Saturday Spotlight- Steve Luciani

Name: Steve Luciani

Beliefs: Born Again Christian (Happy to explain how I got here to anyone who’s interested!)

Occupation: Building Controls Technician (The computers that control commercial air conditioning).

Married to My Wife Geri 25 years(!!!!!!)

Mike 22 US Marine Corps Infantry Machine Gunner
Rich 20 Working his way thru College, church Royal Rangers leader,
Ambulance company volunteer (No, I’m not TOO proud of them LOL)

I’m a middle child, with a brother, Vinny, 2 years older, and a sister, Maria, 2 years younger.

Interests: Running, Cycling, Fishing, Camping, Triathlons(soon!) and Church Musician

I really struggled with what to tell you, and what is TMI LOL. But, here we go……this is how I got “here”(sort of).

I grew up in what today, you would call an abusive household. There WERE lots of good times. But when I look back, I really felt like I was always in a war zone, wondering when the next bad thing would happen. Or what I would do next to be a disappointment.

I tell you this, because I have always had issues with depression, anxiety, and body image.

There were 2 incidents, which I recall, had a major effect on my image of my body.

(Body image incident 1) I’m not really sure when, maybe
5th grade or so, I remember a couple people talking about my size, and my father saying they might use me for a soccer ball.. I wasn’t too happy with that. I do remember deciding that maybe I shouldn’t eat so much.
Keep in mind, I was NEVER fat, and they were probably just joking around. BUT, I remember!

In the spring of 6th grade, I decided to join the St. Brigid’s track team. Why? Because my 8th grade brother did! I vaguely remember doing well enough to be inspired and I know Vinny was second in the Diocese of Rockville Center that year.

My brother moved on to High School, and for unknown reasons, I didn’t run in 7th Grade.

(Body image incident 2) But during that year my brother joined the 9th grade wrestling team, and became accordingly “built”. We had an Uncle, who we all idolized, and I remember him commenting that my brother had an unbelievable body. Well, I was standing right there, and he didn’t say anything about the way I looked… I was incredulous, and vowed to work out so I could get my uncle’s admiration.(keep in mind, he did not intentionally slight me in any way.)

And so, I worked out like a nut and became “built” to the point that the gym teacher put me in front of the 7th grade class and suggested that this was what a boy my age should look like. It didn’t matter though because it wasn’t (and hasn’t been) ever good enough for me. (Never did get that complement from my uncle either).

In 8th grade my running career really began. I joined the St Brigid’s track team, and ran the 60 yard dash.. I won the Diocese of Rockville center championship. (I think I peaked too early…..)

In 9th grade, I went to public school. There I learned that “white boys don’t sprint, they run distance”(quote from the coach.) So I ran distance. The 1/4 mile LOL.

In 10th grade, since I was now a “distance” runner, I joined the Cross Country team. I went in totally out of shape. Near the end of the season, I finally ran a training run long enough to experience my first “Runners High”. This was MY drug!

I never was any better than mediocre in High School, and by senior year I gave up on track so that I could “run long” without any pressure of competition. I just liked the feeling of long and slow.
(Oh yea, I think ran the LI Marathon that year(1979))

The following year, I went away to college. There was a cross country CLUB there (not a team). But someone in it told me I was too slow. They had never even seen me run! But I lacked self confidence and didn’t even try. I did keep running on my own though. After a wasted year away, I dropped out and went home, overcome by loneliness, and sadness.

During all my life there has always been a darkness lurking in the background. And the only way I found to feel good about myself was to try to stay “in shape”. Although my years on earth have given me perspective, this is something that drives me, even now.

When I was engaged, my Geri and I BOTH dieted so we could look good for our wedding. How many guys do that I wonder?

So we got married, had 2 kids, and got saved. Jesus did not guarantee me an easy life, but He does give me a confidence and assurance that I did not have before..

In my early 40’s I even did Karate with my kids for a few years. It was during this time that the darkness finally overcame me, to the point where I was ready to end my life. BUT, I had my wits about me enough to know that if I did that, I could possibly doom my children to the same fate.

And so I sought medical help, in the form of antidepressants.
And they worked….. for a few years. Some people actually liked my new, agreeable, personality better too. But, as many of you probably know, there are side effects. I got fatter and lazier. It seemed every side effect required treatment with a new drug.
Eventually, I was on a cocktail of drugs, I was fat. I lived in a constant mental fog.
And now the doctors wanted to start treating me for hypertension, my blood sugar was headed up, I had metabolic syndrome.

Thru the mental fog, I was starting realize that this was killing me just as surely as suicide would have.

Around that time, my wife was walking quite a lot, and “jogging”(don’t you hate that word?) a little. So I started walking with her.

Then one day she mentioned that a group from church was going to the HS track to walk. So we went. And I tried “jogging” a lap or two. It was hard, but the fog lifted for a couple hours! I NEEDED to start running again.
With verbal support from my Doctors, but very little useful help, it took me a miserable year of withdrawal to get off those drugs. During that time, I was SLOWLY working my distance up.
I still remember running my first mile (on a hotel treadmill) and how encouraged I was.
The only time I felt clear headed, was for a few hours after each run.

It took a loooonng time to work up to a 5k, but in 2011 I ran the Mercy Center Ministries 5k . I actually came in 5th in my age group! I was greatly encouraged and made plans for improvement. (I did not yet realize how much competition there was in my age group!)

I still remember my first hills run in May 2013. I remember running with Jennifer Love and her wonderful encouragement. I had no Idea what to expect, never having run hills before. I do know that, after the first hill on Adirondack, I loved it! There’s just something about pushing up those hills that just leaves me feeling great!

After a great winter of training in 2013/14 I ended up with some knee issues, which forced me to reduce; and eventually stop, running for awhile. I literally cried, because I had no Idea how I could survive without my “drug”. I tried cycling, but went at it so hard that I further injured my right knee, forcing me to stop entirely.
I lived on super hard upper body and core workouts for the next 6 weeks or so. NOT a happy time.
I’m still working on my “comeback”, and I have had to learn to “make do” with 3 days a week of running. I just fill in the rest with cycling and a little swimming (and core work, and physical therapy…..)

I have found that I feel best when running the Hills often. Which is opposite of what I was advised. Go figure.

I ran a total of 72 miles in February, 55.8 (a PR) were on the hills.
March 29th, I’m coming for ya!

Lastly, and most importantly, I want to tell you all how much I appreciate all of you. I have found the running community as a whole, and this group in particular, to be amazingly inclusive and supportive. This is an awesome group in so many ways!

Well, this was a rambling mess, but you should’ve seen the first 2 drafts!
Thanks for reading.

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