Saturday Spotlight- Karen Shaughnessy Audia

Saturday Spotlight
Name: Karen Shaughnessy Audia (50 yikes!)
Family: Married to Dan will be 25 years this June. Three children Anissa (21), Kira (18) and Daniel (14) and one dog Harley (9)
Work: Licensed Clinical Social Worker currently working at Eastern Suffolk BOCES and have a private practice in Sayville.

Thank to Lou (I think) for asking me a few months ago to be WOTW, I had all that time to think and pre-pare for this and here I am with only a few days before my week starts do I begin writing my story. Being a social worker I do much better asking questions and gathering information rather than giving my information so will see how it goes.

I grew up here on Long Island in Farmingdale. I lived with both my parent’s and older brother who is 3 years older then me. My dad worked for Grumman and mom stayed at home until my brother and I were older and then she went back to work. My childhood was uneventful. A great deal of time was spent playing outside. There were so many kids in our neighborhood that there was always somebody to hang out with. We went on family vacations every year and spent a lot of time with my grandparents and Aunt and Uncles on my mother’s side. Almost every weekend we would go to my aunt and uncle’s house in Hicksville and just hang out as a family. I have 10 cousins who were always there to so we would also spend a great deal of time together. My grandparents had lived in Astoria but as they got older and my grandmother suffered from rheumatoid arthritis and had difficulty walking they moved in with my aunt and uncle. I used to love spending time with my grandparent’s. When they lived in Astoria, my grandfather would take my brother and me for pizza on Steinway Street and always introduce us to the people in the neighborhood. He would always give his grandchildren $1 every time he saw us. Spending time with my grandparents’ was always fun and I loved hearing stories from when they were younger. My grandmother passed away in 1985 and my grandfather in 1989.

I graduated from Plainedge High School in 1984. Fun fact: actor Steve Guttenberg from Police Academy graduated from same school a few years before. I didn’t go away to college and chose to stay home. Mainly because my brother went away to SUNY at Buffalo and my mother really was sad when he left. I didn’t want to do that to her. (although she may have been happy to have her teenage daughter go away) I went to Nassau Community College for 2 years and then transferred to SUNY @ Old Westbury where I received my bachelors in Psychology. While at Old Westbury I decided to continue on to graduate school to get my master’s in social work. I applied to SUNY @ Stony Brooks School of Social Work. I always liked learning about people and finding out about them and why they do what they do. So being a social worker gives me the license to ask questions. I always tell people that I have a license to be nosey! The past 25 years I have truly loved what I do, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. I have worked with some of the most amazing people who have impacted my life in ways that I can’t explain.

In June 1990 before I was scheduled to start graduate school in September my world turned upside down. My parents went away on a weekend vacation with a bunch of the neighbors. This was something they did every year so it was nothing new. I was home alone and had a friend sleeping over we were planning on going to the beach the next day. My brother after he graduated college went to live in Dallas where he was working. At 3:06 am I woke up hear my father calling my name, at first I think I am dreaming but then realize I’m not. I quite didn’t understand what he was telling me either because I was still half asleep or because I just didn’t want to hear what he was saying. But soon I realized that what he was saying was that my mother had died. My mother suffered a massive heart attack at the age of 58 while on vacation. My dad told me that she played her best golf game that day and they were dancing all night (something they always loved to do) and was really happy. At 23 I was now a motherless daughter, I was left to go through all my milestones without my mom. Graduating college, getting married and especially having children. I feel sad for my children, since they never got a chance to meet her. I now have lived half my life without my mother. I never thought I would get through one day or week or month. I often think how my life would be if she was still here but do know that she is always with me.

So let’s move on to my running life! I always did some kind of exercise. I belonged to so many gyms, Lucille Roberts, Jack LaLanne, Ballys, Sunrise Fitness, Unique Fitness, Curves and others that I can’t re-member. I would work out on machines and take classes but I would never run. It wasn’t good for your knees and why would anyone want to do that anyway. While working at RCK Elementary School a colleague of mine and I were talking about running. She was a runner and was planning on running the ½ marathon at the Long Island Marathon weekend in May 2010.This would be her second time and asked if I wanted to join her. Mind you I never ran before and was curious so I said sure, what do I have to do? She told me that I just needed to train. Not really sure what that meant at the time, but I do now. So I set out to “train”. It was February and I figured I had plenty of time to get ready. I began with the couch to 5K training program. It wasn’t that bad but realized it was going to need something more. So I downloaded the Hal Higdon ½ marathon training program. Some of my training was spent running outside and the rest on the treadmill. My life was pretty busy with my children none of which drove yet, so I was playing taxi back and forth to practices, dance and school. The longest distance I ran while training was 7 miles. Looking back now I don’t know what I was thinking, I kept telling myself I’ll be fine. The day before the race I remember feeling like I was floating. I think my anxiety was so intense that I felt like I was having and outer body experience. Not much prep went into planning what I was going to wear that day, if I would “fuel” along the route, pacing myself, what the weather was going to be like etc. All those things I think about now even just for a 5K. The race itself that day was great, it was warm and I did find that I started out way too fast. I got caught up in the excitement of it all. My friend and I started together but quickly I lost her. It was pretty exciting. Seeing all the people come out and cheering us on it was pretty amazing. I finished my first half marathon which happened to be my first race ever in 2:36. I remember thinking on my ride home, that I was great but I will never do that again. Well I realized very quickly when it comes to running, never say never.

Today’s run at the hills is what I truly love about running, everyone coming together, supporting one another and just having fun.

Happy New Year to everyone.

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