MEMBER: Kurt Palumbo
Name: Kurt Palumbo
Hometown: Sellersville, PA
High School: Pennridge High School
College: Philadelphia University
Occupation: Hospitalist Physician Assistant
Favorite Place to Run in Philly: Forbidden Drive - I used to run a majority of my long runs in college along forbidden drive, it's such a pretty area of the city and you can get a long, uninterrupted trail experience!
1500 - 4:30
5K - 16:25
10K - 35:55
Half Marathon - 1:24
Competing in the 2014 CACC XC Championship race with my teammates and winning the team title. Our men's team had not won since 2009 and we were an all senior year team so it was a very special experience to be a part of that.
By: Kevin Brandon (10/29/18)
Kurt, thanks for taking some time to speak with us. Could you tell us a bit about yourself? How did you end up in the Philadelphia area and running with PRTC?
Hi! I am 25 years old and originally from Bucks County. I moved to NE Philly after high school with my mother and went to college at Philadelphia University. I graduated from their PA program in 2016 and my first job out of PA school was in Rochester, NY. I worked there for about one year and then moved back home to Philly to be with my family again. I ran XC and outdoor track during college and continued with running post-collegiately. Once I moved back to Philadelphia, I wanted to get back into the more competitive side of running so I looked around at running clubs and decided to give PRTC a try.
When did you first become a runner? Did a specific event compel you to take on the sport?
I first began running my senior year of high school. I became friends with XC runners in my chemistry class junior year and they convinced me to come out and run XC. I had no idea what I signed up for. One summer of training and becoming 25 pounds lighter in the process made me realize that although I was bad at it, I liked running. I used to despise running as a kid because I was chubby and had horrible asthma. I dreaded the mile fitness test every year and I always ended up walking at least a portion of it, despite trying my best to run it. Once I finished the XC season, in high school, I continued with indoor and outdoor track, then walked on to my college team because I just enjoyed it that much.
Once you began running, how did your career develop? Take us through day one to today.
I think I mentioned this in the above question, but my career essentially started from the ground up. No one in my family runs and no one has the “runner gene.” I became faster with pushing myself with each run and that has become my favorite part about my journey with running; it doesn’t come naturally or easy for me and I have to work at it every day to get better. Once I walked on to my college team, I over-trained and my first year running as a collegiate athlete was horrible (you can google my times and see for yourself). I learned what my body could and could not handle and turns out, 80+ mileage weeks don’t work well for me. Once I figured that out, I slowly got faster by listening to my own body and eventually received scholarship for running in school. It wasn’t much, but it meant a lot to me. Now running is a huge aspect of my life and it really brings me joy.
You ran local for Philadelphia University. Fair to say you're overly familiar with Belmont Plateau? Care to share any memories from your days as a college athlete?
Ahh yes, I am unfortunately familiar with my home course, Belmont Plateau. Training on that course was as horrendous as you would imagine but on those rare days where I felt great during a workout, it was euphoric. Parachute hill repeats will forever give me nightmares, but I digress. My favorite run in college would be along Forbidden Drive. Long runs throughout the woods were so enjoyable, especially seeing all the other runners out for their Sunday long runs. Philadelphia University is conveniently located in Philadelphia where we are close to the Wissahickon, Belmont Plateau, the art museum, etc. which makes it really ideal for great running.
Can you tell us about a favorite running accomplishment or moment?
In college, my favorite accomplishment was running at regionals in cross country. It was my senior year and I was lucky enough to run as our seventh man during our conference race (which we won that year). We were an all senior team and that victory was so much fun to share with teammates I began running as freshman with. Anyway, the XC regional race was our last race of the season and it was the first time I traveled and stayed in a hotel for running. I felt so fancy and elite. It was where I ran my 10k PR and it was my best race of the season. I didn’t place anywhere spectacular, but to end my final season with a PR felt special.
How about a not-so-great moment?
How much time do you have? In all honesty, I can count the number of times I have won a race with one hand. My career with running has seen way more losses than victories. I have many not-so-great moments, but one that stands out for me was my freshman year of college racing the Paul Short Invitational. I came in dead last. It was a huge blow to my confidence and I felt embarrassed because that was a home course I was familiar with in high school. My family came to the race and watched me come in last place. That race taught me so many things, but the biggest thing it taught me was to not give up. I realize now that getting through that race was a blessing because it reinforced the idea that I would rather come in last place and finish a race, than drop out. There will always be another race to redeem yourself in and that is something all my not-so-great moments always remind me of.
Regarding your running future, what are your near and long-term goals?
Nowadays I try to vary the road races I run, but my big focus is on the half marathon. It’s a fun distance and it is relatively easy to train for. I want to break my PR (1:24), and my ultimate goal would be to run 1:15 someday. I would love to get faster across all distances from the mile to half-marathon, ultimately. Someday I will step up to a marathon and hopefully run some of the bigger races like Boston and NYC, but that will happen when I have more time to dedicate a good training block toward marathon running. I would love to run some USA championship road races (XC, ten-mile, half marathon), if I get faster. It would also be a dream come true to also run someday at the Penn Relays.
Can you tell us about your day job?
Surely! I work as a hospitalist physician assistant at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. I work primarily day-shift but every other month I work night-shift for a two-week block. My typical day at work consists of reviewing labs, rounding on patients, discussing plans of care with my doctors, writing notes, calling consults, discharging and admitting patients to the hospital, and ultimately trying to drink as much coffee as possible within a 12-hour shift. I come home from work, make dinner, then immediately sleep only to do it all over again the next day, if I’m working again.
And what inspired you to pursue medicine as a career?
It is cliché, but I got into medicine because I want to take care of people and that probably stems from my mother, who is a nurse. She taught me the value of being kind to someone and helping them out when they need it. I think it is a privilege to take part in someone’s health and I see it as a fundamental right we all should have access to. I contemplated going to med school, but between time and cost, I chose to pursue a career as a PA and I couldn’t be happier with that decision. I still am able to take care of patients with a great deal of autonomy and I work with an incredible team of physicians, nurse-practitioners, and fellow physician assistants.
Any non-running related hobbies, hidden skills, or talents we may enjoy hearing of?
When I’m not running I try to stay busy with reading, cooking, watching TV, and listening to music. I love to write and I try to write every day I am not working. I’m also very obsessed with coffee so I love exploring the city for new coffee shops. Does sleeping count as a hidden talent? Because I’m reaaaaaallllllyyyyy great at that, also.