Prairie Wife Of the Week: Jen Titus (Boston Marathon)

Posted June 19, 2015 by Prairie Wife - 3 comments

I first met Jen a few months after The Cowboy and I moved from Cheyenne to where we live now. CollegeBFF was my only friend in town (that sounds so sad lol) and I was trying to meet other mothers and find a way to occupy Cowboy J and Cowgirl G. As part of my “meet new people and get out of the house” plan, we began to attend our library’s story time and I became friendly with Jen. After a few conversations and a play date, we realized that not only had we attended the University of Wyoming at the same time but, my husband had worked with her brother and I had taught in the same school district (and knew) her mother. In Wyoming we always say “You know one person, you know them all!” and the saying is SO true. Jen and I saw each other sporadically over the years but rekindled our friendship when Cowgirl G and her daughter attended preschool together. I had just begun running and found myself often chatting with her and asking her for advice. Her upbeat “you can do it” attitude encouraged me to continue on my runners journey.

When I found out that Jen was participating in the Boston Marathon this year I wasn’t surprised in the least. She is one of the strongest most dedicated women I know. Even though she asked our Mom’s Bible Group to pray for her on her qualifying race, I knew she already had it in the bag! I am so proud to say I know her. I can’t wait for you to read her interview and become inspired by her to dream big, work hard, and achieve your goals!

jen shoes

Prairie Wife (PW): First tell us a little bit about you and your family.

Jen (J): I am proud to be a native Wyoming girl! I was born and raised in the “big city” of Cheyenne. Upon graduation from High School, I ventured 45 minutes away to Laramie to attend the University of Wyoming (UW).
I LOVED my time there as a member of the UW Cross Country and Track & Field teams. I majored in Communication with an em1phasis in Sports Journalism. My plan was to become an ESPN anchor. Long story short…that was not God’s plan.

Instead, I interned for a minor league baseball team in Casper where I met my husband. As a young married couple, we enjoyed a four year stint in Salt Lake City while Todd had an awesome job with a Major League Soccer team. While there, I went back to school and achieved a Masters in Elementary Education.I taught one year before the arrival of our first daughter {Ava now 6).

With a new baby we wanted to be closer to family so we headed back to Casper to put down roots. For the next four years, I had the privilege of teaching part time at St. Anthony Tri – Parish Catholic School. Meanwhile, God blessed us with two more babies (Maya, age 4 & Lucas, age 2)! He also put the idea of becoming a stay at home mom on my heart and I’m soo incredibly grateful for the opportunity.

PW: You are an avid runner; can you tell us how your love of running began?

J: Growing up I played a lot of soccer, but by high school level, I wasn’t getting much playing time. The cross country coach invited me to try running and the rest is history! I was fortunate to find something I really enjoyed and was good at. Early on, long distances were not easy for me, and I only ran cross country to get in shape for faster events in track (400 & 800 meters). At UW, I evolved into more of a distance runner and competed in cross country and
mainly the 1,500 meters on the track.

My teammates became my best friends and family. When 8 of my “brothers” on the men’s cross country team were killed by a drunk driver my sophomore year, my life was changed forever. Running became much more meaningful to me after that and something I would never take for granted. I continued to run as my personal way to honor, remember, and feel close to the guys.

PW:With three children I know your running routine has changed repeatedly through the last few years. Can you share how you altered your routine during pregnancy and postpartum?

jen runningJ: Since I’ve been growing, birthing, and nursing babies for the last seven years my running has been very sporadic!! I hardly ran at all when I was pregnant because I was too sick all three times…ugh! However, I think being in good shape before helped a lot. Distance running requires a high pain tolerance and I believe that is one reason why I was able to have three natural births.

I don’t start running again until about three months postpartum. It’s important to let your body fully recover. Then I start out very slow and build up. The hardest part for me is being patient with myself as I get back into shape. It isn’t easy but the good news is, I promise if there’s a will then there’s a way to get back to your pre-baby fitness level and beyond.

As a busy mom, running has become my sanity. I appreciate the alone time, the quiet, the peaceful beauty of my surroundings. It rejuvenates my mind, body and soul! I have more energy and am much more pleasant on the days I get my run in.

PW: You just completed the 2015 Boston Marathon, talk to us about why you set your sites on this particular goal.

J: The Boston Marathon has such a rich history….this was the 119th year! I think Boston is a bucket list item for most distance runners. My road to Boston started a year ago last June (after weaning my fourteen month old son). I competed in an 18 mile trail run in the Big Horn mountains and felt pretty good (despite losing three toenails)! I saw a window of opportunity to keep training, add more miles and run my second marathon in September. On a whim, I looked up the Boston qualifying time for my age…3 hours and 35 minutes. I remember thinking that sounded fast but not completely out of reach. Then I saw the date of this year’s race, April 20, my 33rd birthday! I took this as a sign from God that I was supposed to be there. Running down a mountain canyon in Utah, I was able to clock 3:18 for 26.2 miles. We immediately called Todd’s parents to ask if they would babysit in April. Thankfully they said yes! I’m incredibly blessed to have such a loving family ,especially my husband, who supports my big dreams.

PW: How did you train for such a big event?

J: After qualifying, I took a little time off to rest my body. I started my Boston training in December and immediately had a “what was I thinking moment” as I realized I would be doing the bulk of my running in winter…in Wyoming. I bundled up and got outside whenever possible, but also had to utilize my treadmill a lot which I’m not fond of.

Finding time to train is a big challenge. I squeeze in a run whenever I can…after I drop kids at school before my husband has to be at work, on his lunch break, at night. I have the best in-laws ever and they live two blocks away. They help me so much and I am extremely grateful. Many times they’ll take all 3 kids for an hour after school so I can get my run in. I would do my long miles in the early hours on the weekend so I wouldn’t miss too much family time. Having some awesome training partners and being part of the great local running club, The Windy City Striders, has really helped my training.

PW: When you feel like you can’t go further, how do you push yourself to continue?

J: It doesn’t matter how experienced you are,running is hard and it hurts. There are many times that I want to stop. I joke that I’m motivated to push on by my love of baco1n,cheese and sweets! Running sure boosts my metabolism. A few other things that help me to keep going is being committed to someone or something. Train with a partner and you’ll be less likely to give up. Also, look ahead and find a specific event to prepare for. I register and pay which helps keep me motivated and accountable. Setting small and big goals gives me reasons to train. I often distract myself when I’m running by praying. I try to offer up my small amount of pain for others who are suffering. Running is also very mentally challenging. When I’m competing, I am very co1nscious about positive thoughts and self talk. If any negativity creeps into my mind, I try to immediately let it go. It’s important to stay confident in your preparation and ability.

PW: Tell us all about your experience at the 2015 Boston Marathon!

jen bostonJ: With our three kids in great hands back home,Todd and I were able to have an amazing time in Boston. We went out two days before the race and took in as much of the city as we could. We were blown away by how incredibly embracing and kind all of the locals were towards runners and visitors. Race day weather wasn’t
ideal…rainy,breezy,and cold. Being a hardy Wyoming athlete (and all that winter running) helped!

Despite the conditions,there were still thousands of people cheering along the entire course. The whole race atmosphere is like nothing I’ve ever experienced. The Boston Marathon truly lives up to its’ hype. I’m proud of my 13,510th place out of over 27,000 finishers!

PW: What do you think this experience will mean to your children as they get older and realize what a huge accomplishment it was?

J: My kids see how much I enjoy running. They’re my biggest fans which is so sweet. I strive to make them proud and to set a good example of being healthy and active because that’s what I want for them. They don’t have to be runners, but I’ll encourage them to find a physical activity that they enjoy because I know the lifetime of benefits it will provide. As they get older, we’ll talk about goal setting and hopefully my Boston story can show them how co1mmitment and hard work along with a lot prayer and grace from God help people to succeed. The teacher in me is always trying to instill a lesson into everything! When I’m an old lady ,hopefully they’ll look back and think their mom did something cool!

PW: Any advice for novice runners, or people that dream of becoming runners but don’t feel like they can?

J: I truly believe anyone that wants to become a runner can, unless of course they have medical reasons not to. I have several friends that decided to start running to lose weight. They have been very successful (hundreds of pounds) and now continue to run simply because they enjoy it. You can easily find a training plan online to fit your ability and goals. Take baby steps, be consistent and patient. In time, it will become easier and you’ll love how you feel…”runners high”! You’ll get out of running what you put into it so don’t short change yourself.

PW: Do you have any more races coming up or new goals you’ve set for yourself?

J: I have been pretty lazy since Boston! I usually keep my training light for a few months after a marathon just to give myself a break. Plus my husband is a bit over all of the time I’ve spent running lately! So for now I’m happy just to be doing shorts jaunts around Casper in the beautiful weather. I’m hoping to take part in an 8 mile trail run on Casper mountain next month (Skunk Hollow Sneaker Chase). Then I will probably find a half marathon in the fall (that’s my favorite distance). Can you tell I’m a planner lol?! I would love to keep running destination races in fun places.

PW: Any last Prairie Wife Words of Wisdom?

J: Find something you’re passionate about that makes you happy and make time for yourself to do it. No guilt and no excuses. This is especially important for moms who are busy doing so much for others. In the end, it will make you a better wife, mommy, etc.

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3 thoughts on "Prairie Wife Of the Week: Jen Titus (Boston Marathon)"

  1. Nina says:

    You truly are an inspiration for us not-so-seasoned runners. I hope you’ll consider coming with us for the half marathon in September (would fit right in your plan). I’m pretty sure you have a chance at setting the record…it’s all downhill by the way!! 🙂 We will appreciate any advice you have on our training plan and look to you as an expert.

    1. Prairie Wife says:

      Ohh great idea, yes Jen come!

  2. Erica says:

    Jen, it was fun to read and get to know more about you. This is really amazing!

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