Every Friday this summer, I will be focusing on Fierce. It has become my new favourite word. The dictionary describes it as:
- Having or displaying an intense or ferocious aggressiveness.
- (of a feeling, emotion, or action) Showing a heartfelt and powerful intensity.
I love the second definition. It suits me and all the women I admire. I don’t mean to single out men. This is terrible on my part, but society has conditioned me to expect men to be fierce. All the male athletic friends/bloggers/runners in my life fit the definition of FIERCE. They are capable of pushing themselves to limits beyond what regular people think they can or might be able to do.
It is FIERCE women who stand out for me.
I am on a running team where there are lots of runners of all levels of experience. There are runners who have only ever raced a 5k yet have the desire to do more. I admire that. But that doesn’t make you fierce.
Fierce is about getting the job done and not crying about it. Lets clarify that. Crying is fine. When I tore my MCL, you bet I cried – I actually screamed and howled and woke up all of Germany. One might think I was being mutilated Technically I was. But FIERCE is powering through hard stuff. Leaning on your own mental strength to pull through. Fierce is knowing when to asked for advice or help and knowing when you need to suck it up and do it yourself. Not everyone knows the difference.
Having someone hold your hand is one thing, but they can’t carry you across the finish line. Only you can do that. FIERCE athletes understand that.
One team mate of mine from the WDW Radio Running Team is FIERCE – actually there are a couple of Fierce gals on that team who are my heroes. But today’s Fierce Spotlight is on Jillian Markin. (You can read her running adventures blog here.)
As with everyone’s story, I am always interested to know how or why they got started. My curiosity with Jillian was no exception. So I asked her
ME: What inspired you to start running?
JM: I was never really a runner before. I was active, but never to the point of more than a mile or two on the treadmill at the gym. When I moved to New York City several years ago, I started to notice right away how everyone is so intensely active. Everywhere you look there is someone running, coming from yoga, going to the gym, bike riding, etc. I found myself wanting to be like the people around me. I happened to be on vacation in Disney during one of their races. I saw all of the amazingly active people surrounding me there too. They were flaunting their metals so proudly, I wanted that. I took that feeling back to NYC with me, and registered for my first half marathon. I had 3.5 months to get my act together and figure out what I needed to do to complete it.
ME: Aside from the physical aspect, how has it changed you?
JM: I have found myself able to be more encouraging of others. I know how much it meant to me to have someone to go to with questions or concerns I may have had, as well as how much it meant to know someone was there rooting for me no matter how fast I ran or when I finished the race. The sense of community within my running team has brought me to new levels of desire to run more.
ME: Tell me about your involvement with your running team – WDW Radio and any other.
JM: I joined on to the WDW Radio Running Team back in 2010 for my first race. I did my requirements of the initial fundraising and then that was it, or so I thought. When I first joined in, I don’t think I realized how great it was to be a part of something so meaningful. Each race after that first one, I found myself wanting to do more for the cause. I met more and more team members, that each shared their stories on why they are doing what they do, which made me love the team that much more! Each person has their own reason for committing themselves to the Dream Team Project. These team members have become some of my closest friends, even though we are all over the world! We work together to encourage each other & raise money for these deserving kids & their families to let them forget about being sick for a little while and to experience a little MAGIC!!
ME: Inspire others to join your team and convince me through your experience that it is a great idea.
JM: I’ve only been involved with this one team, so I can’t say from experience how other teams are, but I do know that the WDW Radio Running Team- has welcomed me in like a family member. From pre-race meet ups, to constant communication through social media, these people are in it together! And for someone who was not a part of a running community in the past, I have the team now to help me where I need it most!
ME: Tell me about the last major race you ran and the distance. What about your race career, what does it look like?
JM: My largest race to date was the Goofy Challenge in Walt Disney World- January 2013. The half marathon, I paced myself back a bit to last for the full marathon the following day. I had not done a full marathon before, and (shame on me) did not train properly for it either. I finished the half in 2:57:11 and the full in 7:06:33. Let’s just say I wasn’t in proper form afterwards. Prior to doing the Goofy Challenge, my races consisted of Disney’s Princess Half Marathon in February 2010 & 2011, Disney’s Tower of Terror 10 miler in September 2012, Disney’s Wine & Dine Half Marathon in November 2012, and the Seaside School Half Marathon in March 2013.
ME: What was your main athletic event/favorite before becoming marathoner/half marathoner?
JM: Before running, I only really took classes at the gym. Pilates and yoga were a part of my normal routine, as well as being a dancer growing up. During my training for my races I needed to find a form of cross training and I happened to come across Aerial Yoga, which led me to find classes me flying on the aerial silks. I never knew I had the ability to hang from fabric like the girls in the circus! It is such a unique and thorough style workout that helps you find your inner circus artist at heart! I did this as my cross training with running, and it helped to stretch my body in ways I couldn’t alone with just yoga.
ME: Toughest obstacle to overcome with training was?
JM: I’m still trying to overcome a sense of routine and that “waking up early” thing is really difficult to accomplish as well! As much as I try, I need to find the desire to get out of bed before sunrise (instead of snuggling in bed with my sweet puppy), regularly, to get into the early am running routine. I understand that living in the land of year-round humidity it is what must be done to not go into heat exhaustion. However, finding a routine once again is on the horizon, and hopefully it’s not as hard as it’s been in the past.
ME: How much is mental toughness a factor in your success?
JM: Honestly, I just get out there and run. I don’t really think about what’s going on, I tend to listen to my body while I’m out there. I believe that knowing yourself and your limits is the most important aspect of putting mileage in.
ME: Is there a secret or ritual you use for mental strength?
JM: I thrive on a sense community. I believe I’m my best when there are others there to cheer on, and to have them to do the same for.
ME: Give me a rundown of your last race, if you would like to elaborate now that you have put some distance behind you that would be great
JM: My most recent race was the Seaside School Half Marathon in March of 2013. I was asked to do this race with a lifelong friend, who was not a runner, was a new mom, and did not train very much for this race. Using my past race experience, I became her running “coach” – encouraging her along her path to and during the race (pretending I knew what I was talking about, I did- I just didn’t practice it myself). Prior to this race, I failed to do the training necessary for a half marathon, neither did she. Being a new mom, she found it very difficult to find the time. I had no excuse. This was in the time after my Goofy Challenge, and I had just begun doing Cross-Fit as a part of my new fitness plan. Having Cross-Fit in the plan helped my body get familiar with the strength needed for one of these races once again. In the weeks before the race, I spoke to my friend about what she needed to do to prepare, and convinced her that even with a lack of training- we were going to finish this race together!!
Race morning was one of the coldest I had ever experienced, a frigid 20 degrees F!
(* Authors note – I love 20F or -6C it is the perfect running conditions for me!!)Coming from South Florida, this was foreign. We arrived to the starting line together, all bundled up, and prepared ourselves for the day. We started the race with a nice easy pace and continued to make it through almost the entirety of the race at a steady 11/12 minute pace. I continued to ask how she was feeling, she told me she was doing GREAT! OK~ Let’s do this then! We did everything as I mentally prepared myself it would be, where the water breaks were, when to run, when to walk, and towards the end- where to set goals. I told her that we had to break it down into smaller races- 5k, then another 5k, wow-we’re almost halfway done, let’s run/walk here, now run to that sign, run to that street corner, see that tree up there- get to there, see all those people up there- THAT’S THE FINISH!! Surprising myself, as well as her, we finished the half marathon in 2:53, and both felt great afterwards!
After my Goofy Challenge, I had a very difficult time walking for the week following the race (to the point where I got told that I’m nuts for wanting to do that to my body). It was also a very hot and humid race! It took a lot out of me. This half marathon brought out a side in me that I never knew was there. I was encouraging & there for someone else other than me! I suddenly realized that I needed to not only listen to myself, but to listen to my running partner as well….and I LOVED it! I actually really enjoyed running in the cold weather as well! If I had a choice, I would have it that temperature for all of my distance races, but NO, I’m not MOVING!
ME: What do you wish you had done differently?
JM: This goes for all of my races—–TRAIN PROPERLY!!
ME: New fitness goals? Any races coming up?
JM: I am actively training for Disney’s Dopey Challenge- January 2014- with hopes of the Disneyland Dumbo Double Dare 2014- completing the Coast to Coast Challenge. Yes, I’m actually training for this one. My goal is to get my marathon finish from 7 hours to 5 hours. Yes, it’s ambitious, but I feel like with the proper training schedule (that my running coach is giving me in addition to my Cross-Fit) I will be at the pace I should’ve been at with all of my other races. I’m also scheduled to do Disney’s Wine & Dine Half Marathon in November 2013, and planning to complete the Space Coast Full Marathon in December 2013- in preparation of the Dopey Challenge.
(* Author’s Note: The Dopey Challenge is 4 days of consecutive racing. Day 1, 5km Day 2, 10km Day 3, 21.1km Day 4, 42.2 km all this equals a brutal training schedule and mental strength to endure the highs and lows of training, not to mention the pain and exhaustion of racing.)
My training schedule currently consists of 4 days a week of short runs, interval training, and longer runs on weekends, in addition to Cross-Fit 3-4 days a week.
This is why I think Jillian is fierce. She gets it done to achieve the goal she has envisioned. I am proud to call her a teammate and am excited to watch her receive her Dopey Medal after she completes her 4 day challenge.
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I thank you, my team thanks you and some little kid who’s wish came true thanks you.
For more information about the Dream Team Project, please visit here.