After six years of training, longtime Greenpoint resident Jessica Allen ran right through her neighborhood on Sunday afternoon as she ran her first New York City Marathon. She was joined by 50,000 other runners in the marathon’s biggest comeback since 2019.
Just six years ago, 45-year-old Allen never could have imagined having the strength to run a marathon, she told Brooklyn Paper. But since then, the Brooklynite has run a marathon every year since 2016 — with a break in 2020. She said the strong women in her life — including her mother — inspired her to embark on her marathon journey.
“I grew up in Washington State and my mom would do weekend runs and we would go with her,” Allen said. “We would drive and I’d be playing on the playground while my mom was doing a race. It was a very fond childhood memory of my mom doing these races. At one of them, she won third place in her age group. By seeing her do that, I have always felt that I could run because my mom ran.”
After she started running, Allen trained to complete the marathon with a rigorous running program at NYU Langone’s Sports Performance Center. Through these programs and her work with physiologist Dr. Heather Milton, Allen has been able to correct her form and build up her strength to stay injury-free.
“We started with the running lab, which is essentially a three-hour-long evaluation,” said Dr. Heather Milton, Exercise Physiologist Supervisor at NYU Langone. “We team up with physical therapists, dieticians and exercise physiologists to discuss the findings and explain how it all comes together to the runner either avoid injury or improve performance. Allen has been doing that for about seven years now.”
It was through her training that Allen was able to meet a group of runners who called themselves “The Running Ladies.” It was through this tight-knit group that Allen was not only able to improve as a runner, but also find a group of encouraging women to connect with.
“Through [my training] I’ve met a group of wonderful women that I’ve really gotten to be close friends with,” said Allen. “They’re my core group and we support each other in each other’s races. I had been doing training runs with them all over the city this summer, so their support really got me to the end of the finish line.”
A running group is also a great way to build a community in New York City, where finding a core group of friends is notoriously difficult.
“I think adults, in New York, are like, ‘How do I meet people?’ If you like running, it’s a wonderful way to meet people and you could click with somebody and have a friendship that you wouldn’t have met otherwise,” said Allen. “It’s definitely a wonderful community, you just have to find it.”
As for the New York City Marathon, Allen was thrilled to be a part of the first full-capacity race since the pandemic.
“I finally got to run in the New York City Marathon this year and felt like I got to experience the marathon that you always hear about,” said Allen. “Besides being a little too hot for the runners, it was fabulous for the spectators. So, I feel super fortunate that I got to experience the best marathon in recent memory.”