This is one incredible woman! An amazing mother, marathon runner, business lady, fitness enthusiast…the list goes on and on. Jena approached me last year about helping her PR a marathon, and when she mentioned New Orleans – I was IN. 1 – because I hadn’t been and wanted to go get some BEADS (kidding), and 2 – most importantly – because I BELIEVED IN JENA!!!
Running a marathon can be an adventure…to say the least. It is an emotional, physical and mental challenge for hours… It’s something that can be an amazing experience, and heart-wrenching at the same time. You can learn a lot about yourself over those 26.2 miles, and I learned that sometimes the most enjoyable time is when you are running for more than yourself. Jena allowed me to run beside her for those 26.2 miles, coach her, laugh with her, yell at her (lovingly), and be there when she crossed the finish line. However, my IT band started hurting pretty badly near the end, and in the last quarter mile, I told her to put her favorite song on, and she did, and then she TOOK OFF!!!!!!!!!! I remember yelling at her…”you better let me cross that finish line with you – don’t leave me behind now!!!” I think, to her surprise, she realized she had a lot left in the tank… and SHE DID IT. SHE GOT HER PR!!! She set out towards a goal, and accomplished it.
Jena, you are an inspiration to so many – but mostly to YOUR SON. Jena’s son, Sam, would come to our sessions and watch his mom WORK, and encourage her all the way. THAT is what it’s truly about. Jena – you’re living a healthy life that Sam can look up to. Thank you for being a beautiful person inside and out, for working with me, for letting me run with you, and for giving it your all EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Here’s to your best year yet, a lot more sweat, and many more PR’s!!!
I asked Jena a few questions about her fitness journey, and specifically our marathon in NOLA, and here’s what she had to say…
I’ve been running long distances for a little over 10 years and when people ask me why I started running or why I run marathons, I usually give a casual answer of “It’s a fun way to stay fit” or “training for a race keeps me committed to a goal.” But that’s not the entire truth. The real story behind my running dates back to a muggy Saturday morning in the summer of 2006. It was June 10, 2006, and the day that my world turned upside down. I woke up early that morning and went for a walk/run around the neighborhood because I was just starting to get back into a regular exercise routine. When I walked back into the house after being gone for about an hour, my husband at the time told me that he had gotten a call from my brother and there had been a terrible accident. My Daddy had died that morning, doing what he loved, in a tragic farming accident. In the days and weeks following my Daddy’s death, I started running because it was the only time I felt alive. It became my therapy…my release…my healing.
Since then, I’ve been through an eating disorder, a divorce, a job change, a year long cancer battle with my best friend and life’s ups and downs. The one constant activity through all of it…running. It still is my therapy…my release…my healing. Every time I cross the finish line at a race…I am more alive than the last time. Running keeps me going.
-How did you prep for the race and decide to go for a PR?
I’ve run 7 marathons since 2011 and my prep work always depends on my schedule…it seems like life gets in the way of following a strict plan. However, I tried to get at least 30 miles a week in for the last few weeks. Additionally, I went to see Audra Lance at Spine & Sport Rehab Institute to make sure I wasn’t getting too tight or sore. I wanted to get a new PR because the old one was from Chicago in 2013…it was time to speed up!
-Tell me about the race – the highs and lows and the in betweens…The NOLA Marathon was an incredible race. The weather was perfect, the crowd was supportive and lots of fun and getting to run with my running hero and Lululemon Ambassador, Megan Conner, was the best part of the day. My theme song for this race was Sia, “I’m Alive” and the chorus of the song says “I’m still breathing…I’m alive.” I probably listened to that song 10 times during the race and I was singing the chorus as I crossed the finish line. I was most definitely alive.
-What was the best part and the hardest part of the race and/or the prep? The hardest part of the race was between miles 14-18 because I had a really bad experience in Savannah (due to heat/weather) so I wasn’t sure that I could push through those miles. However, Megan kept telling me that she knew I could do it and she was right. We crossed the finish line ONE MINUTE ahead of my previous PR from 2013. WOW!!
-How did you feel when you finished and saw you got your PR? It was one of the most incredible moments…I had accomplished my goal and I had my confidence back to do more races in the future.
-Did you learn anything new on this race? Pain is temporary and our bodies are capable of much more than we oftentimes realize. It is so important to trust your training and overcome the self-doubt that can creep in when you’re facing fatigue and the finish line is still several miles away.
-What would you do differently? In a perfect world, I would always add in more mileage.
-What are your goals going forward? I want to do 50 marathons in 50 states, but I’m trying to pace myself and set reasonable goals for my current lifestyle. My next race is in November in Philly…I plan on running the Rocky Steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and singing “The Eye of the Tiger” at the top of my lungs.