Last Sunday on September 25th, I completed the New Balance Bronx 5K 2016 race. New York Road Runners (NYRR) provided me with a complimentary entry for this race since the NYRR R-U-N 5K from August 11th was cancelled. Refusing to receive credit without running, I registered for this to make up for race number four in my 9+1 journey and I’m delighted to say that my fourth credit is complete. This leaves me with just two more races until I’m qualified for next year’s marathon! To continue the tradition, I’m sharing my reflections from this great race.

1. Fall is the perfect running season
This race felt amazing. The weather on race day was perfect. There was enough sun to feel energized and there was enough chill to be comfortable during the run. I would love to have this kind of weather all year long because I wouldn’t stop running. Fall weather is a runner’s dream. I loved participating in many of the summer races these past few weeks but training was too exhausting. There were days when I could barely run three miles without gasping for air. Now that it’s fall, I’m really looking forward to spending more time out. In New York City, this kind of weather doesn’t last long so I’ll be sure to take advantage of it while I can.

2. A full tank of determination
It’s remarkable how a slight shift in mindset and the willingness to absorb inspiration can instantaneously fill up my tank of determination. I love the racing environment because everyone is cheering for others and fellow racers help me to keep a certain pace. Just hearing a huge crowd cheering from the sidelines is really all it takes to refuel and charge on ahead. Running is a tough sport. It doesn’t get easier for anyone, whether that person is a beginner or an olympian. But I have to say, the community of NYC runners is a collection of the most incredible people in the universe. You, my friends, are the fuel to my tank of determination.

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time to get down to business! (image c/o New Balance)

3. Running is the backbone to life
This year has been challenging in numerous ways. Not only am I switching careers but I’m also experiencing personal struggles that had me feeling incredibly defeated on numerous occasions. Running is a struggle in itself but this activity has been the backbone to everything else that I’m experiencing in life. I use it as a way to measure the unlimitedness of my potential. I also use it as an outlet to get rid of my anger and stress. But ultimately, I want running to always reflect the tenacity and grit that lives inside of me. Oftentimes, I feel as though I can’t accomplish big things but if I can at least wake up before the sun and get a couple miles in, I know I’m doing something extraordinary.

4.  Beast through the finish line
One of the beautiful things about this race was that the last 200 meters was a perfectly angled, smooth downhill. Now, if you know a thing about me, a 200 meter dash was my favorite Track & Field event in college. And it’s no question that a downhill finish is every runner’s guilty pleasure. You can only imagine the powerhouse sprinter persona that jolted out of me when I saw that the finish line was at the end of a glorious downhill. I basically rolled up my metaphorical sleeves and said “let’s f–king do this!” Regardless of what the conditions of the final 200 meters are, I always go all out. There is no better way to finish a race than to sprint the final stretch.

5. A deepened relationship with this city
The more I run, the more I fall in love with this dynamic city. I grew up here in New York City and have always loved how diverse and culturally rich this place is. Running, however, adds an extra layer of love that I have for the greatest city in the universe. Whenever I go out to races, I feel the commitment that runners from this city have not just for the sport but also for social causes and contributing to other people’s lives in a positive manner. During this race, I also saw a lot of people who happened to be walking by to cheer and energize the environment. When the city’s community of runners and supporters get together, I can’t help but fall deeper in love with this place.

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in front of the iconic Yankee Stadium!

Since this year is the first time that I’m doing the 9+1 program to qualify for the marathon, I’m eager to make sure that I complete each race and do the best that I’ve got. I was happy to have been able to register for this race as a way to make up for the R-U-N 5K that I couldn’t run in August. Prior to this race, I also completed my +1 volunteer shift at the TCS New York City Marathon Tune-Up (18M) 2016 so I’m all set there. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, my next race is the Staten Island Half Marathon 2016. I have no idea how I’ll manage but my determination, at the least, is to finish strong.

Cheers,

Riri