In 2018, I moved back to NYC after 30 years away, where I'm so happy I found the New York Flyers. Prior to my return, I lived in Simsbury, a suburb of Hartford, CT and had found a wonderful group in West Hartford out of the local Fleet Feet store. I had felt at home, welcomed and challenged by the group and community runs based out of the West Hartford Fleet Feet store.
I often remarked at how negative my work place could be sometimes, but when I would come to Fleet Feet in West Hartford for their Wednesday evening Community Run (free), all faces were bright, perky and ready to roll. I was inspired by the great sense of community and sharing I found there.
I love the energy and bustle of New York City, but I missed my Fleet Feet running group. I asked a coworker (also a marathoner) for recommendations for a group. She had been running for years with NY Flyers Coaches Amy Sitar and Jim Purvis, and recommended I try the Flyers. So I signed up in December 2021 for the New York Flyers first Marathon Training Program (MTP) season after the COVID hiatus.
My first MTP was early 2022 as everyone was emerging from the COVID pandemic. Masks were still mandatory in NYC everywhere and the group was smaller than in prior seasons. Coach Amy was my coach! We had one weekly practice and 3-4 assigned runs throughout the week. Paces were determined individually based on recent performances including to help us avoid injury.
I had run a few half marathons before but never more than 13 miles so this was all new territory for me. I was assigned ‘bunched runs’ to add to my endurance. Bunched runs acclimate the body to longer distances and involve breaking the long run into two shorter runs within less than 24 hours to gain the endurance benefits of a single long run while reducing the associated injury risk and allowing for quicker recovery to avoid undermining the speedwork that follows later in the week.
In April 2022, at 60 years old, I ran my first marathon ever, the NYCRUNS Brooklyn Marathon!! Coach Amy was hanging out at Grand Army Plaza to run with me and take some of my unneeded layers. She was also at my finish to cheer me on when my energy level was less than ideal. I did it!! Wahoo ????
I signed up again for MTP in the fall of 2022. This group was bigger (80) and we were divided by running pace into 4 groups of 20. My coach is Brian Rossetti.
I honestly love my team. There are so many interesting and lovely people in my group. The ages range from 20s to 60s. Everyone is happy to be there and works hard. It’s an inspiring group. We learn from our coaches but we also learn from each other. It is one of the most positive groups I have ever gotten to experience!
My goal race for my second MTP season was the Hartford Marathon (my old backyard) as I did not qualify or get picked in the lottery for the NYC Marathon.
Hartford hosts the marathon the same day that they host a 5k, half marathon, and marathon relay. I have run the 5k many times and even the relay once. Running anything over a 10k is new for me in the last several years.
The 2022 Hartford Marathon boasted perfect weather. The whole race -- all 4 components -- totals about 8,000 people. Parking is easy and getting to the race simple. It’s a Boston qualifier as well. The race starts in front of the Connecticut State Capitol building, and Governor Ned Lamont did the intros. The marathon, half marathon, and marathon relay all start together.
The half marathon splits and heads west to the suburbs of West Hartford, while the marathon wraps through Hartford's Riverside Park and heads north thru East Hartford and Windsor. It’s an ‘out and back’ course. In the northern extreme of the course, there are horses, goats and sheep, amongst many 200 year old houses. There was even a prize goat ???? being displayed for photos and pats on the head! There was music every mile or so: DJs, bands and talented solo musicians. Technically the course was PDF (pretty darn flat).
After the race there’s a party and beer garden. The course is well laid out: hydration stations were almost every mile with Nuun and water, three GU gel stations and a candy station at the end. There was lots of spectator and community support. Thanks to coach Brian, MTP and my team mates advice, I PR’d by 8 minutes and placed in the middle of my age group.
I can’t say enough about how wonderful the New York Flyers are. They are an inspiring group. They put on well organized events. I am proud to say I’m a New York Flyer. ????