All About Brandon
New Jersey Runner
Loves to run: 5K to Marathon
How did you start running?
I tried running in the summer of 1997, but I was not up to sticking to it. I did not have the right shoes, went out in the middle of the heat and was not drinking enough water. Once it became too cold, I stopped.
On 5 September 1998, I decided I was going to be a runner. Then, I ran 1.7 miles without stopping. I did it the next day and the day after. Eight weeks later, I was up to 5 miles at a time and I have not stopped since. I wanted to lose some weight and get into shape.
Really, I just knew inside that running is what I am supposed to do. I do not know where it came from, but I felt it inside that running was a part of my identity that was trying to surface.
Do you have a special running story?
I think the most special memory I have running is when I crossed the finish line at the Disney Marathon in 2003.
My wife finished right behind me! It was a surreal moment where all the training and the hard work paid off in this one moment. We hugged, and maybe shed a tear or two. I will never forget it. It was not about times or pace. It was both of us doing something we probably never thought we would ever see happen a few years earlier.
What races have you ran?
I have run about sixty races.
- Two marathons
- Two 25k’s
- One Half-Marathon
- Two 20k’s
- Three 15k’s
- 5 miler's
Most of the races have been in New Jersey. I have run the Westfield 5 Mile Turkey Trot 10 times and the Spring Lake 5 Miler 8 times. I have done the Atlantic City Marathon and the Jersey Shore Half-Marathon and 10 Miler. Now that I think about it, I believe I have only run two races outside of the state!
Do you have a pre-race ritual?
I fake stretch. Seriously, I only do it because I feel like I should put in some effort to loosen up. The reality is I am nervous and just want to walk around. It is ridiculous how tense I get before a race. I do not even like to talk to anyone. Then, if I dwell too long on the race beforehand I will have to go the bathroom which causes stress because of the lines that usually accompany the port-a-potties! I do not do well before races. I have no idea why I cannot relax before one.
What races would you like to run in the future?
I want to run two more marathons, but I do not know exactly which ones.
I really love Disney and I want to run some Disney Marathon (Star Wars, Avengers, Villains, it does not matter) but I want to stop and take pictures and really enjoy it. But I also want to push myself to get the best time I am capable of. So, I need to pick another marathon and aim for what I believe I can achieve which is a sub 3:20 time.
This requires a lot of changes to my routine though, so I need to figure it out and plan. These will not happen until 2018, because I have another goal I am wrapping up in 2017 that takes top priority.
Sometime around 2007, I got it in my head to run 20,000 miles before my 20th year of running. At that point. I was around 6,000 miles or so. Prior to 2006, I had never run over 1000 miles in any one year. So, I started mapping out how I could do that. It required running 1400 miles some years, and 1200 miles most of the other years. I managed to make up a lot of ground. However, I stopped racing longer distances, just focused on weekly and monthly mileage. Every single week counted. No breaks. At the end of 2016, I will be at 18,900, so I am almost there! I do not want to risk injury doing the long runs and recovery, so I need to shelf the marathon goals until 2018. I am looking forward to a goal that involves only 18 weeks of training, instead of 12 years of running!
What is your most memorable running moment?
I have a bunch of truly memorable and great moments running.
My favorite was my half-marathon in May of 2012. I signed up for the race because my wife was running it, and I had never done that specific distance before. I trained by doing two eight-milers and one nine-miler. I was not expecting anything great, but I kind of was aiming for a sub 1:40 time. In the back of my mind I had the number 1:31:42 which was exactly a 7:00 pace. When the race started, I just felt great. Each mile, I was under a 7:00 pace. Everything was working with me; the weather, the music, the atmosphere. I really did not train, I hit a wall at 10 miles and slowed down. When I crossed the finish, I had a time of 1:31:xx but was not sure what my chip would be exactly. Sure enough my official time was 1:31:42!
My other favorite running moment is running a Leprechaun Leap 5k, back in 2006. I turned the corner, saw the finish and the clock was at 19:xx. I could not quite make out the numbers, so I pushed with everything I had. I could see the clock 19:50, 19:51, 19:52 and I lunged at the finish and came away with a time of 19:59.7 – an official sub 20 minute 5k!
The same thing happened at the Jersey 10 miler. The clock was at 1:07:xx and I pushed and pushed and crossed at 1:07:59. Nothing like cutting it close!
What is your favorite food?
Ice-cream! I also can eat cereal all day, every day. Beyond that, I eat a lot of yogurt, spinach and fruit. I do not eat a ton of meat, but I like chicken a lot. If I go out to eat, my go to meal is chicken parmigiana.
Do you bring anything with you while running?
Yes, I always have music. It is usually an MP3 player. I also run with my phone and the Nike Plus App but with a black screen. I no longer run with a watch or look at times. If I need to train for speed, I usually do it on the treadmill. I do not want to know my pace or anything. I just want to run and see the results after on my Nike App. If I run longer, I do not stay close to home but I do not bring water or food or gels. I am blessed with the ability to sustain runs without that stuff. I am like a camel I guess, hahahah.
What types of sneakers do you wear?
I have run in Brooks Beast for 16 years. I have weird needs. I have flat feet and land on the back of the shoe but I over-pronate. This shoe meets all those needs. However, the last generation of the shoe is a little too heavy, so I am going to try out the Brooks Glycerin. We will see how it goes!
Do you run with a club?
I do not run in a club, but I have been so fortunate to meet and run with people. I have had several friends at work over the years that I would run with after work or during lunch.
Luckily, my wife is a runner and she and I have run together. Specifically, when we trained for our first marathon back in 2003. I am not sure a club is for me, because I tend to run at 5:00am which is an odd time. However, I love to talk so running with people is definitely something I would do.
How does running make you feel?
Running is incredible! If my body could take it, I would run every single day. Even though I have my share of aches and pains from 18 years of running, I would not trade it for anything.
More importantly, it makes me a happier person. I have learned a lot about myself while running, and I definitely know that I can pretty much do whatever I set my mind to and that lesson comes from running.
Where are your favorite places to run?
I love to run on vacations. We have gone to California and Florida on vacations and the change in scenery is always great. I have run on business trips, such as Arizona, and it just re-energizes everything about running. We typically vacation in North Carolina, at the beach for a couple of weeks each summer and those runs are tough because of the heat and humidity. I always look forward to them so much!
Do you have a motto or favorite phrase?
I have one, I always try to use when there is a time constraint on running. When I cannot seem to fit in the mileage I am aiming for. I always say, “Some miles are better than zero miles.” In other words, do not toss the whole run just because you do not have time to fit in all of it.
Another good one is for the times when you just do not feel like running. “Get out and just do a mile and see what happens.” Usually, once you are dressed and you are passing that first mile you will not stop. This is especially handy when the weather is bad outside.
Do you have any advice for other runners?
First off, whether you are new or a veteran runner the key is having a goal. You need a goal, if you are discouraged that you cannot get a time you want, you cannot get started, or do not know where to start.
Brand new runners should try to run for five consecutive minutes without stopping, instead of trying to hit a mileage total. Veteran runners trying to qualify for Boston but cannot get faster maybe they should modify a training program that meets their needs, instead of following someone else’s. Perhaps you set a time goal for a short distance, and then move on to the bigger distance. I am a big believer that what works for one runner, might not work for another and therefore you need your own goals. Plus, it is perfectly fine to fail at hitting the goal. Failing is not giving up. They are different things. Do not give up.
Photography, courtesy of Brandon Borzelli.
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That Pretty Runner