From Coach Jerry: Jess had a truly fantastic race in Chicago! She worked extraordinarily hard in the last year to transform herself into a sub-3 hour marathoner, and that goal seemed so ambitious a few months ago that it would have been easy to dismiss it as a fantasy. But Jess believed in herself, put in the hard training, and when her opportunity came she didn’t just sneak under the 3 hour barrier, she crushed it. A major breakthrough like that does not happen by accident, and Jess got there through hard work and dogged determination. Jess has gotten the most out of her talent, and not many runners I have ever coached can say that. My hat is off to her for a great performance!
1) What are your PRs (5k, 10K, 10 Mile, Half, Full, any others?) 5K – 18:39, 10K – 39:32, 10M – 63:17, Half – 1:25:13, Full – 2:55:24
2) Goal race(s) for this year? Other races planned? The Chicago marathon was my goal race this year and my 3rd attempt at the distance. I enjoyed the experience far more than I ever imagined I would. I may also run some shorter races later this fall for fun.
3) What do you consider your best race performance to date? Going sub-3 is a milestone I realized was possible for me last year. I had a great time celebrating when it actually happened for me in Chicago, and I am grateful to have had so many runners and non-runners alike reach out to say congratulations. I definitely have an appreciation for the commitment it takes to achieve an ambitious goal of any kind, and a marathon is certainly that. Yet the race I am most proud of is probably my recent 5K PR. While long runs have always been fun for me, it has taken several years for me to get strong enough to handle interval training. Seeing that speedwork pay off gave me confidence that I was finally ready to run a fast marathon, too.
4) How and when did you find NOVA, and what do you like best about the team? I found NOVA in 2014, just shy of my 34th birthday. I was leaving behind a tough year, during which running was more of an escape than a true priority for me. Running with the Capital Area Runners taught me so many invaluable lessons about how to train and coach myself, but I had not yet learned patience. NOVA offered me a very welcoming, low-key environment in which I could develop as slowly as I needed to as a runner. Since I did not really know anyone at first, running changed from being a social outlet for me to something I did for myself. Yet the running community as a whole is incredibly supportive and so I have never felt like I am doing this alone.
5)What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received from Coach Jerry? During the past two winters, I was injured and it was easy to have my doubts. Coach Jerry encouraged me not to lower the bar despite how crazy that I am sure my goals seemed at the time! He is always telling me to stay positive, and that unfailing optimism has helped me to figure out how to enjoy running even when a PR is out of the question.
6)What thoughts do you have on your performance at the Chicago Marathon? In Chicago, I was excited to just get out there and run hard in what was finally some great weather. I had spent the week prior in San Francisco enjoying Dreamforce, and so I was rather nervous about how the traveling, a few nights of interrupted sleep, and time on my feet would affect me. My last marathon experience was quite a painful one, but perhaps that played in my favor. I kept waiting for this one to hurt but somehow it never really did. As someone who long thought I would never have interest in racing marathons, I’m kind of floored. I think I will take some time, but yes I think I will have to try this again.
7)What non-running fitness related (or other) activities do you enjoy? I plan to do a lot more yoga, skiing, hiking, and kayaking in a few years, but for now most of my favorite non-running activities involve food and beverages! I particularly love catching up with friends over coffee or brunch and educating myself on all sorts of topics. Although of course, I am hopelessly unfamiliar with late-night tv…