Meet Our 2016 Airbnb Brooklyn Half Coaches

Team for Kids runners, meet our 2016 New York Road Runners Team for Kids Airbnb Brooklyn Half coaches: Michael, Simon, Jennifer, Asteria, Sid, Dave, and Jason!

Michael Conlon

Michael is a Physical Therapist and is the founder of Finish Line Physical in NYC. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Therapy from the Hogeschool Enschede in the Netherlands in 1997. Michael is recognized as a Fellow of Applied Functional Science (FAFS) through the internationally acclaimed Gray Institute.

Michael is passionate about endurance sports, both as a participant and coach. He ran his first marathon in 1998 (NYC, of course). Since then, he has completed 25 marathons as well as the Lake Placid Ironman three times. He’s been a member of New York Road Runners since 1998 and has competed in countless running events and triathlons over the years.

Michael has also served as the Head Coach for the NYC chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma’s Team in Training program since 2002. Michael has trained thousands of runners, from beginners to advanced marathoners. His valuable advice and expertise have helped countless runners prevent or overcome injuries, allowing them to reach their goals of completing a half or full marathon. Michael’s experience as an accomplished athlete and coach gives him a unique perspective and understanding of how to provide the best care for both the competitive and recreational athlete.

Michael and his wife Wendy live in New Rochelle, NY with their two year old daughter Avery and their 12 year old dog Miles. They are expecting their second child in April of 2016.

Simon Durkin

Hi I’m Coach Simon! Like many of you I came to running later in life but it has now become my life’s work and passion. My coaching philosophy is simply to try and make running more understandable to runners. To share what I have learned about how the body works when we run and how to train smartly and safely to improve your performance. I’m very vocal in my encouragement and take great inspiration from watching casual runners turning themselves into marathon-distance athletes.

Outside of coaching TFK, I also work at NYRR in Youth Events, organizing track meets, field days and XC races for the “kids” in Team for Kids. I’m very proud of my work there and if you ever have questions about the programs that are funded by your fundraising, please don’t hesitate to ask (just be ready for a long and passionate answer).

Good luck to all TFK athletes. It’s truly an honor to work alongside you.

Jennifer Hessmer

Jennifer Hessmer is a Certified Personal Trainer, USA Track and Field Level 1, RRCA Certified Running Coach and Yoga Alliance RYT400 Yoga Teacher. Jennifer is currently an independent personal trainer, running coach, yoga teacher and health counselor on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

Jennifer integrates nutrition into her sessions and group classes. She has a certification in health coaching from Integrative Nutrition Institute and Food Therapy from the Natural Gourmet Institute.

Jennifer was formerly employed at Equinox Fitness Clubs as a Tier 3 Personal Trainer and The Running Center as an assistant running coach.

On a personal note, Jennifer has run 9 marathons, New York three times, Paris and London, Richmond, Philadelphia, Marine Corps and Chicago Marathons and numerous ½ marathons; most recently the Prague Half Marathon and Reykjavik Half-Marathon. In 2010, Jennifer competed in her first series of triathlons.

Asteria Howard

Asteria had been active in a variety of sports since her childhood in Bolivia. In addition to running on both the Bolivian and Venezuelan national teams, she worked for many years as a physical education teacher. Asteria is dedicated to passing on her experience and knowledge by coaching Team for Kids (TFK) runners. Like Sid, Asteria’s holistic training—which includes nutrition, drills, stretches, speed work, and distance training—has made believers of her athletes. Several have returned to run with Team for Kids for a second year and a number of those have brought friends or spouses with them.

Asteria has completed over 15 marathons, 10 New York City marathons, the 100 anniversary Boston Marathon, two marathons in Venezuela, one in Colombia, and World Championships in Buffalo. When Asteria lived in Venezuela, she ran track and competed in the 800m, 1500m, 3k, 5k, and 10k plus the half marathon in the South American Games (Colombia). While Asteria lived in Boliva she became a National Champion in the 100m, the long jump, the 100m hurdles, and the 4×1 relay.

Sid Howard

Sid started running in 1978 and has been running with the Central Park Track Club for 37 years. His storied career includes five world championships, 50 national championships, 6 U.S. records, 5 world records and 8 gold world champion medals. He acknowledges the role his coaches and mentors played in his development and is anxious to return the favor to aspiring runners. Sid is dedicated to passing on his experience and knowledge by coaching Team for Kids (TFK) runners.

Sid’s holistic training—which includes nutrition, drills, stretches, speed work, and distance training—has made believers of his athletes. Several have returned to run with Team for Kids for a second year and a number of those have brought friends or spouses with them.

Sid believes we’re a family of runners and we all have the same goal—not just to finish the race, but to change our lives. The health part is very important. It’s not just about times and splits.

Dave Kleckner

Today I’m a Team for Kids Coach, but back in 2006 I was a brand new runner who decided it’d be fun to run the NYC Marathon the next year. When I signed on with Team for Kids, I thought it was just an easy way to get guaranteed marathon entry. Little did I know what wonders awaited me. I learned how to train. I met incredible people including other TFK runners, coaches and staff. I developed a passion for running that I couldn’t have imagined, fueled by a bond developed with the other runners I met that I can’t even begin to describe, but that is common among TFKers. And I got to help kids find fitness and lose pounds through the programs supported by the funds that I raised.

Now I’m an extremely active member of the NYC running community. I’ve since run about two dozen marathons including several ultra-marathons plus nearly 40 half-marathons. I’ve guided disabled runners, co-led Central Park clean-up days, collected used running shoes for those in need, became a certified personal trainer, and feel honored to serve as a Team for Kids Coach. If you’re new to Team for Kids, you’re in for a wonderful adventure. And if you’re not new to Team for Kids, then you’re just like so many others who’ve come back for more. Either way, enjoy the journey, because that’s what it’s all about.

Jason Lakritz

Jason graduated from Florida State University where he was a member of the cross country and track team that won three NCAA National Championships. He earned his Doctorate of Physical Therapy from Long Island University, completing his capstone project on the differences between barefoot and shoe running, and is recognized as a Fellow of Applied Functional Science (FAFS) through the internationally acclaimed Gray Institute. He has been with Finish Line PT since 2012.

Jason is also a certified USATF Level 1 running coach. He currently runs with Urban Athletics, racing many times throughout the year in the New York City area. He has completed five marathons with a personal best of 2:36. “I wanted to become a physical therapist and use my experiences as a top-level runner to help runners not only recover from injury, but also run faster and prevent injury from happening. I’ve been injured plenty of times and can really relate things to my patients that I went through physically and mentally. I love the sport with a passion.”

Jason has coached with the city Meals On Wheels charity over the last two marathon seasons. His favorite part about coaching is teaching runners about their bodies. “I am thrilled to be a part of the TFK coaching staff and I am so excited to meet each runner!”


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