YORKTOWN, N.Y. – Yorktown’s Mike Moccia began running competitively at age 50 and has quickly become established as a top contender in his age division in races throughout Westchester County.
Moccia, 53, who will run the Boston Marathon on April 15, has won his age division in two races this year. Monday’s race will be his first Boston and fifth marathon overall.
“I had been running for 10 years before, but just a little bit, maybe 10 miles a week,’’ said Moccia, who works in the maintenance department for the Town of Greenburgh. “A friend said I should try doing a few more longer runs, and it took off from there.”
In one of Moccia’s first races, he finished fourth in his age group in the Dutchess County Classic Half Marathon. He came back the next year and finished first. He has run marathons in New York, New Jersey, Virginia and Pennsylvania. Last November, he was registered for the New York City Marathon but switched to Harrisburg, Pa., when the New York race was canceled. He was 226th out of 1,515 finishers.
“Running has changed my whole life,’’ Moccia said. “I used to weigh like 220 pounds, and now I’m down to 146. I changed my whole eating habits. I’m a lot more disciplined.”
Moccia planned to run Boston last year but missed the race due to an injury. Boston has been one of his primary goals since he began running competitively. “I was upset that I couldn’t do it last year,’’ he said. “I had a friend up there who was running, and it just hurt me that I wasn’t able to do it.”
In just a few years, Moccia has found many new friends in the Westchester running community. “I love to get out there for my own health, but I also enjoy the people,’’ he said. “There are a lot of good people. Everybody is out there for their own reasons.”
Moccia has a new reason to celebrate in Boston. He became a grandfather five months ago. He recently purchased tattoos that are hearts with the names of his daughter and granddaughter.
"I’ll think of them, especially those last few miles,’’ Moccia said. “I just hope nothing happens to me before the race. I want to run it tomorrow.”
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