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:

Member Spotlight: Greg Silverman

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What event are you running with Team for Kids?
I am running the 2015 TCS New York City Marathon!     

What is your favorite place to run and why?
Until this year, I really never had a favorite place to run. Now, it has become wherever the Team for Kids long run is on Saturday. It doesn’t matter if I run in Manhattan or Brooklyn. I really look forward to meeting up with everyone. I get a mental high when I think about how far we all have come. For me it is all about the team support. I like running in a pack, like a wolf pack. Of all the runs we’ve done I think I enjoyed heading over the Brooklyn Bridge and up the west side highway the most. I enjoy seeing other athletes out and about.

If you run with music, what are your favorite artists or songs to listen to?
I love running with music. I happen to make a playlist on Spotify about 4 months ago or when I started to train. I think I’m up to 200+ songs. My taste in music is very eclectic. I can’t say that I have just one favorite artist or song. I just like music with a good overall beat, especially when I’m running. Almost all of the songs have a killer running rhythm to them. I remember Coach Vinny mentioning something about getting into a good rhythm of running. I feel that when I have a good song on, it’s almost like a zen moment for me, like all of the stars are aligned.  

What is your favorite post-run meal?
I love a rare steak with 2 poached eggs, and some sourdough toast.

When did your relationship with running begin and why?
I started doing a few half marathons here and there about 4 years ago. Then I started running in Prospect Park with my friend Nick Falco. We ran nights after work. I remember at the beginning I was self-conscious and I would comment on being slower than average. He would always say something positive like, “It’s not a race, it’s all about doing and getting out” That was the perfect pep-talk to keep me moving. I started to get better with my time and motivation and it encouraged me to be in better shape overall. Running was something I enjoyed doing a few times a week just to feel a little healthier.

Do you have any pre-race rituals or superstitions, if so, please explain?
After running for Team for Kids I developed a few rituals. First off I found out one day that running with compression socks made a huge difference. Now I feel naked without them, so I make sure I have a clean pair ready to go every time. I’m not sure if that falls into this category, but I can say for sure, that I must have all of the essentials laid out the night before so that I feel 100% ready the day of. That goes for my compression socks, Gu, Band-Aids, electrolyte pills and headphones.

Why did you choose to run this event?
So back to my friend Nick Falco. He also ran a marathon and I remember saying one time I would like to do that. So on New Year’s eve of 2015 I made a promise to myself that I would run this year’s marathon. I have tried getting into the lottery in the past, but it never worked out. I was told about TFK through a friend and decided to commit. Never running a full marathon gave me a lot of doubt and anxiety, but I thought now is as good as any. Of course I never was totally aware of the impact Team for Kids would have on me. I feel that it changed my life in a positive and healthy direction. I knew I had to be disciplined as the weeks were moving forward. It was very important to me to not miss the long runs and if I missed the weekly runs, I would make them up on that day or the day after. I knew that sticking to the plan was what was going to get me ahead or at least prepared as the rest of the team. While I was training I started eating healthier and drinking less alcohol. I started cross training and really treating my body like a temple. I’m really happy I chose to run this year’s NYC Marathon with TFK. The support and encouragement has been invaluable.

Tell us a little more about yourself
I’ve lived in Brooklyn for 11 years. I work in the city as a creative for an ad agency and enjoy biking to work. It’s a great way to see the city. I also paint on the side. I do realistic car paintings for car collectors. All my work has been commissioned by many impressive car collectors, and resides in their garages and showrooms. Recently, I started a collaboration with Maret Guitars, where I paint cars on their handcrafted custom guitars.

What excites you most about running your event with Team for Kids?
I’d have to say the camaraderie. I have met some of the most interesting, kind, cool people over this journey. It’s nice to know we are all in the same boat rooting for the same cause and taking the same action. I look forward to seeing everyone on the long runs and being out there with the team. The coaches are absolutely amazing. I’ve gotten so much positive and helpful advice from them on ways to be a better runner.