Alumni Spotlight: Melissa Pranzo

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What events have you run with Team for Kids?
United Airlines NYC Half, TCS New York City Marathon 2014, and I am running the TCS New York City Marathon 2015. I always wear my TFK singlet, whether I’m officially running with TFK or not, I’m proud to promote this amazing group.

What excites you most about running your event with Team for Kids?
My son is s Young Runner at his elementary school, so I’ve seen first-hand how valuable the dollars TFK runners are to the kids…and the teacher/coaches who train them. I attended several of the Youth Running events this year, and it literally brings me to tears watching hundreds upon hundreds of kids run like the wind — literally! Some of these kids are running 6 minute miles, all the while holding hands with their best friends. It’s amazing. My son’s favorite is the Run of Champions, where he got to meet some of the elite runners in town before the NYC Marathon last Fall. All in all, I highly recommend attending one of these events to everyone…you really see why people return again and again to TFK (beyond the amazing people, coaches, and training!!)

Where is your favorite place to run and why?
Believe it or not, the FDR to West Side Hwy path. I love New York, and running around Manhattan, literally, is not only really cathartic for me, but I like to see the sights from Queens to Brooklyn, to Jersey. Plus the bridges are amazing (as much as I am terrified of running over them!)

If you run with music, what are your favorite artists or songs to listen to?
If I run alone, I bring music…sometimes I turn it on, sometimes I don’t. It’s a mood thing. But, I run to Melissa Etheridge, Daughtry (Waiting for Superman gets me going for some reason), Imagine Dragons, and the like. Inspirational, emotional songs motivate me to keep going when I want to stop.

What is your favorite post-run meal?
I have celiac (gluten-free), so my choices are more limited. However, a banana and chocolate almond milk does me right most of the time!

When did your relationship with running begin and why?
I’ve been an athlete my entire life. I can’t remember a time when I did not run, but in December 2013, right around Christmas Eve, my son was at his father’s and I watched a re-run of a Biggest Loser episode. In it, this young woman, who at 300 pounds, ran a marathon. I’d always wanted to run one, so I figured I’d start with a Half Marathon. I had no clue how to train for it, so I signed up for the 2014 NYC Half with TFK, and wound up running pretty much every race I could that year, right up to the NYC Marathon. It’s been quite a journey.

Do you have any pre-race rituals or superstitions, if so, please explain?
I go to bed by 8PM. Yes, 8PM….before my son does! I lay out my clothing for race day, pin my bib on my singlet, and pack my stuff for bagcheck (if I’m checking a bag.) Oh and sushi. Every night before a race, I binge on sushi. If I don’t, the race is awful for me. No clue why, but I figure I should stick with it!

Why did you choose to run with Team for Kids?
Originally, it was for the training, and I liked the idea of my miles having more meaning then just a notch on my PR belt. I have to say though, I’ve met some pretty amazing people…made great friends, and I love that our miles matter for more than just our own health and personal prowess.

Tell us a little more about yourself
I’ve lived in the tri-state area most of my life. I’m a single mom, and live here in Manhattan with the coolest 9-year old in town. We’re super-active and love being outdoors; beyond running, we play baseball, basketball, snowboard and more. Those who ran with me last year will recall I have a bit of a bridge-phobia…ok, a BIG bridge phobia. My running partner got me over every bridge last year, and I plan to conquer the GWB sometime soon as well!

Are you currently training for any events with TFK or do you plan to run any in the future, if so which events?
I’m a Mentor for the Class of 2015 for the TCS NYC Marathon! I struggled with training in the heat last year, and learned so much from the Coaches about nutrition and in-race fuel, so I’m very excited to share what I learned with the new crew!

What would you tell someone who was considering running with Team for Kids?
I would tell them to do it…period. The friends, the support, the experience are unrivaled. At the end of the day, it’s really tough training for races on your own, and meeting new running buddies, getting to know people in the running community, it’s a great way to expand your horizons while helping some truly amazing kids achieve more than they ever imagined.

Connect with Melissa on the sites below:

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