Athlete Name: Ciaran Bruen
Hometown: Beekman, NY
Tell us a little about yourself
I am 27 years old, and I have live in the Mid-Hudson Valley in NY. I currently work for a medical technology company in Greenwhich, CT by day, and can be often found at the gym most week nights. Having first been diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis at 7 months old, I have been fighting CF for as long as I can remember.
I have been blessed to have many amazing family and friends who have always been there for me whenever CF hit me the hardest. From parents who tirelessly pushed me to consistently do my treatments when I was a young boy, to sisters, aunts, uncles, and cousins who always made a point to visit me when I would be in and out of the hospital and make sure I knew that I was never alone in my fight, I am beyond thankful for the people I am lucky enough to have by my side.
In 2018, I decided I wanted to be more involved in the CF Community and do my best to help spread awareness, so I signed up to run the Tri-State Tough Mudder in NJ in the Fall of that year. Training for it was one of the most difficult things I had ever done, as I was never a athlete growing up and was not used to resiliency normally required to train for such a undertaking. However, it ended up being a big success and started me on my journey to do more athletic undertakings all in the name of raising awareness for and ultimately one defeating Cystic Fibrosis.
“I think in life, whenever you are fortunate enough to survive a fight, you owe it to those who didn’t make it to keep fighting."
Tell us what motivates you the most.
I think in life, whenever you are fortunate enough to survive a fight, you owe it to those who didn’t make it to keep fighting.
From others with CF I met as a child while in the hospital (in those days they didn’t distance us 6 ft apart the way we do now), to people I’ve interacted with throughout my life who have admitted to me they had loved ones who died from CF, I’ve seen the toll this illness can take not only on those of us who have it but on our loved ones as well.
I acknowledge that I am very lucky to have been able to go through school without interruption, to be able to have a social life, and to work a full time job with only minor interferences. Whenever I lose motivation to do things, I think about all those with CF who didn’t get to where I am now and that helps me find the motivation to keep moving forward.
Why do you exercise?
Growing up, I always hated being unathletic and feeling weaker compared to others my age. In high school, I started getting into the gym and loved how much better it made me feel and look. My quality of life dramatically improved, and all without the need of antibiotics or a heavy duty medicine. So naturally, I’ve been exercising ever since. I’d say now that my college years are behind me, I take even more seriously running and exercise and am fairly disciplined in getting to the gym at least 3 times a week.
Tell us a little about your race day training and how / if you had to change any training due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
I started training in January, at the direction of Coach GP with the BEF. It definitely required more discipline than the 5 mile Tough Mudder I ran 2 years ago, and the training was not always easy. I’d often not get to my gym in Dutchess County from leaving work in Greenwhich until close to 7pm, and would then be there for 1-2.5 hrs to get my cardio and weight training in. However, Coach GP was great with motivation, was very responsive and accessible, and was good at giving me a extra push where needed if I started to falter.
The first road block I encountered in my training was when I had my feed tube of 14 years removed in late January. Normally a happy occasion, this ended up causing a lot of stress as it was not healing properly and made running and fast movements very difficult. However, I was determined to not let it stop me from doing my training, so I still made it to the gym as frequently as I could and after having a procedure to heal the wound, I continued with my training almost like nothing had ever happened. Although the training remained consistent up to the weekend of the NYC Half Marathon (they didn’t shut down my gym and recommend people like me start social distancing until the week after the race), I made the decision to not run in NYC due to my growing concerns about COVID-19, and before I even had a chance to coordinate with the BEF team about alternative arrangements, they had announced that the Half Marathon was cancelled.
At the time, I was very upset but felt determined to still run a half marathon distance. So I decided to run the full length of the Dutchess County Rail trail, which is a scenic trail straight through the heart of my home area and is exactly half marathon distance in length. At the time, there were no yet reported COVID-19 cases in Dutchess County so I concluded running in my home was the safest alternative.
Tell us about your modified race day.
Well it was certainly cold! Ironically the day before was in the 60s, but unfortunately that morning it was in the mid 40s throughout my run. Thankfully, there’s Under Armor, which kept me warm throughout the run. Additionally, I wore a light weight water backpack to hydrate while I was running, and wore a smart watch to keep track of distance and time. I broadcasted on FB live both before and immediately after the run to compensate for choosing to run it by myself and to demonstrate that even though we in the CF community need to practice social distancing, that doesn’t mean we have to stop living our lives while being safe. Largely thanks to modern technology!
Admittedly, I was disappointed I never got to run in Manhattan and cross a finish line in NYC. However, I’m proud that I didn’t let this stop by. I’m happy that thanks to my amazing family, friends, and coworkers, I was able to successfully fundraise for the BEF. And lastly, I’m looking forward to doing this again next year, as I am not giving up on that goal of crossing the finish line in one of the greatest cities in the world!
What is your pump up song?
I have quite a few haha. Summing them up to one would most likely be “Missile” by Dorothy. Wicket Ones and Raise Hell by her are great too.
Kygo and Avicii are also favorites of mine.
What is your best fundraising tip?
Use social media, and be as genuine as possible. Usually whenever I post to social media, it’s to comment on current events or to share something humorous. But whenever talking about CF to fundraise, I try to be as genuine and heartfelt as possible on things ranging from how CF makes me feel that day to struggles with it in my past that I overcame. If you show people that side to you, they will relate or at the very least sympathize with you. And in return they will be more likely to assist with your fundraising. Just be you!