NYC Half Marathon: Before the Race with Paragon Runners

Let’s say HI to Jose Velez and Nirvana Macdonald, NYC Half Marathoners and Paragon Runners. Jose started running as part of a bigger goal to change his life, while Nirvana has 8 years of running under her belt and brought her knowledge to Paragon Sports as a Running Specialist in November. Both have a passion for running, and both you’ll find at our Tuesday night runs with huge smiles as they run.

Meet Jose Velez

Jose Velez Running

“In 2010, I decided to change my life,” he says.

As part of his plan for better overall well-being, Jose made fitness fun with obstacle course challenges, mud runs, powerlifting and running. The NYRR 4-Mile Run As One was his first race, and first time running 4 miles. Since then, he’s run half marathons, 10k’s, 5k’s and his first 26.2 miles for the Chicago Marathon 2014. Basically, he’s a running rockstar.

“Running gives me balance,” he says. It pushes him in ways lifting weights can’t. Exposing himself to the heat, cold, wind and rain is something he can’t recreate in the gym.

Running gives him balance mentally, as well. By tuning into his breathing and foot cadence, he blocks out the NYC noise and finds relaxation.

Jose began running with Paragon Run Club during his Chicago Marathon training in March 2014, and hasn’t stopped since.

“The variety of the workouts coupled with the knowledge from the pacers has been an integral part of my training program,” he says, and don’t forget to mention the fun, supportive group of runners at the workouts too. That means you, Paragoners!

His NYC Half training has included Tuesday night runs, of course, and runs through Central Park and the Bronx, where the hills are beast and you have to be even more beast to climb them.

“I’ve put in the miles with an emphasis on working with negative splits,” he says.

Getting progressively faster on a run helps him manage hilly terrain like Central Park, which is where a good portion of the NYC Half takes place. It will also help him speed up on the back end of the race, where the course flattens out.

Most excited to run through Times Square, Jose can already imagine the adrenaline rush of running through the crowds cheering on the racers.

“I’ll definitely soak in all the energy and use that to my advantage,” he says.

Sunday’s race is just another stepping stone to his bigger goal of running the NYC Marathon later this year. Help him hit his 2:15-2:30 goal by getting out and cheering him on at the NYC Half this weekend!

Meet Nirvana Macdonald


Nirvana has ran many races, and this isn’t her first NYC Half Marathon, so we asked her a few questions about the upcoming race.

Q: What do you want runners to know about this race?

A: The NYC Half Marathon is an amazing race. I did it last year for the first time and was taken aback at how many people come out to cheer. You almost feel like a rock star!

Q: Tell us some insider information for this race course.

A: The course is a little hilly in Central Park, but once you’re out it’s pretty flat. Watch out for the West Side wind. The best part is running through Times Square and finishing up downtown.

Having the Freedom Towers to look down on as you cross the finish line–the rush and pure runner’s high is amazing.

Q: What’s your mindset going into this race?

A: I’m always nervous before a race, and I think that is pretty normal. The fear in me brings out my strength on the course.

Q: Do you have a goal time?

A: I’m hoping for 1:50, but I haven’t been as consistent with my training this winter, so this is going to be a “take what the clock says and improve on that” type of race.

At the end of the day, for me, really, it’s all about the run and running my city.

Q: Tell us more about your training.

A: I usually do three runs during the week, either speed or hills, with a long run on the Sundays. I incorporate spinning, swimming, weight lifting and hot yoga into my training. A balance of cross training truly helps with my overall well-being and helps with my running.

Q: Do you have race-day must-haves?

A: My 2XU Thermal compression tights, UA Compression Cold Gear mock, Garmin Forerunner 620 and SmartWool socks, Mizuno Inspire sneakers. All of these are products work best for me, and I love them!

Q: How did you start running?

A: I started running 8 years ago and only wanted to do a 5k. Here I am with several 5ks, 10ks, half marathons, marathons, triathlons and duathlons under my belt. It all starts.

Q: What’s your part at Paragon Sports?

A: I started in November 2014 as a Running Specialist, thanks to my friend Vivian for her recommendation. I started participating in Tuesday night runs and have found a new home among some great people who share the same passion for running as I do.


Congrats to all who did the Chi Marathon, Mohawk Hudson Marathon, and the SI Half Marathon!


Congratulations to everyone that did the Chicago Marathon, Mohawk Hudson Marathon and the Staten Island Half-Marathon this weekend.  Pretty awesome time to be a runner, I have to say!  This week is week #10 of Paragon Sports 12-Week Marathon program sponsored by The North Face and Mountain Athletics.  Game faces everyone!!  This is the last week of LONG, heavy miles before taper begins!  Tomorrow night we’ve got strength training with The North Face/Mountain Athletic team and then Tuesday has long set tempo work on the menu.

Tuesday’s workout is also being sponsored by the fine people at Brooks Running and from what I understand they have something special planned for us all, so this should be pretty awesome.

For those following our 12-week program, this week’s plan is listed at the bottom of this email. 

The Tuesday Workout

9:40 & More Relaxed:

  • Warm-up to the West Side Highway [Roughly 1-mile]
  • 2 x 1.5-mile @ 30-40-sec faster than Marathon Pace w/3-min Recovery
  • Cool Down back to the store [Roughly 1-mile]

9:30 & Quicker:

  • Warm-up to the West Side Highway [Roughly 1-mile]
  • 2 x 2-miles @ Half-Marathon Pace w/2:30 Recovery
  • Cool Down back to the store [Roughly 1-mile]


Monday & Thursday Night Marathon Training Sponsored by The North Face

Monday night Strength Training with the The North Face and Mountain Athletics is ON, so be there or be square!!!  We meet at 6:30 pm downstairs at Paragon for bag drop, just like we do on Tuesdays, and from there you’ll proceed to the West Side Piers for the workout.  On Thursdays The North Face/Mountain Athletics team will be doing speed workouts on the piers.

Below is the structure for Week #10 of Paragon Sports’ Marathon Training:

Mon: The North Face/Mountain Athletic Strength Training @ Paragon Sports

Tue: Paragon Sports Run Club – Long Set Repeats


Thu: The North Face/Mountain Athletic Speed workout @ Paragon Sports

Fri: (SUGGESTED Workout on Your Own Time) 45-60-min Easy Run @ Conversation Pace

Sat: Paragon Run Club – Long Run [21-miles w/6-8-miles @ Marathon Pace]


~ josh

Paragon Long Run – 9/28/13



Oh yes!! This is going to be an AWESOME weekend.  The first of 2 major long runs out over the GW Bridge and out into Palisades Park.  It is beautiful, quiet, challenging and just fantastic.  If you are doing a fall marathon, this is one of the long runs NOT to miss.  The course is 18+ miles, but the effort will exceed what 19-miles would be. 


Now, since we are out in woods of Palisades Park, there are facilities, but there are pretty long gaps between them, so PLEASE COME PREPARED.  We WILL have supplies on the course and a couple of stops for you to hit up for the bathroom, water, etc.  There will be at least 2 bikes on the course for support and 1 car that will be parked out there as an Aid station for refills etc.  


Also, my brother-in-law’s company, Lifefactory, has generously sponsored this weekend’s long run and has provided us with a whole slew of bottles!!! Love this stuff!!


OK, now for the final details:  We’re meeting at Starbucks at 168th & Broadway where those that are driving will provide bag drop and we will be FINISHING at the Park on 165th and Riverside Drive.  Cars used for bag drop will be down there.   



  • 9:45+ Pace Runners will be meeting at 7am & on the run by NO LATER THAN 7:15. 
  • Faster than 9:45 Pace Runners will be meeting at 7:30am & on the run NO LATER THAN 7:45

Alrighty then, that is pretty much all the news fit to print. 


~ josh []




  • 7:00 am -> 9:45+ Paces 
  • 7:30 am -> 9:40 & Faster Paces

Meeting Place: 

  • START: Starbucks @ 168th & Broadway
  • FINISH: Park at 165th & Riverside Drive

Course & Distance: 18+ miles, but it will feel like a lot more 🙂 … HERE is the map.

Tuesday Night Run – 9/24/2013


What’s happenin’ y’all?  Who all did the 5th Avenue Mile?  I know I saw a whole bunch of you out there pre-race.  My race was downright comical with someone tripping and falling right in front of me about 300m into the race and totally messing with my racing chi.  Oh well, it was still a good race and I had a blast.  


So this week we are going to change things up and do a more tempo-type workout than we usually do on a Tuesday.  This week we will be doing a negative split run, meaning that we will go out at one pace and will return at a faster pace.  A nice change of pace from our usual fartlek, interval and track workouts.  


ALSO, as I have mentioned a number of times previously, this Saturday is the first of our long runs into Palisades Park.  This IS the best training run around.  It’s challenging, beautiful and just fantastic!  Anyway, since it is out in the Park it is great to have bike support on the course for water and a car or two at our finishing spot so we can do bag drop and change out of wet clothes since the temps have shifted.  So if you know of anyone willing to help us out that would be AWESOME!!  Just have them get in touch with me via this email address to coordinate. 

Have a great day everyone and I will see you all tomorrow night!! 

~ josh 


The “Workout”: 


9:45+ Pace: 

  • Warm-up to the WSH
  • Out: 2-miles @ MGP [Marathon Goal Pace]
  • Back: 2-miles @ 20-30-sec faster than MGP
  • Cool Down back to the store 

9:45 & Faster Pace: 

  • Warm-up to the WSH
  • Out: 2.5-miles @ MGP [Marathon Goal Pace]
  • Back: 2.5-miles @ 30-45-sec faster than MGP
  • Cool Down back to the store 


Tuesday Night Run – 9/17/13



Ok, so I’m a Dad now, which means I will never sleep until the little monster is like 15 years old and even then … I might not.  Anyway, I have some help in town this week so I will finally get to do some running with you guys this week!!  This week it is ALL about pacing.  We are going to do some speed play jumping 2 thresholds.  On the way out we will bounce between conversation pace and Half-Marathon pace, and then on the way back we will jump between Marathon Goal Pace and 10k Pace.  These are pronounced jumps in pace, but they are short in duration and will give your legs a nice little rush.  Notice that on the return you will be hitting MGP in recovery and not dropping to conversation pace.  This is being done on purpose so you know what it will feel like to drop back into that pace and be consistent when you are fatigued. 


The weather has cooled in our favor so revel in its awesomeness!!!  I’m gonna rest up so I can be at me best for tomorrow night!  Have a good day. 


~ josh 



The “Workout”: 



  • Warm-up to the WSH
  • Out: 4 x 2-min @ Convo Pace w/3-min @ HMGP
  • Back: 4 x 3-min @ MGP Pace w/3-min @ 10k Pace
  • Cool Down back to the store 

Paragon Tuesday Night Run – 8/27/13



ImageWhat’s a happenin’? This week’s run is being sponsored by Oofos who is going to be showing off a new recovery sandal, which should be pretty cool.  As for this week’s run we are going to be doing a gear shift workout playing with our Marathon (or Half-Marathon) Goal Pace.  So for those looking at Half-Marathon paces the pick-up will be to 10k Race Pace and the recovery at HM Pace, and for the marathoning masses it will be HM Pace for the pick-up and your Marathon Pace for recovery.  You want to become as familiar as possible with how your race pace feels after speeding up a little bit and as you fatigue so your muscle memory will just take over and settle into it naturally.  It’s also good to wake your legs up by kicking up the pace a little bit during a race so you change the muscle groups you are working (slow twitch -> fast twitch) and develop the endurance for all involved.  


One more note, this weekend is a long weekend for everyone and a step down weekend for our long runs so we are doing a field trip up to Rockefeller State Park on Saturday for about 10-11 miles.  For those interested in heading up please let me know as soon as possible so I can plan out the rest of the logistics … this one takes a little more organizing on my side since we will be out of the City limits and out on the trails. 


Should be a great night and weekend.  I’ll see you all tomorrow.  


~ josh 



The “Workout”: 



  • Warm-Up to the West Side Highway
  • 20 x 1-min @ 10k/HM Pace w/1-min Recovery at HM/M Goal Pace
  • Finish off with 1-mile Cool Back to the Store


Tuesday Night Run – 8/13/13



What’s going on everyone?  I hope everyone had a fantastic weekend.  It got hot again, but Summer Streets was still pretty awesome.  Great running weekend.  So, this week the group that went to the Track will be on the WSH for their workout whilst the other group gets some track action.  These workouts are short in duration, but high in intensity, which makes them all the more fun!  


Also, just a reminder that we will also be having our Thursday AM run at 7am in Union Square for Fitness in the Park.  


Have a great night and I’ll see you guys Tuesday Night


~ josh 



The “Workout”: 


9:30 pace & Faster: 

– Warm-up to the West Side Highway

– 10 x 400m @ 10k Pace w/2:30 recovery

– Cool Down back to the store 


9:30 pace & Slower: 

– Warm-up to the ER Track

– 6 x 100m @ 5k Pace w/100m Recovery

– 2 x 200m @ 5k Pace w/100m Recovery

– 2 x 400m @ 10k Pace w/100m Recovery

– Cool Down back to the store