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.


WHAT’S IN YOUR BAG with Devang Petal




Are you running in the NYC Half Marathon or Boston Marathon? Well, our runners are training for some big races and we decided to link up with them to share some of their pre-race preparations. This week, we met up with our Running Specialist, DEVANG PATEL, for a sneak peek into his bag of RUNNING ESSENTIALS. Currently, Devang is doing a lot of cold weather runs in preparation for the NYC Half on March 16th. GOOD LUCK DEVANG!! Here’s a look at what he is into these days…


A. The ADAPT GLOVE II by Brooks converts from glove to mitten and has built in LED lights for high visibility on night runs.

B.  The FORTREZ BEANIE by Arc’teryx is a lightweight, low profile, insulated beanie.

C.  The IRONMAN THUNDER PRO by Wigwam is a lightly cushioned sock with a durable design.

D. The ESSENTIAL WINDSTOPPER  by GORE is an ideal softshell for runners with a tight fitting hood, front pockets and elastic cuffs with thumb holes.

E. The AMBIT 2S from SUUNTO is one of the most popular and reliable GPS watches on the market.

F. THE STICK is an essential recovery tool for deep tissue massage, especially after cold weather runs.

G. The JUREK GRIP from ULTIMATE DIRECTION water bottle’s simple design with built-in handle, makes it easy to stay hydrated.

H. GEL BLAST CHEWS by POWERBAR can provide that extra burst of energy you need before or during your run.

I. The ENERGY BOOST by ADIDAS is Devang’s go-to running shoe because of its good support, lightweight design and durability.

J. These REFLECTIVE RUNNING TIGHTS from NIKE take both style and safety into consideration.

What’s your favorite race-day essentials? Share with us what’s in your bag in the comments below for a chance to get spotlighted on our blog.

Tuesday Night Runs – 3/4/14


Welcome to March!!! And YES, it’s still cold as hell … muhahaha.  The winter will never end … or so it would seem.  How did people do at the Washington Heights 5k?  I saw a bunch of familiar faces at the 3-mile mark gunning it for home, which is always a wonderful thing to see.  Happy to see you all out there racing hard and testing your limits.  Does a coach proud!  Bring me the PRs!!! 

Anyway, tomorrow night, fartlek workout.  You all will read what is below and just have your brains turn off as no-one wants to read that and decipher it, but I assure you it makes sense.  

Have a great night and I’ll see you tomorrow!! 

~ josh 



The “Workout”: 


  • Warm-up to the WSH
  • 4-min Rolling start
  • 2 x [3-min Easy/1-min @ 30-sec Faster than HMGP; 2-min Easy/2-min @ 15-sec Faster than HMGP; 1-min Easy/3-min @ HMGP]
  • 1 x [1-min Easy/3-min @ HMGP; 2-min Easy/2-min @ 15-sec Faster than HMGP; 3-min Easy/1-min @ 30-sec Faster than HMGP]
  • Cool Down back to the store 







Get Prepared for NYC Half Marathon Week!!


Finally we’ve had some great weather!!!  This week we’ve got the NYC Half coming up so our workout is going to be short and sweet.  We’re going to be doing 200s out on the West Side piers with 2-min recoveries. The pace for these will be FAST.  Fear not those who read FAST and have an anxiety attack, I assure you that it won’t be bad at all!  I PROMISE!!! 

Have a great week and I’ll see you on Tuesday night! 

~ josh 


The “Workout”: 

– Everyone: 

– Warm-up to the WSH to get loose and stretch

– 8-12 x 200m w/2-min Recoveries

– Cool Down back to the store