Member Spotlight: Mal Ward

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What event are you running with Team for Kids?
The TCS New York City Marathon

What excites you most about running your event with Team for Kids?
Running for a cause puts everything at a higher stake. From the moment I signed up with Team for Kids, I knew that every dollar I raised would impact kids’ lives and their experience with running. It pushes me to train harder and to look forward to the celebration on race day. Seeing kids cheer you on, while holding signs supporting Team for Kids runners, is an unforgettable moment and I love being part of something much bigger than myself.

What is your favorite place to run and why?
My apartment overlooks Prospect Park. You can find me there almost every day. I know the outer loop by heart and love the challenges of the hills and the variations of the pavement track as well as the off road trails.

If you run with music, what are your favorite artists or songs to listen to?
I love running with music that clears my head. Depending on what type of training day it is, my music taste varies. If it’s a speed day, I’ll be jamming to pop music like:

Rihanna & Eminem’s, “Love the Way You Lie”
Miley Cyrus’s, “Wrecking Ball”
Moon Taxi’s, “Whiskey Sunset”

But if I’m running long mileage, my favorites are more folk/bluegrass style tunes like:

Wailin’ Jenny’s, “Long Time Traveler”
Mindy Smith’s, “Hurricane”
All things by artists Allison Krauss and Nickelcreek

If I’m running with friends or my partner, I love conversations while we run. It helps my breathing and takes my head somewhere else.

What is your favorite post-run meal?
Definitely spaghetti with marinara sauce, spinach salad, topped with cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, green and red peppers with Italian dressing and huge glass of ice cold water with lemon.

When did your relationship with running begin and why?
My relationship with running began in high school. I enjoyed the conditioning we were doing for cheerleading, and a fellow teammate told me I should come out to do cross country and track. I struggled a lot in high school with body image and comparing myself to others athletically. I wasn’t a great runner but loved the team camaraderie among the girls. However, I ended up leaving the team after 2 years when the pressure of losing weight became too much of an anxiety in my life. It wasn’t until my sophomore year of college when I finally began running again. I started clearing my head at a park close to my apartment through running alone. After some tragic life events, I stopped running away from problems, but instead started running toward goals. I started racing again and made a goal to do my first marathon. I joined a running team in Kentucky and finished my first marathon in May of 2013. Running changed and saved my life. It’s always been the best relationship I’ve ever had.

Do you have any pre-race rituals or superstitions, if so, please explain?
I always prep my running shirt the night before and get my number pinned on. It has to be perfectly straight and I have to make sure no pin is going to dig at me during the race. Also, I have to go to the porter potty right before I line up or else I panic, even if I don’t really have to go, I make myself try. Also, oatmeal and banana are my go to breakfast items.

Why did you choose to run this event?
I ran the 2015 TCS New York City Marathon with Team for Kids and found it to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I couldn’t wait to sign up again! Running brought such a joy to my life and knowing I could share that with kiddos by helping fund shoes, coaches, and transportation made the hard work worth every second. Our kids and our community can benefit from these types of programs. Someone once shared running with me, and I wanted to continue the good karma!

Tell us a little more about yourself
I am a Kentucky native who dreamed of living in NYC one day. I guess dreams do come true! I’m head over heels for my 70 pound, black lab/pit, handicapable, rescue dog Bruiser. I could be labeled a black coffee addict who enjoys painting, creative writing, working at film festivals, all things peanut butter, and live theatre performances. I’m a ball of energy and love the great outdoors. I’m obsessed with baseball season and attending Yankees’ games. But most of all, my family means the world to me and I’m so thankful that I get to do life with them.

Connect with Mal via the sites below:

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