Heartbreaker Highlight - Kelly Heft

Introducing our next Heartbreaker Highlight, Kelly Heft! What can we say about Kelly? Kelly is one of those strong, brave, and enthusiastic individuals we have on our Heartbreaker team. It's the exact reason why we chose her for our "Bravest Boston" award in this years marathon (10 minute PR!). She's courageous in every aspect of the word. From the first time she showed up to Speed Run she's shown us that. Putting her goals on her sleeve for everyone to see, and then knocking them down. It's cool to hear her say "We're all in this together" about the Heartbreakers. Kelly felt that from day one, and since then has only made it more true about our team. Learn more about Kelly and why we chose her as our Heartbreaker Highlight! 

Hometown & Alma Maters (High School and College(s), if applicable): Hometown is a suburb north of Buffalo, NY (Go Bills!). I graduated from North Tonawanda High School, SUNY Geneseo for undergrad, and Framingham State University for my masters


How old were you when you started running? I tried it once in my mid thirties but it didn't last a year. I started running for real right after my 40th birthday. (In high school the most athletic thing I did was marching band....I got my varsity letter in "flag")


Why did you start running? I had been dealing with a lot of health issues, including a herniated disk in my cervical spine that made walking and standing difficult. After PT and an injection in my spine got me back on my feet, the doctors recommended I increase my activity to improve my long term prognosis. Also, my sister had just had a baby and I wanted to make sure I was my healthiest so I could play and be the "fun auntie". I figured running had the fewest built in excuses, all I needed was a pair of sneakers and a free Couch to 5k app so that's what I did.

How did you learn about the Heartbreakers and why did you join? Once I started running consistently I met some folks through the Slumbrew club, and both Bean Leonard and Eric Perry suggested that I try Heartbreakers. Bean recommended track at the Reggie. I was nervous because I wasn't a fast runner, but knowing I'd know ONE face there helped me take the leap. Once I got there everyone was SO friendly and welcoming and encouraging I kept coming back and decided to join.


Favorite part about being a Heartbreaker? That we're all in this together. As someone who was never particularly athletically gifted, I would watch people who were strong and fast and it looked so effortless. Joining the team I can see up close the kind of hard work and dedication that everyone puts in to achieve their goals, no matter what those goals look like. While my goals may look different than someone else's, each of us showing up and giving our all and encouraging each other makes us stronger as individuals and as a team. 

Who's your favorite runner? Katherine Switzer. As someone who was told as a kid that certain jobs and roles weren't for girls, I admire her for being told she couldn't do something and doing it anyway


Do you run with music? If so, what's your favorite song to run to? yes. My spotify playlist for running is 25 hours long! Wonder by Emilie Sande is one of those songs that makes me feel like I could run up a mountain. Also there is a lot of Lonely Island on my playlist because sometimes I need a laugh. And now after over a year of track, I can't hear the song Thunderstruck without feeling the urge to jump up and run around in circles, even if it's just in my kitchen


What's your favorite interval distance? (200s? 400s? 1000s? other) One lap of the track. It's easy to talk myself in to hanging on for "just one lap". Also, it's easier to keep track of. I don't know how pacers keep track of those longer intervals at practice. 


What's one lesson about life you've learned through running? That I'm capable of a lot more than I imagined. I think a lot of times we tell ourselves that something is out of our reach because we are afraid of what it will take to get there and how our concept of ourselves might change when we tackle something we didn't think we could do. What does it mean now that I know I can run a marathon? What else have I told myself was impossible for me? Running has pushed me to reconsider the limits I had placed on myself


What's your day job? (If you care to share) I help connect folks experiencing chronic mental illness with services through the mass health system

If you could run with anyone dead or alive who would it be? My mom. I remember her trying to help me run and get healthier when I was a teenager, and telling me stories of how she tried to get faster when she was a girl by running laps around the block. She passed away well before I started running. I think she'd get a kick out of the fact that I started running and that I've used running to raise money to help people

What's your favorite podcast? The two that float to the top of my playlist now are "The Allusionist" which is an amazingly charming podcast about the history of language, and "Again With This" where two of the women TV critics who were behind the "Television Without Pity" site back in the day recap OG Beverly Hills 90210 episodes. They started from the very beginning and are up to Season 10. 


Your social media handles? (Instagram, Twitter, etc.) kel_0_watt on Insta, and kel_o_watt on twitter (both are taken from my roller derby name back in my officiating days)


Your short-term (2019) and long-term running goal(s)? My short term goal is to have a good race for the Boston and Berlin Marathons ("not die" is ALWAYS the C goal). Long term, I've been working towards breaking 30 in the 5k, I've come within 30 seconds of it, but I'm not there just yet.