Gearing Up for the NJ Marathon 5K with Gail Baker, NBIMC

RWJBarnabas Health is a proud sponsor of the 2017 Novo Nordisk New Jersey Marathon and Half Marathon. RWJBarnabas Health employees from throughout the state have registered to run. In this three-part series, three RWJBarnabas Health employees share their inspiring journeys into the world of running.

Gail Baker (left) is pictured with her daughter at a New Jersey Novo Nordisk Marathon in the past.

Gail Baker (left) is pictured with her daughter at a New Jersey Novo Nordisk Marathon in the past.

Gail Baker, DNP, Essex Hudson Cardiology, Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, and cardiac arrest survivor, shares her story.

“I have always loved exercise and being active for as long as I can remember. Working out, Pilates and stretching have been important parts of my life. As a survivor of cardiac arrest sudden death in 2005, I feel even more empowered and driven to continue to work toward the betterment of my health, fitness and overall wellness through running!

I started running in the beginning of 2014, when I encouraged my daughter to start as well. After she had gained some weight, I thought this would be a good way for both of us to be healthier and spend time together. Lexi wasted no time and was off and running and I trailed right behind her, wanting to push myself to get faster and stronger to be able to keep up and run with her. Our first race together was the NJ Marathon Weekend 5K in 2014. We had the best time!! It was a cold and rainy morning but by the time the race was finished, the sun came out and we celebrated the rest of the weekend! When we saw the large display of beautiful, shiny medals all set up at the finish line we were SO hooked! I was so proud to be able to share such a special moment with her and in Long Branch, NJ, where my family lives and where we spend our summers.

In the last three years, we have run dozens of races together and our medal collection has grown quite a bit! With each race, we make new memories and traditions and challenge each other to do better! We have even made some great running friends along the way. In 2015, we trekked all the way to Nashville, TN for the Rock n Roll Marathon Weekend where my daughter completed the half marathon and I ran the 5K. In addition, to race in Nashville, we raised over $2,000 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital which made the weekend even sweeter! We were so proud! We left Nashville with four new medals, an appreciation of country music and Adam, my daughter's boyfriend!

This April, as we run our fourth NJ Marathon 5k together, I am proud to have made such great strides in both my personal health and wellness but also in my daughter’s. And this year, Adam will be running alongside Lexi and I in Long Branch, which is very exciting! Now that it has been ten years since my cardiac arrest, I feel so much stronger, happier, healthier and full of love for my life, family and the sport of running!”

5K preparation Q&A with Ms. Baker:

How many days a week do you run?

I try to run at least 4 days a week — at least 2 miles to 2.5 miles per day. The other days, I incorporate Pilates and strength training (shout out to my trainer, the fantastic Lisa Charles!) to help me with my speed.

Do you listen to music while you run, and if so, what’s your favorite music to listen to when running?

Oh yes! Music is what helps me pace myself and get motivated! I listen to a wide variety of music including country, classic rock, Latin and even Bollywood music! Anything with a good beat to get me moving!

What are your favorite foods to fuel with when training for your 5Ks?

I always eat a healthy and balanced diet. When I have a race coming up, I try to eat more protein (hard boiled eggs, grilled chicken with roasted veggies and the like!) I try not to stray from my usual foods and I always make sure to eat enough healthy sugars (apples and oranges) to help me feel energized throughout the days.

What advice do you have for your RWJBarnabas Health colleagues considering signing up for their first 5K or other run?

Just get up and DO IT! You may think it’s too far or that you just can’t do it and I’m telling you that you CAN. It is never too late to start. I was 64 when I started and if I can do it, you can too!