Member Spotlight: Jacqueline Murphy-Suarez

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Running has always been a very special part of my life.  It is my own personal time where I get to relax, decompress and re-calibrate myself.

I work as a Coordinator at a 40 bed residential homeless shelter in Newark, NJ with young adults between the ages of 18-21.  I am actually running the NYC United Airlines Half Marathon with the Covenant House Home Team on March 20th.  Prior to my work at the shelter, I was a High School Counselor for 7+ years and did volunteer work at an orphanage in Mombassa, Kenya.

Many of the problems I see with my clients at the shelter stem from their childhood.  Many of them lacked a loving home with parental support and are under educated/ under skilled.

For me, running a race is a great metaphor for life.  At some points you feel great- other times, you feel like you can’t possibly take another step.  Sometimes you find yourself running with someone- other times you’re alone.  But that feeling of accomplishment you get when complete a great run or race can be truly powerful.  This is true for many of the young men and women at Covenant House.   Over the past several months many of our young people at Covenant House have also started participating in running. Together we have celebrated 5K victories, and I could see how proud they were about crossing that finish line.

I hope to continue to inspire change and bring awareness to the importance of educating and providing for our youth, so that they feel loved, empowered, self-confident, and have the tools to meet with success as they grow into young adults

Connect with Jacqueline via the link below:

Tip of the Week: Pacing

Now that you all are experienced runners and have a few weeks of training under your belt, it’s time to talk about pacing. Over the past few weeks you have been introduced to a variety of workouts, such as easy runs, long runs, recovery runs and speed or hill repeats. These workouts have hopefully taught you that there is more to running then just lacing up your shoes and running as hard or as long as you can every time you run. Each workout has a purpose, and it’s critical that you understand the variety of paces (efforts) sooner rather than later to ensure a healthy and productive training season.

Let’s start with a brief description of each workout that you will encounter throughout the season:

1- Easy: This is a conversational-pace effort in which you should literally be able to carry on a conversation with your running buddy (or yourself) from start to finish. The primary purpose of an easy run is to build a base for more intense workouts and to assist with recovery between hard workouts. Most of your training runs this season will be completed at this effort. These type of workouts typically utilize a 3:3 breathing pattern.

2- Long: The focus of these workouts is to get your legs used to running for a prolonged period of time. The effort is similar to an EASY run and also utilizes a 3:3 breathing pattern.

3: Recovery: The sole purpose of this workout is to do exactly what the title of the workout says: RECOVER. It gives your body a chance to run on tired and fatigued legs (very useful for endurance athletes). The recommended breathing pattern for this workout is a 4:4.

4: Threshold (Tempo): The purpose of these workouts is to raise your lactate threshold, which is the ability to cope with, and minimize, lactic acid in the blood. These workouts are typically described as “comfortably hard” (slightly faster than your half-marathon pace) and utilize a 2:2 breathing pattern.

5: Repeats: The purpose of these workouts is aimed at improving speed, strength (hills) and running economy (efficiency). These workouts are completed at HARD efforts and utilize a 1:1 breathing pattern.

To provide you with a little more assistance in learning and understanding your individual pacing, here’s a great calculator you can utilize from legendary coach Jack Daniels and The Run Smart Project;

For those visual learners, here’s a quick example of a runner who wants to complete the Airbnb Brooklyn Half in 2 hours:                                              

1- Click here:
2- Enter distance:
Half Marathon
3- Enter your half marathon time (goal): 2:00 (9:09 pace/mile)
4- Record (and observe) the following training paces:

                a- Easy: 10:35-11:11

                b- Threshold (Tempo): 8:51

                c- Repetition: 200m (58 seconds), 400m (1:55) and 800m (3:50)   

In this example, one key thing to note  is just how “easy” the easy pace is compared to the half marathon pace. The easy pace is approximately 1.5 to 2 minutes slower than the goal half-marathon pace. How fast is your easy pace? On average, most runners complete their easy and long runs TOO fast, which leads to increased stress and overuse injuries. Remember, there is a purpose for every workout so when instructed to run easy, slow down, and well, run easy.

Please let your coaches know if you have any questions or need further assistance with your pacing.

Member Spotlight: Claire Lordon

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What event are you running with Team for Kids?
The 2016 Airbnb Brooklyn Half! This will be my seventh half marathon and my first event with Team for Kids!

If you run with music, what are your favorite artists or songs to listen to?
I listen to running music with a high tempo. It consists of many albums including the “Now That’s What I Call a Workout” series.

What is your favorite post-run meal?
My usual post-run meal is a smoothie with a banana, berries, spinach or kale, chia seeds, and protein powder. For my extra-long runs (10+ miles) I like to reward myself with a slice of cheese pizza and chocolate milk.

When did your relationship with running begin and why?
I began running in 4th or 5th grade, so I know the value of early running programs. I decided to run cross country and had never run before besides doing it for other sports. It was a surprise that my first year on the team I was named ‘most improved’ for all the women. I was a 5th grader in a team that was 5th-8th grade and was usually in the top three or four from my school. I ran with my cross country team for a few years.

An ankle injury and school sidetracked me from running, but a few years ago my post-collegiate lacrosse team and I planned to run a 200 mile relay. Many of the runners also signed up to run the Airbnb Brooklyn Half to help with training. My ankle was all better and I had always wanted to run a half marathon. I signed up and completed the Airbnb Brooklyn Half with great enthusiasm – I was hooked on running!

Do you have any pre-race rituals or superstitions, if so, please explain?
For a while it was eating Chinese food the night before a big race, but I’ve changed it to cooking some mac and cheese or pasta with pesto. The night before I also lay out my clothes and gear to make sure I have everything. Then I take a photo of this setup. It is my “evaporated runner” photo.

I also have a charm on my running shoes that says “Do it”. It is in honor of my grandfather. When running gets tough I just think of him and his motto “do it”.

Why did you choose to run this event?
The Brooklyn Half in 2014 was my first half marathon and I ran the Airbnb Brooklyn Half in 2015 with a time I wasn’t happy with. I had to say yes to run it again in 2016. I hope to finally beat my time from 2014.

Tell us a little more about yourself
I’m a picture book author and illustrator and spend much time working indoors. Running is a great escape for me and gives me a break from my work. I’m also a vegetarian and love to bake. I also snowboard, curl (the sport on ice), and play lacrosse.

What excites you most about running your event with Team for Kids?
I have volunteered for a few of the youth races that NYRR puts together.  I also have volunteered twice for the sneaker distribution party. It is so fulfilling to see all the young athletes excited about running. It makes me happy that I can help them learn to love running and achieve their goals. I’m also excited to be part of a team for a great cause.

Connect with Claire via the links below:
Personal website:

Congratulations 2016 United Airlines NYC Half runners!

Congratulations and thank you to all of our New York Road Runners Team for Kids for Kids 2016 United Airlines NYC Half runners!

You can take pride in your accomplishment and in knowing you contributed to raising over $770,000 for our free youth programs. On behalf of over 200,000 kids around the nation who will benefit from your generosity, we’d like to say thank you! It is members like you who allow us to make a difference in the lives of kids across the country. Thank you for raising critical funds for NYRR Youth Programs!

If running the United Airlines NYC Half has inspired you, consider joining Team for Kids for another event such as the TCS New York City Marathon, BMW Berlin MarathonNYRR Five-Borough Series: Queens 10K, New Balance Bronx 10 MileNYRR Five-Borough Series: Staten Island Half  and run with us to the finish line again!

View more photos from the 2016 United Airlines NYC Half in our Facebook photo album and share your photos with us by tagging #teamforkids in your posts!

Member Spotlight: Carrie Farler

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What event are you running with Team for Kids?
I’m running the AirBnB Brooklyn Half with Team for Kids!

Where is your favorite place to run and why?
In this city, I am just discovering my favorite places to run. I have lived in NY for two years. When I lived across from McCarren Park, I loved to run on the track and around the ball fields. When I moved to Park Slope, I loved running up and down the tree-lined, residential streets to stare at all the beautiful brownstones. And in Prospect Park (even though the whole thing feels uphill somehow). Now that I am back in Williamsburg, I tend to run up and down Kent both for the skyline view and the lack of traffic signals.

If you run with music, what are your favorite artists or songs to listen to?
It kind of depends on my mood. I have an indie/pop playlist that I love with faves such as Django Django, Chvrches, Foals, Lucius, DNCE, etc. BUT I have also been known to jam out to both gangster rap and some combination of Calvin Harris, Selena Gomez & the Biebs (yeah I said it! #dontjudge #belieber)

What is your favorite post-run meal?
A vegan protein shake (pea protein, almond milk, cocoa powder, a banana and a dash of agave nectar) OR anything green.

When did your relationship with running begin and why?
Well, I have always been athletic. I was a dancer, gymnast and cheerleader for most of my life until college. But I NEVER had stamina (dance and cheer routines are only two minutes y’all). It never bothered me at all, so to stay in shape as I entered into adulthood, I was more of a walker/elliptical user than a runner. Then, about ten years ago, my father passed away very suddenly. I went into a deep depression and gained a ton of weight. After a few months of living like that, I snapped out of it and not only became a vegan but started to run as part of my “get my stuff together” routine. For several years I would run in intervals, never going more than a mile before walking a bit. In 2013, by then into my 30s, I decided to challenge myself and learn to run longer distances, so I signed up for the Flying Pig marathon in Cincinnati, Ohio. When I started my training on January 3rd of that year, I had never run more than 1.1 miles without stopping. Four months later on May 3rd, After 18 weeks of training, a nagging IT band injury, and extensive physical therapy, I ran almost a full marathon only walking for less than a half mile at marker 25. I crossed the finish line in 4 hours and 45 minutes. That remains the third best day of my life (only falling behind the births of each of my two nieces).

Do you have any pre-race rituals or superstitions, if so, please explain?
Not really, no. I am a bundle of nerves and excitement before a race. I try to mellow out and do my stretches and get in the zone. The only thing I’m crazy about is wearing the exact, perfect amount of clothing. If I am a little to hot or a little too cold, I truly believe it does a number on my performance.

Why did you choose to run this event?
Since running the Flying Pig Marathon three years ago, I really fell off the wagon. I still live a vegan lifestyle and I still exercise, but the level of dedication I had has become less of a priority as I have grown in my career. I wanted something personal to reach for again, and a program to grab on to. I also wanted to prove to myself that I can still apply that level of discipline to something other than my diet and/or my career. In a nutshell: timing.

Tell us a little more about yourself?
I am a 34-year-old, native Ohioan that lives in Brooklyn with my partner and my almost-nine-year-old doghter Mollie (not a typo, she has four legs). I moved to New York two years ago when I took a job at a growing online media company. By day, I am an HR Director. By night I am an artist, a writer, a runner, a Soul Cycle enthusiast, a music lover, an animal lover, a nature lover, a vegan foodie and an aspiring Broadway singer (and by that I mean I want to take singing lessons). After living in San Francisco and LA (twice) in my younger years, I think I may be a Californian at heart.

What excites you most about running your event with Team for Kids?
I just think it is a really valuable program. I grew up in the Midwest in the 80s and parks with real grass were on every corner and you could go to them and play without your parents and know you were safe. I did not have a smart phone or an iPad or DVR. We played outside and ran in circles and built sand castles. I am happy to support any organization that makes sure kids are still active and outside. ESPECIALLY in New York City where it can feel like you are in a concrete cage at times. I also love the fact that Team for Kids supports getting children to be aware of and passionate about a healthy lifestyle at a young age.

Connect with Carrie via the links below:

Meet Our 2016 Airbnb Brooklyn Half Coaches

Team for Kids runners, meet our 2016 New York Road Runners Team for Kids Airbnb Brooklyn Half coaches: Michael, Simon, Jennifer, Asteria, Sid, Dave, and Jason!

Michael Conlon

Michael is a Physical Therapist and is the founder of Finish Line Physical in NYC. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Therapy from the Hogeschool Enschede in the Netherlands in 1997. Michael is recognized as a Fellow of Applied Functional Science (FAFS) through the internationally acclaimed Gray Institute.

Michael is passionate about endurance sports, both as a participant and coach. He ran his first marathon in 1998 (NYC, of course). Since then, he has completed 25 marathons as well as the Lake Placid Ironman three times. He’s been a member of New York Road Runners since 1998 and has competed in countless running events and triathlons over the years.

Michael has also served as the Head Coach for the NYC chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma’s Team in Training program since 2002. Michael has trained thousands of runners, from beginners to advanced marathoners. His valuable advice and expertise have helped countless runners prevent or overcome injuries, allowing them to reach their goals of completing a half or full marathon. Michael’s experience as an accomplished athlete and coach gives him a unique perspective and understanding of how to provide the best care for both the competitive and recreational athlete.

Michael and his wife Wendy live in New Rochelle, NY with their two year old daughter Avery and their 12 year old dog Miles. They are expecting their second child in April of 2016.

Simon Durkin

Hi I’m Coach Simon! Like many of you I came to running later in life but it has now become my life’s work and passion. My coaching philosophy is simply to try and make running more understandable to runners. To share what I have learned about how the body works when we run and how to train smartly and safely to improve your performance. I’m very vocal in my encouragement and take great inspiration from watching casual runners turning themselves into marathon-distance athletes.

Outside of coaching TFK, I also work at NYRR in Youth Events, organizing track meets, field days and XC races for the “kids” in Team for Kids. I’m very proud of my work there and if you ever have questions about the programs that are funded by your fundraising, please don’t hesitate to ask (just be ready for a long and passionate answer).

Good luck to all TFK athletes. It’s truly an honor to work alongside you.

Jennifer Hessmer

Jennifer Hessmer is a Certified Personal Trainer, USA Track and Field Level 1, RRCA Certified Running Coach and Yoga Alliance RYT400 Yoga Teacher. Jennifer is currently an independent personal trainer, running coach, yoga teacher and health counselor on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

Jennifer integrates nutrition into her sessions and group classes. She has a certification in health coaching from Integrative Nutrition Institute and Food Therapy from the Natural Gourmet Institute.

Jennifer was formerly employed at Equinox Fitness Clubs as a Tier 3 Personal Trainer and The Running Center as an assistant running coach.

On a personal note, Jennifer has run 9 marathons, New York three times, Paris and London, Richmond, Philadelphia, Marine Corps and Chicago Marathons and numerous ½ marathons; most recently the Prague Half Marathon and Reykjavik Half-Marathon. In 2010, Jennifer competed in her first series of triathlons.

Asteria Howard

Asteria had been active in a variety of sports since her childhood in Bolivia. In addition to running on both the Bolivian and Venezuelan national teams, she worked for many years as a physical education teacher. Asteria is dedicated to passing on her experience and knowledge by coaching Team for Kids (TFK) runners. Like Sid, Asteria’s holistic training—which includes nutrition, drills, stretches, speed work, and distance training—has made believers of her athletes. Several have returned to run with Team for Kids for a second year and a number of those have brought friends or spouses with them.

Asteria has completed over 15 marathons, 10 New York City marathons, the 100 anniversary Boston Marathon, two marathons in Venezuela, one in Colombia, and World Championships in Buffalo. When Asteria lived in Venezuela, she ran track and competed in the 800m, 1500m, 3k, 5k, and 10k plus the half marathon in the South American Games (Colombia). While Asteria lived in Boliva she became a National Champion in the 100m, the long jump, the 100m hurdles, and the 4×1 relay.

Sid Howard

Sid started running in 1978 and has been running with the Central Park Track Club for 37 years. His storied career includes five world championships, 50 national championships, 6 U.S. records, 5 world records and 8 gold world champion medals. He acknowledges the role his coaches and mentors played in his development and is anxious to return the favor to aspiring runners. Sid is dedicated to passing on his experience and knowledge by coaching Team for Kids (TFK) runners.

Sid’s holistic training—which includes nutrition, drills, stretches, speed work, and distance training—has made believers of his athletes. Several have returned to run with Team for Kids for a second year and a number of those have brought friends or spouses with them.

Sid believes we’re a family of runners and we all have the same goal—not just to finish the race, but to change our lives. The health part is very important. It’s not just about times and splits.

Dave Kleckner

Today I’m a Team for Kids Coach, but back in 2006 I was a brand new runner who decided it’d be fun to run the NYC Marathon the next year. When I signed on with Team for Kids, I thought it was just an easy way to get guaranteed marathon entry. Little did I know what wonders awaited me. I learned how to train. I met incredible people including other TFK runners, coaches and staff. I developed a passion for running that I couldn’t have imagined, fueled by a bond developed with the other runners I met that I can’t even begin to describe, but that is common among TFKers. And I got to help kids find fitness and lose pounds through the programs supported by the funds that I raised.

Now I’m an extremely active member of the NYC running community. I’ve since run about two dozen marathons including several ultra-marathons plus nearly 40 half-marathons. I’ve guided disabled runners, co-led Central Park clean-up days, collected used running shoes for those in need, became a certified personal trainer, and feel honored to serve as a Team for Kids Coach. If you’re new to Team for Kids, you’re in for a wonderful adventure. And if you’re not new to Team for Kids, then you’re just like so many others who’ve come back for more. Either way, enjoy the journey, because that’s what it’s all about.

Jason Lakritz

Jason graduated from Florida State University where he was a member of the cross country and track team that won three NCAA National Championships. He earned his Doctorate of Physical Therapy from Long Island University, completing his capstone project on the differences between barefoot and shoe running, and is recognized as a Fellow of Applied Functional Science (FAFS) through the internationally acclaimed Gray Institute. He has been with Finish Line PT since 2012.

Jason is also a certified USATF Level 1 running coach. He currently runs with Urban Athletics, racing many times throughout the year in the New York City area. He has completed five marathons with a personal best of 2:36. “I wanted to become a physical therapist and use my experiences as a top-level runner to help runners not only recover from injury, but also run faster and prevent injury from happening. I’ve been injured plenty of times and can really relate things to my patients that I went through physically and mentally. I love the sport with a passion.”

Jason has coached with the city Meals On Wheels charity over the last two marathon seasons. His favorite part about coaching is teaching runners about their bodies. “I am thrilled to be a part of the TFK coaching staff and I am so excited to meet each runner!”