PR Spotlight: Pamela

I’m excited to begin the new series on NYC Running Mama – the PR spotlight.  The PR spotlight will feature runners who have recently PR’d.  It could be on the treadmill, track, or on the roads.  The purpose of the feature will be to discuss what was done differently – whether it was pacing, fueling, hydration, training, mental preparation, etc.

One of the things I love most about running is that I’m constantly learning – I learn just as much from the 4:30 marathoner as I do from the 2:45 marathoner. Hopefully this feature become a tool in which we all learn from each other.


Meet Pamela:  Not only is she my best friend (we’ve known each other since we were 13!), but she is the social media expert behind Sparkly Soul headbands.  Although she has run a good number of marathons, Pamela was stuck at the 5-hour mark for most of them.  This past spring, she revamped her training and began seeing immediate results.  The first time I really became aware of how much faster she had become was at the NYC Half Marathon in March.  I was used to Pamela being a 10+ min per mile runner so when I saw her run me at (I was cheering at mile 7) only an hour into her run, I was astounded!!  She continued her improvement through the summer and fall…and just PR’d the marathon by 53 minutes at the Philadelphia Marathon!!!  Here is how she managed to go from a 4:43 marathoner…to a 3:50!!! 

Meet Pamela!

Name: Pamela Passarello
Age: 31
Hometown:  NYC (born and raised – Staten Island, NY)
Blog: (for the company Sparkly Soul
Twitter: @pamelapassarell
How long have you been running? Since 2007

Why did you start running? I didn’t think I could to tell you the truth. That’s why I started.  I was living in NYC and partying too much.  I started running as a way of finding balance. Then I just really enjoyed doing races and training for something so I started doing it all the time.

Pamela completing a NYRR race

Favorite Race Distance/Why? Half Marathon. I find it challenging, yet a reasonable distance.


  • 5k : 25:39 (8:33 pace)
  • 10k:  55:59 (9:01 pace)
  • Half:  1:49:55 (8:23 pace)
  • Marathon:  Philadelphia Marathon 2012 – 3:50:29 (8:47 pace)

First Marathon time/when:  Arizona Rock and Roll Marathon with Team In Training in January 2009.  I raised money for LLS and I was determined to finish my first marathon. I ended up getting bronchitis right before the race – I could barely even move without breaking a sweat.  I struggled through it and completed the race anyway with a first marathon time of 5:53!

Previous Marathon PR: Philadelphia Marathon – Nov 2009 – 4:43

New Marathon PR: Philadelphia Marathon – Nov 2012 – 3:50:29 (53 min PR)

What did you do differently in your training to drop so much time off from your spring to fall marathon?

  • EatingI changed my daily eating to include a lot more fruit, vegetables and proteins – and major portion control on everything besides fruits and vegetables (I eat as much of those as I want to).  I also stopped drinking coffee completely in March 2012.  I love ice green tea now and drink it daily.
  • Training: I run three days a week and spin a least once.  I trained with the American Cancer Society DetermiNation NYC - and was a mentor for the NYC Team!  We did a lot of speed work and hills during the week training sessions and met for weekly long training runs on the weekends! I followed the experienced run schedule for the first time too.

    At the finish of the 2012 Philadelphia Marathon

  • Core:  Lots and lots and lots of core exercises.  I go to Physique 57 – a ballet inspired core workout - about 6 days a week. I also take both a Yin Yoga class and a stretch class with Physique 57 at least once a week.  And I started walking everywhere that was within walking distance instead of taking the train.
  • Races I love participating in races during my training.  If I knew I had to run 13 miles one weekend, I would sign up for a half and see how my time improved with the training I had been doing.  Before I knew it I was running under a 9 minute mile. I tried to increase the distance and keep that pace as the season progressed.  During this last training cycle, I PR’d in every distance I raced – including a 1:49 half marathon in October.   From the races, I knew I was on track for a sub-4 marathon.

    All ready for Philly 2012!

  • Sparkle:   Sparkly Soul headbands allow me to always sparkle during my Physique 57 classes, spin classes, yin classes and training runs.  I don’t have to worry about it moving or slipping or giving me a headache when I am working out and I always look sparkly!  It is incredible to have something that is functional (as a runner) and looks cute with anything that I am wearing.

    Sparkly Soul Headband!

  • GarminI changed my Garmin watch to show me my average pace at the end of each mile. It pops up on the screen after each mile and I can see where I am on track to be during every mile. This really helped me focus on completing one mile at a time and keeping my pace consistent.
  • MusicI love listening to music when I run. It makes me feel great when I am running and reminds me to keep my natural breathing rhythm.

What is your next race/goal? I love to keep up with half marathons during the year especially in the winter. I sign up for many of the ones offered by NYRR including the borough races to get into the NYC Half Marathon. I usually do the 4 out of 5 borough races to get into the NYC Half. I plan on training with DetermiNation again through the winter for the NYC Half in March 2013.  And then start up training with DetermiNation in the summer again with the NYC marathon being my next marathon in the fall!

What piece of advice would you give to someone who is looking to PR? It comes to you gradually – I never expected that.  I was waiting for it happen all at once. But building up my mileage and doing a few 18 to 20 milers at marathon pace really helped me realize that I could keep that pace during the marathon. And also knowing what to expect between miles 20 and 26.  If I was going to run faster than I ever had during those miles, it was going to hurt more during those miles. I expected it to hurt this time. In the past, when it hurt, it was my natural tendency to be scared of pain or want to make it stop. It really helped me this time to know it was going to hurt (despite how awesome I felt in the beginning), to be okay with it hurting and accepting it instead of wishing that it would stop.     Yin yoga shares the same philosophy of recognizing the uncomfortable position you are in, accepting it and breathing into it - so that really helped me!

Have you (or someone you know) PR’d recently?  Email or tweet me so I can include you/them in a future post! 

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    1. Jacquelynn says:

      Wow – I was kinda jumping around on your blog, reading lots of different things and stumbled on this…it is exactly what I needed to read!! I have completed 5 marathons (my fifth was Philadelphia a few weeks ago) and can not seem to increase my speed as much as I know I should be able to. Reading this was VERY inspiring for me and made me look at things a little differently. Especially this part: “If I was going to run faster than I ever had during those miles, it was going to hurt more during those miles. I expected it to hurt this time. In the past, when it hurt, it was my natural tendency to be scared of pain or want to make it stop. It really helped me this time to know it was going to hurt (despite how awesome I felt in the beginning), to be okay with it hurting and accepting it instead of wishing that it would stop.” This is EXACTLY how I feel whan I’m racing. Thanks for sharing this and for all of your wonderful posts! Can’t wait to replay those words on my next long run (Rehoboth Half Marathon this weekend!)

      • Jacquelynn! So glad you found this useful! And good luck this weekend! PS. I am running Rehoboth this weekend too (haven’t blogged about it b/c I’m kind of keeping it private at the moment!!) =) =)
        nycrunningmama recently posted..Philadelphia Marathon Race RecapMy Profile

        • Jacquelynn says:

          Oh my gosh!! How exciting. I’m so glad you are calling a do-over after your Philadelphia run. That race was really a beast!! Not too sure why, but everyone I know who ran it (myself and my husband – who usually runs under 3:30 and came in at 3:48! – included) felt like it kicked their a**. Have a GREAT run on Saturday. I’ll say hi if I spot you. :)

    2. Congratulations Pamela!!!! What an amazing journey!!! LOve hearing those stories, they get me motivated!!!
      Christine recently posted..WOW, who would have thought…My Profile

    3. What a cool idea!

      and great job Pamela! :)
      K recently posted..Little D UpdateMy Profile

    4. Wow, that’s inspiring – what an amazing improvement and PR!
      Mary recently posted..Running Advent Calendar – Day 2 – Loch Lomond, ScotlandMy Profile

    5. What a great story! So inspiring. Thanks for sharing Pamela!
      Sarah @RunFarGirl recently posted..Holiday Gift GuideMy Profile

    6. That is so awesome!! Wow. What an incredible PR. Thank you so much for sharing Pamela’s story. Definitely has me inspired!
      Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted..Friday Round-Up: Holidays, Mantras and Why blogMy Profile

    7. This is SO inspiring! congratulations!!!

    8. oh man, what an inspiration! no wonder she is your best friend. So alike!
      lindsay recently posted..What to Blog about When you Don’t know what to Blog aboutMy Profile

    9. This was SO inspirational! My first marathon came in right around 4:45 and this definitely makes me want to try again and not be afraid to try for an ambitious goal!
      Hyedi recently posted..Where did that come from?My Profile

    10. Awesome job Pamela! Michele I love this new section of your blog, I love seeing other women I can relate to and seeing how they improved their times. I can’t wait to put some of these tips into practice!
      Carissa D. recently posted..Baby Fun Fact – Week 20 (bump pic!)My Profile

    11. Congrats on your PR’s! great races abd times. Cute headbands too! I’m all about the core strength. I just started heavy on my core exercises. I know it will make a huge difference. Hope to keep on PRing as well. It’s been two days since I’ve cut out 20 oz bottled coffee drinks from tbe store. I never really drank much water, but the last two days I have drank a half gallon or more! Getting ready for my 1st full marathon in March so this PR kick off will be very beneficial to me :)
      Fran recently posted..THE COLOR RUN 2013!!My Profile

    12. Congratulations Pamela! I love this PR spotlight idea :)

    13. Wow, congrats to Pamela- that is a huge improvement and inspiring story! My body does best on 3-4 running days as well… glad she found a training program that works for her!
      Laura @ Mommy Run Fast recently posted..Slowing to a trickle: The importance of hydrationMy Profile

    14. What a great idea for posts! I love reading your blog and Congrats Pamela, good for you! That is crazy your marathon pace was just a little over you 5k!
      Sarah (Shh…Fit Happens) recently posted..Squats and Whisky on the RocksMy Profile

    15. What an inspiration Pamela is! That is amazing! Great job, hard work does pay off!
      Lisa @ RunWiki recently posted..10 Holiday Gift Ideas for RunnersMy Profile

    16. Great post and congrats to Pamela on her new PR! That is inspiring and awesome!
      Emily N recently posted..A Quick Adjustment – No Go.My Profile

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