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Running for Wellness in the Schools, 2015 Edition

Running for Wellness in the Schools, 2015 Edition

The first time I laced up to train for a marathon was 2012, when I joined @wellnessintheschools’s marathon team on a lark. The longest I’d ever run before was 7 miles, and that was only because I’d gotten lost in Golden Gate Park. But I loved WITS’s commitment to public schools, & I thought it would be great to be able to say I’d run the marathon, so when WITS put out a call for teammates, I joined on. Responding to that email changed my life. I didn’t run the marathon for WITS that year after all–hurricane Sandy put an end to that. But I signed up again the next year, and the next, and I’m doing it again this year. I’ve become one of those dreadful people who evangelizes for running, who thinks almost no bad situation can’t be improved by hitting the pavement or chasing up a trail. I’ve learned a lot about myself & what matters to me. And I’ve learned a lot about perseverance in the face of a challenge–not just from running, but also from working year-round with WITS, watching them patiently grind along to change attitudes and improve health and sustainability for all NYC kids. I’ve got 3 great teammates from Egg running with me this year, and together we’re going to try to raise $15,000 in 15 weeks and run the marathon in a cumulative time of under 15 hours. You can find out more about how to support us and WITS at Please join us! #whyirun @nyrr #tcsnycmarathon #runforlife (at Williamsburg Bridge)

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Marathon Goals

Marathon Goals

In less than 3 weeks I’m running the New York City Marathon to help Egg and Parish Hall raise money for Wellness in the Schools. In the interest of holding myself accountable I thought I’d share the goals I have for this marathon:

1. To start. Training injuries kill dreams, and I haven’t been sure every day that I’d even make it to the starting corral. I’ve had nagging pains that wracked my nerves and made me wonder if I was doomed to watch from the sidelines, country ham biscuit in hand to muffle my despair. I feel pretty good now, though, and I’ve learned a little more about what pains are deal-breakers and which are just nuisances. But consider this a knock on wood—there’s still time to blow this goal.

2. To finish. Even elite athletes have trouble finishing marathons sometimes—America’s best hope at the Olympics this year, Ryan Hall, had to drop out of his race after only 10 miles. I hope the fact that I’m running at less than half his pace will help ensure that I make it to the end, but I’m not taking it for granted.

3. To finish without walking. This is a dumb, pride-based goal that I’m willing to ditch midway if necessary. But I’d like to make it through without having to stop and walk. As Haruki Murakami says, it’s a running event, not a walking event, and I came to run, not to walk.

4. To finish in under than 4 hours. I can ditch this goal, too: first-time marathoners are always encouraged not to set time-based goals for themselves. But I would love to do better in my first marathon than Paul Ryan did in his, and to beat Sarah Palin’s personal record. And 4 hours seems like a reasonable goal—not too ambitious and not too slack—given my regular pace.

5. To raise $5000 for Wellness in the Schools. This is the big one. I committed to raise $3000, but I’d like to do better than that. WITS does crucial work in New York City’s public schools, improving school lunch options and developing wellness programs for kids.  My life revolves around the twin stars of food and my children, and Wellness does the best by both of those of any organization I’ve worked with.

Your donation to Wellness In the Schools will help me achieve all of these goals, because nothing’ll make me get to the finish line like knowing you’re backing me up, rooting us on. Or staring me down, wondering if that’s really as fast as I can run.

Company on a training run in the Catskills
Running for WITS

Running for WITS

When my daughter came home from her first day in Pre-K at a NYC public school, I wanted to know all about her teacher, the classroom, and her new friends, but of course the first thing I asked her was what she’d had for lunch. She grew up standing by my side in the restaurant’s kitchen as I’d broken down pigs to hams and chops and bacon. She’d helped me harvest beans and gathered eggs at our farm. She’d eaten snails and duck livers and kale. She knew food as well as she knew anything, so I was surprised when she seemed flummoxed by the question.

After a minute of thinking, she said “I guess chicken-fish? It comes in a little plastic bag?”

I laughed until I realized what she meant–a breaded fish filet, cooked in a microwave and wheeled into the classroom on a cart. The next day’s lunch was no better, and the next, and they went on and on, a catalog of every over-processed and overpackaged food you spend your days avoiding. I grew desperate to find some way to help.

I was lucky to be introduced to Nancy Easton that year, and I was excited by the vision that she and Bill Telepan had for improving the quality of school food and fitness options for schoolkids. For the past 3 years, Egg & Parish Hall have participated in the annual Wellness in the Schools gala benefit, a tasting event to which we bring 4-500 portions of some delicious thing we’ve cooked up to help WITS raise money to improve school nutrition and fitness.

This year we wanted to deepen our commitment to WITS, and and I wanted to show my children the benefits of being healthy and of committing to a goal. Running the marathon for WITS seemed like a great way to achieve all of those objectives.

We work every day at Egg and Parish Hall to expand access to good food to people who don’t have it. For a lot of people, the best chance they’ll get at a square meal is in their school cafeteria, and Wellness does a great job of making sure they get one. I’m proud to run on behalf of the teams of tireless cooks and servers at our restaurants to raise money for a cause we all believe in.

Please help us raise money by supporting my marathon run: I’ll think good thoughts about you for a minute of the marathon for every $10 you commit. Give or take.