NYC Marathon Stories
Runner Rob Gilroy is running the 2016 TCS NYC Marathon for Back on My Feet NYC, a nonprofit that helps people rebound from homelessness by building confidence, camaraderie and self-worth using the amazing power of running. Rob's sunny disposition, dedication and giving spirit makes him an awesome volunteer and advocate for Back on My Feet NYC.
What got you into running?
Playing soccer and lacrosse in high school made me associate running with punishment. After walking onto the rowing team in college, I quickly found out I needed to learn to love it. It was great cross training that my back very much welcomed. Four years later, I found myself in one of the greatest cities in the world for running and don't want to stop.
How did you become involved with Back on My Feet NYC?
In college my mom sent me a TED Talk (classic mom-move) given by the founder of BoMF (Back on My Feet). It looked like a great organization and moving to New York presented a great opportunity to get into the mix. I joined occasional runs initially two years ago, but when a team opened up downtown closer to my apartment over a year ago, I jumped at the chance to get more involved. I've bounced between positions on the core team and am currently one of the team leaders.
How has Back on My Feet made an impact on you?
Going out on a run with another person can forge a strong bond as you run the same path and climb the same hill. I think the other volunteers would agree that connection gives us a sense of being invested in the residential members' success. Seeing the day-by-day and mile-by-mile progress of the members is great, but watching members move into their own apartment and thrive is the most fulfilling part of my involvement with BoMF.
What's a running goal you are working on right now?
While I'd like to PR in the New York City Marathon, my main goal in running is to raise money for BoMF. We have have had some great momentum this year and it would be awesome to see that keep escalating through the marathon.
What keeps you motivated?
I’ve always had a bit of a bug that doesn’t let me sit still very long, which has been helpful in a variety of endeavors. Feeling the strong support behind my fundraising has been a great motivation to keep getting up early and getting in long runs. It's wonderful to sense a strong backing of people supporting a cause many of us feel strongly about.
What's one of your proudest running accomplishments?
It's a bit goofy but I placed in my age group in last year's Turkey Trot in Sayre, PA, where my grandparents live. With about 1,000 runners, I was proud to be the first person over 200 lbs to cross the finish line haha!
Preferred running shoes?
I've been logging most of my miles on some Asics that are super comfortable but not as lean as some racers that my friends tell me I need in order to go faster on race day. I think of them as some cushy Cadillacs on the road while my buddies are passing me in speedy Ferraris.
Favorite song to run with right now?
I've been running with a lot of Alex Cruz's music lately. He is a super fun DJ that spent some time performing at the Olympics this summer. "Follow The Sun" is a great jam of his that helps me forget how steep Cat Hill is.
Favorite running song of all time?
"Thunderstruck" by AC/DC is a timeless song that seems to always get me excited.
What snack do you reach for before a run?
Yogurt, every time. While it is probably just psychological at this point, it seems to settle well and sustain me through most distances.
After a long run, what do you like to eat?
Healthier runners will probably shake their head at me, but I often like to eat two Chipotle burritos after long runs. I started this in college after long practices and it just feels right- lots of stick to your ribs calories.
How do you balance running and the rest of your life?
Running is a great workout because you can do it wherever and whenever. It's the easiest workout to sneak into a busy schedule. If you're true friends with your "running buddies" for example, or if you go on runs with a colleague, running blends into your life. It shouldn't feel like you step away from the rest of life to do it.
How has running made an impact on your life?
Being a part of BoMF has given me things and shown me things that transcend running. It has provided me with a new appreciation for battling adversity and introduced me to some wonderful people. Aside from that, I think New York is the greatest running city in the world. Running has been a great way to get to know the city and make some great friends.
"There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self."- Ernest Hemingway. While I’d like to be able to say I’m very well read, I think I heard someone use Hemmingway’s quote in a movie. I think he offers a sound way to set our own mental course to achieve goals. Competition in life (work, running, etc.) seems inherently focused on being better than the guy or gal next to you, but narrowing in on being better than you were yesterday, over time, usually gets you where you want to be.
If you were an animated character, who/what would you be?
Pluto from Mickey Mouse would probably be appropriate. My friends find it funny to compare me to a Golden Retriever. While I'm not sure where they get that from, I could see myself enjoying Pluto's life.
What advice would you give new runners?
As you train and track your progress, don't view the next higher distance or speed as some mystical feat that you can't achieve. Mentally compare running to something you are good at and have improved on in the past. Focus on the same process of improvement you achieved in your master craft, and remind yourself that process, albeit different, can be replicated in running.
Where can we cheer you on?
Instagram (@gilroyrobert) has a lot of non-running life with some running mixed in. I love chasing after people on Strava (firstname.lastname@example.org). Also, the link to my Back on My Feet NYC Marathon fundraising page is: https://www.crowdrise.com/bomfnyc2016/fundraiser/robertgilroy1