Mixing it up with a marathon runner

14 Oct, 2013

by Molly Snyder

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Jen is an avid runner who lives in Chicago, but when it comes to marathon running, she comes to Milwaukee. I met her in the Lobby Bar the night before her second time running Milwaukee’s Lakefront Marathon.

Jen lived in Milwaukee from the time she was 12 years old through college – she graduated from UWM – but this is not why she returns to Brew City for long, group runs.

“I prefer the Lakefront Marathon because it’s small and downhill at the end,” she says, then takes a sip of seltzer water fresh from the bar “gun” in the Pfister’s Lobby Bar.

The Lakefront Marathon, which took place on Sunday, Oct. 6, was Jen’s fifth marathon. She also ran a marathon in Madison and two in Pittsburgh and, as already mentioned, once in Milwaukee before.

So is there anything crazy or special she has to do before or during a run? Like, does she have to run backwards for the first quarter mile or wear special socks?

“In general, I’m light on superstition, but I usually eat chicken noodle soup in a bread bowl from Panera the day or night before a marathon,” she says. “It’s salty, carb-filled and easy on the tummy.”

“Only from Panera?” I ask.

“Well, usually. Because they have a bread bowl,” she says, kindly leaving the “duh” tone out of her voice.

She says she always wears the same black hat when running, but that’s more of a habit than a superstition.

“I’m pretty loyal to that hat, though. There is only one Running Hat,” she says.

Then she blows my mind by saying she never listens to music when she runs.

“Never. Mostly because I usually run really early in the morning when it’s still dark and so staying alert is really important,” she says.

“But isn’t that insanely boring?” I ask.

“No,” she says, laughing. “It’s my rich, internal life.”

“Apparently, I don’t have one of those,” I tell her, shuddering at the thought of running miles and miles and miles without a single tune.

Jen goes on to explain that most of her life is spent in extroverted situations and, at root, she is an introvert. Running allows her to celebrate her introvert-ness.

I ask her if she wants to do the Iron Woman someday.

“I did a triathlon last year, but I’m not a check-things-off-of-my-list kind of person,” she says.

Does she have one of those popular 26.2 stickers in her car window?

“No, I’m not a rah-rah kind of person, either,” she says.

Finally, a question I’ve never asked in 12 years of reporting: Has running ever made her throw up?

“Luckily, no,” she says. “And I hope I’m not jinxing myself.”

The next day, I texted Jen to find out how the marathon went. She reported that she finished in 4:03:44 which was her new personal best.

“Must have been the magic Pfister water,” she texted.

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About the author

Molly Snyder

Molly Snyder has lived in Milwaukee her entire life. She started keeping a diary when she was four and published her first poem at age 10 called “The Unicorn” in the now-defunct Shorewood Herald. Today, she writes less about mythical creatures and more about Milwaukee people and places. She is a senior writer at OnMilwaukee.com, where she has worked for the last 12 years. Telling people’s stories is her passion.

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