Function over fashion.

When you get tired, what makes you keep running?
Again, music is an important part of my life and is important to my steady pace and ability to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Psychologically, though, it’s this mantra: “You’ve never regretted a run you’ve taken. Only those you’ve never started nor finished.”

Tell us a little bit about your running history!
I was never a runner in high school or college, preferring the competitive cheerleading route (yes, really, Texas will do that to you). I only started running after I began dating someone who was a runner himself. I’ll never forget having the amazing opportunity to see him cross the finish line of the TCS NYC Marathon from the grandstand, alongside thousands of other runners from so many walks of life. I remember thinking to myself, “I want to be a part of this.” A few years, and many walking boots later, I now think, “This is where I belong.”

What do you do besides running to keep yourself healthy, confident and joyful?
I attend SoulCycle in Brooklyn Heights one a week (it’s a workout disguised as a dance party! Need I say more?), as well as discovered Crossfit this past year. My Crossfit community humbles, challenges, and supports me in ways I never imagined another sport than running could. Outside of working out, I eat a mostly plant-based diet (pizza is mostly plants, by the way) and commit to 1-2 massages and visits to the acupuncturist per month. On top of that, I give long run days to myself. How do I want to celebrate my achievement? Sometimes, that’s a quiet, sunny afternoon with a book and a good bottle of rose on my roof deck. Other times, that’s a bar crawl and a live music show with friends. Either way, it’s about being kind enough to myself to listen and act upon what I’d truly prefer.

Any other fun facts you want to share?
I spent close to 5 years working in the artisanal cheese business, have three wines & spirits certifications, and a license as a professional beer server. Just like running, the hospitality industry is a true passion of mine—and I’m always down to throw a good cocktail party! Now, how do we turn that into a fundraiser…?

What words of encouragement would you share with a girl starting with Girls on the Run?
You are strong. You are unique. You are capable of achieving anything you wish to achieve. And if you ever doubt yourself, please find me. I’ll remind you of your awesome power not only to achieve, but to inspire.

Any fundraising tips for fellow SoleMates?
Don’t be afraid to share your story and your fundraising journey with those outside of your immediate running community. While it may feel daunting, I’ve received so much positive feedback from friends, colleagues, and even barely acquaintances who felt inspired to give—and some even to run—simply because I was willing and able to be vulnerable. With the extreme grit and tenacity it takes to train for and run a marathon, I feel we runners often lose sight of the fact that vulnerability can be one of the truest signs of strength and celebration of one’s self-worth. If that’s not a nod to the mission of Girls on the Run, I don’t know what is.

Thank you for all your support of Girls on the Run, Jordan! If you want to donate to Jordan's fundraising efforts, click here. You can also follow Jordan's journey to the marathon via Twitter - @jzimmerman_tx  & Instagram - @jzimmerman_tx.

Flywheel Moments: "What’s your favorite thing about Girls on the Run?"

Last Saturday, Flywheel Astor Place hosted an awesome charity ride in support of our Girls on the Run SoleMates!

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While we strapped on our cycling shoes, we asked some of our GOTR friends and supporters, “What’s your favorite thing about Girls on the Run?”

Here’s what they said:

"I love that Girls on the Run supports a sense of community, empowerment, and pride in girls from an early age.” - Hayley Martinez

“The importance of self-esteem and fitness. I wish I had something like GOTR when I was that age because it can be such a tough time for girls.” - Meg Modic

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“I moved to NY a year ago and it's a great community of women supporting women.
We empower girls, of course, but also all the volunteers and coaches.”
- Jordan Woll

“Running shows you can still stay fit without a lot of money.” - Kerry Bornstein

“How excited the girls are to complete the 5K!” - Elizabeth Caudle

“The focus on having fun with physical activity.
I wish we had this when I was younger.”
- Robin Wilson

Visit our Volunteer page to learn how you can volunteer with Girls on the Run!