With that being said, it’s time to meet a member of #teamsparkle. Up next is the new mama @jedijen11, aka Jennifer.
Tell us about your past race/running experience:
Jennifer: Before 2010, I hid from activities that required any type of physical activity. When I was a band director, as a part of summer conditioning, we required the students to run. I could not keep up… at all! So, over spring break in 2010, I started the Couch to 5k running plan without telling anyone. (In case I failed, ya know?!) By the time I got to the sixth week of training, I decided to tell people about my new running hobby. I was encouraged to run a 5k race, and a whole new world opened up to me! I had no idea these races existed, I just wanted to participate in summer conditioning with my students! It’s safe to say I was bitten by the running bug. I have now completed 1 30 mile run (for my 30th birthday), 11 full marathons, the Dopey Challenge, 24 half marathons, several Disney challenges, and too many 5 and 10ks to count! (Fun fact: my husband and I eloped in January 2015 during WDW Marathon weekend. He proposed to me after the WDW 10k and we got married later that day. It’s normal to run a half and full marathon for your honeymoon, right?!) My biggest achievement in running, though, is running through my pregnancy, especially when some doubted me! Baby Hilger and I ran 4 half marathons, including two Disney 5k, 10k, half challenges, and several shorter races!
We are so glad you are a part of #teamsparkle. When did you first join and what color was your first skirt?
J: I first found #teamsparkle on instagram and will be forever thankful for social media because of that! I had already completed races in tutus, but the sparkle seemed extra empowering to me. (And I was right!) I trained really hard for my 4th full marathon and wanted some extra motivation to achieve my goal. I was planning to run the Nike Women’s Full Marathon in 2013, so I chose the turquoise Sparkle Athletic sparkle skirt and visor to help me stay motivated to receive my little blue Tiffany’s bag at the finish line from a handsome fireman! I am pleased to report that I achieved my goal of running a full marathon under 5 hours, 15 minutes and set a marathon PR by more than 15 minutes! Sure, I trained hard, but I’m convinced that sparkle gave me the confidence I needed to never give up during the race!
What/Who inspires you to continue running?
J: Wow! I have so many answers to this question! The social media community constantly inspires me! I am able to stay connected and motivated by runners from around the world. My local running community also inspires me! I have been lucky enough to serve as a running coach for the last three years (including during my pregnancy) through a local running store, Red Coyote Running & Fitness. Helping others achieve their goals inspires me on a level that’s hard to explain. Also, I’m very goal oriented myself! Working to achieve what I think might be unachievable goals, inspires me to get out there and train, even when I would rather stay on the couch!
Lastly, I’m inspired to run because I’m able to run. I truly value every mile, whether I’m alone or with my best running pals, I’m most at peace during a run. I also learned how important being outside is for my spirits when I ran during my pregnancy. Obviously my pace and distances were not what they were before pregnancy, but getting out there and moving was such a connecting time between me and my baby. (And my husband who always takes care of us!) I’m inspired by my son who just entered the world, to keep running to be a good, active, and happy role model for him. Running through pregnancy reminded me of my love for simply running, no matter the pace!
We all know how much #teamsparkle loves their treats as much as they love running… What’s your favorite indulgence?
J: I have the biggest sweet tooth, but my favorite indulgence has to be DONUTS! During my pregnancy, my husband and I went on a “donut date” every week. I was so thrilled when the donut Sparkle Athletic skirt came out and bought it immediately! (And thankful for that stretchy waistband so I can still wear that skirt now!)
Which Sparkle Athletic product is your favorite “go to”?
J: My friends tease me that I have a sparkle skirt in every color, but I still have many more to add to my collection! But if I had to choose one product, it would be the Sparkle Athletic visors! They are unbelievably comfortable and perfect for any run. My ultimate favorite product combo would be my rainbow Sparkle Athletic skirt, rainbow checkerboard visor, and rainbow Shwings. I wore these for my 11th marathon, which was the NYC Marathon in 2015. I set a lofty goal (for me) to run a sub-5 hour marathon after a few previous attempts. Having a marathon time that started with a 4 was a “pre-motherhood” goal I had for myself. I trained on a new level with the support of so many around me. I thought the rainbow theme was a perfect reminder as I ran through the streets of NYC of many things coming together to help me achieve that goal. (I’m happy to report that I ran the marathon under 5 hours, with more than 3 minutes to spare. I ran it with a negative half split AND set a PR of more than 12 minutes. Oh, and I welcomed my son in to the world six weeks ago!)
What is one of your favorite parts of racing in a Sparkle Athletic skirt?
J: Feeling empowered! Most of my life I have struggled with just being myself. I let people dull my sparkle until I gained confidence through running to just be myself. Adding a Sparkle Athletic skirt has only helped my confidence! When I ran through my pregnancy, I started wearing a sparkle skirt for most runs instead of just for races. Even though I knew everything was normal, sometimes it was a mental struggle when I started to gain weight and my pace slowed down, what used to be a warm-up was now my long run. Sparkle Athletic skirts made me still feel empowered with every mile!
Thank YOU so very much for “joining the team.” Individually each & everyone of you is amazing, but as a “team” we ROCK.
Everyone has a story, and we want to hear YOURS! The #teamsparkle community is such a loving and inclusive group, but often times we are tackling our runs solo. Knowing your teammates can help you to feel more a part of the running community.
If you would like to share your story, whether it is about how you got started running, what motivates your running, why you love running, or how running has changed your life, please let us know! We would love to feature you on an upcoming “Meet The Team“ post – so email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!