Saturday Spotlight- Stephanie Hoffmann

Most of you know me from racing on Long Island and being an active member of GLIRC. It’s been a while since I ran the hills. I think the last time I ran them was 2010. Lou- I promise I will be back soon! This week Lou asked me to write the Saturday Spotlight. Running has always been a major part of my life. I ran in high school. I never took it seriously. I couldn’t tell you what pace I ran or what I ran. I think I was fast since I was on varsity and captain of the team. In my 20s & 30s, I still ran nothing serious maybe up to 4miles every other day. I didn’t realize how important running and the community was to me until later in my life.

Back in Oct 1999 my dad died of lung cancer, three months later my mom died of a heart attack and then Luke’s mom died that same year. It was hard adjusting to losing my parents. I had my brother, my aunts, my cousins and most importantly my husband Luke (fiancé at the time) who was my rock that I leaned on.

About 7 to 8 years ago I became a member of GLIRC and started to race every weekend. It wasn’t so much racing I loved but seeing the people. Every weekend, I was meeting new people and it became more of a social thing. One of the runners I met was Jennifer Lee. I’m grateful that I developed such a supportive and close friendship with her through the years. One of my fondest memories was meeting Jenn at the Long Island Festival of Races, we were on the Wantagh Parkway just talking even though I was doing the half and she was doing the full. I just remember saying to her I couldn’t and would never do a full marathon. Who would think later I would be doing a marathon year after year. About a month later June 2009, Sue F asked me if I would be interested in joining Fast Feet. I was honored and I accepted. The Bellmore Fourth of July run was my first race as a Fast Feet member. I never thought a week later my worst nightmare would happen. On July 9, 2009, my brother committed suicide. I was completely shocked. My little brother turned 33 on July 8 and I was told he died. Losing my parents was hard but my brother’s death was the hardest thing I ever had to deal with. I couldn’t understand someone who was always happy and not a care in the world would commit suicide. My first thought was he must of been drinking or doing drugs. Every thought was going through my head except for the truth he was suffering inside. I had no idea he suffering from depression until later when I discovered emails and texts. After his death, the next three years were really hard. I was dealing with understanding why he committed suicide and a law suit. One thing that helped me emotionally and helped me be a stronger person were these “so called long runs ” I would do on the weekends.

During these three years, I became very close to Fran, Karen, Jenn, Haywood and Debbie. There are so many more people I could name but it’s one particular run I’m thinking of.
I remember on one of the runs I was telling the girls what happen to my brother and parents. Not even a half hour later Jenn called me, she was shocked at what I told her. She never knew this. She said I know you told me your brother died but I just remember seeing you at a race and track that same week and it seemed like nothing was wrong.

Well I’m sharing my story with you, not so you feel sorry for me or sad but to understand how running and our Long Island running community is so supportive and great! The more and more people I’ve met I realized we all are dealing with or dealt with some life tragedies whether it’s financial, sickness, family or death. We are all connected somehow. Whether we are experiencing these life tragedies or whether we are that person on the run listening. We are all helping each other somehow. I could of easily given up and became an angry bitter person- ok I’m human I had my moments! Our community is special how for the most part we can take our tragedies and turn them around in a positive way. Whether it is running the hills, starting a memorial run, running a marathon or just encouraging each to run and set goals, we are all prevailing through these tragedies and it makes us a stronger person and runner all around!

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