This year for the upcoming ING New York City Marathon on Sunday, November 7, NY1 Health and Fitness Reporter Kafi Drexel will be running on the Baby Buggy Team to help raise funds and awareness for families in need.
The Baby Buggy Team spoke to Ms. Drexel who’s almost a Harlem girl, (she went to school at Barnard and loves a perfect bagel from Absolute Bagels on Broadway between 108th & 107th Streets) about being a dedicated Baby Buggy supporter, running advice and strategy, Jelly Belly Sport Beans and early holiday gift ideas.
Babby Buggy Team: Have you ever run a marathon before?
Kafi Drexel: This is my first marathon! Because it’s my first time I’ve been following the novice running plan and I’ve been seriously training since March. I can’t believe the big day is almost here. I’m a total bundle of excitement and nerves.
BBT: What advice would you give to first time runners?
KD: Don’t give up. A dear friend of mine who I’ve known for nineteen years reminded me today that four years ago I couldn’t even run a mile without stopping. Running wasn’t my thing. But something in me kept sending me back to the running path for more. I’m sure I want to prove to myself that I can do it. But there’s a remarkable freedom that comes with running as well.
BBT: How do you plan on pacing yourself?
KD: A bunch of Lady Gaga, Alicia Keys and Jay-Z…and being fueled by the roar of more than two million spectators cheering on the sidelines. I’ve also been testing out a top-of-the-line Garmin sport watch. Being able to see how far I’ve gone along with my pace really helps. I don’t think my training would have been successful without it.
BBT: What inspired you to run the ING NY Marathon?
KD: There are so many contributing factors. I watch the marathon every year. Nothing compares. There’s something about it that makes you just want to jump right in and join the 50, 000 or so from all parts of the world aiming toward this one collective goal at the same time. Two of my best friends, Lauren and Dave Simprini ran the marathon when they learned they’d have to temporarily move from New York. They inspired me. My family also inspires me. My father has had two kidney transplants. My sister has sickle cell disease. Just over two years ago when my sister nearly died due to sickle cell and we learned my father is in need of a THIRD kidney transplant…that accelerated my desire to run and keep a clear head. I’m also motivated by New Yorkers. It’s impossible not to become super active covering the health & fitness beat for NY1. Seeing people work out in gyms every day definitely makes you want to get moving. I’m finally fit enough to run a marathon. In a nutshell, friends, family and my love of New York are the inspiration.
BBT: Why did you choose to run for Baby Buggy?
KD: I was so thrilled when I was approached to run for Baby Buggy. Baby Buggy is a quintessential Harlem, New York charity. It provides millions in donations for New York City families in need. I can’t imagine having a baby and not having the resources to provide food, formula, clothing, clean diapers or a safe place to sleep for my child. Hundreds of thousands of families throughout the five boroughs are struggling. Participating in marathon Sunday whether it is actually run the race, cheering on the sidelines, or celebrating afterwards is also a quintessential NYC experience. I can’t think of a better cause than to run for my fellow New Yorkers. Katherine Snider, the executive director of Baby Buggy pointed out to me the other day that there are half a million children in need in this city and with the recession the need has gone up as much as 15%.
Baby Buggy doesn’t only provide supplies for infants and toddlers, but for school-aged kids as well. NY1 was one of the first channels to feature Baby Buggy when it began 9 years ago just after 9/11. As children in the families Baby Buggy serves age, the organization has also expanded the resources it delivers working with dozens upon dozens of community partners. I love this city. I love my fellow New Yorkers and I love reporting in this city. When Baby Buggy called, I jumped at the chance to be a part of their first marathon team. I’m glad I can add Baby Buggy to the list of the many reasons I’m inspired to run.
BBT: What is your fastest time?
KD: My fastest is a 9:20/9:30 pace. It used to be a 10:00 pace, so I’ve improved. But I slow down on long runs. I finished my last 20 mile training run in 3 hours, 32 minutes. I’m hoping to finish the race in under five hours.
BBT: How are you going to prepare yourself?
KD: I’ve been training since May. Training required at least three shorter runs during the week and long runs on Saturdays. Lululemon is outfitting the Baby Buggy team. I’m super comfortable in the gear. My running pants have “anti-jiggle” pockets. Now I have great places to stash a flip cam and all the Jelly Belly Sport Beans I need to get me through the race!
The night before the race I’m planning on eating an early dinner around 6PM, pretty bland pasta with lots of added salt …and a high-carb bedtime snack. I also made a pretty killer marathon playlist for my iPod….but I plan to unplug a few times to enjoy the crowd and take in the experience. One of my co-workers tells me the 59th Street bridge is an ideal spot to do this because all you can hear is the rumble of thousands of other feet running toward Manhattan. Once you get across the bridge the roar of the crowd is apparently unbelievable.
BBT: Any exciting plans for after the race?
KD: Hopefully my family and friends find me across the finish line. I can’t wait to hug my parents and sister after I cross. Hopefully they’ll have something warm for me to throw on. I know I’ll be freezing from stopping after sweating a ton. In the early evening I hope to celebrate with friends, co-workers, Team Baby Buggy and supporters of the team! ….and after that I’m pretty sure I’ll need a good pedicure and a fantastic massage. My dream is for a great at-home sports massage the day after the marathon. Hopefully friends and family get the hint on the early holiday gift idea!
Are you running? Let Harlem World know send us photos, your stories at firstname.lastname@example.org.