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!