Dyker Heights resident goes from heavy smoker to half marathon runner

For a quarter of a century, Kate Farley would smoke two packs of cigarettes a day. Next week, when she takes the run from Prospect Park to Coney Island for the second time, she'll also be making the three-year anniversary of when she quit smoking.

Greg Thompson

May 10, 2024, 11:45 AM

Updated 9 days ago

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When the 13.1-mile RBC Brooklyn Half Marathon presented by the New York Road Runners takes over the borough on May 18, the field will include Kate Farley for a second year in a row - something the Dyker Heights resident says would have sounded crazy not that long ago.
For a quarter of a century, Farley tells News 12 she would smoke two packs of cigarettes a day, getting to the point where, "I couldn't walk from the house to the park, I couldn't walk up the stairs in my own house. I took a shower and I was out of breath."
But after eight cases of pneumonia, a collapsed lung and a few trips to the hospital, the Polish immigrant decided it was time for a change.
"I said I want to run the New York City Marathon, said Farley. "The only way to do it, I need to quit smoking, and that goal kept me going. I put a big piece of paper on my fridge - that's it, I quit."
With the help of a friend, Farley joined the New York Road Runners. At first, she only did shorter races, and had to stop or walk often.
Even now, Farley says she's still working on it, explaining "I'm not a fast runner, obviously and I probably never will be, but I'm motivated. I want to finish that race, I want to cross that line, I want to show my kids that it's never too late to start doing something for myself."
Last year, Farley did show them, as she ran the RBC Brooklyn Half Marathon for the first time, telling News 12 she'll never forget how there "was 26,000 people running the race and I was there. I was there. Do you know how incredible that feels? We all looking at each other, we all screaming at each other, we all motivating each other."
Since then, Farley has finished four other half marathons, Next week, when she takes the run from Prospect Park to Coney Island for the second time, she'll also be making the three-year anniversary of when she quit smoking.
When she crosses the finish line, Farley says she hopes it will be "a reminder that everybody can do it. And I see my kids, my husband. And normally I cry. I cry a lot."
As for the original goal of running the full New York City Marathon? Farley says she's all signed up, and ready to go for November third of this year.


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