Member Spotlight: Heather Viggiani

What event are you running with Team for Kids?
The 2015 United Airlines NYC Half!

What is your favorite place to run and why?
The west side highway—it has been my running path for years! I’m a Jersey girl, and I find myself looking across the Hudson reflecting on what it’s taken to get to this side of it.

If you run with music, what are your favorite artists or songs to listen to?
I have been stuck on David Guetta’s newest album “Listen”–it has all the best peaks and valleys to keep you going. He has such an effervescent personality and I just picture him on the 1s and 2s next to me, cheering me on. When I’m not listening to him, I have a bunch of playlists that feature artists like Disclosure, Diplo, Rihanna, Calvin Harris and Avicii, but my favorite song to run to is “So Good to Me” by Chris Malinchak. It’s my happy place song!

What is your favorite post-run meal?
I eat a banana before every run! Then I love having this smoothie afterwards:

When did your relationship with running begin and why?
I’ve gone through different spurts of being a serious runner in my life, and I guess this time around I can finally see the common thread: I run to gain peace, strength and resilience. My mom just passed away in October from ovarian cancer and I can’t think of a better way to honor her. I feel most alive when I’m running.

Do you have any pre-race rituals or superstitions, if so, please explain?
This is my first timed race–but I imagine I will want some keepsake of my mother’s on me while I run!

Why did you choose to run this event?
All of my runner friends say the NYC Half is the best run of them all! I look forward to running in two of my favorite places to run: Central Park and the West Side Highway. If all goes well, I plan to run the New York City Marathon in November.

Tell us a little more about yourself
I’m the assistant features editor at People StyleWatch magazine. I live in the West Village with my pug Jackson. I serve on the junior board of the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. My other fitness love is SoulCycle, and I find it’s the perfect thing to mix into my running training.

What excites you most about running your event with Team for Kids?
The sense of community amongst the runners. I’ve already discovered such an awesome example of the human spirit by running in groups.  Knowing on race that we are all in it to help children who don’t have the chance to help themselves elevates that sense even more.

Runners’s Breakfast

This sweet potato breakfast from top chef and marathoner Mark Bittman is a fast, easy and nutritious breakfast for pre-winter runs

1 sweet potato
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
Pinch of salt

Pierce potato all over with fork. Microwave on high, turning twice, for 15 minutes, or until soft. In a saucepan, cook walnuts, syrup, and salt on medium-low until nuts are coated and fragrant. Slice potato lengthwise. Mash nuts into top.

Nutrition per serving:
355 calories
44 g carbs
6 g fiber
7 g protein
19 g total fat
2 g saturated fat
220 mg sodium

Do you have a recipe and photos you would like to share with Team for Kids runners? If so, email them to for a chance to be featured!


Running the Jingle Bell Jog in candy-cane-striped socks and running alongside Christmas trees, elves, penguins, a gingerbread house and speedy little kids from our Young Runners program who were having the times of their lives.  The joy of running – even in the rain – was on the faces of the kids and adults alike. A reason to run if there ever was!

For more information on how to support NYRR youth programs and sign up to run with Team for Kids visit:

Share your reasons to run by using #ReasonsToRun and tagging Team for Kids in your post on Facebook and @TeamforKids on Instagram or Twitter. You can also email us a photo and your reason to run at with #ReasonsToRun in the subject line for a chance to be featured.


Show your Holiday spirit this month for a chance to win a personalized TFK long-sleeved tech shirt like the ones featured below! Use hashtag #HOLIDAYWITHTFK in your festive running photos (ex. holiday running attire and colorful lights)! Get creative with your posts! To see other examples and for inspiration, visit us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

The contest is currently underway and ends on December 31st!

Rules and details:

13.1 Reasons to Run the 2015 United Airlines NYC Half with TFK

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1) Take your running to the next level.
Whether you are thinking about taking those first steps to becoming a runner or have run 5Ks and 10Ks, running a half marathon gives you instant bragging rights and elevates you to a new echelon of runner fitness. If you’re an experienced runner, take your running to the next level by going for a PR and adding another medal to your collection!

2) Three months of training versus five.
The TFK United Airlines NYC Half training program is just 2.5 months, unlike the five months it takes to train for a marathon.  The training is challenging, but you still have a life!  Training starts Saturday, January 10.

3) Fill up those long winter weekends.
What better way to stay motivated throughout the winter than have a goal. A healthy one at that!  Your Saturdays will fly by when you start them off with a crisp run.

4) You’ll have a step-by-step training program.
You’ll receive weekly emails that outline the training for every level of runner. Plus, you’ll be invited to exclusive clinics on everything you need to know about gear and nutrition to run your best 13.1 miles ever.

5) Run with a like-minded group.
It’s no fun to train for a half marathon on your own. When you train with a group, you have no excuse not to get out of bed on a cold winter weekend morning and get to practice. Your new friends and coaches will be waiting for you. Together, your TFK family will make any run fun, no matter the weather or distance.  For those not located in NYC, you can share your post-run stories on social media using the #teamforkids hashtag on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and complete our member spotlight for a chance to be featured on our blog.

6) Justify a new running wardrobe.
Since you’ll be running throughout the winter, you’ll likely need to upgrade your running clothes or invest in new ones. This is the best excuse to go shopping for new running gear.

7) See the Big Apple up close.
What better way to see iconic sights in New York City! The 2015 United Airlines NYC Half takes runners on a 13.1-mile tour of NYC. Led by a talent-packed roster of American and international elites, runners will stop traffic in Manhattan, from Central Park through Times Square to South Street Seaport.

8) Burn some extra calories and stay fit.
A mile generally burns about 100 calories. Upping your mileage will not only take your running fitness to the next level, it will also boost your caloric burn. And just in time for your new spring look!

9) Recover quicker, party faster.
Running a half marathon is challenging, but will not leave you walking or feeling like a zombie afterwards. After you cross the finish line, you’ll be ready to join your TFK fellow runners and celebrate at a post-race brunch. Dancing is optional.

10) Show off the bling.
Show off your well-deserved medal! Every participant in the United Airlines NYC Half will be given a medal at the finish. Wear it proudly.

11) Give the gift of running.
When you run with TFK, you will be giving the gift of running to youth in New York City and nationally though your fundraising.  More than 200,000 students are served locally and nationally through free NYRR youth running programs, events, and resources, including more than 120,000 in New York City’s five boroughs. To learn more about our programs, go to

12) Become a role model.
When you take up the challenge to run a half marathon, you set the bar high and make a personal statement of commitment, dedication and determination guaranteed to bring some awe-inspiring kudos from family and friends.

13) You deserve it!
Do this for yourself! Experience the empowerment and joy from achieving a goal that may seem out of your reach, but that you had the guts to go for.

13.1) Check it off the list!
You’ve completed your first half marathon!

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If you’re looking to run an iconic Half Marathon, you can gain guaranteed entry this very minute by signing up to run with NYRR’s Team for Kids in the 2015 United Airlines NYC Half. In addition to raising money for NYRR youth programs, you’ll get 10 weeks of customized training, complete with unlimited phone and email access to our coaches and VIP treatment on race day. We’ll have you ready to fly through the NYC streets on March 15. Sign up here

Member Spotlight: Crystal Vidal

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What event are you running with Team for Kids?
I’m running the 2015 United Airlines NYC Half!

What is your favorite place to run and why?
My favorite place to run is Central Park (Park Lane Drive Loop). Conquering Harlem Hill and Cat Hill each time I run the loop gives me this running high that keeps me coming back for more. I love a challenge and that’s what Central Park gives me. Plus, every time I run Central Park I usually befriend a fellow runner and we have this face off. It is always friendly competition and very motivating for me since I am working on my speed. Another reason why I love Central Park is I get to soak in the sites. I recently had lasik eye surgery and these past two years of running in Central Park felt like I was seeing it for the first time. I used to run without my glasses before and now when I run I discover something new each and every time. It’s exciting!

If you run with music, what are your favorite artists or songs to listen to?
Lately, on race day I have not been running with music, however when training my go to artist to bump to while running is Beyonce (when I hear “girls we run the world” I feel empowered and I know my stride has doubled as a result!). Another favorite artist is Jay Z! I’m from Brooklyn, raised in the Bronx, and am a huge fan of hip hop. The beat and lyrics make me feel as though the finish line is so attainable even with the aggressive goal time I have in mind.

What is your favorite post-run meal?
Knowing there is a banana at the end of the race with my name on it keeps me going! I love bananas and apples. After that I usually inhale whatever is close by, but some favorites include: Spanish food, salad, sandwiches, and Pinkberry. It looks as though I am inhaling the food, but in my defense I have big teeth (which I LOVE) – they help to break down the food quickly.

When did your relationship with running begin and why?
When I was young I remember on marathon day my dad would drive me and my siblings through Brooklyn stopping at different cheer zones to see the runners. He was always a fan of their speed and determination. During my sophomore year of undergrad, I started running 1-2 miles every other day. Then after graduating in 2009, my dad fell very ill and before he passed away I wanted him to see me run. I wasn’t prepared for 26.2 but agreed to 13.1. I recruited one of my best friends who is also a big TFK fan, Yareni. My first race ever was with Team For Kids in 2010. The support and joy has kept me coming back for more.

Do you have any pre-race rituals or superstitions, if so, please explain?
Not really. In the morning of race day I always make sure I eat a bagel and banana. I take breakfast very seriously. It’s one of my biggest meals. I do not want to be a hangry runner.

Why did you choose to run this event?
It’s the same year I am running my first marathon ever. Plus, I am addicted to Team For Kids and I want to start this year off on the right foot which for me begins with the 2015 NYC Half representing Team for Kids where it all started back in 2010.

Tell us a little more about yourself
I am 27 years old. I graduated from Columbia University in 2009 and am working as a supervisor in a medical case management program that helps people living with HIV and or AIDS. I grew up in and out of a bunch of different foster homes. I have 11 siblings and we’re all phenomenal in our own special way. I hope to expand my platform in the medical field by obtaining my medical degree. Watch out for future Crystal Vidal, MD. I love to travel and read books. I have a slight passion for fashion. Running maintains my sanity and I am so grateful for the guidance and support.

What excites you most about running your event with Team for Kids?
I’m excited to run with Team for Kids because I know I’m running for something larger than myself. When I am wearing that Team for Kids singlet, I know I am not only running for me, but for the kids, and this thought keeps me running. I also always get excited to meet the coaches along the course on race day. The TFK coaches running along side me, giving me tips, motivating me gets me emotional, but gives me that push and pull to maintain my speed and get me to the finish line. I will never forget my last half running in Brooklyn 2014. I was nervous because I was aiming for a sub 2 and begged Coach Scott to run with me if and when he saw me. He told me to run with a pacer who was also a TFK alum. I trusted his suggestion and I did. I did not think I would see Coach Scott on the course, but we crossed paths and he told me I looked good and strong and that I was going to hit my sub 2. Having people who believe in me is always awesome. I CAN NOT wait for NYC 2015 Half Marathon. I pray to PR at the race where it all started representing Team for Kids again. 2015 is a big race year for me. I hope to soak it all in and enjoy these moments while accomplishing all the goals I have set forth.

If you’re new to Team for Kids and hearing Crystal’s story inspired you, join us at an upcoming information session to learn more and to sign up for a 2015 event. To view dates and to RSVP click here.