Learning to Love Running

Spring 2024
Photo by MarathonFoto

At Colgate, the only running I did was for student government. But, in November 2022, I was enticed by a Black Friday discount for a half-marathon, the Philadelphia Love Run. I loathed running, but apparently I will do strange things for a good deal.

In the weeks leading up to the race in March 2023, I knew just who to reach out to: my friend Jordan Chervin ’17. Jordan was a former student-athlete on the cross country and track and field teams. After Colgate, she became a member of the Central Park Track Club in New York City and was continuing
to set new personal records in every distance. She very kindly answered my many questions about running and what to expect at a race. When I crossed the finish line, I didn’t have to tell her; she had been tracking my progress online.

Instead of quitting while I was ahead, I signed up for the Philadelphia Half Marathon in November 2023. This time, Jordan proposed a more formalized coaching arrangement. I set a goal time (2:17, a 9-minute improvement from my first race) and defined my own limits on training (I wasn’t willing to run more than three times or 22 miles a week). Based on her experience, Jordan developed a 10-week training plan that included interval workouts, speed work, and long runs. Though this was her first time coaching a runner and I was a beginner, there was a great synergy because we both enjoy creating and following detailed plans. We used a shared spreadsheet to keep track of my progress over time and analyze prior results.

Based on my feedback from workouts, as the weeks went by, Jordan became confident that I would beat my goal of 2:17. I was less sure; 9 minutes is a lot to cut off a previous time. To raise the stakes for a good cause, I promised to support a charity of her choice if I beat 2:15, which seemed crazy at the time. Looking back, Jordan noticed parallels between our exchange and her own journey in training for the California International Marathon at the same time; her training partners, who were seasoned marathoners, had also said she was capable of running a marathon in a time that seemed unfathomable to her.

Both Jordan and her training partners turned out to be right in their respective assessments. I surprised myself by running my second half-marathon in 2:12 — a 14-minute faster personal record — and donated to the Brave Like Gabe Foundation, which was founded by professional runner Gabriele Grunewald and supports rare cancer research. A 2:13 finishing time and a 13-minute personal record would have been even better for the purposes of a Colgate essay, but alas, we cannot control everything. Weeks later, Jordan ran her marathon in 3:16, comfortably qualifying for the 2025 Boston Marathon.

I will begrudgingly admit that I like running now, and I attribute a lot of this to Jordan. Through her coaching and how much she helped me, it was incredibly clear to me that she loved the sport. Her enthusiasm and joy was infectious. I’m delighted that this endeavor has brought us closer. Oddly, we didn’t meet until our final month of college: Jordan was selected as the class orator and I was the class president, and we each gave a speech at our senior brunch. Though we have never lived in the same city since graduation, we were able to collaborate through texts, calls, Google Workspace, and Strava.

So, what’s next? I have my sights set on several races in 2024, including the Hong Kong Half Marathon and the Broad Street Run in Philadelphia. Meanwhile, Jordan is open
to coaching others in the future. As she likes to point out, she has a 100% success rate of helping her athletes achieve new records.

OT Tang ’17 majored in political science and international relations at Colgate and today is the social impact lead at Integrated Biometrics.