Saturday Spotlight- Neil Friedberg

Name: Neil Friedberg
Age: 51
Hometown: North Massapequa, NY
Current Town: Commack, NY
Marital Status: Married to Jodi my awesome wife
Children: Jordan (17), Camryn (14)
Pets: Meeka the wonderdog, Ari, Marshmallow, Delilah (cats), TJ (fish)
Occupation: Human Resources Director at Festo Corp by day, Photographer when not Human Resources Directing
Favorite kicks is a battle between Brooks and Mizuno
You can find me on Nike Running (Neil Friedberg) Instagram (fotosbyneil)

Coincidentally, I was running the meat grinder a couple of Saturdays ago and wondering (not wonder Wednesday worthy though) how people become Warriors of the Week. Then like most things I got distracted and the thought left my head. The next day I get a message from Lou asking me to be WOTW!! Not only a great leader but also possessing impressive psychic abilities!! Thanks Lou, I’m honored.

Like most people, I was born. My birth was 51 years ago at Central General Hospital in Plainview. I was supposed to be born December 2, 1966. My mother (Hilda) said to the doctor, he’s not missing a whole year of school, for 2 days, you get him here earlier. The doctor said ok, as long as he’s not born on Thanksgiving (I wasn’t). The waaay youngest of 4. My siblings are 6 (Deb), 12 (Michael) and almost 16 (Allan) years older than me. In some ways having siblings that much older than me, made me an only in some ways. By time I was in Kindergarten my oldest brother would be asked if he was my father and my father would be asked if he was my grandfather.

Like most kids in the pre-electronic addiction days, everything I did, I did outside. Baseball was my first love. My father, Joe, was a minor league catcher in the Brooklyn Dodgers farm organization in the early 40’s, so it’s not a big surprise I spent many of the years I played behind the plate. This contributed considerably to the knees I get to run on now. When not playing organized baseball, I played disorganized (neighborhood) baseball. We also, played a lot of street football, street stickball (until the Hauseman’s got tired of broken windows) and street roller hockey. It was playing hockey that started my interest in skating. While still playing hockey I also began doing freestyle dance skating (hey it was the 80’s). Even until adulthood I could be found in the numerous roller rinks around Long Island. I still love skating just don’t do it as much as I’d like to. Of course if you were at my surprise 50th OR saw the videos from it, you know I can still skate.

Anyway, I digress. While at Weldon E Howitt Junior High School, I tried out different other sports; Lacrosse, Wrestling and Track. It’s a bit of a blur to remember if I continued these to HS but I do remember getting a letter in Track and I do remember being fast. I do know that other than disorganized sports there was no organized running after this. Around 1984 my brother decided to run the Long Island Marathon and i decided to do some training with him. I remember running the path on the Wantagh Parkway and logging up to 10 miles at a time. I also distinctly remember not running after that. Although, I did continue cycling and for many years to come rode a recumbent style bike. I’m still riding the same one i bought in 1984.

After graduating from Farmingdale HS in 1984 I went to Stony Brook University. At Stony Brook I remember wanting to be a Physical Therapist until it dawned on me I would have to touch people and that would be a bad choice. I switched from a science track to liberal arts and graduated with a BA. Immediately, after school I went to work in field sales for Moog Automotive and Canon USA. While looking for my next job I answered an ad at Coinmach for an Assistant Personnel Supervisor Trainee, college degree required, no experience necessary. Woo hoo!! I was qualified!!

While at Coinmach I started powerlifting. I consumed huge quantities of calories and picked up heavy things and put them down again. The one thing I did none of was run. Other than occasionally riding my bike, I did little in the way of aerobics.
While at Coinmach in the 90’s, most importantly, life really started, I met and married my best friend Jodi. 2000 saw the birth of our first daughter Jordan and in 2003 Camryn came along. As any of you know who have active kids, let the running around ensue!! School, play dates, soccer (a lot of soccer), lacrosse, theater, dance, hebrew school, track, etc, etc, etc. Luckily, Jodi and I were not outnumbered by kids and we make a great team!!

I changed jobs a couple of times while life continued and spent a lot of my spare time behind a camera taking pictures of my gorgeous family and when customers paid me of them as well. It had now been along time since my powerlifting days and in 2012 while working a Festo, a place with a lot of food all the time, I noticed my clothes weren’t fitting so well and I just wasn’t feeling so great. The scale proved that at 5’8’ I was weighing in at an out of shape 194. Something must be done!! My mantra as an adult had always been I will only run when chased and then only when my life is jeopardy. Since neither of those had happened, there was no running between ages 18-46. The week of Thanksgiving 2012, I decided to improve my eating and start running. I literally only made it about a quarter mile the first time. The weight loss goal was 30 pounds. Once the weight was lost I was going to stop running because I really hate running and with my knees it didn’t feel so good.

It took six months to lose the weight. Along the way my podiatrist turned me on to Chi Running, which made a huge difference and somehow I became hooked. My new mantra is: I don’t want to drive to run, pay to run or run with large groups of other people!! If you see me at a race it’s because Michael Garone made me go! He’s also the reason I’m a warrior. He stalked me in Commack one day (we both live there). He told me about this great course he runs and lied to me the whole way through. I can’t believe I drive to the hills as often as I do but at least the group is small (when I’m with anyone), and it’s free. People, we run those hills VOLUNTARILY!! Just to prove my mantra I ran my first ever marathon in November. I walked out my front door and logged 26.2 miles by myself. Subsequently, my daughter asked me to run the Long Island Marathon with her in May, so I’m going to break all 3 rules!!

Well, that’s already a long story, so I’ll stop here. Lou, thanks for the invite to be WOTW. See all y’all on the hills.