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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