Category Archives: Guest Blogger

Withum 300 Fun Facts & Figures

withum-300Believe it or not, the end of April will mark the 40th month of Withum 300’s existence. And while we typically share fun information like how many miles we accomplished in any given month or how many people achieved 300 miles are more, here are some facts or figures you might not be aware of:

365: The amount of unique runners who have joined the group since its existence.

334: While 2014 may have been our smallest group (just 42 people), it proved to be our most active runners. That year our group finished with its highest average mileage of 334 miles (compared to 296 in 2015 and 323 in 2016).

223: Having said that, the most amount of miles achieved by a single individual in a given month was 223 miles, which was accomplished in May of 2016. May must be a big month for running, as that was also the highest amount of miles by an individual runner in 2015 (216 miles).

5,659: 2017 is off to a strong start, as we accomplished the most total miles as a group in February of this year with 5,659 miles.

36: While 6,569 miles is no doubt impressive, it averages to about 26 miles for the month. Our highest monthly average, however, is 36 miles. This was accomplished in July of 2014.

116: Number of unique participants who have achieved the Withum 300 challenge, as of December 2016.

15: Number of participants who accomplished the Withum 300 challenge every year since its inception, as of December 2016.

Running To Give Back

15541647_10207934535784658_8219459992864596489_nSome of our runners joined Withum 300 to stay or get in shape. Others did it to hold themselves accountable. Or because they have a genuine passion for running. And then some participate for the sense of community — joining together with the purpose of hitting a common goal. With around 250 participants, it’s not surprising that several motivations exist. In this month’s guest blog entry, Brooke Morgan, a Marketing Coordinator in our Philadelphia office, tells us how it wasn’t a love of running that got her involved in the group — it was the opportunity to help others.

I started with Withum in August of 2016 after leaving a job at a company I had grown very comfortable at. My job search began the same way any professional’s would in the 21st century: scouring the internet, specifically LinkedIn, for opportunities on a daily basis. When I came across a job posting at Withum, I did a background investigation of the firm because I had heard of the Withum name but didn’t know enough about the firm culture. In doing this research, I found that Withum was rated one of the best places to work in a majority of the cities that it had offices in. The reasons for why it deserves that accolade is extensive, but the one that stuck out to me the most was its devotion to give back. And with this discovery, I knew I had to apply for that job.

Growing up, I watched my parents find joy in giving back to others. Whether they know it or not, they raised me on the notion that when you are given many blessings, you must find ways to bless others in return, no matter how small. It is a lesson that has stuck with me since I was little and I have no intention of forgetting it any time soon.

After officially starting at Withum, I began to learn about all of the company’s initiatives I had read about when researching the firm. I loved that the firm had created ways to not only give back to the surrounding communities, but also the team members it employs. When I learned about the Withum 300 and how the firm was willing to match fifty cents to every mile run by participants with an overall goal of donating the funds to the Staff Hardship Relief Fund, I didn’t hesitate to sign up. Okay, that’s a lie. I did a little.

Running has never been one of my favorite activities and I won’t pretend that it will become one in the future. I would be lying if I said I was not a little intimidated to participate in the initiative when I heard at Withum’s State of the Firm in January that nine people ran over 1,000 miles in 2016. I’m not sure I have run 1,000 miles in my entire life! Then I read the Withum 300 blog and was relieved to find that not everyone who participates gets that “runner’s high” every time they hit the treadmill. For me, running has always just been a way to stay in shape, to get my 10,000 Fitbit steps in, or one of the ways to get the universally suggested minimum of 30 minutes of cardio in every day.

Since starting with the Withum 300, it doesn’t take nearly as much will-power to motivate me to run. I surprisingly want to push myself to run that extra mile every day just because I know that it will help me live up to my parents’ and my personal expectation of helping others. And what better way to give back than to my Withum team members who I may not even know are suffering from a tragedy? Are there days I come home and don’t want to run? Of course! If that is the case, I cut myself some slack and elliptical or power walk instead, just as long as I am getting my miles in. And if I miss a day due to a previous commitment, I make sure that I make up for it on the days that I do run.

Arthur Ashe once said, “From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life.” If you aren’t participating in the Withum 300 but are able to run, I encourage you to join us on this yearly journey even if you do not enjoy running. Not only will it lead to a healthy heart and overall lifestyle, it will lead to a joyful one as well!

How A Non-Runner Accumulated 1,000 Miles In 2016

img_2674While Withum 300 was originally conceived as a running group, there are some members who prefer to exercise through walking. In some instances, it’s for physical reasons. In Doris Martinez’s case, it was because she never considered herself “a runner.” And yet, through a desire to challenge herself and to fit in some mother/daughter bonding time, Doris has incredibly seen herself complete a number of 5K’s, 10K’s, and even half marathons over the past year. This month, Doris’s story shares an important lesson — that the love of running does not necessarily develop for everyone, but that doesn’t need to stop you from challenging yourself and finding motivation elsewhere:

First and foremost, I am not a runner, I have never found the runner’s high, nor do I understand how people get up and run – mile after mile, day after day, year after year. I have always been a walker, so when Withum 300 started, I figured I would begin tracking my miles. I never knew how many miles I actually walked in a week, month or year, so Withum 300 was a good way for me to figure out the amount of miles my feet traveled.

In late 2015, my girl friend and I had decided to do the “year of” challenge. For 2016, we challenged each other to run or walk 1,008 miles. That was the start of “some” running. We did some of our miles together, most of which was good for our friendship as well as holding each other accountable to our challenge.

One day, after a discussion with my friends who were running in the Disney marathon, I suggested I go to Disney to show support. I asked my daughter if she wanted to go with me, and she suggested we run the half marathon that same weekend. Who could refuse their daughter’s request? And with that, both of us registered to run our first half marathon. I was scared. My daughter was thrilled.

In January 2016, we ran and completed our first half marathon. For those who have ever participated in a Disney race, you know they are fun runs and you generally don’t accomplish your personal best, but for Megan and I, it was our personal best.

By the end of 2016, I had completed a few 5k’s, one 10k and two half marathons. The rest of my miles were from either hiking or walking. At the end of my 1,008 miles, I concluded that while I would never really find the “love of running” that many other people have, if my daughter wanted to do some race together, I would certainly use that time as mother/daughter bonding time.

For 2017, I am registered to do the Star Wars challenge in Disney after tax season, which is a 10k and a half marathon, and in January 2018, my daughter and I are registered to do another 10k and half marathon.

As Theodore Roosevelt once said, “with self-discipline, all things are possible.” While I may never be a “runner,” I will continue with my daily walks and to accumulate my 300+ miles each year.

Withum 300 Raises Over $27,000 for Staff Hardship Relief Fund

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Our Withum 300 health and fitness group was recognized at Monday’s annual State of the Firm event for their efforts by awarding each team member who completed the challenge of running 300 miles or more over the course of 2016 with a personalized Withum 300 running shirt.

And for good reason: our group of 182 active participants ran a total of 55,048 miles, a “personal best” since the program was initiated in 2014. And this wasn’t a matter of simply hitting more miles because more people were participating — the group averaged 303 miles (up from last year) and nine people managed to finish with over 1,000 miles.

That isn’t to take away from the incredible growth of Withum 300. This year’s class saw 84 team members achieve their goal of running 300 miles or more, which is double the amount of people who participated in the program in its initial year.

Perhaps the accomplishment the group is most proud of, however, is the fact that their efforts helped raise significant funds towards the Staff Hardship Relief Fund, which was established in 2012 to financially assist our team members and their families who are experiencing a temporary hardship due to a significant life event. For 2016, the firm generously agreed to donate 50 cents per mile, resulting in $27,524 being contributed to the fund. Since its inception, the Staff Hardship Relief Fund has assisted 17 of the applications received and we are certain these additional funds will go a long way to ensuring that we can continue helping those in need.

Withum has agreed to once again donate 50 cents per mile in 2017 and based on our initial response, we anticipate over 200 runners to join Withum 300 this year.  We can’t wait to see what this year’s group can accomplish!  Be sure to continue visiting our blog to follow our progress and hear our stories!

Putting Your Best Foot Forward

nicole-runningNicole DeRosa is another “Withum 300 Original” who has succeeded in her goal of running 300 miles or more every year since the program was launched in 2014. However, unlike many of the other stories our runners have shared, Nicole’s obstacles haven’t been about making time or finding motivation, it’s been about her physical limitations. This month, Nicole tells us about how she’s overcome and worked around those issues:

Where do I even start? In a nutshell- I used to HATE running. Ever since my freshman year of high school, I’ve been an avid gym-goer. Exercising and staying in shape is part of my daily routine; it is my primary stress reliever. With that being said, for cardio I’d literally do everything BUT run.

As a high school varsity cheerleader, one of the requirements was that you had to be able to run an 8 minute mile. I’m 5’1″ on a good day, and running an 8 minute mile did not come easy for me; dancing and gymnastics, on the other hand did. My “8 minute mile struggle” was very real. Now I know a lot of you probably find this humorous, but that is really where my hatred for running first began. Anyhow, I made varsity cheerleading as a freshman and ran my 8 minute mile (yay!)

I remained active during high school and college but things took a serious turn when it was confirmed that I needed hip surgery, and one day would need two blown replacements. Of course I received multiple opinions, and tried everything possible first but unfortunately it wasn’t enough.

My first surgery on my left hip was when I was still in graduate school; the recovery was about 8 months – it was horrible, BUT, this was when my hatred for running slowly turned into appreciation. Once I was finally able to bear weight and walk again, my physical therapist incorporated running into my regimen. After I graduated from physical therapy in 2008, I was easily in the best shape of my life AND running every couple of days because it really helped with my hip and kept things loose.

Eventually I hit a speed bump a year later; my right hip was already shot and I knew from prior MRIs there was an issue – surgery on my right hip was inevitable. Here we go again, I knew the drill. Recovery on my right hip was 7 months.

My last surgery was in 2009 and I refuse to let my hip problems get the best of me. I’ve been running consistently ever since my last surgery to keep the pain to a tolerable limit and teaching Zumba once a week starting in 2011. I know my limits, it’s a very fine line. The first year of the Withum 300, never in a million years did I think I’d be able to reach 300 miles; I logged 350 miles. Last year, I set a goal to run 400 miles; I ran 402 miles.

This year, I set a goal to run 450 miles; unfortunately I’m nicole-x-raynot going to hit my goal and will end the year around 365 miles. This past February, it was confirmed that I had re-injured my right hip and surgery was the only option to fix it- otherwise, I could suck it up and do physical therapy/exercises to minimize pain. Since I’ll eventually need two replacements anyways, I stuck to the physical therapy route which put me back a solid 2.5 months for running. Most days, I feel completely fine- and I attribute that to staying active and listening to my body.

I’m not looking at this as a failure; I did what I could and put my best foot forward, literally. The fact of the matter is staying active and exercising is SO important for endless reasons. I grew to somehow enjoy running and am so glad that my company recognizes this- not only am I doing something good for myself, I’m also able to effortlessly contribute to our Staff Hardship Relief Fund. Double win!

Running Towards a Goal

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Believe it or not, Christina Lazaro is the first of our blog contributors who has been participating in Withum 300 since it was created in 2014. And while joining the group didn’t get her to start running, it has changed her attitude towards running and pushed her towards accomplishing previously unthinkable goals. In this month’s blog post, Christina talks about how her perspective of running and the group has shifted over the past three years:

I played soccer my whole life and learned in high school that endurance alone could win a game, so I did track during the off-season to stay in shape. I have always enjoyed running. So when soccer ended, running continued. What I have always liked about running is that you are completely in control of the outcome. It is also time for you, to think, or to not think – whichever is more applicable at the moment.

Before the first year of Withum 300, I never tracked my miles. When the first e-mail about Withum 300 came across, I ignored it. Running was for me. It was my escape. I didn’t want to be held accountable. I didn’t want to stress if I struggled to meet the goal. I wasn’t doing it.

And then Jose Antunes signed me up. Ugh. So there I had it, I would be running 300 tracked miles during 2014. So I did. Christmas Day 2014, I had run 301.3 miles during the year. Merry Christmas to me! Good. Done. Bye, pressure.

And then came State of the Firm 2015, where Bill announced we would be doing it again. Greatttt. Now that I’ve started, I can’t not continue, right? But I already ran 300 miles, so now what?

Four hundred. That’s what. Now I was determined to run 400 miles in 2015. Then sometime during 2015, my attitude began changing. I was exploring new cities by running. I was being encouraged by my fellow Withum 300 runners. I liked being held accountable. I was having fun. I hit my goal and kept going.

This year was approaching. I was ready with my goal of 500 miles and was excited to learn of the incorporation of the 50-cents-per-mile donation to the Staff Hardship Relief Fund. To be able to do something I enjoy with the bonus of my efforts supporting the Fund is so encouraging and fulfilling to me.

I ended November with 565 miles. If someone told me in 2014 that I would run 565 miles in 2016, I would have laughed. I cannot believe the goals I am hitting and how motivated I am. I am excited to continue running along with my Withum family and look forward to setting, and hitting, new goals.

Third Time’s the Charm

lcsu16pw05765While this is Krysten Hambrook’s first year participating in the Withum 300 running group, she’s well on her way at crushing 300 miles. As of the end of September, she’s already conquered more than 200 miles. Yet, like many of the people on our team, Krysten isn’t a life long runner. Nonetheless, after a simple challenge, she’s now completed her third half marathon. Krysten shares her story on how she went from non-runner to — in her words — half crazy:

This month I ran my third half marathon. Yes…13.1 miles…in one swoop…for the third time.

The experience this time around was completely different, but before I get into that, let me back up.

If you told me in high school that I would one day run one half marathon, let alone three, I would have laughed in your face. I went out of my way to avoid running. I was a swimmer, a skater and I played softball (and running the 60 feet to first base does NOT count as running).

I started trying to run a few years ago and was challenged by my cousin to run my first half marathon. Accepting the challenge, I Googled a few running plans and started training. Prior to that, I had never thought I could run more than three miles consecutively…ever. And this was my first road race.

Half marathon #1 goal: Run all 13.1 miles.
Thanks to my cousin keeping me moving, I ran the whole thing and couldn’t move for the next few days.

Half marathon #2 took place at Disney World. Who doesn’t have fun doing anything at the Happiest Place on Earth? Plus, I was running alongside a close friend and I was wearing a tutu.

This most recent race was a different beast. I was not running in a tutu prancing through Cinderella’s castle. Instead, I convinced six other people to join me in this feat. My goal this time was to maintain my pace and to beat my previous times. While I trained on my own, I was motivated by my brother and friends (including Simone, who posted a few months ago) who were also training. We shared the details of good runs, hard runs, and days that running just didn’t happen.

The morning of the race was cold and misty, not ideal for being outdoors, let alone for hours trying to run. At 8am, the race finally started and we were off. Our pack started together, but we separated into our own pace groups as the miles trudged on. My brother, who still probably thinks I’m crazy for convincing him to do this, and I ran together the whole time. His goal was to run the whole thing and finish together. We set the bar high by running the first seven miles at a great pace. We were both feeling good, maintaining conversation, looking at the cute dogs that we passed and were picking out our favorite houses in each neighborhood.

Then we got to mile 11 and all I wanted to do was walk. There were only 2.1 miles left and the pace we had been going at was finally taking a toll on me and this became a mental game. I couldn’t get out of my own head, thinking “I should walk. No, I want to get to the finish line faster and be done with this. Maybe I’ll just walk for a little bit. But no, I need to keep running and finish!”

The mind game took up those 2 miles, along with my brother’s sarcastic encouragement, until we crossed the finish line. We finished faster than I had expected thanks to my brother not letting me stop.

I signed up for this race so I would have an excuse to go running and it would push me to accumulate my #withum300 miles. While this race pushed me to train, it also left me knowing I could have finished those last 2 miles stronger. I guess I’ll have to sign up for another one and see!

Anything is Possible

schrumpf-2John Schrumpf officially joined Withum 300 at the end of July with the daunting goal of hitting 300 miles in just five months. John not only achieved that quest — he shattered it. As of the end of August, John managed to complete 302 miles, split between the miles he ran in the months of July and August. In this month’s Withum 300 blog, John talks about how he went from struggling to complete a couple of miles to finishing his fourth half marathon:

In the year 1954, on a rainy morning in the city of Oxford, Roger Bannister became the first person to run a mile in under 4 minutes. At the time, this feat was considered impossible by most informed observers. By 2016, thousands of runners have run a mile in under 4 minutes, and the current world record sits at 3:43.13.

While most of us runners will never be able to match Bannister’s accomplishment, there is something that we can all share with him – achieving something that you once thought was impossible.

When I first started running a little over three years ago, running one or two miles was enough to leave my legs sore for days. The thought of running a 5k filled me with dread. Running seven, eight, nine, or (gulp) TEN miles seemed downright impossible. Rather than letting that doubt deter me, I continued running and training the best that I could by taking things one step at a time, and getting better every day. Slowly but surely, I found myself checking off those milestone distances that I once thought were impossible. In fact, I’ve gone above and beyond my original goals. Earlier this month I completed my fourth half marathon.

Through my experience with running, I’ve learned three important lessons about reaching that seemingly impossible goal:

1. Interim goals are important

When I started running, I was often frustrated with how slowly I was progressing. Once I started recognizing smaller improvements as achievements I became much more enthusiastic and optimistic about reaching my ultimate goals. Setting a short term goal of running 10 miles in a week or completing a 5k is a great place to start! As you achieve these interim goals you will feel great about yourself and you will be surprised by all of the progress that you have made.schrumpf-1

2. Embrace the running community

I’ve met people through running that I will be friends with for the rest of my life. We are constantly texting each other words of encouragement, and we run together whenever we have the chance. When I started at Withum just a few months ago, I was thrilled to learn about the Withum 300 group. Having a group of like-minded people to support you along the way is an invaluable resource.

3. Believe in yourself

This is perhaps the most important lesson I learned from running. What makes running such an incredible activity is that it is one of the purest tests of determination and strength of will. When your entire body is tired on that last lap of a run, belief in yourself is the only thing left to keep you going. Once I started trusting and believing in myself, I found that I was running longer distances and taking less days off.

Despite all the pulled muscles and sore legs, becoming a runner has been one of the greatest blessings in my life. I’ve accomplished goals in running that I once thought were impossible. I have grown so much as a person and I will carry these lessons with me through all aspects of my life. Whether your goal is to run a marathon, run 300 miles in a calendar year, or something in between, please remembers that anything is possible if you put your mind to it; Roger Bannister and I are proof.

Becoming “A Runner”

FullSizeRenderWhen Walsh, Jastrem & Browne was merged into the Withum family in March of 2015, Simone Chuda was one of only two Boston employees to join the Withum 300 running group. And despite essentially only beginning the program in April, she was still able to achieve her goal of 300 miles by December. This month, Simone explains why she started running, the “firsts” she’s challenging herself with this year, and her philosophy of how “something is better than nothing.”

I was always active with sports throughout my school years. As most adults face, I struggled with the options of how to stay healthy and get active as I transitioned into a full-time job and was now spending hours sitting behind a desk. I have always enjoyed running and it tends to be my go-to exercise, mainly because it is easy and “free” unlike a gym membership, however I never considered myself “a runner.” I would strive to run 3 times a week for about 2-3 miles each time, and would sign up for occasional 5K runs to keep me motivated, yet I would fall short of my goal constantly.

In March 2015, Withum merged with our office and with the merger came information about the Withum 300 group. I was instantly interested and signed up as I tried to recruit others as well. I updated MapMyRun and quickly refreshed my memory of how to use the app so that I could track my miles and join challenges. The updates from the Withum 300 group showing the monthly progress was rewarding and motivating. I quickly made it a goal to play catch up and get on track to reach the 300 miles by the end of the year. In December 2015, I conquered that goal, proudly representing the Boston office, and immediately signed up to rejoin Withum 300 in 2016.

My personal goal for this year is to reach my 300 miles by Thanksgiving. I did not expect for this year to bring so many firsts along with that goal. On top of experiencing some new 5K runs, I ran my first 10K on the 4th of July, my first Falmouth Road Race on August 21st, which is a selective 7.1-mile race on Cape Cod, and am signed up to run my first half marathon on October 2nd. With all of these runs and new distances has come hours’ worth of training. The top three factors to my successful training has been listening to my body, variety and fellow runners.

I personally use the Nike+ app for my training which has a Coach setting detailing coaching plans by listing the distance for me to run each day and for the weeks ahead, which enables me to look back at the progress. I admit there are days I miss a run or do not reach the distance goal. On days that I struggle or have low motivation, I remind myself and others of my personal training motto, “something is better than nothing.” You will never regret going out and doing something to help you train, no matter how short. I continue to learn more about my body and its limits. I am not afraid anymore to admit when I need to have an unscheduled rest day or to walk out a cramp during a run. Listening to your body is crucial.

Another key factor to my training is variety. Nike+ app helps remind me that distance is not the sole goal in my training. For example, my training plans will explain on certain days for me to run shorter distance but I will be working on periodic sprints. Mixing up my route also helps keep my mind fresh and engaged. Trying a new route is a perfect excuse for me to explore different areas of the city on foot. Having shorter races scheduled in between the ultimate goal, in this case my half marathon, helps me stay focused and motivated while showing me the progress I have made and the areas to improve upon. It was ultimately having the shorter scheduled races in between now and the half marathon that helped me convince myself that I could take my running to the next level; besides, I knew it would be fun regardless with friends.

The largest contribution to my training is fellow runners. Being able to come into the office and talk about running with coworkers has a mutual motivation. When I go home to NH I know I can count on going for a long run with my best friend. My best friend from home is the one who invited me to join her for our first 10K race, my cousin invited me to join the Falmouth Road race and it is a combined effort from my best friend and our own Krysten Hambrook to join them for the half marathon. Being able to bounce off ideas in terms of new routes, running gear, and training plans brings a new element and a reminder that this is a shared hobby. The monthly updates of how everyone else in the Withum 300 group is progressing is always exciting. Krysten and I constantly talk about our runs and the monthly progress we have made, boosting each other to go farther. With a strong support group and people who are able to join in on your interest, your progress will grow exponentially and you will be reaching upon your original goals like I have.

This year has certainly transformed me into “a runner.” Remember- something is better than nothing!

Withum 300 Helps Tackle Kids Cancer

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On Tuesday, July 26 members of our Withum 300 running team participated in their first group Corporate FunRun at the South Mountain Recreation Complex in West Orange, New Jersey. The event benefited Tackle Kids Cancer, Hackensack University Medical Center’s team at the Children’s Cancer Institute consisting of dedicated clinicians and researchers specializing in pediatric cancer.

IMG_1657Despite the intense heat, the Withum 300 team was well represented with over 20 participants from our New Jersey, New York, Boston and Orlando offices. Never one to turn down an opportunity to show off some Withum pride, the group decked themselves out with their Withum 300 shirts, Withum branded bandannas, blue facepaint, bow ties, and other accessories. Chris Smith and Kyle Anderson of our Orlando office even wore bright blue wigs during the race — something that was so enjoyed by event sponsor Modell’s that it was acknowledged onstage by New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles legend Sean Landeta.

While the event was a great team building experience that helped raised money for a very worthy cause, the Withum 300 group still managed to run away with some special achievements:

  • 2nd Place: Corporate Female Team (Emily Furey, Christina Lazaro and Nikki Howard)
  • 3rd Place: Corporate Female Individual (Emily Furey)
  • 5th Place: Largest Team
  • Honorable Mention: Team Spirit

Following the race, the team celebrated waterside with some food and drinks at McLoone’s Boathouse.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW PHOTOS FROM THE EVENT