Member Highlight On Jen Small

GT: Jen, where do you hang your helmet these days?

I live in a small town called Biddeford, Maine. We are close to everything-the beach (2 miles), Boston (90 mins), the moutains, the lakes.

It is a beautiful place to live, to raise a family and to train. I love it here! I am also excited to say that Revolution 3 Triathlon will be coming to my own back yard in 2012!! They will be hosting a half iron distance race in Old Orchard Beach on August 26th and I could not be happier to live right here, right now!

 

GT:       How did you start your endurance sport journey?

In 2007 after many years of being unhealthy, overweight, miserable, depressed, hating life, I had enough. I hit my own personal ROCK BOTTOM. It was time to take action. It was time to take control of my life and my health. I wanted to be a Mom, I wanted to live a happy life and I was sick of feeling sick all the time. I quit bad habits (being lazy, smoking, drinking, eating garbage) and started taking baby steps (literally) to a healthy life. I could only walk at the beginning but I wanted to be that “fit girl” I’d see out running. I started running in 15-20 second increments and just kept going from there. The first time I ran a mile without stopping was a very memorable moment. You would have thought I just ran a marathon.

It was a HUGE deal for me. I lost a bit of weight then we discovered I was pregnant with my daughter, Lola – this journey took on a whole new meaning and gave me all new reasons to be the woman I wanted to be and then some.

After 42 long weeks of pregnancy and an unscheduled c-section, Lola was here!! (Oct 2008 so just three short years ago!) My parents and husband invested in a BOB Revolution stroller so I could be active with the baby.

Once I started running outside, running took on a whole new perspective for me. It was no longer a way to burn calories. It was my escape, my quiet time, my time to reflect. After 14 months of hard word, I shed 100lbs and started running local road races. I fell in love with racing. It was more about racing myself-setting goals, working hard to achieve those goals and then raising the bar higher and higher. I got into triathlon in 2010 and that was it for me. Instant love. It was that “thing” I was missing. It has ignited a fire inside that I cannot explain– It’s my passion.

 

 

GT: What’s your favorite memory of the journey so far?

There are so many amazing moments! Timberman 70.3 was a very important event for me. First, it was the culmination of 6 months of training, I never dreamed I would do a sprint triathlon never mind a half iron distance. I went into that race not to race but to enjoy the day and celebrate all I had accomplished since starting on this road. I said goodbye to that miserable fat girl once and for all out there riding those hills. It was closure for me. I was able to let go of all kinds of hurt that held me back for so long.

I was able to embrace the woman I have become and celebrate the NOW! I crossed that finish line stronger than I ever thought possible. It was also my re-birth in a way-saying goodbye to one aspect of myself and saying hello to this new person that evolved. It was proof that I can do anything I want to do.

Then, to have Chrissie give me my medal-well that was just the icing on the cake. This amazing woman that I SO admired-not because she wins but because of all the good she does for the sport, her attitude. She is just awesome!!!

I knew that she was usually at this race and I had said to myself that all I wanted out of that day was to finish strong and get my medal from Chrissie.

And it happened. Literally, a dream come true!! I remember telling her that too (and I may or may not have told her that I loved her!! lol)

 

GT:       What’s been the greatest benefit of your journey?

Of course, my daughter!! I can be the Mom I wanted to be and always be a positive role model in her life.

But also while my physical being has changed the greatest change has been my mindset and the emotional growth. I have learned to love myself and accept that there is NO perfect. I believe that everything happens for a reason although we might not understand it at the time. Those dark, miserable years were terrible but that journey brought me here. I don’t think I could appreciate HERE so much if I did not know how awful THERE was.

I discovered that I am stronger than I ever gave myself credit for being and having that self-confidence is a wonderful feeling. KNOWING that you can accomplish whatever you set your mind to do!

 

GT: How do you Pay it Forward to others who may not believe it’s  possible to take on such an active lifestyle?

I am turning my passion for health and fitness into a career and I will be testing for my ACE PT certification soon. I believe that my own personal journey gives me perspective on things that are certainly different than someone who has always been fit and active.

Right now I am helping several people in my community on their own journey to a healthy life (gratis). As a stay-at-home Mom, my budget is very limited and I know I could not pay a trainer or nutritionist when I started so I have giving these people the tools they need to be successful in their own life.

I also write a blog about my life and my journey. I want to inspire and motivate people to take that first step no matter what their circumstances are, it can be done.

GT: Why GOTRIbal for you?

I know that the friends I have made in the triathlon community are just wonderful people! I have been welcomed with open arms into my local tri community and I feel so blessed to be surrounded by such great people. I have also made contact with so many triathletes across the country and the world online. It is an exciting time for triathlon as the sport grows and I want to be able to connect with others, of all levels to talk about training, encourage one another and keep the passion growing. I know what tri has brought to my life, I would love to see others experience that same joy. I just want to share the love and inspire others to chase their dreams!

I am living proof that it can happen.

GT:    Share with us one goal you have for yourself in 2012 that you never thought you’d have as a  goal 5 years ago.

I will be doing at least 3 half iron distance races next year-possibly four-and I have some pretty specific time goals in mind for a couple of them!

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