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.


Tuesday Night Run – 2/4/2014


Hey gang, here we go with the snow AGAIN!!!  I was holding off on this workout as long as possible to get an accurate look at the weather and conditions, but it really isn’t helping at all anymore.  Regardless, tomorrow we will be rocking out on the West Side Highway with a pacey fartlek.  If the conditions are off we will just adjust the paces, that’s all.  Shouldn’t be as cold as it’s been, so revel in that little bit of awesomeness!  

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

~ josh 

The “Workout”: 

9:45+ Pace: 

  • Warm-up to the WSH
  • 4 x 2-min @ 10k

 Pace(if bad, HMP) w/3-min

 Recovery, 4 x 3-min @ 10k

 Pace (if bad, HMP) w/2-min Recovery

  • Cool Down back to the store 

9:45 & Faster Pace: 

  • Warm-up to the WSH
  • 4 x 2-min @10k

 Pace (if bad, HMP) w/3-min

 Recovery, 4 x 3-min @ 10k

 Pace (if bad, HMP) w/2-min Recovery

  • Cool Down back to the store 




RAIN or NOT: Tuesday Night Runs – 1/14/13


How is everyone doing?  I am tired and sore, but ready to roll once again!  The Dopey Challenge didn’t defeat me!!  Also have to give kudos to one our regulars, Mark, who was down there rocking the Goofy Challenge with his family this weekend.  It was great to see a familiar face amidst the Disney costumed hoards.  

So, after the blisteringly cold temps last week where we had a handful of brave souls out for a very chilly run, this week we will actually try to get back to our normal training regiment.

This week, as we ease back into training life we’ll be doing a progression run out on the West Side Highway.  Just remember, with runs of this nature there is NO going slower, only going faster 🙂  Let that serve as your mantra.  Even if you’re 1 or 2-seconds faster it is STILL faster.  

Alrighty then, I shall see you all tomorrow!  Have a great Monday.


~ josh 


The “Workout”: 


9:45+ Pace: 

  • Warm-up to the WSH
  • From Conversation Pace pick-up the pace roughly 10-15-sec every 8-min for 40
  • Cool Down back to the store 

9:45 & Faster Pace: 

  • Warm-up to the WSH
  • From Conversation Pace pick-up the pace roughly 10-15-sec every 5-min for 40
  • Cool Down back to the store