NOVA Featured Runner: Jessica Bowden

By | September 7, 2015
Jessica Bowden - Nova Feature

This month’s NOVA Featured Runner is none other than Jessica Bowden. Jess has been a great addition to the NOVA Women’s team and her 19:15 finish at the NOVA 5k is evidence that hard work gets results.

Jess has been a revelation since she joined NOVA. Through hard work and persistence, she’s improved dramatically, and while she’s not one to seek the limelight, her 19:15 at the NOVA 5k sure got my attention! I’m really looking forward to watching Jess continue her improvement, and I’m excited to see what she can do this fall, and beyond.

1) What are your PRs (5k, 10K, Half, Full, any others?)
5k: 19:15 (NOVA 5K!)
Half: 1:39 (2012 Colonial Half in Williamsburg)
Full: 3:31 (2014 Chase the Unicorn Marathon in Washington Crossing Pennsylvania)

2) Goal race(s) for this year? Other races planned?
My goal race for this year is to PR in the Navy-Air Force Half. I haven’t raced a half marathon for time in a few years, and think the Navy-Air Force Half would be a great opportunity to see if I can whittle that PR down a little!

3) What do you consider your best race performance to date?
My first full marathon! The Chase the Unicorn Half was a flat out-and-back, out-and-back race along the Delaware Canal. I ran the first 6 miles with a college friend, at just over an 8-minute mile pace. The goal for both of us was just to finish our first marathon standing upright, but after finishing the first 1/4 of the race, I was feeling pretty good and decided to run for time. I wasn’t wearing a watch, so the first time I saw my time was at the halfway marker. I was at around a 1:50. I saw it and thought if I did the second half about 10 minutes quicker, I could maybe qualify for Boston! I ran the next half of the race focusing on trying to run every mile quicker than the last, but it was hard without a watch so I wasn’t really sure what was going on. I qualified by 4 minutes, and looking back at the results later, I had run the last three quarters of the race at splits that were perfectly even (I think the difference between the fastest 6.6-mile quarter and the slowest were about 10 seconds apart). I may have been more excited about the even splits than the result!

4) How did you find NOVA, and what do you like best about the team?
Well, I work with Erin, and anybody in NOVA could tell you that Erin tries to recruit for NOVA wherever she goes! We actually had lunch the Friday before Boston, and when Erin found out we were both running it and told me about her Boston PRs after joining NOVA, I was pretty much sold.

5) What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received from Coach Jerry?
More important than any advice may just be Coach Jerry’s belief in the abilities of the runners on the team. After only running with Jerry a few times, he said with WAY more confidence than I felt that he knew I could run a faster marathon than a 3:31. That gave me the inspiration I needed to push harder in practice and in the NOVA 5K!

6) What thoughts do you have on your recent performance at the NOVA 5K (awesome PR by the way!) thank you!!
The NOVA 5K was fun because I had trained for Boston on the W&OD trail. So running a 5K felt way too fast! My goal was to go under 20 if possible. My extremely-mature game plan for that was called “keep up with Erin for as long as possible before dying and then just try to finish strong.” The “dying” part happened with about half a mile to go, but the awesome support of the NOVA runners who were cheering for us along the race course kept me going all the way to the finish line! I had only run a sub-20 5K once before–in my senior year of high school–and it was by 2 seconds (on perhaps a short course). After breaking it by so much, I thought I was going to faint until Stephanie threw water on me. Thanks for that! 🙂

7) What non-running fitness related (or other) activities do you enjoy?
I love to bike! I like biking downtown to beer gardens on the weekend…and work every other day (I do not swim!!). I love hiking and canoeing, and am recently trying to get more into yoga because I look silly doing it, and flexible muscles don’t injure as quickly. I actually only run about 3 times per week, and cross-train every other day.

Besides running, I love to travel (and extensively plan trips even if I’m not planning on taking them for a year), read novels (currently Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay), and play and watch soccer!