This edition of our Member Spotlight features Charity Miles member Kristen Garzone! I had the opportunity to chat with the Troy, NY resident and 7x marathon finisher. Check it out!
“I am from Upstate, NY and I live in Troy. I work in insurance for an NYS public authority. Growing up I was a 3-sport athlete, but soccer was my first love. After playing soccer (and lacrosse) in college, I needed something to fill the void of training. So, I signed up for a couple of 5k’s and a 15k, and the rest is history! Never did I imagine the runner I would be today.”
Although Kristen is a seasoned marathoner in the present day, she was initially hesitant about taking on such a big task. “Running a marathon had always been on my bucket list but I most definitely had doubts about signing up. Back in March 2012, I ran the NYC Half (my 4th half marathon) where I ran my first sub-2-hour half marathon at 1:56:04! When I finished that race so strongly, I finally felt the confidence to finally take on 26.2 miles. I signed up for my first marathon a week after.”
Kristen has been using Charity Miles for the last four years after learning about the app while training. “I heard about Charity Miles back in 2015 when I was training for the Marine Corps Marathon where I ran to raise money for Team Fox.”
“I have run to raise money for the Michael J. Fox Foundation (my stepfather’s parents both passed away from Parkinson’s) and for ALS. Every Mother Counts has been a charity that I currently hold close to my heart and I am proud to be a part of their team since June of 2018.”
When asked why she uses Charity Miles as opposed to other apps available to her Kristen responded, “I love how easy it is to use and that every mile is for a greater good! You just turn on the app, choose your charity, and go!”
Training certainly keeps Kristen busy, especially when there’s a big race coming up. “When I’m training, my week looks a little like this – Monday is strength and active rest; Tuesday-Thursday, I’m either logging a 6-7 mile easy run, 8-9 miles of tempo/sprint work; if it’s a Saturday morning, I’m long-running; and I end the week with recovery miles on Sunday!”
Kristen, like many others, enjoys the therapeutic aspect of running. “What I love most about running is that it has been a big part of my everyday therapy. I struggle with depression and anxiety and I can go out there and run off my worries and almost feel untouchable. Running gives me clarity and just makes me feel better about myself!”
“When I became a mom back in October 2016, running was the one thing I felt I had to myself and it was my alone time amongst the madness of motherhood (and helped me cope with my PPD). No matter the type of day I’m having, there’s something about crossing off a tough workout and logging a run that makes me feel like I can take on the world. It reminds me that I am tougher than I think and I can get through each and every mile, each and every day.”
Reliant on running as an outlet, Kristen was sidelined for over 60 days due to an unforeseen eye issue last year. “I was diagnosed with Intermediate Uveitis (inflammation of cells in the eyes) back in March of 2010 with no information as to what had been causing it. Back in August 2018, I went to a routine eye appointment where they found my pressure to be in the 40s – pressure in the 60s results in blindness. When I was rushed in to see a Glaucoma doctor, they found I had lost 50% of my vision in my left eye and needed surgery ASAP.”
“I was knee-deep in training for the Wineglass Marathon (my 2nd attempt for a sub 4) and thankfully had a doctor that allowed me to wait to have surgery until after the race. I had an express shunt put in my left eye on October 3rd, just 4 days after my 7th marathon. I was unable to run for 65 days (along with no lifting, no bending over, no lying flat, etc.) and I was most definitely an emotional mess. It was tough!”
Although Kristen struggled emotionally when she was unable to run, there was a silver lining. “On the positive side, I got to spend more time with my family and do some things after work I wouldn’t normally do because I would be exhausted from training. I got to spectate some races and cheer on friends (NYC and Philly marathon), and most importantly – give my body the rest it needed to heal. I start a new marathon training cycle on January 21st and I am that much more excited after all the time I had off this Fall. I feel refreshed and looking forward to getting back to work!”
In addition to running, Kristen maintains a large social media presence, especially on Instagram (@mellank) where she currently has over 17k followers! “My Instagram account has been my personal account from day one. When I started to run more and more and found this IG running community, I started logging more about my training and daily runs. It’s an amazing support group and I just love the online running community so much! I have met so many amazing people and have had such great experiences because of it.”
So what’s next for Kristen? She plans to race in the Shipyard Maine Marathon on May 11, raising funds for Every Mother Counts along the way while attempting to complete her 8th full-distance marathon! On the same day, Kristen will simultaneously be participating in the Run to Believe Virtual Run, an event she founded last year to benefit her late friend Kristin Nicole Thorsen who lost her life to Postpartum Depression. The event takes place on Saturday, May 11, and is completely virtual, meaning anybody, anywhere can take part. There is no set distance and no time cutoffs. All you need to do is register, lace up your running shoes, and head out! All proceeds benefit Every Mother Counts.
Wondering what keeps Kristen going after having finished 7 marathons? “My personal goals! Marathons are TOUGH but with every training cycle and finish, you find out a little bit more about yourself and prove to yourself how much stronger you are for it. My goal right now is to break a sub-4-hour marathon. I refuse to give up until I break that goal but I know that with that will come another goal to chase in the future!”
Good luck in your upcoming race and keep up the great work Kristen! You can learn more about Run to Believe at the following links:
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If you're listening to this podcast while walking or running, I hope you're wearing their open-ear bone conduction headphones.
Not only do they enable you to listen to your podcasts and music safely, but since they don't go in your ear, they are the most comfortable headphones I've ever owned– and they never fall out!