Saturday Spotlight- Kimberly Bruno

Name: Kimberly (Randel) Bruno
Age: 28 (soon to be 29)
Hometown: Patchogue
Current town: Holbrook
Marital Status: In a relationship
Pets: Tucker, my golden retriever
Occupation: Science Teacher

Hello warriors! I haven’t been a hillbilly for very long yet, so I was honored when Lou asked me to be your WOTW. Most of you know me by my better half, Mike (“hair metal Mike”) Minerva, and in fact he’s a huge part of my running journey. Here goes the rest of my story…

I was born in December 1988 to two amazing parents. I have one younger sister and grew up in the same house in Patchogue my entire life. My sister and I are only a year apart, so growing up we were (and still are) very close. When we were babies my mom decided that she wanted to find a way to work from home so she could be there to raise us, so she began her own business and ran it out of our house. Looking back I realize how lucky I was to have a mom who was always there for me, and nearly 30 years later her and my father still run the business together.

As a kid and teenager I was your typical girly-girl; athlete was probably the last word anyone would use to describe me. I began dancing when I was 7 years old, and didn’t stop until I went to college. When it came to dancing, you name it, I did it! Ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop, kickline, even modern dance. Sports wasn’t anything I was really interested in (other than watching my beloved Yankees on tv), even though the opportunities were there. A lot of my friends played soccer, my sister even played softball, but I stuck to dance. As a freshman in high school I tried out for and made the cheerleading team, but quickly learned that really wasn’t my thing! The following year I made the high school kickline team, and that was much better! With practices every day after school, performing at football games, and competing against other Long Island teams in state competitions, that was the closest I ever really was to organized sports. Unfortunately I hung up my dancing shoes for good when I got to college because I didn’t make the college team, and it actually wouldn’t be for several more years until I would take on running.

I went to Fairfield University in CT for my undergrad degree, and went from pre-med, to pre-law, to finally deciding on psychology with future plans to attend law school. So you’re probably thinking, but wait, didn’t she say she was a teacher? Well, the law school thing never happened. After an unsuccessful internship in the probation office in lovely Bridgeport, Connecticut, I decided law wasn’t for me, and instead decided to go with my gut and pursue my original passion, science. One masters degree, countless biology and chemistry classes, and three years later, I landed my first teaching job, and it was one of the best decisions I ever made. I truly love what I do and any other teacher will probably agree with me that working with kids is never boring!

My running story didn’t begin until I was 21, and it has a very odd beginning. It began in 2010, the day after the Fourth of July, with my sister and I attempting to go to our local gym. The reason why I remember the date was because when we got to the gym, we were sad to find it was closed for the holiday. We still wanted to exercise, so we decided to go to the holtsville ecology center and walk. As we walked/jogged around their 1.2 mile loop, we started talking about how our two cousins were running a marathon this upcoming fall. Our cousins were not runners (cheerleaders and dancers like us), so hearing they were not only running, but running a marathon, was crazy! So we started thinking that if they could do it, why couldn’t we? Realizing our own limitations, we decided that we would run a half marathon instead. We signed up for the diva half marathon in October (it was actually the inaugural year of that race on Long Island), found a ten week training plan, and got to work. Race day came and I think we finished in about 2:15, not too bad for first timers! Looking back though, I don’t think I really caught the running bug after that. Always the goal setter though, I liked the challenge of the half, and decided I would always run one every fall. So I did the diva run every October. But that was really it. No shorter races. I still would run a bit, but mostly on treadmills, or I would take yoga classes. That all changed in the fall of 2014 when I met Mike.

I was a new teacher at St. John’s in west islip, and began talking to a teacher in the classroom across the hall from me. At the time I was training for my fourth diva run, and Mike mentioned that he was also a runner. Basically, he thought it was funny that I only ran half marathons, and never ran anything shorter, like a 5k. He casually mentioned that maybe we could run together sometime, and I said sure, not really thinking anything would come of it. Needless to say, I was very wrong! We started running together pretty often, and he opened my eyes to a world of running I never knew existed before. I had no idea Long Island had such a huge running culture, and so many races to choose from each weekend. We ran the brewery run together that January and in June 2015 I ran my first 5k. I had officially caught the running bug!

In the summer of 2015 I did the state parks series for the first time, and really after that I never looked back. I fell in love with the sport of running because instead of focusing on running faster than other people, I’m always just trying to run faster than myself (although finally catching up to Mike wouldn’t be so bad!). I love the challenge of trying to set a new PR, and the confidence running has given me, both as an athlete and as a person, has changed my life. I never thought I was capable of performing any kind of sport, and the fact that now I’m able to place in my age group, or run a mile in faster than 7 minutes, honestly still surprises me. If someone told me ten years ago that at this point in my life I would be such an avid runner, I would have said they were crazy! I feel very lucky that I not only found a passion I never knew I had, but a man who also shares my love for running. Mike pushes me every day to run faster than I think I’m capable of, and he’s always waiting at the finish line, cheering me on to “finish strong!”

On New Year’s Eve last December I finally ran those infamous hills and became a hillbilly! Being a part of such an accomplished group of runners is humbling, and all of you inspire me every day. I hope you all enjoyed learning a little bit about me, and I look forward to sharing more this week!

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