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Open Mic Friday: Welcome Jenn!

  Open_mic_friday Today's guest is Jenn, author of the blog 0 to 26.2 -On the Road to my first marathonNaturally, you can guess what's ahead with her running, but you'll want to learn from her what it is and why it's important to her.

Today is also a special day for Jenn and you'll want to find out why and what she's doing today.

We know you'll enjoy meeting her.

Welcome Jenn!

OKC Race for the Cure 2 Your blog is exploding with enthusiasm for running. How did you develop your passion for running and fitness?

First off, let me just say that I am not athletic.  In fact, I have never been athletic, not even in high school.  If you would have asked me a year ago to tell you about my "passion for running and fitness," I would have had to laugh.  How much things can change in just one year!

Although I am not athletic, I am surrounded by runners - friends… family… you name it, they love to run.  One of those runners was my sister-in-law, Amy.  Amy worked on me for years to pick up running and although she was very persuasive, I never succumbed to her tactics.  Amy was diagnosed with breast cancer in March of 2008.  She did everything right, did the treatment, kept her bright positive outlook, and hoped to one day be back out there running.  In December, we learned that Amy's cancer spread.  It was then that I realized, if this amazing woman could fearlessly fight cancer, I could get up off my lazy rear end and do what she could not - I would run.  I would keep the pavement warm for Amy until she could get back out there again.

 I started from scratch - literally.  I began with running a few minutes and walking lots of minutes and grew to where I am today.  Over the last ten months, I've run four 10-milers, 2 half-marathons, loads of shorter races, and hundreds of training miles.  I guess you can say I AM HOOKED!  I would have never started on this amazing journey if it were not for Amy.  I feel like if I can just tell one person, get one person out there to dust off their running shoes, get out there, and experience the fulfillment I have received from turning my non-athletic self into a runner, I'll have paid it forward. 

I did it! You might be the most excited runner we know preparing for the Walt Disney World Marathon.  Why did you select WDW?

After learning in October 2008 that her cancer was in remission, Amy had selected WDW as her "I Beat Cancer Marathon."  My husband was going to run it with her and our entire family was going to tag along to cheer them on.  However, just two months later, we received the devastating news that Amy's cancer had spread and the outlook was grim.  It was then I decided to start running - I made the decision, I would run WDW for Amy.  Me, a girl who had never run a block in her life, would run 26.2 miles.  It was pretty scary, but I had such an amazing reason to do it.

Amy passed away on March 9, 2009.  There is not a day that goes by that I don't think of her.  Every time I lace up my running shoes I say a quiet thank you to Amy - she got her way - I AM A RUNNER!!

Amy's dream to run the Walt Disney World Marathon lives on - on January 10, 2010, I will run 26.2 miles along side my husband, my two best friends, Amy's husband, and his sister.  I guess you can say I am just a teeny bit excited.  I will be accomplishing something I never thought humanly possible, accompanied by some of the people that mean the most to me in this world, and doing it for the woman who is my inspiration every day, Amy Ellis Oliver.

Picture You have a special running experience coming up this week.  Tell us about it.

Oh my goodness, I do!  Today, October 30, 2009, is my 34th birthday.  I couldn't think of a better way to mark this day than by running 17 miles - a half mile for each year I am old.  This will be the furthest that I have ever run in my life.  The old, non-running Jenn would have dreaded this day (getting older, no thanks, I'm done) and celebrated it with cake for breakfast.  For some odd reason, however, I've been looking forward to this run for weeks.  I took the day off from work, mapped out my 17 miles and I am ready to go.  After that, don't get me wrong, I will celebrate with cake … and blog all about it. 

What are some key things you’ve learned about yourself and about running since starting your training for WDW?

That anything is possible - but it takes a plan.  When I made my decision to run WDW, I had never run a block, let alone a mile.  It would have been easy to become overwhelmed by it all, but I took it bit by bit.  I started small and worked my way up.  I remember vividly the day I ran my first mile, my first 5 miles, my first 10 miles - each was a stepping stone to where I am today, and where I will be in January.  The crazy thing is, when I started on this journey, I was doing it for Amy.  I never thought I would actually begin to love running, but I do!  I miss it when I can't get my daily run in.  I never, in my wildest dreams, thought that would happen.

Army 10 miler What would your family and friends tell us about your passion for running?

They would tell you that I need to stop registering for races!  Every week I'm finding new races for my friends and family to run with me as I train for WDW.  I'm even finding races for us to run after WDW.  Currently, my best friends and I are planning a trip to Prague.  My best friend's husband has given me firm orders, I cannot register us for any races in Prague.  Fine, no races in Prague, I get it … but what he doesn't know is I am still going to put together a run for all of us to do while we are there.   

If money could buy you a running dream, what would it be?

Four years ago, my husband and I went to Ireland for my 30th.  While we were there, Dublin was hosting the Dublin Marathon.  I remember thinking, "How cool would that be?  I wish I could run a marathon."  If I could, I would love to go back to Ireland next year and run the Dublin Marathon as a way to celebrate my 35th birthday, a race that would be promptly followed with a round of Guinness.  

I finished! Who from your past would you like to know that you’re now a runner?

The coaches on my high school cross country team.  Boy, would they get a kick out of the fact that I am now doing something I complained about every day in school. 

Best running advice you’ve ever been given?

I've received tons of good advice.  I would say that the best practical advice I've received is:  Buy the right shoes for your feet.  I quickly learned that when it comes to running, unhappy feet = unhappy runner. 

The best motivational advice I've received is:  One person's 5K is another person's marathon.  When I first started running, it was hard for me not to be excited and proud of my first accomplishments - running my first mile, running my first 30 minutes without stopping, running my first race.  I wanted to shout it out to the world, however, I was a bit embarrassed.  The folks I would be shouting it to were ones who ran ten miles on a slow day and ran ultra marathons for fun.  One evening, after reporting that I ran three whole miles, and then promptly down playing it with the comment, "that’s good for me, I know that's nothing for you."  My friend wisely said, "Jenn, one person's 5k is another person's marathon. Celebrate what you accomplish - don't measure yourself by anyone else but you." 

After that, I quit using other runners as a ruler for my success.  Sure, I want to get better, faster, be able to run longer, further.  It would be so cool to one day qualify for Boston (dream on, sister).  HOWEVER, I am just so happy, so blessed, to be able to do what I can do.  There are people out there today that have never known the joy of signing up for a race, training for it, showing up, and finishing.  There are people out there that have, and for whatever reason, their bodies just won’t let them do it anymore.  I count myself as one lucky girl.  I may have been a little late showing up to the race, but at least I made it.  It took me almost 34 years to decide that I love running. I hope that I will be fortunate enough to enjoy the next 34 doing just that.

Thank you, Jenn!

Do you know a runner you would recommend for Open Mic Friday?

Pass along their name, contact info, and some background and we'll explore introducing them to the Runners' Lounge Community.

Send your suggestions to Tom@runnerslounge.com or Amy@runnerslounge.com


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Thank you for sharing

I'm touched to be featured in your blog. Amazing. And I am so, so very excited to be chasing dreams out in the big city. Please do be in touch when you're out there!

Thanks for the kind words, Huang!

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