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Who I Am and Why I Run

I’m Jen, a 40-something wife to Scott, mom to three amazing teenage boys, pastor, writer, runner and lover of life! God has given me a great story and I’m living it out daily with as much humility and humor as I can muster.

My AHA moment came while sitting in my doctor’s office seeking treatment for depression. I had struggled with it ever since the birth of my twins in 1999 and just couldn’t seem to shake it. He asked me to do one simple thing: do some form of exercise every day for two weeks and then come back if I still felt I needed the medication.

I was skeptical but thought I’d try it anyway. So I started to run. I hated running when I was young and was that girl in high school who walked around the track talking instead of doing my best in the timed mile because I didn’t want to get sweaty.

It took me almost 3 months to be able to run one mile without stopping. But I did it. And I found myself wanting to go further and further. A few years later I met some crazy people who were not just running a few miles a few times a week, but were running half and full marathons and loving it!

Soon thereafter, I was registered for my first half marathon and I haven’t looked back since. God has used running to bring my mind, body and spirit into balance and has brought the unexpected bonus of a community of people that have truly become like family to me!

So happy to be a Sweat Pink Ambassador and to be able to share with others, who may find themselves stuck, how they can break through to the life they’ve always wanted!

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As My Priorities Changed, I Had Several AHA Moments!

[The Wade family at a Hokie tailgate].

I was born and raised in Roanoke, VA.  As a child I enjoyed playing outside, but I never really got into sports and exercise until high school.  Going to the gym or out for a run was just not something that anyone in my family really did.    My view on fitness changed when I joined the high school track team.  I have always marched to the beat of my own drum, so I don’t think my parents were surprised when I announced to them that I would like to join the local gym.  It took several months for me to convince them that everyone in the family would benefit from the membership, but eventually the family converted from a summer pool membership to a full on annual gym membership.  Since that time, fitness has revolutionized my family in so many ways.

Fitness is defined as the condition of being physically fit and healthy, especially as a result of exercise and proper nutrition.  We all have our strengths and weaknesses, but you don’t have to be an athlete to be fit.  After joining the high school track team and local gym, things with track sort of fell into place for me.  My high school randomly decided to start competing in the pole vault, and I was one of the only girls that were up for the challenge.  I was an above average sprinter and jumper, but I never would have competed at the college level.  Women’s pole vault was in a transition phase when I started, which is why I say it sort of fell into place for me. The first time women’s pole vault was ever in the Olympics was in 2000, so the standards were much lower than they are now.

2007 ACC Championships - Womens Pole Vault Team

2007 ACC Championships – Women’s Pole Vault Team

Through competing at the state level in pole vault, I was offered the opportunity to try out for several division one college track teams, with the understanding that I could be cut at any time and I might not travel at all to meets.  This was fine with me.  Like I said, coming from my fitness background, I was just happy to be given the chance.  I ended up at Virginia Tech (I’m sure I will mention this place several times because this is where I would have gone to school regardless of athletics).   Over several years, I earned a solid spot on the team and went on to break a school record while earning a scholarship both academically and athletically.

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Hokie tailgates!

Several of my teammates decided to continue to pursue Olympic dreams after college, however, I moved to Charlotte, NC in hopes of earning my CPA.  I joined the audit group of a fairly large public accounting firm right out of college, and passed the last section of my CPA exam the following spring.  The audit side of public accounting is such a different lifestyle than I was accustomed to.  I worked with a great group of people, but many of them worked late, didn’t sleep, traveled too much, drank a significant amount of alcohol, didn’t exercise, and didn’t seem to think about any of the food they were putting in their mouth.  That is just being honest.  I found it extremely difficult to stay fit in this environment.  I worked out of hotels, ran the streets of towns all over the east coast, joined several gyms in cities all over the United States, and tried to find healthier options to eat without seeming like an outcast.  It was during this time that I really had to adjust the way that I worked out and ate.

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From Left – Jen, Ali, Logan – Gym friends all dressed up!
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Taking a break from working on our Hawaii client.

When I was in town, I was a regular at a local gym, where I eventually met my husband.  It sounds pretty cheesy, but based on what I have already described about myself, it only seemed right that I would end up with someone who incorporated fitness into their professional lifestyle.  After five years of public accounting, I decided to change careers two weeks prior to our wedding.  I told you I march to the beat of my own drum.  This did not scare me in the least bit.  I joined the accounting group of large real estate development and property management company in Charlotte where I was guaranteed more flexibility and little to no travel.  Just what I needed to start building my roots in Charlotte.  This change brought on several more changes over the next few months.  The extra time in town allowed me to expand my fitness horizons to include both indoor cycling and yoga.

Warrior Dash with my future husband

Warrior Dash with my future husband.
Biking across the bridge in Charleston

Biking across the bridge in Charleston.

I always felt for me to be fit, I needed to be coached by someone (because I had been my whole life).  I didn’t believe that I had the ability or confidence to make my own really good workouts.  When I began riding at Flywheel Charlotte that all changed.  After riding for several months, the manager pulled me aside and asked me if I would consider trying out to teach.  I immediately said there was no way, but the more I thought about it the more that feeling in my stomach grew that I could really be good at this.  In a matter of days there I was sitting on the instructor bike in this amazing studio, spotlight on, giving it my all.  Things snowballed from there.  By August, I was a regular on the schedule juggling my desk job with trying to teach sometimes 8-10 classes a week.  I loved it!

Flywheel team before a ride

Flywheel team before a ride.
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Post preview ride!

I knew at some point I was going to have to take it back a notch because family really is the most important thing in my life, and my husband and I wanted to start a family not long after we got married.  In February 2013, we found out that we were expecting our first child.  I waited the recommended time before I let work know.  I also started scrounging through websites for advice on exercise and pregnancy.  Really it is hard to find and doctors are hesitant to offer advice both during pregnancy and after.  With that said, I went with how my body was feeling.  I stopped teaching Flywheel classes when I couldn’t keep up anymore and to be honest I wasn’t sure if I would ever be back on the instructor bike.

The day that I went into labor

The day that I went into labor!

My daughter was born on October 17, 2013.  I could be having the worst day in the world and her smile will make everything that is bothering me go away.  Once I was cleared to do physical activity again, I reached a turning point.  I decided I wanted to start teaching again, and I made that happen in December 2013.   This was an easy decision for me.  Being fit took on a new meaning for me when I had my daughter.  I wanted her to know the value not only of taking care of yourself, but feeling good about yourself though balancing what is most important in your life.  If I was going to give up a hobby after I had her it was not going to be exercise.

Post-baby Flywheel with the husband

Post-baby Flywheel with the husband.

I wanted to give you my whole background, because I want people to realize that I wasn’t born to be fit and it took several years for me to 1.) Realize the importance of being fit and 2.) figure out a way to stay fit in several stressful situations that we might be placed in.  Little things I have done in each phase of my life have allowed me to keep my blood work numbers in check and still do what I can do to wake up most days and feel good about myself.

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Beat Of My Own Run!

Hi There!

My name is Kristina and I am a runner, blogger, and group fitness instructor. However, I’ve had quite the journey to my fit life!

As a child, I had a heart condition that prevented me from doing any sort of prolonged activity – running, hiking, standing, etc! If I tried, most times it would end in an embarrassing fainting episode. These episodes have happened almost everywhere – the Grand Canyon, the NYC subway, elementary school science fairs, even the corporate offices of Ralph Lauren! Since it was dangerous and constant, my parents and doctors had a LOT of control over what I did and did not do.

However, in 2010 everything changed. I realized that my EKG reports were getting better, and I was feeling stronger. My boyfriend at the time (now my husband!) was traveling most days of the week, so I decided to set my alarm clock 30 minutes earlier than usual to try to run. Little by little, mile by mile, I felt OK! So, I leaped – I signed up for a sprint triathlon! I remember my parents asking me “…Kristina, can you swim?” Haha! I gave myself 4 months to train, and I DID IT! I completed my first sprint triathlon in July 2010! I haven’t looked back ever since. I’ve completed 2 more triathlons, 2 duathlons, countless 10Ks, 6 half marathons, a 20-mile race, and 1 FULL MARATHON! As I am also in the fitness industry, I am constantly pushing clients/members to do the thing they “think” they cannot do!

I am so grateful to be a part of the Sweat Pink Ambassador program as I strive to reach people every day through fitness. My fit journey is relatable, and I hope to help others break through barriers that they may have! I am very open with my journey on social media; I want to be transparent with the fitness community so they know that they CAN do anything they set their minds to!

Thank you for reading my story :) My AHA moment was almost 4 years ago, and I look forward to many more years of health, happiness, and new adventures!!

XO
Kristina
@kristinaearnest

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