Posts Tagged Pickle Run

Written from the perspective of and by Kathryn Fernandez, Non-Residential Member


             Saturday morning at 8:00 am I made the brisk walk to House of Passage, a shelter for single women, just a half mile from my apartment in West Philly.  I was showing up this Saturday morning to ride with the House of Passage Back on My Feet team to the annual Pickle Run, a 5k run known for its hidden pickle prizes. The race is unique because the end goal isn’t to have the fastest time, but instead, to finish as close to your predicted time as possible (nobody is permitted to wear watches).  I had the opportunity to see the House of Passage team launch, and I have done my best to attend the occasional morning run for the last few months but I typically meet new Residential Members every time I attend an event. This morning was the same, I showed up early and sat down at a picnic table next to two women wearing Back on My Feet clothing. I wasn’t sure if they were Residential Members or Non-Residential Members, a perfect example of how everyone appears wonderfully equal when they’re wearing their running sneaks.  I started talking to Melinda, whom I quickly discovered was a Residential Member running her first 5k. She was talking quickly and excitedly and it was obvious she was nervous. She said she hadn’t slept all night, she was worried she wouldn’t finish the race and would disappoint the team, but I think, she was worried about disappointing herself. She kept saying, “I’m just going to do my best.”  She also remarked that she was nervous she would end up running alone or holding other runners back from doing well. How ironic that she was worrying about running alone and my greatest fear was not finding a partner to run with myself. I told her that I would run with her the whole time and that I was relieved to have a partner. We started the race a few hours later, after a twisty half an hour ride in a packed van, and a team leader dressed as a pickle (I’m not fibbing), and an hour long wait in the 36 degree, sunny but freezing cold day.  The beginning of races are always exciting and everyone runs too fast, accelerated by their adrenaline and the spectator’s cheers. Melinda was short of breath at first and idle chitchat was not a priority. Of course, I just chattered away, I was hoping to distract her, but probably I just like to talk too much. Finally, when she settled into a good pace we were able to converse, and I discovered Melinda had never walk/ran more than a mile. Her estimated finish time was 60 minutes. I was pretty surprised considering we were walking and running at a pretty consistent pace, and Melinda seemed to be doing great. We kept our eyes out for hidden pickles along the way, but alas, we never found one. The halfway turnaround seemed to come fairly quickly, and the horrible hill didn’t really seem so horrible. Melinda was slowing down, just a little, and she was concerned she wouldn’t make 60 minutes. I laughed and said, “Melinda I will be surprised if it takes you longer than 45 minutes”. She didn’t believe me. Not long after we saw the Back on My Feet volunteers holding up signs for Melinda and cheering us along. Melinda had even invited her friend to come and cheer, and what a great choice of support because she had an impressive set of pipes. The finish line was in sight! Melinda, amongst cheers from the team, a team leader dressed as a pickle, and with her new friend, crossed the finished line, with tears in her eyes. Her first words, “I did my best” I turned her around and said, “look at the time!” She had finished in 39 minutes! It is amazing how proud of someone you can feel, even after only having known them for a couple of hours. The best part…during the awards ceremony Melinda was the most improved on her predicted time, the prize… a jar of pickles.


Pickle Run

The Prize!

The Prize!


Since joining Back on My Feet in January 2010, Olani, a member of the Our Brother’s Place team, has run nearly 550 miles and has maintained a 99 percent attendance. Olani has been running for many years. Olani joined Back on My Feet as a way to stay in shape and as a way to find companionship when he ran. He’s been running for a year with the program and has stuck around because he believes it’s a good activity, a great way to stay in shape, and provides a unique connection to jobs and other opportunities.

Olani moved out of the Our Brother’s Place in November of last year. He now has his own place to call home and works as a substitute teacher with the School District of Philadelphia. Olani graduated from Cheyney University with a degree in Biology.

Olani loves teaching:  he loves helping others solve problems. He believes it is a very rewarding experience to show someone how something works. Olani says that not knowing the answer or not knowing how to solve a problem can be frustrating, but that he finds joy in guiding students to the answers.

Olani is incredibly persistent and is a goal setter:  his personal and running goals and accomplishments reflect this. Olani’s goal is to stick to a 10 minute per mile running pace, and so far he’s done just that.  Olani’s latest running accomplishments were showcased in the challenging Pickle Run in January. Olani has big plans for the future. He plans on taking his MCAT test to go to Temple University in hopes of becoming a podiatrist. He believes the medical field will provide him with a unique opportunity to help other people.

Olani says that the best advice he can give to newcomers to BoMF is to not to expect miracles in two weeks. “Be consistent and things will happen.” Olani also advises BoMF runners to keep running, even after they leave the facility. Olani believes that running can be translated into many life lessons:  it teaches us to pace ourselves, be consistent, and eat well.  He believes that Back on My Feet teaches these lessons and offers people a chance to help better their own lives.

Pete, the team leader at Our Brother’s Place had this to say about Olani:

“Olani is an integral member of Team OBP. He shows incredible determination in continuing to come out mornings since he has moved out of the shelter and has started a new job with the School District of Philadelphia. And a good thing he keeps coming out, since his enduring, positive attitude and amusing antics buoy the entire team. Whether it’s a funny story, a crazy yoga move, or a demonstration of African dance, Olani is always ready with something…unexpected. He is a favorite of volunteers, new and old, for good reason. We were all thrilled to share in his 500 mile accomplishment earlier this year and couldn’t be more proud of him. Team OBP is a happier, stronger team thanks to Olani; we wouldn’t be the same without him.”

The first two months of 2011 have been exciting ones for the members of Team Ridge. Despite the snow, ice, and wind that has plagued the Philadelphia area over these months, Ridge showed true determination and continued to put in the long, cold miles in preparation for our upcoming races. Great job everyone!

This year started out with the wonderful news that both Calvin and Fiddy would be moving out of Ridge and into their own places. I am proud to say that two months have past and they are both settled in and doing well while continuing run and be an important part of the Back on My Feet family.

Since the beginning of this year we have had the pleasure to welcome a number of new members to our morning circle. Our newest res-members are Mark, Romond and George who took their first steps with Ridge this year and are all doing an amazing job!! Our newest non-res members are Scott, Alicia, Sean, Dan, Linsey, and Na’Tasha. Thank you all for all your hard work!!

Having put in the long miles Team Ridge got a chance the chance to join our fellow Back on My Feet teams in running both the Pickle Run and the Frostbite 5 Miler. These were the first races for many of our res-members and they all did an amazing job, congratulations guys! Having conquered their first races all the members of Team Ridge are focused on and training hard for the Caesar Rodney ½ Marathon and 5K and Philadelphia’s own Broad Street Run.

Members of the Month: Badger (res) and Scott (non-res)

Since joining Back on My Feet Badger has been a true leader for Ridge. He consistently offers help to any members who need it and is always there to encourage everyone on the morning runs. Badger’s running improves each morning he comes out and he recently ran his first 5 mile race during the Frostbite 5 Miler. Way to go Badger!!

It feels like Scott has been with running with Team Ridge forever even though it has only been a few short months, and we couldn’t be happier to have him as part of our team. Scott is always out early and ready to run no matter what the weather, even some days that were very questionable. Scott always goes above and beyond to lend a hand in running with either the fastest or slowest of runners while taking the time to get to know and learn about everyone. Thank you Scott for all that you do at Ridge!!

As the winter months come to an end Team Ridge is looking forward to the warmer weather and brighter mornings as we continue to put in the miles to get ready for the upcoming spring races.

What a great month for the Dragons! RWA was well represented at January’s Pickle Run. Amongst the crowd of runners being led by a sassy man in a pickle suit, we had Maurice, Damien, Tony, Oba, Jessie, Krista, Mark, Kai, Michelle, Matt, Evan, Shira and Sarah. Despite Oba and Tony’s injuries, they both enjoyed their first race and finished strong. Tony was preparing to run the 5K but pushed past his comfort zone to go with the longer trail run. His final trail run time was only a few minutes off of his predicted time for the 5K! Damien also really pushed through, achieving his first race ever. As for Maurice… we may already have a marathon candidate on our hands.

Congrats to both Michelle and Krista for spotting those highly anticipated pickles along the trail. Additionally, congrats to Sarah for correctly answering one of the pickle man’s questions during the trivia portion of the morning. Special thanks to Mark, Sarah, and Shira for driving.

Our Dragon of the Month was the aforementioned Tony who, in addition to the 4.5 trail run, also took his first run up the Art Museum steps recently. He pushed himself all month long and the results were evident. Way to go, Tony!

Other exciting news includes Oba moving out of RWA! He seems to be really enjoying his new space in West Philly. Congratulations Oba! And congratulations, too, to Calvin, who starts his new job at Shoprite this weekend. Good for you, Calvin!

For Team-OBP, January is a reminder of how quickly time flies. Laura Shumaker’s 6-month tenure as Team Lead came to an end. Pete DeCarolis will take the reins from Laura, and we already know that we’re in terrific hands!  This has been a month of exciting transitions for OBP and our team will continue to go in a wonderful direction while in Pete’s hands!

This month, the team began training on Saturdays for the Broad Street and Caesar Rodney events. Bob, Kevin, Mark, and Olani participated in the Pickle Run. We visited the Palestra on January 29th for the St. Joe’s vs. Temple basketball game! Many thanks to Nino Vanin and St. Joseph’s University Athletics for donating tickets. While St. Joe’s didn’t win, we had a very enjoyable morning with Lindsay, Megan, Olani, Rachael, Christi, Dave, and Laura!

Res Member of the Month: Mark S.

Mark has been a wonderful member of our team for over a year.  He runs a mile to join us for our runs every day and he always comes in good spirits and livens up our circles each morning!

Non-res Member of the Month: Kristen K.

“I honestly feel more inspired by the guys then I think the other way around. The fact that they get up in the mornings with positive attitudes and some have to run to OBP before we even do our run despite the cold weather or any other conditions in their lives is amazing to me. I love hearing their life stories and their goals for the future. My favorite part is seeing them grow as individuals and realize all they can accomplish. I feel lucky because I just think of everyone as a new friend.”

We at BOMF’s Brotherhood Mission running team – based out of Fishtown, Philadelphia – have made the most of our time together during the first month of 2011, and our last full month as a BOMF team.  To celebrate our 2-year anniversary and say farewell as a BOMF team, Angel and Luis cooked up some Latin-goodness for us and we sat down to reflect on our experiences together and share what we’ve learned.  Checkout our video…

Deirdre is our non-residential member of the month.  Without Deirdre our cookoff/party wouldn’t have happened.  Deirdre organized the event, took Angel and Luis out food shopping, and even found time to bake dessert.  Deirdre has brought a lot of energy and a positive attitude at all times to the Brotherhood team in 2010 and 2011, especially on the night of the cookoff!

Luis and Angel get to share being the residential members of the month after cooking us up a delicious meal for our 2-year anniversary/farewell party.  Both of them have been with us since the fall of 2010, and have brought plenty of energy, commitment, and laughter to our early morning runs, races, and special events.

While Philadelphia has experienced unseasonably cold temperatures lately, the Saint John’s team warmed up the month of January with an outstanding showing at the Pickle Run at Ridley State Park. Congratulations to Joe N. who ran closest to his predicted time. Other Saint John’s participants included: Abby C. (5 K), Wesley C. (5 K), Allison N. (4.5 Miler), Ashleigh L. (4.5 Miler), Justin P. (4.5 Miler), Joel A. (4.5 Miler), Dan C. (5 K), Troy (5 K) and Eric (5 K). Mike Z. also attended to cheer on the entire team.

The team also took a trip back in time to our formative teenage years and spent an afternoon at University Pinball. A special thanks to our social coordinator Wesley C. for planning the outing. Throughout the evening, Eric’s natural athletic ability shined as he nearly broke University Pinball all time records in both football and basketball. Our Canadian native, Joel, also earned bragging rights by beating out all challengers in his beloved pastime, air hockey.

Res and Non-Res of the Month

Please join us in congratulating the Saint John’s resident and non-resident of the month for January. We honor Bob this month with resident of the month. Bob just recently joined Team Saint John’s and his commitment and willingness to push himself each and every morning, despite taking a year and a half off from running, is both impressive and admirable. We also honor Abby as non-resident of the month. The entire Saint John’s team extends our gratitude and heartfelt thanks to our incredible team leader for the past 6+ months. We appreciate her passion, commitment and incredible generosity. While Abby will transition out of her role as team leader, she will remain on Saint John’s core team as the Volunteer Coordinator.

BOMF Philadelphia members participated in the Pickle Run in Ridley Creek State Park on Saturday, January 15th. The race was a prediction run, so it didn’t matter how fast you ran, just how close you ran to the time you guessed before the race. Over 40 members ran the 3 mile course, which included a little ice and snow. We are very proud of the 7 first-time racers who decided to challenge themselves with a race! A pickle run would not be complete without pickles. Not only was there a guy dressed as a pickle, but there were also several pickles hidden along the course—BOMF members found 5 of them! Joe N. was among the few who predicted his time accurate–and his prize? A Pickle!

A special thank you to Steve, Kristen and Nick for helping with registration! Missed the pickle run? Check out pictures here and join BOMF for its next race: the Frostbite 5 Miler.

New Jerusalem had a very busy December! We welcomed new members Taleb, Nicole, Charlena, and Audrey. We added Callie to our non-rez squad and had some of our old favorite volunteers and old team leaders come back! Old in time volunteering and experience, not age!  Along with the new additions, our current residents had some awesome achievements!

Congrats to George for getting a job! George has been trying for months and kept walking all over Philadelphia to find a job and got one in South Philly! Doug has added some running into his morning walks to achieve his goals of losing weight and getting in shape. Nikki has put forth awesome effort and hit 50 miles! Along with Nikki in the 50 mile club we had Mitchell and Claude join her. Other achievements are Mohamed hitting 175 miles and Malik hitting 100 miles. Keep up the hard work! Read more…

Team OBP brought December to a close with another fun month!  We had new non-res Jackie and Les join our team, as well as new res member Steven who came over from Ridge!  It was also a month of exciting transitions for Todd and Malik, two of our veteran runners who moved over to DePaul house and are running with the team over there!  While they will be missed, we are very happy for them because this is a positive move in their lives! Read more…