Thank you so much – I am truly honored.
I’m not really sure what qualifies me for this singular distinction but I hope it means I lived up to what exemplifies the spirit of the Flyers. 😊
When I joined the Flyers, I had some vague idea that if I joined a club that did speed workouts and offered coaching, I might stop (or delay) what felt like an inevitable slowing as I aged. But what I got out of joining the Flyers was much more than a little speed work and some people to run with but a community of people who were welcoming and engaged and LOVED RUNNING like me!
I am now going to make a statement which may sound ridiculous coming from someone who was just voted as Flyer of the Year but – I am not a joiner. While I won’t take it as far as Groucho Marx, my instincts have always been to avoid groups. Maybe it’s just my social awkwardness – “Oh! Please don’t make me interact with others – I NEVER know what to say!” Or maybe I am just an unfriendly grouch…
But I joined the Flyers against my instinct to just keep doing what I was doing – running every day and ruing the indignity of aging. I guess the ego hit of losing speed overpowered my inertia and (I’m not sure how many years later) here I am – a full-fledged member of a group and FOTY!
Since I’m not really sure what makes me worthy to be called FOTY, here’s my take on what being a Flyer means:
YES, YOU CAN GET FASTER!
At least, I did. Joining the Flyers didn’t just stop my getting slower, I actually got faster as a Flyer (and Master+)! Just when I thought my days of PRs were over, the combination of everything I learned from our SpeedPass workouts with Coach Brian and the support and enthusiasm of my fellow Flyers made me a faster runner. While I am still mainly a solo runner (the “run with others” part didn’t really happen) -- don’t follow my example -- running with a group of people cheering you on and encouraging you can make all the difference in your running.
COMMUNITY IS GOOD FOR THE SOUL (AND SOLE)
I knew I had found a home of like-minded people when not long after I joined the Flyers, I got an email inviting me to join a club organized volunteer opportunity to help the Central Park Conservancy with park clean up and maintenance. These opportunities were organized (pre-COVID) twice annually by Flyers Dave Kleckner and Heather Marcellis (Heather started the program years ago) to give back to the park that we spend so much time running in. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get back on their schedule sometime in the near future.
The Flyers also head the Mile 18 Gel Station on the NYC Marathon course and the fluid station of the NYC Half course (Andrea Mihalko and Rachel Duncan have done a brilliant job filling it!) and run a donation drive for a local food relief organization (Thanks Dana M for organizing every year!) While I joined the Flyers because of running, it was very reassuring and heartwarming to find myself among people who didn’t just care about running and how fast/far they could run but about the community at large as well.💕
I was also encouraged to see how many of our fellow Flyers volunteer to make possible all the fun things we expect to be a part of “the Flyer experience”– monthly long runs, social events, NYRR club benefits access, etc. are only possible because of volunteers.
Flyers like my fellow FOTY nominees – Bradford Goz who organizes ad hoc runs all over NYC and with various run crews near and far and Deb Unger who never hesitates to help organize the many social events the club puts on (special kudos for the very popular Debs’ book club events) are at the core of what I think it means to be a Flyer.
And of course, a special thanks to the Executive Board – John McCreesh, Deb Saat, Jeffrey Wollman, Marc Feldman and Wendy Mitchell for all the hard work they do. It’s great to belong to a community of people who share my belief that if we want to have good things, we need to be a part of making them happen.
SHARING IS CARING!
And last but not least – it’s been great to be able to share running experiences with fellow Flyers who have done a whole lotta running and racing here in NYC, around the US and around the world!🌎 Ask a question about a race or running route on the Flyers Discussion Facebook page and you’ll get a flurry of answers. Whether you’re just starting on your Abbott Six Star journey and wondering how to get into the hardest of the hard to get into marathons (I’m looking at you London and Tokyo) or you’d rather stay (sort of) local and wondering if the Brooklyn Marathon is worth running, someone in the Flyers will be able to share their experience and offer advice.
I have shared early morning bus, train and ferry rides to the start lines of the New York City, Big Sur, Boston, and London marathons with fellow Flyers. I traveled with fellow Flyers to run the Victoria Falls (in Zimbabwe), Havana and Napa to Sonoma half marathons and will soon complete my Six Star journey in Tokyo with a few fellow Flyers. As one of the many international runners who was deferred from 2020, I can’t wait to finally be able to run the most elusive of the Six Majors!
Whatever the race, wherever it is – it’s great to be able to share a successful race or to commiserate after a tough race with friends -- reach out if you’re running a race away from home. It looks like there’ll be a fair number of Flyers traveling to Berlin and Chicago this year so make sure you keep an eye on our Facebook page to see if any Flyer get togethers are happening or reach out with questions.
Thank you again for this great honor – it really has been a great experience being a Flyer and I hope that I can continue to contribute to making being a Flyer a special experience for others as well!