Saturday Spotlight- Kevin Tunney

Name: Kevin Tunney
Age: 57
Occupation: Supervisor Carpenter – New York City Housing Authority
Spouse: Carleen
Children: Shannon – 32, Kevin – 28, Maura – 24, Brendan – 22
Grandchildren: Christopher – 2 and Cathleen – 6 months
Running Shoe: Asics Kayano-20 (looking for a sponsorship)


Thanks Lou for the Warrior of the Week pick. Well to get started, I was born in Da Bronx. My family moved out to Central Islip when I was four. We then moved to Baldwin when I was nine. I’m the oldest of five kids, 4 boys and 1 girl. I was the only one of the family to be interested in sports. In grammar school, the gym program would hold the Presidential Fitness Test (Do the schools still do that?). I remember doing well with the run part, I have no idea of my time but the gym teachers were happy with it. Going into Junior High I joined the soccer team. All we did was run during the first few weeks of practice. I thought I joined the track team! We didn’t kick any soccer balls during that time. But when game time came, we sure had endurance to run the whole game. Through Junior High and High School I played soccer and made the High School Rifle Team (Do schools still have that sport?). Never did go out for track, I don’t know why.
The 1st time I heard of the Hills was when I was in High School (1976). My father took me to the Farmingville Ski Bowl. Before we got there, we got a little lost and we were driving up and down Adirondack and I couldn’t believe we were on Long Island! To think, that 30 plus years later I would be running the Hills. The ski bowl was fun, it had a tow rope and you would actually ski for a few minutes. No lines, so it was a quick up and down all day long.
After High School there were no sports or physical activity except for carpentry. Along the way I got married, lived in Brooklyn, had 4 kids, moved to Suffolk, got divorced, moved back to Brooklyn. I met Carleen, the sweetest girl around and we got married. We met when I was in the Knights of Columbus Pipes and Drums Band. I played the bagpipes and Carleen joined the band and played the drums. We did the biggest parade of the year, Saint Patrick’s day Parade in NYC! That is exciting, stepping out on to 5 Ave, the crowds cheering, being at the center of it all, marching up 5th Ave! One year I had about a minute face time on TV! We did a lot of parades which I was thinking at the time, hey, all this marching will get me back into shape! But we would hang out after the parades and party up. We had a great time but marching wasn’t keeping the weight off. I had no plan and at the time I wasn’t even interested in losing weight. We moved to Selden about 10 years ago and drifted away from the Pipe and Drum band. Partly also from playing at a lot of 911 memorials of the Trade Center victims. 911 changed a lot of things, big and small.
When we moved out to Selden, my kids moved in with me and Carleen. I would make a lot of pasta dinners for everyone and of course eat till I couldn’t fit any more. By 2009 I was about 276 lbs and enough was enough! I couldn’t sleep well, tired all the time and I didn’t like what I saw in the mirror.
One day I was sitting at a red light and this old man is crossing the street right in front of me. I’m watching him and he’s taking the smallest baby steps walking. The light turns green for me and he’s still baby stepping in front of me. I’m thinking, he just didn’t start walking like that today or yesterday. He probably wasn’t active for the last 30 years and that’s the best he can do now. I had to do something about my own physical heath to prevent me from being that old man years from now. So we joined Weight Watchers. After a few months, I lost a good amount of weight but I hit a plateau, I knew that I had to give in and start exercising. Then I started what I knew all along, just start running like I did for soccer. Run. We joined a gym and I would do some weight training but mostly I would get on the treadmill and run, run, run. I was starting to get weight loss results again.
One day my son Kevin says to me that I should try a 5K race. I said no, I don’t think I could do that. He asked why not, you run on the treadmill for an hour, you could easily do a 5K. He told me where he works, guys my age run 5K’s. I told him, your right, I could do it. This was in November, December so I couldn’t find a race at the time and I didn’t know how. I did find the NYS Winter Run Series and signed myself and my son up. I was excited to do it now! I even bought new running trail shoes (I didn’t know at the time that the park runs are all paved, lol). Then the day of my 1st race at Heckscher Park, cancelled due to an ice storm the night before! Ugh! Finally the next week at Sunken Meadow Park I got to run and it was great! That night I was on the internet looking at every race that was posted in the world.
At this time I was still going to the gym and making progress with my weight loss. My son Kevin told me that he’s going to join the United States Marine Corp. He told me that since his Godmother/Aunt Kathleen perished in the 2nd tower on 911, he had to do something. I just had to respect that. While he was at boot camp, I thought of him everyday and pushed harder at the gym knowing what he’s doing is 100 times harder. I decided then that I didn’t want to be seen by his drill instructor as another overweight, unhealthy dad at his graduation.
I finally earned “Lifetime” at Weight Watchers (lost 78 lbs) and started doing a 8:30 pace. I don’t know why I started to slow up on training and racing. Maybe I was getting a little burnt out. I ended up taking almost a year off from running and put a lot of weight back on. Ugh! So 2 years ago it was like starting all over again. I went back to basics. Run, run, run. This time around I’ve met a lot of great runners and they’ve encouraged me greatly. I joined North Country Road Warriors and met more great people. Also I ran the Hills and met more great hill billies! Ironic that I live right of the course on Blue Point Road and had never ran it. I live about 2 blocks from the start and I still drive to the parking lot! I ran my 1st marathon in 2013, The Marine Corp Marathon! So, so happy I beat the bridge and finished! It was fun running with other club members and we were all supporting each other. It was weird, after the marathon, I struggled to get running and in fact I kept on carbo loading without running too much. I proved the theory of less running and weight gain will slow down your race times.
Well, I got my head in gear and got back to running and started eating right. Back on the Hills again too. Running the Hills is the only hill workout I need!!! Last month I did my 2nd Marine Corp Marathon (4 minutes slower but my mind frame was better). The last 3 months I’ve been counting calories daily and lost about 18 lbs. I’ve been back to the beloved hills too! My race times have improved again, getting into the 9 minute pace scale. Next goal is to have a decent time for the Run To The Brewery. I’ve been putting in the mileage in Sayville lately.
I didn’t think I would have anything to write. As of this writing, I’ll be at the Hot Chocolate 5K hoping to PR today!
See you out ‘em there hills.

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