I had a hard time opening up about this, only a few of my runner friends know me and know the details of the hard lonesome road I traveled so here it is:
Most of you athletes know me as: the fellow runner who holds his hands up in a team group picture “Wave Man” or LUTZY, and SLUTZ by only a select few. I’m on the Greater Long Island Racing Team, Runner’s Edge Triathlon Team, Long Island Triathlon Team, Selden Hills and now a Proud Wildwood Warrior.
It wasn’t all fun and games. It took me awhile to get to where I am, and here is why I do it.
I took up track and field in Southampton High School during my 11th and 12th year. I feel deep into doing drugs and alcohol in my 9th and 10th grade. My grades slipped and I was falling into the wrong hands friend wise. I had to make a change, and quick. I transformed myself and assessed my option it became clear that becoming a jock would do the trick. I wore the rugby shirts and sported the latest Don Johnson look with the skinny ties and white or pink blazer with the Capezio shoes as opposed to the flannel shirts with Van Halen and a chain wallet to add accessories. I became a football player, wrestler, basketball and track athlete. Track is where I flourished the most. It seemed I had a thing for going all out and running as fast as I can. It was an individual sport and I beat to my own drum, this fit my character. My father told me to pretend that there was a tiger chasing you and never let anyone pass me. He was right. I was on my own clock I put in the effort and training in and got results. I was team captain and helped rally the team during practice and our meets. But on the track I was all business. The 400 meter (440) was my event, along with the 800, 400 relay hurtles and long jump. The coach knew I had potential so he knew I could rack up some points for our team. I broke the school record in the 400 meter and the long jump. It took 20 years before someone broke the 400 meters. I knew it because my sister who is a teacher next town over called me and said my reign was over. That’s ok I had a long run..no pun intended. I still have the newspaper clippings my mother saved from 1985-1986 track season.
Later in my senior year toward the end of track season I made a choice. One that carried me for the next 7 years, at the same weekend as the Empire states in which I was favored to walk away with a victory I had the senior prom. I chose….The senior prom. In any case that was my choice. I left the athletic world behind and went to Culinary School in Chicago got married and had our son Matthew. I took up smoking too. Almost two packs a day for 15 years. I gained weight and started to lose myself with all the long hours at work and raising a family. That all changed when I and my ex-wife drove to California try to start a new life hoping to salvage whatever we could to make it work, That failed. We packed and moved back to Long Island. We separated, that’s when I became a single parent. She was gone for the next 6 years. I gained Sole Custody, My son Matthew was 2-1/2. And it wasn’t easy, especially in the industry I was in, you see I was a Chef and most Chefs work long hours. I couldn’t do that anymore. I had a commitment to my son. That’s when I started looking for a career change. I landed a job in the Healthcare field At Good Samaritan Hospital it was a good decision. I’m the Head Chef there this current day.
At the same time I was trying to fix myself my son Matthew at the age of fifteen was spiraling down a dark path. He made some bad choices more than several times with the law so the courts took him away to juvenile school. I lost my son and I lost myself. I was devastated. I developed panic disorders and was hospitalized several times. I was a wreck. In addition my Grandparents on my Mom’s side both past away from cancer and both Grandparent on my dad’s side both past from cancer and alztimers disease. This happened all in 4 years. Our family fell apart. I am the oldest of 5 siblings. In addition my dad while coming home from work had to pull over near a local restaurant and pleaded for help because he was having pains in his chest. Thank god an ambulance was there and the EMT’s were getting lunch. He ended up having a dissection of his Aorta “The Widow Maker” and survived. He has a foot and a half long synthetic Aorta. The man has nine lives, really. When I saw him in the hospital I passed out. My own flesh and blood with these tubes all over the place really changed me. I made the change to quit smoking at the age of 35 and started eating healthy.
One night while Matthew was away upstate serving his sentence I threw on a pair of old sneakers and went running around the neighborhood. It was April and it was raining and warm, the flowers were blooming. I felt a sense of euphoria that day. I got the” runners high”. I started to feel human again. In 2006 I signed up for my first race The Jones Beach Summer Series 5 miler. I was hooked. I ran lots of races mostly 5k and 10k’s I met some really great people. I met Rick Secor, Tim Deleo and Paul Bode when I ran the Farmingdale one miler; I ran it in 5:08. I had phone calls asking me to run the Ocean to Sound Relay and be on their team. I later spoke to Rick and I was on the Greater Long Island Running Team. But Over the next few years I tried to come to terms why things turned amuck but they did. I became more spiritual with GOD and started to do yoga to relax.
A lot happened over the next few years I had some issues with my health nothing serious. I was still trying to support my son while he was making some more irresponsible decisions. I was ready to come back, this time I was fearless. I ran my first marathon in 2011(Steam town) in addition I ran 6 more including NYC. I toyed with the idea of doing an Ironman. Why not!! I did over 25 other triathlons so I hung out with Karl Himmelmann my ambassador to helping me train and along with John Graziano and the Wildwood Warrior group. I volunteered for Lake Placid in 2012 and did my first Ironman in 2013. I was elated. Before I started Triathlons I couldn’t even swim from one end of the pool to the other. Now I can swim 2.4 miles. I didn’t care I wanted to learn, and hang with people who enjoyed the same thing as me. It was an experience of a lifetime. I wanted to take control of my life. This did it!!
I joined the Hillbillies in 2011 it was a small group at the time but the word was spreading. While on the GLIRC racing team in which Lou was also on. He put it out there to some members on GLIRC to come on down to run some hills. I thought to myself “What Hills” in Selden? I never saw any hills in that area. Boy was I wrong. The most challenging hills I ever seen. So I went down with a group and it was fun. Challenging but fun. I met so many great people since then and inspired me. I will forever be thankful.
As I look back I have no regrets. Life has thrown me a few lemons so I made lemonade. I just get back up on my feet again and forget what happen. It won’t happen the same way again. Right?? Only If I let it…I’m still not done reaching and finding my quest in life. Who does!! If we don’t have a quest then we might as well just throw in the towel. That’s why we do this. To encourage one another. That’s why Lou Lafleur put this together and it grew the way it did and I’m grateful.
To end, recently my son Matthew and his new fiancée Danielle decided to get engaged on Valentine’s Day this past year. They are getting married in August of this year. He finally found his way too. He is going to Physicians Assistant School in Pennsylvania after he gets married. I’m so proud of him.
Thank You all,
Steven J Lutz