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Olympic Trials Qualifiers Brendan Martin (NYAC), Lauren Perkins (Distance Project) & Jenny Donnelly (Central Park TC)

“Having people believe in you and being able to believe in others is huge. I used to feel lonely and like my self-worth depended on running. I spent five years trying to break my 3:12 personal best and then 3:00. Every time that I would see that slipping away, I’d fall apart and think, ‘I’m not worth it. It’s not worth the sacrifice.’ However, I remember that at CIM when I started to really freak out, I thought, ‘People really believe I can do this. They’ve put in the miles with me. They believe in me and so there’s no reason I shouldn’t trust that.’ I got out of my own thoughts and believed in others. That’s what I’m trying to do in practice – not listening to my head and follow.

Going into 2019, I had no business trying to do my workouts at 6:15/mile for marathon pace. My marathon pace was 6:50. I had no right to do that. I just tried to not think and follow others. It became more about the sport and competing and less about what my own restrictions were and the value I saw in it.” – Jenny Donnelly


This episode was recorded in front of a live audience at the New York Road Runners Center as we honored some of the local runners who will be competing at the 2020 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in Atlanta on Feb. 28.

For those who may not be as familiar with the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, the top three finishers at the race will represent the United States at the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo. In order to compete at the Trials, men have to run a marathon in 2:19:00 or faster. Women need to run a marathon in 2:45:00 or under. More than 200 men and 400 women have hit the mark. New York City is expected to field one of the strongest contingents of runners, especially on the women’s side.

Our guests for this episode:

Brendan Martin of the New York Athletic Club

Brendan is a Smithtown, New York native who ran at Columbia University and helped the team win an Ivy League conference cross country title in 2009. After graduating, he took to the roads as a member of the Hansons-Brooks team and debuted with a 13th place finish at the 2012 Boston Marathon. He ran 2:18:28 at the 2013 Fukuoka Marathon and qualified for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in 2016 with a personal best of 2:16:28 at the California International Marathon. He lowered that to his current personal best of 2:15:30 at Grandma’s Marathon in June 2015. He qualified for this year’s Olympic trials with a 2:16:26 at the 2018 Berlin Marathon. When he’s not running, he’s a physical therapist at Finish Line Physical Therapy.

Distance Project’s Lauren Perkins 

Lauren is the Chief Operating Officer at Great Oaks Foundation. Lauren ran 2:42:55 at the 2018 Chicago Marathon and finished as the 18th American woman across the finish line that day. In 2019, she finished second in her first trail marathon at the 2019 North Face Endurance Challenge in Massachusetts and then ran 2:43:40 at the 2019 New York City Marathon. She was previously nominated for New York Road Runners’ Runner of the Year (30-34).

Central Park Track Club’s Jenny Donnelly

Jenny is a senior manager in marketing insights at strategy at Glossier. She ran cross country and track at Yale and made her marathon debut in 2013 with a 3:12. Her qualifier for the trials came at last month’s California International Marathon, where she ran 2:44:36 for a 15-minute personal best. She spoke with Outside Magazine about her close call and also recently appeared on the Ali on the Run Show alongside her mother.

This is Runners of NYC. A biweekly podcast from CITIUS MAG. Hosts Leigh Anne Sharek and Chris Chavez look to bring you many of the untold stories behind luminaries and legends that make up New York City’s running culture. You can catch the latest episode of the podcast on iTunes so subscribe and leave a five-star review. We are also on Spotify!

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