Site Spotlight: Christy Emmond – Young Runners

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What program and site did you visit?
I ran with Young Runners Track Team at Global Technology Preparatory Middle School in East Harlem.

What was your motivation to visit a site?
I’m the music teacher at Global Tech and I really wanted to be able to make a few Young Runners practices this year.  I was very open with my students about my training for the NYC Marathon (my first marathon ever!). My students – especially the Young Runners – were so interested by the idea of running a race with a goal of finishing instead of winning.  I really got to talk with them about what it was like to decide to do something that I wasn’t capable of doing when I signed up, and show them how to set a goal and accomplish it with a crazy amount of work.  I also love getting to know my students outside of my classroom and to see their other interests and strengths.

Can you share how students have responded to the program and some of their favorite components?
The students talk about running as a form of stress relief, as something fun, and as something they love.  They really enjoy knowing that they’re improving and actually seeing those changes occur as they get less tired and improve their speed at a certain distance or outdoor loop. They are so proud when they are able to run continuously – we talked about how amazing it is to get tired and then still somehow be able to keep going anyway.  As their teacher, I see so many of these students struggle with personal, family, or academic issues, and there is a different kind of freedom in them when they run.

The students also love events where they get medals or shirts.  After they ran across the marathon finish line this year, they brought their medals back to school and many of them wore them for days after.  Having something to take away serves as such a great reminder of their hard work and accomplishments.

Can you share a story of how kids, or one student in particular, have been transformed or impacted by the program?
Priest, a 7th grade Young Runner, says running has helped to improve his confidence and Wilmer, a 6th grade Young Runner, attributes his determination and goal setting to running. Wilmer shared, “When we ran in Marcus Garvey Park, I ran the loop twice and I never stopped.  It was so fun.  Also, when we were doing Central Park, the Harlem Meer, it was fun and I got to be 3rd place.  But it’s not really all about that.  Regardless of what place I come in, I like how I didn’t stop, and I paced myself.

What do you believe are the biggest benefits of the program and the importance of the work these programs are carrying out?
The opportunities NYRR has brought to my students are incredible.  They were able to volunteer at the 2015 TCS New York City Marathon Expo, run across the finish line of the Marathon during a NYRR event that weekend. In addition, they’ve received shirts and medals, and so many of them benefit from the Sneaker Closet. But beyond that, running is something that a fairly diverse group of students is able to share.  They know that when they have Young Runners practice, they’re meeting up with a team that will wait for them, push them to be better, and cheer them on.  Watching them come together across different classes and grade levels to support each other is really amazing to see.

When did your relationship with running begin and why?
When I was in 10th grade, my parents insisted that I join a sports team.  I argued and wanted to focus my time on music, acting, and working, but eventually they won, and I signed up for the school cross country team.  I absolutely hated it.  I faked injuries or illnesses almost every day, I hid in the locker room to avoid practice, I ran one 5k race at the end of the season and promptly announced that I would never run again.

In 2012, I had a friend convince me to run the Long Island Half Marathon with her.  We both trained and completed the race, but an IT band injury stopped me from continuing to run.  I remember being so frustrated – I finally made running something I loved, but couldn’t run for almost two years.  This past winter, I signed up for the same half marathon to prove that I could do it this time and keep going.  I finished the half about 15 minutes faster than I did in 2012.  I kept running after the half and after a couple weeks of summer vacation, I found my new project – running the 2015 NYC Marathon with Team for Kids.

What is your favorite place to run and why?
I love running from my apartment in Queens over the Queensborough Bridge and down to the East River Greenway.  The views are absolutely stunning, and it was the first place I explored in my long training runs for the marathon this summer.  There’s something about running next to the water, seeing the city and passing under the bridges that takes my breath away every time.  I’m originally from small town New Hampshire, and this route always makes feel like this is my city.

Were you ever a TFK member, if so what did you like best about the program?
This summer, I signed up with Team for Kids to run the TCS New York City Marathon.  It was something that has always been on my bucket list, but seemed like an impossible goal.  It took me about a month to go to my first group practice – I was absolutely intimidated and had nightmares of every one being much faster than me and being left behind and not fitting in.  I had never run with anyone, but I went a weeknight practice and was hooked.  The group was so welcoming right away, there was a large group running at my pace, and the coaches and mentors were a huge motivation.

My favorite part of being a TFK runner was learning to run without listening to music.  It sounded crazy to me at first, but every run, I would run with someone and talk.  The longer the run, the better I knew the people around me.  I ran the entire TCS New York City Marathon without music, and I feel like I was able to experience so much more of it because I was present for all of it.

What would you tell other who are considering running for Team for Kids?
Do it!  Don’t even hesitate.  This training season, I felt taken care the entire way.  On race day, it was amazing having busses to the start village and our own tent.  During the marathon, I ran with a few different TFK runners and there were TFK coaches along the way to cheer us on.  Mile 24 was when I started to struggle, but one of the coaches jumped in and ran with me for a minute and gave me enough encouragement to finish my last 2.2 miles strong.  TFK helped make me a marathon runner.

Tell us a little more about yourself
My name is Christy Emmond.  I’m 27 years old, and I’m a music teacher at Global Tech Prep in East Harlem and teach 7th and 8th grade.  I teach piano, guitar, some rock band, and also direct a Broadway Jr. Musical every year.  Since running the marathon, I’ve officially started calling myself a runner, and I’m very proud to have gotten my boyfriend to really start running.  He signed up for his first race a few weeks ago and we just ran the Jingle Bell Jog together!

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