Q: Tell me a little bit about yourself.
A: I’m a local, born and raised in the Binghamton area. I come from a pretty large family with three brothers (Nathan, Josh and Wade) and a sister (Nina) and about half of us are still in the area and also enjoy running. I’m currently a Business Operations Manager at Lockheed Martin where I’ve spent the last 15+ years in various finance and accounting job functions.
Q: How long have you been running and how did you get started?
A: I’ve been running for over 25 years. The odometer is getting way up there!!! My two older brothers got me into it. My oldest, Nathan, would go for night runs throughout the west side of Binghamton and I’d join him any chance I’d get. I loved it! Later, my brother Josh joined cross country and I’d go watch him at all his local races. Attending those meets is where my interest really grew. I remember him winning a race at the IBM country club golf course. I was hooked. I joined track in high school and have been running ever since.
There is a lot of running history in the Varano family. My mother was part of the first ever women’s track team at Binghamton High School. Three of us; Josh, Wade and I all ran for Seton High School under coach Hyland. Mr. Hyland was an awesome coach and a great influence on all three of us cultivating our love of the sport. He even whipped my little bro, Wade into being the #1 standout runner for the squad.
Q: Would you rather run with a group or alone? Trails or road?
A: Solo runs are therapeutic and needed from time to time, but nothing beats the companionship of running with others. I’ve met some of my closest friends through this sport. Nothing beats the zany conversations that seem to spring up on training runs. The bonds that are forged are some of the strongest. So, get out there and run with your friends; share the passion. You won’t regret it. I’m a road racer at my core! But I do enjoy changing it up occasionally and I’ll run just about anything: track, trails, grass, sand, mountains, whatever. You mark off a course, I’ll run it!
Q: What is your favorite distance or race or running gear?
A: My favorite race is the Vestal XX. It’s a tough grindy race with a ton of history. I’m a local running history and race results nerd! I love looking back through old results and this race has nearly 50 years worth. There have been a lot of unbelievable performances at this race over the years. This is a racer’s race where grit and guile will often win out against pure speed.
Favorite race distance is a tough question as it often becomes a mood thing. Ultimately, I’d have to give it to the 5K. It’s a great distance because it’s accessible and plentiful. You can race it multiple times a weekend if you are crazy enough to. At the same time, it takes a ton of repetitions to truly master. There is a balance to achieve in pacing this race just right.
Shoes = ASICS GT-2000 for daily runs and ASICS DS-Trainers for speed work and races; Apparel = New Balance tends to fit well; Fuel = GU and Nuun
Q: What's the most rewarding thing about running and how do you stay motivated when you don’t want to run?
A: You get out what you put in more so than most sports. Hard work generates results and there are no short cuts. Working towards those seemingly out of reach goals, suffering to get there and then blowing by your goal…It’s one of the greatest feelings. It doesn’t feel like a challenge to stay motivated. Running never feels like a chore to me. I think of it as something I’m blessed that I get to do rather than something I’m required do. Going out for a run is usually the best part of the day for me particularly if I have something juicy planned like a tempo or track workout.
Q: What is your favorite running memory and any goals for the future?
A: Several years ago, I was struggling to come back from a catastrophic running injury and at the same time I was coaching my little sister Nina into the sport. She was brand new to it and intimidated by long distances and racing in general. We targeted a half-marathon to work towards feeling that it was a huge stretch that either of us would even be able to toe the line. Working towards that race with her, seeing her overcome those obstacles and at the same time pulling myself out of multi-year injury cycle was a monumental accomplishment for the both of us and truly special to share in together. I have lifelong aspirations to run as fast as I can for as long as I can. Why? Because I’m nuts! I also have two very specific goals for the current year. Goal #1) set a single-age record at Vestal XX this year (for the love of God do not corona this race!!! *editor note* -Not Canceled! But postponed to Oct. 24th - sorry Jordan) and goal #2) to set a lifetime PR at the 15K distance.
Q: Who inspires you most?
A: I’m inspired by my extended running family & community particularly those running warriors with full-time jobs who do this for the passion and love for the sport. Getting out there on early mornings, lunchtime or late-night runs and squeezing in miles to continue to work towards goals. Those are my everyday heroes.
Q: What advice do you have for new runners?
A: Start small and enjoy the process. The progression of increasing mileage and speed is a lot of fun, but don’t overdo it. Gradual and consistent gains are what you are after to make sure your newfound hobby or passion becomes a lifelong one.