Welcome to Selden Hills Warrior Training

Welcome to Selden Hills Warrior Training

The Selden Hills are calling! Are you ready to challenge yourself and amp up your training? If so, please join the growing number of runners doing just that on the tough 10k course that has hill upon hill for 5 demanding miles, followed by a flat, fast finish.

Check out our course maps here

Members have the opportunity to participate in celebratory Birthday Runs, the Warrior of the Month friendly competition, Prediction Runs, and many more fun events.

Runners of all abilities are welcome. Our motto is no one runs alone.

Email loulaf0516@aol.com for more information.

Regular group runs are now Sundays at 8am. Please see the Calendar for special events and utilize the Facebook page to schedule all other group runs.

Saturday Spotlight – Kevin Gercke (9/26/20)

Saturday Spotlight

Name: Kevin Gercke

Age: 47

Kids: 2 Daugthers (Lauren almost 17 and Lily 13)

Pets: 2 cats (mother/son) Maia and Dexter.

Current town: Selden

Favorite teams: Mets, Jets, Islanders, Penn State football.

(I hate the Rangers and all teams from Philly.)

Hi Hillbillies! You may know my face from the Rush Hour Renegades pictures. I’m usually the picture taker. Sorry for traumatizing you all with close-ups of my face.

I know I haven’t met a lot of you in person yet. It seems that most of you folks are morning people. Yeah, that’s not me. I’m a night owl. Never in bed before 1AM.

You may have noticed that I left out the “hometown” line that most WOTW’s include.

The reason being that I don’t really have a single hometown. My parents divorced when I was 5, so I grew up with a single mom and my older brother.

We moved A LOT. What’s a lot? I moved 8 times in the 10 years between Kindergarten and my freshman year in high school. It actually felt really strange to NOT move during the 4 years of high school. So I was always the new kid. Sometimes it was great because I made cool, new friends but it was always short lived as we were moving again. My older brother Eric, is 2.5 years older. We were very different in most ways. He was 6 feet tall by age 12 / I was 5’ 1” until a growth spurt at age 14/15. He was quiet and mild mannered….me? Well, let’s just say I was that kid in the neighborhood that parents tell their kids to stay away from. I sometimes got in fights, but it was never my own fight. It was always to protect my older, bigger brother who was too meek and shy to defend himself. He was a big target for bullies because of his large size but mild-mannered ways. I, on the other hand, was fiercely protective and almost welcomed the job of protector.

The one thing my older brother and I absolutely had in common was our love for sports. Now, due to the aforementioned age and size difference he had a natural advantage in most sports. But like any typical little brother, I was super-competitive with him and it drove me to excel. We played every sport you could imagine – soccer, football, baseball, basketball, hockey, wrestling, volleyball, tennis. We also played “running bases” and “kill the guy with the ball”. We rode our bikes everywhere.

But running?…like, JUST running? Nope, That was usually punishment from the coaches for not playing or practicing how they wanted.

I did run with a track team from age 13-17 but not for school. I was our team’s 1-mile and 2-mile guy. My best times were 5:08 and 10:38. I would also run the relays when needed. However, I never “trained”. I just showed up to the meets and ran. Not once did I run outside of the meets, unless it was for another sport.

Anyway, I feel like this is going on a bit longer than anticipated. So fast forward – I played volleyball competitively until age 36. But after that, nothing organized. I just kept going to the gym a few times a week with my good buddy Roger Belz, whom many of you know. So in 2018, after Roger had dropped a bunch of weight, we signed up to run the Michael Murphy “Run Around the Laķe”. That was the first time I had seen the infamous red shirts. Now I had moved to Selden in 2001, so I was like “Who are these people?” We ran a few more races, saw more red shirts. Then at the Hamptons Half Marathon, Roger met Yolanda Roma Szymanski who invited him to run the hills. Then I did the same in November 2018. However, I injured my knee on that very first hills run (wet leaves suck!) It took just over a year of several failed comebacks before finally being able to be back in the hills full time starting this past March.

If you made it this far, thank you for taking the time. Thank you to Lou LaFleur for the opportunity. Lastly, thank you Team Selden Hills. I love that this group has so many different personalities but it seems there is one thing we all have in common: You all are so supportive of one another and that’s what I’m most proud of as a member of this group.

Saturday Spotlight – Keri McLaughlin (9/19/20)

Saturday Spotlight

Name: Keri McLaughlin

Age: 39

Marital status: married to Mike

Kids: Aiden 8, girl Ryan 6

Occupation: Italian and Spanish teacher in Longwood

Hobbies: Aside from running….lacrosse, crafts with my kids, skiing, playing ANY/ALL sports

Hometown: Middle Island

Current town: Rocky Point

College: SUNY Binghamton and Università di Siena in Italy

Favorite Race: Suffolk County Half Marathon (so far)

Frequent running spots: all over Rocky Point and Shoreham (and now the Hills)

I’m honored to have been chosen for WOTW! I’ve only been around since June and already met more amazing people than I can count. Melissa Lynn gets the award for most persistent requests to get me to come run the hills and I’m so glad she never gave up!

I grew up in a family that played every sport we could get our hands on. We all played tennis at an early age and I segued into Soccer, basketball, softball, and lacrosse. I love all sports, but lacrosse is my favorite and I played at Binghamton (a while ago now). I started running in junior high as a way to get in shape in the off season, and did some triathlon relays with my family. I usually swam and let the studs do the running. I did fun runs here and there and it’s only been since I had my kids that I developed my passion for running. First as a way to get some quiet time with an enormous jogging stroller, and then as a way to clear my head as my kids got bigger. My “running” career was pretty much jogging in the neighborhood and 1 half marathon until I ran the Seaside Sprint in Disney and discovered I ran the mile in about 8 minutes. A silly one mile fun run with NO chips, timers, or finish line was the turning point for me to start working on speed and learning more about running.

Since then I’ve narrowed down some goals: a sub 2:00 half and a 4:00/4:15 Marathon. I’m pretty close to the sub 2:00 half, but have lots of work ahead to hit that marathon goal. I’m thankful every time I hit the hills for Melissa, Krystal Cardillo, Kristen Petraco, Elissa Gravinese  for becoming my own personal pacers. Sometimes I feel bad I’m not able to push anyone else like they do for me, but then I remember they get extra miles as they loop back and keep me going.

I’m so grateful for all my new friends! Thank you all for being the most inclusive, motivating group I’ve ever been a part of!

Saturday Spotlight – Krystal Cardillo (9/12/20)

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Saturday Spotlight.

Name: Krystal Cardillo

Age: 35

Marital Status: Married to Craig

Kids: Bobby-18, Jason-17, Madison-5, and Charlie-3.

Occupation: Social Worker for Homeless Veterans, aspiring to start a non-profit to combine my love with social work and exercise.

Hobbies: Running, working out, adventures with my girls , reading, cooking and crafting.

Hometown: Philly

Current Town: Nesconset,NY

College: Adelphi University

Favorite Race: MCM and the Michael Murphy run.

Frequent Running Spots: My neighborhood, Belmont and now the Hills of course

Hi Warriors! I just want to give a big Thank you to Lou LaFleur for picking me for this weeks warrior! What an honor. Thank you all for welcoming me to an amazing community and looking forward to getting to know all of you and running beside some of you!

So first I’d like to say thanks for taking the time to read this. I have enjoyed everyone’s thus far and have been so nervous to write. This was harder than I thought.

So this is my running story. As a kid I did not growing up playing sports and the only running I did was from the cops not because I was a bad kid but because of my environment. Fast forward to age 19, with two kids I joined the Navy to provide myself and my boys a life they deserved. So my friend and I joined together but she went to boot camp before me. She came home from boot camp 2 weeks before I was to leave and she asked me to run. I could not run around the block! EMBARRASSING!!!!!

So off I went to boot camp and little did I know I fell in love with running. After my time in service and many runs and Pt sessions in the Navy, my bf, now husband, suggested running the San Diego marathon together a week before he left for Japan. We started off training strong and then kind of just tapered off neither of us really knew what we were doing, we bought all the “cool” stuff and just ran! We finished it in 4:35. At the time I was just happy I finished and didn’t really know what pace/pr’s etc even were. My father In law, at our wedding blew up a picture of us crossing the finish line and in his speech stated “their love began when Krystal carried Craig over the line to finish”. If I had to be honest I still didn’t understand race pace or pr’s until I was running the MCM in 2017 and a running friend was yelling at me “you’re gonna effing BQ! Clearly I did not BQ at that race, but I went home and googled BQ and now that is something I am striving for, in addition to my goal of completing a TRI!

Through the last five years of consistent running I’ve learned so much and learned that there is still so much more to learn, I even took a running coach certification class and still know nothing.

I came to the hills in July and have loved every moment on the hills since. I’m so thankful to have had the courage to finally come!

For years I’ve watched the Selden hills warriors at all the LI races, and asked around about it but was always nervous to go until, I met Melissa Lynnw ho was running in my neighborhood with my neighbor Sarah Ecke and they invited me to come and here am! So thank you ladies for the push I needed!

See ya on the hills!

Saturday Spotlight – Lisa Saric (9/5/20)


Name: Lisa Saric

Age: UGH do I have to…ok I’m 53

Kids: I have 2 sons, ages 27 and 25, …I’m surrounded by testosterone

Marital Status: Married to John who is not a runner – he cycles

My Pets, Laci, a Silky Yorkie and Luna a Shipoo are the daughters I never had

Occupation: I am a 6th grade middle school teacher and a Yoga Instructor. Currently, I teach Stand up Paddle Board Yoga classes.

Hobbies: ANYTHING OUTDOOORS…running of course, birdwatching, biking (outdoors or in, love my Peloton), hiking (especially in the desert), stand up paddle boarding, camping, exploring, combing the beach for drift wood and sea glass – I love adventure, trying new things that challenge me. I write daily…I bring a journal mostly everywhere I go, and photography (difficulty with modern devices….old school 35 mm was my thing. I “collect” clothes…fashion is my hobby…lol although quarantine had me in sweats with a work appropriate top for Zoom Meetings and running clothes were my day to day wear. I LOVE watching the Office over and over because I love to laugh, I LOVE listening to live music and dancing like no one’s watching, the problem is they are.

Hometown: Selden and then my family moved to Miller Place, NY

Currently Reside: Wading River, Ny

When Lou contacted me to be the Warrior of the Week, I was confused. It was what I imagine winning lotto feels like….total surprise… “NOOOOOOOOO…. I WONNNN??????”…kinda like passing an exam I studied my ass off for, but suspected I’d failed. Yet after the excitement came feelings of doubt and disbelief. “Was I deserving of the honor of being part of this elite group?” My thinking mind was my biggest obstacle as a runner but something crazy happened on those hills, they helped me to quickly realize, “I’m just a normal person with a love of running” and my W.O.W. highlight is actually a tool, a way to positively reflect on how much I’ve grown as a runner, not that I’’ll win any records or slay the slaughterhouse … I don’t like to say “NEVER” because a lot of my “never me statements” became achievements…..yes, I’m a positive person but I’m also realistic.

Ten years ago I became a runner…. I was physically in the best shape of my life, I was working out 4 times weekly with a personal trainer, and although I was strong, running was my weakness. Learning to run was not an adventure, more like torture. I was completely consumed and I failed over and over …I had no idea how to condition my body to run but I knew I needed support. So, the teacher in me began reading various books and articles, “Born to Run” was my favorite. I started asking questions and someone suggested joining a group. Of course, the universe directed me to Selden Hills. I found SHW YEARS AGO remember. I thought “, YAY..Ill join a running group and they’ll help me.” Lou kindly informed me and although it was through messenger, I sensed a chuckle “ to get in this group you need to run the hills!” “If I can’t run a mile with ease and happiness, how can I run those hills?” I was always a little stronger than my negative mindset about myself as a runner, so I decided I needed to set a goal.

Signing up for my first 5k race, the Black Sheep Blast, gave me something to strive for. I hired a running coach to prepare me, I enlisted friends to run with me and I learned something things about running but mostly about myself. LIGHT BULB MOMENT…even though my body was in shape and I had a “village” of supporters, I didn’t trust myself and I couldn’t get out of my head. In fact, the biggest obstacle was my thinking mind. The more I focused on running, the more of a task it became and the less happy I was. I ran for a few more years and enjoyed the summer and winter run series and even ran a few 10k’s but the truth is it didn’t click for me until recently.

Sounds like a cheesy cliché but practicing daily meditation and breath awareness in isolation, and in my yoga practice changed my life. Shifting my perspective to mindfulness, allowed me to remove negativity more quickly, and focus on the present moment. I wanted to share these tools with my students in school as well as other people struggling in areas of their life, so I became a certified yoga teacher and found myself devouring every specialty course I could take from Mindfulness guide in nature, to sound therapist and Yoga for recovery. Now, with a renewed endurance, I feel as though my mind got out of my way and allowed me to enjoy the run.

So when COVID quarantine afforded me the opportunity to find ME again, I made a list and I felt inspired to run. One of the biggest accomplishments was earning the title selden hills warrior . Im addicted, not only to the course but the positivity surrounding this amazing group of people. Thank you for welcoming me…Now, I’m trying to view running as an opportunity to change every day…running centers me, it calms me…

Running EMPOWERS me and I am proud to be a SHW.

Thank you Lou!!!!

Saturday Spotlight – Taylor Zummo (8/29/20)

Name: Taylor Zummo

Age: 26

Marital Status: Not married… yet!

Kids: Two fur babies (Oakley & Maui)

Occupation: Full-Time High School Social Worker, Coach at Masá CrossFit, Full-Time Doctoral Student
Hobbies: CrossFit, Going on Hikes, Reading

Hometown: Rocky Point

Current Town: Coram

College: St Joseph’s, Stony Brook University, Capella University

Favorite Race: 5k Mud-Run

Frequent Running Spots: I typically do most of my running at the gym, although I would like to be at the hills more!

Personal Message:
Good morning everyone! I have to say a big thank you to Lou LaFleur for reaching out and asking if I wanted to be the Selden Hills Warrior of the Week. I was quite surprised, as I have not run the hills as often as many of you! I have only run the hills a handful of times, but each time, I was so amazed by this incredible and supportive community of people. I also have my two favorite people, Jay Kim and Tim Ed there with me! I have been experiencing a lot of shin splints as I run, so my runs have been much shorter distances at the gym so I am building my way back up to the 5k’s at the hills.

I am someone who has absolutely no background in fitness. My father was a marathon runner and a cyclist, and my mother has been playing sports her whole life. I always felt so intimidated to begin any style of fitness as I continued to doubt myself and my abilities.

In 2012, I was to introduce to CrossFit by my sister. I immediately fell in love because I realized it was a sport that could meet you where you are at. I really began to get into CrossFit in 2014, when I met my current boyfriend. Since then, I have watched my body become strong in ways I could have never imagined. Throughout that time, my sister was distance running daily and I began to join her when I could. I found running to be another way that I could expand upon my fitness.

I continue to struggle with my form in running so I have taken quite a few steps back to work on my stride, hence why I have not been part of this community as much as I would like to. I have been doing shorter distance running in the workouts we have at the gym and I feel like I have finally began to get my form to a place where I feel more comfortable going for longer distances.
As someone who is pursuing a doctorate, balancing a social work career, and coaching/managing a gym- I often feel so overwhelmed and anxious. I have found fitness to be that one thing that I can control. Whatever the fitness it is; CrossFit, running, etc, I have found something that truly brings me joy. What I appreciate most is the community, especially coming from a place with absolutely no background in fitness. Whether it is all of you or the community at my gym, I feel like no matter where I am in my ability level, everyone is so supportive.

Thank you again for allowing me to share a little bit more about myself and I hope to see you out on the hills soon!

Saturday Spotlight – Jenna Gray (8/22/20)

Saturday Spotlight:

Name: Jenna Gray

Age: 35

Marital Status: Single (Think 27 Dresses, See also: Occupation for a laugh)

Pets: Calvin (6 yrs old Shih Tzu Rescue)

Occupation: Marketing & Project Management, Event/Wedding Planning

Hobbies: Yoga, Gardening, Travel, Beach & Boating, Concerts/Live Music, Skiing, pretty much anything outside (I am not an indoor cat), Cooking (ok, really it’s Eating), Reading (Articles about anything, I love learning new stuff), Travel, Party Planning

Hometown: Sayville

Current Town: Patchogue

College: Sacred Heart University

Favorite Race: SRC 10M Run to the Blue Point Brewery

Frequent Running Spots: Running late, Running my mouth, Patchogue, Bayport, Bluepoint, the Hills of course, newly loving Sunken Meadow

Hey Warriors! First I want to give a huge thanks to Lou for welcoming me to such an amazing community & asking me to be WOTW. To be honest, I was surprised and uneasy about accepting the honor. I’m fairly new to running and certainly a “newbie” to the hills. I even said to a few people “I’m not interesting enough & don’t have enough under my belt to warrant this.” But with some encouragement I realized it’s an absolutely perfect time for me to share my story… as I’m currently in a place of reflection, defining, and redefining myself.

Ok, So where do I start? I never really liked running. Actually, that’s an understatement, I swore I’d never do it. I’ve always been an athlete but really couldn’t understand the whole “running for fun” thing. I played soccer from a young age (Bayman!!) and helped start the first girl’s lacrosse team in Sayville (Thank you Gary Jensen, best coach ever!), both of which I played all through school. So yea I “ran” but not without a play in mind, a ball at my feet, or a lax stick in my hand. I also danced competitively my entire life, right into college where I fell in love with dance as a “sport”. I made the National Competition Dance Team at SHU as a freshman and became captain my senior year in which we took 10th place Nationally in Division 1A (as the smallest school in the division)! I gained so much more than bragging rights & new moves in this time though. I learned about the importance of mentors, my leadership abilities, and the importance of setting your goals high (cause yes, you can).

After college I returned to my childhood dance studio to keep up with classes for fun and even coached the Arrowette Kickline Team at Seneca Middle School for 2 seasons. This was the extent of my physical activity post-college aside from a gym membership I rarely used. I became a work-a-holic, working in a restaurant on the weekends (Kingstons Clam Bar & La Tavola Trattoria) and my “day job” in marketing at CA Technologies (Most LI’ers know as Computer Associates). Fast forward a few years (and a major relationship), in 2013 I was going through burnout, a major breakup, and needed an outlet. I started dabbling with running just to quiet my mind. It was the only thing [healthy] that worked. A lot of the years in-between then and now are honestly a blur. I traveled a lot, worked a lot, got into group fitness classes, and ran a mile here or there. It wasn’t until 2017 I ran my first 5k; which at the time was a big deal for me, probably the farthest I’d ever ran. It was the Run for the Bay 5k in Sayville – my hometown. I felt so accomplished (I trained for this!?) and was proud to “check it off the list.” Honestly, I never had a desire to run anything more or again – Ha. Enter my sister’s obsession w/ running (I bet you wondered when the heck she was going to enter this story). Ah yes, Tara Dungate, my irish twin – the one I did all the sports, dancing, and hair-pulling with – got into racing. I LOVED cheering her on though. I’ll never forget how excited (and teary-eyed) I was when she finished her first half (Suffolk) and then first marathon (NYC). I was there with giant signs, and, pom poms, & bells (literally). But yep, still no desire to do it myself. For the first time in my life I was happy being one of the FANS (Former Athlete Now Spectator LOL).

Clearly, that didn’t last forever… I picked up running “for real” in the Spring/Summer of 2018. We’re talking 3 miles maybe 2/3 times a week. My sister sneakily signed me up for the BluePoint Brewery 10 miler as what I’ll call a “challenge,” to which I said “Yea sure I’ll show her, I’m totally doing this.” As to not spoil stories for later in the week… let’s just leave it as – I didn’t. I nursed some cranky knees all winter and picked it up, yet again, in Spring 2019. I signed up for the NYS Parks Summer running series with Tara & Veronica and WOW I was starting to get it. The “runners high” got me and I’ve been at it ever since. And thank goodness because 2018/19 handed me the most rotten lemons to which I’ve still been scrambling to make lemonade with – another major breakup (absolute chaos), getting laid off from my job of 10 years at CA after they were acquired, loss of family members, and a year full of “you can’t make this stuff up, you have to laugh”. Running has kept me [relatively] sane throughout (In addition to discovering hot yoga – which I highly recommend). Honestly, I don’t know what I would have done without it.

Ok so to wrap it up… I ran the Hills for the first time at the NYE run 12/31/19 as kind of an endurance test for my first big race… yes, I DID finally complete the Bluepoint 10M this year! Riding on those coattails I signed up for the May 2020 Popular Brooklyn Half (yea I actually got in!) which was going to be my first half-marathon and well we all know what happens next… TBC (To be Completed!).

I couldn’t be more thankful I’ve found running at this time and this incredible SHW community. Running has honestly been the first thing I can remember that does NOT come easily to me. I have to work my a$$ off for small gains but wow am I learning a lot about myself and really life in the process. If there is anything I’ve learned so far from this year & running (and from you all) its that we’re ALWAYS learning (and if you’re not, you’re missing the point), we’re really stronger than we think, and resilience is a virtue.

On that note – Can’t wait to share more stories & get to know you all too throughout the week. And don’t forget to get those #MilesforJules in this weekend!

Saturday Spotlight – Rachel Sumerson (8/15/20)

Saturday Spotlight

Name: Rachel Sumerson

Age: 45

Marital Status: Married to Gene Gamache (I kept my maiden name)

Kids: Jack (12) and Amy (10)

Pets: Gonzo (African grey parrot) and a carnival fish that has been in a dirty fish bowl for 6 years.

Occupation: Attorney, running a title insurance company that Gene and I own.

Hobbies: Running, kayaking, biking, swimming.

Hometown: Cherry Hill, NJ

Current Town: East Rockaway (in Nassau, not in Queens)

College: Albright College, Temple University (Fels Institute of Molecular Biology), St. John’s School of Law

Favorite Race: Summer Run Series

Thank you Lou LaFleur for welcoming me into this group, and inviting me to be the warrior of the week. I’m not the most social person, so many of you may have seen me at the hills but don’t know me. I have only been to the hills one time since the pandemic started. I started running on the hills toward the end of last year thanks to Rachel Vachier Dengel.

This group has been amazing in helping me push myself and also answering all of my crazy questions regarding dealing with this heat and humidity (chafing, blisters and stinky clothes).

I started running to get into shape for field hockey when I started high school. During middle school our field hockey coaches told us that we needed to practice running a mile and 1.5 miles before starting freshmen year of high school because the coaches will time us and expect us to run under an 8 min/mile pace. I somehow ran just enough that summer to be able to make those times in my freshman year. And I did it again in my sophomore year. But then I slacked off and couldn’t do it in my junior year. I was so out of shape that I couldn’t keep up with the rest of the team and I was cut from the team. I was devastated, but I knew that it was my fault for slacking off. Unfortunately, not being on the field hockey team meant that I could take a break from running.

During the summer between my junior and senior year of college, I volunteered in a molecular biology lab in Philadelphia. One day when I was walking to the train to go back home, I was approached by a homeless woman looking for money or diapers. I offered to buy her diapers. When I went in the store, a guy working there warned me that she would return them to get money for drugs. I immediately left the store and she followed me and I took off running. I don’t think she followed me for long, but I was scared and I continued to run until I got on the train. I was completely out of breath and so mad at myself, not for what I did, but because I was so out of shape that I could hardly run the few blocks to the train station. That was the day I decided that I needed to get back into running, which I did.

I continued running through my senior year of college and it gave me the confidence to play for the women’s rugby team. That was an incredible experience. And the parties after the games were insane. I won’t go into details of that. I had a good senior year, and I’m sure that running really played a big role in that. I also met my husband that year, in Puerto Rico, during spring break. Shortly after meeting Gene, I convinced him to start running.

I continued to run after college. I ran my first race when I was in grad school in Philadelphia. The Susan G. Koman, 5K Race for the Cure. It was a good first race to run. It was really crowded and I couldn’t really run at a decent pace until the last mile. But I was afraid to run my first race because I thought I might come in last place, LOL.

Gene and I have been running, on and off since we met. We did the Tough Mudder together in 2013. We have run the Summer Run Series together for about 20 years. And the past few years our kids have run it too, which is why it is my favorite race (series). It has been amazing to see the kids improve throughout the years. We all really miss the races this year. One thing that has pushed me to run harder has been trying to keep up with the kids.

Last year I started adding more miles (and the hills) to my runs. And I also joined a pool and added swimming to my routine. I had decided that 2020 would be my year to run my first marathon and compete in my first triathlon. Obviously plans have changed. I’m thankful that I ran the icebreaker half marathon in January this year, as it was my first half marathon. With the cancelation of all of the kids’ activities, I have had more time to spend on running and getting out on the kayaks and the stand up paddleboard. Hopefully next year will be my year for those events.