MCCC Accountant Tahir Bradley Tackles New York City Marathon

12/13/19

New York – Most people who take a 26.2-mile trip would choose a car, bus or other wheeled mode of transportation, but Mercer County Community College (MCCC) accountant Tahir Bradley prefers his feet.

“I ran my third New York City Marathon last month,” Bradley said with a quiet confidence. This year he finished with a 3:43, more than an hour and seventeen minutes faster than his five-plus hour finish in 2005.

“For the first half I ran a 1:31,” he recalled. “At that point I was on pace to finish in a hair over three hours.”

Donning bib number 6759 and running under the Black Men Run team, the 42-year-old ran an 8:32 mile per minute pace and crossed the finish line on 67th Street on West Drive 9,575th out of 53,517 competitors. Despite his personal best performance, Bradley conceded that nothing really changed from warmup to finish line.

“I entered the race with the same routine – I ate a bagel, banana, my Stinger waffles and made time for some sets of stretching,” Bradley said. Compared to other races – recently he ran the New Jersey Marathon and Atlantic City Marathon – the organization of the marathon that posed the biggest challenge.

“Logistically, the New York City Marathon is a different beast,” Bradley said. Buses lined the streets in midtown at 5 a.m., awaiting swarms of runners to be transported the Staten Island starting line. “I just remember blocks of buses ready to shuttle us to the marathon village.”

Though Bradley had the benefit of a 9:30 a.m. start time, he conceded that others were less fortunate. Some didn’t leave the starting line until 11:30, which Bradley contested could negatively impact a runner’s routine.

Behind Bradley’s finish were decades spent running, in both short and long-distance formats. Born and raised in Newark, Bradley had experience running indoor and outdoor track as well as cross-country.

“I played baseball growing up,” Bradley said. “You could find me at any position, except catcher. I spent a good deal of time at first base.”

“But it got to a point where the baseball coach advised me to drop baseball in favor of running,” Bradley recalled. “Our team was terrible.”

Shifting his focus towards track and cross-country at Newark’s Science High School (currently known as Science Park High School) was more than enough to keep Bradley busy. He’d bounce between distances, tackling 800 meter, 1,600 meter, 4x4 and 4x8 relays and medleys on the track team and run 5ks as part of the cross-country squad.

“Those are really two different worlds,” Bradley said. “The timings and pacing are different. With track, you are trying to get out in front and stay there, whereas cross-country is all about letting things develop and finding your pace.”

Now focused on distance running, Bradley’s training regimen has evolved to maximize his success. In 2018, at the suggestion of friends, he linked up with a new coach, Dr. Luciano Medina. Bradley joined Medina’s sub-four group, which seeks to push runners to clock in under four hours in marathon conditions.

“Right before I started training with coach Medina,” I ran a 4:02 in Chicago,” Bradley said. “My first race after joining, the New Jersey Marathon I ran a 3:36.”

He added, “Having a coach means you don’t have to think as much, and you can focus on other things.” Currently, Bradley’s weekly routine includes running six to seven “easy miles” on Monday, Tuesday and Friday, a track day on Wednesday that features three miles on a 6:50 pace and a long, 12 mile run on Saturday.

“Saturdays are for cutbacks,” Bradley explained. “I incorporate different intervals and paces. Usually I run anywhere from 40-55 miles each week.”

Bradley’s trust in his coach is indicative of a larger benefit to his running – his tight knit community.

“I call them my Run Fam,” Bradley said, smiling. “I’m part of so many different groups. In New York, Black Runners Connection came out to show support. At mile 20, the woman I call my “Run Mom” brought me pickle juice [brine that Bradley uses for recovery]. Then, at Mile 23, more of my friends met me to provide snacks and rub downs. There were people all over the place.”

Though he’s pleased with his performance in New York, Bradley is locked onto another goal: Tokyo.

“There are six world majors, called the Abbot World Marathon Majors, held in Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York,” Bradley said. “I’ve already run two of them, New York and Chicago, and I’m headed to Tokyo in March.”

Beyond the six majors, Bradley keeps a few prospective races on his ledger. He is considering appearances at the Miami Half Marathon and the Hot Chocolate 15K (Philadelphia).

“One of my favorite events is ‘The Race,’ a half-marathon in Atlanta,” Bradley said. “It’s an all-African-American event. The runners are black and black owned institutions sponsor it.”

If all goes to plan, Bradley will add another race to his docket in 2020: the Boston Marathon.

“I need a 3:15 in Tokyo to qualify for Boston,” he said. “Really I’ll need a 3:10 or better. So many people are shooting for a 3:15 that you have to shoot for five minutes faster to separate from the pack.”

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tahir bradley poses with his medal 

Tahir Bradley shows off his New York City Marathon Medal.