John: This is John Dowling I am the publisher of both Models Citizens Magazine and Long Island Journal and I have with me Joe Frazetta, an old friend from East Meadow High school…
Joe: Yes! How long has it been? 35 years? Wow! We had some great times back then.
John: I started to get to know you in Junior high school. We may have had each other in shop or gym?
Joe: We did know each other at Mc’ Cleary junior high school but we took a shop class in high school and that’s when we became friends.
John: As we have reconnected on social media, I nominated you as a Model citizen because, just like when we were younger, I see you’re still a good guy. I remember doing sports together when we were younger, but because with my heart condition, I can’t do that anymore so obviously watching you run and do all these things posted online, I’m living vicariously through you. How’s life been for you since high school?
Joe: Life has been good! I am blessed to be healthy and active. After high school I started working at Marriott, first out here on Long Island and then later in NYC .I really loved living in Manhattan. I met so many interesting people and eventually I met my wife. So I’ve just been really happy.
John: How did you eventually get into the different types of fitness you’re doing now?
Joe: At first, I really focused on weight training until my late twenties. Then I found an in line skating group, which led me to speed skating. That’s when I caught the racing bug. I started taking on other aerobic sports like running, cycling, open water swimming and eventually Ironman triathlons. Running is definitely my favorite especially marathons. Right now I’m doing a combination of CrossFit and running. I actually turned my garage into a mini gym so I can keep doing my strength training.
John: To see you doing this at an older age, reminds me a little bit of my father when he was younger. For years and years he was smoking, drinking and partying until I was 15 when I challenged him to a race around the block. During that run, he had a heart attack and from then on he never had another cigarette in his life. He started running marathons, 50 and 100 mile races and he became the president of the Long Island road runners club.
Joe: I remember that he was president!
John: So like I said I can’t do these things anymore but I can watch you and yell, Go Joe! Go Joe! What is your favorite Marathon?…
Joe: The New York City marathon is my all-time favorite. I’ve done many marathons over the years throughout the US, but nothing compares to NYC.
John: How many times have you done the NYC Marathon?…
Joe: I’ve actually done it 16 times!
John: Wow 16 times! I did the NYC marathon once…
Joe: You did?
John: Yes, but I did it weird. My father started at the beginning. I had taken the bus back to Central Park and when the gun went off at the start I ran the course backwards from the finish line to surprise my father at the 13 mile marker.
John: As I was running backwards through the stanchions and all the police barricades, people started to gather. They didn’t know which direction the runners in the race would be coming from. So as I ran through this crowd of millions of people they all started clapping for me like I was the leader!
Joe: Absolutely! The crowd support is phenomenal! That’s what makes NYC Marathon so great. To see the course lined with spectators from the beginning to end, it really helps to keep you motivated.
John: I made it to the 13th mile marker, met my father and ran with him all the way back to the finish line. I never got the credit for it, but it was an amazing father son experience.
Joe: What a great story!
John: What was your best time?
Joe: My best time was 3 hours and 28 minutes.
John: That’s slightly under an 8 minute mile, right? How about now? What’s your pace now?
Joe: Right now my race pace for a 5k is about a 7:20 mile and for a 10k, about a 7:45 pace, but I’m hoping to bring those numbers down. A few years ago, I took a little break from the longer distance running and I’ve been focusing mostly on Spartan races. In fact I’ve gotten my brothers involved. They live in PA so I’ve been coaching them online and via text. My brother Mike and I have done the Citi field stadium race twice and the Spartan Beast which is 14 miles with obstacles. The 3 of us recently did the Spartan PNC stadium race in Pittsburgh together. Mike placed 3rd in his age group and it was Sandy’s first race. I am super proud of both of them. It was a great opportunity to share my training with them, which I love doing.
John: Like a runner’s high!
Joe: I live for the runners high!
John: So where did you move to, you left Long Island, moved to the city…
Joe: When I left Long Island and moved to Queens then eventually I moved into Manhattan where I met my wife. We got married and we lived in Astoria for a while and then we bought a house out in Colonia NJ about 2 years ago.
John: Wow, now you live in the woods which is change from the city. What are the differences between NJ and Long Island?
Joe: Yes, we live in a nice suburban neighborhood, with lots of outdoor activities nearby.
It’s actually very similar to Long Island. Lots of beautiful parks, places to hike, sandy beaches and friendly people. Our local parish is very involved with the community which allows my wife and me opportunities to do volunteer work. This pandemic has been a challenge to do things in person so we joined a neighborhood newsletter and found some of our home bound neighbors needed help shoveling snow from their driveway. It was so satisfying! But best of all we have a great big backyard that our dog Molly loves. Being a rescue, the city was quite stressful for her so since moving out here it has really helped reduce her anxieties.
John: What does the future hold for you and how does fitness play a role?
Joe: I plan on keeping active in some capacity until the day I die. Thankfully for me, my wife, who is a personal trainer, also loves to keep fit. Every day we take Molly for long walks and we enjoy doing things together like kayaking, rock climbing and hiking. Recently we’ve learned archery and golf. If the snow holds out we plan on going cross country skiing in our local park. You can say fitness is our way of life but I love training and racing. It makes me feel so alive!
John: Your 57, you’re in great shape. You look amazing! You filled out well. I haven’t seen you in years and yet it seems like yesterday we were hanging out.
Joe: I still think about those days! Some of the things you did back then, still has me laughing out loud today! I’m so looking forward to reading your book, “Chapters of Love”.
John: Joe, thank you for coming out and visiting. I appreciate your story and it’s like going back in time. Congratulations on being nominated as a model citizen.
Joe: It’s been such a pleasure John, thank you for having me.