Name: Stacey Ciaccio
Married to Richard Ciaccio
Children: James, 9 and Elena, 6
Occupation: Physician Assistant, Yoga Teacher
Thank you Lou for asking me to be our Warrior of the Week! I look forward to sharing a little bit about myself with this incredible group of athletes. Having only joined the Hills this past October, I have only met a small fraction of you, but I do follow along on everyone’s posts and I find this to be a truly inspiring group. So thank you.
I started running when I was 12 years old. I think it came as a little bit of a surprise to my family, as I was always the quiet, shy, super nerd type kid. I am the middle child of a Greek immigrant father and an Irish Catholic mother. They met one day many moons ago after bumping in to each other on a NYC street. To this day I don’t know how my grandfather allowed my mom to marry “the foreigner” as he was affectionately called for so many years. Yet, somehow it happened and over time 3 children happened and here I am to tell the tale.
My father was also the middle of 3 children. When he was about 12 years old he left school to enter the work force, as his parents were too ill to continue working and provide for their family. He had many odd jobs and then sometime in his mid 20s he decided to come to the land of opportunity, where he finally met and married my mother. My parents have worked hard their entire life. We never had the biggest, newest or best of anything but we were comfortable and our home was filled with love and support. My parents, and especially my father, did not want us to have to work so hard. He wanted us to have a better life than them. The constant phrases in our house were “read a book” and “go to school”. So I did. I read and read and read. Then one day I decided to run.
Walking the hall in 7th grade I saw a sign posted to “Join Spring Track!” It seemed like a good idea and on a whim I showed up to the first day of practice. I remember that first day like it was yesterday. There we were, a motley crew of girls, standing on the track. I was wearing my brothers old tee shirt, a pair of soccer shorts and my white canvas Keds. Coach came over and explained that we were going to run around the track until he blew the whistle. So we took off, dirt kicking up all around us on the cinder track. Looking around I noticed some girls walking and panting by the time we made it half way around the track. Some girls were running hard and fast but then taking walking breaks and continuing on. Me? I fell in to an easy cadence with a few other girls. We had never met before but started talking about our classes and teachers and round and round the oval we went. We lapped a few girls and some we didn’t but eventually Coach blew the whistle and told us to all continue walking to the finish line. When we reached him he looked at all of us and started dividing us up. He turned to my small group and declared “You’ll be the distance girls. Come back tomorrow and meet behind the school.” Thus, my fate was sealed. I was to be a “distance girl.”
It was only natural to join cross country the following fall. Beginning in 8th grade I was a 3 season runner: cross country, winter track and spring track. By 9th grade, I toggled between JV and varsity races depending on the team needs. I continued to do well in school, taking all honors classes and winning the Scholar Athlete award every season from 9th through 12th grade. I later joined the cross country team at SUNY Binghamton as a walk on when I arrived there the summer of 1996. At the time, it was a division 3 school and we had an awesome group of guys and gals on the team. But Binghamton was transitioning and transitioning fast. By sophomore year we were division 2 and girls were starting to be recruited for the team and by senior year we were division 1. Something shifted. Practices became harder, tension was high and running became a chore. After years of competing, I didn’t find it fun any more and midway through cross country senior year I left the team. Considering that I lived in “the track house” I was with the team every day. I joined them for distance runs pretty regularly and would meet up with them at the gym but I didn’t want to race any more. I threw out my watch and it would be many years until I decided to start wearing one again.
I started running for the joy of it. There is a beautiful nature preserve at Binghamton and I spent most of my senior year running through the trails there. After graduation, I returned home to LI. I discovered road races and ran 5Ks just for fun. I ran my first half marathon in 2001 and have completed 15 since. I ran my first full marathon in 2010 and will hopefully be finishing my 5th this fall.
It’s been a pleasure meeting everyone in this running community. While it is sometimes my preference to run alone absorbed in my own thoughts, I do enjoy knowing there is a team of people to provide support and meet up with for runs.