Saturday Spotlight- Kristen Girardi

Name: Kristen Girardi
Age: 40
Occupation: Editor
Status: Partner of 12 years
Children: 1: Cole age 9

I am one of five girls, second to youngest, and by far the misfit of the family. I grew up fat, sad, and a nervous wreck. Each one of my sisters was skinnier than the next, and I always longed to by one of them. As you might guess, I was teased in school. My mom telling me that I have elephantitis in order to scare me skinny didn’t help my chronic anxiety and panic. By fifth grade I was determined to lose the weight. I begged my mom to let me join weight watchers. That year, with the help of my mom tediously measuring out and portioning all of my food, I lost all of the weight. However, my battle with my self-image didn’t end there. In order to be liked and considered “cool” I tried really hard to be bad. I started smoking at age 12 (quit at 30 when I became pregnant) and drinking. Throughout junior high and high school, I dabbled in drugs and bad boys, but luckily neither became a habit that stuck with me. I sucked at school. I basically never went to class. Gym was my worst subject. I treated it like it didn’t exist. By 12th grade I had to take 4 gym periods just to make up for all the classes I missed in previous years. In my senior year, it was apparent I wasn’t going to graduate, and I decided I needed to do something. I asked to be transferred to another high school in order to split from my old friends and recreate myself. So, for the last 6 months of 12th grade, I went to a totally different high school, kept to myself, and excelled. I graduated with pretty good grades, considering….Long story short, I went on to college, graduated from SUNY Albany, got a job in publishing in the city, and moved to Brooklyn, where I remained for 9 years. Then, in 2005, I found myself pregnant with my son. Wanting to be closer to my family, and not wanting to live in a 3rd floor walk-up with a baby, I decided to move back to Long Island. And that is how I came to reside in Farmingville.

Backtracking now….All my life, as far back as I can remember, I have suffered from depression, panic attacks, and chronic anxiety. I remember as a child hiding behind the couches in the living room not wanting to be found, and my mother asking me if I felt melancholy today. I also remember running to the nurse in elementary school every day because I thought something terrible was going to happen to me. If I so much as got a spot of ink on my skin, I thought it was going to seep into my blood and poison and kill me. I have also spent one to many hours sitting in my car in the hospital parking lot deciding if I was having a heart attack or panic attach. You would think someone so afraid of death wouldn’t turn to smoking and drugs, but I did as a way to help me cope with my issues. I have no doubt as well that over eating as a child was also a coping mechanism. It wasn’t until my late 20s that I decided to get help for these issues and not until the past 7 years that I have been able to manage them consistently.
I was never, ever a runner. I smoked for more than half my life. I had a pack a day habit. The thought of running was like pure torture for me. I worked out in college and pretty much throughout my twenties, but it was never a consistent part of my life. I would work out on a tear for months, get in really good shape, get lazy, and gain weight. I repeated this cycle on an annual basis. I’m not going to lie. What led me to running is my quest for skinny legs, which I have come to realize, I might never have. It was the spring of 2012, and it was that time of year when I realize, oh shit, I have been packing on the pounds. I got on the scale and almost puked. I was bigger than I thought. For someone obsessed with weight, seeing an unexpected number on the scale is incredibly unnerving. I remembered seeing a runner in my mom’s neighborhood. She was like a bone, and I assumed she was that way because of running. So that is what I decided I must do. I started with running around my block, and little by little I added more. I was amazed at how fast I was able to increase my distance. I started in April and by June I was running 4-5 miles on average at a time. I was psyched and hooked. I signed up for my first 5k, the Sunset Run in King’s Park, and the rest is history. After that first race, I signed up for another, and then another, and then another. I raced almost every weekend that summer. Running became something that I liked and looked forward to. I never had that before. Running became my stress reliever. I liked to see how far I could push myself and was always amazed that I was able to do things of which I never thought I was capable. Running became, and still is, my steady. It is the one thing I have found that I never get sick of and always look forward to.

Fast forward…The Selden Hills. I don’t remember exactly when it was, but I know it was when Joanne’s candy shop was in Ronkonkoma. I went in there one day with my son. I saw Joanne had a flyer for a race in her store. We got to talking running, and she mentioned that there was a group that ran the hills. I remember she said, “If you see crazy people in red shirts running, it is us.” It wasn’t until about a year later that I found the group on Facebook, and I remembered our conversation and thought this must be the group that lady was talking about, so I decided to join. I went for my first run on October 27th, 2013 with Coleen McKillop and Denise McKeon. The whole time I was sick to my stomach in anticipation of the next hill, but when it was over, I was super psyched to do it again. The hills have become more than running to me. I have made more friends than I ever thought I would have. I have been given more encouragement than I have ever received in my lifetime, and I have met so many amazing people. Throughout life, I have pretty much been somewhat of a loner; never really knowing how to connect with people. I have always had an awkwardness about me, especially around people I don’t know. I have always been super self-conscious with a paranoia of being judged. Running the hills and being surrounded with “hills” people has taken that away. I would much rather run with friends now than run alone. I love to hear about all the triumphs and accomplishments of the group, and I just feel very at ease that I am with a group that is nonjudgmental and super supportive. I always look forward to hearing how the weekend races went, and wait with baited breath for Lou to announce the next big adventure. Whether it is trail running, the East Meets West Challenge, the introduction of the Slaughterhouse, or the track workouts and relays, I love it all. I have the great fortune of living right on the hills course, and even on days that I plan to run flat, I find myself running up Blue Pt. headed for the parking lot. And there I am, on the course, begging to be tortured for another 6.2 miles.

In closing, I now have a pretty good life. I have a wonderful family, a good job, comfortable house, and a fantastic running community that has been invaluable in helping me find myself.

A few facts about me:

My son is my life. Seriously, we have date nights and everything. I miss him terribly when he is at a friend’s house and pretty much wait by the window until he comes home.

I once did an Easter egg hunt in 4th grade and managed to find all 24 of the Cadbury Eggs, and my poor little sister found none. And I wouldn’t share. See photo below (as you might guess my outfit didn’t exactly help with the teasing).

I grew up next to my husband. He is nine older, so it wasn’t until I was 27 that we got together. Any younger, and it would have been gross.

My sister is married to by husband’s brother.

I gained 65 pound when pregnant with my son. I am still holding on to the last 10 pound nearly 10 years later (lol).

I edit test prep books for Barron’s. You all know the red Regents books and SAT prep books. BTW, if anyone needs test prep books for their kids, let me know. APs, SATs, Regents, College level…

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