Saturday Spotlight- Carol Nicosia

Name: Carol Nicosia (Cirota)
Age: 31
Hometown: Mastic Beach, NY
Current City: Blue Point, NY
Marital Status: Married to my HS sweetheart John for 7.5 years (together for half our lives)
Children: Alyssa 5; Joseph 2.5
Pets: Frankie Sinatra Nicosia (long hair dachshund) & Chester A Arthur Nicosia (long hair mini dachshund)
Occupation: HS Science Teacher

I honestly should be posting this at like 420AM when I wake up to vamp with my turtles but it’s Saturday I’m sleeping in before my children come find me. This sentence, a year ago, would have made absolutely no sense to me but things change don’t they?

I’ve read through basically all of the Saturday Spotlights to make sure I don’t screw this up (have you noticed that I don’t do anything halfway already by my bio?) Thank you so much Lou for giving me this opportunity; it’s amazing to be considered part of a group like this. It’s surprising to me but it will be especially surprising to my HS field hockey coach for sure. I’ve definitely changed a lot over the years as I’m sure you’ve found to be the case in your own running career.

To start at the beginning, I was born in Good Sam hospital at the end of 1986 (World Series Mets, they’ve been losing my entire life). My mom and dad lived in Ronkonkoma in a small home on Patchogue Holbrook road until I was 9 months old. My mother’s half of the family entirely picked up and moved to Georgia at that point. My Aunt, Uncle, Grandparents and all of my cousins. We came back when I was 5 so we all could go to school in New York (they also probably missed NY). I ask my students (I’m a teacher…always) if they’ve ever chased lizards on vacation and noticed that their tails pop off and regrow (eventually) – I’ve got some good stories from my childhood apparently living in the south. My mother struggled to have me so I am an only child. Which Azad says is the root of all of my problems and she’s most definitely right.

I grew up in Mastic Beach and went to William Floyd HS. When I went to school I really didn’t know two thirds of my graduating class because they kept the honors/ap kids together. My mother and father divorced when I was 7 and a custody battle ensued. I turned to school and tried not to think about all that was happening at home. I definitely thought it through for many years (I still do on long runs) and I can see how it affected some of my life but I’ve always landed on my feet and just keep moving. It’s my general motto. I did really well in school but I never realized it until I went off to college.
Through my childhood and adolescence I played sports and focused on school. I was pulled up to play varsity field hockey in 8th grade and I continued to play centerfield in fast pitch softball from 10-18 in the Mastic Sports Club.

When I was pulled up to play varsity for hockey, I was told I had to run a mile around the track in 7 minutes. They had an older cross country girl pace me and I did it but I didn’t think much of it other than “why does it look easy for this chick?” and “I’m sweating a lot…bleh”. They also asked me some questions about maturation which I didn’t completely understand. Being a kid was rough! I was fast so they made me a midfield. In my experience, there’s nothing that comes close to the feeling of making a goal against another team’s goalie other than crossing a finish line of a long race. I look back on this time and think of how slow I am now! I remember one day our new coach wanted us to run an “agility” run. 2 miles of jumping and bending down and doing “indian” runs later I officially hated long distance because that was my only experience. To think that I could run for an hour in a game, starting and stopping, without a substitute and I hated long distance running. I was doing long distance all game long! Oh the glory days! I actually enjoyed running ladders up the field, I was a lunatic. We went to playoffs for the first time in 13 years my senior year and that was it. I went to college and didn’t play division 1 because I was a biology major and I figured it would be too much.

After HS, I went to Fairfield University. I am the first person in my entire family to go to college or any type of school after graduation. I still am. All of my friends were applying to college and so was my boyfriend so why not? My boyfriend at the time (my husband John now) was at Fairfield for his freshman year. I looked up the requirements for Fairfield and a handful of other schools, took my SAT and the ACT and applied. I knew that I was going to Fairfield, my mother wanted something else for me but it’s hard to explain to a hard-headed teenager they shouldn’t go to school with their boyfriend. My father had promised to pay for college. Then that changed to pay half. Then pay none and hey here’s a laptop. I was on my own and severely in debt when I left for Fairfield. It was a gamble but I knew Fairfield would give me opportunities I wouldn’t get sticking around at home. So I went. And it was easier than I expected and I was actually good at biology. At Floyd I was with the best students out of 600, I consistently had class with the top 5% and I wasn’t the top of that so I thought I knew nothing. I was so naive when I left for college.

I never ran or worked out in college. I went to class, started drinking coffee, did my research at Yale and Stony Brook and worked in the library. I met Azad my junior year in undergrad when my friend Ken asked me if I’d play on his intramural softball team. I played centerfield for most of my life so I figured why not? I’d start my plague infection (I’m serious) so I could leave for a couple of hours and then come back to finish. I remember Azad vividly hating the softball. Then I went back to college, finished and had no idea what to do with my life. I entered into a Masters program for teaching biology and finished in a year and a half. I married John in May of 2010 and finished my Masters. I started landing leave replacement positions for teachers that had to go on maternity or paternity leave. I did 5 of these, taught summer school, taught undergraduate lab at stony brook and worked in 5 different school districts in 2.5 years. At this point, I started working out with beachbody and religiously doing p90X. I wanted to run again so I took a couple laps around the block and signed up for a 5k. Alone. My main theme in life seems to be, why not? I get myself into these situations and have to push through.

I ran the AHEPA Suffolk 5k that was on Nichols road (not anymore) and it was cold and miserable and I was so mad at myself for walking part of it. I always thought I had to run a whole race for it to be meaningful. I somehow also roped my husband to run a trail 5K with me on 9/11 at Sachem East but that’s a whole other story. Poor man is stuck with me .
Meanwhile I couldn’t find a full time position so I said to my husband lets start our family and I’ll just stay home. I hated being a stay at home mom. I got my body back after having a preemie and a traumatic experience having my daughter. I wasn’t emotionally perfect but I kept moving along. I started looking for a job again and I found my current position. I have never been happier with my profession than when I came to my current school district. I can’t describe the level of joy it brings me to teach biology and chemistry (and whatever else they throw at me) to my students. Science consumes my thoughts and I’m always thinking through some new idea or problem. I started running at this time in my life. I have such freedom in my classroom to help them along their journey in education not only in terms of science but in character development. My own struggles as a teenager have helped me to help my students – it’s wonderful when it comes full circle.

I’m sure your sick of this story so I’ll end it with how I got to the hills. After I had my son Joseph in May 2015, my co-teacher somehow roped me into running a half marathon in October (more on that later this week). I ran that half and then petered out on running. I was burnt out. I started gaining weight and eating poorly with my two hour commute everyday. I started running again at the beginning of 2017. I was going to Hoptron on Tuesday nights off and on because Ed kept telling me to. I moved from Setauket to Blue Point and I was losing my mind being home all summer with my small humans with no outlet. I was proud to be part of the Hoptron Running Club. I decided to run the 15k Port Jeff run basically for the beer and the distance. I needed to start training again and it was a lonely prospect. I was up to a 3 mile long run and was planning on running 4 the next week. Azad, Melissa & Karen ran past my new home (as evidenced by a garmin facebook post) in Blue Point and I reached out and basically said “how dare you run past my home and not invite me???”. I hadn’t spoken to Azad in years since our fleeting softball days in 2008 so of course I was mildly joking. She asked me how many miles I was up to, I said 4…maybe, and she said “sure, you can run the hills”. I think Azad wanted me to go away but again “why not?” appeared in my brain. I showed up on Sunday at 8am and ran the 10k in cold March rain in the only warm thing I could find that morning (a hoodie with a plant cell on it). And now you’re stuck with me.

All joking aside – I’ve never had such fun in a “team” environment. I look forward to my runs with the group and seeing my turtles. I’ve met such wonderful people on the hills. The first time I ran the hills I was welcomed and encouraged by every single person. Why is everyone so dang happy at 5am? This is a pure place, it’s perfect.

I try to get other people to see how much companionship and enjoyment you can get out of group running but now I’m part of the Selden Hill Warriors (crazies) so why listen to me? Or rather, at this point, – why not?