SoleMate Spotlight - 2018 NYC Half-Marathon: Naneka

Today we're shining a spotlight on Naneka, a SoleMate who's running in the NYC Half Marathon while also raising funds for GOTR programming!  Naneka, we are excited to see you at the Half Marathon and we are grateful for your support to help us reach more girls!

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Why did you decide to be a SoleMate for the NYC Half Marathon and fundraise for Girls on the Run?
Girls on the Run is a great organization. I had the pleasure of being a GOTR coach in Brooklyn in 2012. It was an enriching experience for both myself and the young ladies I worked with. The 2012 NYC Half Marathon was the first half marathon I'd ever run, and my 2nd fastest to date. Determined to get back into distance running after a 2-year hiatus, I thought it would be the perfect race to train for, especially with the new course starting in Brooklyn! Due to my schedule, I am unable to be a GOTR coach at this time, but was excited about being able to raise money for the organization to continue its good work!

What does the Girls on the Run mission mean to you?
Part of the mission states: "We envision a world where every girl knows and activates her limitless potential and is free to boldly pursue her dreams." This means so much to me, because growing up, I remember sometimes being told that I couldn't do certain things because I was a girl. It seemed like such a nonsensical statement, yet I heard it too many times to count. As I became and adult and started teaching, I felt it important to mentor young girls so that they wouldn't doubt themselves based on some archaic societal belief. I believe in gender equity and no child should be limited in pursuing their goals.

Is this your first half marathon? If no, how many have you run?
To date I've run 10 half marathons and will be running my 11th (NYC Half) this month and the 12th (Brooklyn Half) in May.

Favorite place to run?
Prospect and Central Parks

Favorite time of day to run?
Mornings! I like to get started by 8 am. But, in the summer

Favorite post-run snack/meal?
That depends... If it's a long run, I love to treat myself to a lamb gyro with extra tzatziki sauce but my favorite gyro spot no longer exists and I've yet to find one that rivals it. If it's a shorter run, anything that has a good balance of protein and carbs works for me. Oh, and I totally LOVE pepperoni pizza from Original Pizza in Mill Basin!

Favorite running accessory?
My FlipBelt. I can store my phone, money, and on-the-run nutrition all around my waistline without creating too much bulk!

Favorite pump-up running song?
There are so many, but I am a huge fan of Caribbean soca music and can run to it for hours!

Group or solo run?
Honestly, I enjoy both. I love running alone because it gives me some time to be alone with my thoughts, even as music plays in my ears. I also enjoy running with friends because it's a great way to catch up with what's going on in each other's lives.

When you get tired, what makes you keep running?
I do my best to remember the physical and emotional health goals I set for myself. I want to be healthy and enjoy a long life with family and friends. I want to be able to run longer races more comfortably, and I know that the more I run, the stronger my body will become.

Tell us a little bit about your running history!
I started running in June of 2011 when I followed the Couch to 5K running app on my phone. I was reluctant at first because I'd always considered myself "allergic to running" with the exception of short bursts on the basketball court during my college days! But, being that I had reached a plateau in my weight loss, I was willing to give it a try. By early September of the same year, I'd run my first official 5K race and decided, I could do this! Fast forward 2 years and several 10Ks and half marathons later, I completed my first full NYC Marathon in 2013 and two years after that, I completed my second! I will run my 3rd full marathon later this year in Chicago!

What do you do besides running to keep yourself healthy, confident and joyful?
In addition to running, I strength train and take spin at SoulCycle or high intensity interval training class at Orangetheory Fitness once a week.  I treat myself to a massage every few months and I try my best to eat healthy but admit to giving into eating decadent foods on occasion, especially when I get together with my other foodie friends! I also enjoy traveling and experiencing different cultures. It gives me a greater appreciation for the world at large. All of these things make me happy!

Any other fun facts you want to share?
I was 2nd in the nation in rebounding in Division III Women's Basketball during the 1994-95 season. I set the women's school record of most rebounds in a single game with 31 during the same season.

What words of encouragement would you share with a girl starting with Girls on the Run?
Running never gets easy, you just get better. Distance running is all about the journey, and there is a lot to learn about yourself while running towards your goals. Stick with it!

Any fundraising tips for fellow SoleMates?
Share your fundraising milestones often via social media and remind people why you are running for such a good cause. Share what raising money for such an organization means to you and before you know it, the dollars will roll in! People love supporting great causes!

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

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SoleMate Spotlight - 2018 NYC Half-Marathon: Jess

Today we're shining a spotlight on Jess, a SoleMate who's running in the Half Marathon while also raising funds for GOTR programming! Jess, we are excited to see you at the Half Marathon and grateful for your support to help us reach more girls!

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Why did you decide to be a SoleMate for the NYC Half Marathon and fundraise for Girls on the Run?
I was a member of GOTR in Newtown, CT in elementary school! It was a really unforgettable experience for me as a young girl who had just moved to a new place and helped me build many friendships, so ever since then I’ve had a special place in my heart for GOTR. I started forcing myself to be more active last summer to try and get through a particularly difficult time personally and I wanted to run a half to prove to myself I could continue to challenge what I thought I was capable of. One of my best friends was planning to run the half and I figured I may as well go for it and do it for a cause that’s really meaningful to me! 

What does the Girls on the Run mission mean to you? 
I think self-confidence and motivation to achieve whatever goals we set are some of the most important messages we can be instilling in the next generation of girls. Through the years I’ve learned how to keep pushing myself and keep trying to achieve whatever goals I’ve set no matter what obstacles have come in my path. I’ve also been lucky to have so many female mentors and role models who have inspired me to do so. 

Is this your first half marathon? 
YES—training has been my first time running over 3 miles in my entire life. Everything after that has been a personal record

Favorite place to run?
East River Running Path near the Williamsburg Bridge.

Favorite time of day to run?
Mornings! I’m not a huge morning person but getting in a run before work starts the day off on a good note.

Favorite post-run snack/meal?
A bagel with peanut butter.

Favorite running accessory?
Definitely my wireless headphones. They once died from the cold during a long run and that made me realize how much I appreciate them. 

Favorite pump-up running song?
“The Shine” by ayokay. 

Group or solo run?
I think solo—but I haven’t been running long enough to know yet, so maybe this will change when I see whether I can keep up with other people!

When you get tired, what makes you keep running?
The feeling I’ll get when my Nike Run app says “1 mile left” of my distance goal. I always feel the best when I get through a run I didn’t think I’d make it through. 
 

Tell us a little bit about your running history!
I have always had exercise-induced asthma and been a little bit scared of running because of it. Over the summer I struggled through a fun run with friends and that was the most I made myself run since playing field hockey in high school (5 years ago). Training for this race has been so great to show myself I shouldn’t be scared of it and that I just have to be in tune with myself and my pace and I’ve actually found it incredibly enjoyable. Working with [Coach] Jess Underhill has been so great too because the training she outlined has always felt approachable and having guidance made this so much easier to tackle for a first-timer. 

What do you do besides running to keep yourself healthy, confident and joyful? 
Being around friends and family who have been there for me through all good and bad times keeps me all of these characteristics. Also being outside, exploring the city, finding new restaurants, seeing live music. 

Any other fun facts you want to share?
During training, I also got accepted to law school! I’ll be starting next fall and I’m very excited to have achieved this dream of mine—it hasn’t been easy! I love skiing (the only difficulty of training through the winter is the overlap) and I can make a mean tomato sauce from my family recipe. 

What words of encouragement would you share with a girl starting with Girls on the Run?
There’s no “best way” to do anything in life. You don’t have to run the fastest or get to the finish line first to have achieved something amazing—always listen to yourself and follow your own path and you will get wherever you want to be in your own time!

Any fundraising tips for fellow SoleMates?
Share positive messages and the GOTR mission statement with everyone you contact for donations! I reached out to most of my donors personally, and it really resonated with everyone.

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

 

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SoleMate Spotlight - 2018 NYC Half-Marathon: Julie

Today we're shining a spotlight on Julie, a SoleMate who's running in the Half Marathon while also raising funds for GOTR programming! Julie, we are excited to see you at the Half Marathon and grateful for your support to help us reach more girls!

Why did you decide to be a SoleMate for the NYC Half Marathon and fundraise for Girls on the Run? 
I was a GOTR coach last season and was interested in any additional ways I could help support the organization.  When I learned that I could run the NYC Half and benefit Girls on the Run at the same time, it was a no brainer.

What does the Girls on the Run mission mean to you?
I have been a runner for practically my whole life, and feel that it can be such an empowering and constructive outlet for kids and adults.  I wholeheartedly believe that the way Girls on the Run combines a running-based program with their social/emotional curriculum is genius - helping to reinforce the tools girls need to build confidence, joy and healthy habits while at the same time (hopefully) helping to instill a lifelong love of running which will in turn reinforce all those tools- it's the one-two punch of success! 

Favorite place to run? 
If we're talking locally, then Central Park hands down.  It's such a special place, and so many unknown trails to discover if you get off the beaten path.  

Favorite time of day to run?
I usually run first thing in the morning, or right after I drop the kids at school.  Although a sunset run every once in a while is pretty awesome.

Favorite post-run snack/meal?  
Kombucha- such a great replenisher and thirst quencher, especially if it's warm out.

Favorite running accessory? 
Swear by my Spy belt for keys, money, etc.

Favorite pump-up running song? 
Although I'm a huge music lover, I don't listen while I run.

Group or solo run? 
Solo- not because I oppose a group run, just too tough to coordinate.

When you get tired, what makes you keep running? 
That's when music comes in, I usually sing to myself when I'm struggling a bit.

Tell us a little bit about your running history! 
As a kid, I was always athletic, but I didn't really have the technical skills to excel at at any specific sport, so I think I gravitated to running as a great equalizing option.  As I got older, aside from loving running as such an accessible and low-maintenance option to keep physically healthy, I truly believe it's amazing for your emotional health as well.  When I am stressed or upset about something, going for a run is my therapy session and religion.

What do you do besides running to keep yourself healthy, confident and joyful? 
For exercise, I love boxing- it's a fun stress relief, and makes you feel so powerful!  Other than that, I try to maintain a relatively balanced diet; spend time with my friends and family; and enjoy nature as much as possible - even if that just means taking a walk instead of taking the subway.

What words of encouragement would you share with a girl starting with Girls on the Run? 
Have fun and enjoy yourself!  It doesn't matter how many laps you run each practice, as long as you feel good about the fact that you've tried your best.

Any fundraising tips for fellow SoleMates? 
Think about what inspires you the most about GOTR because that will come through in your fundraising appeals.  For me I couldn't imagine how anyone wouldn't give at least $35 to provide a pair of running shoes to a girl who needs them - I saw two girls on my team benefit from donated shoes, and it was really special to know I was helping other girls like them get new shoes.

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

 

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SoleMate Spotlight - 2018 NYC Half-Marathon: Meghan

Today we're shining a spotlight on Meghan, a SoleMate who's running in the Half Marathon while also raising funds for GOTR programming! Meghan, we are excited to see you at the Half Marathon and grateful for your support to help us reach more girls!

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Why did you decide to be a SoleMate for the NYC Half Marathon and fundraise for Girls on the Run?
While I have run many races, I had never run one with a charity partner. I wanted to find a way to give back to a cause I find important.

What does the Girls on the Run mission mean to you?
Helping girls find confidence is so important and speaking from personal experience, I know how valuable a role exercise can play in shaping a successful future for yourself. 

Is this your first marathon? If no, how many have you run?
This is my comeback half-marathon. I've been injured for the last few years, but the NYC Half will mark my 8th half marathon. I've also run four full marathons. 

Favorite place to run?
Anywhere near the water! 

Favorite time of day to run?
I am hands down a morning person. I feel so much better starting my day with a run. 

Favorite post-run snack/meal?
Usually a turkey sandwich with extra pickles. 

Favorite running accessory?
My Garmin. I love seeing all of the stats from my runs. 

Favorite pump-up running song?
Live Your Life by T.I. and Rihanna

Group or solo run?
While I love to clear my mind with a solo run, group runs are an amazing way to make new friends and push your pace. 

When you get tired, what makes you keep running?
That immense sense of satisfaction you get when finishing something you set out to accomplish. 

Tell us a little bit about your running history!
I never ever, ever, ever thought I would be a "runner." Growing up, I thought I hated physical activity and I did not really exercise regularly until I was well into my 20s! I used to watch the NYC Marathon from my apartment every year and found it incredibly inspiring. I started by running a few miles at a time, hoping to just build up to a 5K. But I had an amazing friend who encouraged me to keep going. "If you can run three miles, you can run six miles!" she always used to say. And sure enough, I caught the running bug some where along the way and six turned into 12, 12 into 26.2. I draw the line there, though!

What do you do besides running to keep yourself healthy, confident and joyful?
I love just about any form of exercise, particularly spinning and barre, so I try to do that also a few times a week. 

Any other fun facts you want to share?
My first official race was the Mini 10K, the world's original women's only race! 

What words of encouragement would you share with a girl starting with Girls on the Run?
If I can do it, you can do it! I think to myself every day about how far I've come and how much I have accomplished through running. 

Any fundraising tips for fellow SoleMates?
Sharing a personal story or connection to the cause is incredibly important and goes a long way!

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

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SoleMate Spotlight - 2018 NYC Half-Marathon: Caitlin

Today we're shining a spotlight on Caitlin, a SoleMate who's running in the Half Marathon while also raising funds for GOTR programming! Caitlin, we are excited to see you at the Half Marathon and grateful for your support to help us reach more girls!

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Why did you decide to be a SoleMate for the NYC Half Marathon in support of Girls on the Run?
I love the look on the faces of the girls as they cross the finish line at their season ending 5k and I am thrilled to be a part of anything that drives that sense of accomplishment. I truly love the way this organization shows girls how strong they can be. 

What does the Girls on the Run mission mean to you? 
The mission of this organization is incredible. I appreciate that GOTR shows girls their strength and teaches them to build one another up. 

 Is this your first marathon? If no, how many have you run?
At 25 I set a goal to run 10 half marathons before turning 30 - this is lucky number 10!

Favorite place to run?
Central park or the west side are my go-to spots.

Favorite time of day to run?
First thing in the morning - I find it is a great way to start my day with a clear head.

Favorite post-run snack/meal?
Nothing beats a Shake Shack burger.

Favorite running accessory?
Running pants with pockets changed my world.

Favorite pump-up running song?
I am really loving One Foot by Walk the Moon.

Group or solo run?
Solo - I have sadly yet to master talking while running.

When you get tired, what makes you keep running?
Coach Jess shared this awesome article that really helps me to push through the tough parts of a run. 

Tell us a little bit about your running history!
I didn't run my first 5k until I was 24 years old which is why the GOTR girls never cease to amaze me. 

What do you do besides running to keep yourself healthy, confident and joyful?
I enjoy a good workout class, a great meal, and any adventure with my friends. 

What words of encouragement would you share with a girl starting with Girls on the Run?
Have fun and just keep moving forward - you can do this!

Any fundraising tips for fellow SoleMates?
Start early and ask everyone!

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

 

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