Saturday Spotlight – Meg Catapano (4/25/20)

Name: Meg Catapano

Age: 32

Marital Status: Married to Joe Catapano

Kids: 1 Son, Brooklyn Kennedy.

Occupation: Talent Engagement Officer and Adjunct Professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology.

Hobbies: Running, Decorating, Boating, Spending time outdoors with my family and working.

Hometown: Stony Brook, New York.Current Town: Setauket, New York.

College: Fashion Institute of Technology

Favorite Race: Hamptons Half Marathon

Frequent Running Spots: You can always find me on Old Field Road (anytime- day or night) or running through Strongs Neck.

It’s true, I called an Uber to bring me back to my car on my first hills run.Hi, I’m Meg!It’s a pleasure to be here and I am very grateful for the opportunity to share some short stories with you this week. SHW has made such an impact on my life in such a short amount of time.

I grew up in Stony Brook where I attended Ward Melville High School. Throughout High School I played Field Hockey, but never really pinned myself as the “athletic” type. I attended the Fashion Institute of Technology where I studied both Design and Marketing. For 12 years I lived in the city, just recently moving back to Setauket to raise a family.

After graduating from FIT I had the opportunity to work in PR and Events within the Fashion Industry and then the Hospitality industry. During my time in the hospitality industry I had the outstanding opportunity to become an owner/investor in a bar located in Midtown. For the past five years I have worked for an incredible organization where I’ve had the opportunity to lead their Talent Engagement department. Our team is a fusion of Events, Employee Engagement and Wellness.

I have the ability to integrate all of my passions into one career. Last spring I had the incredible opportunity to go back to FIT to start teaching their spring/summer courses for Special Events. During my 12 years in Manhattan, I worked a lot. I always ran but a mile here, or a mile there. My relaxation used to be running through Times Square at 1, 2 or 3 in the morning. It wasn’t until 2012 when I was asked to run a 10K race that my interest, err, fear was piqued.

I vividly remember running on the treadmill in our building overlooking the East River wondering how I could ever finish that long of a race. That initial race lit the fire for my passion of running that would be fueled by intrinsic motivation and just a little bit of craziness.I had heard about the hills a few times but it wasn’t until this past July that I texted a good friend and asked her if she would be interested in running them with me. I figured “What’s the big deal”? I’ve run hills before…how hard could it be? Reached Rosemont. Called an Uber.

Pride Took Over. Canceled Uber. Walked back to the car in shame. Feaverish texts were sent to my guides letting them know I was “just fine”. Err, lies. Something you should know about me, I am a quintessential A type individual. It haunted me (and I’m talking haunted me) for days and weeks that I couldn’t run that course perfectly. The morning of my 32nd birthday I woke up at 4 AM destined to prove something to someone and showed up for my very first Vampire Run. Cue the addiction.

Truth be told, anytime I run with a group I suffer from imposter syndrome, hence why I am so quiet when I run. I’m consistently so impressed by everyone’s skills and abilities. However, the group on the hills taught me it’s a lot more than being a fast runner or running it perfectly every time it’s about getting out there. The Hills helped me overcome some really wild times this past year. I look forward to sharing those stories with you this week and hearing from each of you! Thank you again for this opportunity!

Saturday Spotlight – Karine Bordges (4/18/20)

Name: Karine Bordges
Age: 39
Marital Status: Married – Mike
Kids: Jasmine 22, Gemma 9, and Tj (pronounced Teeg) 2
Pets: Rex (Chihuahua) and Sonny (German Sheppard)

Occupation: Mother, Branch Service Manager for Penske, and full time college student
Hobbies: All of the above and toss in some running J
Hometown: St. James, NY
Current Town: Farmingville, NY

Thank you to Lou for asking me to be the warrior of the week. When I was messaged and asked, I was apprehensive since I am a little shy but like so many others who may have felt the same here we are! Where do you start?!?.

Well, growing up my parents were married at a very young age. Starting a family at just twenty years old they had three girls one right after the other (Aug. 1979, Nov. 1980, and Feb 1982). Me I was that one right in the middle who quickly became known as the troublemaker. I secured the title in October of 1997 when I was sixteen in the 10th grade giving the family an unbelievable shock that I was eight months pregnant and had to drop out of school.

Only a few weeks later my parents became grandparents at 38 years old. Jasmine’s father and I were doing ok and trying to figure life out together but when my daughter Jasmine was four months old I found myself being a single mother and for reasons I may never know never saw him again. I earned my GED in a BOCES program while working babysitting jobs and at local small businesses to earn money to support my daughter. I planted my feet working for a trucking company, Penske, as a secretary in 2001.

With the support of family and close friends, I went to Suffolk County Community College at night two days a week for about a year but that did not really work out for so long. I met my husband Mike when he came to work for Penske also and we became friends quickly. We have been together now for over 16 years and both still work together just in separate locations. After being married a few years we extended our family having our second girl, Gemma and completed it a few more years later with our son Tyler (Tj).

I often joke my kids are so far apart because I was finally old enough to have children with the last two.Looking back, I would never think for a second I would have made it to be the person I am, having wonderful healthy and happy children, a partner in life, and generous career. It has been the circle of my life so far that has made me into the person I am today and I found peace and humbleness in almost every challenge. Things do happen for a reason..

Throughout the week I will introduce you how running has become a part of my life, more about my children, sisters, friends, and my sole-sister/sister-in-law/best friend (She gets a few titles) and of course some of you will be included too!Every week I like to read posts from all of you Warriors. It does get weird if I see you on the hills because I think “Oh I know that person!” I hope when you see me you can think the same and remember me. When I hit the hills I usually get passed during group runs at Rosemont because I start earlier with the 7:30am group so please say “Hi!” and I hope you too will think “I know her?”!

Saturday Spotlight – Kate Bongiorno (4/4/20)

Saturday Spotlight Name:

Kate Bongiorno

Age: 44Marital status: single

Pets: 1 cat Molly

Occupation: Bartender at season’s 52 in Garden city

Hobbies: running, yoga, reading and traveling

Hometown: Long island

Current town: Bellmore, NY

Favorite Race: NYC marathon

Hi everyone. Thank you Lou LaFleur for asking me to be the warrior of the week. I’m social media shy so i don’t post often, but i really enjoy reading everyone else’s wotw so I’m excited for my turn. I grew up here on long island. I moved around a lot, which is why i don’t really have a ‘hometown ‘.

I’m not sure how many towns I’ve lived in but I went to 6 different schools. I have 2 younger sisters, Char Lotte who many of you know and Maggie who lives in MD now. We’re each 1 year apart, so we’re super close but we also fight constantly. It’s really fun. We go on a sister trip every year. Our trip this year was unfortunately canceled. We were supposed to go to the Galapagos islands last week. I was hoping my ‘memorable monday’ would include pictures of giant tortoises. I went to SUNY Oneonta, where I earned a BA In psychology.

From what i can remember i had a great time. After school, i moved to Colorado for a year. I had some friends move there and i wanted to try somewhere new. I first lived in Denver, which was great and then Boulder, which i didn’t care for. When i came back i got a job in social work, but i was really unhappy there. At the time i was also bar tending part time to pay my bills. After about 2 years, i left my terrible job and worked in the restaurant full time instead. Which is what I’ve been doing ever since. For the past 7 years I’ve been working in a nice corporate restaurant in garden city.

So running..I was always an active person. I played some sports and i loved biking and doing the obstacle course races. But i really hated running. Charlotte would try to get me to run but it usually didn’t go well . Then in 2016 she said she was entering the lottery for the nyc marathon. Well i hate being left out more than i hate running, so I entered too. I was really hoping we didn’t get in but of course we did. While training i fell in love with running and i would wake up looking forward to my runs. Marathon day was incredible and now running has taken over my life. In Dec ’18 my beautiful friend Caro Lyn suggested we do a NYE with the selden hills people and now here i am. I’m so glad we did. I love the challenge of the course but really I’m so grateful for the positive supportive people I get to run with. Especially Kathleen Bates Sparacin, my favorite to run the hills with and also try the longer courses and Stephanie Abrams Templeton, my robs run teammate who i love running and discussing travel with.

I hope everyone’s safe and healthy. I look forward to sharing more with you all this week.

Saturday Spotlight – Deb Mendolia Phillips (3/28/20)

Name: Deb Phillips

Age: 44

Marital Status: Married

Children: 2

Occupation: 2nd grade teacher, Harborfields SD

Hobbies: Exercise, running, skiing, volleyball, hiking, kayaking ..pretty much anything that gets me outside & reading.

Hometown: Smithtown

Current: same

Thanks so much Lou LaFleur for asking me to be a Warrior of the Week. Of course, he asked me a while ago, who knew we’d be in the middle of a World Pandemic and have to practice social distancing and Isolation!My Story:I was always involved in sports as a kid. BUT hated running! Soccer practice in middle school and HS was torture when we had to run field laps! I used to think those tracks kids were nuts! Why would you join track when all you did was run?In college, I began exercising, lost 26lbs my freshman year. Ate better and took some step aerobics classes. Also started walking a lot. I considered myself a “speed walker” . My friends and I would go for a walk around campus or the town and they would always remark how fast I would walk.After college, starting teaching and was lucky enough to start with many new young teachers, I wanted to fit in and a bunch of them were runners. They would go running together after school and I wanted to join them, but knew I was a speed walker, not a runner. They invited me, but just said I had bad knees from all the volleyball and softball I used to play. UNTIL one day my friend Kerry (who is now a 3x Ironman!) convinced me to join them. They were all training for the LI Half Marathon. I did a training run with them and didn’t die! SO I signed up! I ran it.

I’m not sure exactly the year, but it was probably around 2003 and I was so proud of myself. I continued running with them, but slowly they started having babies and I wasn’t ready for that yet. I still ran after school, by myself though. I had fun running alone and even ran by my students’ houses! It was a fun thing I did and the kids knew when I was running by and would be on the lookout for me! I did Cow Harbor a few times, including the year of the FLOOD!

In 2005, my husband and I signed up for the Covered Bridge Half Marathon in VT for June (which wound up being not as great as we had hoped! Hottest day ever in VT and didn’t see or go through as many covered bridges as we hoped) and decided we would try to get into the NYC FULL marathon for Nov 2005. We knew we wanted to start a family soon and thought it would be one last thing we could do before that. We knew it would be a long shot, but we decided if we both got in, we’d try getting pregnant after the marathon. If he got in and I didn’t we start that summer while he trained. We never said what we’d do IF I got in and he didn’t, which of course is what happened! A friend of ours who ran several times heard what happened and said,”Husband and wife should train for and run their first together” and gave my husband his bib (shh don’t tell I know that probably isn’t allowed.)

So my husband ran under a different name, but we trained all summer, did those 20 mile runs on a Sunday evening, followed a schedule and did as we were supposed to….5 days before the marathon…uh oh….oh yes, I found out I was pregnant! I went to see my doctor who confirmed. I told her my plans for that Sunday and she said, “ You trained hard, you will be tired, listen to your body, promise me you will walk when needed and have a great race!” So that’s what I did! It was an amazing time! Turning that corner on First Ave and hearing the roar of the crowd was amazing! My mom and dad, brother , sister in law and niece came to cheer me on along with some of those girls I used to run with after school! It was wonderful! The hardest part was when I finally made it into Central Park! I thought I was done, but clearly wasn’t. I walked when needed and didn’t make any record-breaking times! BUT I DID IT pregnant!

I always tell my son, he was born running! My parents drove us home after the race and not until a week later did we tell them I was expecting! After I did, my mom had a betwixt face,”WAIT you ran the marathon PREGNANT?” I knew she would have been a nervous wreck if she knew, so it was best not to tell her.After the marathon, I enjoyed my pregnancy and went back to speed walking, but of course, I registered for a jog stroller, as soon as my son was big enough, I was off and running pushing him and he loved it! It was great! I kept running, but just in my neighborhood. When My daughter came along I did the same and then started teaching my son to ride his bike alongside me so I could use the jogger after school and get my runs in. I continue now for my health.

My dad passed away when I was pregnant with my daughter of a massive heart attack, while on the treadmill. But I am doing everything possible to keep a healthy heart.In June 2019, Shannon Buscemi, a fellow cheer mom and I went for a run while our daughters were at an early morning cheer practice. She told me about the Hills so I joined her. Our paces were a little different and she knew Bob Haughn, because EVERYONE knows Bob and of course he took me under his wing for my first classic, It was tough but it was fun too. I am still a newbie when it comes to the hills and haven’t been out since this whole world-changing event has happened. I enjoy the comrade of it all and was happy I did my first race as a warrior, Cow Harbor this year and as proud of my time, around 56 min. I did Rob’s Run on that freezing cold morning, which was an adventure. I’ve met some really great people, made some new friends Bernadette Sciara Mouzithras and Kari Schlessinger and rekindled an old friendship Angela Barry, we’ve known each other since elementary school!So I guess that’s me.


If you read through this whole thing, thanks..may you all stay healthy and continue to practice social distancing so we can all be together again. I miss the Sunday 8 am runs!


Saturday Spotlight – Tara Carrick (3/14/20)

Saturday Spotlight

Name: Tara Carrick

Age: 40

Marital status: Separated

Kids: 1 girl (8yo)

Occupation: Dietitian

Hobbies: Obstacle racing, Running, watching investigation discovery, shopping

Hometown: Sayvile

Current Town: Sayville

College: Oneonta State (BS), CWPost (MS)

Favorite race: Not sure but love 10k & 1/2 marathon distance most

Frequent Running Spots: Blydenburg, streets of Sayville & seldom hills of course

Personal Message: Thanks Lou LaFleur for asking me to represent the wonderful SHW this week. Hello Warriors and Hillbillies, I’m this week’s Warrior of the week!

I’ll start from the beginning of my running experience. It began when I was in middle school and was forced to run a mile warm up before cheer practice every day. Eventually it got easier and made each cheer routine better as I built my endurance up. Then onto high school cheer. There was one season that we didn’t cheer which wound up in springtime. So I figured let me join the track team. They recruited me to be a race walker. Little did I know most of my practice time was going to be with the long-distance runners. Oh boy, I never did give up. The coach would run with us but most likely to make sure I did not get left behind. The shortest distance we ran was probably 3 miles and up to 10 miles. I learned quick how to increase my pace and not feel like I was going to die each practice. After high school I pretty much stopped running outside.

Then onto college, my first year was a blur. I was a new student away from home living on my own. So not much exercise was involved. By my sophomore year I decided to join the cheer team, pledge a sorority and therefore started becoming more active with running outside. No races just sporadic runs when the weather was nice. Not too many nice days since it was upstate, and we saw more winter months. That’s when I started running on the treadmill. It was not nearly as challenging, but I could set a distance and go! I think treadmills are for lazy runners, but it gets the legs moving. I continued this for most of college. I ran outside when I was home for the summers. Just set out and run until I was tired or about to pass out. Long before all these cool smart watches which map your runs.

I stayed a lazy runner on the treadmill for years because by the time I came home work it was dark out. So about 5 years ago I started getting into obstacle course racing! OK, at first I thought this is crazy, hiking up mountains 3+, 10+, 15+ miles with 25-35 obstacles. Well I realized my running needed to improve. Back to the road I went. All of my race friends didn’t live close enough to run with. So back I went setting different distances and hitting the road again. Along with running I found an obstacle gym to join in Deer Park where I met Jennifer Rowley Heymach.

She had mentioned this running club seldom hills warriors. They run almost every Sunday and other days as well. All levels of runners. She asked me to come down. Unfortunately, shortly after I broke my foot.

Was with my daughter working out and stepped wrong. Clean brake of my fifth metatarsal but most miserable 3+ months of my life. Couldn’t work, couldn’t run and it was the beginning of the summer (no beach). I’m a beach bum. I was in a boot non weight bearing for 10 weeks. I had already signed up for the diva dash 1/2 marathon and it was going to be my first 1/2. Once my doctor gave me the OK that I was 100% healed and I could run again, I ran. I grew up with the owner of the Sayville running company. I went to him and asked for his help because there was only 5 weeks before the 1/2 marathon. I was going to finish and run the whole thing. Plus my mom was going to be there waiting for me at the end. The plan worked and I completed my first 1/2 in 2:11.

As I was getting more into the OCR aspect of races, I decided it was time to join seldom hill warriors running club! So, one Sunday about a year ago I met Jennifer and a few others at the pole. It was like nothing else I have experienced but I realized I needed this in my life. Those hills are no joke, a great training ground! I loved it. I favor warmer weather running but I’m trying to push myself outside that comfort zone and do colder races and runs!

I did a few races with SHW. The Islip 8k was great considering Lou was just ahead of me the whole race. I was just trying to keep up but it pushed me to break my personal best. Also robs run was so much fun! I was paired with Steve Frankle and Rich Sparaci. I had a great time.

I recently had foot surgery, so I have been out of commission for the past two months. I will be back to the hills hopefully in the next few weeks coming up. Hope to see you all there and meet new running friends! Glad to have joined and happy to be a part of SHW.

Saturday Spotlight – Glenna Arato (3/7/20)


Name: Glenna (Wood) Arato

Age: 47Marital Status: Married to Michael

Kids: R.J (21) Kayleigh (19) Ashleigh (17)

Occupation: Registered Nurse, St. Charles Operating Room

Hobbies: Running (duh), Reading, Crocheting (yes I’m an 80 yr old grandma at heart), Barre, Traveling, and Foodie

Hometown: Waltham, Ma

Current Town: Mt. Sinai, NYCollege: Salem State College, CUNY Queensborough

Favorite Race: Boston Marathon

Frequent Running Spots: North Country Rd, Old field, Greenway (aka Rape Trails) and, 5am Track work Rocky Point HS, and of course the Selden Hills

So here it goes….

I was born and raised in Waltham, Ma then moved to Sudbury, Ma in 1986. My father was a builder and the housing market crashed so we had to move into a house he built and couldn’t sell. I’m the oldest of 4 children, 2 brothers and a sister who all still live in Mass. I grew up ice skating. My father wouldn’t let me play hockey, so I was forced to figure skate, hated it and switched to skiing instead. I was on the ski team in High School also a cheerleader. Both of my brothers got full scholarships to college and had brief NHL/AHL careers (thanks Dad).

I went to nursing school at Salem State and in my senior year my family was taking a trip in their RV to Florida, I convinced them to drive to Key West because I knew someone who had moved there and loved it. December 27th 1993 I visited Key West and stayed for 2 years. My parents were not so happy leaving their 21 yr old daughter who just quit her last year in college to take a job as a “shot girl” at Rum Runners on Duval street but It was the best time of my life!

I met my first husband in Key West, we were young he was the bartender I was the shot girl and the rest is history. He was from Long Island, after 2 crazy years in Key West it was time to grow up (and give our livers a rest). He got on FDNY and moved to queens and I sold my scooter and flew to NY to live. It was a huge adjustment getting reacquainted with the “real world”. I started back at school, got pregnant then married and moved out to Long Island. I miss my family everyday but shockingly I’m still here.

I started running when I was 30. I had 3 kids and remember putting the girls in the double stroller and my son on his bike and I started running to keep up with him. I’ve always done aerobics, back then step was a big thing, I belonged to Lucille Roberts. I was working night shifts at St. Charles in Labor & Delivery and between work and the kids I never had time to get to the gym plus they absolutely hated going to the gym daycare. My goal was to run 5 miles, to the hospital and back without stopping. It took a while but I did it and it took less time than going to the gym. I heard about the Cow Harbor race, that was my new goal and my first race. I couldn’t walk for days after.

I started to sign up for other races mostly ½ marathons. I had no idea about sneakers or watches or keeping track of anything. I was a complete novice. I just ran until I was tired then went home. In 2007 I trained for my first Marathon (NYC). I hired babysitters and basically ran in circles around my neighborhood stopping at friends houses for water. I finished in 4:20 it was so emotional and overwhelming, but I knew then I was completely hooked. Eventually I got a Garmin and some decent sneakers and started running more often. As the kids got older and everyone was in school during the day I was able to sleep a few hours and run longer. My goal was to someday run Boston.

In 2009 I trained for the Hamptons Marathon and qualified for the Boston Marathon with a 3:43. In 2010 I ran my first Boston Marathon it was my best running experience so far, It was a beautiful day and family and friends met me all along the course with signs and cheers. I ended with a 3:42 which qualified me for the following year. Boston 2011 was difficult to train for, weather was tough and my marriage was coming to an end. I decided to run it for “fun” I stopped along the way to see my kids and nieces and nephews. It was an enjoyable race because there was no pressure. I finished with a 3:55 and stayed out until 3am with my high school friends.

Since then I’ve run 7 more marathons and gotten remarried to the best husband ever! We travel a lot and enjoy our time together. He has never been a runner but he does a lot of road biking including 2 Grand Fondos (100 mile torturous rides).

I’ve had my share of injuries and set backs which I’ll discuss later this week. Last year after one of my big injuries I was volunteering at the Port Jeff Brewery 15k (the race everyone loves to hate) when I met Dominick LoGiudice who convinced me to come to the hills. 2 weeks later when I was ready to run, I showed up one Sunday morning with the help of Kathleen Ernest Cergol.

I never knew such hills existed on Long Island. It was a great push just coming back from an entire winter off. My first race with SHW was Shelter Island then I signed up for some 5ks which I had never done before. I find 5ks tough since I’m used to long distance and I don’t really settle in until mile 3 then the race is over. I just enjoy being with the group getting cheered on and cheering on others.

Right now I’m signed up for the 2 Rivers Marathon on March 28, It would be great to BQ but I’m coming off yet another injury and just hoping for the best, even with JaMe Pi bullying me!

Andrea Libutti Adams organized 16 of us mostly hillbillies to run this race so If I don’t qualify at least I know I’ll have a fun time with great people! I’m also back in school for my BSN that I never finished when I moved to Key West, maybe my parents will finally forgive me.

Running has been my saving grace. It has helped me through the best times and the worst. Since my kids have been little when they see me getting uptight they’ll say “Mom you should go for a run” I come back as a totally different person. It’s my therapy, medication and serenity.

Saturday Spotlight – Danielle Coysh (2/29/20)

Saturday Spotlight

Name: Danielle Coysh

Age: 40

Marital Status: Married to Tom.

Children: Liliana (almost 6) and Julia (almost 4)

Occupation: Attorney. I opened my own law practice in Central Islip in August 2018.

Hobbies: Exercise, running & reading.

Hometown: Hauppauge

Current: After living in Boston, MA for 10 years, I moved back to my hometown of Hauppauge where I now live with my family.

My Story:

I never ran and wasn’t an athlete. I still don’t consider myself athletic even though I’ve run 3 marathons (New York, Boston, and Walt Disney World). I love the peacefulness of running long distances. It gives me a chance to be by myself and clear my mind. I swear a long run can solve any problem.

My running career did not start until law school. I was 25 years old, worked 9-5 at a small criminal law firm on Boston’s waterfront, and attended Suffolk University Law School, at night, four nights a week from 6-10PM. I partied all night on Friday nights and spent weekend days in the library. I rented a small apartment in Charleston, Massachusetts walking distance to the Charles River (love that dirty water).

One day, my friend from law school convinced me to go for a run with him. Our route – about four miles – went from the Museum of Science, down the Esplanade, past the Hatch Shell, across the Mass Ave Bridge (into Cambridge) and back up Memorial Drive. I remember thinking I could never run that far but sure enough, after some practice, I did. Eventually it became my morning run, every day before work. It gave me peace and solace to start my day.

On weekends, I began to venture further. Sometimes I would run to the B.U. bridge and if I felt ambitious, I would run all the way to Harvard. The Esplanade along the Charles River was filled life – it was easy to run far and lose track of your distance. The paved routes were always filled with people walking, biking and roller blading while the river was busy with people on sail boats, Boston Duck Tours, and college crew teams. On occasion I would be entertained watching students from M.I.T. make some crazy contraception and try to float it down the river. My runs along the Charles River are among my favorite memories. Boston is one of the greatest cities.

Around 30 year old, I chose to move back to New York to be closer to my family. I was a free spirited, Red Sox loving, criminal defense attorney from New England when I fell in love with a die-hard Yankee Season ticket holding police officer. Opposites attract and our families would joke that while Tom locks them up, I let them out.

As life became busier, my running became less. I no longer had the Charles River outside my door and solo runs around my neighborhood became boring. I had more responsibility and eventually young children to care for.

Years went by with minimal mileage. It was only until recent that I felt that life was at a point where I could focus on caring for myself again. I was ready to get back out there and work on getting strong. I messaged the Hauppauge Moms on Facebook and asked about any local running groups. Lisa Pinto Colby answered my post and convinced me to run the Hills. In May 2019, Lisa jogged next to me while I finished my first Classic.

I’ve spent the last ten (10) months working at becoming a better runner. I no longer run, just to run, but I run to get faster and stronger. And sometimes I surprise myself.

Thank you Lou for asking me to be Warrior of the Week and thank you all for welcoming me so warmly!