Runner Profile: Jenny Church

Thank you to Daniela for her nomination and kind words.  I always smile when I remember one of our first conversations at FRR training when you asked me what shampoo I used as you thought my hair was shiny!  Not running related but funny!

As I start to think of what to write as my profile my first thoughts are:-

  1. This will be short!
  2. No one will read it!
  3. I am not really a runner!

I was not exactly sporty when I was at school. I did enjoy netball, hockey and did run cross country for the school a couple of times, but when I got into my teenage years this was not particularly cool so I gave these sports up!

I have always been health/weight conscious and have tried to eat healthily and keep active as part of this.  I know the value of health and never take it for granted.  Just before my first baby was due when I was 23 years old I became seriously ill and this resulted in my baby boy being still born and my life in the balance for several days after the birth.  Since that time I am thankful every day for my life, health and strength.

I always enjoyed doing a lot of walking and used to cycle regularly but had never considered doing running until I was aged 54!  When my friend and work colleague Karen Frost started running and kept talking about it, I thought I would give it a go.  I was living at Martello Park on the seafront; I put my trainers on, left the house and ran as fast and as far as I could, which was not very fast or far!  I think I got to about Manning’s amusements and decided that this confirmed that I was not a runner!  It was only some weeks later when my sister was training for a fund raising 5k asked me to join her whilst she was training,  I discovered if I ran very slowly I could run further and for longer.  From then on which was May 2016 I started going along the prom run/walking between the lamp posts between Martello Park and the pier.  The first time I managed to run all the way to the pier without stopping I was ecstatic!  Within a few weeks I could run to the pier and back again and then managed to do a 5k distance, at that point I felt I had done enough and did not need to go further – but as you all know that does not happen!

I kept on running regularly and within a few months I had managed a 10k distance.  Running became a part of my routine, mostly along the prom before work early in the mornings and I felt so much better and stronger in myself. 

In September 2016 I did my first parkrun at Kesgrave, which I loved!  I loved the feeling of running with others and being a part of a caring and encouraging community, the way that whatever your age, size, ability everyone was included and encouraged.

When I managed to persuade Dave to start running with me I started enjoying the running even more, it was great to have someone to run with.  I feel very fortunate to have him to run with (although he is now a lot faster than me!).  Running has become a big part of both our lives. 

In April 2017 we joined FRR, the first session was running up and down Convalescent hill, I had done all my running on the flat so this was quite a shock!  I really enjoyed the challenges the training gave me and the friendly support of the other runners and was so happy to feel like I was getting stronger and fitter and that I may actually becoming a “real” runner!

My next challenge was to get a medal!  I entered the Alton Water 10k which was May 2017 exactly 1 year since I first started running.  I got my first medal and was extremely proud!

In September 2017 I did my first Coastal 10 mile race, I could not believe I could actually run 10 miles without stopping!

In 2018 I entered a lot of races which I heard about through FRR, highlights of these were Bentley Half Marathon, Friday 5 races, Ekiden Relay, Ipswich Twilight, Leamington Spa Half Marathon,  GER Half Marathon, Coastal 10 and Hadleigh 10 mile.

In 2019 I entered all of the above again, plus Scenic 7, Turkey Trot.  It was great getting to know everyone in FRR and starting feel part of a running community.

My highlights of 2019 were running my first (so far!) marathon at Brighton, which I ran in 4 hrs 53, I was so pleased to get under 5 hours and will never forget the support from the crowds and atmosphere of that day and the emotion I felt when running the last mile and realising I had actually done it!  Dave was waiting at the finish line for me and there were tears!

In 2019 at the FRR Awards Night I was awarded runner up as the most improved female for 2019 which I was thrilled to receive.

In the Suffolk Grand Prix 2019 I was awarded 2nd in my age category and in the Friday 5 Series 2019 I was awarded 3rd in my age category, I was extremely proud to receive.

In 2020 there have not been many races to enter but I did do Tarpley 20 miles in February which was very wet, windy and hilly and probably the toughest race I have done so far, and was pleased to complete this in 3hrs 21 mins.  My last race this year was Stowmarket Half Marathon which I managed to do in just under 2 hours, something I never would have believed I was capable of!

I continue to run almost every day and it has become a huge part of my life, in 2018 I ran 1105 miles, in 2019 I ran 1450 and am on track to run over 1300 miles this year.   Sometimes when it’s cold and dark it is hard to get the enthusiasm up to go running, but I always feel better for going and getting the miles in has definitely made me a stronger runner.   I think what running has taught me is whatever your age you are capable of much more than you think, the feeling you get from pushing yourself to do more than you ever thought possible is such a great feeling.  When I go to running races/events I am always so impressed with all the runners, obviously the winners but also find the runners from all age categories, still running and competing, so encouraging and the fact that whatever your age you can still compete.

I am always preaching the benefits of running to others, I love to see others making progress and feeling better from the benefits of running  and have loved the events when I have taken part with my family, the runs I have done with Dave, my  daughters, my twin sister and my grandson are among the most memorable to me.   I run early mornings with a small group of ladies on week days this is to keep each other going and for safety in the dark mornings.  

To be competitive in running is important to me, but more importantly is having the health and strength to be able to run.  Before I started running I used to suffer quite badly with asthma; this has improved so much now, I feel running is so good for both my physical and mental health. Every step I can take makes me feel privileged, and if I can take any of these steps with my family, FRR family, loved ones and friends then I am truly blessed.

My nomination for next month is the lady that I was runner up in the FRR Club Awards for most improved lady 2019 – Kaye Branton, I am amazed by her progress and running and cannot wait to hear her story.

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