Name: Dawn Farinella
Current Town: South Plainfield, NJ
Marital Status: Married 20 years to John
Children: Nick (17); Lynda (15); Julianna (11)
Pet: 2 Shelties (almost 4 and 4 months)
Occupation: Attorney and Ubermom
Who let the Jersey Girl in? Even though I have not lived in LI for more than 20 years, I will always be a Long Island girl in my heart, and being a part of SHW has helped me stay connected to my roots.
So, what in my childhood made me the runner I am today? Nothing- absolutely nothing. Anyone who knew me as a child knew me as the smart girl, the non-stop talker, the musician, the theater kid, and the editor of the school paper. The one thing I was not was an athlete. The athlete in my family was my twin sister, Lynda, and I was perfectly content to go cheer for her at her games and then go back to the auditorium.
In 1989, taking my love of writing with me, I headed to Boston University with the goal to become a journalist. I had a great time in Boston and was active, but I never ran unless I was late to class. Patriot’s Day for me meant I could go home for a long weekend; I don’t recall even knowing there was such thing as a Boston Marathon.
In 1993, I surprisingly found myself in New Jersey and in law school. I walked a lot and even learned to love my Rollerblades. In 1996, I finished law school, passed the bar, moved, and got married in a span of 4 months. Finally settling into life in the Jersey suburbs, I realized it was time to start exercising regularly. My husband, John, was always a runner and thought it was a great idea for me to run too, so he drove his car and mapped out two easy 1 and 2 mile loops for me to run. The only problem? I just did not like it. Running was boring. I would run, but it was hard, and I was not having fun.
After having my son and my daughters, I finally started to run a little more, but not consistently, and more out of necessity and convenience than for any love of the sport. I had no idea that people did this for fun. I eventually joined a gym, and that became an enjoyable way to lose the baby weight (over and over again) and get fit.
In 2007, my son joined a travel soccer team, and I had the crazy idea that it would be fun to do the local Labor Day 5K with the soccer kids before walking the parade route with the soccer club. What made me think I could run a 5K? I had never run more than 2 miles and had not run a race since field day at Floyd Elementary. However, I had already opened my big mouth and told people I would do it, so I figured I better find another race to see if I could actually finish a 5K. I looked for a local race and I found and signed up for the Firecracker 4 Miler, in Cranford, NJ. I figured that if I could run 4 miles alone, I could run a 5K with the kids. For the first time in my life, I was actually training for a sport. I had no idea what to do, so I just ran the 1.1 mile loop at my park a few days a week, trying to get a little faster and a little farther. It was hard.
On July 4, 2007, race day finally came. I arrived at the race, signed in, and got my very first race bib. I knew no one at the race, and I don’t even remember speaking to anyone. The race started and the first two miles felt pretty good, but then it became hotter and harder. I had no watch, so I had no idea what pace I was running. I remember someone opening a fire hydrant (or was it just a hose), and I was grateful for the water falling all over me as I desperately sought the finish line. After what seemed like forever, I made it back into the park. The finish line was finally in sight and so was the clock, and, to my great surprise, it looked like I could finish in under 40 minutes. I then did something I had never done before in a sport- I tried! I ran as hard as I could possibly run. I really thought I was going to stop breathing and collapse, but I kept running.
I did not stop breathing. I did not collapse. I finished. My time was 39:25. I had fun!
After that race, I ran the 5K with the soccer kids two months later and then every year following, adding another race here or there. I was happy to have added running to my workout routine and that was more than enough for me for next 5 years- until it wasn’t.