On November 7th, 2021, our very own AfterShokz CMO Kim Fassetta, her sister and seasoned marathoner Christy Fabiano, and TikToker and AfterShokz Athlete Erin Azar will be running in the historic 50th anniversary 2021 TCS New York City Marathon. We caught up with these three (Team Fox, wegiveafox.com) to get their thoughts on the marathon, their training process, and why running for the Michael J. Fox Foundation is such an important cause for their team.
AfterShokz: How was this dream team formed? What was the idea behind it?
Erin Azar: I’m pretty sure this was Kim’s doing! Don’t ask me.
Kim Fassetta: My sister and I have been trying to find a way to run a marathon together; Erin and I were trying to coordinate running something together, and we were all just trying to find an event that was actually going to take place in person this year. When my friend Gene (Gurkoff, Founder of Charity Miles) suggested we join Team Fox (and him) in NYC, I initially declined, totally freaked out by an iconic race with soooo many real runners — but my sister slapped me with some pace data to quell my anxiety, and I prayed away the voice of insecurity in my head and agreed.
Looking back at my text history, it appears that I spent a month trying to convince Erin to join us. I finally wore her down and she said yes! But it probably had a little something to do with the fact that Team Fox exists to abolish Parkinson’s disease and she has a very personal connection to that cause (her dad). I’m honoured to run with his name on my heart!
Christy Fabiano: My sister is turning 43 years old this year, which in our family has always been a bit of a looming milestone year as our father never got to celebrate his 43rd birthday. So when Kim mentioned that she has a yearly marathon goal, I thought why run just any marathon, but that we should also combine it with an epic fundraising goal for an incredible cause and run one of the World Major marathons with a skyline that we grew up seeing from NJ.
My older sister also inspires me in just about everything in life...so I was incredibly touched when she confessed a few years back that I was her “runspiration”. What has blown my mind is that Erin has been the “runspiration” for literally hundreds of thousands of followers. While I am honored to have inspired just one person...I cannot imagine the life-changing impact Erin has had on so many people!! She really completes the dream team. :)
AS: Erin, this will be your first in-person marathon. Why the New York City Marathon, and why this year in particular?
EA: After the New Jersey Marathon got cancelled, I was feeling discouraged about even signing up for another one this year, but Kim convinced me with it being the 50th anniversary of the NYC Marathon AND we get to raise money for an amazing cause.
AS: Christy, you’re a seasoned marathoner currently living in Greece. Have you ever trained for a race in another country before? Why did you choose to do the New York City Marathon this year?
CF: I got the marathon bug embedded in my brain after a decade of working footsteps from the Boston Marathon finish line throughout my 20s, but it was not until I started working for a cruise ship company in my 30s and living abroad that I started putting that dream into actual miles. ALL of my training has been across the globe and on the seas. My first marathon training year spanned 24 countries over 4 continents and also 5 ships that I would run laps or find a treadmill on.
Why I chose NYC...I have always had it on my bucket list to run Boston (still working on shaving off those last 10 minutes to qualify for that goal), Athens (because of course, it is “THE Original Marathon” which ended up being my very first) and NYC as it is a one of the world’s largest and since it is so reminiscent of our childhood. Looking forward to crossing another bucket list marathon off.
AS: Kim, why are you choosing to do a 26.2-mile race now, at the New York City Marathon this year?
KF: One of my personal fourth-decade-of-life goals is to run one marathon a year. So I’m always on the hunt for a good marathon — one that I haven’t done, in a city that I’m looking for an excuse to visit. Besides, it's NYCM's 50th anniversary and I’m a sucker for any great milestone event!
AS: You’re all running for a great cause; can you explain what the Michael J. Fox Foundation and running for a cure for Parkinson’s Disease means to you?
EA: My dad has Parkinson’s, so raising money for the Michael J. Fox Foundation is an honour and an important cause for me personally to take part in.
CF: In fundraising for the Michael J Fox Foundation, I have been touched by the stories of so many of our donors that have had friends and family members affected by Parkinson’s. I am truly humbled that our team might be able to make a big impact in life-saving research and help other families celebrate well past their 43rd birthdays.
KF: I truly enjoy fundraising. Serving others is our calling and I’m grateful for the opportunity and ability to do so!
AS: What has your training looked like for this marathon? How have your AfterShokz helped you through the training process?
KF: This training has been way less structured than my previous training cycles, and I’m digging that fluidity! The pandemic showed me how much beauty there is in flexibility, so I’m trying to embrace that in as many aspects of my life as possible. I’m not getting as many miles in as I have in the past, but I added cycling, weight training and core workouts to the mix for the first time. I feel stronger and more capable than I ever have going into a marathon, so I’m excited to see how that strategy ultimately serves me on race day.
AfterShokz are with me on every run, every ride, every workout - delivering self-development material via audiobooks, podcasts and Blinkist content. Between workouts and work, I am wearing headphones throughout like half of my day — I can’t imagine having something stuffed inside or covering my ears all that time!
EA: Since I wasn’t planning on a marathon this year, I was planning on not running long distances after my 18-mile race a couple weeks ago. Now I’m ramping it right back up again which is a bit stressful mentally. I wear my AfterShokz Aeropex to listen to motivational podcasts or music which keeps me going. Unlike regular headphones, they keep me safe by allowing me to still hear my surroundings.
CF: As I often find myself running in new and foreign locations, there are a lot of sights and sounds that I definitely don’t want to miss out on and my Aftershokz not only ensure that I am entertained when the runs get long, but also that I don’t miss a beat in the outside world. Plus being able to hear navigation queues without having to look at my phone has helped me get back to the ship on time on more than one occasion.
AS: Christy, are you doing anything differently in your training due to the race being in another country?
CF: Nothing different, which is the beauty of running. All you really need is your shoes and for me, some good music or one of the many podcasts that I am hooked on to listen to safely while on the run. I am also blessed that my environment is often changing so it keeps me even more excited to get out there, explore, and get my miles in.
AS: What are you most excited about and most nervous about for the race?
EA: I’m most excited about the overall experience of a huge race with spectators and fun activity happening along the route! I’m nervous about getting injured somehow and not being able to finish. Also, the hills of the bridges seem difficult but I’ll try not to think about that!
CF: I am most excited about getting to run this marathon with Kim and Erin. All of my other marathons have been solo, and I really look forward to sharing this entire experience with them. I also cannot wait to see what NYC has to offer with respect to crowd support and am curious to see how NYC Marathon fans rival Boston Marathon fans.
What am I nervous about...just staying safe and being responsible as the pandemic is still not 100% behind us yet. I trust a large organization like the NYRR to have plenty of safety measures in place...but it will probably take all of my self-control to not high five and hug everyone along the entire 26.2.
KF: Glad you asked! I’m really only excited about one thing... ALL OF IT. I’m so excited about every inch of this! My focused workouts over these next few weeks (they make me feel so strong and capable), being in the presence of those that worked so hard for the opportunity to participate (for themselves and in honour of those that cannot), being back east where I grew up, time with my family and friends (old and new), meeting some of our customers, adding a World Marathon Majors medal to my collection, adding some sure-to-be-fab memories to my cache … I could go on endlessly.
I’m only nervous about one thing: staying healthy until we get there.
We’re wishing all three of these amazing ladies and runners the best of luck in their training and at the historic 50th annual NYC Marathon. To help Erin and Team Fox raise money to aid in the fight to end Parkinson’s disease, head over to wegiveafox.com.