People Who Make NY Special

26.2 Miles or Bust: This First-Time Marathoner Has Something to Prove

How do runners prepare themselves for the NYC Marathon? What Should We Do?! hears from three of them!

Photo courtesy of Anna Folz

This coming Sunday, more than 50,000 runners will stand at the starting line of the 2018 TCS New York City Marathon, ready to take on one of the world’s most prestigious races. And, in our minds, each one of them is a Person Who Makes NY Special. While we couldn’t chat with all 50k of them (next-year goals!), we did sit down with three runners—ranging from a first-timer to more experienced pavement pounders—to learn what keeps them motivated and how they plan on reaching the finish line come November 4.

For first-time marathon runner Anna Folz, a 27-year-old student living in the Financial District, these past couple of months have been a challenge—physically and mentally. But knowing that every step she takes is for a good cause is all she needs to keep her going. That, and the help of a few popular hip-hop artists. We spoke with this determined marathoner to talk strategy, running in the rain, and staying focused after a knee injury.

What Should We Do?!: What inspired you to run the marathon?
Anna Folz: I am running the race for a charity, The Resolution Project. One reason (out of several) that I signed up was because I believe in the mission of this organization—to develop socially responsible young leaders and empower them to make a positive impact in the world—and all the incredible work it is doing.

I also joined because I needed a challenge for myself. I was at a crossroads in my career and I was nervous to up and change direction. I told myself that if I could train for 26.2 miles and fund-raise at least $3,000 in three months, I could do anything. Granted, at the time of registering, I had a busted knee and had not been able to run three months prior. So a marathon seemed incredibly ambitious for me. I wanted to prove that you can do anything you want, as long as you work for it.

WSWD: What are you doing to prepare?
Folz: Running and eating. On repeat.

WSWD: What’s the first thing you plan on doing after you finish?
Folz: Eating and not running.

WSWD: Have you ever participated in a full or half marathon?
Folz: I ran a half marathon in college with friends. No one trained for it and it was pretty painful, but we prevailed!

It’s the greatest race in the greatest city! I’m hoping the hype of the race will give me some adrenaline.

WSWD: Do you have a strategy going in?
Folz: Enjoy it! It’s the greatest race in the greatest city! I’m hoping the hype of the race will give me some adrenaline.

WSWD: What are you looking forward to the most?
Folz: Drinking a beer at the finish line, baby!

WSWD: Do you have a lot of friends and family coming to cheer you on?
Folz: My parents are flying to NYC just to see the race. My sister moves into a new house three days before, but she is still making the trip down. I also have some other family and friends from out of town who are coming to support me.

WSWD: What keeps you motivated?
Folz: Proving to myself that I can do it and will do it.

WSWD: Where is your favorite place to train?
Folz: The west side of the Financial District is one of my favorite places. You can’t hear anything. The buildings block all of the city noise and there is an amazing view of the water. For a moment, you can forget you are in a busy city.

One of my favorite runs was a few weekends ago. I was in the middle of a 20-mile run, entering Central Park South, when it started to downpour. But it was a warm, windless rain and felt amazing. The weather scared the tourists away, so I had Central Park all to myself. It was a truly incredible experience.

WSWD: What music do you listen to while running? What songs get you pumped up?
Folz: When I am out on long runs I honestly prefer to torture my friends and family with out-of-breath phone calls. I try to call people who I know will just keep talking so that way I am distracted for a little while. However, when you only have a few miles left out of a long run, there is nothing that Eminem, Missy Elliott, T.I., and Nicky Jam can’t help you get through.

WSWD: What do you think about when you run?
Folz: Over the course of training for this race, I have written (in my head) a poem for my knees. No, I will not share it.

Run along with Anna to her pumped-up playlist below! And read the story of another inspiring marathoner, Jerome Williams, and cheer him on, too.