Teamwork Makes the Dreamwork

by Ryan Cooper, the Mayor, Team NRS (Nark Running Strategies)

Helderberg to Hudson 13.1

This story actually begins around November 2020 when I decided to ditch my sedentary life and take up running after removing my cross country shoes for the last time in 1999. By starting out easy and working my way back into the sport I decided to run the Electric City 5M and was hooked. As I progressed through 2021, I ran several more races and found myself on the injured list with random pains that never existed before. Fast forward to my first half marathon, Run 4 the River (R4tR) on September 4, 2021. Upon picking up my bib at beautiful Railroad Avenue, my running career would forever change. I met coach Mat Nark where we chatted about the race and what my intentions were for the race. Not knowing what to expect, my goal was to finish under 2 hours and get a feel for distance racing. I finished the race in 1:51:30, and while I was proud of the accomplishment, I didn’t run a good race – my pacing was trash, my knee started to hurt around mile 10 and I passed and was passed by a trio of runners sporting the NRS Orange who left me once and for all when my knee started to deteriorate. Soon after the fateful R4tR, I joined Nark Running and we were off and running.

For the first step in the process, Mat and I discussed my plans for the 2022 spring season and the Helderberg to Hudson Half Marathon on April 16 was to be my redemption. The group Mat has assembled consists of amazing training partners and friends. I found myself attending every Wednesday workout and weekend long run despite wind, snow and -5 degree cold. Mat sets the plan and we executed it with live adjustments along the way. For me this level of accountability with not only a coach but a group of likeminded individuals is a recipe for success.

The day was finally here, the Helderberg to Hudson Half Marathon. It was time to see if the 30-40 miles per week, the cold weather runs and the speedwork would pay off. With my pace chart loaded into my watch and written redundantly on my arm, the gun sounded. High on adrenaline I remembered the words Mat said right before I left the tent, “Don’t start too fast.” I found this hard to do but trusted the process and as the miles fell one by one. I was feeling stronger and advancing my position in the field as we all charged towards Jennings Landing. Along the route, I began to see my teammates from NRS cheering me on, which was something I didn’t have before when I ran the R4tR, and it was amazing! Upon hitting the flat finish of the course, it was difficult to adjust to level ground and I started to slow up, but again I saw members of the team cheering and screaming, providing a needed boost. Rounding the final turn the boss himself was there screaming that I better hurry up or I was going to miss my mark.

As I crossed the finish line and jumped in the air doing an Avengers 3-point landing, I had not only beat the plan we set out to accomplish but SHATTERED my 7 month young PR by a whopping 14:53 with a time of 1:36:37 (7:23 per mile pace).

Miles on the Mohawk 10M

As the spring season was ending, the last obstacle to cross was the Miles on the Mohawk 10M. For me, an injury free season with a volume of miles I have never run in my life was a success. Also having crushed my PR at the Helderberg to Hudson Half was good and all, but there was something in the air as Team NRS assembled to tackle the 10 mile stretch ending at the Mohawk Harbor. Coach Mat had warned us all the week prior to the race that it would be hot and to add at least 10 seconds to our goal pace. For me the goal was to not start the race too fast and execute negative splits. On the morning of the race, the weather did not disappoint and was as warm as predicted. With negative splits and heat adjusted pacing in mind, the gun sounded and we were off.  Following the plan as prescribed, I felt stronger each mile.  As I rounded the bend there again was the most supportive team on the planet cheering, so I lit the afterburners and passed another runner that I had traded spots with over the last mile. Upon looking at the clock I saw that my PR of 1:21:22 had been smashed by 6:51 for a new shiny mark of 1:14:31.

Upon finishing I was eager to see how the rest of the team made out, only to learn NRS had a sweep where Tyler “The CEO” Morrissey and Christine “The Law” Myers both held public ribbon cutting ceremonies moments earlier. The winning didn't stop at the sweep, as several others had a great race and placed in their divisions.

Name

Division

Place

Tyler Morrissey

Overall

1st

Christine Myers

Overall Women

1st

Thomas Gabriel

M30-34

1st

Matt Brown

M20-24

1st

Wudu Girma

M25-29

3rd

Andrew Pavlou

M35-39

1st

John Sestito

M55-59

1st

Ryan Cooper aka The Mayor

M40-44

3rd

Molly Kane

F20-24

1st

Elisha Lyons

F45-49

3rd

Jenny Fouche

F35-39

3rd

For me this race was special, as I ran with my uncle who drove 6 hours just to run a race with me. He is an avid runner and it was awesome to double back and run the final mile with him.

Ryan Cooper is the VP of Business Development for IEA Infrastructure Services as well as a member of Nark Racing.

Mission accomplished. Stronger. Faster. Further.


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