Yankee’s Anthony Rizzo’s wife prepares for marathon with a purpose

Anthony Rizzo’s wife Emily Vakos

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Emily Rizzo, the wife of New York Yankees first baseman Anthony Rizzo, is preparing to embark on an extraordinary adventure. As she gears up for her debut in the 2023 TCS New York City Marathon, Emily is not only embracing the challenge of running 26.2 miles but also carrying the heartfelt mission of the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation. This foundation, founded by Anthony in 2012, is dedicated to supporting pediatric cancer patients and their families, a cause close to their hearts.

Emily Rizzo’s journey to the 2023 New York City marathon

Emily’s journey to this marathon began with a remarkable experience she had as a spectator at the New York City marathon the previous year. She was captivated by the vibrant atmosphere of the city, where strangers came together to cheer on marathon runners, creating an atmosphere of unity and boundless support. This experience left an indelible mark on Emily, inspiring her to take part in this year’s marathon.

“It just brought the entire city together in a way I’ve never seen,” Emily recently recalled to the New York Post. “Just strangers cheering on strangers, complete support and happiness.”

While Emily describes herself as a “spontaneous” runner, running has always been a source of pleasure and a way to escape from the demands of daily life. She shares that running also allowed her to explore new cities, like Chicago, where she and Anthony resided during his tenure with the Cubs. Running became a way for her to connect with her surroundings and discover new places. “It’s just a way to get out of your own head sometimes and a way to escape reality,” Emily said.

The decision to run the marathon on behalf of the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation was deeply rooted in their personal journey with cancer. In 2008, Anthony was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, just months after being selected by the Boston Red Sox in the MLB Draft. The determination of cancer patients and the unwavering support of their families left a lasting impression on Emily. “These kids give it their all to fight cancer, and these families give it their all to be there and support each other. I feel honored to put in the work to help support them,” she said.

As Emily delves into the world of marathon training, she finds herself adapting to a fluid schedule, given the unpredictable nature of the baseball season and the couple’s frequent travel. Training occurs at various times, from early mornings to late nights, depending on the demands of their busy lives. This flexibility has allowed her to learn her body’s rhythms and make the necessary adjustments.

“It’s not always used to me waking up and then running, or it’s not used to me having the whole day and then running. It’s really been trial and error and kind of learning your body,” she said.

Anthony Rizzo, who continues to be amazed by his wife’s dedication, offers unwavering support. He highlights Emily’s determination to make time for training despite the challenges posed by their hectic schedules. “Just to see her, day in and day out, fight to do the training because, with our schedule and traveling, and we’re in one city and then the next city, Emily making the time to get in [the training] pretty much no matter what,” Rizzo told The Post. “It’s really impressive.”

Emily has also been fortunate to receive valuable guidance from friends, including Samantha Bracksieck, the wife of Anthony’s teammate, Aaron Judge, and a 2022 New York City marathon participant. Samantha has been a valuable resource, providing insights on race day preparations, attire, and training routines.

“I have gone to her throughout this entire process and asked her a gazillion questions about what the day [of] looks like, what I should be wearing, what headphones, what her training looks like,” Emily said. “We’ve ran together as well, and she’s really been a support system for me and given me a lot of good experience advice.”

Through this marathon journey, Emily has learned a profound lesson in the power of inner strength. She emphasizes that there are days when self-doubt creeps in, and the body feels weary, but pushing through these moments reveals an inner resilience that defies expectations. “A lot of times you wake up and you’re tired, and you’re like, ‘I just really don’t know if I have it in me today. I don’t know if I’m going to be able to get this done.’ And even if you start your first mile and you’re like, ‘I really don’t know if this is going to happen today,’ but it does… your body and you can do so much more than you think you can do,” she said.

As Emily’s marathon day approaches, Anthony eagerly anticipates his role in the event – supporting Emily with encouraging signs and a post-race celebration. “Hopefully on race day I’ll just help with some good signs and a good party afterward,” he said.

Emily’s journey to the 2023 TCS New York City Marathon is a testament to her love for running, her commitment to a noble cause, and the unwavering support of her family and friends. On November 5, the city that left a deep impression on her as a spectator will now witness her as a marathon runner, carrying the torch of hope and healing for pediatric cancer patients and their families.

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