Saturday Spotlight- Marc Saffren

NAME: Marc Saffren
AGE: 48
NICKNAME: Marco, Marcus, Saff
HOMETOWN : Sayville
CURRENT TOWN: Manorville

MARITAL STATUS: Happily Unmarried “Married” and live with my Girlfriend Kerrie an amazing woman, Registered Nurse and fellow Runner

CHILDREN : Ava-16, Matthew- 11, Georgia- 9

PETS: 2 dogs, Princess Leia and Chewbacca

OCCUPATION: Founder and partner of 2 growing consulting companies that work in the area of philanthropic planning and non profit management.

FAVORITE SONG: Chattanooga Lucy- Eric Church, Tom Sawyer- Rush

FAVORITE KICKS: Currently New Balance Fresh Foam… but that could change in 300 miles or so!

Having only been a member for a year I was a little tentative about accepting the Warrior of the Week but how do you say no to Lou?

I was born at Good Sam Hospital in West Islip almost a damn century ago (can’t believe that it is) and grew up in Sayville. Summers were spent fishing off the docks and on the beach at Fire Island (ferries were walking distance and my classmates parents owned the ferry!)

I was lucky to grow up in a beautiful town like Sayville. As a kid we lived in a nice house on a small quiet street and I played every sport depending on the season! Our phone alarm was the ringing of a bell for dinner, our TV was Black and White until 1977, I loved my record player and video games were played at the Hobby Shop in town eventually gave way to Atari and Intelivison in the mid 1980’s and were reserved for rainy days.

I was always swimming “but not really swimming” (more about that later) biking and running around Sayville and walked to school most days. I had a good upbringing with parents who instilled the values of working hard, striving to do good and always having fun. Physically I was always active, fit and healthy. (Man did that change when I hit my 30’s… more to come on that)

Fast forward to running. In HS I played basketball, baseball and dek hockey. I also ran cross country. I continued running in college with my fraternity around the campus of SUNY Albany. But where this story begins… comes at the finish of the MTK Lighthouse Triathlon a little more than a decade ago. The Montauk Lighthouse was a client of mine at the time. I stood at the finish line with my business partner who I met at age 5 and said some day I wanna do this… He looked at me said I was crazy and it would never happen. Life, work, kids, stress, excuses and a loss of self led me to say that while standing at the line at almost 38 years old, 5’4 tall and weighing in at a mere 218lbs! Although I typed it and today it still doesn’t seem plausible, but that was my reality.

Naturally I did nothing, felt lousy inside and out. My health was quickly deteriorating and I was diagnosed with Barrett’s Esophagus. My back was almost always hurting, my asthma flaring up and I was sick almost weekly My Doctor prescribed Prilosec and that I exercise and lose 50 lbs. and to not come back till I did!

That advice sounded simple but it wasn’t even close to easy. The diet part started to kick in but my love/hate relationship with food continued. It wasn’t until I was about to eat dinner at Mama Lombardi’s one evening when I ran into Laura Hartman. Laura many of you know as the triathlete, coach and runner but I knew Laura as the Yoga teacher and massage therapist who volunteered her time at a charity I was working for in Westhampton Beach. After my PT sessions for my back pain… Laura was my massage therapist. No lie folks…. still the best massage therapist I have ever known.

Laura had just started to do personal training and triathlon coaching. I was too embarrassed at how I looked and felt I wouldn’t go to a gym so instead I put one in my basement and at Laura’s suggestion I built a pretty cool home gym. Beginning in January, 2009 Laura would come once a week and we would do core, strength and HIT training using the treadmill and eliptical, free weights and other cool stuff. In March, 2009 Laura and I took the training session outside. Within .30 seconds I was shot. After all this training I couldn’t even run which had came so easy in HS and college. By April, 2009 I could finally run a 5k. On July 18, 2009 I completed my 1st 5k in 35:00 minutes. On August 1, 2009 my first 4 miler in 49:00 minutes.

By August, 2009 I had bought my first road bike since is I was in my teens and began biking outside. By the Fall of 2009 I was biking 30-40 miles and ran a 5k in 32:00 minutes getting closer to my goal of a 30:00 minute 5k. Finally on March 6, 2010 I ran a 5k in 29:00…. still NOT in a race. My next goal of 30:00 race time still eluded me but I was also looking to complete a 10k…… my weight was now 182 down from 218.

In the meantime in June, 2010 I entered the Tour de Cure and biked 72 miles for a great cause. In the Fall of 2010 70 more miles through Southampton. In October, 2010 I completed the Carl Hart Duathlon. My dream of completing a triathlon was getting closer but I’m not sure I realized it was at all possible. Finally in October, 2010 I ran my first 5k in under 30:00 minutes at 29:00!

As a kid I loved going in the pool, but didn’t realize the fear and apprehension I would have to swimming and didn’t know I couldn’t actually swim. In November, 2009 I attended my first swim class at St. Joseph’s College. Laura was a swim coach for Team Total Training. This is where I’d meet Steve Tarpinian, Corey Roberts and so many amazing coaches and athletes. I got in the beginner lane and sure enough I knew I was screwed about 20 yards in…. I COULDN’T SWIM! I finished out the session but vowed to never come back….. my Triathlon Dream was over in one swim session.

For over a year I didn’t swim. In the meantime in 2010, I ran my 1st 10k at the LI Half in 1:10 and completed a century bike ride. I was feeling better about my self and my health. My weight was down to 172lbs. No more stomach issues, back pain in sight! My Doctor had given me a clean bill of health.

In the late Fall of 2010 Laura asked me if I want to try a swim class again. To this day I don’t know what made me say yes…. I still couldn’t swim but I stayed and finally I completed my first triathlon in April, 2011 at the pool triathlon in Eisenhower Park. Still I had not swam outside in the OW yet. I finally started OWS at Corey Beach and went on to compete three more sprint triathlons that year….. I had finally somehow scratched and clawed my to complete the swims and get to bike and run which by now I loved!

In November, 2011 I completed my first 13.1 finishing in 2:24! My love of running continued….

In 2012…. I competed in four sprint triathlons and started thinking about the next goal and later that summer I would swim one mile in the open water not once but twice in 2 Olympic Distance in Riverhead and Sag Harbor. I closed 2012 with a surgery for a painful cyst that kept me sidelined for way too long.

In 2013…. my health was getting better, my self esteem building and my weight was down to a low of 147lbs. I was in amazing physical shape and boy I needed every ounce of strength to get through the toughest thing in my life to date…. divorce.

My loving of running and my amazing kids led me to find the most amazing love after divorce. I met Kerrie on the LAX field watching our daughters play. I had never met Kerrie but my two oldest kids had…. she was there school nurse! Kerrie was also going through the beginning of a divorce as well and we began running together as friends. I had just started training again after surgery and we both set out to complete a half marathon. That year I ran my fastest 5k in 22:10 and 10k at Cow Harbor in 52:00 and In the Fall of 2013 Kerrie competed the Diva 13.1 and I ran the Indianapolis 13.1 with my sister in 1:52! An under 2:00 half marathon…..

Right around this time a group of fellow triathletes John Graziano, Jason Cohen, myself and several others began the Wildwood Warriors Triathlon Club. Who knew that today it would be become such an amazing base of support, friendship and more fun than I could have imagined possible and 25 races later…. which also led me to keep hearing about these “Hills in Selden”….. and another group of Warriors!

In the years since I was lucky enough to start a life with Kerrie and the six kids we have between us (3boys, 3 Girls) and kept doing triathlons competing my first half Ironman…. but still no “hills”

Last Summer, while training for the Lake Placid 70.3, my friend and fellow Wildwood Warrior Pawel Kolbusz encouraged me to run with him. And finally I did! Wow…. I was hooked. Not only did I enjoy the challenge but enjoyed the beginning of an amazing friendship with Pawel where we now have run the 10k course almost weekly since and the15k course a few times…. I can promise the 20k is on the docket someday sooner than Pawel knows!

Not only did my love of running and triathlon help me gain control of my health and self esteem but also running has created an amazing amount of friendships and led me to find the greatest love this guy will ever know.

I am excited to make more friends through my newest Warrior team of 1.2k plus and growiing strong and I will recruit as many people as I can to run these “Hills”. As I always say if I can do this…. anyone can!