My Harlem Journey To The ING NYC Marathon

October 6, 2011

Hello, I am Luz, a Harlem resident (born and raised) and mother. On November 6, 2011 I will run the ING NYC Marathon representing Team for Kids… … a group of adult runners from around the world who add meaning to their miles by running and raising funds that entirely go toward schools for running programs like Mighty Milers, Young Runners, Youth Jamborees, City Sports for Kids, Track and Field and Cross Country. This is all done in an effort to teach our kids to develop healthy, active lifestyles through sports, to eat properly in order to avoid juvenile diabetes, and most importantly these programs help keep our future leaders off the streets. It allows them to believe in themselves, have a purpose while fulfilling goals. So for me it’s an honor to be part of the journey.

With a little over three weeks to go for the big day 26.2 miles I am filled with mixed emotions of fear for what awaits me and excitement to conquer and complete the journey which by far has to be the hardest thing I have ever done. I have spent over thirteen years volunteering and servicing various communities, all in an effort to give our kids a greater chance at success. But this journey is much different from all the others. It involves an enormous amount of strength physically and mentally along with dedication. You see I am not a runner, well not before May 6, 2011 anyway. I hadn’t ran anything since the 6th grade. Running to the corner store was exhausting enough. However I have managed to overcome and conquer running several miles at a time allowing me to feel like I can and I will do this. I have encountered a few bumps along the road that have made me question my ability to continue the journey. Like a stress fracture in my ankle from running too much, I have lost at least 5 toes nails and more on the way and I have never felt such pain in my muscles from resting after a run, oh and poison ivy from training in upstate parks. At times I have had thoughts of “why am I doing this” Oh dear how much longer do I have to run” and so on….. but I have learned that those thoughts and exhaustion will pass and a second wind rises allowing me to finish what I have started. I completed my first half-marathon two weeks ago in Central Park, having to shake off cramps in my toes and a new pain in my knee to add to the pain list. I just kept telling myself, push through, push through, and I did! Finishing with a time of 2:33:57, not too shabby for my first race ever.

On Friday, October 7th, 2011, I hosted the first annual Aiding Hands NYC fundraiser with all the proceeds going to Team for Kids. To date a total of $3,421.00 has been raised for Team for Kids which will allow 68+ kids to receive services for one entire year. Aiding Hands NYC was a name I decided to create that could represent the communities I have been servicing and hope to raise money for a different charity ever year.

My motto has been, No amount is ever too small and every penny counts.

Check out my pledge, and Sunday, November 6, 2011 is the last day to donate at: . Also, look at my Aiding Hands NYC site at:

Thank you, Luz Ortiz

Photo credit (top down): 1) My first day of training with Team for Kids; 2) Finish line photo of my first race ever (half Marathon); 3) A finisher photo of the race.

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