Travelling With FIT: The New York City Marathon — Part 5

IMG_3094Hey gang! Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas, Hanukkah, whatever you celebrate (or don’t celebrate) and a totally buttkickin’ New Year! We are back with our continuing coverage of FIT’s awesome tales of victory at The New York City Marathon last November. Let’s dive right in with a recap from our good friend Ana:

  NYC Marathon: A dream come true… and I don’t even know how!

Looking back on my life, thinking about running — not even a race or marathon just running — was something that never would happen.

I started a process of change when I turned 40. By working out and eating healthy, I was able to lose weight and stay in good shape. After spending 2 years at this lifestyle, my fitness coach invited me to run at Key Biscayne, just “to see if I could”. To my surprise, I could and liked it. So we decided to include it in our routine (with my husband Juan, who has accompanied me throughout this process and on each of these adventures) by running weekends and evenings during our daughter’s soccer practices or any other activities with our children. Time was passing and the miles increasing, until one day I told Juan, why don’t we try a 1/2 marathon? In December 2014 I ran my first half, and then Miami Half in January 2015 and I did fine, with no coach, no club…just internet plans and many friends.


But then I discovered the running clubs, and by looking and following our friend Rosatil Materan in Facebook we found FIT and the announcement of the first season in Weston — YEAH!!! Being that it was so close to home, we started with FIT in February 2015. At the same time we signed up for the NYC Marathon lottery, understanding that usually takes a few years before you can get in, so we would have the time to train and be ready. Butthe surprise was the day of the lottery when I get the email “Ana you are in” ….. my husband Juan didn’t get it. Oh well, I think I’m running my first full marathon.

This was the start of this adventure, together with Juan and my group of friends from FIT: planning the track training, short and medium runs during the week and long run on weekends, shared route and water coolers with Mare, Rosa, Debi and more FIT friends, other days just by myself and Juan always supporting every 2 miles to make sure I was safe and providing water, supplements and support. Without my wonderful husband this would not have been possible, waking up early, driving and supporting me on each of my long runs, tracks, etc. Even during vacation he organized routes to keep me on track with the training plan while he took care of the children, not to mention the nutrition plans and special strength workouts in the gym.

When I was going to my 2nd long run for 20 miles I was bored of the same route, running alone. I called FIT to seek help and of course Marcela says “My beautiful, I go with you”. It was a very nice run, with some interruptions because I did not feel well, but we got 17 miles down with her support, company and advice. It was a great morning. Thank you Marcela!!

During these months of training I learned to understand my pace and how to handle it. This was hard for me. I also ran many 5k and 10k Race, again, including holidays.

Well, after all this training, the long awaited weekend arrived. If two years ago someone would tell me that something like this would happen to me, running a full marathon and my first one being NY, I would swear No Way!! But I’m here. I enjoyed every day in NY with Juan and the FIT family.

Finally the day came, I found myself alone, Juan could not be there to take care of and support me. The poor guy did his own marathon around New York trying to catch me at several race points, meeting me at two and missing me at the other two.

When the race started running over the Verrazano bridge, I cried tears of joy & emotion, thinking of that vast and amazing city, and I was there! I was part of this unique moment, experiencing all the excitement with each band of musicians, dancers, and all the spectators screaming our names. I felt a surge of elation every time I reached each bridge and successfully ran over them. My first surprise was that I was able to do it with no problem, reaching 22 mile running fairly even without stopping… YEAH !!!

Then, perhaps under the emotion, I lost my concentration and forgot about the incline towards Central Park on 5th Ave, specially at mile 24 in Central Park with the ups and downs; those two miles were killers. The smile that I had throughout the race disappeared. Finally at mile 25 , I recovered my joy and happiness of being part of the race. So I finished strong, straight up, without pain, tired but happy, meeting up at the end with my husband as we had planned. And to my great happiness the next day, I woke up fine, strong, and with no major pains. Hard work pays off. Training with FIT and with my husband paid off!

And now this is just the beginning…

Thank you for sharing your story, Ana. Tune in for our next installment, coming soon!

Travelling with FIT: The New York City Marathon — Part 4


Hey gang! We’re back with our continuing coverage of FIT’s awesome tales of victory at The New York City Marathon. Let’s dive right in with two more buttkickin’ FIT pals, from our buddies Noemi and Bruce!

Noemi’s Tale

IMG_1024I was wondering if I should start by mentioning that I tripped and fell in the lobby of my condo while waiting to be picked up to go to the airport. I wasn’t hurt, just freaked out that I could have been. Or I can tell you that I placed a wake up call for the morning of the event and the hotel never called. I believe there was a Seinfeld episode where the runner overslept. I had back up, so it was okay.

This was my 4th marathon and prior to that, I decided I would not do anymore full marathons, unless I got into NY because after all it is NY. As I am sure it was for everyone, training during our summer is brutal. I had some difficulties in training. After some of my longish runs, I was having some breathing problems which was a bit frightening.I saw a doctor and he told me to rethink my marathon goals and to take it easy. (He obviously is not a runner). I took his advice and dropped from 5/1’s to 3/1’s. I don’t think that is what he had in mind, but it helped and I didn’t have anymore incidents. I had issues with my toes as well. They would cramp up at around mile 6 on every one of my training runs. In retrospect, I was extremely lucky running this race. I was listening to my body regarding my breathing and my toes seemed okay.

I am usually a nervous wreck prior to a race, and for some reason, I was very calm the night before. Not only did we get an extra hour of sleep, but my wake up call ( which as I mentioned before, never happened) was for 5:00am, so to me, that was like sleeping in. Nerves started kicking in on my walk to the bus stop, but once I got in line with the other thousands of runners, I felt better. I took the bus from the NYC Public Library. The lines were several blocks long, but moved very quickly and it was very exciting to be part of all the conversations around me. I got to the start village, which reminded me of being back at Woodstock. ( I know I’m dating myself here and no need to put that in the blog). I saw Bruce while waiting in line at the port o potties. Not one of my favorite places to be at, but It was so great seeing seeing him. I almost gave up my spot. I eventually met up with the girls from Team for Kids. It was great seeing the FIT family.


It was so exciting anxiously waiting in the corals and seeing the runners before us already on top of the Verazzano bridge. The weather was perfect. I dressed in layers and started peeling them off early on. I was told, even from my boyfriend that I wasn’t recognizable, since I changed from black to pink and yet I was trying to maintain being fashionable. I knew Jeffrey (my boyfriend) would be at around mile 11, 17 and 21. That was the highlight for me, knowing that I would see him at those mile markers. My own personal cheering squad. His sister was also there at mile 17 and 21. It was really so cool.

We were off by 11am and I was feeling very strong. I, of course, started out too fast (sorry, Marcela), but I felt so strong and it was so exciting, I couldn’t stop myself. However, the Queensboro bridge did me in. I lived in NY for many years and have a driven over this bridge numerous times. All I kept thinking was that I don’t even want to drive over it anymore. it never seemed to end. I started walking a lot.


By the end of the bridge, the crowd along 1st ave, was enormous and loud. It was truly unbelievable. I kept thinking that they were the crazy ones out there. When we entered Manhattan, with crowd support, I started running again. I know the blocks are short, so I just set small blocks as my goal before taking walk breaks. I was also looking forward to seeing my cheering squad, as I knew they would be around mile 17, so that gave me a boost. Although the last 3 or so miles were really tough and seemed like I still had another 10 miles to go,I couldn’t believe that it was actually almost over. I had shut my phone off from the early beginning, since my battery was very low. I turned it on at the end and it was great seeing messages from everyone that was tracking me. It meant a lot. My Garmin also was not working in the beginning, so I had no idea what time of day it was, or even what my time was.

I loved seeing the signs welcoming us to the different boroughs. I lived in NY for many years, so this was very special. Ending the race in Central Park was awesome especially with the fall colors. I got my poncho, a souvenir, that I will cherish forever.  I was happy with my finishing time and more importantly I felt great, considering I just ran the NYC marathon. Woo Hoo!!!!


I met up with Jeffrey and took the subway back to our hotel. There were so many marathoners everywhere and everyone was congratulating each other. It was comical to see the runners trying to get up and down the stairs in the subways. Even though there were aches and pains, everyone had huge smiles. I flew home on Tuesday, proudly wearing my marathon t-shirt as did some others on the flight. Everyone was still congratulating each other. This was my 4th full marathon and I don’t know if anything will compare to this. I felt like I was smiling the entire route. Well, not really, because the photographer did catch me struggling at a few spots. But I did it and can hardly believe it. If it wasn’t for Friends In Training, I certainly wouldn’t have been able to. This was so much more than a marathon, it was more like a huge party.

Bruce’s Tale

IMG_1284My story of this years marathon began in 1986, when I last ran the New York City Marathon. Shortly after this race I stopped running. Then FIT came into my life about four years ago and the running bug took over. This year after turning 70, I decided that my first full marathon since 1986 should be the New York City Marathon once again. As I was battling knee pain, the training was long and hard. About a month before the race, I found out that I had torn cartilage in my knee as well as a tear in the miniscus. Since the doc told me that training and running would not cause further damage, I decided that this injury would not keep me from running the marathon.

This did however, change my attitude about the race from having a good time (in terms of hours and minutes) to having a good time (in terms of lots of fun)!!

I ran the race with Fred’s Team which was named after the founder of the NYC Marathon, Fred Lebow. who was treated for brain cancer at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital. The team raised over 5 million dollars for cancer research to “Imagine A World Without Cancer”. I ran it in honor of friends, family and patients that have suffered from this terrible disease.

After spending a few days with my son and two grandsons (they live in NY), my wife and I trekked into the city for a four hour bus tour of the course. This raised the excitement level as the tour brought back memories from 29 years ago. We then headed to the expo to get my race bib , shirt and walk around the hall. I was also able to get my knee taped with the KT tape which ended up making most of my run a lot more comfortable. You could feel the excitement starting to build. Saturday was a relaxing day in the city and then we enjoyed Fred’s Team’s pre-race carbo dinner at B.B. King’s Club followed by an early night to bed.


Sunday morning came at 4:15 with what I considered perfect running weather. We headed downstairs to the team breakfast and then taking a page from FIT we all went to Times Square for a team picture – woohoo! Then myself and over 900 other members of Fred’s Team boarded out buses and off we headed to Staten Island. This was now real!

Once at Staten Island I found our team’s tent and was able to relax for the few hours before heading to my corral. Encouragement and nervousness was everywhere! Then it was off to the corral and finally the canon sounded for the start of one of the most amazing running experiences one can have!

The views, the crowds, the excitement were amazing. The people in Brooklyn were such an inspiration and hearing your name being yelled by so many people really made you feel like a rock star! At mile 8 I saw a familiar yellow shirt- as Mare and Richard Castro were there cheering us on. It was so good to see them. And then two miles later I saw my wife, son and my grandkids who were holding a sign for their grandpa! I stopped to hug them all and also saw my other son in Atlanta on face time. It was a great moment in the race and I actually got a little emotional.


All along the way there was music, cheers and kids looking to “give you five”. I even got a high five from a dog – his owner was lifting him and holding out his paw. It brought a smile to my face. Brooklyn was amazing and then off to the Pulaski Bridge into Queens and then the “dreaded” Queensboro bridge. Coming off the bridge and onto First Avenue you were hit with throngs of peoople who were crazy and loud and gave me motivation to keep running even though by now the knee was starting to act up.

I pushed on to mile 17-18 where I passed a Fred’s Team cheer zone which was wild and then I saw my family once again. The grandkids wanted me to stop (so did I) and they were so excited to see me again. At about mile 20 I saw the FIT team of Mare and Richard again and stopped to talk. That little rest felt great and we moved forward to the Bronx. As we got to the last bridge a chant of “Last Damn Bridge” was reverberating through the crowd and the runners. I found this pretty funny.

Returning to Manhattan I had to deal with the incline up 5th Avenue. By now running was painful and a lot of walking became the way to get up the incline. I was not alone as many people struggled at this point of the race. Once entering Central Park and a downhill section and knowing that the end was getting nearer, I was able to pick up my pace and turning onto the home stretch I saw my family cheering me on and then ran into Yasmin from FIT who was also suffering from a sore knee and we crossed the finish line together! We did it! Slower then I had hoped, but an experience I will never forget!!!


The people of New York were amazing both during the race and the next day. The runners were all wearing their race shirts and badges and everyone you passed had congratulatory comments and kudos for you. The city embraces this race to an amazing extent.

No I did not get the good race time that I originally wanted, but I certainly had a good time and was proud that this 70 year old runner was able to finish the most amazing run for a second time – 29 years later – and to be able to share it with my wife, sons and grandkids. Also a rewarding part was running with a team of about 900 runners and raising money for such a meaningful and worthwhile cause. Will I run it again, maybe not, but there are other great marathons yet for me to run!

Thank you for sharing your stories, Noemi and Bruce. Tune in for our next installment, coming soon!


Travelling with FIT: The New York City Marathon — Part 3


We are back with part 3 of our ongoing coverage of FIT tackling the 2015 New York City Marathon. Let’s jump headfirst into things with more tales from the road featuring the inimitable Indira and Mare. Take it away, ladies!

Indira’s Tale


I went in to the race feeling defeated.

I had bought grandstand seats for Ariel & Max but forgot to pick them up at the expo. I still felt sick and to make matters worse I threw up the night before and the morning of the race. I literally just wanted to turn around and go to bed.

But then something ah-mah-zing happened. I started meeting the runners (many from NY) and they magically began changing my energy around. “Just enjoy every minute of it.” And just like that I decided I would.


Running this marathon was the most fun I’ve ever had in all my years of running. I think I smiled the ENTIRE race. I smiled so much, for so long my mouth muscles hurt. But how could I not? New Yorkers are the greatest fans on Earth. I’ve never seen or felt such positive energy in my life. Reading the signs along the route made it all worth it. Talk about creativity.

When the muscle cramping brought me to a limping halt, I laughed. Literally cracked up. Because all I could think about was “You paid a lot of $ to do this.” I put myself through the torture. That’s when having my name on my shirt rocked! To hear random strangers cheer so empathetically for me and tell me I was their hero was priceless. But to hear people you actually know scream your name was freaking fantastic. Laura’s friend found me on the route. I recognized her right away and it was such a thrill. But the best part was seeing Mare and Richard at mile 8 and the finish line.


The New York City Marathon will go down in my book as the most fun I’ve had during 26.2 miles.

Mare’s Tale

A group of us had been training for this race since late spring. Unfortunately I had to defer NYC this year, but no matter, life goes on and my husband Richard and I decided to go to the Big Apple and cheer on my teammates and the rest of the FIT runners. We’re so glad we made that decision; it was an experience that will live with me forever. I lived in NY before and Manhattan could be one of my favorite places in the world, but this time I got to see the city in a total different way.

The day of the marathon started early for the two of us. When we arrived at mile 8 the streets were still pretty empty, but as time got closer to race start it filled up pretty fast with spectators carrying all sorts of cheering paraphernalia. We saw cardboard face cutouts, flags, pom-poms, streamers and much more. The atmosphere of jubilation was like nothing I had ever seen before. We were all there to celebrate 50,000 plus accomplishments. Louise, Jeanne’s sister, joined us at mile 8 and we waited patiently for the action to start.


I have one thing to say: I got to see Meb run. We heard then saw the helicopter getting closer and as his group approached I think people could hear me screaming in Canada. I even got a couple of good shots of him, but as he drew closer I went silent, in awe of his running form and stride. He looked like he was running on air, his feet barely making contact with the pavement. I nodded yes to myself and thought: “That’s what I want Coach Bob to teach me.”

A few minutes after the elites, we got hit with a wall of runners. Think of a stampede of barely dressed men all barreling at top speed. If I was single, I would’ve thought of that analogy in a different way, but alas there they were… all these guys, just running right past me. From here until we left mile 8 an hour later it was nonstop wave after wave of runners, amazing.

I bow to NYRR, for their real time tracking application that TATA Communications provided. We were able to track every single one of our runners to within a block of us. Of course, we missed a couple of them at mile 8 and mile 19 because of how crowded the mass of runners was. Now, we were armed and ready. We had a blast horn, cowbells, whistles, the FIT flag, and we were wearing our FIT t-shirts, so when Richard saw Bruce first, we let lose all sorts of sounds and noises to get his attention. This was pretty much how we did it all day, all out craziness to get our peeps attentions – we were competing with countless spectators. We did have a couple of false alarms and scared a few unknown runners that we confused for Noemi and Ana Maria (poor people).

Spectating in NYC is serious business. We were trying to coordinate the times and locations of 14 runners. In total we took 7 subway trains that day and 1 cab. We made it to CP, after 3 security bag checks, just in time to see our friend Tatiana pass by at mile 26. We took off running and finally made it to the grandstands where we parked ourselves and the FIT flag, for the next 3 hours. One by one I saw my friends crest that last hill at mile 26, and each time I saw one of them I wanted to hop over the fence and give them a hug. We finally found Noemi or I should say Noemi found us; she was wearing Pink, not black like we thought and were looking for.


One of the happiest moments was when I saw Rosa come over the hill. She ran a 5:47 marathon, 45 minutes faster than she had thought. I went nutso, screaming and waving my arms to get her attention. Each one was emotional, each one accomplished something big. When Indira came through there were less people in the stands so she heard us pretty clearly. Her smile was so huge and she was pumping her arms up in the air, like the winner that she is. Just as she crossed the finish line, Richard and I looked at each other and hugged, both knowing what an absolutely amazing day we’d just had. Dinner after that with Robyn, Rosa and Mishele was special… I kept looking at them and felt so proud of every step they had taken that day, they were NYC Marathoners.

I will be running the NYC Marathon next year and I know that experience will be even more special because I was on the other side of that blue tape this year. I know that for 26.2 miles there will be thousands upon thousands of people cheering me on. Rosa will be there next year too, as MY cheerleader (haha now you have to go).

Much love and thanks to Indira and Mare for sharing their awesome stories with us. Stick around for Part 4… it’s a doozy, I tells ya! A doozy!


Travelling With FIT: The New York City Marathon — Part 2


Hey gang! We’re back with our continuing coverage of FIT’s awesome tales of victory at The New York City Marathon. Let’s dive right in with two more buttkickin’ FIT ladies, the inimitably inimitable Inelka and Rosa!

Inelka’s Tale

inelka01I never thought I would be running the biggest marathon in the world until a year ago, when I met a great group of FIT ladies, with a heart bigger than the marathon itself. I joined them as soon as I knew we would be running as a team, raising funds for “Team for Kids” a charity that provides opportunities for healthy living for underprivileged kids. A great cause and opportunity to give running a deeper meaning, not only for me, but also for others in need.

And just like that, with a yes, lots of excitement and gratitude in my heart, my journey to the NYC Marathon started. Every day was a step closer to fulfilling a dream with a higher purpose in mind. What a great satisfaction it was! From garage sales to pasta dinners and trivia nights; hundreds of emails, messages and calls asking for donations (including a self-taught course of “How to overcome fear of asking people for money”!!!), we met our goal and I started dreaming of crossing the finish line and holding the medal in my hand!

Finally the day of the marathon came and my excitement was overflowing. At the start line I heard Frank Sinatra singing “New York New York” and I said to myself that the injury in my ankle was not going to stop me. Weeks of training had come to an end and I was ready to finally achieve what I had being longing for. For a moment I couldn’t believe I was there, ready to take off after a long year waiting for that moment. I held hands with my FIT ladies and prayed, thanking God for every minute of our journey together. I took off and I didn’t stop smiling during the whole race. Every mile marker made me feel good and alive. The energy of the crowds was incredible indeed, like nowhere else I have ran before. Kids and random strangers calling my name to cheer me up; loud music, incredible views of the Big Apple, challenging bridges to conquer, laughs everywhere, “power high five” with adorable kids and the best of all: My husband waiting for me at the finish line, with a huge smile in his face, telling me how proud he was.


I crossed the finished line and I felt the moment digging deep in my heart and memory. Not only had I become a finisher of the biggest marathon in the world but I had also contributed to a great cause for Team for Kids with a group of amazing FIT ladies, who will always be cherished in my heart for being role models and strong, great women.

I still hear the singing in my head: If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere!! It’s up to you, New York, New York!!!!


So, get out there and be positive and disciplined. Always think that you can do it and work for it! Walk, dance, run or just move, that every step may surprise you and show you how capable and blessed we all are to achieve anything we dream of when we really want to.

Rosa’s Tale

IMG_3283I used to live in New York 28 years ago. I lived there for 12 years, it was the first place where I lived when we came from my country (Guatemala). I have to thank my mom for bringing us to this beautiful country. We fell in love with it. Since we didn’t know the language, we started going to a church in Brooklyn, right by mile 8. The church there used to volunteer for the marathon and I helped as well. I used to think that people where crazy for running all those miles, but it was very excited helping and seen all those people running. I never thought that I would be one of those crazy ones myself one day! After Cassandra did her New York Marathon in 2014, several of us FIT ladies (Mare Castro, Inelka Quiros, Robyn Hamilton, Mishele Hubson, Yasmin Nava, Kari Klein, Sonya Brown, Jeanne, and of course your truly) decided to form a fundraising team to help Team For Kids.

For me running The New York Marathon was a dream come true, and doing it with a bunch of my running teammates was priceless. It was also very sentimental for me; my mom and my uncle (who also lived in New York) had passed away 15 days apart, one year prior to our decision to run the marathon. I knew it was going to be very emotionally difficult for me to run in the place where I lived with them, but it got more difficult when my sister-in-law passed away a week before the marathon. She was like my sister to me and a second mother to my kids. As a result, running through the streets on New York was an emotional rollercoaster: one minute I was crying and the next I was laughing, and all of that kept me going.

Race week came quickly! I had an amazing time planing and traveling with two wonderful ladies Mishele and Robyn, my roomies. The day of the expo I was very excited because I was going to meet my brother (“Team Jose”) that had won the New York lottery. He traveled from Costa Rica, and we spent almost all day together at the expo. Then came Race Day! I have to thank Robyn, because she wanted to be at the staring line one hour before our anticipated time. At the beginning I too was crazy (“As always”), but thanks to her we got there with no rush. I know some other people got there so late, my brother included — he started 90 minutes late! Phew I felt relief that we all got there on time.


We happily made it to the Start Line, made a short prayer, and then it was our turn to run. My super fast running friends were leaving me behind. My only request to them was to wait for me at the Finish Line. Meanwhile I kept running until I found the 5:45 pacer, and I asked him his pace. He said “I’m not STOPPING!” The maximum I have done is 3/1 but never for a 26.2 miles, but I kept running with him. I never stopped, because the New York spectators don’t let you give up, they are true fans, the best!!!!!

I was running, as well as texting and taking pictures. I to thank my husband for his support and I have to share the amazing moments with him. My kids and my husband are my biggest fans and supporters; they kept sending me text of how proud they were of me, and that for me is the best reward in the whole world, just knowing that you are someone’s hero is the best feeling. I called my husband and asked him what was my pace, and he said “Honey you are doing great, keep that pace!”

At mile 18 I stopped to get some Biofreeze for my knee. As I stopped I saw the pacer disappearing in the distance. I never got near him again, but I kept running. I was tired, and mad at myself for losing pace. At mile 21 I saw one of the Team For Kids coaches. She gave me electrolyte tablets and water, and that picked me up again. I don’t know if it was in my head or if the tablets really worked, but I kept running and leaving people behind me. At mile 24 I started giving up again. I was so tired, but people continuously cheering your name was such a good pick up! So was seeing Kari and Sonya at mile 25. Thank you girls for the support too!


I didn’t know I was just seconds behind Robyn and Mishele. Mile 26 came so slow, I didn’t think I could make it there. The last 200 meters felt so far, far away, but victory was here! I completed the 26.2 miles with a great PR! My others marathons finishing times were at 6:59 and 6:34. And New York was 5:47:39!

At the finish line I sat with Mishele and Robyn and I started crying even more. I couldn’t believe that I finished with them almost at the same time. Now I’m a real marathoner! Mo more Mickey Mouse marathons, I’m a New York Marathoner! The best race ever, the biggest in the whole world, and I finished it! It was a dream come true!


Thank you for sharing your stories, Inelka and Rosa. Tune in for our next installment, coming soon!

Travelling With FIT: The New York City Marathon — Part 1

 Running in and of itself is a victory. Running a race, ANY race, is a joyful triumph, vindicating of the months/years of training and miles of pavement under your feet.

But running the TCS New York City Marathon, a World Marathon Major in the biggest, baddest city in the world? Pure prestige, baby. Pure prestige.

And naturally, FIT was there in abundance to take part in the 2015 race. As such, we are continuing our ongoing coverage of Travelling With FIT with a special multi-part blog, in which our various participants get the chance to tell their story, share their experiences, and allow all of us to live vicariously through this monumental achievement through them!
We’re kicking off our coverage with two reports, from our friends Robyn and Yasmin!

Robyn’s Tale

 Gosh, where do I start? This race was so much to me, and no matter how much it hurt and how much I said I was never running again in the last 3.2 miles, it has left me yearning for more.

I worked hard, really hard training for this race. After my first marathon in January I was convinced I could get a much much better time. So in June after a couple months off due to injury I started training, I followed my training plan to a T. I never argued with my coach, and listened to every word he said. I was convinced I could run NY in 4:59:59 easily. I was very lucky to have my good very speedy friend Mishele run NY with me as my pacer, so this furthered my confidence of my time goal. I was also convinced that I wouldn’t feel the pain because I would be so happy that I was running NY.

Well as they say most things don’t happen according to plan, but what did happen was so much better than a time goal.

When we started the race on Sunday I felt great! Coming into Brooklyn off the bridge and seeing the first few people cheer us on gave me butterflies of excitement because I knew what was coming in the next few miles. They say 1 million people come out for the worlds biggest block party to cheer on the runners in NY. That figure is correct, and maybe even a bit more … I’ve never had so many people say my name in my life, I felt what celebrity feels like. Not many people can say that.

As we started cruising down the course I knew my husband and kids were just past mile 8. I would find myself choking up as we got closer, because it was the first time to have my kids cheering me on at a race. Let’s just say I was beyond excited. When I finally did see Paul and the girls I was so overcome with emotion. There were my daughters holding a sign that says “Go Mommy Go” After a few really big hug and plenty of kisses we were on our way again. “Wow, that was the most amazing moment ever!” was all I could think for the next several miles. It definitely took my mind off the ebb and flow of the miles.

After the halfway mark we marched over the Queensboro Bridge and then onto 1st Avenue in Manhattan. Around mile 17 I started to feel it, that dreaded wall started building up brick by brick. I was almost caught my surprise because it was still really early. However, this wall crept up on me around the same time at the last marathon I ran. Back then I was able to break through it around mile 22. This did not happen in NY. Around mile 22 and all the way until the finish line I felt like my legs weighed 100 lbs each, I could barely move. I cried for the majority of those miles because the pain was so bad. My poor running partner Mishele did everything she could trying to help me break through but it just wasn’t happening. I cried, I pushed, I wanted to get down on the ground and crawl. For a long while I even cried for my Mommy. I was in a very bad bad place.

However, somehow we made it. As we crossed into Central Park and came up the hill (YES HILL) into the finish line I was so incredibly happy and emotional. My family was in the grandstands and were able to see me finish. I was so overcome with emotion that I didn’t stop crying until 15 minutes after we finished. The next day I woke up and I felt so defeated and beat up. As my friend Rosa said the NYC Marathon is “No Mickey Mouse” — it is a HARD race. The New York Marathon will chew you up and spit you out. It took me a few days to digest everything, and really think about what happened. I was overcome by all the love and support I had received on social media. Through that support I realized that this race was never destined to be a time goal race, this race was about the kids. It had always been about the kids: my kids, to show them what you can get with hard work and determination, as well as the kids I raised funds for through the charity Team for Kids. My hope is I inspired many children through the funds I raised to want to the run the marathon one day.

I will never forget my first NYC marathon. First with raising money for Team for Kids with 10 of my amazing FIT friends, to traveling to NY and making such awesome friendships, my amazing running partner Mishele for helping me push through and putting up with me, and for my family for being there to experience it and celebrate it with me. I say it’s my first one because I am almost certain I am going back again next year. How quickly we forget the pain! However, I thought about other races and nothing can compare to running New York for Team for Kids, it’s just so special knowing my miles will inspire so many kids to run and create that same passion that I have for the sport.

Yasmin’s Tale

yasmin1I joined FIT last year with no expectations other than to RUN. I had always been active and played soccer for a number of years, but running gave me peace. I started in Group C with Coach Cass and Bruce and it was great. I began making friends and running more, especially with Cass. Fast forward a few months and she did NY and was talking about NY in 2015 — I was in! As you know I’m a single mother of 4 and my oldest was going away to start his first year of college. I didn’t know how I was going to get there or much less how I was going to pay for it, but I was in.

The day before the race was relaxing. I took my first train ride by MYSELF! It was nerve wracking, but I made it! I went to see the NJ Devils vs NY Islanders with Kari Klein and Sonya Brown! They were suppose to run NY too, but because of injuries had to defer. I had my usual burger and fries pre race meal and headed back to the hotel to chill.

The morning of the race was quiet. I got up and ready and walked to the bus about a 3 blocks away. The lines were long, but flowed flawlessly. As I took my place I looked up and there on the building read GRACE. It gave me chills. I grew up singing Amazing Grace. I hummed it to my children when they were little. The bus ride in was quiet. There was traffic, but we steadily moved closer to the Staten Island. I sat listening to an old woman in front who was talking about doing the Berlin Marathon and how she lives in Germany now, but came back to the states to run NY.

I could go on forever… but let’s talk about The Run.


I started with my FIT and Team for Kids ladies Jeanne, Robyn, Rosa, Mishelle and Inelka. We were the last corral, but we would start together. We took lots of pictures and hugged each other and we were off! It was a gorgeous day, overcast, but cool. As I began all I could do was look at the city and the people. I was born in NY and most of my family still lives there. However seeing the city as a runner was completely different. My parents lived in Pelham Bay, Bronx and met at Roosevelt Hospital. My uncle played inner city basketball and every summer after I moved to Florida, I would go to NY and stay with my family. The people cheered, the kids smiled and had their hands out waiting for a high five from a complete stranger and ALL the volunteers were smiling!!! The cheers were endless!!!

At mile 8 I saw Mare and Richard Castro and was happy to see familiar faces. I felt strong taking it all in and smiling and high fiving through the first half, but my legs started to get tight. I began to have spasms in both my knees and power walked and pushed thru as best as I could!! At mile 17 I saw my cousins and got a BIG hug and some oranges! I love oranges!!! My mouth was full and I was off again. I was slowing down and stopped to take a picture of the sign that let me know I was entering the Bronx. Then I heard the familiar sound of Salsa music I had grown up with and I started to cry and pump my fist in the air!!! I had a combination running salsa moment and I picked up my pace. My cousin would tell me later she was tracking me and noticed I had picked up speed, “what was that all about?” she asked.


As I got closer to central park I was just shuffling, walking and running when the spasms would stop. I saw Kari and Sonya yelling at me and gave them a hug, cried and kept going. It was brutal; where was the end already?! Then I saw a familiar face: Bruce from FIT! He too was struggling, but pushing through. We laughed and wondered too where was the Finish LINE! We walked, we ran, we finished together — priceless!!!!

Thank you for allowing me to recap this in words and relive the happy tears that only a runner can understand! xoxoxo

Thank you for your stories, Robyn and Yasmin! What an amazing experience that must have been. And gentle readers, thanks for your time and be back for Part 2 of Travelling With FIT: The New York City Marathon!, coming in a few short days!

FIT Runner Profile: Mare C!

What is going ON, FIT peeps? Howdy, goddag, dzien’ dobry, and a great big olá to you all!

I hope everyone is having a super fun season with FIT so far. As we “earn our yellow” with every sometimes painful yet always exhilarating step on our way to running awesomesauce, it often behooves us to remember with the F in FIT is all about: no, not THAT F (although I’ve heard some of out there on some of those super humid mornings… INSIDE VOICES!), I’m talking about the FRIENDS part. We here at Rhapsody In Yellow (we really need a new name) certainly want to do our part in the whole “Get To Know Your Buddies” process, and that’s why we created these FIT Runner Profiles. More than just a concentrated ego boost to all parties involved, it’s a way of putting names to faces you see every week and finding out more about who they are, why the run, what they’re looking forward to, and almost anything and everything they want to disclose about their super-bad selves!

And speaking of super-bad! Sports uber-legend Muhammad Ali once said: “I hated every minute of training, but I said, Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.” Today’s reigning champ is our Colombian born, New England raised, and now South Florida-living buddy who is a FIT veteran for a few seasons now. A wife, mom of two, Cards Against Humanity and Left-Right-Center enthusiast (seriously, those gaming nights are LEGENDARY), something of a Bon Jovi fan, and social coordinator of inimitable skill, we can only be talking about our friend Mare! Let’s get to know her better in a little tune that we here at the FIT Blog would absolutely love to call…

Getting To Know Mare C!

 Full Name: Mare Castro

Age: 38/39 at the time of this questionaire I am 2 hours away from 39 :-)

Hometown: Born in: Barranquilla, Colombia / Raised in: Pawtucket, RI

Current Town: Weston

Occupation: Bookkeeper/HR/Purchasing Some call me the HBIC

FIT Group: 1/1 or 3/1

Years Running: 2.5

Races Completed

  • Miami Half
  • Sarasota Half

Upcoming Races

  • New Orleans Rock & Roll half
  • Flannigan’s Rocking Rib qpK

Favorite Race (and why)

Still looking

Favorite Cartoon


10 Random Songs on Your Running Playlist

Vivir Mi Vida – Marc Anthony

Pi 3.14 – Buena Fe

Frio, Frio – Juan Luis Guerra

Don’t Stop Believing – Journey

Summer of 69 – Byan Adams

Still – Nine Inch Nails

It’s My Life – Bon Jovi

Check The Rhime – A Tribe Called Quest

Treat ‘Em Right – Chubb Rock

Talk Dirty – Jason Derulo

What can I say? I love all types of music!

Reason for Joining FIT

First and foremost to get active. Meeting new people and making friends has been and added treat.

Favorite 80s Movie

16 Candles for sure. Breakfast Club is a close second.

Running goals for the near future (distance, time, specific race, travel, etc.)

I had to defer NYC Marathon to 2016, so I have that in my sight.

Ocean State Rhode Race & Marathon and The Boston Half Marathon are my hometown races, I would love to run a race while my family cheers on.

Napa Valley Half & Rocky Mountain Half are also on my bucket list.

Favorite Post-Run Meal/Snack/Restaurant

Chocolate milk or Beer…. Hmmm?

Other Questions/Answers

Who do I run for?

My cousin Natassja who passed away from cancer at 3 yrs old.

My best friend Erwin who passed away from cancer at 42 on 10/31/14, I had the unimaginable good luck to know him for 38 years.

They are the fuel that drives me. Because they can’t, I will.

Finally, tell us anything (or everything!) about yourself!


Social Media

Facebook —


And there you have it! Much thanks (AND HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!) to Mare for taking the time to fill out her profile for our blog. And as always, if you would like to be featured (and why WOULDN’T you? You automatically become THAT MUCH COOLER!) you can either email me your answers at OR (even easier!) fill out our Runner Profile Questionnaire, and you can submit your profile online! Remember, you don’t have to answer any question you don’t feel comfortable about, and if you want to volunteer more information about yourself that I didn’t ask, feel free to do so! There are no rules here, except please try to limit your interpretive dance/Alpine yodelling videos to maybe a baker’s dozen, OK?

Travelling With FIT: The Chicago Marathon!


Chicago-Marathon_1Running any distance is an accomplishment in and of itself. You’re a runner.

Running any race means you’ve taken your running experience and joined a bunch of fellow runners in a fun, competitive, challenging environment. You’re a racer.

But running a marathon is kind of unique, right? It means you’re following the path of Pheidippides himself, who back in the time of antiquity traveled 26.2 miles from Marathon to Athens — on foot! — to deliver the exciting news of a victory against the Persian Empire.

After which, he promptly dropped dead. Please don’t do that.

Anyway, I bring all this up because a bunch of us intrepid travelers made our way up to the Windy City to take part in The 2015 Bank of America Chicago Marathon. On the morning of October 11, 2015, your buddies from FIT lined up alongside 40,000+ other runners to make our way through one of the World Marathon Majors, a group of the six largest and most prestigious marathons in the world (alongside New York, Boston, London, Tokyo, and Berlin).

The weekend before leaving.

The weekend before leaving.

What an amazing experience.

I really can’t overstate what it feels like to take part of something so mammoth in size and scale, where you’re equally just one of thousands of runners, yet still having such a uniquely personal and singular experience. We’re talking PERFECT weather conditions: it started in the mid 50s and ended in the low 70s, with sunny blue skies, cool winds off the lake, and not a drop of humidity to be found anywhere. Race management was warning runners that conditions were going to be “hot”.

We South Floridians would love to have this kind of “heat” year round, I’m telling you…

While Chicago wasn’t an “official” FIT destination race, it didn’t stop many of us from enjoying much of the weekend together: dining, hitting the expo, sightseeing, enjoying some killer Chicago pizza and maybe a “frosty” beverage or two, and of course getting together on raceday! Like for one of Jose’s killer selfies:

It ain't a FIT race until Jose takes a selfie!

It ain’t a FIT race until Jose takes a selfie!

And of course taking a buttkickin’ group photo in the lobby of the Congress Plaza Hotel:

Dig us!

Dig us!

For many this was their first marathon. For others, it was their thirteenth or fifty-sixth! For even others, it was a chance to PR and run their strongest race possible. For most, it was a chance to get out there in one of the biggest and most badass cities in the world, hit the pavement, and have a blast the entire way.

Let’s find out what your FIT buddies had to say about this race. If you’d like to read my thoughts, I wrote up an extensive review over at my personal blog. Go check it out! I think you’ll be able to gauge my proper level of enthusiasm for this race fairly quickly :)

A perfect race day!

A perfect race day!

Meanwhile, let’s talk to a few more of our Friends In Travelling.

Starting out, we have our fearless leader (and tireless proponent of rampant Woo-Hoo’ism) Marcela who offers up some excitable words about FIT travel and Chicago:

I love all aspects of FIT, but one of my favorites is that we get to travel together to amazing places and always have a blast. This year, our trip to Alaska was amazing! We have been to Lake Tahoe, Rome, Greece and so many other wonderful destinations!

At the Chicago Aquarium

At the Chicago Aquarium

Last weekend, Chicago travel was so awesome! We got to go tot he Aquarium, and spend such a nice bonding time together! The race itself was pretty awesome too. The course, the city, the volunteers, the energy, what a great time we had with our Friends In Training! :)

Chilling with Marcela and our FIT buddies at the Finish Party!

Chilling with Marcela and our FIT buddies at the Finish Party!

Next up we have the always perfectly-posed Ayenza, who can now proudly call herself a marathoner, and what better place to accomplish that than at the Chicago Marathon?

Normally some runners, after their first marathon, end up saying “Never again!”… but in my case I was left hungry for more.


My running is not about what Ayenza is willing to accomplish — it is more than that. My goal is to motivate those that say that they cannot do it. to get to the point of doing it! Because if I was able to run a marathon, with all my physical disabilities and all that I have going on, it makes the reward of accomplishment that much sweeter. I would love for my friends to have a taste of that sweet nectar that it is called perseverance.


Chicago was fantastic and it is a must repeat but next time with no blisters!!!

I will admit, after my first Marathon I was one of those “never again!” people. Congrats Ayenza on pushing past that mental block, especially on your first Full!

Moving on, Guillermo is another First-Time Marathoner! Congrats! He had quite the experience at Chicago himself. Let’s hear the man testify!

This was my first marathon. Overall it was a great race and the organization was flawless. I want to do it again.


I also met Deena Kastor and Sarah Hall… both of them world class athletes.



The weather,volunteers and the spectators were terrific. Chicago is so exciting and The Bean and the surroundings were unreal.

Way to kick butt on your first marathon, Guillermo!

Finally, let’s hear what our Warrior Diva buddy Sandra had to say about her Chicago Marathon Experience:

The Chicago Marathon was a hard one and my longest race, but the one that I liked the most. What made this race so special was the people. Starting with the volunteers before the race, with the crowd cheering you up during the almost 7 hours that I was out there and with the special encounters I had along the course.

First was someone calling my name from behind, of course I recognized her voice, it was Marcela, our head coach yelling “Sandra, Sandra”. I don’t know how between 45,000 runners she found me but to hear a familiar voice at that moment was comforting.


Then I heard my name again, this time was Kristi, my running friend with Matt. So again, between the thousands of runners, someway a familiar face was there with me. We talked a little (Matt was anxious to continue, I’m glad I didn’t mess up his PR!), we hugged and said good luck to each other.

A couple of miles later, at a corner where a big screen was installed, I found the smiley face of Jose all over the screen.

Marathon selfie!

Marathon selfie!

Last is the people of Chicago, many of them recognizing that I was in pain, telling me words of encouragement. They smiled at me and gave me dozens of high fives. I planned to run this race with my running buddy Julie but I had to do it alone. I never felt that way. My running friends and the city of Chicago was there running with me every single step of this journey. Thank you Chicago!

The people of Chicago cheering Sandra on!

The people of Chicago cheering Sandra on!

Awesome Sandra! And I’m sorry if I did seem anxious, but my head was so deep “in the game” at the time. I’m glad you braved the elements and finished like a champ!


So to wrap things up, you can see that we had a level of excitement and enthusiasm for the Chicago Marathon. And to keep this momentum going, many of our FIT buddies will be heading up to The Big Apple for the 2015 New York Marathon and to our nation’s capitol for the Marine Corps Marathon, so we not only wish them the very best of luck, we implore you to post lots of pictures so we can live vicariously through all of you.

Not to mention Halloween, 13.1, Space Coast, Palm Beaches, Disney, Miami, A1A, New Orleans, Miami Beach, Sarasota… plenty of both races to challenge ourselves and have fun with, but also some opportunities to Travel With Fit. Hope to see all of you there!

Newton Test Night at Central Park!

Say, gang: what are you doing this Tuesday night? I’m talking the night of FEBRUARY 17, 2015… OK aside from saving the world from imminent destruction by an alien armada or solving the perpetual motion mechanism dilemma in your spare time or even just doing a crossword puzzle with a pen? Can you spare a few moments?

Runners-DepotGood! At Central Park in Plantation (where we met regularly for Speed Training with Coach Bob) on Tuesday the 17th at 6:45 PM, Friends In Training is teaming up with our buddies at Runners Depot for a Newton Test Night! Here’s your chance to not only hang out and run with your awesomely wonderful and insanely attractive FIT buddies, but you can also test drive a pair of Newton shoes to see if they are to your liking. And let’s face it, a chance to experience new running shoes is always a cause for celebration, right? Just say the words “new running shoes” and watch eyes glaze over and mouths start salivating. And that’s just us GUYS!

But wait (as they say), there’s more! After our fun at the park, join us for a special social event! We’re gonna be schlepping on over to Zona Fresca in Plantation to grab a bite and celebrate. They are located at 1095 S. University Drive, on the west side of University, halfway between Broward Blvd. and I-595, behind the Applebee’s. Do not miss this event! It’ll be lots of fun, for sure, but it will also benefit our very own FIT Team For Kids group charity. Mention FIT at the cash register and 15% of your check will go towards their group fundraising for Team For Kids.

So let’s see… hanging out with friends, testing out new running shoes, having an awesome dinner AND raising money for charity? Now THAT’S entertainment! And for a good cause! See you then my friends, and keep kicking asphalt!

2015 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Recap Video

233097_181524169_MediumAnd we’re back!

The 2015 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend started on the morning of Wednesday, January 7th, 2015 with the opening of the Race Expo (at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex), and ran through Sunday, January 11th with the running of the 22nd Walt Disney World Marathon. In between those two events were a 5K, 10K, Half Marathon, Kids Races, speakers, seminars, pasta dinners, theme park rides, fireworks, and all other sorts of Disney fun.

And Friends In Training was there! Several team members competed in many of the events. Some were running their first Marathons. The Goofy Challenge participants ran both the Half and Full on back-to-back days, while the Dopey Challengers ran all four races (5K, 10K, Half, Full) over four days and nearly 49 miles! We are also blessed with some super cool (and often VERY cold) weather, which after some of the hotter, more humid Florida races over the past few years, we’ll gladly take.

Anyway, a great time was had by all. Check out the video below for some of the weekend highlights.

Dinner and Meet-Up information for DISNEY MARATHON WEEKEND!

rundisneypicHi everyone. We’re back with a quick update for all you fine FIT folk who are participating in the 2015 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend!

This is exciting stuff! For first time Disney runners and longtime enthusiasts, Run Disney races are always a LOT of fun. Plenty of smiles, photos, singing, and good times along with some of the most buttkickin’ race medals known to mankind.

So no matter if you’re doing the 5K, 10K, Half, Full, Goofy (half and full), or Dopey (all four races!), you’ll be having a blast.

Last year was the first year of the Dopey, and many of our FIT peeps took on that challenge for the first time. Others, like yours truly here, only managed to do the Grumpy and wussed out of doing the Marathon. But we all had a great time. Take a look at our FIT video from last year for a rundown of our exciting adventures (please forgive the massively overplayed song, it was still new back then):

Pretty nifty, huh? We’ll be doing another video this year for sure.

So with that in mind here’s the rundown for FIT activity this weekend:

Friday night, January 9 2015

The night before the half, you are cordially invited to meet  for dinner at the Art of Animation Resort food court. The Art of Animation resort is one of their newer resorts with a spacious seating area and a good selection of choices. Please be there by 5:00 PM. That’ll give us enough time to grab our dinner, find some seating together, and take a whole bunch of nifty pics.

Saturday morning, January 10 2015 (Half Marathon morning)

We will be meeting up at 4:30 AM that morning to take group pictures and do some general hob-nobbing… whatever that means! The meeting spot will be the F flag in the Bag Check area. What does this mean? Around the tents you will see several giant flags with letters on them. A-C, D-F, G-I, etc. Whichever flag involves the letter F (be it, D-F, E-G, F-H, etc.) is where we will meet at 4:30 AM. Show up and smile all pretty and stuff!

Saturday night, January 10 2015

For the night before the marathon, we’ll meet up for dinner at 5:00 PM at the Contempo Cafe in the Contemporary Resort. This is located up on the 4th-floor concourse of the main Contemporary Hotel (do not go to either of the side “wings”). It has a touch-screen food selection system and has a very good selection; we went there the night before the Princess Half last year and it seemed pretty popular, so we’re doing it again this time around. Yay!

Sunday morning, January 11, 2015 (Marathon morning)

Same as the half, we will be meeting at 4:30 AM at the F flag in the Bag Check area.

After the marathon, there might be some informal meetups or drinks or dinner or park time or whatever. We’ll play that by ear.

If anyone has any issues, questions, or ideas, text me (Matt) at (305) 215-4201 or Facebook me if we’re buddies. And if we’re not buddies, we totally should be, right?

Stay happy my friends and get ready for a great weekend!


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