Primed for the long journey, espnW’s Laura Gentile joins the thousands running in the NYC Marathon

Laura Gentile (Credit?)
Laura Gentile, espnW vice president, has trained 16 weeks for her NYC Marathon debut. More than 10 years ago, she completed a marathon in San Diego. (Phil Ellsworth/ESPN Images)
Laura Gentile (Credit?)
Gentile is dedicating her run to the memory of her father Cesare Gentile.

This weekend, ESPN will televise the ING New York City Marathon (Sunday, Nov. 3, 9 a.m. ET, ESPN2, WatchESPN, ESPN Deportes+; locally, ABC7 and WatchABC) – the first time the event will be televised live nationally in 20 years.

One of the world’s most prestigious athletic events, the race is also among the rare major sports that features world-class athletes competing on the same course as everyday fitness-minded weekend warriors.

Several ESPNers will be among the more than 45,000 runners expected to participate. One of them is Laura Gentile, vice president of espnW. While competing is nothing new to the former Duke University All-America field hockey player, Gentile will cross a major goal off her bucket list when she crosses the marathon finish line Sunday. 

Gentile, who recently led the fourth annual espnW Women + Sports Summit and is setting the pace for ESPN’s first dedicated business that serves, informs and inspires female athletes and fans, spoke with Front Row about her training for the NYC Marathon and why she runs.

espnW has had a particularly busy year, including the recent espnW Summit. How have you balanced work, home and training?
Oftentimes, running was a nice getaway and release – a chance to think and be silent for a good amount of time. The long runs can be challenging as they literally take 2 to 3 1/2 hours on the weekend, and I need to let my family know I’ll be out and gone for awhile! I did train while we were at the espnW Summit, but that was no problem as the Summit is built around physical activity and we had the New York Road Runners there hosting runs. I did a 5-mile run with that group, and ran each morning leading up to the Summit.

How did you train and prepare?
I run at least four times a week, with a long run on the weekend. I followed Hal Higdon’s basic training program religiously. His program is easy to follow, fairly basic and digestible. Reading his book Marathon also helped to answer any questions – about the physical or mental sides of running a marathon. I mapped out my 16 weeks of training and went for it!

Why do you run?
I run because running the NYC Marathon has been a goal of mine. I run in honor of my Dad, Cesare Gentile, who passed away five long years ago. I run because it feels great to get your body in tune and literally feel yourself getting stronger. And I run because espnW has inspired me to run.

Were you prepared to run last year? If so, how did the cancellation of the event affect your approach to 2013?
Yes, I had trained for the 2012 Marathon. It was disappointing not to run in the race, but the Marathon needed to be cancelled in light of the severe damage caused by Hurricane Sandy. It was not a great feeling leading up to the race knowing that public sentiment was dead-set against the race being run. Yet, training last year was good preparation for me this year. I’ve been more comfortable in my training and more confident in my regimen as I’ve been through it before. Perhaps I was overeager last year and overtrained. I feel better prepared this year, more ready and primed.

Editor’s note:’s coverage of the ING NYC Marathon will include several pre-race features, a “Why I Run” page dedicated to 20 of this year’s marathon runners and more.

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