Saturday Spotlight- Danielle Baldwin

Name: Danielle Baldwin
Age: 30!
Marital Status: Waiting for the ring……tick, tock
Occupation: Operations Analyst
Family: Not married and have been with my boyfriend, Joe, for what seems like a lifetime – we live in the cutest little house in Stony Brook. A simple life. My family (mom, stepdad, sister) moved to Florida almost exactly a year ago along with the rest of my extended family. My cousin and I are the last two men standing here on Long Island. I also shouldn’t neglect mentioning I am a crazy cat lady (not seriously, but I do joke about it). I have one cat who is basically a celebrity himself and we are pretty much best friends.
This will be a really challenging week for me as I generally have trouble talking about myself. When Lou asked me to do this, my initial thought was that I didn’t really have a story to tell. So here goes nothing….
I grew up in Patchogue and lived in the same house I grew up in until about two years ago. I left for a few short stints: my freshman year in college (I went to SUNY Cortland for a year but I didn’t stay), and again when I was 21 and spent a year living in Manhattan. No matter how hard I try, I always get drawn back to Long Island. There is that expression “Lifer”, and yes, that is me.
I grew up in a single-parent household. My parents divorced when I was two as my father was fighting a battle with alcoholism which unfortunately, he was never able to overcome. The side effects of his disease lead to his recent passing; a surreal experience for me. My sister, Amanda, is 18 months older than me and she also has Down syndrome. She is the coolest person I know and she would say the same about herself (you’ll hear more about Amanda later in the week). As hard as it was for my mother (she was so unbelievably in love with my father) she knew that the household wasn’t conducive to raising two young girls, especially one with special needs, so my parents split and my dad moved to Florida. My mom now needed to provide for her two daughters so she recruited my grandmother for help with full-time childcare and she went to nursing school. My mom is hands down my best friend; even all the way in FL we don’t skip a beat. I am definitely a “momma’s girl”. We talk every day. You would never know there are 1500 miles between us.
With that being said, I will say my mother and grandmother instilled an unbelievable work ethic in me. For those of you that know me well, in any given week I am working at least two jobs, sometimes three or four. These women taught me how to hustle. I wasn’t raised with a silver spoon in my mouth and it taught me to get a job early on and earn a paycheck to buy what I want. Now, I work my butt off, and will NEVER ask anyone for anything. Aside from my full-time gig, I teach HIIT classes at Semper Strong (shameless plug – generally the evening classes if anyone wants to come down :-)), as well as catering two weekends a month. Aside from working, I am about pursuing a Master’s degree and I’m about half way through.

As far as running, my journey isn’t nearly as inspiring as many of the warriors that have come before me. I started running years ago, nothing crazy, mostly 5k’s. My ex-boyfriend was into it so I hopped on the bandwagon. I remember my first 5k was the NYPD Memorial Run. My long-time friend Joshua Jastemski was there. I think I ran that race in 24 and change and I still remember Josh saying he was shocked at how well I did. I had no idea what a good time was or what pacing was. I also remember how good the beer tasted after all that hard work! It has pretty much just escalated from there. Katy Rice Forman really kick-started my longer distance running career. I met Katy almost 10 years ago, our ex-boyfriends were friends and the two of us hit it off. Most of you probably know the two of us as a duo, pretty much inseparable. Katy pushed me to do my first half-marathon (2011, I think?). She was already an accomplished runner and I was definitely intimidated. She trained with me and ran at my snail pace during each run. We did the Disney Half and she stayed with me the entire time even though she probably could have finished at least half an hour earlier. She truly is the most inspiring person I know. I’m not sure if it’s because she has this way with peer pressure or she really is just inspiring. Anyways, I’ve taken running seriously on and off throughout the years. Last year I did my first full (Suffolk) and vowed I would never do a full again. Strangely, I’m registered for another full this January in Disney (doing the Goofy challenge). Why do we punish ourselves like this? I also dove headfirst into triathlons this year which is a whole new ball game. I came to terms with the fact that I’ll never be an elite runner so why not try my hand at three sports instead of just one! In all seriousness, I absolutely love it. What I love about running is that it really kick started my journey to fitness. I was naturally thin most of my life so I never realized how out of shape I was until I started running. Now, I need to work out to stay thin (this is 30!). Although I might take some time off from serious running, I am always in the gym. I am a true believer that physical activity is crucial to the fitness of your mind and body!
I think this post has gotten long enough. The advice I received from past WOTW-ers was to keep it short and sweet. Oops. Looking forward to sharing an exciting week with you all! And thanks to Lou for allowing me the opportunity to get to know you all better!

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