NBA All-Star weekend partyJohnny Nunez/Getty ImagesFunkmaster Flex spins at The Finale hosted by Nicki Minaj at Pacha.
NEW YORK –- The NBA's midwinter classic has come and gone, and all we are left with is the bitter cold.

But despite the frigid temperatures, New York City was sizzling during All-Star Weekend.

From a Kanye West outdoor show in the Flatiron District to a surprise concert by music royalty at the Jordan Brand 30th Anniversary Party, brings you behind the ropes at some of the most memorable All-Star events.


There were parties as early as Wednesday in the city, including Bud Light MixxTail's pregame apartment party. DJs spun hip-hop in a loft above Broadway near 18th Street with the big game still days away.

[+] EnlargeKanye West
Dave Kotinsky/Getty ImagesKanye West performs at the Roc City Classic in the Flatiron District.
But Thursday night is when things really started popping in the city.

Kevin Durant and Roc Nation Sports took over the Flatiron District, holding an outdoor concert right off Broadway and 23rd with the incredible backdrop of high-rise buildings behind the stage.

Longtime hip-hop radio personality Angie Martinez of Power 105.1 kept thousands of fans engaged as they waited in the bone-chilling temperatures. Finally, Kanye West -- fresh off his Grammys stunt when he briefly walked onto the stage as Beck was accepting his award -- stepped up with a few of his friends, including rapper Big Sean.

Beck fans had their revenge, though. Kanye performed with one of the surrounding buildings sporting a “BECK!” display in its windows.

Seen in the crowd of thousands (10,000 tickets were distributed) at the first annual Roc City Classic was rapper Drake, who caused a commotion during and after the concert just by walking around Broadway with his friends.

After the concert, several guests with VIP passes were unable to get into Jay Z's nearby 40/40 Club, where the after-party was held. The club hit its fire-code max capacity –- a common occurrence this past weekend.

Also on Thursday night, American Express and TNT threw an All-Star party at Hammerstein Ballroom featuring Fall Out Boy. Shaquille O'Neal was even seen getting behind the DJ booth.


On Friday, All-Star weekend got going with the celebrity game at MSG. But even if you didn’t have a ticket for that, or for the Rising Stars Challenge at Barclays Center, there was at least one event where fans could watch the game with a soundtrack spun by a famous DJ.

[+] EnlargeDerek Jeter
Alo Ceballos/GC ImagesDerek Jeter was out and about for All-Star Weekend.
JBL by Harman hosted a private viewing party for the celebrity game at Harman’s store in Midtown. Portland All-Star guard Damian Lillard was there, with hip-hop producer Jermaine Dupri in the DJ booth.

Further downtown, the Jordan Brand hosted its annual All-Star party, which many consider the event of the weekend. Celebrating the 30th anniversary of Air Jordan, the party was “bigger and better than ever,” according to ESPN’s J.A. Adande.

His Airness, Derek Jeter and Jay Z were among those spotted at the party in the financial district.

The lucky fans who attended got to see Ariana Grande perform -- and then watched as Prince took the stage.

“Prince went for two and a half hours,” Adande wrote.

Take it from someone who has seen the Purple One perform multiple times –- it’s a gift. Prince enjoys his craft and really cares about delivering a memorable performance.

According to the AP’s music writer, Prince brought some celebs onto the stage to jam with him, including Chris Rock, Questlove, Queen Latifah and actress Rosario Dawson. Rapper Nas could be seen singing along to Prince’s “When Doves Cry” in the crowd.

Yeah, that had to be the party of the weekend.

But there were others. That same night near Korea Town, TNT analyst and New York's own Kenny Smith threw his All-Star party at Pranna.

Former Jet Antonio Cromartie and other former NBA stars like Ralph Sampson and Antoine Walker mingled in a crowd that enjoyed tunes spun by what basically was an All-Star lineup of hip-hop DJs. D-Nice, Funkmaster Flex and DJ Red Alert spun old-school jams to the delight of the packed club. With Ed Lover at his side in the booth, the legendary Red Alert kept the hits coming while Smith gave shout-outs from his VIP section above. At one point, Smith gave a shout-out to another legendary hip-hop DJ, Kid Capri, who was in the crowd.


Barclays Center was packed for All-Star Saturday night, where the Slam Dunk competition made a comeback thanks to Zach LaVine.

[+] EnlargeSpike Lee
Brad Barket/Getty ImagesSpike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee hit the red carpet on game night.
Within walking distance of Barclays, Spike Lee threw his “Spreadin’ Love is Da Brooklyn Way” All-Star Weekend Sneaker Jam.

In the city, Jeter was busy playing host at The Players’ Tribune party at Canoe Studios. Russell Wilson, Rob Gronkowski, CC Sabathia and Matt Harvey were among those who got to see Common perform and do an epic freestyle shout-out to all the celebrities in the room.

The National Basketball Players Association party returned to All-Star Weekend on Saturday night, with Fabolous performing in front of a crowd that included the likes of Puff Daddy, Snoop Dogg and DJ Khaled, among others. Capitale, where the party was held, was so packed that security in front stopped allowing people in around 1:30 a.m.


The Garden was as packed as we can remember for the All-Star Game. You couldn’t walk the concourse without noticing a New York luminary -- from former Knick Charles Smith to former Yankee Dave Winfield.

The NBA had musical and Broadway acts perform before and during the All-Star Game. A giant stage took over one baseline behind a basket, and it had a Super Bowl halftime performance production feel to it. Christina Aguilera opened with some help from Nas. And Ariana Grande was the halftime act, with a surprise cameo from Nicki Minaj, who delivered the bang for their hit song “Bang Bang” with Jessie J.

Russell Westbrook then completed one of the best games in All-Star history with 41 points to win the MVP trophy.

Despite temperatures that made New York feel like Hoth, the city partied like it was making up for 17 years of lost time since the All-Star Game was last here in 1998.

If you still haven't come across the hilarity that is the "East/West Bowl" -- a series of sketches by Comedy Central's Key & Peele -- then Part 3 (the "Pro Edition") is your chance to hop on board.

The first two East/West Bowls featured a roster roundup of made-up football players with increasingly ridiculous names. This time around, Key & Peele continue the litany of silly names (and facial hair), plus they've thrown some real-life NFL stars into the mix, including New York Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara and New York Jets offensive lineman D'Brickashaw Ferguson.

It also features a show-stopping cameo from ... well, I'll leave that as a surprise. (But, if you haven't seen Key & Peele, you might want to check out their "Substitute Teacher" sketch first, so you'll really get the joke.)
A little more than 10 years ago, Rickey Rivers was sitting around with a few friends talking about the state of youth basketball in New York City.

He knew there was a decline in local talent. And he had a pretty good idea of the reason behind it.

“It was due to lack of fundamentals being taught,” he said.

So Rivers set out to do something about it. He founded the Fun Sport Junior Pros league in Brownsville in Brooklyn with the hope of teaching some of the top young talent in the city the importance of fundamentals.

Rickey RiversRickey Rivers, the founder of the Fun Sport Junior Pros league, has helped pave the way for 5,000 young basketball players in New York over 10 years.
It’s safe to say that Rivers' vision that day has worked out pretty well.

The program is in its 10th year and has hosted more than 5,000 players. Some of the top young talent in the city and beyond has played in Rivers’ program.

The list includes Kyle Anderson of the San Antonio Spurs, Maurice Harkless of the Orlando Magic, Kemba Walker of the Bobcats, Villanova’s Jayvaughn Pinkston, Seton Hall’s Isaiah Whitehead, Kentucky commit Isaiah Briscoe and Syracuse commit Malachi Richardson.

“The program meant everything for me growing up,” Whitehead said. “It was great to have the exposure and the attendance of the people that wanted to see me play. And it was great just having fun in the basketball world with some of my closest friends and family.”

The program culminates with a championship game played at an NBA arena. The 2014 title game will take place Tuesday at Barclays Center.

“Not too many people can say that they played at MSG as an eighth-grader,” Briscoe said. “Growing up, Junior Pros meant a lot to me. That was the only league that you were able to go up against the top players in the Tri-state area and see where your talents stood.”

Local parents say they appreciate the structure of Rivers' program -- which hosts weekend skills clinics in Brooklyn -- and its emphasis on academics.

“It helped Isaiah become the player he is today,” Ericka Rambert, Whitehead’s mother, said. “It built his confidence and taught him a lot of fundamentals that helped him when he went into high school.”

For Rivers, it’s all a labor of love.

“This program means everything to me; it’s right behind my love for my family,” Rivers said. “I've dedicated countless hours and creative energy to get this program where it is today. My passion for the program drives me.”

That passion and drive has also helped hundreds of the city’s youth reach greater heights.

98.7 Fanalyst: Manny Garcia

November, 21, 2014

Every week ESPN New York 98.7 FM's Robin Lundberg invites a Fanalyst to join him on his Friday show. We're posting a photo and a podcast for each fanalyst to commemorate the event. You can catch ""The Robin Lundberg Show" weekdays from 4 to 6 a.m.

Listen to Manny Garcia's (@EL_MAnnY_02) appearance on the Robin Lundberg Show

Play Download

98.7 Fanalyst: Kristine Gammer

November, 14, 2014

Every week ESPN New York 98.7 FM's Robin Lundberg invites a Fanalyst to join him on his Friday show. We're posting a photo and a podcast for each fanalyst to commemorate the event. You can catch ""The Robin Lundberg Show" weekdays from 4 to 6 a.m.

Listen to Kristine Gammer's (@miss__scarlet) appearance on the Robin Lundberg Show

Play Download

98.7 Fanalyst: Shane Copeland

November, 7, 2014

Every week ESPN New York 98.7 FM's Robin Lundberg invites a Fanalyst to join him on his Friday show. We're posting a photo and a podcast for each fanalyst to commemorate the event. You can catch ""The Robin Lundberg Show" weekdays from 4 to 6 a.m.

Listen to Shane Copeland's (@DrexelHayes) appearance on the Robin Lundberg Show

Play Download

98.7 Fanalysts: Ron Friedman & Anthony Donahue

November, 2, 2014

Every week ESPN New York 98.7 FM's Robin Lundberg invites a Fanalyst to join him on his Friday show. We're posting a photo and a podcast for each fanalyst to commemorate the event. You can catch ""The Robin Lundberg Show" weekdays from 4 to 6 a.m.

Listen to Ron Friedman & Anthony Donahue's (@sprewelll & @AnthonyMSG) appearance on the Robin Lundberg Show

Play Download

New Yorkers extend winless run at NYC Marathon

November, 2, 2014
Deba BuzuneshAlex Goodlett/Getty ImagesThe Bronx's Buzunesh Deba (second from right) finished a disappointing ninth Sunday.
NEW YORK -- Plenty of New Yorkers run in the New York City Marathon.

They just don't win it.

They don't even come close. In Sunday's 2014 marathon, no local runner was near the top of the leaderboard in either the men's or women's races.

Birhanu Dare Kemal, who was born in Ethiopia but lives in Manhattan, was the top New Yorker in the men's race, finishing 13th in 2:18:22, more than seven minutes behind winner Wilson Kipsang of Kenya.

[+] EnlargeKeflezighi
Alex Trautwig/Getty ImagesMeb Keflezighi (left) of California was the top American finisher on Sunday.
Buzunesh Deba, another Ethiopian from the Bronx, finished a disappointing ninth in the women's race. Deba finished in second place in both 2011 and 2013, leading for much of the race last year, and organizers were hoping that Sunday would be her chance to win it -- and end the local drought.

It wasn't. Deba fell out of the lead group after about 20 miles, and her time of 2:31:40 was more than six minutes behind winner Mary Keitany of Kenya.

The Kenyans win every year, don't they?

Well, not every year, but Kenyans have won the past three men's races and the past two women's races. The only American champion in the past 32 years was Meb Keflezighi, who won the men's race in 2009. Keflezighi, who was born in Eritrea but moved to California as a child and became an American citizen, finished fourth in Sunday's race.

New York race organizers consider Keflezighi to be one of their own. He has run the New York race nine times, and always professes his love for the city and the race. But they would love to have someone who actually lives in New York win the race, even once.

No one has, at least not since the New York City Marathon became a five-borough event in 1976.

"It would be fantastic," New York Road Runners president and race director Mary Wittenberg said this week. "For years, we dreamed of an American winning in New York. Now we dream of a New Yorker winning in New York."

At least a few Americans made it into the top 10 finishers in the men's race. Besides Keflezighi, Ryan Vail was ninth, and Nick Arciniaga was 10th.

"I'm proud we have three Americans in the top 10," Vail said. "I think we redeemed ourselves a little after last year, when I finished 13th and I was the top American."

As for New Yorkers, there was Kemal finishing 13th, Negash Abebe Duki finishing 18th, Harbert Okuti finishing 19th, James Kelly finishing 28th and Jerry Faulkner finishing 29th. In the women's race, besides Deba, there was Kate Pallardy, who describes herself as a "vegan athlete and stay-at-home NYC mama," who finished 20th.

That was it for local highlights, in a race that drew 50,881 runners.

Goucher struggles: Kara Goucher, the Queens-born runner who was hoping for a 2:28 finish in her return to marathon running, had trouble with Sunday's strong winds and ran a disappointing 2:37:03. "I got in a little over my head," said Goucher, still trying to come back from a foot injury. "I hit the wall for the first time in my career, and really struggled."

Celebrity athletes hit the streets at NYC Marathon

November, 2, 2014
HoustonDavid Dow/NBAE/Getty ImagesThe Knicks' Allan Houston was part of an NBA relay team at the NYC Marathon on Sunday.
NEW YORK -- Billy Demong made it through 26.2 miles. Then he tried to walk one block.

Maybe you know the feeling (or maybe you don't). But Demong wasn't just another runner among the 50,000 or so who ran Sunday's New York City Marathon.

He's an Olympic gold medalist. He was the first American to win Olympic gold in a Nordic event, when he won the 10-kilometer large hill event at the Vancouver Olympics.

You might remember him. He's the one who proposed to his girlfriend in front of his teammates and coaches right after the medal ceremony.

Now he's the one who ran a respectable 2:33:05 Sunday in his first marathon -- and celebrated by trying to walk a block to the subway.

[+] EnlargeDemong
Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY SportsBilly Demong says Sunday's marathon was the most fun he's had in an athletic event since winning Olympic gold in 2010.
"It was all I could do to make it to the 66th Street stop," Demong said. "I couldn't even make it down the steps, so I waited for the elevator. It could have been the slowest elevator in the world and I was still going to wait for it.

"I tried to run 10 steps on the subway platform and I almost fell down."

It was a feeling like he had never had before, through all his races and competitions.

But that was kind of the way all of Sunday went for him.

"It was awesome," Demong said. "This may sound ridiculous, but that might be the most fun I've had in an athletic event since Vancouver. We came off the Verrazano Bridge and onto Fourth Avenue, and people started yelling my name."

He loved it. He loved every bit of it.

He even loved the end, even when he was trying to walk and his legs didn't want to go.

"It was awesome," he said.

Other names you know: Demong wasn't the only athlete from another sport who gave the marathon a try. Tennis star Caroline Wozniacki finished in 3:26:33, and former New York Giants running back Tiki Barber finished in 5:14:37.

Barber ran in support of New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia's PitCCh In Foundation, as did Sabathia's wife Amber and New York Knicks forward Amar'e Stoudemire's wife Alexis.

There was also a relay team of former NBA stars, with Dikembe Mutombo running the final leg.

"It was like a dream come true," Mutombo said. "After running on a basketball court for so many years, it was good to be outside and running."

The NBA group, which also included commissioner Adam Silver, Chris Mullin, Albert and Bernard King, Allan Houston and Charles Oakley, finished the course in 4:48:09, achieving its goal of breaking five hours.

Crunching the NYC Marathon numbers: Toughest miles, boroughs and bridges

November, 1, 2014
New York City Marathon, First AvenueAP Photo/Kathy KmonicekThe "wall of sound" along First Avenue helps give marathoners a statistical boost.
The New York City Marathon is Sunday. The folks at Strava, a GPS tracking service for runners and cyclists, collected data from more than 44,000 runners on the New York City Marathon course between 2009 and 2013.

Here are some of the helpful and insightful tidbits of information they shared with us, in the form of a Q&A (for the full breakdown, check out this pdf):

Do nerves at the beginning of a race have an impact on early speed?

Prerace jitters are a real thing, and they impact the race: Athletes had a median max heart rate of 172 (compared with the race average of 165) in the first mile, the highest of the entire race.

Why is the first mile on the Verrazano Bridge the slowest?

The sluggish first mile pace of 8:49 min/mile is likely due to dodging other race participants and jockeying for position.

[+] EnlargeQueensboro Bridge
STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty ImagesBeware the Queensboro Bridge, the slowest slog on the race at more than 10 minutes per mile.
After a slow start, when does a runner start to make up ground?

Athletes try to make up for lost time from mile 1 during mile 2 with a sub-8-minute mile pace (7:56 min/mile).

There are no spectators on the Queensboro Bridge, and it’s silent aside from the pattering of feet and heavy breathing. How difficult is it?

The Queensboro Bridge around Mile 16 is tough! Runners slow to an average pace of 10:08 while crossing it.

After that silence, thousands of fans cheer along First Avenue. Does a confidence boost exist from feeding off the crowd?

The "wall of sound" along First Avenue in Manhattan inspires many runners (miles 17 and 18) -- they’re also the last sub-9-minute mile splits of the race.

But how long does that runner’s high last before reality sets in?

The added boost from First Avenue doesn’t last much longer, as runners appear to “hit the wall” at mile 19 when the average pace rises above 9 min/mile.

Do runners at least finish strong?

Runners go for the photo finish in the last one to two miles of the race: The pace picks up significantly, and the median max heart rate increases to 169 (the second highest of the race; race average is 165).

Do most runners tend to negative split the race and run the second portion faster?

No, the first half of the marathon sees an average pace of about 8:24 min/mile, the back half is slower at 9:14 min/mile.

What are the fastest and slowest bridges?

The fastest bridge crossing by pace is the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge (8:13 min/mile). The slowest bridge crossing by pace is the Queensboro Bridge (10:08 min/mile).

What about boroughs?

The fastest borough for runners is Brooklyn (8:14 min/mile). The slowest borough for runners is The Bronx (9:32 min/mile).

His Brother's Keeper

October, 30, 2014

Merhawi Keflezighi recalls Meb's Boston victory and discusses the trust factor in working for his brother.

Queens-born Kara Goucher reconnects with NYC three decades after her father's death

October, 30, 2014
Kara GoucherAP Photo/Duluth News-Tribune/Clint AustinKara Goucher -- shown after winning the 2012 women's U.S. Half Marathon Championship in Duluth, Minn. -- had her ties with the Big Apple severed after the tragic death of her father.
NEW YORK -- Six years ago, Kara Goucher came to New York to run a marathon.

She came and she ran, and she ran well. The records say her 2:25:53 was the fastest debut marathon for an American woman, and the fastest time by an American woman in New York, and that her third-place finish was the best by an American woman in 14 years.

It was good, and it is a good running story, one worth telling now that Goucher is coming back from an injury and coming back to New York to run in this Sunday's New York City Marathon.

But this is so much more than a running story, so much more than a story about 26.2 miles.

[+] EnlargeKara Goucher
Chris Trotman/Getty ImagesGoucher catches her breath after her third-place finish at the 2008 NYC Marathon.
This is a story about family and a city, and about a star athlete whose ability to run has helped her connect to both. It's a story about the 32 years that have passed since a 4-year-old girl in Flushing lived through a family tragedy -- her father, Mirko Grgas, was killed by a drunk driver on the Harlem River Drive in 1982 -- and moved away to Minnesota to live with her grandparents.

And it's the story of how running a marathon has helped Kara Goucher return to her New York roots.

"I came here as a child, but I didn't -- I didn't get it," Goucher said Thursday. "Coming in '08 was great for me. It really was. It changed the way I looked at the city. I wanted to get to know the city whereas in the past I just didn't. There was no connection there."

That 2008 marathon led to other races, with three top-six finishes at the Boston Marathon and an 11th-place finish at the 2012 London Olympics. Goucher isn't predicting a top finish Sunday, saying she's still working her way back from a broken foot and still building toward the February 2016 qualifying race for the Rio Olympics.

The injury cost time, and cost her a chance to run in New York last November. But the time off gave her a chance to reassess, a chance to reinvent and rediscover herself, as Goucher puts it. She comes back this year with a new sponsor and a new coach (Mark Wetmore, who was also her coach at the University of Colorado).

"I was very, very depressed that I missed [New York] last year," Goucher said. "But it's been a long time coming, and I always knew I wanted to restart here."

She's aiming to run 2:28, which she realizes won't be good enough to match that third-place finish from six years ago.

"I know there's women here who can run 2:22 or even faster on this course, and that's not the person that I am today," Goucher said. "I'm ready to run 2:28 on a good day, a good weather day."

[+] EnlargeBuzunesh Deba
Elsa/Getty ImagesBuzunesh Deba, born in Ethiopia but living in the Bronx, is among Sunday's favorites.
The fastest group of women includes Buzunesh Deba, who was born in Ethiopia but now has an apartment in the Bronx and considers New York home. Deba used to regularly train in Van Cortlandt Park, but spent most of the past year training at altitude in Flagstaff, Arizona, instead.

The New York Road Runners, who put on the New York City Marathon, would still love to see Deba win Sunday, and would still claim her as one of their own. No New York City resident has won either the men's or women's marathon in the 40 years since it has been a five-borough event.

"It would be fantastic," said Mary Wittenberg, the NYRR president and the race director. "For years we dreamed of an American winning in New York. Now we dream of a New Yorker winning in New York."

Goucher, who moved away so many years ago at such a young age, may never consider herself a New Yorker. But in the six years since that 2008 debut, she has come to understand what the city is, and what it means to her.

"I love being here," she said. "And every year that I come back or every race that I come to do, I feel more connected. As an adult now, I feel more connected to my father and to all those things that I've missed out on."

Six years later, Goucher is back, to run another 26.2 miles. But really, she has come so much farther than that.

* * *

While Deba is given a real chance to win the women's race Sunday, this figures to be yet another year in which no local men finish in the top 10. Organizers say that Tesfaye Assefa Dube, another Ethiopian who makes his home in the Bronx, is probably the top New Yorker in the men's race. Dube was the top local finisher last year, running 2:22:38 and placing 19th.

Bill Bratton: No specific threats, but high security for NYC Marathon

October, 30, 2014
Bill BrattonSeth Wenig/AP PhotoNYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton promised "a safe, happy and memorable event" this Sunday.
NEW YORK -- New York officials say they know of no specific threats against Sunday's New York City Marathon, but promised security protections that will be as strong or stronger than those in place a year ago.

"Security was ramped up significantly last year [after the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing]," New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said Thursday. "We have kept that level of security, and then some."

In the wake of the Boston bombing, New York organizers put up more barriers last year around the finish line in Central Park. Runners also had to pass through magnetometers before the race began, and any bags were searched.

Bratton said that the intelligence community has not uncovered specific large-scale threats, but admitted that the recent attacks at the Canadian parliament building and against a New York police office in Queens serve as reminders of the danger of so-called "lone wolf" terrorists. Bratton and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio asked for cooperation from the public in alerting the police if they hear or see anything threatening.

About 50,000 runners are expected to run Sunday, in what continues to be the largest marathon in the world. Bratton said that more than 4,000 New York police officers will be involved in providing security for the event.

"We are very prepared," Bratton said. "We are very focused. ... We're in great shape for this event."

De Blasio once again sought to calm fears about the Ebola virus, and marathon officials stressed that while many African runners will take part Sunday, no one from any of the three West African nations hit by Ebola had applied to run in the New York City Marathon this year.

"I've said time and again to New Yorkers that there is no reason for alarm," de Blasio said.

De Blasio and Bratton met with other officials on Wednesday to review security plans, and to ensure that all were prepared to deal with anything that could go wrong. But both said confidently that they believe the marathon will go on with no issues.

"You will have a safe, happy and memorable event," Bratton said.

FanSpeak: NYC Marathon Pop Quiz

October, 30, 2014

Chris Chavez hits the streets of Manhattan to find out how much New York fans know about the NYC Marathon.

Q&A: Tiki Barber on the difference between running in the NFL and the NYC Marathon

October, 28, 2014
Tiki BarberCharles Eshelman/FilmMagicFormer Giants RB Tiki Barber will make his NYC Marathon debut on Sunday.
He’s run for 55 touchdowns and more than 10,000 yards in his NFL career. On Sunday, former New York Giants running back Tiki Barber will use those same legs to take on the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon. caught up with Barber before his marathon debut.

Tiki, this is your first marathon. Running 26.2 miles is a grueling test of endurance. What are your expectations for Sunday’s race?

Finishing. That’s the ultimate goal. I’ve been an athlete my entire life, but training for this type of event has been difficult and challenging. It’s actually something that I’m embracing.

You’re running and raising money for the Team Pitcch In Foundation. Why that particular charity?

My wife, Tracy, who is also running with me, has become good friends with Amber and CC Sabathia over the years. They started the PitCCh In Foundation, which helps inner city youth do a lot of things. They encourage and inspire them through educational assistance. They give them backpacks and send them off to school. Much like the The Boys and Girl’s Club of America, which was a big part of CC’s life growing up, they build baseball fields both in Los Angeles and in New York’s tri-state area. They asked us to run and raise some money. We said yes not really knowing what we were getting ourselves into and never having been a distance runner. We’re both really looking forward to it and doing a lot of great things for kids and the urban environment.

How’s your training been going? Did you ever do much running in practice as an NFL player?

My running in the NFL was mostly sprint and speed work with quick bursts of endurance. The longest I ever ran was probably about three miles during my football career. Back in my track days, we would go on some longer runs, but nothing like this. I started like about 14 or 15 weeks ago. I needed to lose weight and people told me that from the start -- you can’t run a marathon and be 205 pounds. As a result, I’ve lost about 18 pounds in those 14 weeks. I look great and I feel great. I’m excited for this particular challenge because the fans will push me through some of those particular breaking points where it's difficult to get through when you're training alone.

If we add up all of your rushing yards and receiving yards, we get a total of 15,632 yards in the NFL. That equates to approximately 8.8 miles. You’re running 26.2 on Sunday. What’s your reaction when I break it down like that for you?

[Laughing] That makes it sound even more daunting. I need to have three more careers and it took me 10 years to do that. The important distinction here is that no one is trying to beat me up while running the marathon.

Your former teammate Amani Toomer ran the New York City Marathon back in 2010 and set the NYC record for former NFL players in 4 hours, 13 minutes. Is that on your mind?

I’d love to come in around four hours and 10 minutes. I’ve been doing most of my runs and training in just under a nine-minute pace, but that’s running 14 to 20 miles. My 20 miler was hell because it was 85 degrees outside. Then I caught a cramp and had to walk about a mile and a half. That’s definitely a goal. Amani is a great athlete. He’s a leaner type athlete than I was, so he had a little bit of an advantage going into the marathon.

Have you spoken with him for any tips or advice?

No, I actually haven’t. I should reach out to him now that the race is around the corner. I could use some pointers on where to not go too fast.