In this blog series, we’ll get to know some of our new and veteran Distance Challenge (DC) participants. If you have a story you’d like to share, let us know! Interviews by DC Coordinator, Hannah Kanne firstname.lastname@example.org.
I started running a few years ago. I was in the middle of a weight loss journey (55lbs!) and needed to add more exercise. Running seemed to make sense. I did cross country and track in high school, but that was more of a social endeavor. Running helped with the weight loss and provided me with a much needed release. As a stay at home mom to four kids, some quiet time is a must! I usually run in the wee hours of the morning and don’t often run with anyone. I usually don’t even listen to music! I do have a few phrases I repeat to myself. My favorite when it’s really hot is “the slower you run, the hotter the sun!” or on those challenging days, “fast or slow, just go!” Mostly, it is just me and the road.
When I reached my weight loss goal, I completed my first 5K with my sister in Maine. The plan was to run together. However, the moment the gun went off and those heads started bobbing, the wildebeest instinct took over and off I went! I was hooked. My sister eventually forgave me and I quickly looked for another 5K to sign up for. Fate brought me to the Brain Power 5K. I am an 18-year brain tumor survivor and still struggle with an uncoordinated right side and balance issues. For some reason, the forward momentum from running keeps me somewhat stable.
Since that first Brain Power 5K, I have participated in many races from 5K to marathon. My first half marathon was Moe’s Better Half in San Marcos (pictured). Since then, I have learned how important elevations maps are! In the next few years, I completed two marathons and was ready for a break when I heard about the Distance Challenge. I signed up the following year and was on schedule to complete it, until I was injured. Being a stubborn runner, I was determined to walk the Rogue Distance Festival (30K). After a mile of walking, I thought I would try running. It felt okay at the time, but at the finish, I could barely walk. I planned to walk the 3M, but still couldn’t even walk to my car. Thanks to Dr. Tuggle (The Tri Doc) I recovered. I did walk the Austin Half Marathon, but I did not complete the Distance Challenge. Incomplete goals don’t fly with me…
Unfortunately, it was just the start of injuries. I was back to running in March and registered for the Bay of Fundy International Marathon in June; a marathon that starts in Maine, runs into Canada and ends in Maine. The trip of a lifetime! I racked up the miles too quick and suffered a stress fracture a week before the marathon. Again, I managed to walk the half marathon. I signed up for the next Distance Challenge on the first day I could. I was going to get better and I was going to run again. I signed up for the Austin Marathon too. But injuries would plague me again. After the first race of the Challenge, my back was sore. A week later, I could barely function. It took a very long time with a lot of stretching, rolling and chiropractic care (thanks Dr. Tuggle!), but I didn’t miss any races! I was even able to complete the Austin Marathon!
Now, here we are at the start of another racing season. I completed Vern’s No Frills 5K in August with my 13-year-old daughter, and my kids will all be running in the Brain Power 5K. We have made running a family event! They wake up most Sunday mornings to find that Mommy is already on a run or sometimes even back already. Now, they want to be a part of it too. Two years ago, I left at 3:30 am to get 20 miles in before the Brain Power 5K. I met my family at the race and ran the 5K with them. I earned an ice cream that day! They have enjoyed visiting Dallas, Taylor, Texas, and the Bay of Fundy, Maine for Mommy’s races. In November, they get to go to Tulsa, Oklahoma to watch my next marathon, the Route 66 Marathon. I’ve done several races in Colorado, where I have family as well. I always try to schedule a race when I go on “vacation.” I run for my health and racing on vacation keeps it fresh on my mind.
My goal with the Distance Challenge is to stay healthy. I want to show my kids that there are healthy choices in what we eat and what we do with our time. I am selfish in that I honestly enjoy the alone time. I love the feeling of completing a goal that only I can achieve for myself. I hope to show my kids that hard work pays off.
My family will be on the 80s 8K course cheering everyone on. Eventually, they will be running the Distance Challenge with me, too.
Thank you for sharing your story with us, Jenn! We can’t wait to see your family cheering you on as you #darethedistance injury-free this year!