Lisa Fernandez-Cruz: "I Want Other Children to Benefit the Way My Son Has"

Lisa Fernandez-Cruz: "I Want Other Children to Benefit the Way My Son Has"

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Each week, we highlight a unique NYRR Team for Kids runner and talk training runs, race-day rituals, and recovery. This week, Lisa Fernandez-Cruz tells us about her special connection to NYRR's youth programs and how she balances life as a chef, mom, and runner. 

What excites you most about running the TCS New York City Marathon with NYRR Team for Kids?
The amazing support and training direction I have been given in order to make it to the finish line of my first marathon, and the amazing way we are reaching so many children through the gift of running!

Where is your favorite place to run and why?
I live in Washington Heights, so Inwood Hill park, Fort Tryon Park, and the Hudson River Greenway are where I spend every extra minute I have. These parks have great hills and make for great training runs. 

If you run with music, what are your favorite artists or songs to listen to?
I listen to anything that is crazy-upbeat. Music totally makes me run faster. If I am lagging and a really awesome rock song comes on, like the tracks on the new album from Queens of the Stone Age, it will make me pick up my pace.

What is your favorite post-run meal?
I always end each long run with an immediate protein-carb bar and then usually follow that up with a protein-packed salad or really anything I can get my hands on, as I am juggling my two kids.

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When did your relationship with running begin and why?
I started running when I was 18 to help deal with mental health issues I was experiencing. Running has become the therapy that never lets me down. It helps me rid myself of anxiety and keep myself grounded and happy.

Do you have any pre-race rituals or superstitions? If so, please explain.
I have to drink a double espresso and eat peanut butter and jelly toast two hours before, and then I zen out on my subway ride to the start.

Why did you choose to run with NYRR Team for Kids?
I have a 10-year-old son who was diagnosed on the autistic spectrum at age 2 and with ADHD at age 5. He has never been incredibly successful at team sports—the demand was hard for him. He struggles in school and with making friends. When he was 8, I signed him up for an NYRR youth race in Van Cortlandt Park, and he loved it! He has since run 18 races (most of them NYRR youth events) but also a few adult races, the longest being four miles. He is now on the track team at his school, PS 187, where he’s a Rising New York Road Runner and killing it! The confidence he has gained running in these free programs has helped with schoolwork, friendships, and with our family life. Running has given him true motivation, and I want other children to be able to benefit the way my son has!

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Tell us a little more about yourself.
I am a pastry chef at the restaurant Rider in Williamsburg and my amazing husband is the chef at Cookshop in Chelsea, so our family life is always go go go. All the training helps me keep up. We have two sons, 10-year-old Wil and 8-year-old George, who keep us laughing, loving, and working hard. This is my first marathon and I am ready to kick some butt!

To learn more about NYRR Team for Kids, visit runwithtfk.org.

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