Today we're shining a spotlight on Jess, a SoleMate who's running in the Half Marathon while also raising funds for GOTR programming! Jess, we are excited to see you at the Half Marathon and grateful for your support to help us reach more girls!
Why did you decide to be a SoleMate for the NYC Half Marathon and fundraise for Girls on the Run?
I was a member of GOTR in Newtown, CT in elementary school! It was a really unforgettable experience for me as a young girl who had just moved to a new place and helped me build many friendships, so ever since then I’ve had a special place in my heart for GOTR. I started forcing myself to be more active last summer to try and get through a particularly difficult time personally and I wanted to run a half to prove to myself I could continue to challenge what I thought I was capable of. One of my best friends was planning to run the half and I figured I may as well go for it and do it for a cause that’s really meaningful to me!
What does the Girls on the Run mission mean to you?
I think self-confidence and motivation to achieve whatever goals we set are some of the most important messages we can be instilling in the next generation of girls. Through the years I’ve learned how to keep pushing myself and keep trying to achieve whatever goals I’ve set no matter what obstacles have come in my path. I’ve also been lucky to have so many female mentors and role models who have inspired me to do so.
Is this your first half marathon?
YES—training has been my first time running over 3 miles in my entire life. Everything after that has been a personal record.
Favorite place to run?
East River Running Path near the Williamsburg Bridge.
Favorite time of day to run?
Mornings! I’m not a huge morning person but getting in a run before work starts the day off on a good note.
Favorite post-run snack/meal?
A bagel with peanut butter.
Favorite running accessory?
Definitely my wireless headphones. They once died from the cold during a long run and that made me realize how much I appreciate them.
Favorite pump-up running song?
“The Shine” by ayokay.
Group or solo run?
I think solo—but I haven’t been running long enough to know yet, so maybe this will change when I see whether I can keep up with other people!
When you get tired, what makes you keep running?
The feeling I’ll get when my Nike Run app says “1 mile left” of my distance goal. I always feel the best when I get through a run I didn’t think I’d make it through.
Tell us a little bit about your running history!
I have always had exercise-induced asthma and been a little bit scared of running because of it. Over the summer I struggled through a fun run with friends and that was the most I made myself run since playing field hockey in high school (5 years ago). Training for this race has been so great to show myself I shouldn’t be scared of it and that I just have to be in tune with myself and my pace and I’ve actually found it incredibly enjoyable. Working with [Coach] Jess Underhill has been so great too because the training she outlined has always felt approachable and having guidance made this so much easier to tackle for a first-timer.
What do you do besides running to keep yourself healthy, confident and joyful?
Being around friends and family who have been there for me through all good and bad times keeps me all of these characteristics. Also being outside, exploring the city, finding new restaurants, seeing live music.
Any other fun facts you want to share?
During training, I also got accepted to law school! I’ll be starting next fall and I’m very excited to have achieved this dream of mine—it hasn’t been easy! I love skiing (the only difficulty of training through the winter is the overlap) and I can make a mean tomato sauce from my family recipe.
What words of encouragement would you share with a girl starting with Girls on the Run?
There’s no “best way” to do anything in life. You don’t have to run the fastest or get to the finish line first to have achieved something amazing—always listen to yourself and follow your own path and you will get wherever you want to be in your own time!
Any fundraising tips for fellow SoleMates?
Share positive messages and the GOTR mission statement with everyone you contact for donations! I reached out to most of my donors personally, and it really resonated with everyone.
Thank you for all your support of Girls on the Run, Jess! If you want to donate to Jess's fundraising efforts, click here.