Short Bio: Although I have only been running for a short time, the activity seemed like a natural progression in my new found journey for healthier living. In October of 2008, I was extremely overweight and smoked. I had an epiphany of sorts, and realized I could no longer go on the way I was living. I quit smoking and joined a gym (and actually used the facility). I found a website, www.sparkpeople.com, which offered free tracking of nutrition, calories, and cardio, along with motivational support through an online community. I worked hard and lost 70+ pounds.
And somewhere along the way, I realized how much I love this way of life.
Favorite race distance?
5k, because I have not ran many races longer than that. I will, however, be participating in the Super Bowl 10k, and am looking forward to the St. Luke’s Half Marathon in May – my first half!
Best race experience?
Being part of the Breakfast Club Runners’ (BCR) Meats team in the VIA marathon relay. It was my first race ever, and sharing that experience with BCR was indescribable. I ran the last leg (the shortest leg), and I still remember one of my teammates screaming, “Go Jennie,” from across the river. And when I came around the last corner, my teammates were waiting, and ran to the finish chute with me. And this was a group of people I had only met a month before. It was such an amazing experience. And I was hooked!
Jennie (middle) with her teammates, the BCR Meats, at the Lehigh Valley Marathon for VIA
Best piece of running advice you’ve ever received?
Start, finish, and have fun.
What do you enjoy most about running?
The freedom. Before I start running, I have all these random thoughts in my head. And then I run. I get lost in the music, focus on my pace and breathing, and enjoy the scenery. I honestly don’t even know what goes through my head during those miles, because by the time I finish, I’m just filled with a sense of accomplishment simply because I did finish. My mind is empty and relaxed, and even though I may be physically exhausted, I feel like I could take on just about anything.
What are some things you’ve learned about yourself from running?
I am strong, both mentally and physically. When I first started running, I used the Couch to 5k (C25K) program. And seriously thought I would die after jogging for 30 seconds. But I didn’t. Also, since I’ve started branching out into longer distances, I’ve learned how mental running is. Even though there may be times during a run where I just want to stop, I know if I push and talk myself through, I usually have no problem continuing on. Running may never be easy, but it is certainly becoming easier the more I train.
Do you have a favorite race?
The Warrior Dash was quite an experience. It is basically a 5k with various obstacles throughout. It involves running, water, mud and fire. I ran my first one in October, and will be running in another one in June.
What is your biggest running accomplishment, and why?
Right now, my biggest accomplishment, aside from the fact that I am actually running, was setting a PR in the Peeps Fest 5k. I wasn’t feeling my best that day, but finished the race in 27:36. I learned a lot about my ability to push myself even more, and was completely in awe with my time. My best time before that was 29:55 on Thanksgiving Day. So in a little more than a month, I shaved almost a minute and a half off my PR!
Since I’m new to the whole running scene, and don’t really follow sports, I am not really familiar with famous runners. But my personal running heroes are the members of the Breakfast Club Runners. They welcomed me with open arms, and cheer me every step of the way. And there are some seriously talented athletes in the group: several are training for the Tough Mudder, others are training for triathlons, and one is even training for a 100-mile race. Running with this group provides scores of motivation! But they are all normal people with jobs and families. We can all relate to them.
Jennie on her wedding day