Friday, September 26, 2014

Runner to Runner: Jen

As I close in on my first half-marathon, I decided to interview some fellow runners. I enjoy learning about other people's habits and I guess my reporter instincts aren't dead just yet.  For the next few weeks, you'll learn more about some of the ladies who inspire me to keep running.

Week 1: Tamara
Week 2: Nicole


Jen and I met in college. We were both involved with the student newspaper and shared a few other interests as well.  Never in a million years did I think both of us would become runners.  I mean, I definitely never thought I would be one, and I think Jen feels the same way about herself. (You can check her blog, Red Lipstick and Sneakers for evidence if you want.)  But, here we are.  We're both doing the same half in a few weeks.  It'll be my first and Jen's second.  Hopefully we can meet up at some point that day.

How long have you been running? 
I started running on Feb 24th, 2012.

How did you get started? 
I started doing Weight Watchers in June of 2011. By December of that year, I was 58 pounds down but had hit a plateau I just could not get past. I joined a gym and hired a personal trainer, and she was a runner. She never pressured me to become one, but I kind of got obsessed with asking her about her runs and her upcoming races. She lived near me, so I always saw her out running. One night when I was doing my usual 45 minute walk on the treadmill, I sped the speed up just to see if I even could run. I ran for 30 seconds and almost died, but I had caught the bug in that little amount of time. I spent the rest of that workout speeding it up and slowing it down…and I’ve pretty much been doing that ever since.

What is your favorite thing about running? 
My favorite thing about running is the community it creates. Since I have started doing this, my sister and my brother are now both runners and the three of us are even running a half later this year “together” (I say “together” because John will cruise on by me and Amanda, but that’s okay). My friend Missy who has always been an adamant hater of running has started, too. Even if I’m not friends with someone, if we are both runners it gives us a bond and something to talk about. And, from what I have experienced, there’s no judgment – we all understand the mental game that running is, so just getting out there and doing it puts you in a league together, no matter how slow you are. 

Favorite race you’ve done? 
I’m not sure I have a favorite race – sitting here thinking about it, every race I have done has been special for some reason or another. My first race was an 8K in Portland, Oregon with my Aunt Juana – which of course was special, because it was my first one and I was running it with one of my favorite people. My first half marathon was Wizard of Oz themed, and there was a huge thunder/lightning/hail storm during most of it, so that makes a good story. And then, of course, there are a lot of “fun” runs I have done – the Ugly Christmas Sweater Run with Nick and Hannah, the Color Run with both of them and Missy, the Cupcake Run with Leslie, my first 10K with my sister Amanda…every race has a good story, and a good memory.

What is your proudest running achievement so far?   
Even after running a half, my proudest achievement has nothing to do with distance or time. When I first started running, all I worried about is what people thought of me – did they think I was pathetic, because I’m fat and trying to run? Can they actually see me thighs rubbing together? Can they hear me breathing so heavy I sound like death? At some point, my thought process switched and now I just have fun with running. Last summer, I wouldn’t wear shorts even on the hottest days because I didn’t want to be seen with fat flopping around. Now I don’t care, and I also can’t imagine running in capris or pants in the summer time. I sing and talk to myself and breathe heavy and I don’t worry about what people are thinking of me or how I look. I’m running, and that’s all that matters. So my proudest running achievement is that I am comfortable enough not to care what people think and to just focus on the healthy activity I am doing for myself.

What’s your preferred pre-run fuel? 
Honestly, just water. I am not really into supplements, or pre-workouts, or protein shakes or any of that stuff. I want to keep my workout and diet life simple, not make a science out of it. So I just make sure I am well hydrated all of the time – I try to drink at least 2 liters of water a day, but usually am closer to 3 liters.

What’s your favorite post-run treat? 
Chocolate milk!

What do you carry with you during a run? 
When I am running at home, just my phone and my earbuds. If I go to a trail, I also keep my jeep key tucked into my sports bra. I don’t use a running belt or hand water bottles or anything…again, I keep my running life very simple.

Describe your race day ritual. 
I make sure to hydrate the day before. That’s the most important thing for me, because I get dehydrated so easily and I pass out when that happens. Honestly, other than that I just lace up and go.

Any advice for me as I prepare for my first half-marathon? 
The most important thing is not to worry about a time goal for your first one. Just focus on finishing. Try to enjoy it, which I know seems silly because it’s running 13.freaking1 miles, but really try to enjoy it. Take a breath and soak in the atmosphere. People are there cheering you on. You are accomplishing something you didn’t think your body could do in the past. You are a rockstar. Run it and own it!

What advice would you give new runners or those thinking about getting started?
 Just do it! If I can do it, seriously everyone can. And I know that everyone says that, but it’s absolutely true. Just start slow, run for 30 seconds at a time. You can do it! Oh and ice those knees, because WOW.


Last week in Micah's workouts
Friday: 5 miles on the treadmill (again, at 5:30 a.m. before work)
Saturday: Off
Sunday: 9-mile trail run
Monday: Off
Tuesday: 5-mile trail run with running club and my friend, Megan!
Wednesday: 4-miles on the treadmill
Thursday: Off.

23 days to go!! EEK!


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