Meet Your 2016 Marathon Coaches

Team for Kids runners, meet your 2016 New York Road Runners Team for Kids Marathon coaches: Michael, Vinny, Laura, Simon, Andy, Mary, Sid, Asteria, Dave, Jason, Kim, and Glen!

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.

Vinny Corso

Coach (Skinny) Vinny ran his first NYC Marathon with TFK in 2007—after losing 150 pounds. The following year, he joined the TFK coaching staff. Since then, Vinny has completed over 22 marathons, competed in various triathlon distances including his fist 70.3 Ironman. Vinny enjoys being able to share his love of running and fitness to whoever is willing to listen. His goal as a coach is to be able to help TFK team members cross what ever finishline they are training for.

Vinny understands TFK’s mission, thanks to his own weight loss journey. When he’s not training, racing or coaching, he spends most of his spare time running after his twins.

Laura DeLucia

Laura is a USATF Level 1 Track & Field certified coach. She began her running career in high school, as the very slowest runner on the ski team, and continued on to compete in Division I track, cross country and rowing at George Washington University.

Laura has coached and led 10 mile and marathon training programs, as well as led small group runs. Outside of running, she has instructed rowing, swimming and skiing courses. She is a member of the Young Professionals Board of Back On My Feet, a non-profit dedicated to using running to help those experiencing homelessness.

Laura has completed 11 marathons and enjoys incorporating cross training for added strength and injury prevention. She believes sports have the power to transform lives and is excited to be a part of the Team for Kids coaching team that helps runners to cross the TCS New York City Marathon finish line.

Simon Durkin

Coach Simon came to running later in life, but it has now become his life’s work and passion. Simon’s coaching philosophy is simply to try and make running more understandable to runners. To share what he has learned about how the body works when we run and how to train smartly and safely to improve performance. Simon is very vocal in his encouragement and takes great inspiration from watching casual runners turning themselves into marathon-distance athletes.

Outside of coaching TFK, Simon also works at NYRR. Simon is very proud of his work at NYRR and is eager to answer questions about the programs that are funded by TFK fundraising. When asked, Simon is eager to provide a detailed and passionate answer.

Andrew Fenack

Andy Fenack is a Physical Therapist at Finish Line Physical Therapy, specializing in an active population of runners and endurance athletes. Andy earned his Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Stony Brook University and is recognized as a Fellow of Applied Functional Science through the internationally acclaimed Gray Institute.

An endurance athlete since high school, Andy has completed 2 Ironman triathlons, 3 marathons, 10 Half Ironman triathlons, numerous half marathons, Olympic and sprint distance triathlons. In addition, Andy has coaching certifications through the Run Smart Project and the Road Runners Club of America with experience coaching high school, college and adult runners and triathletes for the past 10 years.

Andy is honored to be a part of Team for Kids as programs to benefit youth have always been important to him, having been involved with after school programs for at risk youth during undergrad and programs that combat childhood obesity while in physical therapy school. As a coach, Andy is excited to share his experience as an endurance athlete and physical therapist to help runners achieve their goals of becoming faster, healthier athletes through finding balance in their training plans.

Mary Haskins

Coach Mary loves running and cannot wait to share her enthusiasm and pure joy for running with TFK runners. Mary started running in the Wall Street runs of the 1980s and slowly, but surely started running the longer races from 10ks, to a half, then to full marathons, from 200 mile relays to 120 mile stage races.

Mary joined TFK in 2012 and received her RRCA Coaching Certificate as an Adult Distance Running Coach in 2014.  Mary has ran 5 New York City Marathons, two Chicago Marathons, Two Boston Marathons, the Palm Beach Marathon and Paris, Prague, Venice and Dublin Marathons.  Each race and with each run Mary learns something new about how to run, something about herself, and something about the community of her fellow runners.

Mary looks forward to sharing her experiences and being part of this great Team for Kids community.

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.

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.

Dave Kleckner

Back in 2006, Coach Dave was a brand new runner who decided it’d be fun to run the NYC Marathon the next year. When Dave signed on with Team for Kids, he thought it was just an easy way to get guaranteed marathon entry. Little did he know what wonders awaited him. Dave learned how to train. Coach Dave met incredible people including other TFK runners, coaches and staff. He developed a passion for running that he couldn’t have imagined, fueled by a bond developed with the other runners he met. Dave got to help kids find fitness and lose pounds through the programs supported by the funds he raised while running with Team for Kids.

Now Coach Dave is an extremely active member of the NYC running community. He has run about two dozen marathons including several ultra-marathons plus nearly 40 half-marathons. Dave has guided disabled runners, co-led Central Park clean-up days, collected used running shoes for those in need, became a certified personal trainer, and feels honored to serve as a Team for Kids Coach. Dave’s philosophy for new and experienced runners is the same, to enjoy the journey!

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!”

Kim Watkins

Coach Kim returns for another year with Team for Kids and is thrilled to once again join the dedicated members of the TFK community. Kim is certified as a Personal Trainer and as a Pre/Post Natal Coach through the American Council on Exercise, and she is a certified distance running coach via the Road Runners Club of America. With certificates in nutritional counseling from ACE, officiation from USATF (level 1), physiology from Duke University, and exercise prescription from Harvard Medical School, Kim works tenuously to maintain a fresh perspective on general exercise, running, and overall long-term health.

Coach Kim has six marathons under her belt: three in New York City, the others in Paris, Bermuda, and the Hamptons. She’s run countless half marathons, 10K’s, 4-milers, and 5K’s. And Kim has been an active running member of the NYRR since moving to New York City from Virginia in 1996. Prior to 1996, Kim was a bookworm. She had zero experience with physical competition, running, or fitness. She arrived in New York with a profession but needed to figure out a way to stay healthy, to stay strong, to be the best person she could be. And she found running.

Kim’s philosophy for running revolves around simple ideas. She believes that running, that moving forward, is what the human body is naturally meant to do every single day. To go somewhere. To get to the next place. To maximize your ability to do this, runners need to confront the reality of their sedentary bodies and focus on key functional priorities. Coach Kim is a big fan of barefoot workouts for stability, and she’s done more than a few runs in her bare feet in Manhattan. However, she’ll be the first to tell you that each person is different, and she is honored to help each member of the team navigate the multitude of issues to determine the best possible training and gear plan.

Glen Wiener

Glen is a life-long runner with an undeniable passion for the sport and coaching others.  He is a former collegiate runner who 25 years later turned his attention to running longer distances. Over the past ten years, Glen has run 25 marathons including Boston five times, New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia.  Since turning 50, he has achieved a marathon PR of 3:12 and a half marathon PR of 1:29.

Glen began coaching with TFK in 2008.  He believes that coaching is an art based on science.  Blending the latest scientific pronouncements with proven coaching philosophies, Glen works closely with runners of all abilities to help them achieve goals they never thought possible.

He is a Road Runner’s Club of America and Jack Daniel’s VDOT certified coach. In 2012 Glen was accepted into a prestigious USA Track & Field coaching program and was awarded certification as USA Track & Field Level 2 Endurance Coach.

A lawyer by trade, Glen works as an arbitrator for New York State and is a former two term president of the New York Flyers running club. Glen is also the founder and former director of the Flyers’ Marathon Training Program and the creator of the famous Three Bridges Marathon Training Runs.

Member Spotlight: Priya Seshan

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Where do you live?
I’m originally from Cleveland, Ohio, but have resided in NYC (Williamsburg, Brooklyn) since 1997.

What event are you running with Team for Kids?
The Bank of America Chicago Marathon, my 13th marathon and 4th Chicago Marathon. It’s my first time running for TFK.

What excites you most about running your event with Team for Kids?
Having been a Young Runners Coach at Henry Street School for International Studies from 2004-2007, I saw firsthand the positives that resulted from young people being involved in a running program. Many of the young people I had on our team had never been on a team before, and they learned how to not only work with one another, but set goals, pursue them, and accomplish them. They also learned how to persevere when things got tough, and I saw their self concept change positively over the course of being on the team. In the end, it was a very close knit group. The things they learned while running translated to the big picture of life, and they carried those lessons with them, even years later. I want other students to have the same opportunity. As a public school employee, I’ve seen first-hand how having a positive and physical outlet for youth is so important, especially in Title 1 schools and schools with little extra resources.

Where is your favorite place to run and why?
My usual run is from the Williamsburg Bridge to over the Pulaski Bridge and back. There’s something so nice about being able to see the city from those bridges. For a long run, I really like to run over the Williamsburg Bridge, then across the Brooklyn Bridge, then run to the Manhattan Bridge and go over and back; I then run along the Brooklyn Navy Yard back to Williamsburg. It’s about 10 miles.

What is your favorite post-run meal?
Veggie burritos, chocolate milk, ice cream. The best part of a long run is being able to eat whatever suits me that day.

When did your relationship with running begin and why?
I started running at age 12, when I was in 7th grade. I ran the 800 and came in second to last in a track meet and swore that I would never run again. Then at the start of 9th grade, when I was 14, I tried out for every sport and activity imaginable and got cut. I joined the school cross country team with a friend as a last resort because they didn’t cut. My friend ended up quitting after a few weeks, but I was hooked. I ended up being good at it and went to the Ohio high school state cross country meet a few times. I ran a semester in college competitively for a D1 school, but then I took a break from running until I was 29 years old. I’ve been running since then, just for fun. I’ve focused mostly on marathons and half marathons, although I did run a 50 mile race (JFK 50 mile) when I turned 40 years old.  I’m proud to say that I am a masters age group runner and still running after all these years.

Do you have any pre-race rituals or superstitions, if so, please explain?
I had so many superstitions as a kid when I was competitive, so now I keep it simple. For marathons, I just wear a sign that has my name stitched on it in shiny silver sequins. It’s a bit self indulgent, but I wore it for my first marathon, so I wear it in each one. I figure marathon day is the day that one can go all out and wear something out of the ordinary!

Why did you choose to run this event?
In the fall of 2015, I received an email from a former student I coached on a Young Runners team. He was graduating with his AA degree and was now n his twenties. He wrote to tell me that the lessons I had taught him on the running team when he was in sixth grade had stuck with him throughout his high school and college years, and he had utilized them in pursuing his goals. He said that he remembered an experience at a practice, when he and several team members could not run 200 meters without stopping and wanted to quit.   I had talked to them about mental toughness: to not give up and tell yourself that you can’t do it;  if you continue and persevere, you will accomplish what you set out to do. He said that he had adopted that thinking for all he does in life. When I read that, I felt so happy and felt so gratified. I knew I had to run for TFK to make sure that other young people were exposed to running programs and could have the same experience of being on a team and growing as young people. Also, it was a way to do something to honor the kids that I had coached.

Tell us a little more about yourself
I’m a school social worker for Pathways to Graduation, a public high school equivalency program for young people ages 17 to 21. Most of the young people I work with have been formerly incarcerated and/or court involved. I also work on a very part time basis for YCS at NYRR, and  am a run pacer for New York City’s Nike+ NRC.  I’ve run one 50 miler (JFK 50 Mile) and survived, and really enjoy the camaraderie of marathons and NYRR races. My PR for the half is 1:48:27 and for the marathon it is 3:59:26. I’m coming back from being injured, but despite that I hope to smash my marathon PR in Chicago this year!

Connect with Priya via the links below:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pseshan/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pseshan1

Alumni Spotlight: Benjamin Vaschetti

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What events have you run with Team for Kids?
2015 TCS New York City Marathon and this year I will run the Airbnb Brooklyn Half and Bank of America Chicago Marathon with Team for Kids!

What excites you most about running your event with Team for Kids?
All the training prior the race that TFK coaches provide, running as a group with others TFK members and most importantly knowing that we’re raising critical funds to help kids in need.

Where is your favorite place to run and why?
Central Park! It’s such an amazing place right in the middle of the city, especially in spring and fall. It has some nice little hills so it’s perfect to vary your training and, for the most part, its traffic free!

If you run with music, what are your favorite artists or songs to listen to?
I like to run with quite fast beats and I enjoy deep house music… it gives me some kind of “superpower” when I need it. My favorite artists are actually DJs like Lexer a young man from Germany and also DJ Redg’ice from France who is actually a friend of mine.

What is your favorite post-run meal?
Waffles & Bacon with maple syrup. A good cold beer is always welcome too!

When did your relationship with running begin and why?
I started to run regularly back in 2005. At the time I was living in China and a colleague challenged me to run the Shanghai half marathon and I thought he was crazy! I ended up running it and it was a very nice experience and while I thought I reached my maximum with 13.1 miles, somehow 10 years later I ran a full marathon in New York City!

Do you have any pre-race rituals or superstitions, if so, please explain?
I make sure I have some food (brown pitta bread with my homemade almond butter and banana) and a super strong coffee. Other than that I’m not very superstitious and every race is a different approach for me.

Why did you choose to run with Team for Kids?
For my first marathon I wanted to do special and I thought about running for a cause that supported youth fitness and nutrition…Naturally I joined Team for Kids!

Tell us a little more about yourself
I’m originally from France, I have traveled all across the world for my career with New York City being my most recent stop. I love the energy and fast pace of New York and I think it suits me. I work as Chef which can make it a challenge to train after a 12 hour work day, but I still manage to go as much as possible. Running is beneficial for my mental well-being, so I always welcome my training runs after a long day at work! Outside of working and running, I like all what New York has to offer and I also envoy visiting new places and meeting new people.

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 currently training for the 2016 Airbnb Brooklyn Half and the 2016 Bank of America Chicago Marathon with Team for Kids!

What would you tell someone who was considering running with Team for Kids
Honestly, all great things! I would strongly encourage singing up to run with Team for Kids! The support you get from everyone (TFK staff, TFK coaches, TFK mentors, and other TFK runners) from the moment you sign up for your event is amazing! Everyone at TFK is really really nice and running and fundraising to support of over 200,000 students across the nation with free youth running programs is incredibly rewarding. You can’t beat that! 🙂

Connect with Ben via the site below:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/Cookingmachine/